Six Poor Reasons for Rejecting the Miraculous

Saints and Sceptics

Christian theology affirms a number of miracles, most importantly the atonement, the resurrection, the incarnation and the virgin birth. The secular mind dismisses these as tall-tales and myths produced by superstitious, pre-modern minds. However, it seems to us that the modern prejudice against miracles is not very rational.

1) Experience shows that miracles do not occur

This argues in a circle. The Christian asserts that he has good testimony that a miracle has occurred. The sceptic responds, “that can’t be true because human experience shows that miracles do not occur.” But the Christian has just cited evidence that this is not the case: the Christian is claiming that he has evidence that  some humans have experienced a miracle!

It is true that human experience establishes that miracles are, at the very least, rare. But relying on our experience of what usually happens can lead to terrible mistakes.  “This medicine has never harmed patients in the past; therefore it will not hurt anyone tomorrow; these buildings have withstood all earthquakes until now; therefore they will withstand the next earthquake.” We should always be open to evidence of  the unexpected. Sometimes that evidence can tell us that an unrepeatable, unprecedented event has occurred!

2) Science shows that miracles are impossible!

It is true that miracles like the virgin birth are naturally impossible, but who ever thought otherwise? Christians claim that the resurrection is a supernatural event. The laws of nature are just mathematical descriptions of how nature normally behaves. But suppose there’s more to reality than

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the natural world. Suppose the reason the universe behaves in an ordered, law-like manner is that the universe has a rational creator.

In that case, the behaviour of the universe would be  predictable and we would have a good knowledge of the laws that govern the Universe.  But, on occasion, God do something new, to bring about an event which normally does not happen in the day to day running of the Universe. After all,  isn’t it possible that God could have reason to do something extraordinary in his universe now and then? Couldn’t God cause an exception to the laws of nature?

3) If we believe in one supernatural event we might as well believe in Santa and flying reindeer!

It’s possible to believe in a miracle (say the resurrection) and to be extremely sceptical about most reports of paranormal activity. Miracles are not impossible, but they are unusual (in the sense that they do not occur frequently). We should expect miracles to be rare and to be events that God would have a good reason to bring about. Indeed, miracles lose their significance if they are not exceptional events. So we would not expect every miracle report to be true. The Christian world-view insists that we should not uncritically accept every miracle claim…

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Six Poor Reasons for Rejecting the Miraculous – Saints and Sceptics