We continue our look at “doctrinal disproofs” of God with an analysis of a few interesting and unusual claims involving miracles.  Before presenting her own unique argument, the author briefly presents three claims that miracles do not necessarily imply God as their source. Viewing these as insufficient, she goes a step further and asserts that miracles give positive evidence that the God of Scripture cannot exist. I will respond to the first three arguments below, followed next week by a critique of her claim that miracles give positive evidence against God’s existence.
To begin, a common argument asserts that God, if He exists, could not dwell both in and beyond space and time at the same time. Therefore, as God is said to exist beyond space and time, He could not be the cause of miracles in space and time. But as we have seen, no finite person, apart from God’s revelation, can possibly know what an infinite and transcendent Spirit can be or do.
Of course, we have not personally experienced living in and beyond time and space. But how does it follow that God is thus limited? Human limitations, or what we know of time, space, and matter, imply no such limitations in God. And while atheist apologists and philosophers offer this claim as fact, it stands on nothing more than blind-faith speculation. The only way anyone can know what an incomprehensible and infinite Spirit can be or do is by what He condescends to reveal to us, and He has clearly revealed that He exits and operates in and beyond space and time at the same time. At best, this atheistic argument affirms that we are not divine, even as those making it presume to know what finite people cannot possibly know.
Another argument claims that if God causes every event, it makes no sense to say He “specially caused” a particular event (i.e., a miracle). Or, if He causes “special events,” He cannot be the cause of “regular events.” Yet, who can know that God cannot organize reality according to what people call natural laws and then do something different at a particular place and time? Scripture teaches both. God can do whatever He pleases, whenever He pleases, and who can know enough to say otherwise? At best, the argument highlights problems with believers distinguishing “natural” versus “supernatural” events when everything in the universe operates by the ongoing exertion of God’s power. Imprecise language, however, does not preclude God from creating and later parting the Red Sea.
Another interesting argument claims that no miracle can be assigned to a specific agent without knowing the distinct pattern of how the agent has operated in the past, such that how it will operate in the future can be predicted. And if an action can be predicted, it comes under “scientific law” and cannot be considered a miracle. Therefore, if miracles are unique and unpredictable, they cannot be assigned to God or any other agent.
Of course, this claim appears irrelevant to believers with the record of God’s actions in Scripture. God has clearly revealed when and why He has performed miracles, even as those who viewed them could not have predicted them. Moreover, violations of “natural law” pose no problem for believers in the God who created and sustains all things, who continuously displays His infinite power everywhere. “Behold, Thou hast made the heavens and the earth by Thy great power and by Thine outstretched arm! Nothing is too difficult for Thee” (Jer. 32:17 NAS). Miracles are kid’s stuff for Almighty God.
Nonetheless, the atheist’s argument has some merit in application to contemporary accounts of miracles. Apart from Scripture, we cannot always know for sure that a miracle was performed by God. Satan uses signs, wonders, and good things to divert us from Scripture to trust in mere experience. And while circumstances may point to God as the source, perhaps in answer to prayer or some other apparent reason, we cannot have the same knowledge and confidence of the source of an apparent miracle today that we have with the miracles in Scripture. Our perspective and conclusions are suspect, God’s Word is not.
Despite its merits, the argument poses no problem for God’s existence or the events of Scripture, where the nature, timing, and purpose of God’s miracles in biblical history are clearly revealed. Moreover, God’s ability to easily perform miracles appears in the design, creation, and ongoing operation of the universe—the God who can create and sustain all things from nothing can do anything.
True faith, then, does not rest on reports or experience of contemporary miracles. If we need physical healing or a sign to believe in Christ, we have yet to see the infinite excellence of God in created reality and the person and saving work of Christ in Scripture. And while God may use many things to get our attention (including miracles), saving faith comes when God opens our spiritual eyes to see the beauty of His holiness, the ugliness of our sin and its deserved condemnation, and the infinite excellence and sufficiency of Christ as our substitute, who satisfied God’s just penalty for sin in His death on the cross and met the requirement of perfect obedience for eternal life. Therefore, we boast in the Gospel, “for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes” (Rom. 1:16 NAS). And we boast in Christ, for “by His doing you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, and righteousness and sanctification, and redemption, that, just as it is written, ‘Let him who boasts, boast in the Lord’” (1 Cor. 1:30-31 NAS). “Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that you may abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit” (Rom. 15:13 NAS). Amen.
 Christine Overall, “Miracles as Evidence Against the Existence of God” in The Impossibility of God, Michael Martin and Ricki Monnier, eds. (Amherst: Prometheus Books, 2003), 147-153.
Scriptures marked NAS are taken from the NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE®, copyright© 1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission.
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© 2018 Craig Biehl, author of God the Reason, The Box, The Infinite Merit of Christ, and Reading Religious Affections
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