Philip: I just think Hugh has a problem with the supernatural when it comes to God. Yes, there is healthy skepticism, but he seems to discount anything that might be evidence of the miraculous. But anti-supernaturalism is not in sync with believing the many miracles recorded in Scripture. Does that mean this is how God always works - course not. The miraculous is uncommon/atypical.
As previously noted, how God works rationally, as per Scripture, is that He often uses the miraculous per HIS version of what is rational - and not per OUR sense of what is rational! We are material, God is Spirit. We have tiny created brains of limited knowledge. He has no limitations whatsoever. So, that's a starting point. We don't often know what God does - or has done, don't have His abilities, and He even states in many places in Scripture is that His ways are not our ways. That means that what WE think is rational about an issue or thing is not necessarily the way God thinks about it. Scripture is replete with God doing things exactly the opposite of how a rational human would plan and implement things. Jesus becoming a human - nothing about this is rational, per how a human would have planned it. God wanting man to understand Himself and his plans for mankind - we'd likely have planned for Jesus to simply arrive in great power and majesty, and begin meeting with the world's great leaders, demonstrating clearly to all, all at once, Who He is, what His power is capable of, and what He wants. Not this nonsense of being born into poor, humble circumstances - really, an unremarkable first century, ancient Palestinian birth. He's this "nobody" that comes our of nowhere, speaking often cryptically and quoting the OT, saying these remarkable, but often difficult-to-understand, things. Is that how we would have done it? RATIONALLY? Of course not!Hugh: Now there you do alight on a major difference between our respective understandings of the workings of God. I think he always works rationally.
Look at Jesus. A God that is eternal, has all power and knowledge, all capabilities, lives within the bliss and love of His Trinity, and He decides to also take on a MATERIAL thing He had already created: Human form! Before God created humans, there were none.
A wild (if imperfect analogy): God also taking human form on is as if one of us were to create some kind of amazing, high-tech robot, yet infused with incredible artificial intelligence, speech, hearing, and based upon how our intelligence works, with many of our high-functioning capabilities. Now, this robot you have created, it's not a human, but it certainly mirrors many amazing attributes of a human. Let's call him Herb. You begin to love Herb the robot as if he is more than just some thing we created, but as if he is as another human. And you've programmed Herb to be able to make his own decisions, and placed him in an environment of considerable dangers, in which many of his bad decisions could be destructive to him, perhaps fatally so. But you wanted him to have freedom and to be able to think for himself. Remember, you have begun to LOVE Herb. He is your pride and joy, this astonishing created thing. But Herb, being given the independence of making decisions, decides not to love you back - actually, he can't really understand love like you do, nor does he desire it. And then Herb's decisions cause him some catastrophic malfunction that will eventually lead to his destruction. He's also become aggressive and very dangerous. And you realize the only way to keep him from destruction is to confront him and change him, but you decide to do this without using any great aggressive power or weapons at your disposal. And so, to do this, you are willing to risk Herb turning on you - to the point you are willing to risk - if necessary - even die to save Herb from his inevitable corrosion and ceasing any future functioning - a death of what is no more than a created machine - although you think of him in a far greater way and with love. You have loved a CREATED machine, with many of your attributes, and yet you inexplicably LOVE a created thing, and so you have decided that you are willing to die for Herb. And Herb has remaining capabilities to inflict great and exceptionally painful injuries - and that is only before he may well kill you. But you are willing to horrifically die for a thing that once did not exist, that you decided to love to the point of great personal sacrifice, to keep Herb from his own destruction.
OK, the analogy above is problematic, but you get the idea. What we as humans consider RATIONAL, is not God's idea of it. He starts a nation as an example and to model His desires and ways to, and yet He starts it with a barren woman and man, whereas we would have chosen the young and fertile. He already foreknows these people will greatly disappoint Him and not appreciate Him, over and over, and yet He does so anyway. Jesus chooses a ragtag band of misfit fishermen, who He well knows will desert Him, screw up over and over, and yet this is His plan. God doesn't send down some perfect digital, completely understandable messages to the world's leaders, all at once, so A) ALL can SEE He exists, B) so that He demonstrates clearly His miraculous powers, C) So ALL people can instantly know perfectly what He wants, how He thinks, and provide everything they could possibly want to know, all that. NO, He reveals His will and words to prophets and leaders, apostles, and He does this over 16 centuries - slowly, VERY slowly - often cryptically or unclearly - looking forward.
Point is, we would never do things the way God has done them. His logic and rationality are not OURS! And they never were, never will be - not here. He stands alone in His often mysterious ways and objectives. Anyone asserting God operates logically, ACCORDING TO MAN'S LOGIC, has a very distorted understanding of God and His ways, and they clearly don't accept much of what Scripture says, as being true. To be a Christian is to realize that human expectations concerning God are often highly problematic, or likely just wrong. He doesn't think like we do. He doesn't operate like we would. And thankfully so - as humans have a pretty dismal track record.