For an explanation of the title and why we are publishing this diary, please see the first entry (27/3/13).

Diary — Tuesday 3rd July 2012

Hume’s distinction between two forms of reasoning

Hume long ago distinguished strongly between two forms of reasoning, relations of ideas and matters of fact and existence. The former includes logic, mathematics and so on and their proofs can be demonstrated logically. 2 + 2 = 4 is true for everyone everywhere. These truths are true but in a sense their truth is trite: they don’t affect our existence except in a general sense. On the other hand, the truths of fact affect us in our personal existence. The sun could rise tomorrow or it might not. Whichever happens, it will affect us all. We could contract a disease. That will affect us personally. This kind of truth I will call existential truth and it relates to all four worlds: God’s created world, man’s created world, the historical world and the world of present decisions and actions.

For me, personally, it is crucial to realise that the truths of the Bible are existential truths. They appeal to the world of human existence, the world of the contingent, the world of “we don’t know what’s going to happen next”, the world of suffering, the fourth world, the world of the here and now. It is this uncertainty which sometimes makes this world almost unbearable. It is this world that the Bible meets head-on, and especially in the incarnation, the death and resurrection of Christ – and in the teachings which stem from these facts.

Why Jesus spoke in parables

This is the reason Jesus spoke in parables and figures of speech. They refer to facts and potential facts about the human condition. A prime example is the parable of the lost son. Only I, by applying the parable to myself, can decide if the facts of the case refer to me. Am I a son (or daughter) of God who has strayed far from him to a far country and then I decide to go back home because I realise that I have left something far better? Only I can decide by applying the parable to my own existential position.

Hume and miracles

But what is the possibility of miracle? Hume, who belonged to the century of the so-called Enlightenment, was very sceptical of miracles. He placed the burden of proof on the person or persons who claimed a miracle. In the normal course of events, people do not rise from the dead. But the Bible claims Jesus did. Prove it says Hume. But really, if we think about it, Hume begs the question. He, and the believer in miracles, knows that there is an overwhelming consistency in our everyday living, that a so-called effect is always preceded by a cause. Very often these facts can be demonstrated because they repeat themselves, for example, that water reaches boiling point at 100 degrees centigrade at ground level. Naturally, a miracle cannot be demonstrated in this sense, because it happens only once. It doesn’t comply with the so-called laws of nature.

Why I know Hume was wrong

Now, personally, I know Hume was wrong simply because miracles have happened to me in my life. They happened to me and Margaret. We are both witnesses to what happened. We cannot repeat what happened because their causes are unknown to us. We believe, because of the context in which the miracles took place, that they were from God, but we can’t prove that in a scientific sense to others.

Who are we to judge the infinite?

The wary reader of this diary will say, “O, yes, I know where this is leading. He expects God to perform a miracle for him and to heal Margaret.” Well, dear reader! in a sense you are right. We would dearly love such a miracle and we know he could perform it if he so willed. But the case is not so simple. We are finite and human. God is infinite and divine and absolutely holy. He knows the end from the beginning. He knows what is best for us, even what appears to be cruel and merciless will in the end be measured in the scales of eternal love and justice. Who are we to judge God, the infinite being, origin of life, holy (and whole) beyond our comprehension? Whatever will transpire, we know that it is for the best, for we are convinced because of our experiences up to now that God is a God of unconditional love.

A brief resume of what happened to Margaret and me

I said miracles have happened to us. We have told the story elsewhere, (in the book Island Conversion) but briefly what happened was this: We met first of all in 1964 when Margaret was a nurse in Inverness and I was working with the County Council. She was 17 and I was 19. We didn’t meet again for 36 years. We had meantime gone our separate ways. She married and eventually became widowed. I married and after 19 years was divorced.

In 1992, I found my way back to Staffin where my mother was from and where I was born. I looked on Staffin as my spiritual home. The village of Flodigarry in Staffin had always held a special place in my mother’s affections. I had been an unbeliever when I first met Margaret at the age of 19; was sceptical of the Bible because it appeared to contradict reason and wrote poetry which sometimes showed this scepticism. Now, looking back, I believe God used Margaret as a means to bring me back to himself.

In the mid-nineties Margaret had a dream which stayed with her for years. She was going through a hard patch at the time and went to bed unhappy one night. In the dream she saw this man going through a gate and beckoning her to follow him. When the man turned round, although his hair was now grey, she recognised that it was me. Inside the gate was a green field and she felt very happy and didn’t want to waken up. But she did and the dream pursued her for years. I was a burden on her continually. She cried over me, she prayed for me. But it wasn’t till she told a Christian preacher who was visiting Benbecula, where she was then, that it became clear to her that the dream was from God.

After many other struggles, she telephoned me in 1999 and we eventually married in 2002. It was after years of marriage that I realised one day what the gate meant. It wasn’t so much the gate to marriage but the Christ-gate, which I came to after many strange and unbelievable adventures. Before, I would have said these were coincidences. Now I see them as the providence of God. No human agency could have engineered what happened to us. Not only were there amazing ‘coincidences’ but even more startling were the pychokinetic events. Not just haphazard poltergeist activity which could be construed as some unexplained force of nature. No, these were as if directed by an intelligence, a force that knew exactly what was happening in our lives, even our very thoughts.

I know that many people will scoff and say we are deluded. But I always prided myself on my rationality. I was sceptical of miracle claims. Until these things happened to myself and Margaret! Now I know, personally, that scientific explanations are not enough, that there is a side to life which is “spiritual”, or whatever, and which science cannot touch. Yes, I know, personal experiences like ours will not convince the sceptic but it might give him or her pause for thought. Especially if millions claim, and they do, that God has touched their lives in strange ways.