Miracles Are Impossible

(Armando Bordales) #1

I was looking for materials on the historicity of Jesus and found myself reading through atheist material. I found this:

“A miracle, in the orthodox sense of the term, is impossible and incredible. To accept a miracle is to reject a demonstrated truth. The world is governed, not by chance, not by caprice, not by special providences, but by the laws of nature; and if there be one truth which the scientist and the philosopher have established, it is this: THE LAWS OF NATURE ARE IMMUTABLE. If the laws of Nature are immutable, they cannot be suspended; for if they could be suspended, even by a god, they would not be immutable. A single suspension of these laws would prove their mutability. Now these alleged miracles of Christ required a suspension of Nature’s laws; and the suspension of these laws being impossible the miracles were impossible, and not performed. If these miracles were not performed, then the existence of this supernatural and miracle-performing Christ, except [19]as a creature of the human imagination, is incredible and impossible.”

How do we handle this objection?

(christopher van zyl) #2

I don’t think it is a suspension. A miracle is God feeding in a new event. It’s not changing nature, but adding supernature to nature, if you will.

Also, one of the beliefs of naturalism is that it is by chance, yet in the definition you gave it said not by chance. Both of these can’t be right at the same time.

I know these are simple examples, but it’s just what immediately jumped out at me when I read that.

(SeanO) #3

@Armando First off, the argument you posted assumes miracles are impossible without providing any evidence for this claim. The argument itself begs the question - the conclusion is that miracles are impossible, but so is the basic premise of the argument. In essence, it says miracles are impossible because miracles are impossible.

In addition to the circular nature of the argument, its premise is invalid. A miracle, properly defined, is not a violation of the laws of nature.

Miracles are not violations of the laws of nature. The laws of nature describe what would happen in a particular case assuming that there are no intervening supernatural factors. They have these what are called ceteris paribus clauses implicit in them – namely, all things being equal, this is what will happen in this situation. But if all things are not equal, the law isn’t violated. Rather, the law just doesn’t apply to that situation because there are other factors at work. In the case of a miracle, God doesn’t violate the laws of nature when he does a miracle. Rather, there will be causal factors at work, namely God, which are supernatural and therefore what the laws of nature predict won’t happen because the laws of nature only make predictions under the assumption that there are no intervening supernatural factors at work. So a miracle, I think, properly defined, is an event which the natural causes at a time and place cannot produce at that time and place. Or, more succinctly, a miracle is a naturally impossible event – an event which the natural causes at a certain time and place cannot bring about.

You may also find the following resources helpful. Christ grant you wisdom :slight_smile:

(Robert Anderson) #4

I personally disagree that the world is “governed” by the laws of nature. Why do we call something a “law” in the first place? We call it a law because we see one physical fact repeatedly follow another. We toss a ball in the air and see it fall back down time after time so we call the phenomenon a law. However, just because the ball does fall over and over again does not mean it must fall to the ground. Yes we can count on it falling back down but we have no right to say that it must always. We especially have no right to take these weird and peculiar observations we call laws and deem them explanations. Take any law, say Newton’s third law. We see that equal and opposite forces follow some original force, but that itself is merely an observation. Calling the strange repetition a law does not explain the phenomenon. But scientists these days seem to do exactly that. If a child asks why a rocket ship flies, they will answer with Newton’s third law. But Newton’s third law is merely a weird observation, not an explanation!

So I reject the passage above that laws are immutable and unchangeable. My personal fancy is that the “laws of nature” have no link or cause or explanation other than that they are obeying the very Word of God. I mean why should energy go on being conserved? Why should things tend toward higher entropy? Why should mass be attracted to other mass? It’s all so arbitrary. This would explain to me how Jesus could calm the storm or walk on water or turn water into wine simply by commanding it so because nature already hangs on the very word of God.

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(Luna) #5

I haven’t studied much on this subject but I would like to give a talk done by Frank Turek on Miracles and hope that would help. Frank is a Christian Apologist and has the website www.crossexamined.org which gives more info as well.

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(Dean Schmucker) #6

For the theist, it is God who is immutable, who is the same yesterday, today and tommorow. Their God is the material world. So they presuppose no reality beyond that. They never ask why they would believe that. But as far as the laws that govern creation, ask them about quantum physics. Have they discovered the Unified Field Theory? Why does nature act different Macro vs micro?

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