The Credibility of the Miracles of Jesus
by Craig Blomberg
Distinguished Professor of New Testament, Denver Seminary
For some people, the miracles in the Gospels form the most incredible part of the New Testament accounts. Modern science, they say, has demonstrated that the universe is a closed continuum of cause and effect. The ancients may have believed in the possibility of supernatural forces in the world but we know better today.
In fact, this cluster of opinions proved more common a half-century ago than today. Philosophers of science have stressed that by definition all science can adjudicate is that what is repeatable under controlled conditions. If there is a God of the kind in which Jews, Christians and Muslims have historically believed, then we would expect him occasionally to bypass the laws of nature. The real question becomes whether there is good reason to believe in God in the first place.
One of the most exciting and encouraging developments in recent years in this respect is the intelligent design movement. Pointing to numerous examples of fundamental entities in the natural and biological worlds that display irreducible complexity, even some scientists who are not Christians at all have acknowledged that there must be an intelligent being behind this creation. The entire "big-bang" theory for the beginnings of the universe leads to the question of what or who produced that "bang."
For others, philosophical arguments like those of the famous seventeenth-century Scotsman, David Hume, turn out to be more persuasive. While not alleging that miracles are impossible, the claim now is that the probability of a natural explanation will always be greater than that of a supernatural one. Phenomena could mislead, witnesses could be mistaken and, besides, explanations of events must have analogies to what has happened in the past. But it is not at all clear that any of these arguments mean that the evidence could never be unambiguous and the witnesses unassailable. And if every event must have a known analogy, then people in the tropics before modern technology could never have accepted that ice exists!
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