Miracles Don’t Contradict The Laws of Nature
by Lenny Esposito
Miracles are a big topic. The skeptics dismiss then, faithful believe in them, many pray for them to occur in their lives. However, a lot of atheists seem to mis-define them. I was talking with an atheist friend who stated “By definition, a miracle violates natural law.” By violate, I think he means “contradict.” He isn’t alone in that definition. The 18th century Scottish skeptic David Hume also sought to dismiss any claim of miracles as unreasonable in his Philosophical Essays Concerning Human Understanding. He wrote:
A miracle is a violation of the laws of nature. There must, therefore, be a uniform experience against every miraculous event, otherwise the event would not merit that appellation. And as a uniform experience amounts to a proof, there is here a direct and full proof, from the nature of the fact, against the existence of any miracle.1
That definition has become popular with hose seeking to debunk any miracle claims. However, Hume was wrong. A miracles doesn’t violate the laws of nature, it suspends them. That’s a big difference. The suspension of a law isn’t a violation; it’s simply an intervention. If you were in your kitchen and saw an egg rolling off the counter, you would know that gravity will pull that egg to the ground. However, you can intervene and catch the egg to keep it from falling to the ground. You’ve exercised your power to stop what would by the laws of nature produce a mess. So if God can intervene in our world to keep a man from falling into the sea, allowing him to walk on water, we would see it as a miracle.
Some may object that the example above isn’t fair. After all, catching an egg is just as natural as letting it fall. While this is true, the concept of intervention holds if the one intervening is not limited to the natural world. As an example, think about computer programs…
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