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The Rationality of Miracles: Debunking The Perception of Gullibility

In a world shaped by science and reason, the notion of miracles often seems out of place, if not downright implausible.

According to a 2009 Harris Poll survey, 76% of adult Americans believe in miracles, and 95% of new-born Christians do.

But are Christians simply gullible for embracing the miracles of the Bible? Or is there more to their extraordinary claims?

 

HOW TO GO ABOUT IT?

 

By presenting logical reasoning and scholarly perspectives, I aim to pique your intellectual curiosity, transcend simplistic notions and seek to understand why miracles continue to sway believers’ hearts and minds.

 

SCHOLARLY PERSPECTIVES

 

David Hume vs Antony Flew: The Quest For Evidence

David Hume, the famous Scottish philosopher from the eighteenth century, said for us to believe in a miracle, the evidence has to be even more unbelievable than the miracle itself!

Hume believed that miracles could never be established based on testimony.

Antony Flew, Hume’s great interpreter and advocate — also one of the 20th century’s most significant intellectual atheists — rejected Hume’s argument regarding miracles.

Flew believed that while scepticism is warranted, outright dismissal of all miracle claims based on Hume’s criteria was unwarranted.

 

C.S. Lewis And The Drawer In The Hotel Room

 

C.S. Lewis explained miracles like this: the law of nature, which governs the physical world, and the law of the country, which regulates human behaviour, are two different things.

Imagine you’re staying in a hotel and you put $100 in the drawer each night, like clockwork. So, after two nights, you’ve got $200 stashed away. But then, here’s the kicker: You wake up on the third day all ready to count your cash, and what do you find? Only $50 in the drawer!

What do you think happened? Did the law of nature break, or did the laws of the United States break?

Well, obviously, someone stole your money! It is not a miracle because the natural law didn’t break. It’s just that someone messed with the country’s laws by stealing from you.

 

John Lennox And The Law Of Dead Bodies

 

John Lennox is a Professor of Mathematics at Oxford University and the quintessential scientist who believes in miracles.

In one of his great interviews, he said, “The people of the New Testament 20 centuries ago, they knew that dead bodies stayed in the ground. So, when Jesus rose from the dead, it’s not like, ‘Oh, okay, that’s normal.’”

It was a big deal because they knew the relevant laws of nature. It goes against what everyone knows about how things work.

John Lennox says you need a universe that runs on laws to recognize God’s hand when He overrules it.

 

ON A SCALE OF 1 TO 10, HOW GULLIBLE WERE THE FIRST-CENTURY CHRISTIANS?

 

So wait! We may be sceptical because we get to read about it many years later. What about those who witnessed Jesus’ miracles with their own eyes?

People were bewildered when they watched Jesus perform miracles. It was not as if they were watching a magician and going, “Do it again!” Instead, it blew their minds. They were astonished and wondered, “Who is this man?”

Mark 7:37 “And they were astonished beyond measure, saying, ‘He has done all things well. He even makes the deaf hear and the mute speak.'”

 

Joseph Wrestling With Miraculous News

 

When Joseph learned his virgin fiancé Mary was pregnant, he set out to divorce her. But wait a moment! Joseph was a Jew, growing up with the knowledge that the Messiah would be born in Israel, from a virgin, from the line of Judah.

You would think Joseph would have said, “Israel? Check”, “A virgin? Check”, and then, “Oh yes, I am from the line of Judah. Check.”

But this is not what happened. Joseph knew the law of nature as it applied to making babies, which did not apply in his case. So, he panicked!

Matthew 1:19 “Because Joseph her husband was faithful to the law, and yet did not want to expose her to public disgrace, he had in mind to divorce her quietly.”

 

The Disciples Grappled With The Resurrection

 

Jesus prepared them for what was coming and repeatedly told them what would happen.

Matthew 17:23 Jesus told them, “They will kill Him, and on the third day He will be raised to life.”

But watch what happened when they arrived at the tomb. You would think they would say, “Got it! Three days, of course!” But that is not what happened — far from it.

They were grappling with what they saw and assumed His body was stolen.

 

“Doubting Thomas” And Modern Scepticism

“Doubting Thomas” is a term we still use to refer to anyone sceptical or hesitant to believe something without evidence or proof.

The term originates from the biblical story of Thomas, one of Jesus’ disciples, who doubted Jesus’s resurrection until he saw and touched Jesus’s wounds.

John 20:24 “Now Thomas (also known as Didymus), one of the Twelve, was not with the disciples when Jesus came.

25So the other disciples told him, ‘We have seen the Lord!’ But he said to them, ‘Unless I see the nail marks in his hands and put my finger where the nails were, and put my hand into his side, I will not believe.’

26A week later his disciples were in the house again, and Thomas was with them. Though the doors were locked, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you!”

27Then Jesus said to Thomas, ‘Put your finger here; see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it into my side. Stop doubting and believe.’

28Thomas said to him, ‘My Lord and my God!’”

 

CONCLUSION: RETHINKING THE NOTION OF MIRACLES

The word “miracle” has become a go-to for describing anything from a triumph on the tennis court to running late and narrowly avoiding a tragic accident. But calling an event a “miracle” doesn’t necessarily make it one.

However, in the context of our discussion, a “miracle” refers to an event that defies the laws of nature and is attributed to a divine agency, God.

Genuine miracles transcend mere coincidence and leave an indelible mark on those who witnessed and experienced them, even those who read about them years later, Christians.

THE END

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