Objection! Miracles are the Least Likely Explanation

This episode begins with the discussion of counter-explanations to the Resurrection. Specifically, the objection that since miracles are the least likely event, they are the least likely explanation of what happened to Jesus. In this episode, Abdu indicates how this objection employs unfounded assumptions and actually employs circular reasoning.

What objections to the possibility of miracles have you encountered?
What are some fresh approaches you’ve received from Abdu’s defense?

Follow the link above to see transcripts if you’re hearing impaired. (Transcript is at the bottom of the linked page.)

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Hi, I believe that one would have to believe that lies have an eternal life. 2000 years in the life of man is an eternity to him.
I enjoyed very much this podcast it is presented as Lee Strobel does in defence of Jesus.
Would it be logical to say a miracle is illogical? A genuine question for me?
Thank you for sharing
Mike

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@mgaplus4, great question! I love the way Abdu Murray went back to the dictionary in this podcast. If we want to know if a miracle is illogical, we should probably check the dictionary definitions of miracle and logic.

Abdu quoted the Merriam Webster dictionary to define a miracle:

A miracle is an extraordinary event manifesting divine intervention in human affairs.

According to dictionary.com,

Logic is the science that investigates the principles governing correct or reliable inference…reason or sound judgment, as in utterances or actions.

Since God created the universe, I think it’s reasonable to believe He will intervene at times and override natural laws to accomplish His will. Thus, miracles are logical.

Miracles are only illogical if a person assumes there cannot be a Divine Being involved in the universe. That person won’t find any reasonable explanation for events contrary to nature.

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Wow! Abdu Murray makes me think. I found the most challenging part of this podcast to be Abdu’s comments on prayer. I have to ask myself, “Do I expect God to intervene in my life in response to my prayers? If I don’t, how can I expect my non-Christian friends to believe God raises the dead?”

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Jennifer, thank you so much, I completely agree.

It is completely illogical to those who dont believe. God bless you, be safe out there,
Mike

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This is an interesting question, @mgaplus4. @Jennifer_Wilkinson makes a great point along with the definitions! And this issue of eliminating the possibility of God’s existence or interaction with His creation is a topic of great consideration when dealing with atheists, agnostics, etc. Because we see more and more that objections for God are not based on reason, but on ideology that refuses to observe possibility and probability. (This flow of thought I’m using is referenced in Abdu’s podcast and I’m also paraphrasing from from the writings of John Lennox.)

When I read the definition Jennifer provides for logic, I see where logic could be fickle and influenced by staunch ideology that rejects a Source for logic. If my source for my logic is founded only in me and not from a source outside of me, then I will probably get pretty circular in my reasoning.

My sons participated in competitive debate in middle school and high school years, and I recall that one of the important things that had to be established first in the round was definitions. Your logic and defense should compliment your definitions.

And the practice of making up our own personal definitions is becoming more common which renders the use of language tenuous. To be able to define words at will renders a society void of any logic or reason resulting in nonsense. It will be as if each person is speaking their own language and only the one speaking can know what is being said. What a lonely world that would be!

If I am investigating an observation that could be a miracle, but I have eliminated the possibility of God being

the principles governing correct or reliable inference…reason or sound judgment

then I have removed an option that is not only possible, but may be the most logical, and I’ve limited my field of explanations to something that is often less likely or even reasonable (E.g. me :grinning:).

Abdu states:

In other words, we’re trying to settle the debate about whether a miracle happened like the resurrection, not by the merits of the evidence in favor of that miracle, but by defining miracles such that there can never be enough evidence to justify a miracle. Do you see that? It’s important we understand that. See, if we make the claim that a miracle is by definition the least likely explanation of something, well then there can never be a miracle. There can never be one because the minute I actually offer you any explanation whatsoever, no matter how implausible it is, because of my prior definition, even my crazy implausible explanations must automatically be better than a miracle because I’ve defined a miracle as the least plausible explanation, or the least probable explanation.
That gives me license to provide any crazy theory I want to explain all four facts of the resurrection, for example, or to explain any miracle claim that someone gives.

I have been listening to John Lennox during the week on my drive time, and I really enjoyed his extensive discussion of miracles in his book Gunning for God, he gives attributes of a miracle as something that is observable and different from the normal.

A moment’s thought will show us that, in order to recognize some event as a miracle, there must be some perceived regularity to which that event is an apparent exception! You cannot recognize something that is abnormal, if you do not know what is normal. This was recognized long ago. It is interesting that the historian Luke, who was a doctor trained in the medical science of his day, begins his biography of Christ by raising this very matter.— He tells the story of a man, Zechariah, and of his wife, Elizabeth, who for many years had prayed for a son because she was barren. When, in his old age, an angel appeared to him and told him that his former prayers were about to be answered and that his wife would conceive and bear a son, he very politely but firmly refused to believe it. The reason he gave was that he was now old and his wife’s body decrepit. For him and his wife to have a child at this stage would run counter to all that he knew of the laws of nature. The interesting thing about him is this: he was no atheist; he was a priest who believed in God, in the existence of angels, and in the value of prayer. But if the promised fulfillment of his prayer was going to involve a reversal of the laws of nature, he was not prepared to believe it.

Lennox goes on to discuss evidence which I think supports Abdu’s discussion:

I remind the reader that I use the term “evidence” and not the term “proof”, since, as we pointed out
in Chapter 2, proof in the rigorous mathematical sense is not available in any other discipline or area of experience, not even in the so-called “hard” sciences. In all other disciplines we speak of evidence; and it is up to each person to make up their mind whether the evidence is convincing for them or not.

I pray that a person that has not intentionally cut himself off from truth will observe the logic and reason that an all powerful God Who is the Author of the laws of physics can also move in liberty outside of those laws and influence outcome in unique ways because He is not bound by the laws (as we are.) And God gives us enough mind, conscience and “normal” to be able to recognize it and His involvement in His created universe.

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Maybe it’s semantics but I don’t know if I agree with your answer Jennifer, to Mike’s question. I think the premises we are in agreement with so I don’t believe in heart, Jennifer, we disagree.

What am I saying. If I say that something is logical, I am saying that it is what is expected. If I tell you, Jennifer, that music is a waste of time, I feel that it is logical that you will disagree. Because of your love for music, it wouldn’t be normal for you to agree with me. So I feel it is with miracles. I don’t think it is logical that coming out of the home that I did, that I would love Jesus. It’s really a miracle and I mean that.

What makes something a miracle is that it is not the logical result. But with God’s intervention, it happens and is inexplicable, except that it is the Lord that did it.

Jennifer, in regard to your non-Christian friends, I like Abdu’s previous podcast where he, more or less would say, “Jennifer, you don’t have to be concerned with your response to your non-Christian fiends. They re the ones that have to explain where CASE is inaccurate.”

Referring back to the beginning, Jennifer I almost didn’t comment because, in heart I know we agree. In semantics - maybe not, but that’s of no real concern. I appreciate your thinking, Sister.

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@Tim_Ramey, that’s a good point and a beautiful illustration of the importance of defining our words.

I originally looked up the word logic, and all the definitions I found related to valid reasoning and inferring one thing from another. According to that definition, it is logical to believe that a loving God will work miracles in our lives.

You inspired me to look up logical, and I discovered it has a broader definition than logic. Logical can mean following proper rules of reasoning, which is the definition I had in mind. But dictionary.com says it can also mean “reasonable; to be expected.” Since we don’t usually expect miracles, you could say they’re not the logical result of the circumstances.

I tend not to use the word that way because many people today assume Christianity is a blind leap of faith. They think it is illogical and contradicts rational thought. If I say miracles are illogical, I’m afraid people will misunderstand me and believe I’m saying there’s no rational evidence for God’s intervention in our lives.

But now I’m wondering whether I properly answered Mike’s question, since I never bothered to ask which definition of logical he had in mind. I didn’t even realize there were two different definitions.

@mgaplus4, did you have a specific definition of logical in mind?

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Hello and thank you all I truly appreciate the thread. This was my post from earlier so it should clarify things.
I posted it immediately after your second post Jennifer,

Quote "Jennifer, thank you so much, I completely agree.

It is completely illogical to those who dont believe. God bless you, be safe out there,
Mike"quote

God bless and be safe family.
Mike

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@Jennifer_Wilkinson
Jennifer, that was why I hesitated replying because I knew that, as Christians, miracles are real and they happen. So to discuss the semantics of a word was less the issue than the heart of the question. Thanks Jennifer! I do wish more would respond to these wonderful podcasts which Abdu presents. They are rich.

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