This week we’ll continue discussing objections to Miracles:
We’re using the “Handbook of Apologetics” by Peter Kreeft and Ronald Tacelli to go over the arguments for the existence of God. Today, we will be covering the above question in relation to God. Dr. Kreeft teaches logic in two major universities, so his arguments tend to be clear, concise and very helpful.
To accept miracles would be to abandon the method by which science operates.
Reply: Nonsense. All the natural sciences operate by assuming certain things as given: the world of matter, natural causes operating within that world, and an order or regularity that makes empirical investigation possible. That is why questions like: “How come the world of matter exists at all—rather than nothing?” or “What caused the Big Bang—the absolute beginning of all material being?” are not, strictly speaking, questions within physical science. This does not mean that such questions are unreal, only that science as such cannot answer them. A scientist who believes that God caused the universe to exist has not abandoned scientific method, but merely acknowledged its limits.
Consider the following example. A doctor witnesses a most unusual event: a patient of his with terminal AIDS is suddenly cured after bathing in the waters of Lourdes. He thinks: “Some cause has reversed the progress of this disease—but what exactly was it?” So he sets out in search of this unknown cause. He checks on all the drugs the patient had taken before, during and after the pilgrimage. He investigates the water of the shrine to see whether some as-yet-unknown element in it is able to destroy the AIDS virus. After weeks of fruitless labor, he begins to wonder whether even this terrible disease could be psychosomatically reversed. Finally, he throws up his hands and admits that as a scientist he can find no plausible empirical explanation. This is a possible scenario. But there is another.
Suppose that while visiting Lourdes to gather water for testing, the doctor finds himself deeply moved, even shaken, by the faith of the pilgrims he sees there. He has already been impressed by the faith-filled charity which radiates from his newly-cured patient who was once so bitter and self-absorbed. He feels the same thing here at the shrine, only in almost overwhelming intensity. So he inquires about the message of Lourdes, then about Christianity. Finding no plausible empirical explanation, he comes to believe, as a person who is also a scientist, that God did specially intervene in curing his patient of AIDS, and that no description of the event which left God out would be adequate. But notice: he did not come to disbelieve in empirical explanation. He did not cease to be a scientist. He simply acknowledged that empirical explanation has its limitations, and believed that, in this case, the true explanation transcended them.
Miracles are an affront to the glory of God. If he designed the system of nature, and then has to intervene in its regular workings he must be an incompetent architect.
Reply: This argument would only be true if God designed a system in which he should never intervene—in which he should never answer prayers or reveal himself in special and spectacular ways. If you acquired a newly-built house and found it had no bathrooms, that would indeed reflect badly on the architect. For the concrete design of the house would lack what it unquestionably ought to have. But if miracles happen, then God did not design a system in which he should never intervene. The intervention is part of the plan; he designed it that way.
Is anyone in a position to say God ought not to have designed the system this way? We do not, and cannot, know the extent of God’s creation. There may be worlds in which there are no specially answered prayers, no interventions in the system of natural causes. How can we really know that it was wrong for him to have created a world in which he does intervene?
Kreeft, P., & Tacelli, R. K. (1994). Handbook of Christian apologetics: hundreds of answers to crucial questions (pp. 112–114). Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.