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Why Wouldn’t God Perform More Miracles?

If God is a God of miracles as theists claim, then why doesn’t he perform more to stop evil? I must admit this is one question I’ve wrestled with in solidarity with my atheist friends. My initial response is to recall the words of the prophet Isaiah: “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, says the LORD” (Is. 55:8). While I acknowledge this as true, it leaves me dissatisfied. As a Christian I believe, with St. Paul, that God “works for good with... Read More

Why Miracles Are Not Incompatible with Science

Skeptics argue that miracles are impossible because the laws of nature are necessary. A miracle, they argue, involves a violation of a law of nature. But the laws of nature cannot be violated. Therefore, miracles must be impossible. One modern skeptic of repute who argues this is Richard Dawkins. In his book The God Delusion, he says, “[M]iracles, by definition, violate the principles of science” (83). Dawkins and other modern skeptics derive this argument from philosophers in the... Read More

What Constitutes a Miracle?

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Filed under God

After reading some exchanges on Facebook that were inspired by my recent blog post concerning miracles, it became clear I need to explain exactly what a miracle is. A miracle is defined as an extraordinary sensible effect wrought by God that surpasses the power and order of created nature. That’s a mouthful, so let’s unpack it. There are five aspects to the definition. Aspect #1: Exclusively attributable to divine power Only God can be the cause of a miracle. This excludes any sort... Read More

Is It Reasonable to Believe in Miracles?

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Filed under Belief

Should I believe in miracles? This question doesn’t pertain to whether I should believe in this miracle or that miracle. It has to do with whether I’m rationally justified in believing in miracles as such. David Hume's Wisdom for the Wise The eightenth-century Scottish skeptic philosopher David Hume argued the wise man should not believe in miracles. The basis for his assertion was what might be called the “repeatability principle”—evidence for what occurs over and over (the... Read More

Trial by Fire: Modernity’s Response to Miracles

Perhaps no single image captures the popular conception of the “Dark Ages” than the idea of trials by ordeal. These infamous trials are the reason we refer to a difficult situation as an “ordeal,” or perhaps a “trial by fire.” One of the most famous depictions of a trial by ordeal is in Monty Python and the Holy Grail. A woman is accused of witchcraft, and rather than gathering evidence or taking any but the most cursory of testimony, an elaborate test is designed... Read More

Science and Miracles

On June 20th, 2013, Giovanni Giudici, the Bishop of Pavia, pronounced the cure of Danila Castelli to be miraculous, 24 years after her pilgrimage to Lourdes. Her cure, and the 68 other cures proclaimed miraculous, began as simply one more of the more than 7,000 cures that have been reported to the Medical Bureau of the Sanctuary at Lourdes. While all of the cases are marvelous in their own way, only this small fraction survived the many stages of extensive investigation, both medical and... Read More

The Bible and the Question of Miracles: Towards a Christian Response

My previous post at Strange Notions underscored the often-unacknowledged philosophical premises at work when believers and non-believers sit down to debate about things biblical. In the course of my argument, I pointed to a possible area of common ground for Catholics and agnostics/atheists. A survey of statements by thinkers as different as Benedict XVI and Bart Ehrman reveals an important agreement upon the reality that everyone carries their own philosophical presuppositions and that... Read More

Bart Ehrman, Benedict XVI, and the Bible on the Question of Miracles

“At its core, the debate about modern exegesis is not a dispute among historians: it is rather a philosophical debate.” - Joseph Ratzinger (Pope Benedict XVI) My reflection today revolves around this poignant line from Joseph Ratzinger’s 1988 Erasmus Lecture in which he famously called for a “criticism of criticism.” In penning these words, the German cardinal was looking for a self-criticism of the modern, historical-critical method of biblical interpretation. On the part of... Read More

From Atheist Professor to Catholic: An Interview with Dr. Holly Ordway

Growing up, Holly Ordway was convinced God was little more than superstition, completely unsupported by evidence or reason. She later attained a PhD in literature, traveled the country as a competitive fencer, and became a college English professor, none of which left room for God. But one day a smart and respected friend surprisingly revealed he was a Christian. That sent Holly on a search for the truth about God, one that weaved through literature, aesthetics, imagination, and history.... Read More

Does the Shroud of Turin Prove God?

I've written here at Strange Notions in the past about miracles and skepticism, and about the greatest miracle claim of all, Jesus' resurrection from the dead. Such miracles serve as arguments for God’s existence, but not philosophical arguments based on design, prime movers, etc. They are based on physical, historical evidence. The arguments go like this: If atheistic materialism is true, then the natural world must be a closed system. Everything must be explained within that closed... Read More

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