“Christianity is not true because miracles are impossible.”
Of the many arguments that are used against Christianity, this is one of the most frustrating for Christians. Much like the Jews who attributed Jesus’ workings to Satanic sources, the argument against miracles disarms the very source of Christianity. After all, the resurrection of Christ, the very center of the gospel, is in and of itself a miracle. Miracles exist all throughout scripture, and range from the parting of the Red Sea to reanimated dead bones to the healing of the terminally ill. And so the question arises from the skeptic, how do you explain miracles as reasonable?
There are two responses to this question. The first is simple enough. When it comes to the argument of naturalism versus theism, we’re dealing with different models of reality. In order to be viable, models must have explanatory power; they must be consistent with our observations of reality. A naturalist model can explain why the rules of physics and other scientific laws remain consistent. They cannot, however, account for why the natural laws would be broken, as is the case of miracles. And so they cry foul when the Christian speaks of miracles.
But this is a constraint only of the naturalistic model. The theistic model, on the other hand, presumes a supernatural God. If God is supernatural, then it naturally follows that He has power over nature. By presenting this argument, the naturalist is saying “my model doesn’t have room for your God,” but fails to recognize that the theistic model does have room for miracles without any contradiction. In this sense, the argument is begging the question: the conclusion is folded into the initial question or premise.
The discussion then turns to the models in and of themselves. Of the challenges that are given to the Christian is the question of the “God of the gaps.” In other words, are we just saying “well because God” to explain away apparent inconsistencies between our worldview and observations of reality? This is done quite often, for example, when a righteous person is suffering. We often say “God’s ways are not our ways” without truly grappling with the problem of evil, and why righteous people sometimes suffer.
But believing that miracles are true is not a case of the God of the gaps. Accepting them as a true possibility is the natural conclusion when you accept that there is more than just the natural world that we can observe. This is obviously contrary to the assertions of the naturalist, but let’s consider for a moment why the naturalist’s premise cannot be proven, and thus is incapable of disproving Christianity.
A common objection to Christianity is the fact that it is not falsifiable. Christians, atheists say, claim that God exists and that God’s existence cannot be refuted, which is the same as saying you can’t disprove the existence of a flying spaghetti monster. In other words, you cannot prove a negative, but that does not make the converse true.
But then consider what the naturalist worldview is claiming. Just as you cannot prove that God does not exist, you cannot prove that the natural world is all that exists. It is an argument based on a supposed lack of information or proof that could have been said about all kinds of scientific discoveries before we had the data to discover them, such as atoms, bacteria, or the shape of the earth. And even the naturalist is inconsistent if he or she wishes to approach conclusions about the nature of reality in this fashion, that a lack of any evidence must therefore mean that said thing does not exist. I recall a discussion I once had with an atheist who, after stating “I have never seen the laws of physics broken” as an argument against Christianity, proceeded to say “I am absolutely confident we will find intelligent life on another planet.”
He’s not alone in this assertion. In fact, a group of scientists from the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence Institute recently told Congress that they expect to find life in outer space, and very soon. I don’t cite this as evidence that scientists are cuckoo (and no, the discovery of intelligent life would not be the destruction of Christianity), but rather that their standards for what can be considered a viable model of reality are being influenced by what the consequences of those conclusions are, not whether our observations can be explained by the worldview.
The assertion that miracles are impossible is only true if you presume a reality that is only composed of the natural, observable world. This would be a viable argument if, and only if, naturalism were an axiom, if there were no other possible explanation. But there are a myriad of them. And so the argument against miracles, like so many other arguments against Christianity, presents circular logic as undeniable fact, and expects us to defer. Express doubt in miracles if you must, but do not assert that they are impossible, because that simply is not true.