Do Miracles Happen Today?
January 27, 2010 14 Comments
In the comments section of a post I made some months ago, I was recently asked if I believe that a severely damaged eye could be restored immediately following a Christian prayer meeting.
Here’s my reply, made more accessible with a separate and exclusive post.
I believe that, yes, miracles continue to be possible, and that a badly damaged human eye could be instantaneously and inexplicably restored during a Christian prayer meeting. I also think this could happen under other circumstances, as well.
As for the evidential value of claims to this effect, I’m less confident. Suppose this is precisely what has happened on some occasion, and suppose that God did indeed miraculously heal the person’s eyes. It wouldn’t follow that the event constitutes, without qualification, good evidence that a miracle has happened. God could have reasons for healing that have little to do with providing evidence for non-believers (or believers for that matter). It would be neither here not there whether people concluded that a miracle had occurred.
The evidence that’s been presented to me for events of this kind has never seemed strong enough to convince me that a particular contemporary miracle claim is true. I’ve heard reports of this happening. I know many people who believe it has happened on a large scale and with some regularity in certain parts of the world. I know some people who believe this simply because some figure they respect believes it. Many of these figures report what they’ve heard from someone else. I’ve heard their arguments. And so on. But I think that adequate evidence for this must be greater than is generally presented, if those of us who are not first-hand witnesses are to believe.
Of course, if a miracle has occurred, there may be people close to the situation who are positioned epistemically to have adequate evidence. But I do not have the evidence they have, nor, I suspect do many who believe typical reports of contemporary miracles.
My theology is unquestionably orthodox, but it does not require belief that particular contemporary miracle claims are true. My belief in the supernatural hardly depends on such evidence, and the evidence I have would, I think, still be more dependable than evidence for a contemporary miracle in most cases. I doubt that I’ve been in the vicinity of a miracle that could be called that with real conviction by me.
- Are Miraculous Gifts for Today? Four Views, edited by Wayne Grudem
- Counterfeit Miracles, by B. B. Warfield
- In Defense of Miracles, edited by R. Douglas Geivett and Gary R. Habermas
- The God of Miracles: An Exegetical Examination of God’s Action in the World, by John Collins
Doug’s other posts on the subject of miracles:
- Interview with Brian Auten
- In Defense of Miracles Reviewed
- MSNBC Reports on the Todd Bentley “Revival”