Monday, November 2, 2009

Miracles

I'm not against miracles, mind you. I just want to know how they happened. Even a miracle needs to go from state A, pre-miracle, to state B, post-miracle. To say, "That's what makes it a miracle" is to fudge the answer.
Consider Lazarus. He was pretty far gone by the time Jesus got there. I think the Bible says, "he stinketh." So, between the time of "Lazarus, come forth," and Lazarus walking out saying, "Can someone help me with these wrappings?" something happened.
See, the little devils that come to life when we die were busily working inside Lazarus, having a wonderful time, but Lazarus' body was already degenerating, bloating, liquefying and all that other disgusting stuff.
So, one of two things could have happened. First, Lazarus could have simply been re-animated. Made alive. I don't have too much trouble with that, because we can nearly do that in the lab now. On the other hand, Lazarus wouldn't have been all that attractive. We have a name for people like this -- Zombie.
Second, Lazarus' body could have been reconstituted. Not just firmed up, you understand, but rebuilt completely, on a cellular level. Including the brain, which, in case you forgot has 100 billion neurons and countless memory traces.
Such a process would take a tremendous amount of energy, and would probably generate a lot of heat.
"Yes, but," you say, "That's what makes it a miracle." And that's what bothers me. I'm sure that there are lots of fidgety laws any god worthy of the name can get around, but it seems to me unlikely that even a god can alter the fundamental building blocks of the universe.
At this point, people will either say, "God can do anything he wants to," or start to spout some post-modern stuff about sub-atomic physics and Schroeder's cat. In either case, they've lost me, since I don't buy either point.

4 comments:

Jacqui Binford-Bell said...

I had to go to Wiki and get my non-christian facts straight. There is in the New Testament more than one Lazarus. And some theologians believe that both stories are about the same Lazarus but told in different "parables."

It is a miracle that appears in only one Gospel. Actually only one miracle appears in all four that were included (there are 100 excluded and I don't have the count on miracles there).

If your story - Lazarus of the 4 days - is not a parable (and there are born agains that swear it is the literal truth) then there is certainly a lot to be accounted for. An un-embalmed body tossed into a depression in the wall of a sandstone cliff in typical mid-eastern climate is going to decompose quite rapidly. I would not want to be around when he came dripping out trailing fluids and skin parts.

The more reasoned explanations one hears of Lazarus dead four days is that he was not really dead. He had merely sunk (or sinketh) into a coma of some sort.

In England a few centuries later fear of premature burial was so rampant they affixed coffins with bells connected to string tied around the "deceased" hand.

Course if Lazarus of four days was not dead than it certainly is not a miracle when he gets up and walks from his tomb. So you have definitely raised some very valid questions.

As a student of myth I have never particularly liked this Lazarus tale as it falls not into the "with moral" category but "superman" genre. Lazarus and Dives has a moral.

On both your houses said...

I'm kinda concerned about the physics of miracles. Let's say you do something easy, like turn water into wine (in less time than it takes if you add grapes and wait). Such a transformation is sure to give off heat, and who likes hot wine?

bekkieann said...

I do if it's mulled with some spices and serve in a cozy environment. No miracle required for that, though.

Jacqui Binford-Bell said...

Then there are the societal issues of miracles. Alcohol abuse is growing without people being able to just "tap" into it at the water faucet.