Does nature abhor a miracle?

One of the strongest objections to the Christian faith is that it must be legendary because the events it celebrates are unscientific. In particular, the bible records many miracles throughout its Old and New Testaments, most notably the resurrection of the crucified Jesus.

Crucially, such an objection is based on a false premise. Science and the scientific method can never tell us what is and is not possible. All that science can tell us is what things might typically happen in a given situation and hopefully why. That’s because the scientific method is based on experimentation and observation, so anything that is not a common enough occurrence to be observed is unlikely to make it into the model.

Now, by their very nature, miracles are exceedingly rare and seem to defy the natural order – we wouldn’t bother calling them miracles if they didn’t! Even in the bible, which claims to be a record of God’s relationship with the Jews, miracles are not commonplace. Of course, they feature prominently because they are the sort of things worth recording when they happen, but they provoked the same sense of awe and reverence as they would today precisely because they were totally unexpected.

In fact, most scientists would agree that science cannot possibly predict everything. Indeed, one of the central tenets of certain interpretations of quantum mechanics is that everything is possible, it’s just that once you’ve done the calculations most events have a practically zero probability of being observed.

It is right that we should exhibit an informed scepticism about events that seem contrary to our own experiences and seem to defy scientific principles. But as science can never tell us what happened at any given time and place, we need to use historical methods, which include studying writings about the events and examining any archaeological evidence that might be available.

So with all this in mind, I urge you to take a fresh look at those miracles you thought could not have possibly happened and with all the historical and archaeological evidence available to you, reexamine your conclusions. I’m not asking that you agree with me, just that you try to get as complete a picture as the evidence will allow.

Happy hunting!

One thought on “Does nature abhor a miracle?

  1. I think the Christian communities do not always help themselves if they repeatedly refer to everyday blessings as miracles. It downgrades the sense of the miracle. Miracles are such because they are unexplained, and as such the word should not be used to describe the personal scientific ignorance of the believer.

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