Apologetics

 

Are miracles believable?

by Ronald H. Nash

Miracles are essential to the historic Christian faith. If Jesus Christ was not God incarnate, and if Jesus did not rise bodily from the grave, then the Christian faith as we know it, from history and the Scriptures, would not – could not – be true (see Rom. 10:9-10).

It is, then, easy to see why enemies of the Christian faith direct many of their attacks against these two miracles: Christ 's incarnation and resurrection in particular and the possibility of miracles in general.

What one believes about the possibility of miracles comes from that person's worldview. On the question of miracles, the critical worldview distinction is between naturalism and supernaturalism. For a naturalist, the universe is analogous to a closed box. Everything that happens inside the box is caused by, or is explicable in terms of, other things that exist within the box. Nothing (including God) exists outside the box; therefore, nothing outside the box we call the universe or nature can have any causal effect within the box. To quote the famous naturalist Carl Sagan, the cosmos is all that is or ever has been or ever will be. The major reason, then, why naturalists do not believe in miracles is because their worldview prevents them from believing.

If a naturalist suddenly begins to consider the possibility that miracles are really possible, he has begun to move away from naturalism and toward a different worldview. Any person with a naturalistic worldview could not consistently believe in miracles. No arguments on behalf of the miraculous can possibly succeed with such a person. The proper way to address the unbelief of such a person is to begin by challenging his naturalism.

The worldview of Christian theism affirms the existence of a personal God who transcends nature, who exists "outside the box." Christian supernaturalism denies the eternity of nature. God created the world freely and ex nihilo (out of nothing). The universe is contingent in the sense that it would not have begun to exist without God's creative act, and it could not continue to exist without God’s sustaining activity. The very laws of the cosmos that naturalists believe make miracles impossible were created by this God. Indeed, one of naturalism's major problems is explaining how mindless forces could give rise to minds, knowledge, and sound reasoning.

This post is an excerpt from the Apologetics Study Bibleby Holman Bible Publishers. It is used with permission. You can purchase this resource in its entirety here.

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