I guess I am just of a different mind-set than the author of this Huffington Post article. Apparently professor Baden thinks that unless God just, zap, caused biblical miracles by supernatural means, they don’t count as miracles. He talks about theories that there are natural phenomena that come close to explaining the Flood, the crossing of the Red (Reed) Sea or the manna that sustained the Israelites in the wilderness.
“The Bible doesn’t say that a comet struck the ocean, or that there was global warming, or that it was low tide or that the Israelites ate lichen (or worse). It says that there were miracles, originating entirely with God, to punish or protect, to destroy or to save. Miracles cannot, by definition, be natural occurrences, no matter how rare or remarkable.”
Kirby Olsen over at the Lutheran Surrealism blog once called manna “bug snot.” It probably was the secretion of insects that eat the sap of the tamarask trees that grow in the Sinai and Arabian deserts. This isn’t very pleasing to our sensibilities, but the miracle was that God provided for the Israelites. Baden says that miracles have to originate entirely with God. But why can’t God use natural events? The Bible, being all pre-scientific, doesn’t give us natural explanations, and some of our proposed explanations are a stretch. Still, is it really true that miracles can’t be natural occurrences?
The manna in the wilderness contains a promise for us of God’s provision. When we pray God to give us our daily bread, do we really require that it materialize as though it had been beamed down from a star ship?
There is a story in wide circulation about a pious man who gets caught up in a flood. I used to tell it a lot. The flood waters are about to cover his front porch. Someone comes by in a boat and offers to save him. He says, “No, I have faith that God will save me.”
The waters keep rising so that he has to go up to his second floor. He is looking out the window when people in another boat offer to pick him up. But he still says, “No, I have faith that God will save me.”
The flood finally forces him to stand on the peak of his roof. A National Guard helicopter hovers above him and lowers a rope. He waves them off, shouting that he still believes God will save him.
He drowns and finds himself in the presence of God.
He complains that he had great faith that God would save him. Now he is disillusioned with God.
But God says, “I sent two boats and a helicopter. What did you want?”
Well, he probably missed his miracle because he agreed with Baden that “miracles cannot, by definition, be natural occurrences, no matter how rare or remarkable.”