Not everything is a miracle

On a pair of blogs, both written by faithful Christians, I have recently seen the following quote from Albert Einstein: “Either everything is a miracle or nothing is a miracle.” At first glance it appears that Dr. Einstein was affirming the existence of miracles, but I am afraid that was not the case. That quote does not mean what some Christians think it means.

Consider the source: Einstein was a scientist who studied the principles of the universe—physics—and discovered new aspects of physics that had not been seen before. Religiously, Einstein wavered between Deism and atheism. Sometimes he spoke of the universe as God’s creation and described science as learning God’s rules for creation. But in other cases he stated that he used God’s name as a shorthand label for the order and structure in the universe without considering God to be a personal or accessible Being in the Christian sense of the term.

“Either everything is a miracle or nothing is a miracle.” Einstein probably believed that nothing is a miracle. Everything happens according to natural law, and the more we study the universe and learn its laws, the fewer things will surprise us. If everything is a miracle, then the word “miracle” has lost its meaning. Deists and atheists disagree about whether there is a god, but they agree that no god interferes with the universe and causes events that are against the natural laws of the universe.

“In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.” He established the natural laws that scientists like Einstein study to learn, but he did not bind himself by those laws. God’s creation is full of marvels and wonders. We should be astounded every day by the glorious things God has made. But to call created things miracles robs the word “miracle” of its meaning. We must reserve that word for the special actions of God that show him acting within his creation.

We are wonderfully made (Psalm 139:14). Every human baby born is a marvel and a wonder. But when ninety-year-old Sarah conceives and gives birth to Isaac, that is more than a marvel and a wonder; it is a miracle. When Mary, a virgin, conceives and gives birth to Jesus, that is more than a marvel and a wonder; it is a miracle.

God sends rain to water the earth, making it grow and flourish. Some of that rain lands in vineyards, where the grape vines soak up the water through their roots along with nutrients from the soil. The vines produce leaves which gather energy from the sun and change carbon dioxide into oxygen to give energy to the vines. That is a wonder. The vines then develop bunches of grapes, which swell and ripen in the sun and the rain. That is a wonder. The grapes can be picked and eaten, or they can be cooked into jelly, or they can be crushed and fermented to produce wine. That is a wonder. But when Jesus calls for six pots to be filled with water and then instantly transforms it into wine, that is a miracle. God is at work in his creation, doing suddenly what his creation requires time to accomplish.

When grain is sown and sprouts, that is a wonder. When it grows in a field until it produces a crop, many times the number of grains that were planted, that is a wonder. But when Jesus takes five loaves of bread and feeds a crowd of thousands, with basketfuls of leftovers remaining after they had eaten their fill, that is a miracle. Once again, we see the Creator at work, going beyond the laws of his creation.

Some people claim that primitive and unscientific people wrote about miracles. They go on to say that we would see the same things today and understand them scientifically; we would not call them miracles. That is far from true. The writers of the Bible described the miracles they saw because they knew those events were special. They knew that ninety-year-old women do not conceive and give birth. Nor do virgins. Water does not instantly transform into wine, nor does a loaf of bread multiply in one day to feed a thousand people. Dead people do not return to life. These miracles were signature events, indications that the Lord of the universe was present, doing good things to help the people he loves.

Miracles show us that Jesus is the Son of God, though whom and for whom all things were created. They show his compassion, his desire to help his people. They show him at work fixing the things that sin and evil have broken in his creation. They foretell what he will do on the Day of the Lord, when all the dead are raised, when every eye will see him, and when the entire planet will be transformed. That new creation will be the ultimate miracle, after which no further miracles will ever be needed. J.

15 thoughts on “Not everything is a miracle

  1. Great post! I especially like this line: “He established the natural laws that scientists like Einstein study to learn, but he did not bind himself by those laws. ” What a great insight. I also like the idea that a miracle is God’s “signature move.” Clarifies what a miracle is in a memorable way. Yep. Great post.

    Becky

    Liked by 1 person

  2. It was late in his life when I think he gravitated more toward a belief in the Creator — it was also when being Jewish became much more important— maybe age- working towards one’s ending rather than ones beginning which is laced with conceit and arrogance brings clarity— but in my own personal case of an older one coming to clarity as she reaches an ending vs the beginning is a hard callous shell

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  3. I always think newborn babies are miracles. Such big wonders of life in such a little package.

    I like your take on Einstein’s words. I agree he probably meant in in a way like: if you can’t explain it, it feels like a miracle, but the moment you can explain something, it’s no longer miraculous.

    But real miracles do exist, though. They just don’t happen very often, in my opinion.

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  4. I think we sometimes confuse God’s providence with miracles. Let’s say we are driving through a busy intersection. If another car runs the light, swerves and narrowly misses us that is God’s providence. On the other hand, if the other car levitates and flys over us, that would be a miracle.

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    • I understand what you’re saying. But let’s call every hearbeat a marvel or a wonder; let’s reserve the word “miracle” for those signature events when the Lord enters creation to do something that transcends even the marvels and wonders of his creation. J.

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      • Ok. You know what? I am really tired of this nitpicky, semantic, splitting of hairs. I have personally experienced the kind of miracles you are talking about, by the mercy and grace of our awesome Creator God. Not just miracles of healing, which could be chalked up to “spontaneous remission,” like when the uterinr cancer that the pathology report said had spread to my endocrine system many years ago, disappeared entirely after prayer. I’m talking about MIRACLES, like the time a homicidal maniac was threatening to murder me and my three children. I immediately began to loudly pray, crying out in Jesus’s name for protection. Suddenly, something that looked like a pulsating force field appeared between me and my children, and this man. When he walked into the force field, he was immediately thrown up into the air, then slammed down on his back on the floor, where he had what looked like a grand mal seizure. Then he sat up and said “What happened?”

        My kids saw this too, not just me, so I did not hallucinate this experience. It was a miracle that saved our lives. I am so grateful to the Lord Jesus Christ for that! And to my way of thinking, stating my belief that the mere fact of existence is itself a miracle, in no way takes anything away from the huge MIRACLES that my family and I have witnessed and experienced, in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ.

        You know, I don’t understand it. When I posted my blog a few days ago about how I became a believer and Christ follower after years as an agnostic/atheist, I expected the comments from atheists making fun of what I had written, twisting my words and nitpicking me to pieces. But I did not expect that I would be unfollowed by a Christian “brother” because 1). I quoted some Bible verses out of a version of the Bible that isn’t King James, and 2). I stated in my post that when I came to believe in Christ, I repented of my sins, and this dude is death on the idea that all we have to do is simply believe on Christ. Repentance is not necessary, he claims, and in fact he believes that repenting of our sins leads to “works righteousness,” or something like that.

        I already knew that for some of my blog followers, I dare not ever quote Mother Teresa, because CATHOLIC. But now, because I quote Einstein, a “some time Deist, some time Atheist,” and I dare to call everything in existence a miracle, I am now guilty of watering down “REAL” miracles and missing the mark yet again.

        This is a BIG part of why I was staunchly agnostic-atheist for many years. My parents were extremely conservative fundamentalists. My dad was a church pastor. My mom was a preacher wannabe, singing solo hymns at the front of the church in her high soprano voice, smiling like a Diva, and bashing sinners over the head with scripture to “win souls for Christ.” Almost everything fun was a sin. Dancing. Movies, including G rated Pinocchio. TV, even Romper Room, Captain Kangaroo, and Bugs Bunny, all were evil. Wearing lipstick was wicked, and so was playing card games like Mother Goose, because it will lead to gambling. Say Golly or Gee Whiz, and you have taken God’s name in vain. And woe to you for saying “darn”!

        But when I was 12, my holier than thou minister father was arrested for coming so close to murdering my mom that I thought she was dead for several horrendous minutes. A few months later, depressed and deeply traumatized, my mom tried to gas us all to death. “I brought you five kids into the world, so I have the right to take you out of it.”

        Believe me, parents that messed up don’t do just one really horrible thing, one time only, and act like Ozzie and Harriet the rest of the time. Which is why I had a post traumatic breakdown at age 14. But PTSD did not exist in 1967, so I was just plain “crazy like your father/mother!”

        Instead of reading my agnostic-atheist to Christian conversion story, and then reflecting Christ’s words to “rejoice with me, for I have found my lost sheep” (Luke 15:6), you and the KJV only/don’t repent-just-believe guy are chastising me on your respective blogs for not being 100% the right kind of Christian that you dudes apparently expect everybody to be.

        Matthew 23:24 comes to mind. Straining out a gnat and missing/swallowing a huge camel. Seriously, what’s more important here? A once lost soul who has been joyously saved by the shed blood of Jesus, is now trying to lead other lost souls to Christ? Or the little semantic nitpicky things that you dudes see as imperfections in my born again story?

        Seriously. I have PTSD. The title of my blog tells you that. I grew up being nitpicked half to death, on the GOOD days. Can’t you stop nitpicking and splitting doctrinal and semantic hairs, and REJOICE that my soul is no longer LOST?

        I really think you two need to get together and write a book. Call it: The Know-It-All’s Guide to Knowing it All.

        Liked by 1 person

      • First of all, I’m sorry. I did not and do not want to upset you. I agree that your faith is genuine. You and I have the same Savior and are going to the same heaven; we read the same Bible and have the same faith. No doubt I could identify half a dozen other areas where we disagree by digging through your blog, but that is truly not who I am or what I am about.
        That said, I will take exception to Einstein’s saying, because I know what he meant. His rational scientific approach leads to the erasing of all miracles. People like him–if they concede the existence of God at all–want to lock God out of the universe and prohibit him from doing as he pleases in the world that he made. Thomas Jefferson even took scissors and cut the miracle accounts out of his Bible. To be able to debate those kind of people, it helps to have precise definition of terms.
        God bless you, Linda, and I hope you have a great weekend. J.

        Liked by 1 person

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