The modern secular world view assumes that the physical world that can be observed by science is all that exists. For this reason, it is often referred to as materialism, because only material things count.

Most modern people, including many Christians, tend to believe that miracles can only occur if God puts the laws that govern the physical world on hold, so that he can intervene. Some believe that the physical laws are so strong that miracles are not possible. This view was first articulated by the Scottish philosopher David Hume, who wrote,

A miracle is a violation of the laws of nature; and as a firm and unalterable experience has established these laws.
Hume believed that miracles are impossible. Most modern people are not quite as staunch as Hume, but they believe that miracles will be very rare. For a miracle to occur, the laws of nature must be temporarily suspended, so God can reach into the world and do what he wants to do. Breaking a law of nature is such a serious action, that God will only do it in very rare situations.

This materialistic world view makes it harder to believe in miracles, but fortunately, this understanding of reality is mistaken. I will explain the problem in the next few posts.

Laws of Nature

The so-called laws of nature are not laws in the sense that the word is used in the scriptures. A law is a revelation by God. It describes an action or behaviour that God does not approve. These actions are forbidden by God. A law is distinguished from a sin by the fact, that the law contains a penalty for breaking the law.

In the scriptures, laws are normative, not positive. They describe the things that God wants people to avoid doing, because they mess up relationships and harm the earth. They do not describe how the world works or what must happen on earth. They describe things that God does not want done.

The so-called laws of nature are not laws. They are just a description of how the world works. This understanding has been developed by observing the way the world functions.

These understandings have been developed by observing the behaviour of objects in the physical world. By testing hypotheses, scientists have developed a huge amount of detail about the way the physical world functions. These understandings have been tested over time, in many places. However, they are not really laws in a biblical sense. They are not rules. They are descriptions of what will happen to physical objects if they are subjected to stimuli in a particular situation. They describe what will usually happen, but they do not describe what must happen. They capture cause and effect in the physical world.

God has created the world so that it functions in a consistent way. That means an understanding of how the world works will be true, wherever and whenever it is tested, provided the conditions are the same. So, water boils at 100 degrees Celsius in New Zealand and Norway. However, it boils at a different temperature on Mount Everest, because the atmospheric pressure is different.

This consistency with which God created the world is the reason that many people refer to their understanding of the way the world works as laws of nature. If there is no God, it still nice to have laws, and this is a good way to get them. But it is not what they really are.

The so-called laws of nature are a description, not a prescription. Though they are called "laws", in a rigid and prescriptive sense, they are not. Rather, they are universal inductive generalizations.

The laws of nature do not define an outcome, but a process. They tell you not what must happen but what will happen in the natural course of events. If I lift a porcelain vase over my head and then let go of it, the law of gravity says that it will fall to the ground and shatter—but not that it must do these things.

If, one second before the vase hits the ground, my other hand swoops down and catches it, the vase will not shatter. Have I broken the law of gravity? Of course not. I have merely suspended it by adding a new, outside factor into the equation. If I let go of it again, it will fall and shatter.

A miracle is an event which natural causes at a particular time and place cannot bring about.

Physical and Spritual Reality

The materialistic world view that has been adopted by modern people is incorrect, because it leaves out a huge chunk of reality. The physical world is not all that there is. Scientists who study the physical world in isolation will miss out on much of what happens in the world. The physical world is overlaid by a spiritual world, which is more complex, and probably more important for what happens in history.


The physical realms consist of the earth, the sea and the sky. It includes people, and the things they have made. God created the physical world and everything that is in it. When he had completed his creation, he saw that it was good.

God saw all that he had made, and it was very good (Gen 1:31).
We are familiar with the physical world, because we live in it and our senses are attuned to the physical things that surround us. Because sin has made us spiritually blind, we assume the physical world makes up most of the universe. This distortion is reinforced by the scientific approach to life, which claims that things that cannot be scientifically observed are not real. The spiritual world is sometimes acknowledged, but we tend to live as if the physical world is the centre of modern life.


Our experience on earth causes us to think that the authority systems on earth are important, so we miss the parallel authority systems that exist in the spiritual realms and interact with the authority systems on earth. To understand the functioning of authority on earth, we need a thorough understanding of the way that authority flows out of the spiritual realms.

When they were created, Adam and Eve could see into the spiritual world. They were able to walk with God in the cool of the evenings and speak directly to him (Gen 3:8,9). They lost this ability after they disobeyed God. We need spiritual insight to understand what is happening in the spiritual world. People with faith in Jesus have their spiritual eyes opened, so they can see into the spiritual realms. That is why Paul prayed for "the eyes of our hearts" to be enlightened (Eph 1:18).

Most humans cannot see into the spiritual dimensions, so they can only observe the physical side of existence. However, events in our physical world are often shaped by activities in the spiritual realms. When we look at the physical world in isolation, we miss much of what is happening in the universe. "The heavens" is the biblical name for the spiritual world that exists in parallel to the physical world.

Multi-dimensional Universe

God created a multi-dimensional universe in which the spiritual dimensions exist in parallel to our three-dimensional physical world. The spiritual realms operate in continuity with the physical/natural world that we observe.

The spiritual realms are not limited to three dimensions like our physical world. The Bible does not tell us how many, but it is far more than three. We think naturally in three dimensions, so we find it hard to conceive of a multi-dimensional world. The spiritual world is not another world in another place, but a set of dimensions additional to the physical world we observe.

The spiritual world is more real than the physical world. We find that hard to believe, because our eyes are calibrated for a physical world. If we could perceive the spiritual world clearly, we would be amazed at how wonderful it is.

God lives and operates in the spiritual dimensions of reality, but he also created and sustains the physical world. After the creation, the Holy Spirit remained close to the earth (Gen 1:2). The Holy Spirit was not isolated in a distant place. The spiritual realms where he operates hover over the earth, not way out at the edge of the universe. He moves easily between both worlds.

Angels and demons are personal beings without bodies who can speak and act. They live in the spiritual realms, but have the ability to move into the physical world. They can touch people and things in the physical world to complete their work. Angels and demons can only intervene in the physical world in one place at a time. This limits what they can do on earth.

In contrast, the Holy Spirit is present in the spiritual realms and everywhere on earth at any time. This gives him unlimited power and makes him far greater than any angel or evil spirit.


The materialistic world view assumes that the spiritual world does not exist. The more popular world view acknowledges the existence of the spiritual realm, but assumes that the interaction between these two realms is rare.

These views are all wrong. The spiritual and physical worlds are closely linked. Interaction between these realms is happening all the time. People who ignore events in the spiritual realms will fail to understand what is happening on earth.

The word miracle is not helpful, because it implies that intervention from the spiritual into the physical are rare. That is not correct. Interactions between the spiritual and the physical world are occurring all the time. The problem is that we have been so immersed in the physical world that we do not see or recognise interventions from the spiritual world.


Scientists focus on the physical world alone, so they do not observe interventions from the spiritual realm. I presume that angels and evil spirits do not intervene in situations where scientists are conducting experiments. There are good reasons for this. Evil spirits do not disrupt their experiments of scientists because they prefer to remain hidden from their eyes. They want scientists to continue believing that the spiritual world is not real. God's angels do not play tricks, so they do not intervene in a way that would confuse the scientists, because they only intervene to bring glory to God. Therefore, the experiments of scientists will not be affected by interventions from the spiritual realms.

Of course, if a spiritual intervention did occur and disrupt the expected result, for example, by causing water to boil at a different temperature, the scientist would treat the outcome as a rogue result and discard it. For these reasons, scientists do not see the interventions from the spiritual world that are occurring all the time.

In the next few sections, I will outline some of the ways that beings in the spiritual realms intervene to affect events in the physical world. The spiritual world is full of spiritual beings: Holy Spirit, angels, evil spirits that have rebelled against God. The Scriptures explain the various ways that they intervene in the physical world.

Holy Spirit

The physical world was created out of nothing by the Holy Spirit. We know now that physical matter is energy in a different form. The energy that is the basis of the matter which comprises the universe came from the Holy Spirit.

The Holy Spirit speaks.

The Holy Spirit frequently intervenes in the physical world to make changes for the benefit of God's people. God gave authority on the earth to humans, so the Holy Spirit can only intervene if he is given permission by humans. This explains why the people of the world only experience the Holy Spirit infrequently. Most of the time they have shut him out and refused to give him authority to work in their lives. This is also why it is important for unbelievers to become hungry for God. They are more likely to give the Holy Spirit permission to work as a consequence of their hunger.

The authority situation on earth means that his activity is often constrained by inadequate prayer. Christians do not experience the fullness of his work, because they do not give him permission to act in their lives. When we keep control over our lives he is shut out from working for us.

Evil Spirits

Evil Spirits have the ability to move in the spiritual realms but change things in the physical world. They operate on the boundary between the physical and spiritual.

Evil Spirits can speak.

Evil spirits have physical power. They have the ability to make changes in the physical world. They can change the nature of physical things.

Evil spirits are not very creative, so they usually try to find something that works and do it over and over again. They spent the first millennium attacking the physical earth. When the flood and the Rainbow Covenant put an end to that method, they have switched to using political power and human empires to leverage their influence on earth.

Since the cross, the spiritual powers of evil have concentrated on using political power to control people. A government-spirit working with a few powerful spirits can control an entire city or nation, but that is another story.


Angels can speak in a way that humans can hear (Judges 2:1; Acts 27:33).

Angels can change things in the physical world. These things that angels can do are not examples of the laws of nature being suspended, they are examples of the normal interaction that occurs between the spiritual and physical world.

Large numbers of angels can gather together to exert immense power. Unlike the evil spirits that hate each other and fight against each other, angels are glad to join with other angels to obey Jesus.

Angels are servants, so they cannot make humans do things that they do not want to do. They have to wait until humans are willing to be served by them while doing God's will. The angels are released to act and serve when God's people are gladly following and obeying Jesus.

Observing Interventions

Scientists measure events that occur in the physical world. This raises the question: what would they see if a spiritual being made changes to the physical world. If they made observations before and after, they would see how the world was before the change and how it was after the change, but they could not see what caused the change. The previous second observation would show a situation which was not sufficient to cause the change recorded in the second observation. The second observation would show a situation that the conditions in the first observation could not produce.

For example, an observation of Jesus body just prior to the resurrection would show a body that was dead. All physical functions would have ceased. There would be no possibility of further life. An observation just after the resurrection would show a person that was alive. There would be no physical explanation for this dramatic change.

The problem is that in most cases, the impact of the spiritual intervention does not become evident immediately, so observations are not made until well afterwards, when the symptoms of the spiritual interaction become evident. We mostly do not observe a spiritual interaction, because we do not know it has happened. By the time scientists realise what has occurred, it is too late to begin making observations.

If an evil spirit caused a woman's spine to begin collapsing, a physical examination prior to the event would show a healthy spine. If the collapse was slow and gradual, then a physical examination just after the evil spirit had begun doing the damage probably would not show much difference. The beginning of a collapse might be evident, but they change would look very similar to what would be observed with normal osteoporosis, if it were observed when it was first beginning.

If an evil spirit caused a few cells in a person's lungs to mutate and become cancerous, the immediate effect would be hard to observe. An observation prior to the event would show healthy lungs. An observation after the spiritual intervention would show a very small number of cancerous cells. This would be very similar to what would be observed if the cancer was due to natural causes. In both cases, the existence of the cancer would not be known to until it had grown sufficiently to produce more serious symptoms, so these observations would be unlikely to occur. So the immediate change would not be observed, even with modern medical diagnostic equipment.

If a modern pathologist had undertaken an autopsy of the body of King Herod after he had been killed by an angel (Acts 12:23), the pathologist would discover evidence of the cause of his death. Perhaps he had had a heart attack or a serious stroke. However, the pathologist would not be able to see that the death was triggered by an angel, because it would look just like any other heart attack or stroke. The physical examination of a pathologist cannot identify spiritual causes.


The English word "miracle" is often used to describe a rare event. The word does not really exist in that sense in the New Testament. Four words are used in this to describe interventions from the spiritual realms.

ergion — works (John 5:20; 7:3).

dunamis — power (Mark 9:39; 13:58, Gal 3:5, 1 Cor 2:28).

semeion — signs (John 4:54; Luke 23:8).

teras — wonder (John 4:48; Acts 2:22).

They are sometimes combined together as in works of power (Mark 9:39) or signs and wonders (John 4:48) or signs, wonders and different powers (Heb 2:4).

Jesus worked miracles wherever he went, as a sign that he is the messiah of God. Once he had ascended into heaven, the Holy Spirit continued to do signs wherever his disciples went to confirm their good news that Jesus is our rescuer/messiah. He wants to continue doing this all over the world, so signs will continue everywhere. They are "works of power" to prove that Jesus said that he is.