The Question of Miracles
about miracles? Are they for real? Can there be miracles in a cause and effect
universe? Christians believe as much as
anyone does in cause and effect. In
fact, many of the early scientists were Christians: Copernicus, Galileo,
Kepler, Sir Isaac Newton, Leonardo daVinci, and Louis Pasteur. They believed in a God of order, not chaos,
and respected the law of cause and effect in the universe, developing and
practicing their science based on those principles. Can our belief in a cause and effect universe
allow for miracles?
we should define what a miracle is. C.S.
Lewis wrote that a miracle is “an interference with nature by supernatural
power… A miracle is by definition an exception.” (Miracles, pp. 10, 47)
of nature are generalizations about how things have been observed to uniformly
happen. When one believes in God, it
seems only natural to state that God’s regular patterns of acting in nature are
what we call natural laws. God is always
working to keep the universe running. A
miracle is an exception to this uniformity of the way nature functions. God is always working in His creation; a
miracle is when that’s really obvious!
that God is bound by the laws of cause and effect would leave no room for Him
to act in a personally responsive way.
He would be relegated to being an observer as the wheels and gears of
cause and effect that He created churn away, unfolding history in a mindless
and mechanical way. God created natural
laws and is not bound by them. Believing
in God means believing that nature is not the whole of reality. A miracle is not an event without a cause;
the cause is God. Cause and effect still
apply; it’s just that with a miracle the cause is outside the natural world.
Being Open to
Science can only deal with the observable and testable. The possibility of an effect that is the
result of a cause outside the natural world puts it beyond the realm of
science. Miracles require a
“supernatural force, which the scientist had not reckoned on,” as C.S Lewis put
it. (Miracles, p. 59)
assess the possibility of the miraculous you have to keep an open mind. If you completely rule out the possibility of
miracles, of course you will never see one.
If you really did see one you’d believe it was the result of some yet
undetected natural cause.
late Paul Little wrote, “Many have made a rationalistic presupposition which
rules out the very possibility of miracles.
Since they know miracles are impossible, no amount of evidence would ever persuade them one had
taken place. There would always be an
alternate naturalistic explanation for them to advance.” (Know Why You Believe, pp. 106-107) But If you believe
there is something more, something beyond and outside of nature, miracles
become a possibility!
who struggle with the existence of miracles are really struggling with more
basic and fundamental issues such as the existence of God and whether or not He
personally interacts with His creation.
Once you open yourself up to that as a possibility, miracles are not all
that difficult to believe in.
If God is willing to override His laws of nature and do the miraculous, why
doesn’t He do it more often and be even more obvious about it? If He did, we wouldn’t have to discuss
whether miracles are real or not!
put it another way, if God really wanted everyone to believe in Him and have a
relationship with Him, why doesn’t He show Himself more clearly? The psalmist prayed this kind of question. “Why, Lord, do you stand far off? Why do you hide yourself in times of
trouble?” (Psalm 10:1)
I’ll admit that I’ve prayed as I’m taking a walk, “Lord, how about having
one of Your angels do a quick “flyby” right now, just to help me strengthen my
faith in You?” Just for the record, He
has not yet chosen to assign an angel to fulfill my request!
reality is that many who are not believers in God would not believe even if God
performed a major miracle for them.
Atheist Nietzsche is reported to have said
that if God appeared to him he would check himself into a mental facility
because he knew he was delusional.
were to appear as a giant face in the sky with a big booming voice, a faithless
person would probably insist that there was a hidden projector and sound
system, even if he couldn’t find them.
Jesus said about the non-believing characters in one of His parables, “They will not be convinced even if someone rises from
the dead.” (Luke 16:31)
There is no convincing some people who don’t want to be convinced. Those who come to faith in God and His
miraculous workings have to first of all be open to the possibility.
some people could be convinced if God made Himself more obvious, but He doesn’t
want to compel belief in Him and a relationship with Him; He wants it to be
voluntary. If God were to impose Himself
on us, there would be little or no free choice.
That God seems hidden is God’s way of giving us the space we need to
make the choice to come to Him. “You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all
your heart.” (Jeremiah 29:13)
Proof Enough to Believe
When you stop and think about it, all of
existence is a miracle! To believe that
everything that exists came out of nothing, that life came to a lifeless earth,
that we humans are conscious of our own existence, and that you and I can
ponder all of this and far more right now is a miracle!
there are the historical documents that give accounts of God’s relating to
people throughout human history, often in miraculous ways. This happened to Abraham, Moses, Elijah, the
apostles of Jesus, and many others.
These accounts hold a high degree of credibility and cannot be easily
dismissed, and certainly not because of a closed-minded view that miracles
too, there’s the sense many of us have that God is actively working in our
lives, sometimes, it seems, miraculously.
OK, sometimes not. But are we
open to the possibility? It will require
faith, and that has always been God’s intention! “And without faith it is impossible to please God,
because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards
those who earnestly seek him.”
miracles possible? There may not be
enough evidence to compel belief, but there might just be enough evidence to
make belief compelling! Be open to the
by David J. Claassen
Copyright 2014 by David J. Claassen