What’s Next? See all videos below In previous videos, I have been talking that I wanted to do some videos on apologetic arguments. Until now, I have chosen different topics each time. Topics that some of you suggested and also topics suggested by my own family. The latest suggestion was that of the impact of […]
Apologeet.nlArgument from Miracles Made simple
This argument from miracles, and others, like the argument from religious experience and the argument from change, are not designed to prove the absolute existence of God they only claim a strong probability. Still, I include these kinds of arguments because they, together with all the other arguments, form a strong cumulative case. Other arguments demonstrate the existence of a being that has a few of the properties only God can have, but none of these arguments, when taken individually, proves all the divine properties. However! When you take the arguments together, they form a very strong case.
So let’s look at this argument.
- A miracle is an event whose only adequate explanation is the extraordinary and direct intervention of God.
- There are numerous well-attested miracles.
- Therefore, there are numerous events whose only adequate explanation is the extraordinary and direct intervention of God.
- Therefore, God exists.
Obviously if you believe that some extraordinary event is a miracle, then you believe in divine agency, and you believe that such agency was at work in this event. But, how do we know this event was a miracle? If miracles exist, then God must exist. But do miracles exist? And if the miracle was real, does that mean it came from God? Can it not be just a different supernatural being or beings?
To start with that last question. Many critics will, rightly so, point out that we assume God. Yes, that is true! A Christian assumes God to be the only explanation. But why? Well, for this we will have to go back to the other theistic arguments. Especially the ontological argument is helpful here. In that argument we’ve concluded that there must be a maximally great being. A maximally great being cannot share his maximality with other beings because that would render Him less maximal. So, if God exists than He can only be the only one because besides Him cannot be another maximally great being.
But we also have the Teleological argument in which we have seen that God:
[…] needs to be:
- All Powerful;
- Maximally Intelligent.
So, as a Christian you have nothing to be ashamed of. We can safely assume God as the divine agent. But if you, as critic, want to dismiss this idea, I suggest doing so by debunking the other theistic arguments. If I where you, I would start with the cosmological, the ontological and the teleological arguments. For all others, who are watching this video… Let’s move on!
Okay, let’s see what a miracle is. In the first place, the event must be extraordinary. But there are many extraordinary things happening all around the world. What to think about these news items where they tell you that it had been raining fish somewhere in a desert. Such an event is not a miracle because that could have had a natural cause. But also, we would not qualify it as religious. We would treat this kind of happenings more like an strange event, not activated by prayer but by nature. A miracle only counts as such when we can qualify it as religious as well. Religious in the sense of you walking in that same desert and praying to God to send food and water. All of a sudden it starts to rain, big time. And whatta you know! With that rain, fish start to fall out of the sky. Yep! Then you have a miracle on your hand! It would be very hard to consider that what just happened to be a deception or even an extraordinary coincidence.
When someone talks about a miracle it is important to know the setting in which it happened. Now, many, and not in the least I myself, believe that God intervenes all the time. Let me tell you about the car accident I had two weeks ago. It was a very sad weekend in our village. Two weeks before a good friend of us brought his wife to a hospital in a bigger town. He couldn’t get her diagnosed or treated because a lack of money (we didn’t know). Last weekend she died at an age of 48. The well respected man came home with his deceased wife and the rest of the huge family to bury her. Everybody felt horrible! The day before the funeral, the daughter of this man went into labour. She already had three miscarriages before, so they were frantic to get her in a good hospital. With a delegation of important men the father came to me! Fuel or money to travel wasn’t any problem they said, the would somehow find it… “Please bring my daughter to a hospital,” he pleaded. I didn’t need their money. Happy to be able to help, I drove her to a hospital 100 kilometres away. The car was loaded! On Madagascar you will never travel alone. I had a total of 13 persons sitting in the car. After collecting bags with food and other necessities—because, you need to have somebody to provide you with food when you’re lying in a hospital bed—everybody arrived safely at the hospital.
I returned home to our village. Only my daughter and two local ladies in the car. I insisted that they had to wear the safety belts. Driving on the well known road I saw the junction where I had to get off. Just one last curve. There it happened. Even though I drove very slowly, hardly 50km/h which is about 32mp/h, my car started to slip. That’s nothing new for me, so I corrected by gently steering in the direction I wanted to go. The car responded nicely but all of a sudden it bounced to the left. It happened so fast that I couldn’t adjust in time and the rear wheel slipped in the verge. It landed in a ditch and before I knew, the whole care flipped over. We’ve made a 360° roll after which the car landed on its wheel. None of us got hurt! Now look at the pictures! The whole rear-end is mingled. What would have happened if somebody had been sitting there? Anyway, I called my wife and with a rather emotional voice I asked her to tell our friend the mayor the collect us. Then I called my friend, who has an organisation called Hoveraid in the capital. He right away sent to mechanics to collect the car. They were able to drive the car for almost 600 kilometres to the capital… They only complained that they got wet from the rain. If you live and work in a country like this you really need friends like these men!
Okay, but how about me and my daughter still being alive and not even having a scratch. I, as a Christian, definitely say that God protected us for worst! I call this divine intervention. Yes, I will absolutely give all the glory for our health to God! For God is good all the time, and all the time God is good! But! Even though I recognise this as miraculous, I would not be able to make a hard case for the predicate ‘miracle’. Why not? Simply because I can easily say that nobody got hurt because we were in a sturdy car, buckled up in safety belts, and we weren’t going fast.
This means that the setting or surroundings of a supposed miracle is crucially important. Not only the physical setting, and not just the timing, but the personal setting is critical as well. It is also important to know about the character and the message of the person to whom this event is specially linked. If we look at some of the miracles from the New Testament, and we decide to remove them from their context and from the teachings and personality of Jesus, that would diminish these miracles from their religious significance big time. Why? Because when we call something a miracle, we interpret it religiously. But, to see it as religiously, we definitely need a context or setting which justifies such explanation. Part of this setting usually needs a person whose moral authority is first affirmed, and whose religious authority—which the miracle seems to affirm—is then acknowledged.
Discussions, whether something is a miracle or not, quite often don’t discuss this point. But the setting in which the miracle happened does play a critical part. Miracles are mostly recognised as genuine miracles when they evolve around a trustworthy and genuine person. Many only accepted the miracles in the New Testament as genuine acts of God after they started to explore the character and teachings of Jesus.
So, we can’t really say that we have a proof from miracles because recognising a miracle as an act of God is depending strongly on the things happening around the situation. Year ago my wife and I went to a big meeting. The preacher all of a sudden said that there was a young lady in the room with a deformed spine. After, some moments we saw the hand of a young lady, hardly 20 years old. The preacher told her to come to him. He said that Jesus told him that He was going to heal her. After some hesitation, the girl stoot up! I was shocked. She was wearing a dress, but we could clearly see her crooked back. The poor girl must have been in such a pain! Again, the preacher said she had to come to the front. She did, and while she was walking we could see her vertebrae pop into place one by one. I thought I was going crazy. So, I quickly looked at other people… Everybody was gasping for air. It was really happening there, right in front of our eyes!
The religious setting was in place, the teachings were of a high moral standard and the preacher just said what he believed would happen. He received this knowledge from Jesus, and it happened the way he said it would. That is what I, and with me many others, would definitely recognise and acknowledge as a miracle, an intervention from God! If you see some happening as a miracle, then you see the activity of God in this event. There is an action in our thinking that goes from this event to its proper interpretation as miraculous. And that what gives authority to that movement is not just the event by itself, but the many factors surrounding it. These factors combined seem to require or even demand the interpretation of a miracle.
Most people will acknowledge that miraculous events exist. It seems almost impossible to dismiss the huge amounts of reliable testimonies of miracles that happen and happened throughout the ages and in all sorts of places and cultures.
- Therefore, because miracles happen, their cause must exist;
- Their only adequate cause is God;
- And yes! Therefore, God exists.
Again, this argument is not a proof, but it does give us a very muscular hint or sign.
Just as with the last argument I guess this argument is a real open invitation to discussion. I think I would try to debunk this argument, or at least question it, if I didn’t believe in God myself! Let me know what you think. Mind you! I am not always able to respond quickly. But no worries! I am sure other viewers love to respond as well.
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As always, thank you for watching, God bless you and we see each other in the next video!
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