I want to address another argument from the Handbook of Christian Apologetics book that I’m currently reading. As we have seen, the authors are presenting 20 common arguments for the existence of God. They aren’t necessarily claiming that all of these arguments are airtight or irrefutable, but are simply listing some of the most common polemics and their subsequent commentary. Here, I’ll attempt to deal with
9. The Argument from Miracles
I’ll address these: 10. The Argument from Consciousness, 12. The Argument from the Origin of the Idea of God and 13. The Ontological Argument in a future post (s).
The argument from miracles begins with a false premise. Here is the list as presented in the book:
- A miracle is an event whose only adequate explanation is the extraordinary and direct intervention of God.
- There are numerous well-attested miracles.
- Therefore, theere are numerous events whose only adequate explanation is the extraordinary and direct intervention of God.
- Therefore God exists.
The authors follow this list by saying that if you believe that miracles occur, that the believer must believe in divine agency. But who is to say the miracle didn’t take place by some other means or by some other agency? It’s an elementary argument, I know, but sometimes, people label unusual happenings as miracles, when in reality, they are, indeed, very, very rare, but not divinely driven. Take a person who was cured from a presupposed incurable disease. This occurs, not with frequency, but it does occur. Did God shine on the healed folks and not others? Were other factors involved that led to the person getting better of which doctors may not have been aware? All that notwithstanding, we still have not adequately grasped the power of the mind to heal nor of the body.
Now, the authors call a miracle “an event whose only adequate explanation is the … direct intervention of God,” but a miracle isn’t quite that. A miracle is a suspension of the natural laws, and if we grant that God exists, we must also grant that any number of other supernatural or spiritual beings could exist. So, a miracle does not necessarily have to be governed by God. It can be governed by any number of other supernatural entities floating around, be them demons or angels or something else, for if we open up the possibility of God, we open up the possibility of just about anything in some supposed spiritual realm.
My thoughts on the second point are simple enough: I would like to know what the authors mean by “well-attested miracles?” Any miracle in the Bible is not well-attested. I’m sorry to break the news. The earliest gospel is at least about 40 years removed from the actual events, and even if a gospel-writer said he saw with his own eyes the miracles of Christ, that wouldn’t necessarily make them true. We are 2,000-plus years removed from those events and copy after copy after copy after copy removed from that still. Even if I claimed aliens descended on some field in the haze of night, I would have a tough time convincing someone else that I wasn’t delusional. So, the proof needed to validate the suspension of the natural order is immense indeed. I wouldn’t be able to convince the village idiot that I saw a UFO tonight in some corn field. How much more difficult is it for folks to claim the divinity of only one of numerous supposed and deluded prophets roaming around the desert 2,000 years ago, for according to the Bible’s own record, numerous false teachers were at work during the time the gospels were written. To add a few more to their number doesn’t sound like that large of a stretch to me.