According to science, miracles are things that go against the general, educated, unbiased perspective of humanity. The world has a set of natural laws, and miracles, by their very definition, go against these laws. In other words, we know gravity exists because we experience it consistently. We know death happens, because we not only experience it regularly, but always—every person known to live is known to die.
Science suggests that if miracles really happened, and were really experienced regularly, there would be some sort of natural law suggesting it—because natural laws are built on shared experiences. Miracles do not line up with natural laws, thus they do not exist.
Sound simple? Well, it’s not quite as easy as that. Let’s consider a rebuttal.
First, miracles presuppose a belief in a personal God. If God is personal, then God is in a way biased. In other words, God does not work the same way every time. Miracles, by this definition, would not and could not be commonplace. Thus, miracles would have no natural laws, by their very definition.
Second, Christian miracles are seen as special acts of God’s will, often in response to either a larger narrative being written by God, or in response to personal requests by people of faith. In other words, miracles will be exactly what science suggests they cannot be: sporadic, unpredictable, and for their purposes, untraceable.
In short, belief in miracles can’t be studied by science. And in many ways, science has become our ultimate. This is the real issue. As long as science is our god miracles will be our devil.
Timothy Keller, in his book The Reason for God agrees. The argument that science attempts to make is that “science, by it’s nature, can’t discern or test supernatural causes, and therefore, those causes can’t exist.” When worded like that, it’s easy to see that the argument is circular. This is how philosopher Alvin Plantinga puts it:
…to suggest that the very practice of science requires that one reject the idea (e.g.) of God raising someone from the dead… [This] argument … is like the drunk who insisted on looking for his lost car keys only under the streetlights on the grounds that the light was better there. In fact, it would go the drunk better; it would insist that because keys would be hard to find in the dark, they must be under the light.
Science is skilled in helping us understand what is under the streetlight. What science cannot do is explain everything outside of the streetlight.
The world is filled with accounts of miracles; our presuppositions determine how we understand them. C.S. Lewis explains that if you assume miracles are impossible, “no amount of historical evidence will convince” you. In other words, if you are already convinced miracles are impossible and foolish to believe in, then this article will do little to convince you otherwise. But, if you are willing to consider the possibility of miracles, then know this: there exist entire worlds outside the beam of the streetlight and Christians who believe in miracles live in this mysterious land everyday.
Do you think there is room for an intelligent person to believe in miracles? Do you think science holds the answers to everything?
David Hume, “An Enquiry Concerning Human Understanding,” Bartleby, April 24, 2001, accessed September 14, 2013, http://www.bartleby.com/br/03703.html.
Tyron Inbody, The Faith of the Christian Church: an Introduction to Theology (Grand Rapids, Mich.: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 2005).
C.S. Lewis, Miracles: a Preliminary Study (San Francisco: HarperOne, 2001).
Timothy Keller, The Reason for God: Belief in an Age of Skepticism, Reprint ed. (Maryknoll, NY: Riverhead Trade, 2009).