God is intimately involved in all aspects of the universe. Even with something as trivial as flipping a coin, or casting lots, the outcome is determined and controlled by God (Proverbs 16:33). The normal operation of the universe is not by its own power, but is by God’s power. Therefore, in the Christian worldview, “natural” refers to the normal way that God sustains His creation.
What does it mean for something to be supernatural? We might think of the parting of the Red Sea, Jesus turning water into wine, the resurrection of Lazarus, or even the creation of the universe as supernatural events. These are all great examples of God’s power. But is that what makes them supernatural? Isn’t the normal operation of the universe also an example of God’s power? After all, the universe continues to exist only because God upholds it by the expression of His power (Hebrews 1:3). By Christ, all things hold together (Colossians 1:17). Doesn’t God cause the sun to rise and the rain to fall (Matthew 5:45)? If “supernatural” merely meant that something happens by God’s power, then everything would be supernatural. God is in control of every atom in the universe.
Laws of Nature
Many people have been influenced by deistic thinking. Deism is the concept that God (or “a god”) created the universe, but then stepped back and allowed the universe to run on its own. Deism implies that the universe is self-sufficient: that it may require a creator but does not require a sustainer. In such a worldview, laws of nature are considered to be descriptions of the way the universe runs itself in absence of any intervention by God. “After all,” says the deist, “the word ‘natural’ means that God is not involved.”
But this is not the Christian position. God is intimately involved in all aspects of the universe. Even with something as trivial as flipping a coin, or casting lots, the outcome is determined and controlled by God (Proverbs 16:33). The normal operation of the universe is not by its own power, but is by God’s power. Therefore, in the Christian worldview, “natural” refers to the normal way that God sustains His creation.
God alone upholds His creation, and so the universe depends upon God’s power for its continued existence. And God upholds the cosmos in a very logical, mathematical, and consistent way for our benefit. This is why we can often write down equations that describe the precise way in which God rules. The formula for gravity, for example, describes one of the ways in which God causes masses to accelerate. To the Christian, laws of nature are not replacements for God’s power; they are examples of God’s power. Laws of nature describe the normal way that the Lord causes things to happen in the universe.
Sometimes, a critic of the Faith will attempt to portray Christians as anti-science by playing upon the deistic thinking so prevalent within the church. They might say something like this, “In the past, people believed that God caused lightning and thunder. But we are much more scientifically enlightened today. We now know that natural forces cause such phenomenon. We can explain how things fall by appealing to the law of gravity. What need is there for God?” They might even ask the Christian, “Do you believe God causes things to fall to the ground, or do you believe it is the force of gravity?” Of course, a well-informed Christian would answer something like this: “Both. It is a bifurcation fallacy to say ‘either natural laws explain the universe or God does.’ In reality, natural laws are mere descriptions of the systematic way God rules His universe.”
Christians embrace dual causality. We reject the unbiblical notion that there is only “one true cause” for all events. God uses means to accomplish His will. Indeed, God still causes lightning and thunder (Psalm 135:7; Exodus 9:23; Jeremiah 10:13, 51:16) and all weather (e.g. Matthew 5:45; Genesis 2:5, 7:4; Exodus 9:23,33; Leviticus 26:4; Deuteronomy 11:14, 17, 28:12; Job 5:10; Jeremiah 5:24, 14:22). This is not contrary to the fact that natural forces cause weather since natural forces are manifestations of God’s power. God is ultimately behind all natural phenomena, for His will determines what happens in this universe (Isaiah 14:24, 46:9-11). If there were no mind behind natural phenomena, then why would they obey mathematical laws that are consistent over time and space?
Laws cannot create themselves. Therefore, the existence of laws of nature is evidence of God. Consider civil laws. We might ask, “Why is it illegal to run a red light? Who made that law?” Wouldn’t it be ridiculous for someone to respond, “That’s just the way it is. No one created that law; it has just always been that way.” Or, “Well, we certainly don’t need to appeal to some ‘law-maker.’ Those laws made themselves.” Of course, civil laws aren’t the same as natural laws – and that’s the point. If civil laws (which are completely ignored by nature and can be disobeyed by men) require a mind, how much more do natural laws (which are obeyed by everything in the universe and cannot be disobeyed) require a mind? And the mind behind natural laws is therefore beyond nature and hence supernatural.—