“Disagreement is not an easy thing to reach. Rather, we move into confusion.” John Courtney Murray
My “Mirror” post has generated quite a few comments concerning “miracles” and the relevance of “miracles” to ID. Further thoughts are in order.
First, let us define terms. My dictionary defines “miracle” as “an event that is contrary to the established laws of nature and attributed to a supernatural cause.”
Second, ID does not posit miracles. In this post I established the following contest: “UD hereby offers a $1,000 prize to anyone who is able to demonstrate that the design of a living thing by an intelligent agent necessarily requires a supernatural act (i.e., the suspension of the laws of nature).” The prize has gone unclaimed. It should be clear by now that ID is a theory about the detection of patterns that point to design. ID is agnostic about the nature of the designer.
Conclusion: However one comes out on the question of whether science may take account of miracles, the question is a sideshow vis-à-vis ID, because ID does not posit that a miracle is necessary to create one of the “patterns that point to design” that are described by the theory.
Third, plainly scientists may take account of miracles. If Jesus were to appear today and divide a few loaves and fishes to feed thousands and a scientist were to observe that event, the scientist would not be bound by naturalistic explanations. He would be perfectly entitled to conclude the event constituted a miracle.
Would such an explanation be a scientific explanation? Well, in one sense it does not matter whether we append “scientific” to the explanation, because whatever category we place the explanation in, it remains the fact that it is the best explanation for the data. I would suggest, however, that it is perfectly valid to call the explanation a “scientific” explanation. Science is the process of forming hypotheses and testing them. Here the investigator has a null hypothesis that it is not possible to divide a few loaves and fishes such that they can feed several thousand people with several baskets of leftovers. He compares the data with the hypothesis and finds the hypothesis falsified. At this point the scientist can either throw up his hands or posit an alternative hypothesis: The laws of nature have been suspended, i.e., a miracle has occurred. He can then compare the data to his alternative hypothesis and find that it has been confirmed.
Some read my comments in the “Mirror” thread and concluded that I believe science cannot take account of miracles. I never said this. In fact, I said exactly the opposite when I wrote the following in response to one of Mr. Murray’s comments: “Certainly a scientist can “take account” of a miracle in the sense of saying “this is beyond the ken of known natural causes” with respect to any given event. A scientific theory cannot, however, be predicated on the occurrence of miracles, because they are, by definition, unpredictable. That was all I was saying. It is illustrated nicely by the following: http://www.sciencecartoonsplus.com/pages/gallery.php “