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Draft article now available on miracles and history

For a limited time only (get yours while supplies last) a draft is available on my personal web site of "History and Theism: Epistemology, Miracles, and the God Who Speaks." This article will eventually appear in a forthcoming Routledge Companion to Theism, edited by Charles Taliaferro and Victoria Harrison. The contributors' articles are due by November of this year, but the release date has not been specified, as far as I know.

A representative of Routledge has given me permission to post a copy on my web site only until the volume comes out in print. Then I have to take it down. Moreover, at that point I'm not allowed to distribute electronic copies, and I won't get offprints, either. Just one copy of the entire volume, which isn't helpful for sending copies to inquirers. Also, of course, no JSTOR for articles that appear in books only rather than in journals. The bottom line is that, unless your university library buys a copy of the entire big, fat book, downloading this draft during the next six months to a year is your only opportunity to get this one piece without paying the iniquitous price that Routledge will doubtless charge for the entire anthology. (I'm not in the least implying that mine will be the only good thing in the book. I'm just writing this post for my own readers who therefore might be particularly interested in my own article.)

The article may be somewhat changed between now and its final incarnation if the editors have suggestions. In particular, the main title is required by the volume, and I don't yet know if subtitles will be allowed, so the subtitle may just be gone. (Hint: Google books allows you to search even within new books and see a snippet view of particular pages. So you can find a quotation you want to cite in a full-text version of a draft and then check the quotation and the page number using Google books.)

Enough subversive suggestions for impoverished graduate students and people without access to academic libraries. I will also spare you a full-scale rant about the price of books printed by academic publishers and the virtual entombment of articles published in large, dead-tree anthologies. But please do feel free to download the draft for free while it's up.

You will notice a word count at the end of the text and before the bibliography. That's required for the submission and indicates, gentle readers, that the word limit was fierce. I'm already over by 131 words, which hopefully will be forgiven. As the topic (theism and history!) is, of course, huge, I beg your indulgence for the brevity with which I've written and for all the things I haven't had space to talk about.

Comments (28)

I've downloaded it, and will reply after I've studied it.

Lydia, I've read your excellent draft and agreed with most of it. Especially your critique of Sober is well to the point. Sober's objections against design arguments always struck me as completely unconvincing and you helped me to understand even better what's wrong with them.
I do think, however, that there are some good a priori arguments against miracles, e.g. it is hard to see why God should need to improve on his creation by direct interventions. Even more important, it seems to be an essential part of God's plans for free creatures that he doesn't make knowledge of his existence too easily available. But these are difficult issues, of course, which you couldn't adress in a short essay.
All in all, I like you much better as an analytic philosopher than as a political blogger. Maybe, it would be a good idea to focus on the former :)?

The thing is, Grobi, that we have such a clear answer to the "why" of miracles. The "improve on his creation" idea (which goes back to Spinoza & co.) is just a red herring. In terms of religious miracles, God performs them to tell us something and, sometimes, out of sheer graciousness to help us in trouble. It's that simple, so it has nothing to do with "improving upon his creation." Jesus didn't make the water into wine at Cana because he thought God the Father had made inferior grapes that needed to be improved. :-) He did it at his mother's request, to help out the people who had run out of wine, and to manifest his glory to his disciples and help them begin to understand that he wasn't just another rabbi.

Of course, people also bring up the "improve on his creation" argument in the biological context, where there is no religious human context, which I wasn't really discussing in that paper. But even there, it seems to me that there is a real abrogation of divine freedom to insist that God must create _all at once_ or else he must have made something "defective." I see no reason why God should not have enjoyed crafting the world over a much longer time period, first setting up an environment, then putting creatures in it, and so forth. I'm not saying that I know exactly how he did this or to what extent he intervened; I am saying that the phrase "improve on his creation" just seems to me an unwarranted attempt to close off a priori an advertance to the evidence regarding what God actually did. By the way, if you read C.S. Lewis's The Magician's Nephew, the creation scene in there is particularly good. Aslan starts with a world of rock and stone (we may assume it "contains" physical laws as well) then paces about taking obvious pleasure in making up trees, grass, and animals "out of his head" and making them appear.

The idea of not making knowledge of God's existence too easily available is rather an odd complaint, given that (as you probably know) many atheists make exactly the _opposite_ complaint--namely, that God is insufficiently clear, that even if he does miracles he doesn't do them often enough, and that therefore he is unjust to expect people to believe in him. The "why isn't God more obvious" objection is widely canvassed. It seems to me that the fact that one can try to criticize divine justice either way ("Miracles are too obvious," "God does miracles so seldom that he isn't helping people enough who want knowledge of him and hence is unjust to condemn them") shows that neither objection really works. If God is to tell us that some revelation is from him, he will need to verify it in some clear way. But if he is to have a background of stability, he will not do miracles every time some atheist challenges him to do so, and if man is to be free significantly, God will allow the physical consequences of man's actions to take place in most cases (e.g., not stopping every murderer's bullet). Therefore, miracles will not be as common as dandelion fluff. What this means is that it will be possible to _dream up_ a criticism either way--either that he is too obvious or not obvious enough. But the truth is that we really have no a priori standard for how obvious God "has to" be.

Notice, too, that even though on the Christian view God _has_ done miracles, apparently man is still free to reject him, because many do! So it cannot be the case that miracles overwhelm human freedom. Even after Jesus' resurrection, notice the story of the Jewish leaders who bribed the guards to say that the disciples stole the body. I always find this so striking. Since _they_ were bribing the guards, _they_ must have known that the disciples did not steal the body. Did it never pass through their minds to wonder if they had made a terrible mistake about Jesus, if they should repent, if God really had raised him from the dead? And yet the action there is so true to human nature. I can picture it happening in our own day--the damage control, the spin machine getting underway. "They will not be persuaded though one rose from the dead." Human freedom is not at all undermined by miracles, as people can always twist their minds around to wriggle out. (As you may know, J.L. Mackie says in The Miracle of Theism that an atheist may reasonably refuse to believe even in a miracle he apparently witnesses with his own eyes.) And in the final analysis, even if a man were to have a direct, overwhelming vision of God and be unable to deny God's existence, he can hate him. That's what the demons do. So there's an "out" for freedom even in that extreme case--which is not in any event a mere matter of a miracle.

Thanks for your kind reply. I very much appreciate it.
I think we are close to an agreement, when it comes to the "improvement on his creation" objection, at least as far as only religious miracles (and not biological evolution) are involved.

I consider the second objection a more serious problem for your account. There is a "value of ignorance" towards the existence of God, as even, as you probably know, Richard Swinburne has reminded us. Understandably, Dawkins mocked at this, but he just didn't get Swinburne's important point. It seems to me, what we should expect in the case of the existence of a God who is interested in creatures capable to mould their characters freely, is a situation of religious uncertainty, evidence that is ambiguous and reasons that may suffice to justify hope, but not straightforward, unshakable belief. This can hardly be reconciled with the idea that there were people who had some kind of direct awareness (visio beatifica) of divine reality. (Moreover, such a privilege would be in tension with God's impartial justice towards men)
Miracles don't fare much better in this respect, I suppose. The most simple explanation of the fact that many people reject the reality of purported miracles is, of course, that there were none.
And what about the demons who believe in God and tremble? It is true that they know God and nevertheless do wrong, but they don’t do so freely. They can’t help it, because they are devils. They are not free to do otherwise. Therefore, I simply deny that anyone could really know God, the supreme good, and at the same time deliberately choose to hate him.
Of course, we are entering here a field of speculation which makes it exceedingly difficult to argue. Perhaps, finally, our different intuitions about human psychology just cannot be resolved?

The most simple explanation of the fact that many people reject the reality of purported miracles is, of course, that there were none.

Of course, I don't at all agree that the only way for human beings to be free is for the evidence for the existence of God to be ambiguous. I don't think you're attributing anything that strong to Swinburne, though, right?

But in any event, I don't understand the above statement. You cannot mean that Richard Dawkins, PZ Myers, and Daniel Dennett all disbelieve in miracles simply because miracles never occurred and they are simply evaluating correctly the resulting paucity of evidence, can you? After all, by the Christian account, the most important miracle (Jesus' resurrection) took place two thousand years ago, and it would actually be very easy for someone who wished to ignore, remain ignorant of, and/or mock the evidence to do so, even if it were extremely strong. It's not as though we're all forced to assimilate historical evidence--even _overwhelming_ historical evidence--correctly, or at all, for that matter. For that matter, there are plenty of skeptics even about much more recent secular historical matters--9/11 truthers, for example. People are always free to be irrational.

Our positions are much closer than you seem to think. Some clarifications:

1. I do think that Swinburne is not radical enough in emphazising the value of ignorance.

2. I didn't want to say that a priori considerations alone are sufficient to settle the question whether miracles actually did happen. We have e.g. every reason to investigate all the evidence there is to make an informed guess whether Jesus did raise from the dead or not. Dawkins and Dennett haven't done so. However, a priori considerations might show that the historical evidence for the resurrection has to be much stronger than is usually supposed by traditional Christians.

3. That people are free to be irrational is true only to a certain degree. Suppose you are a person who loves her life. Now someone gives you a potassium cyanide capsule. Perhaps,
due to the closeness to death, you are somewhat attracted by the capsule, perhaps you feel a little tremble, similar to the fascination we feel when we are looking down an abyss. But, of course, you are not really wondering whether to swallow or not to swallow the capsule. You are not fighting an inner struggle, i.e. you are not free to be so irrational as to swallow the capsule. Now, the union with God is the supreme good. Suppose you believe in God’s existence and you believe with the same firmness as you believe that potassium cyanide will kill you that to humiliate other innocent people would separate us from God. Then, I think it is plausible to assume that you would not be free to humiliate other people (or to sin in other grave ways).

4. You are right, that we could, via a process of self-deception, bring ourselves to ignore almost any historical fact, even if the evidence for it were extremely strong. But I doubt (pace Mackie) that this is true for direct witnesses of miracles, let alone witnesses of the resurrection. I think it is psychologically extremely implausible to suppose that those who saw Jesus alive some days after witnessing his brutal death, were free to ignore this fact. (There obviously was much doubt even among the apostles, but "the most simple explanation for this is, of course, that there never happened anything like a resurrection.")

The apostles actually were not full of doubt after Jesus' post-resurrection appearances, so I'm not quite sure what you're alluding to there. Of course they doubted that he had risen from the dead before seeing him; that's only reasonable.

If I understand your #4 correctly, you seem to be saying that miracles are incompatible with the character of God as desiring human freedom, because whatever is the case for later people, the original witnesses would be made unfree by the evidence presented to them. Is that a correct characterization?

I think there is a tendency to an anachronistic division between "believers" and "skeptics." This was not always so. In the time of Christ, for example, there were other categories, including (e.g.) demon-worshipers, sorcerers, etc.

The "unfreeness" thing seems entirely incorrect to me in any event because it would seem to make any really strong argument wrong to make. Suppose that we believe

1) It is wrong to render other people unfree.

Then suppose what you appear to be saying,

2) If you give your fellow man an extremely strong argument or amount of evidence which he is able to follow, he will be rendered unfree in accepting the conclusion.


3) It is wrong to give your fellow man an extremely strong argument or set of evidence which he is able to follow.

Something is obviously wrong here. This would make it wrong to give mathematical proofs, to teach, to demonstrate scientific facts by clear experiment, and so forth.

To take a very simple case, suppose that you had a friend who doubted that you owned a certain type of car. Suppose, then, that you showed him your car so that he could see for himself. Would this be wrong, because it would render him unfree in continuing to deny that you own that type of car?

If we are permitted to give people the evidence of their own eyes and senses of some truth (and all the more so when it is an important truth rather than a trivial one), then surely God is permitted to do so as well--e.g., to raise Jesus from the dead and to have Jesus show himself plainly to his disciples.

Of course they doubted that he had risen from the dead before seeing him; that's only reasonable.

Umm...is that because second hand reports of miracles should not be trusted?

But the truth is that we really have no a priori standard for how obvious God "has to" be.

I found this line of "no a priori standard" interesting when compared against the claim in the article that only an infinite supernatural being would have the power to raise the dead. Unless there is some reason to believe that resurrection must require infinite power, the claim is entirely unfounded. The belief in a physical and spiritual afterlife was a staple of Egyptian religion for well over a millennium.

Umm...is that because second hand reports of miracles should not be trusted?

I wasn't addressing the case of Thomas. Perhaps I should have been clearer that I meant the apostles prior to their having even secondhand reports. Also--sorry to have to say it--given cultural conditioning, it wasn't as utterly irrational as it would be for us for those who were told by Mary Magdalene to refuse to believe her, because she was a woman.

Actually, by my recollection I didn't _claim_ in the paper that the resurrection of the dead required the action of a non-finite God, I merely implied that this is plausible. The Egyptians (obviously) did not believe that their gods raised people to walk among them on this earth, as Jesus was raised, so whatever the meaning of their "physical afterlife," it didn't mean that. And of course it would be possible for them to be _wrong_ even if they did think that someone other than the one God who made all of nature could truly and unambiguously raise the dead.

But there's no conflict in any event between even outright saying that a finite god cannot raise the dead and saying that there is no a priori standard of how obvious God has to be. Perhaps, Step2, you misunderstand what is meant by that a priori standard. That is supposed to be some sort of ethical claim: God must make himself _no more_ obvious than x (so as not to overwhelm human freedom) or _no less_ obvious than y (so as to be just in condemning men for not believing in him). It has nothing at all to do with what acts require the power of an infinite God.


Rather than distract people from all the fine things going on at this blog right now, I've decided to post my reaction to your paper at my own blog: http://mliccione.blogspot.com/2010/05/concept-of-evidence-for-divine-miracles.html. Anybody interested in that can comment there.


Lydia, your counter-objection is misleading.
Consider a parallel with the problem of evil:
It is wrong for human beings to allow genocide. Right?
But, obviously, if an omnipotent and morally perfect God exists, it was not wrong for him to allow genocide. Why? Because God may have special reasons that are not open to us. Perhaps, for example, he didn't want to impede human freedom (not even Hitler's or Stalins's) by intervening miraculously. (It would, however, be ridiculous for a human bystander to defend his passivity by saying that he didn't want to interfere with the murderer's freedom, since the freedom of the bystander is at stake here, too, and part of God's plan as well.)

So, it is perfectly compatible to say that it may be permissible for God to enhance our ignorance concerning divine matters and other 'last things' by creating a situation of religious ambiguity and holding back better evidence, while at the same time it is not permissible for us to let our fellow humans in the dark, when we have a piece of information or line of reasoning that is of great importance for them. I see no problem here.

it may be permissible for God to enhance our ignorance concerning divine matters

Except that this goes against everything Christ said in the Farewell Discourse about having made himself known to the apostles and how the Holy Spirit would lead them to all truth.

The Chicken

Grobi, you are saying something (if I understand you correctly) about what is _impermissible_ for God, so just saying that God may be _permitted_ to do some things we aren't doesn't seem very relevant. Specifically, if I understand you correctly, you are saying that God is not permitted to make himself known by sensory means (to those who witness miracles)--that it is wrong for him to do so. So we humans are permitted to make ourselves known unambiguously, to speak and communicate with others, to show them tangible and visible evidence where they are wrong, but God isn't. Again, if the objection is that this would make them "unfree," this seems totally incorrect. If it does not make my child unfree when I show her with her own eyes and senses that something really does work the way I said it did (for example), then it did not make the disciples unfree when Jesus showed himself alive again after his resurrection.

Not every kind of knowledge makes you unfree or less free with respect to choosing between the morally bad and the morally good. However, knowing God's existence beyond reasonable doubt would make us unfree in this relevant sense. That's my main (neither new nor very radical) claim, nothing else. Showing someone a car or whatever you have has no such freedom-impeding effect, of course. What I wanted to show with the problem of evil parallel was the following: God could be permitted to hold back from us better evidence for his existence while we are not permitted to remain silent, if we have (or believe to have!) important evidence or arguments concerning the 'ultimate scheme of things'.

I don't wish to say that God is not permitted to make himself known via miracles. There are, however, good reasons for God to make a world inhabited by free and responsible creatures. If God wanted to create such a world, he would have been ill-advised to make knowledge of him too easily available. That is compatible with saying that it would have been equally permissible for God to create a world without free creatures. However, we live, I suppose, in a world with beings capable of making free decisions between good and bad. So what we should expect, if God created our world, is that there are no (resp. very, very few) miracles or epiphanies.

But I can easily dream up cases in which the thing you would show to your friend would be highly relevant concerning choosing good and evil. For example, suppose that your friend were a Nazi but insisted that the concentration camps really weren't so bad, and you took him on a tour and showed him with his own eyes that they really were committing genocide, showed him the conditions, showed him the ovens, and so forth. That seems to me very much parallel to God's showing himself by a miracle in the respect you are describing--i.e., that the knowledge places a moral obligation on any normal person who doesn't just make himself morally insane.

By the way, about the demons: Of course they were free originally, before they fell. And presumably they knew God then, and even more clearly than we humans do. Yet they still rebelled. That's exactly what Christianity teaches about them, and in particular about Lucifer. Or what about Adam and Eve? The Bible says God _walked_ with them--major ultimate epiphany. Yet they still chose to disobey and fall. That was, apparently, compatible with their freedom.

I very much enjoy our encounter. Thanks for that.
1. I don't think the case of showing someone the cruel reality of a concentration camp is really analogous to God's showing undisputable signs of his existence.
We have to observe the important difference between motives and moral reasons for actions/omissions here.
Seeing a concentration camp leaves hardly any doubt about what is morally required from you. However, people are free to ignore their moral obligations. But noone is free to act deliberately against his own motives. If God's existence were known beyond any reasonable doubt, everyone would know that by torturing innocent people etc. you loose the supreme good (eternal union with God), or to put it more metaphorically, you will burn in hell forever. But, I suppose, everybody inevitably wants the supreme good (and nobody likes hell). So, after learning that God, the supreme good, does exist as sure as 2 and 2 equals 4, there is no freedom left to commit, knowingly and voluntarily, grave sins.

2. With regard to the demons, you are probably right that the official Christian teaching is different from my portrayal. Whether it is psychologically more plausible is a different story.

3.The story of Adam and Eve rather confirms my point of view. The human fall would not have happened without ignorance. Adam and Eve falsely believed that they would become as powerful as God by eating the apple. They falsely believed that they were able to hide themselves from the wrath of God. They mistook the omniscient and omnipotent God for an ordinary king or landlord. They did not really know God.

Excellent article, Lydia. I have no objections at all. But then again I'm a fanatical evidentialist, as you may be aware.

Btw, I think Liccione is missing the point.

Thanks, George R. Well, as you know, Mike Liccione is uncomfortable with my own Rambo-style evidentialism. :-) I am actually pleasantly surprised at his relatively positive review. I will have to think about where and when to respond to his question about "unreasonable to disbelieve." The short version is that the only way I can understand "unreasonable to disbelieve" is in terms of a probability based on the evidence the person actually has--perhaps quite a high probability. And if evidence can take a proposition to level A ("reasonable to believe") there is no reason in principle why evidence--more evidence--couldn't take it to level B ("unreasonable to disbelieve"). Perhaps I will just say this in his comments thread.

Grobi, it is very odd to me that you seem to regard _ignorance_ as essential to _freedom_. It's especially odd because in our own age we usually understand this not to be correct. Consider, for example, the notion of informed consent. Obviously, people can have more and less knowledge, and I don't myself make a strict equation one way or another between knowledge and freedom, but I'm certainly very sympathetic to the view that a decision made on the basis of _all_ relevant information is, in a sense, quintessentially free, because ignorance clouds judgment. So to say that one is free _only_ if one doesn't really understand who God is seems to me completely incorrect.

Psychologically speaking, yes, I certainly do find "Better to reign in hell than to serve in heaven" plausible. My own heart testifies against me, here, and testifies for the plausibility of such a choice. I think all fallen children of Adam have exactly the tendency to say that even when, yes, it conduces to their own misery. Watch children sometimes, how they make themselves unhappy because they cannot have their own way, even when stopping the temper tantrum would actually be for their own best good and make them happier.

Some literary recommendations that I think you might find interesting along these lines: The Great Divorce, by C. S. Lewis, and The End of the Affair, by Graham Greene. Very different books, but they both show that choice against God and for misery.

But of course, aside from psychological plausibility, I think you must realize that to say that God would be making people unfree by doing miracles (at least that he would be making the original witnesses unfree) is a very strong metaphysical claim and requires a very strong argument.

Perhaps I should have been clearer that I meant the apostles prior to their having even secondhand reports.

They were reasonable to doubt the Resurrection before they were made aware of it? This is getting confusing.

But there's no conflict in any event between even outright saying that a finite god cannot raise the dead and saying that there is no a priori standard of how obvious God has to be.

As I see it, the conflict is in saying that there is a standard based on infinite power to raise the dead (this standard miraculously appears from nowhere), and further saying there can be no a priori standard for the singular infinite power being obvious. In other words, you have stated a questionable standard that is essentially based upon a mysterious power.

Step2, I have no idea what you mean. The "standard for the singular infinite power being obvious," as I've already explained, which I am denying, is a _requirement on God_ that he must--to be just, or to leave men free, or whatever--make himself obvious to a certain extent, not too obvious, etc. It has nothing to do with an epistemic standard on our part for deciding _whether_ God has acted. What I'm denying is a requirement on God that he must manifest himself to a certain degree.

Yes, I was saying that they were reasonable to doubt the resurrection before they were made aware of it. Exactly. Just as I'm reasonable to doubt that there was an accident on the main street nearest me at 8:55 when I have no evidence for it. But I was disagreeing at that point with Grobi's statement that they doubted after seeing Jesus. They didn't.

I haven't addressed how much they should have believed in between--when they had some evidence (e.g., from the women, or for Thomas, when he had evidence from the other disciples) but had not yet seen him for themselves.

It's at least worth pointing out that no one had yet testified publicly and faced death during that in-between time. The women, for example, had told only the disciples.

Step2, I have no idea what you mean.

You ain't the only one.

Lydia, thanks again.
I think that, in general, we are quite close regarding religious epistemology, since I am an evidentialist as much as you are.
And, as I already indicated before, some kinds of knowledge may enhance our freedom of choice or are even necessary for responsible decisions (the informed consent concept you mentioned is a good example). No disagreement here.
Still, knowledge of God is a different matter, as your own heart seems to testify.
I am not sure who really has the onus of proof here, but, again, I agree that the underlying metaphysical problem is a very difficult one. My own intuitions are far from being unambigously here.
Thanks for the reading recommendations, I haven't read the books so far, but especially Graham Greene and (many of) his protagonists stand for the kind of Christianity I unreservedly admire.
Dostoevskij's "man from the underground" is another example for the (at least prima facie) completely irrational desire of proving one's freedom at all costs, even against the objective good, that you may have in mind.
These literary characters behave in psychologically plausible ways, so much I concede, but I think that further analysis would show that this doesn't count against my "value of ignorance" claim. Unfortunately, I haven't the time to go into that here.
A happy Pentecost to you and your family!

I think Step2 is saying that if God's power is infinite, why should he have to hide it? Of course, I could be wrong and await his correction.

The Chicken

If that's what he's saying, he isn't arguing with me. I'm saying God should _go for it_ and is not obligated to hide himself at all.

Sorry, let me try again. If someone is making the questionable claim about raising the dead that Lydia mentioned, they are setting a standard based on finite contrasted to infinite power. The problem arises that without some way to make a distinction between finite and infinite power, there can be no way to determine if the claim is true. Without begging the question, a finite power could raise the dead. The claim itself requires a "degree of being manifest" to be able to distinguish the infinite against every finite power.

I'm not convinced it is reasonable to doubt something you have no evidence of. You might have very limited or inconsistent evidence, or there may be something about the discovery or presentation you find misleading, but you need to have some evidence simply to know what is doubtful about it. Of course there are dozens of cognitive biases that support irrational doubts, but those don't count.

Because I didn't have space to defend the claim, I worded the implication cautiously in the paper. One of my reasons for considering that finite beings could not (at least not without delegated power from God) raise the dead is that I am a dualist. I do not believe minds "supervene" on bodies. Hence to raise a dead human being (as opposed to a dead bacterium) one must reunite the body and the mind, which seems to require a power related to the original power to create the mind. But the argument from mind seems correct that only a self-existent being could be the original creator of minds. Hence, the reuniting of mind with body would seem to have to be the work of or at by the delegated power of the self-existent being who made minds in the first place, not by merely created beings, not even by very powerful contingent beings, such as the pagan gods would (if they existed) have to be.


I think it might help if we distinguished between resurrection and resuscitation here. Just "reuniting mind and body," such as Jesus is said to have done to Lazarus, who had been dead "four days," could conceivably be accomplished by a creature, albeit a very powerful one. That's resuscitation. But a body such as risen Jesus' is said to have been like is something of another, higher order. That's resurrection, and much harder to conceive as the work of a creature.


Mike, I would use the term "resurrection" for both events--for one thing, because the term "resuscitation" in our own day has taken on a natural meaning including what the paramedics do that saves a person who has temporarily stopped breathing. So that's confusing.

My own inclination is to think that a mere creature could not have raised Lazarus either unless the Creator had expressly given that creature power to do so in that instance--that is, that it would not fall within the natural, usual powers of any created being. Hence, a true prophet of God might be able to raise a dead person (really dead), but it would be a sign that he was sent from God. A demon, I would think, could not raise a really dead person, though he might be able to help someone perpetrate a deception of having done so.

This is conjectural, but again, it seems to me correct because once the soul is truly separated from the body I have difficulty seeing how someone could "get it back" from whatever afterlife God had sent it to and reunite it with a body--any body, for that matter, including a glorified one.

Certainly, the special and glorified nature of Jesus' body presents _additional_ problems in this area.

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