Brent Meeker writes:

> > It's also possible that God intervenes all the time in a perfectly 
> > consistent 
> > manner to sustain natural laws, such that if he stopped doing so the whole 
> > universe would instantly disintegrate. 
> That's possible, but then he's a deist God.  He doesn't do miracles in 
> response to prayer.  It seems to me there's a contradiction between 
> "intervenes" and "prefectly consistent".  There's no more reason to believe 
> that the universe needs "sustaining" than to believe there's a teapot 
> orbiting Jupiter.

A deist God does not intervene once the universe is set in motion. But one can 
for example a gravity god, who pushes matter around in a perfectly consistent 
way so 
as to give the impression of natural laws. If he stopped doing his thing, stars 
would explode 
and the universe would fall apart. It's only because the gravity god is very 
conscientious in 
his work that we don't notice he is constantly performing miracles. Of course, 
there is no more 
reason to believe in the gravity god than there is to believe in any other kind 
of god, but at the 
same time it is not possible to be rigidly atheistic about the gravity god just 
as it is not possible to 
be rigidly atheistic about Zeus or Thor. 

> >This would make it seem as if God either 
> > does not exist or, if he does, he is a deist, whereas in fact he is a 
> > theist. The 
> > problem with this idea, and for that matter with deism, is that it is empty 
> > of 
> > explanatory value. Ironically perhaps, it is God-as-miracle-worker which 
> > comes 
> > closest to a legitimate scientific theory, albeit one without any 
> > supporting evidence 
> > in its favour.
> If it's lawlike it ain't a miracle.  Deism was a common position that come 
> out of the Enlightenment.  It comported perfectly with a Newtonian, clockwork 
> universe.  It avoided the problem of evil.  Franklin, Paine, and Jefferson 
> were deists.  But it fits well with scientific models because it does nothing.

Good old-fashioned miracles are not lawlike, which is what makes them subject 
to empirical verification. 
If God is a Protestant, then an examination of a list of lottery ticket winners 
or people with serious 
illnesses should show that Protestants are statistically more likely to have 
their prayers answered than 
Catholics, Muslims or atheists (who wish for things, even if they don't 
actually pray). If not, then either 
God is not a Protestant or there is no point in praying for anything even if 
you and he are both Protestants. 
And yet I doubt that there are any Protestants, Catholics or Muslims who be at 
all perturbed by the findings 
of such a study, or countless other possible studies or experiments. This 
cannot be explained away by "faith" 
in the sense that one can have faith in the gravity god or a deist god (because 
no empirical finding counts for 
or against such beliefs): rather, it comes down to a matter of simultaneously 
believing x and not-x. 

Stathis Papaioannou
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