February 20, 2018

Miracles: A Guide For Gamers

The Bible records numerous events that may only be described as “miraculous.” Moses alone encounters a burning bush, 10 plagues upon the land of Egypt, the pillar of fire and smoke, and perhaps most famously, the parting of the Red Sea. And of course there are others. Miraculous healings, water being turned into wine, and not least of all, people rising from the dead.

Some people find it hard to accept miracles as historical events. They explain them away in any number of ways: symbolism to be interpreted as a moral lesson, exaggerated tales told for dramatic effect, pure mythology, or simple lies.

I must confess, one of the things which held me back from Christianity for so long was my inability to understand miracles. I still hold that the importance of many miraculous events rests not upon historical accuracy, but in the lessons being taught. That being said, there is one miracle in particular which cannot be understood as anything other than an actual historical event: the resurrection of Jesus (refer to 1 Corinthians 15:13-17). Once I understood the implications of rejecting the resurrection as reality, I began to wonder if other miracles could also be more than just stories or symbolism.

But for those who do not believe, all miracles sound like nothing more than fairy tales. Any attempt to share Christ with an atheist is doomed to failure if we cannot step outside of ourselves and find a way to connect the scriptures to something which will, in turn, resonate with the heart and mind of the person in question. In other words: they don’t believe the Bible, so any arguments we provide which make no connections outside of the Bible will ultimately fall on deaf ears.

You can trust me on that, because I used to be one of those people.

One of the most used arguments against the reality of miracles is that they exhibit properties which seem to contradict the very laws of nature. If you can’t explain it scientifically, it didn’t happen, or so “they” say. But consider, for a moment, the virtual world of video games.

Yes, I’m being serious.

In games such as World of Warcraft (which happened to be the top dog during my gamer days), a player controls an avatar: a character which interacts directly with the online digital game universe in much the same way as we interact with the real world. Generally speaking, if you jump, you come back down. You can walk across a bridge over a great height, and if you fall off the bridge, your character can “die” from the fall. It’s pretty much like the real world, except for the elves, dwarves, trolls, talking varmints, and magic.

However, the digital world of WoW is not perfect. At times, a character’s possessions have been known to inexplicably vanish. Certain items may stop functioning for no apparent reason. Or worst of all, you might actually fall into an invisible crack in the ground and become stuck, completely unable to move your character out of the non-space caused by a glitchy line of code. In those instances, the all-wise programmers of the game had prepared a system in advance which would allow for outside assistance from game moderators, or GMs.

For example, a GM has the power to reset your character to a previous location, thus providing for your salvation from the ground having eaten your avatar. GMs can track down your character’s online history (computers log EVERYTHING!) to see if your Supreme Sword of Magic Impossibleness did indeed vanish into cyberspace and, if so, restore it to your inventory. If your Wand of Limitless Band-Aids stopped working, the GM can fix it. A GM has the ability to fix all of these things and much, much more. You, on the other hand… do not.

Does this sound somewhat familiar? It should.

Just as the programmers who work for Blizzard Entertainment created the magical universe of WoW, God created our universe. Just as the GM in WoW has the ability to manipulate the digital world, so our God can manipulate our reality in ways which we cannot, even though we can clearly see the results of His actions. In fact, He can do so in ways which we may not only fail to comprehend, but be unable to observe at all. The Blizzard programmers often send out minor updates and bug fixes, and have also at times added entirely new realms to the game via new expansion packs. In much the same way, God has the power to tweak our reality as He sees fit in ways either miniscule or magnificent. He might send frogs and flies, or He might part seas or raise the dead.

If an avatar in WoW had an actual consciousness, what might be its reaction to GM intervention? Could the avatar even hope to understand the power of the Almighty Programmers? Would the avatar’s denial of the existence of a Programmer make the programmer any less real?

If there is a God (and I believe there is), how arrogant would we have to be to assume that His power to manipulate His own creation is limited to the ways which we, mere specks within all of that vast creation, could explain and replicate?

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