Miracles and Scientific Naturalism

I’m fiddling around with this argument:

The sciences seek hidden explanations from manifest phenomena. We don’t need science to explain what we know from the beginning. But a miracle is a manifest phenomenon as opposed to one that needs to be ferreted out from things already known. And so the nature of miracles is opposed to their being scientific conclusions.

Problem: not every divine intervention in the world need be called a miracle. There are at least three or four possibilities for divine intervention that are not considered miraculous: (a.) God’s tinkering with things quietly (b) doctrines like the special creation of the human soul; and (c) sacramental or moral transformation of things by grace.

My suspicion is that the divine action in the world will either be manifest or hidden in a way that we won’t be able to crack by systematic analysis. True, we can give some account of the need for special creation of the soul, and perhaps even for the moral transformation of that soul, but the concrete account of how this happens, i.e. our ability to cash out the doctrine in a physical theory, will prove elusive.

Here’s my argument: to cash out a doctrine in a physical theory we need to assume that our manipulation of the phenomena does not make a difference to what they would do of themselves, that is, that there is no already existent intention in the phenomena themselves that might conflict with our intentional manipulation of things so as to obtain an experimental finding. But divine intervention is of itself just such a pre-existent intention. And so special action in the world must either be manifest or prove elusive to our attempts to fit something into a physical theory.


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