I’m going to respond here to a few comments Robert made in my last article on miracles. To begin with, he observes:
“The point about James Randi was that in spite of tens of thousands of people saying “miracle” all the time, it seems no one can give good evidence that a miracle happened. Had James Randi offered a cool million to Moses, Moses probably would have started half a dozen plagues, then ordered Randi friends down to the river Kishon to be slaughtered.”
“There is no argument in philosophy that persuades everybody. There is no leader in politics that gets every vote. Why the inconsistency here?”
Let’s think about this a bit. A miracle is reported and evidence is provided. The evidence persuades some people but not others. Robert concludes that “no one can give good evidence that a miracle happened.” But that doesn’t follow because “good evidence” isn’t defined as “evidence that can persuade everybody in the population” just like “good leader” isn’t defined as “a leader that garners a 100% approval rating” or “good book” isn’t defined as “a book that gets a five star review from every reader.”
What Robert is presumably concerned with is the ability to persuade so-called “skeptics” about miracles that miracles have occurred. The assumption seems to be that these “skeptics” are rational paragons when it comes to assessing miracle reports. Sorry, but that is a deeply flawed assumption. As I responded to Robert:
“And if you think that self-described “skeptics” are the most open-minded when it comes to considering whether divine action is occurring in the world, well then you’re fooling yourself.”
Think about it like this. Imagine that there is a group of “opera skeptics” who insist that opera is a highbrow waste of time. You may make it your personal project to persuade the opera skeptics by inviting them to every opera that comes to town with the hope of persuading them of its intrinsic cultural merit. But don’t be surprised if you find the skeptics rolling their eyes and yawning throughout the performance and emerging from the theater further entrenched in their opinions. So please, don’t think that the value of opera is in any way dependent on your ability to persuade the opera skeptics of its value.
Finally, Robert writes: “The Bible tells stories of events that would constitute completely unmistakeable evidence if they actually happened.”
Not so fast. As I pointed out Colin Humphreys identifies natural ways that the events of Exodus could have occurred and I guarantee that had these events occurred in our age there would be an endless succession of skeptical deconstructions offered. At times like this I always return to this extraordinarily revealing exchange with skeptic Michael Shermer on Justin Brierley’s radio show “Unbelievable”. Shermer was asked what kind of miracle would persuade him that God exists. He replied by saying a limb growing back immediately after a prayer. But shortly after making the statement Shermer retracted it, saying that in fact he wouldn’t conclude this is a miracle after all. Instead, he’d conclude the event had revealed heretofore unknown natural properties in the human body to regenerate limbs.
Right. And a resurrected body would simply reveal heretofore unknown natural properties in the human body to resurrect itself.