Objections To Miracles

The existence of miracles is denied by many and is sometimes regarded as an embarrassment.

For many people, alleged miracles are simply random occurrences without significance.

Lack of belief in miracles for various reasons such as extreme skepticism, may present a challenge to belief in Scripture, suggesting that Scripture is only a fable. Thus, this potentially undermines the reliability of Scripture and undermines the claims of Jesus to be the Messiah, the Son of God. Scriptural miracles are based on eyewitness accounts.There are examples of interlocked miracles e.g Saul was blinded and the later healing of Saul by Ananias involved coordinated miracles(Acts 9:3-18).Jesus’ resurrection of Jarius’ daughter (Lk 8:40-56) involved delay due to the miraculous healing of the woman with an issue of blood. Scripture devoid of miracles does not make sense.

Belief in the possibility of the existence of miracles is controversial, and definitions of miracles vary.

Extreme scepticism post-enlightenment has meant that miracles are rarely used as evidence that God exists and that Christianity is true. It is sometimes claimed that there is a risk of circular reasoning in invoking God’s existence as the supernatural origin of miracles and then trying to show that God exists on the basis of a miracle. However miracles are often the most convincing explanation for an extraordinary event such as the resurrection. Miracles frequently tend to be dismissed as mythical or as fables with scant evidence and not compatible with modern science.However, there is considerable historical, medical and scientific evidence that modern miracles have occurred in Lourdes and in the case of canonisation miracles which are well evidenced and comprehensively investigated by panels of doctors and other experts.There is also considerable eyewitness and other historical evidence for scriptural miracles such as the resurrection. Miracles are part of Catholic magisterial teaching, see Vatican I and CCC 547-550.


David Hume

David Hume’s objections

David Hume argued that theoretically the evidence for a miracle could outweigh the contrary evidence, but this never happens in practice. Hume’s objections are not as persuasive nowadays but scientism is very prevalent. Scientism is understood as the concept that science alone explains reality.

David Hume is frequently quoted by sceptics as having proved that miracles are not possible, which would potentially destroy the apologetic potential of miracles so his arguments need to be examined in greater detail. Hume defines a miracle as “a violation of the laws of nature,” and the proof against a miracle is “as entire as any argument from experience can possibly be imagined.Laws of nature can be regarded as what usually occurs, what must occur or as statistical probability of occurring. Hume does not trust eyewitness account and also argues that antecedent probability means nothing new will occur which has not occurred in the past. This would mean landing on the moon is impossible!Swinburne points out that other types of evidence are also available such as personal testimony and forensic evidence which was not readily known in Hume’s era.

Richard Hawkins

richard dawkins

Richard Dawkins regards miracles as

“not supernatural, but are part of a spectrum of more-or-less improbable natural events. A miracle, in other words, if it occurs at all, is a tremendous stroke of luck.”

This is often due to scientism philosophy rather than science. ‘Epistemic scientism,’ is defined as “the view that the only reality we can know anything about is the one science has access to,” espoused by Richard Dawkins. This is a philosophical not scientific statement and thus could be self refuting. Scientism denies consciousness, love, self reflection, existence of a soul and spiritual realm. Dawkins claims, “we are machines for propagating DNA, and the propagation of DNA is a self-sustaining process. It is every living object’s sole reason for living.”This philosophy regards our thoughts as random results of biochemical processes so we have no free will and cannot trust our thoughts or our belief in an external world.

Dawkins with his commitment to naturalism would regard miracles as not possible and the concept of God as a myth or delusion.Dawkins regards God as part of nature so he is correct. The God of Christianity is outside of space and time and not part of nature.

Other Objections to the possibility of miracles

Other philosophers were also sceptical about the possibility of miracles and such views are still prevalent.
Benedict Spinoza (1633-1637) was a rationalist and was very sceptical about miracles. However, Spinoza is a pantheist, whereby God is synonymous with nature, so miracles are not logically possible.Christians believe God is transcendent yet immanent, beyond nature. As a free loving rational agent, God may intervene or assist, usually as a result of prayer, to help his beloved human creatures achieve everlasting happiness in the next world so He sent His Son, Jesus, the promised Messiah, true God and true Man to show us the truth.



More About Miracles


lourdes-and-marian-miracles FrBrendanexplains objections-to-miracles