Miracle Challenge

ImageAs Christians, we cite the miracles of Jesus or Moses or the apostles as evidences of the divine commission under which they walked. That is, their teachings and message are validated as being from God by the testimony of the miracles they did. We believe God was in their words, because God was clearly in their actions.

Indeed, Augustine speaks the mind of the church:

I should not be a Christian, but for the miracles.

~ St. Augustine, cited from Blaise Pascal, “Thoughts”

But not so fast. Miracles can only serve as proof if the miracles themselves are on firm footing.

Challenge: provide example, if you can, for a single instance of miracle, as recorded in the Bible, which can be verified through physical evidence.

Perhaps a softer challenge would be more charitable. Since the events in question are in the past, perhaps a more historically-oriented phrasing would be better fitted.

Challenge: provide example, if you can, for a single instance of miracle, as recorded in the Bible, which can be verified by a non-Biblical, contemporary witness to the event.

This softer challenge, even if met, would not really demonstrate all that much. But it matters little in any case. The prospects for either type of verification are rather dim indeed. Nevertheless, we Christians routinely believe that un-verified miracles can be taken as verification that our teachings came from God. But we do not have such support. Instead, we have a circular claim set. It does not withstand even mild scrutiny. In that way, Christian miracles are quite the same as Mormon or Muslim miracles. True to a tee, definitive in meaning, solidly supporting the faith in question, and entirely and consistently unverifiable.

The miracle tales are good stories. We should probably leave them at that and adjust our claims accordingly. I advise a sustained effort to flip the rocks over, to check under the hood. There is simply nothing there.

Michael Seidel, writer

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