Do we have a problem often with seeing how God works? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.
I play Question of the Day everyday on my Tap. Today, there was a question about Hippocrates. After the question, there’s a brief discussion giving the player more information about the question.
One thing said was that Hippocrates tried to look for natural causes of disease and natural treatments. Those were usually attributed to the divine and the work of the gods. Hippocrates was a dissenter in this and became the father of medicine.
Whether that is true or not, I cannot say, but it occurred to me that too often we have an idea on how God works and think that if God works, He must work in such and such a way. It is either God does a direct miracle or God has no involvement at all. Thus, if someone gets sick, if we find a “natural” explanation, then God wasn’t involved.
Dan Barker told a story of driving with someone once, I think a brother, who was trying to convince him of God’s existence and he pointed to the mountains and the wonder of the mountains and said, “Doesn’t that show you the wonder of God?” This is a very valid argument. I suspect many people are skeptical of atheistic theories because of the beauty and grandeur of the universe.
Barker goes on to talk some about plate tectonics and how that produces mountains. His brother just gives an angry response. The problem was that Barker still did not really refute his brother. His brother was thinking it had to be a pure fiat creation. Barker was saying “If I find a natural explanation, then that proves God isn’t needed.” Both are wrong.
To be sure, this doesn’t mean that God exists and it doesn’t mean that He doesn’t. It means this is a poor argument. If God is real, why does He have to work through a means of fiat creation? Could God not work through a natural process and use that to create mountains?
This happens often in debates about creation and evolution. Many Christians think if God created everything, He had to do it through a fiat process. Many atheists meanwhile think that if a naturalistic process can be found for bringing about living organisms, then God is out of a job. Both of them are doing God of the gaps thinking. It could be God exists and created fiat. It could be God does not exist and evolution brought living organisms about. It could be that God exists and created through evolution.
Another example is something like the parting of the Red Sea. Now some miracles are most certainly done fiat, but let’s consider this one in Exodus. For argument’s sake, we’ll take the event as historical. It could be that the parting of the seas is a natural event in that that happens when a really strong wind comes through. What would be the miracle here? It would be the miracle that it happened when it happened.
This can apply in other areas too. I remember when Michael Jackson died, there was a story going around about his ghost being at the Neverland Ranch based on a shadow seen moving across the wall. There was a news story done that showed a natural explanation for it and then said, “Therefore, we have shown there was no ghost.”
Do I think there was a ghost? No. Does that mean that the news story is right though? Not at all. It could be their explanation works and that the ghost of Michael Jackson is still at Neverland Ranch. It could even be their story is true and there is still such a ghost. Again, I remain highly skeptical, but showing one explanation does not prove another is automatically false.
So when it comes to medicine, God could use a sickness of some kind as a punishment. It could just be the way the universe works at times. We don’t know. Any sickness can be a good chance for self-exploration and seeing how we are living, but it doesn’t necessitate that we are being judged. I think it’s quite dangerous for Christians to speak for God when it comes to sickness and natural disasters as if they’re a prophet. We had one such prophet (And more than a prophet) in Luke 13 and I don’t think we’re going to top Him.
Theists and atheists too often are talking past each other because both have an idea that if God exists, He must work in such and such a way. Odds are God works in ways that we do not fathom. Limit how He works and both are prone to missing how He is working.