Are Miracles Really Possible?—Three Common Objections
OBJECTION 1: Miracles are impossible because they violate the laws of nature. Our understanding of the laws of nature is based on what scientists have observed happening in the natural world around us. However, those laws are similar to the grammar rules for a language—there may be some exceptions to the rule. Our understanding of these “rules” may, in fact, be very limited. (Job 38:4) A dedicated scientist may have spent a lifetime studying a certain law of nature. But all it takes is one “exception” for him to have to reevaluate his understanding of that law. As the saying goes, “Just one black swan undoes the theory that all swans are white.”
A humorous story illustrates how easy it is to base an opinion on incomplete facts. John Locke (1632-1704) related this story about the Dutch ambassador and the king of Siam: While describing his country, Holland, to the king, the ambassador mentioned that at times it was possible for an elephant to walk on water. The king rejected the idea and felt that the ambassador was lying to him. However, the ambassador was merely describing something that was beyond the king’s personal experience. The king did not realize that when water freezes and becomes ice, it can support the weight of an elephant. This seemed impossible to the king because he did not have all the facts.
Consider some modern accomplishments that may have been considered impossible just a few decades ago:
● An airplane can transport more than 800 passengers nonstop from New York to Singapore, traveling at a cruising speed of 560 miles per hour (900 km/h).
● Video conferences can enable people on different continents to engage in face-to-face conversations.
● Thousands of songs can be stored on a device smaller than a box of matches.
● Surgeons can transplant hearts and other body parts.
What logical conclusion can we draw from such facts? This: If humans can accomplish feats that just a few years ago seemed impossible, then surely the God who created the universe and all that is in it can perform amazing acts that we do not yet fully understand or cannot presently replicate. *—Genesis 18:14; Matthew 19:26.
OBJECTION 2: The Bible relies on miracles to make people believe. The Bible does not tell us to believe all miracles. In fact, the opposite is true. The Bible warns us to be very careful when it comes to trusting miracles and powerful signs. Notice this clear warning: “The coming of the lawless one will be in accordance with the work of Satan displayed in all kinds of counterfeit miracles, signs and wonders, and in every sort of evil that deceives.”—2 Thessalonians 2:9, 10, New International Version.
Jesus Christ also warned that many would claim to follow him but would not be his genuine followers. Some would even say to him: “Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and in your name drive out demons and perform many miracles?” (Matthew 7:22, NIV) But Jesus said that he would not accept those people as his followers. (Matthew 7:23) Obviously, then, Jesus did not teach that all miracles are from God.
God does not tell his worshippers to base their faith simply on miracles. Rather, their faith should be firmly established on facts.—Hebrews 11:1.
Let us consider, for example, one of the well-known miracles recorded in the Bible, the resurrection of Jesus Christ. Years after that event, some Christians in Corinth started to question whether Jesus had been resurrected. How did the apostle Paul help those Christians? Did he simply say, “Have more faith”? No. Notice how he reminded them of established facts. He stated that Jesus “was buried, yes, . . . he has been raised up the third day according to the Scriptures; and that he appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve. After that he appeared to upward of five hundred brothers at one time, the most of whom remain to the present.”—1 Corinthians 15:4-8.
Did it matter whether those Christians believed in that miracle? Paul goes on to say: “If Christ has not been raised up, our preaching is certainly in vain, and our faith is in vain.” (1 Corinthians 15:14) Paul did not take the matter lightly. Either the miracle of the resurrection of Jesus was true or it was not! And Paul knew that it was true because of the hundreds of eyewitness accounts of people who were still living at that time. In fact, those eyewitnesses were willing to die rather than deny what they had seen.—1 Corinthians 15:17-19.
OBJECTION 3: Miracles are just natural phenomena that are misunderstood by uneducated people. Some scholars try to explain the miracles in the Bible as merely natural events that occurred without divine intervention. They feel that this makes the Biblical accounts more believable. While it is true that natural phenomena may have been associated with some miracles—such things as earthquakes, plagues, and landslides—these explanations have one thing in common. They disregard the timing of the miracle as explained in the Scriptures.
For example, some have argued that the first plague brought upon Egypt, the turning of the Nile River into blood, was actually the result of red soil that had been washed down the Nile, along with reddish organisms called flagellates. However, the Bible account says that the river was turned into blood, not red mud. A careful reading of Exodus 7:14-21 shows that this miracle occurred at the time that Aaron, at Moses’ direction, struck the Nile River with his rod. Even if the transformation of the river were caused by a natural occurrence, the timing of Aaron’s striking the river was in itself miraculous!
As another example of the importance of the timing of a miracle, consider what happened when the nation of Israel was poised to enter the Promised Land. Their way was blocked by the Jordan River at flood stage. The Bible account tells us what happened next: “At the instant that the carriers of the Ark came as far as the Jordan and the feet of the priests carrying the Ark were dipped in the edge of the waters . . . , then the waters descending from above began to stand still. They rose up as one dam very far away at Adam.” (Joshua 3:15, 16) Was this the result of an earthquake or a landslide? The account does not say. But the timing of this event was miraculous. It occurred exactly at the time Jehovah had said that it would.—Joshua 3:7, 8, 13.
So, then, are there such things as miracles? The Bible says that there are. According to what it tells us, these are not just natural phenomena. Really, then, is it logical to say that it is impossible for them to happen just because they do not occur every day?
^ par. 9 If you question the existence of God, please see the brochures Does God Really Care About Us? and Was Life Created? or ask the person who gave you this magazine for more information.
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Only decades ago, many would have thought it impossible for people to fly at hundreds of miles an hour