Monday, June 14, 2010

Childbirth is no miracle: it's something much greater.

My second son, Simeon, was born just last week. He's doing great. And a few times already, someone has described the new baby as a miracle. I think they mean that every new baby reminds them of the hand of God; and indeed it should, for God's hand is clearly at work in all creation.

But I doubt that it's really a miracle; I think it's something even better.

First, what is a miracle anyway?

I understand a miracle to be an intervention by a benevolent higher power. And that the only benevolent Higher Power is the God of Jesus, who was also the God of the Jewish prophets, and of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. For example, when the Red Sea was split to let the Jewish nation escape the Egyptian army, that was God intervening in the normal laws of nature.

I, too, intervene in the laws of nature. When my son might otherwise fall, he is held off the floor by my will exercised by my hands, and arms, and strength. I hold him up, and so I prevent the falling that would occur otherwise. So intervening in nature isn't an extraordinary thing, in itself.

Second, why do I believe God was involved in the creation of my sons, Oren and Simeon?

I trust that the Bible of Christianity is substantially similar to the text that was penned, and that the text was trusted and copied in its day because others people beside the writers also trusted it. By copying it, and distributing it, they functioned as witnesses of its truth. Further, the Bible documents many things that are objectively true; including documentation of geography, ancient history, and cultural practices that have been confirmed by archeology. Finally, in addition to those normal evidences that I would use to trust any book, the Bible also has a message that gives life.

That Bible teaches us that God made all people, and that he made people to make more people.

Finally: if God is involved in their creation, then how is it something better than a miracle?

My education and work background is in computing. I've learned there are two ways to get a task done: (a) Do it manually; (b) Automate it.

Consider the task of rolling a toy car to the other side of the room. You can either push it across the room, holding the car the entire time. Or, you can plan the trajectory (direction) and force required to push it across the room, then give it a shove in just the right direction. In the first case, you're doing it manually. In the second case, you're automating it.

When I do something manually, I can use all of my intelligence to get it done right. If something goes wrong in the middle of the process, I can adapt to fix it. The best thing about doing something manually is that I don't have to completely understand it before I do it. I can learn and figure it out as I go along.

But when I want to automate something, I want the machine (the computer) to do the task without my presence. For example, I may want a process to run at midnight to transfer some files and perform some calculations. I have to anticipate everything that could possibly happen in advance, so that I don't have to be personally involved when the process occurs.

Doing something manually requires only basic understanding, but automating a thing requires much MORE understanding in advance.

I have no actual evidence that a child's development and birth is a miracle. It is something to marvel at, and to be in wonder of. It is something that points us to God's creative acts. And most wonderful, it seems to be something God has automated: he has built into us the ability for this to happen without Him intervening in every second of the process.

To automate something is better than intervening in something. So childbirth represents something much more grand than intervention: it represents enormous and immense comprehension to make a system that can reproduce itself.

1 comment:

Srinivasan Chari said...

Really well said about GOD