One of the great things about Tom Woods’ recent exposition of one of Thomas Aquinas’ proofs of God, is when Tom makes a crucial distinction: Aquinas was not making a chronological argument, saying that at some point in the past, a First Mover must have set everything in motion in order to explain today’s state of the universe. On the contrary, Tom explained, Aquinas showed that God needed to exist in order to support the universe at every moment.
This links up nicely, I think, with my view on miracles and physical law. I don’t think it makes sense to say, “Usually the universe unfolds according to the mechanical laws of physics, but every once in a while God intervenes to accomplish His will.” That is nonsensical both on scientific and theological grounds.
As an added bonus, this notion of God being outside of time itself–rather than creating everything “in the beginning” and then moving through time with us–also resolves a standard paradox that Mises brought up. According to Mises, the notion of an acting omnipotent being makes no sense, because action requires unease and an omnipotent being would have eliminated all uneasiness in one fell swoop.
Right, I agree. But I think a better framework for thinking about this is to view God deciding on the entire history of the physical universe first, then willing it all into being. From His perspective, the events in Genesis are happening at the same moment as the events in Revelation. It’s not that God first creates the world, then watches unfolding events to make sure they go the way He planned. No, He directly wills every moment of existence into reality, all in one fell swoop (from His perspective).
This also resolves the standard skeptic taunt of, “If God is so smart, why did he have to reboot his creation with the flood?” I agree that’s a deep issue, but it’s not that God was surprised by what happened. He knew all along that He would flood the Earth. To suggest otherwise is like saying, “George Lucas had to rewrite the script once Anakin turned to the dark side.”
Last thing, for those of you who don’t like me veering off into my own conjectures rather than staying tied to Scripture: Notice that my perspective above makes perfect sense for a being who introduces Himself as “I AM.” When I was younger, that phrase struck me as odd. But that’s because I was (like Mises) viewing God as a really powerful being operating inside the constraints of time. Once you fully appreciate the significance of a being identified as “I AM,” Mises’ critique wilts away.