Were the miracles which the Bible records actually miracles, or are there other explanations available which better accord with the laws of nature proven by science? And what about today? Do miracles occur in the modern world, or are the people who report them unable to properly explain the events they observe, lacking the proper scientific understanding to truly assess crazy occurrences which they determine to be heavenly wonders?
Western culture, in which Americans are reared from youth, automatically doubts supernatural explanations of seemingly miraculous events. Miracles are not something which can be tested and proven, and, by definition, are in strict defiance of the unalterable laws of nature. Moreover, they tend to be believed by pre-scientific societies, who, lacking the medicinal improvements and technological advancements which are staples of the modern lifestyle, are still accustomed to appealing to superstition and spiritual healers for physical treatment. It should come as no surprise that, when healed, they look to their superstitious beliefs for an explanation of what occurred. And voila! It’s a miracle!
Amazing things happen in the world, there can be no doubting this. However, so the argument goes, the people who claim to have personally experienced or witnessed such events are mistaken to deem them supernaturally-driven miracles. There is always another, “natural” explanation available which does not require us to set our brains on the shelf and attribute these events to the power of some God that we cannot even prove exists. Even if this explanation is not immediately obvious, science, given enough time, will discover what really occurs in that and similar events which have been erroneously believed to be miracles. In a very, very small nutshell, that is the popular stance of people in Western societies, Americans included, toward miracles.
What I find most unfortunate, though, is the infiltration of this popular way of thinking into the hearts and minds of the people who follow Jesus. Many Christians argue that miracles were important for the initial foundation of the church in regions which had not yet received the gospel of Christ, yet they cease to occur today (cf. the various levels of Cessationism). Furthermore, some have gone so far as to interpret Scripture through this modern way of thinking, concluding that even the miracles reported in the Bible have natural explanations which were not readily available to the biblical authors. Instead of Christians having an impact on Western society with the gospel of Christ, we have allowed the dominant culture to influence us; to not only shape the way we view the world today, but even the way we read and understand our Scriptures.
What is presented on the web pages in this section are very short excerpts from New Testament scholar Craig Keener, who reports on the existence of miracles in the world today. His purpose is two-fold:
1) First and foremost, to show that masses of people in practically every inhabitable region of the world are reporting that miracles occur. Thus, it is not valid to argue that there is no evidence for the existence of miraculous events (contra David Hume).
2) To present enough eyewitness testimony of miracles around the world to raise questions about how these things happened. Were they supernatural occurrences? Were they spurned on by the God of the Bible?
The small sample of Keener’s evidence which I have provided here has evidence from:
1) The Old Testament
2) The New Testament
3) A 4th century Christian philosopher
4) Various places around the world in the modern era
5) Including U.S.A.
What I am relaying here is only a very small sample of the miracles recorded by Keener in his thorough and exhaustive book; Keener’s book presents only a sample of the miracle accounts that were available to him; what was available to him was only a small sample from the world, taken from relatively few of the villages and countries in the world. Needless to say, if one were to gather all the reports of miracles from across the globe, “I suppose that the world itself could not contain the books that would be written” (Sound familiar? That is the last thing John said about Jesus at the end of the 4th Gospel in the New Testament). These web pages do little justice to the amazing and careful scholarship of Craig Keener. I strongly recommend you pick a copy of his book, Miracles: The Credibility of the New Testament Accounts.