One of the standard arguments against Christianity is that miracles do not exist, and because the Bible claims that they do, the Bible must be wrong.
For the record, stating that miracles can never occur is not a scientific statement. Science tells about what can be observed and repeated in a controlled experiment. Allegedly, if something cannot be observed in a controlled experiment, then it is not science. But does it necessarily follow that it is impossible? I submit “no,” it is merely highly improbable.
I’m in total agreement that we must hold proposed miracles to a very high standard of truth before we would ever believe them. I do not need to discuss charlatans for this claim to ring true. Each miracle must be carefully analyzed based on the evidence available. The Resurrection comes to mind – but the miracle of Jesus being raised from the dead is not the purpose of this entry.
No, I would like to share a miracle, my very own Damascus moment. You can dismiss outright “my truth” as utter rubbish, or perhaps even manufactured wishful thinking – but you would be mistaken. I’m not here to convince, I just wish to share this back-story with you…and request that you answer for yourself, “Were you me, and if this happened to you, and if this happened while you were still relatively passive about Biblical truth, meaning and consequences, how would YOU have responded?” Would you have deemed it a delusion or a miracle, absent your personal presuppositions about the existence of God?
Perhaps you’ve been symptomatically pneumatic at some point in your adult life. If so, we might have some “been there, done that, hacked up half-a-lung” common ground. If not pneumonia, I’ll just assume that there may have been a time in your life where there was SOME kind of illness manifested to where there was no denying that you were sick…very sick…not just by your own admission, but by the assessment of others. That is precisely where I was about 18 months ago (I'm a very new Christian by practical measure -- just a couple of years).
I caught a nasty cold which progressively got worse and worse. I refused to go to the doctor because I was too busy with my business. You've been there, I'm sure. I finally got so terribly sick that my wife and I decided it was time to concede and go check into the hospital (it was a Saturday night). Candidly, every time I coughed, I wished to God I would never do so again…because when I did, it ripped the back of my throat out. Even an alleged Jesus zealot trying to manipulate an outcome couldn’t manifest such an “illusion” – why would you want to?
Before driving to the hospital, I first wanted to take a shower because I knew I’d be there for a while. In the shower, I went into a violent coughing fit that was the worst one…ever. I just fell to my knees and cried in pain…hacking up green infection...I felt like a little sissy girl.
IN my misery, I said out loud…in a very not-really-meaning-it-way, “Jesus! You created the universe; surely you can give me some relief…PLEASE!”
No magical sensation…no flashing lights…no burning bush…no warm fuzzy feeling…no Divine hug…no parting sea...just immediate, absolute, total relief accompanied with the resolute elimination of ALL symptoms. Imagine you as me. Imagine your cynicism experiencing this same “miracle.” Your very own. No documentation. Nothing to YouTube. No peer reviewed empirical evidence. Nothing…just your absolute, undeniable health back.
AND…you do have an atheist witness (my then-atheist Russian wife). She’s the most pragmatic person I know. She has a PhD, is a Professor of History at a very secular university, and until that evening merely humored my “newbie” Christian faith.
Just imagine if you were me that night. Do miracles happen? Would any nonbeliever ever be able to convince you otherwise? Before that night, I would have said miracles only occur when Mother Mary appears on grilled cheese sandwiches after lots of pot smoked and vodka drunk.
Now you ask, “Well Todd, did you try and book Oprah to tell your story? Did you call the National Enquirer? Your local newspaper? The Pope?” No, I didn’t. I kept it to myself and was greatly humbled by my personal experience. It wasn’t an experience of simply going from an itchy throat and some sniffles to ‘willing’ it away for attention-getting effect. No, this was a bonafide Damascus moment...for me. You can choose to intellectualize it away and try to convince me that my personal miracle was the wishful thinking of a born-again intellectually unfulfilled Christian. But you’d be wrong…because then (those days) I didn’t take God seriously. He wasn’t on my mind very much. I wasn't looking for a miracle. As you can appreciate, I started to pay attention after that.
So there you go. That’s my story, “believe it or not.” If I’m a fool for Christ, so be it. But I ask, “Whose fool are you?” (rhetorical question…not looking for an answer)
For me, I’m personally convinced...and my world makes great sense now. I read and study Scripture as if it was true and if Jesus were smart, and low-and-behold, I wasn’t so smart after all. Nor was my then-atheist wife. We’re both committed believers now and give credit where credit is due.
I submit that the smart money’s on Jesus and have placed my bet accordingly. What we all have in common is that there are expiration dates on our beliefs and disbeliefs. Of which, we’re equally accountable. I will have either been very deluded and will rest in my non-awareness of this fact, or I will be high-fiving Jesus, satisfied in worshiping Him forever as the Real Deal. The nonbeliever will either rest in their non-awareness of this same outcome or...well...suffer the consequences. A different spin on Pascal's Wager? Yes.
Forever's a long time to be right. Here's a challenge: read the Gospel of John (it will take only one evening) as if the account were true, just once, and take the truth claims of Jesus seriously. Again, just one time. What do you have to lose except, perhaps, your disbelief?
Would that be so bad considering on one hand Psalms 14:1, and one the other John 3:16-18?
I submit, "No."