What Place Do Miracles Have in Apologetics?
By Cris D. Putnam
Do miracles prove God or does the existence of God prove that miracles happen? What place do miracles have in apologetics? In discussing miracles, the “value project” is a discussion of the evidential merits of miracles. This can be subdivided into the “basis” question which looks at the evidence that miracles have indeed occurred and the “use” question which asks what religious beliefs are supported by said basis. There are two principle approaches to addressing the value project: the bottom-up approach and the top-down approach. While there are winsome and compelling advocates of both approaches in Christian apologetics, this essay will argue the case that the latter, the top-down, is preferable.
The bottom-up approach (miracles prove God) argues from the occurrence of miracles to God’s existence. This approach uses various forms of evidence as a basis to believe in miracles. For instance, the historical evidence for Jesus resurrection is well attested and represents an event that does not conform to natural laws. Because there are no coherent natural explanations it follows that it must have been a miracle. The “use project” argues from this basis that we have a reason to believe that God exists. Skeptics invariably dispute the historical evidence and offer up naturalistic explanations like the “swoon theory” and legendary development for why people came to believe it…
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