Posted by: Tim | November 7, 2009

That’s a Good Question #6 – Did the miracles of the Bible really happen?

Here is the 6th “That’s  a Good Question” article which recently appeared in the Three Hills Capital.

That’s a Good Question #6

Did the Miracles of the Bible Really Happen?

The Bible describes some pretty amazing miracles from days long ago. Moses parts the Red Sea, Peter heals a lame man, and Jesus heals the sick, raises the dead, and even walks on water. But today many skeptics are questioning whether these miracles really happened. Let’s consider whether we can believe in the miracles of the Bible or not.

In the eighteenth century, philosopher David Hume ‘proved’ that miracles are impossible. Now by ‘proved’, I do not mean that he did some new historical research to show that the lame who walked really just had twisted ankles that got better naturally, or that he traveled back in time with a video camera (which itself would have been a miracle!) and found that Jesus was really using a transparent surfboard to ‘walk’ on the water.  What I mean by ‘proved’ is that he argued philosophically that miracles are impossible. He argued that miracles violate the laws of nature, and experience teaches us that the laws of nature cannot be violated. Even if someone claimed to have witnessed a miracle, their testimony should be discounted because it is far more likely that a miracle did not occur than that a miracle did occur. This argument effectively boils down to miracles being impossible because they are rare and improbable.

Despite the obvious weakness of Hume’s argument, it carried the day in his time and has influenced generations of scholars to this day. For example, the liberal Bible scholars of the popular Jesus Seminar, who often appear on television specials that attempt to discredit Christianity, ruled out the possibility of miracles without offering any evidence, in their book The Five Gospels. We would never accept this inferior level of scholarship in other fields, but when a scholar is trying to debunk the Bible, it seems that not only is it accepted, it even gets you on TV.

I like to call it the “That’s ridiculous” argument against miracles, because its only achievement is to teach people to say “That’s ridiculous” when confronted with a potential miracle, rather than investigating the claim. Following Hume’s logic we could disprove virtually any improbable occurrence that was not normally observed, miracle or otherwise. Wouldn’t it be better to actually investigate the evidence for specific miracles and see where it leads? If miracles are impossible as Hume and the Jesus Seminar claimed, then it should be easy to prove by investigating actual historical evidence.

In a previous article we looked how the existence of God credibly explains how the universe started, why there is such intricate design in the universe, where moral absolutes originate, and why millions of believers experience God in their lives.  If we can accept that God exists, then miracles are really not that hard to believe in, for walking on the water is easy for someone who created the water, and raising the dead is no problem for someone who created life.

The evidence for the credibility of the Bible is very strong, as we saw in last week’s article. And when we read the Bible we find that multiple, independent eyewitness accounts of miracles are recorded. Reports of Jesus from outside the Bible also speak of His miracles. And there is strong historical evidence for the resurrection of Jesus, the pivotal miracle of Christianity. If the resurrection is true, then miracles are true, and the credibility of other Biblical miracles is very strong. Now you might respond to this claim by saying “That’s ridiculous! Show me some proof!” And that’s fair enough—we will look at the evidence for the resurrection in detail next week.

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  1. […] #6 Did the miracles of the Bible really happen? […]


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