In Defense of the Faith |

Hunt, Dave

Who Could Believe the Bible’s Miracles

Question: It seems to me that the strongest case against the Bible is the miracles it describes. These are so fantastic as to render whatever else the Bible says unreliable. As Reinhold Seeberg said, “Miracle was once the foundation of all apologetics, then it became an apologetic crutch, and today it is . . . a cross for apologetics to bear.” Obviously the Bible was written by very gullible and superstitious men for whom fantasy was normal and who were therefore not embarrassed by telling about alleged miracles. How can you possibly trust a book that presents such obviously fictitious tales, especially when modern science has proven that miracles don’t happen?

Response: On the contrary, not only has science never “proven that miracles don’t happen,” but such proof would be categorically impossible, since science deals only with natural phenomena. Of course miracles don’t happen naturally or in nature. A miracle, by very definition, is supernatural. It defies all physical laws or it wouldn’t be a miracle in the first place. A miracle must be beyond the ability of science to explain, and thus it is also beyond the ability of science to disprove.

Consequently, there is no valid scientific or logical basis for saying that miracles can’t occur precisely as the Bible describes them. To insist upon such a position betrays a prejudice that in itself prevents one from facing the abundant evidence in favor of miracles. When Albert Einstein was asked what effect his theory of relativity would have upon religion he bluntly replied, “None. Relativity is a purely scientific theory and has nothing to do with religion.”

Miracles are impossible only if the universe is a closed system and all there is. In that case, of course, whatever happens must be a natural occurrence functioning according to the laws that govern the universe. The famous evolutionist and atheist Thomas H. Huxley “proved” that miracles couldn’t happen by defining “nature” as “that which is; the sum of the phenomena presented to our experience; the totality of events, past, present, and to come.” For all of his claim to honor evidence and logic, however, Huxley gives not one piece of evidence or reason to support this assertion. He simply does away with miracles by setting rules that make them impossible, which is like proving atheism by declaring that God by very definition doesn’t exist. Miracles would be impossible in pantheism, as well, because in that belief system nature is everything.

However, if God, the infinite and transcendent Creator of the universe, exists as separate and distinct from His creation, then miracles are possible. Indeed, they are inevitable if God is to intervene at all in the downward course of human affairs and of nature. Whenever God reaches in from outside to effect anything that is not according to the normal course of events (such as salvation or raising the dead), it is a miracle. So if you believe in God, you believe in miracles.

Christianity Alone Requires Miracles

Christianity isn’t embarrassed by the recital of miracles in the Bible. On the contrary, Christianity is based upon the greatest miracle of all, the resurrection of Christ. Unlike Muhammad, Buddha, Confucius, or any other religious leader, none of whom even dared to make such a claim, Jesus said He would rise from the dead. If He didn’t, He is a liar and Christianity is a fraud. Listen to
Paul’s testimony:

Moreover, brethren, I declare unto you the gospel . . . how that Christ died for our sins . . . that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day . . . and that he was seen of Cephas [Peter], then of the twelve. . . .

And if Christ be not risen, then is our preaching vain, and your faith is also vain. Yea, and we are found false witnesses of God, because we have testified of God that he raised up Christ. . . . (1 Corinthians:15:1, 3–5, 14, 15)

Christianity doesn’t apologize for miracles or back away and shrug its shoulders as though it isn’t really important whether miracles happen or not. Christianity requires miracles. This is not the case with Buddhism or Hinduism or Islam or any other of the world’s religions, which get along quite well without miracles. Their leaders left a philosophy of life and certain rules to follow that have no bearing upon whether Buddha, Krishna, Muhammad, et al., are alive or dead or even lived at all. Not so with Christianity.

The Christian faith stands or falls upon the sinless life, the sacrificial death, and the miraculous resurrection of Jesus Christ—and all other miracles are minor occurrences in comparison to that one. If the resurrection actually happened, then for God to open blind eyes, heal any illness, make the lame walk, or even to open the Red Sea is obviously within the realm of possibility.

Testimony That Stands the Severest Tests

As for the specious claim that those who recorded the miracles were so simple and ignorant that they thought such things were normal, the evidence is all to the contrary. The disciples were frightened when they saw Christ walking on water (Matthew:14:26). They were fearful of Him, wondering what kind of person He was, when He calmed the storm with a word (Mark:4:41). Thinking they had seen a ghost, they were terrified when He stood in their midst alive after His resurrection (Luke:24:37). In fact, they were so skeptical that He had to prove to them that it was really He!

This was not the behavior of gullible persons who lived in a fantasy world. On the contrary, the disciples had a very clear grasp of what was normal and were frightened by Christ’s miracles, which suddenly shattered their world. We hear the ring of truth in their accounts of these events as they confess their fear and unbelief.

We will consider the specific evidence for the resurrection in a later chapter. At this point, however, let us quote some of the world’s foremost experts on evidence, experts who were convinced of the resurrection of Jesus Christ precisely on the basis of the evidence. Lord Lyndhurst, recognized as one of the greatest legal minds in British history, declared: “I know pretty well what evidence is; and I tell you, such evidence as that for the Resurrection has never broken down yet.” Simon Greenleaf, America’s foremost authority on legal evidence during his lifetime, came to the same conclusion, as did Sir Robert Anderson, head of the Criminal Investigation Division of Scotland Yard, plus scores of others whom we have insufficient space to name. Professor Thomas Arnold, who held the chair of Modern History at Oxford, wrote:

I have been used for many years to study the histories of other times, and to examine and weigh the evidence of those who have written about them, and I know of no one fact in the history of mankind which is proved by better and fuller evidence of every sort, to the understanding of a fair inquirer, than the great sign which God hath given us that Christ died and rose again from the dead.

Many a youthful seeker has been swept into unbelief by the contemptuous declarations of liberal clergy or university professors, delivered with the finality of superior wisdom, that “no intelligent person believes in the miracles in the Bible, much less in the resurrection!” But in fact nothing could be further from the truth. The few statements above should be enough to counter such misinformation. Indeed, many of the most humble and earnest Christians have been the most brilliant, the most knowledgeable, and the best qualified to examine and evaluate the evidence that we will be considering carefully.

— An excerpt from In Defense of the Faith (pp. 85-88) by Dave Hunt