Some people dismiss the Bible because of miracles recorded in its pages. They dismiss the possibility of miracles on a couple of different grounds. One reason is based upon preconceived bias or mere assumptions. Honest minds want to draw conclusions based upon a fair hearing of the evidence. Some people dismiss the possibility of past miracles outright before allowing a fair hearing of them.
Another reason people reject miracles is based upon a commitment to naturalistic principles. Some people reason from their own personal experience and since they do not observe miracles on a regular, repeatable or consistent basis, they reason that miracles have never occurred. This is a big logical leap. One may confidently say they haven’t observed a miracle, but to say miracles never have occurred takes much more evidence than personal experience or the experience of a select group of people. Just one miracle happening at just one moment of time in the world’s history would prove this belief to be false. This belief and rejection of miracles is often rooted in the principle of uniformitarianism—the concept or belief that the origin or development of all things can be explained exclusively in terms of natural laws or processes operating today or “the present is the key to the past”(Ruffner 290). Yet experience teaches us that what is ordinarily observed is peppered with irregularities like a man landing on the moon or Princess Diana dying in such a rare and irregular manner.
How would one respond to this rejection? First, a commitment to natural explanations demands a source for nature. If there are natural laws, then there must be a natural law giver. Second, what is observed consistently in nature is only a portion of what is observed naturally. There are observable phenomenon (irregularities, oddities or anomalies) that are readily observed such as volcano eruptions, earth quakes, tsunamis, meteor showers, or tornadoes. Scientists try to predict these events with regularity but their occurrence is littered with uncertainty as to timing. These events prove that natural regularities or a normal order of things has exceptions (cf. 2 Peter 3:4). If these natural phenomenon are willingly accepted, why then do people rule out the possibility of supernatural exceptions to natural processes in the past? Shouldn’t one allow at least the possibility for the supernatural?
People offer other objections to miracles. They might allege – you believe the Bible is true because it contains miracles and you believe miracles are true because they are in the Bible. This is circular, they would argue. However, there is more to proving Divine inspiration of the Bible than these two elements. The Bible is a collection of witness accounts confirming miracles. It’s not merely one witness confirming a miracle but often many witnesses to the same event. A miracle proves to be a supernatural act of God either by God intervening or interrupting the natural course of events (Geisler 48). “A miracle is something which would never have happened had nature, as it were, been left to its own devices” (Geisler 44). As Geisler points out “Natural law describes naturally caused regularities; a miracle is a supernaturally caused singularity”(44).
In the Bible there is not only one miracle attested to by many witnesses, but there is one Christ attested to by many miracles (cf. Heb. 2:3-4, John 3:2, John 20:30-31). Consider the miracle of Jesus’s resurrection. Matthew records the initial witness testimony of Mary Magdalene, another Mary and the eleven at Galilee (Matt. 28:1,9). Paul records the first hand witness of Peter (Cephas), the twelve, five hundred brothers, James, all the Apostles, and Paul himself (1 Cor. 15:5-8). This resurrected Jesus also was confirmed by multiple miracles prior to his death, including: turning water to wine (John 2:9), feeding the 5,000 (Mark 6:30-44), and calming a storm (Matt. 8:23-27) among many others.
Rudolf Bultman one of the staunchest critics of the New Testament noted the following. He stated “The Christian fellowship was convinced that Jesus had done miracles and they told many stories of miracles about him. Most of these stories contained in the gospels are legendary or are at least dressed up with legend. But, there can be no doubt that Jesus did such deeds, which were, in his and his contemporaries’ understanding, miracles; this is to say, events that were the result of supernatural divine causality. Doubtless he healed the sick and cast out demons” (Strobel 68 quoting Craig quoting Rudolf Bultmann, Jesus (Berlin, 1926), 159). If even this critic can concede to the truth of past miracles, maybe other fair minded individuals will do the same.
Geisler, Norman. Systematic Theology. Vol. One. Minneapolis: Bethany, 2002. Print.
Ruffner, Roelf. "The Doctrine of Uniformitarianism." In the Beginning: Christian Evidence and Apologetics. Ed. Hicks, Tommy. Lubbock: Hicks Publications, 2000. Print.
Strobel, Lee. The Case for Faith. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2005. Print.