Scientific laws are really just man’s best guesses at understanding the real source behind the regularities of the universe: God’s Speech. Many scientists, of course, do not see it that way. For far too many people the natural laws governing the universe are impersonal forces. And it is because of that foundational assumption that they cannot accept miracles. But when we understand science from within a Biblical framework, miracles make perfect sense.
God created the world and continues to “uphold the universe by the word of his power” (Heb. 1:3). God’s speech, then, is the real law governing our universe. F = ma is a good explanation of the relationship between forces and accelerations. But it is also, from a Biblical perspective, a personal law. God has created it and designed it to work and God continues to command it to work. All natural laws are spoken and upheld by God and have behind them this personal creator and sustainer. So at the root of all natural laws, then, is this personal God.
That’s extremely important for understanding how miracles operate in our world, or even if they make sense. Vern Poythress explains so helpfully the relationship between the natural laws and the miraculous. He writes:
God’s word is personal. It is what he commands. His commandments specify the regularities, such as the phenomena of light and the movements of sun and moon and stars. He also specifies the extraordinary events that surprise us, including the resurrection of Christ. The extraordinary events, the miracles, conform to God’s word, just as do the regularities. Miracles are exceptional, but they make sense when we understand God’s personal plan, which accomplished salvation and brought new life through Christ’s resurrection from the dead. (Inerrancy and Worldview, 36)
When we understand God as the one controlling and governing the universe, and when we understand natural laws as His personal commands set to fulfill His personal plan of salvation, then the miraculous no longer seem implausible. After all God governs both and can surprise us with the miraculous if it so fits with his ultimate plan of redemption. At the foundation, then, a Biblical framework allows us to make sense of both natural laws and the miraculous.
The failure of the skeptic is that they impose an impersonal worldview onto the Bible and then claim “error.” Poythress writes:
[Miraculous] events make little sense…if they are viewed as merely the products of impersonal laws. Skeptics, reasoning on the basis of an impersonalist conception of law, prefer to believe that Exodus 19-20 is a made-up story, because only in such a way can it be reasonably integrated into their overall assumptions that impersonal laws govern the universe. The same principle holds for other miracles in the Bible. The common modern approach thinks of the laws of science as fundamentally impersonal. They become mechanical. Miracles are then thought to be impossible because a miracle would break through or violate the established impersonal order. This view not only misunderstands miracle by making it a violation of law; it also misunderstands the true character of law. (36)
Modern science, because it assumes an impersonalist worldview, cannot accept the miraculous. But we when we understand God’s personal governing the universe we see how naturally the miraculous fits.
As with all the subjects we approach in this series, the foundation we start from determines the reasonableness of the Christian worldview. If we assume an impersonalist worldview it won’t fit, because the Bible does not accept an impersonalist worldview, and, as we have and will see, neither does our world. God is personal and he has made a personal world. Everything that comes from Him has a personal nature to it, and that includes our so-called natural laws.