In order for a person to believe in Christianity, he must believe in miracles. The notion of a miracle occurring is a common objection to Christianity by atheists, agnostic people, and skeptics. I want to offer some ways for a Christian to think about how he would answer a skeptics objection to miracles.
A miracle from God is defined as an act of divinity in which a supernatural effect is produced for the purpose of manifesting God’s kingdom on earth. Their purpose is to reveal God’s supernatural character. Now in order to begin to think about miracles, one must already be in a position to at least consider the notion of a created world. A person who believes in creation believes that God created the universe out of nothing. He created time and when it would be set into motion and he created the natural things we see all around us. The simple syllogism goes like this: Everything that has a beginning has a cause, the universe had a beginning, therefore the universe has a cause and the cause (God) must transcend time and space in order to create it. When we consider these things from the cosmological argument, it is perfectly rational to conclude that the act of creation is the greatest miracle ever performed. The skeptic should be willing to concede this point if he can for a moment allow that God is the uncaused first cause.
It’s at this time that we can demonstrate that if the greatest miracle ever performed occurred at creation, then any miracle following is certainly believable. David Hume famously discounted miracles. He claimed that natural law is a regular occurrence and miracles are irregular occurrences. He further claimed that the evidence for the regular is always greater than the evidence for the irregular or rare. The problem with this is that there are numerous things in our natural world that are not only rare but only happened once. For example, the beginning of the universe and the origin of life happened only once. This is a big problem for Hume’s argument.
Why do miracles occur and why are they so sporadic? In the bible, miracles usually occur as a way for God to reveal himself to man. Jesus performed miracles in order to prove he was the son of God. God revealed himself to mankind in the old testament with many miraculous acts. Miracles are a supernatural way for God to communicate his word to us and are often used to grab our attention. We cannot answer why miracles are sporadic. There are periods of hundreds of years in the Bible where no miracles are recorded. One aspect of miracles is that they are usually rare. This makes sense, because if miracles happened every day they could possibly be less effective in communicating God’s word. Again, miracles are attention grabbers.
Of course, nearly everyone open to the evidence for miracles and God have heard of or maybe even experienced their own miracles. We know they sometimes happen and we know sometimes they don’t (at least in this world!). God created a good world that rebelled against him and chose evil by free will. God can use miracles to reconnect to a lost and dying world and reveal his presence. Although, miracles are not used by God to “fix” a defective creation. I read an analogy recently that I had never heard before. It said that the world isn’t a defective machine that needs fixed, but that the relationship between God and creation can be thought of like the relationship between a musician and his instrument. The musician enjoys time with his guitar and together beautiful things can occur, but every now and then the guitar needs a little tuning.
Footnote: I don’t know how to incorporate citations into the blog. But I want to acknowledge that most of the information in this blog are from thoughts put forth by Douglas Groothuis, Frank Turek, and Norman Geisler. I have not added much originality at all but merely unpacked some of the things these men have written. Check Amazon or your local bookstore for their resources. They are invaluable to me.