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Miracles Are Not Violations of Physical Law

Apeiron
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2/24/2013 2:03:11 AM
Posted: 3 years ago
I do not intend to sidestep the problem of miracles by a disingenuous appeal to quantum physics. Instead my aim is to argue that miracles are not "violations' of nature's laws since each theory of a violation is incoherent: hence miracles need not be so defined.
Nur-Ab-Sal
Posts: 1,637
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2/24/2013 2:25:25 AM
Posted: 3 years ago
I just want to know, what is your definition of a 'miracle'? I always assumed it was the suspension of physical laws for an extraordinary event.

I'm probably wrong or missing something.
Genesis I. And God created man to his own image: to the image of God he created him: male and female he created them.
phantom
Posts: 6,774
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2/24/2013 7:13:38 AM
Posted: 3 years ago
According to the Bible, the sun stopped for a full day as well as the moon so as to prolong the day. How could this be explained while being consistent with physics? (Maybe it can. I'm just wandering)
"Music is a zen-like ecstatic state where you become the new man of the future, the Nietzschean merger of Apollo and Dionysus." Ray Manzarek (The Doors)
muzebreak
Posts: 2,781
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2/24/2013 7:17:41 AM
Posted: 3 years ago
At 2/24/2013 7:13:38 AM, phantom wrote:
According to the Bible, the sun stopped for a full day as well as the moon so as to prolong the day. How could this be explained while being consistent with physics? (Maybe it can. I'm just wandering)

Easy enough, the sun doesn't move. The moon on the other hand, I am not so sure about. I know it has gravitational effects on our planet, but I don't know what effect it stopping in orbit might have.
"Every kid starts out as a natural-born scientist, and then we beat it out of them. A few trickle through the system with their wonder and enthusiasm for science intact." - Carl Sagan

This is the response of the defenders of Sparta to the Commander of the Roman Army: "If you are a god, you will not hurt those who have never injured you. If you are a man, advance - you will find men equal to yourself. And women.
Pwner
Posts: 92
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2/24/2013 7:50:23 AM
Posted: 3 years ago
If you think laws of nature can be stated as 'Every X is Y'--or 'has Y', 'does Y'--as one traditional and fairly prevalent view affirms, then it will be logically impossible to violate or suspend a law of nature.

This is because if something really is a law of nature, then the statement 'Every X is Y' (or whatever) is true. But, if it's true, then there are no exceptions such as 'Some X is not Y' (or whatever). In other words to say that something is a law of nature and that it's violated or suspended is to say 'Every X is Y' and 'Not every X is Y' violating the law of non-contradiction, something not even the Almighty could do.
Kinesis
Posts: 3,667
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2/24/2013 7:50:51 AM
Posted: 3 years ago
"The laws of nature " describe the ways in which the world - including, of course, human beings - works when left to itself, when not interfered with. A miracle occurs when the world is not left to itself, when something distinct from the natural order as a whole intrudes into it." -J.L. Mackie.

Always thought this was the best definition.
phantom
Posts: 6,774
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2/24/2013 10:06:30 AM
Posted: 3 years ago
At 2/24/2013 7:17:41 AM, muzebreak wrote:
At 2/24/2013 7:13:38 AM, phantom wrote:
According to the Bible, the sun stopped for a full day as well as the moon so as to prolong the day. How could this be explained while being consistent with physics? (Maybe it can. I'm just wandering)

Easy enough, the sun doesn't move. The moon on the other hand, I am not so sure about. I know it has gravitational effects on our planet, but I don't know what effect it stopping in orbit might have.

I think it's more of a frame of reference thing since really the earth would have to stop moving to have it stay day.
"Music is a zen-like ecstatic state where you become the new man of the future, the Nietzschean merger of Apollo and Dionysus." Ray Manzarek (The Doors)
phantom
Posts: 6,774
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2/24/2013 10:08:30 AM
Posted: 3 years ago
A harder one would be how Jesus could feed thousands with only a few loafs of bread and fish.
"Music is a zen-like ecstatic state where you become the new man of the future, the Nietzschean merger of Apollo and Dionysus." Ray Manzarek (The Doors)
SovereignDream
Posts: 1,119
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2/24/2013 12:07:19 PM
Posted: 3 years ago
I think that one often overlooks a very banal observation when discussing the plausibility of miracles. Of course, if God does not exist, then the plausibility of miracles occurring is very, very low. But consider; if God does exist, then this means that the universe is potentially not a closed system. So if God exists (ie a being who is at least omnipotent, immaterial, etc., etc.), then a miracle is nothing short of a cakewalk for God to bring about, for when God were to bring a miracle about, it would be the case that the universe is not a closed system.
Slice_O_Pie
Posts: 21
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2/24/2013 12:15:57 PM
Posted: 3 years ago
At 2/24/2013 10:08:30 AM, phantom wrote:
A harder one would be how Jesus could feed thousands with only a few loafs of bread and fish.

Well, raising hundreds (or was it thousands?) of dead

Matthew 27:51-53:

"And, behold, the veil of the temple was rent in twain from the top to the bottom; and the earth did quake, and the rocks rent;
And the graves were opened; and many bodies of the saints which slept arose,
And came out of the graves after his resurrection, and went into the holy city, and appeared unto many."

Sounds legit"
Slice_O_Pie
Posts: 21
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2/24/2013 12:18:46 PM
Posted: 3 years ago
Sorry, I wanted to add:
Well, raising hundreds (or was it thousands?) of dead would be a more significant feat in my eyes.

Of course, we have so much corroborating eyewitness testimony to go off of, that shouldn't be a problem...
muzebreak
Posts: 2,781
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2/24/2013 12:20:52 PM
Posted: 3 years ago
At 2/24/2013 10:06:30 AM, phantom wrote:
At 2/24/2013 7:17:41 AM, muzebreak wrote:
At 2/24/2013 7:13:38 AM, phantom wrote:
According to the Bible, the sun stopped for a full day as well as the moon so as to prolong the day. How could this be explained while being consistent with physics? (Maybe it can. I'm just wandering)

Easy enough, the sun doesn't move. The moon on the other hand, I am not so sure about. I know it has gravitational effects on our planet, but I don't know what effect it stopping in orbit might have.

I think it's more of a frame of reference thing since really the earth would have to stop moving to have it stay day.

Ah well then.

http://www.youtube.com...
"Every kid starts out as a natural-born scientist, and then we beat it out of them. A few trickle through the system with their wonder and enthusiasm for science intact." - Carl Sagan

This is the response of the defenders of Sparta to the Commander of the Roman Army: "If you are a god, you will not hurt those who have never injured you. If you are a man, advance - you will find men equal to yourself. And women.
muzebreak
Posts: 2,781
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2/24/2013 12:23:24 PM
Posted: 3 years ago
At 2/24/2013 12:07:19 PM, SovereignDream wrote:
I think that one often overlooks a very banal observation when discussing the plausibility of miracles. Of course, if God does not exist, then the plausibility of miracles occurring is very, very low. But consider; if God does exist, then this means that the universe is potentially not a closed system. So if God exists (ie a being who is at least omnipotent, immaterial, etc., etc.), then a miracle is nothing short of a cakewalk for God to bring about, for when God were to bring a miracle about, it would be the case that the universe is not a closed system.

Really? So if a god exists he can preform miracles? Who woulda thunk it......
"Every kid starts out as a natural-born scientist, and then we beat it out of them. A few trickle through the system with their wonder and enthusiasm for science intact." - Carl Sagan

This is the response of the defenders of Sparta to the Commander of the Roman Army: "If you are a god, you will not hurt those who have never injured you. If you are a man, advance - you will find men equal to yourself. And women.
Apeiron
Posts: 2,446
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2/24/2013 12:40:48 PM
Posted: 3 years ago
At 2/24/2013 2:25:25 AM, Nur-Ab-Sal wrote:
I just want to know, what is your definition of a 'miracle'? I always assumed it was the suspension of physical laws for an extraordinary event.

I'm probably wrong or missing something.

No, good question, miracles are simply physically impossible events, not violations of Natural Law. There"s no physical theory which implies God"s special action is somehow a "violation." Only if atheism were to be proved true, then one could rationally deny miracles. For even if it is epistemically possible for God to exist, then it is equally possible he acted in the world. Thus physical impossibility of miracles in no way precludes their reality.
Apeiron
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2/24/2013 12:41:16 PM
Posted: 3 years ago
At 2/24/2013 2:32:22 AM, dylancatlow wrote:
Miracles are not violations of physical law, for they take place perfectly "non-violatory" in one's imagination.

Sorry I can't take you seriously, you don't agree with my worldview.
Slice_O_Pie
Posts: 21
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2/24/2013 12:42:26 PM
Posted: 3 years ago
At 2/24/2013 7:17:41 AM, muzebreak wrote:
At 2/24/2013 7:13:38 AM, phantom wrote:
According to the Bible, the sun stopped for a full day as well as the moon so as to prolong the day. How could this be explained while being consistent with physics? (Maybe it can. I'm just wandering)

Easy enough, the sun doesn't move. The moon on the other hand, I am not so sure about. I know it has gravitational effects on our planet, but I don't know what effect it stopping in orbit might have.

The magnetic field that protects the earth from harmful radiation would deteriorate. As the earth orbited, there would be no angular stability, and it would wobble. The orbit would decay, which would also set the moons orbit in chaos.
Weather patterns would be disrupted, earthquakes, tsunamis, and eruptions would be a virtually guaranteed planet wide due to the loss of centrifugal force and magnetic forces going crazy. I also believe we would leak atmosphere into space, but I don"t quote me on that.
One side of the earth would be getting sunlight for three days, while the other doesn"t.
And that"s only the stopping of the rotation. That is not taking into effect the consequences of stopping the planets orbit quickly. That would literally destroy the planet, I would think.

Then you have to consider what would restart the rotation (and orbit if that applies), as well as take into account what force would cause this in the first place.

Yeah, a few natural laws would be broken in that instance I would think"
Apeiron
Posts: 2,446
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2/24/2013 12:43:48 PM
Posted: 3 years ago
At 2/24/2013 7:13:38 AM, phantom wrote:
According to the Bible, the sun stopped for a full day as well as the moon so as to prolong the day. How could this be explained while being consistent with physics? (Maybe it can. I'm just wandering)

I don't think we're in anyway forced to adopt a literal understanding of that verse lol. But let's say that it is a miracle, miracles are simply physically impossible events, and so the sun stopping in a religion-context would be a miracle.

Here are my criteria for miracle identification:

1) For any miraculous event E, E"s evidence is at least as good as other acceptable unusual events distant from time or space from the point of inquiry.
2) An account of the natures and / or powers of the causally relevant agents would be clumsy and ad hoc
3) There"s no evidence except the inexplicability of E for more than one natural agents which could produce E
4) A justified supernatural explanation of E is independent of the inexplicability of E
5) If Christ rose from the dead R, we would be justified in inferring a supernatural cause
6) R so exceeds natural causes that it"s most rational to a supernatural cause
7) R was also more than just a resuscitation of a corpse
8) R came within the climax of the religious context
Slice_O_Pie
Posts: 21
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2/24/2013 12:43:56 PM
Posted: 3 years ago
At 2/24/2013 12:41:16 PM, Apeiron wrote:
At 2/24/2013 2:32:22 AM, dylancatlow wrote:
Miracles are not violations of physical law, for they take place perfectly "non-violatory" in one's imagination.

Sorry I can't take you seriously, you don't agree with my worldview.

This has to be the best "LALALALALALA I CANNOT HEAR YOU!!!" version I have ever heard in my life...
Apeiron
Posts: 2,446
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2/24/2013 12:48:46 PM
Posted: 3 years ago
At 2/24/2013 7:50:23 AM, Pwner wrote:
If you think laws of nature can be stated as 'Every X is Y'--or 'has Y', 'does Y'--as one traditional and fairly prevalent view affirms, then it will be logically impossible to violate or suspend a law of nature.

Haha that's far from a "prevalent view" of physical regularity, that's rather universal quantification, which is first order predicate logic, not physical law. Physical impossibility isn't logical impossibility. And so the two can't be equivocated.

This is because if something really is a law of nature, then the statement 'Every X is Y' (or whatever) is true. But, if it's true, then there are no exceptions such as 'Some X is not Y' (or whatever). In other words to say that something is a law of nature and that it's violated or suspended is to say 'Every X is Y' and 'Not every X is Y' violating the law of non-contradiction, something not even the Almighty could do.

Again, there are many logical possibilities that aren't physically possible, or possibilities tat physics has no say on whatever. Just because we observe some regularities and have rules that describe (not prescribe) those regularities, simply means we've set up pragmatic axioms which are necessary to tell a story.
Apeiron
Posts: 2,446
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2/24/2013 12:50:15 PM
Posted: 3 years ago
At 2/24/2013 7:50:51 AM, Kinesis wrote:
"The laws of nature " describe the ways in which the world - including, of course, human beings - works when left to itself, when not interfered with. A miracle occurs when the world is not left to itself, when something distinct from the natural order as a whole intrudes into it." -J.L. Mackie.

Always thought this was the best definition.

Again that's incoherent, there exists no physical theory in which a physically impossible event is a "violation" of physical law. That's just strange to think so.
Apeiron
Posts: 2,446
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2/24/2013 12:52:45 PM
Posted: 3 years ago
At 2/24/2013 12:43:56 PM, Slice_O_Pie wrote:
At 2/24/2013 12:41:16 PM, Apeiron wrote:
At 2/24/2013 2:32:22 AM, dylancatlow wrote:
Miracles are not violations of physical law, for they take place perfectly "non-violatory" in one's imagination.

Sorry I can't take you seriously, you don't agree with my worldview.

This has to be the best "LALALALALALA I CANNOT HEAR YOU!!!" version I have ever heard in my life...

Just giving him back his own medicine,

http://www.debate.org...
Polaris
Posts: 1,120
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2/24/2013 1:25:17 PM
Posted: 3 years ago
At 2/24/2013 12:40:48 PM, Apeiron wrote:
At 2/24/2013 2:25:25 AM, Nur-Ab-Sal wrote:
I just want to know, what is your definition of a 'miracle'? I always assumed it was the suspension of physical laws for an extraordinary event.

I'm probably wrong or missing something.

No, good question, miracles are simply physically impossible events, not violations of Natural Law.

And how for example, does something which is physically impossible differ from that which requires a violation of physics?
Pwner
Posts: 92
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2/24/2013 1:30:04 PM
Posted: 3 years ago
At 2/24/2013 12:48:46 PM, Apeiron wrote:
At 2/24/2013 7:50:23 AM, Pwner wrote:
If you think laws of nature can be stated as 'Every X is Y'--or 'has Y', 'does Y'--as one traditional and fairly prevalent view affirms, then it will be logically impossible to violate or suspend a law of nature.

Haha that's far from a "prevalent view" of physical regularity, that's rather universal quantification, which is first order predicate logic, not physical law. Physical impossibility isn't logical impossibility. And so the two can't be equivocated.

This is because if something really is a law of nature, then the statement 'Every X is Y' (or whatever) is true. But, if it's true, then there are no exceptions such as 'Some X is not Y' (or whatever). In other words to say that something is a law of nature and that it's violated or suspended is to say 'Every X is Y' and 'Not every X is Y' violating the law of non-contradiction, something not even the Almighty could do.

Again, there are many logical possibilities that aren't physically possible, or possibilities tat physics has no say on whatever. Just because we observe some regularities and have rules that describe (not prescribe) those regularities, simply means we've set up pragmatic axioms which are necessary to tell a story.

Hm, let's see if I can untangle some of these knots.

First off, universal quantification is not a rule of inference peculiar to first-order logic lol. Higher-order logics have it as well. The difference between first and higher order logics is that the only entities quantified over in first order logics are objects, whereas higher-order logics are able to quantify over concepts, relations and 'higher' order entities.

Second, I never said it's a prevalent view to equate laws of nature with universal quantifications. I said it's common to state these laws as universal quantifications.

Finally, it doesn't matter what modal status you assign these statements (i.e. metaphysically necessary, epistemically necessary or whatever). The fact of the matter is, the affirmation of any proposition with its negation is by definition a contradiction, and contradictions are logically impossible. To affirm that something is both a law of nature and also suspended or violated (on this schema) is to affirm a proposition with its negation, which is all I've said.

I think your response is symptomatic of rushed reading.
phantom
Posts: 6,774
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2/24/2013 1:46:42 PM
Posted: 3 years ago
At 2/24/2013 12:20:52 PM, muzebreak wrote:
At 2/24/2013 10:06:30 AM, phantom wrote:
At 2/24/2013 7:17:41 AM, muzebreak wrote:
At 2/24/2013 7:13:38 AM, phantom wrote:
According to the Bible, the sun stopped for a full day as well as the moon so as to prolong the day. How could this be explained while being consistent with physics? (Maybe it can. I'm just wandering)

Easy enough, the sun doesn't move. The moon on the other hand, I am not so sure about. I know it has gravitational effects on our planet, but I don't know what effect it stopping in orbit might have.

I think it's more of a frame of reference thing since really the earth would have to stop moving to have it stay day.

Ah well then.

http://www.youtube.com...

The link just lead me to the homepage.
"Music is a zen-like ecstatic state where you become the new man of the future, the Nietzschean merger of Apollo and Dionysus." Ray Manzarek (The Doors)
Apeiron
Posts: 2,446
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2/24/2013 1:47:22 PM
Posted: 3 years ago
At 2/24/2013 1:30:04 PM, Pwner wrote:
At 2/24/2013 12:48:46 PM, Apeiron wrote:
At 2/24/2013 7:50:23 AM, Pwner wrote:
If you think laws of nature can be stated as 'Every X is Y'--or 'has Y', 'does Y'--as one traditional and fairly prevalent view affirms, then it will be logically impossible to violate or suspend a law of nature.

Haha that's far from a "prevalent view" of physical regularity, that's rather universal quantification, which is first order predicate logic, not physical law. Physical impossibility isn't logical impossibility. And so the two can't be equivocated.

This is because if something really is a law of nature, then the statement 'Every X is Y' (or whatever) is true. But, if it's true, then there are no exceptions such as 'Some X is not Y' (or whatever). In other words to say that something is a law of nature and that it's violated or suspended is to say 'Every X is Y' and 'Not every X is Y' violating the law of non-contradiction, something not even the Almighty could do.

Again, there are many logical possibilities that aren't physically possible, or possibilities tat physics has no say on whatever. Just because we observe some regularities and have rules that describe (not prescribe) those regularities, simply means we've set up pragmatic axioms which are necessary to tell a story.

Hm, let's see if I can untangle some of these knots.

First off, universal quantification is not a rule of inference peculiar to first-order logic lol.

Whoever said universal logic is peculiar to first order predicate logic? ... It would seem this is actually a response that exemplifies rushed reading, not my response.

Higher-order logics have it as well. The difference between first and higher order logics is that the only entities quantified over in first order logics are objects, whereas higher-order logics are able to quantify over concepts, relations and 'higher' order entities.

Yeah, and once you get up to modal logic things are less well behaved, I don't do your point in this however. We were talking about physical law?


Second, I never said it's a prevalent view to equate laws of nature with universal quantifications. I said it's common to state these laws as universal quantifications.

Yea, using first order predicate logic. There are altogether three views of physical law in the philosophy of physics; regularity, nomic necessity, and causal disposition.

What you're trying to put forth is nomic necessity, but these are not descriptive, but rather it only says what can/not happen, which are universal generalizations based on experience. Nevertheless if a miracle were to occur under this paradigm of thought, the physical law is merely revised if the event occurred which the law didn"t previously permit. Thus is assumes an "all things being equal" or, "no other factors interfering" context. But when an anomaly occurs, the physical law is neither violated nor revised. So when God acts specially, the law is neither violated nor revised. Hence miracles are just "naturally impossible events" even on this scheme, not violations per se.


Finally, it doesn't matter what modal status you assign these statements (i.e. metaphysically necessary, epistemically necessary or whatever). The fact of the matter is, the affirmation of any proposition with its negation is by definition a contradiction, and contradictions are logically impossible. To affirm that something is both a law of nature and also suspended or violated (on this schema) is to affirm a proposition with its negation, which is all I've said.

I think your response is symptomatic of rushed reading.

Again, this leaves no room for anomalous events which occur all the time under the Nomic Necessity interpretation of physical law.
Polaris
Posts: 1,120
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2/24/2013 2:09:53 PM
Posted: 3 years ago
At 2/24/2013 1:25:17 PM, Polaris wrote:
At 2/24/2013 12:40:48 PM, Apeiron wrote:
At 2/24/2013 2:25:25 AM, Nur-Ab-Sal wrote:
I just want to know, what is your definition of a 'miracle'? I always assumed it was the suspension of physical laws for an extraordinary event.

I'm probably wrong or missing something.

No, good question, miracles are simply physically impossible events, not violations of Natural Law.

And how for example, does something which is physically impossible differ from that which requires a violation of physics?

^ Please answer.
Apeiron
Posts: 2,446
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2/24/2013 2:14:06 PM
Posted: 3 years ago
At 2/24/2013 2:09:53 PM, Polaris wrote:
At 2/24/2013 1:25:17 PM, Polaris wrote:
At 2/24/2013 12:40:48 PM, Apeiron wrote:
At 2/24/2013 2:25:25 AM, Nur-Ab-Sal wrote:
I just want to know, what is your definition of a 'miracle'? I always assumed it was the suspension of physical laws for an extraordinary event.

I'm probably wrong or missing something.

No, good question, miracles are simply physically impossible events, not violations of Natural Law.

And how for example, does something which is physically impossible differ from that which requires a violation of physics?

^ Please answer.

See above.
popculturepooka
Posts: 7,924
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2/24/2013 2:29:28 PM
Posted: 3 years ago
It's easy to circumvent this. Ready? *drum roll*

There are no laws of nature (ala Nancy Cartwright), or if there are they require God to make sense of them (again, ala Nancy Cartwright).

*bows*

http://www.isnature.org...
At 10/3/2016 11:49:13 PM, thett3 wrote:
BLACK LIVES MATTER!
Polaris
Posts: 1,120
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2/24/2013 2:30:21 PM
Posted: 3 years ago
At 2/24/2013 2:14:06 PM, Apeiron wrote:
At 2/24/2013 2:09:53 PM, Polaris wrote:
At 2/24/2013 1:25:17 PM, Polaris wrote:
At 2/24/2013 12:40:48 PM, Apeiron wrote:
At 2/24/2013 2:25:25 AM, Nur-Ab-Sal wrote:
I just want to know, what is your definition of a 'miracle'? I always assumed it was the suspension of physical laws for an extraordinary event.

I'm probably wrong or missing something.

No, good question, miracles are simply physically impossible events, not violations of Natural Law.

And how for example, does something which is physically impossible differ from that which requires a violation of physics?

^ Please answer.

See above.

No, please answer my question.