For some years I was a member of a group whose raison d’etre was to explore the relationship between Science and Religion, specifically Christianity, as most, though not all members confessed to be Christians. The group was comprised mainly of academics but also included a couple of medical doctors and a Catholic priest. Quite how I became part of this crew I am not sure, but the conversation (some of it well over my head) was always stimulating and I grew to enjoy the company.
Included in the group were a retired Professor of Physics and also the current occupier of the Chair of Physics at the local university.
At one of our meetings we got to discussing the subject of miracles.
The retired Professor of physics was adamant, “Jesus could not have walked on water.”
I asked him whether he believed in the resurrection. “Yes,” he said, “one would need to believe in that to be a Christian,” - which put me in mind of C. S. Lewis’s observation concerning those who, ‘strain at the gnats of the miracles while swallowing the camel of the resurrection.’
Interestingly, the current Chair of Physics had no difficulty whatever in believing that Jesus had walked on water.
The difference between the two was that they held to different axioms in their respective worldviews.
An axiom is something held to be self-evident, a given, something which requires no proof.
It is essentially an article of faith.
The professor then, held that the laws of physics are more immutable than the One who put them in place, while his colleague believed that God alone is truly immutable.
If one holds to the axiom, either consciously or unconsciously, that miracles are impossible, then taking an objective view concerning ‘miracles,’ becomes impossible: one will always be feeling the need to ‘explain them away.’
However if one truly believes that God called the entire created order into being ex nihilo, then His arranging for a whale or ‘large fish’ to swallow Jonah and regurgitate him alive three days later, becomes a very small gnat to swallow.
Especially as this same God, who knows the beginning from the end, foreknew that Jesus would be using this as a prophetic parallel to his own death, burial and resurrection.