Atheists Look for Miracles

I have been reading an excellent book titled True Reason: Confronting the Irrationality of the New Atheism. The book is a collection of articles by Christians who respond to modern atheists, showing that Christianity is more reasonable than atheism.

One of the chapters by David Marshall points out that when atheists are asked what they would hold as valid evidence for God, they often look for a miracle. If they could witness a fantastic, irrefutable miracle, they would believe. Or so they say. Yet they then attack Biblical miracles as not being reasonable, or as David Hume does, define them out of existence before considering the evidence.

The Biblical writers often give examples of miracles they have witnessed as evidence of the truth for miracles. Regardless of whether someone today believes the eyewitness testimony, we cannot hold the Biblical writers as irrational or illogical, for they provide the very type of evidence that the modern skeptic asks for, and they use the only means available to them at the time to document the evidence.
So whether or not you hold the Biblical evidence to be sufficient, we have the Biblical writers being reasonable by providing what evidence they have to prove a logical point, and the modern skeptics being illogical when they demand evidence, then criticize the Bible for providing just that.


About humblesmith

Christian Apologist & Philosopher
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4 Responses to Atheists Look for Miracles

  1. nymike27 says:

    That is NOT what an Atheist is saying or implying. Show me a miracle means = Let all the children in cancer hospitals all over “His world” be disease free. That’s a miracle! Let women all over “His world” who are infertile and want to conceive have a child the natural way. That’s a miracle! Feed the hungry, give shelter to the poor, and stop the horrific acts that Mother Nature produces (tsunamis, volcanoes, tornado, etc.) with unheard consequences. That’s a miracle. Stop all the wars in the world that “He created.” That’s a miracle. Why give sight back to one man when “He” could give sight to all whom are blind. That would be a miracle. I could go on and on, but you should get the general idea of what an Atheist thinks is a miracle. I don’t believe in hearsay, speculation, or something that man wrote two thousand years ago, unless there is verification e.g. “Bones from the dinosaur era, millions of years ago.” That my friends you can’t dispute. Furthermore the rebuttal is not; god works in mysterious ways, or Adam and Eve are the cause of mankind downfall, or last but not least—you must follow the bible without questions in order to get into heaven. That’s your belief system not ours.

    • humblesmith says:

      Your comment here supports what Marshall’s chapter claims in True Reason; namely, that a true miracle would be a sign for the existence of God. I agree. The issue is that when the skeptics of Jesus day saw such signs, they did not believe what the sign pointed to, namely the prophet who did them.

      Perhaps what you are alluding to is a twofold argument: 1) we do not see God solving every problem today, and if we did, we would trust God, and 2) before we trust the Bible, we should look for valid proof outside the Bible that corroborates what is in the Bible. Fortunately, there is a valid answer to both….use the search box in this blog to find several, or here are a few:

      • nymike27 says:

        Your statement of “we do not see God solving every problem today,” No, I’m saying, we don’t see god solving any problems through miracles within his capabilities of people that have faith. God is often conceived as the Supreme Being and principal object of faith. The concept of God as described by theologians commonly includes the attributes of omniscience (infinite knowledge), omnipotence (unlimited power), omnipresence (present everywhere), omnibenevolence (perfect goodness), divine simplicity, and eternal and necessary existence. If you really believe the description of god in those words. Then can He stop little children from dying in cancer hospitals. He could let women whom are barren have children the natural way. He could feed the starving, shelter the needy, and give relief from the pain that so many people all over his creation are suffering from various diseases. In theism, God is the creator and sustainer of the universe, while in deism, God is the creator (but not the sustainer) of the universe. The question is why not? He create a less than perfect world, and now he doesn’t want any part of it? How come we are taught from day one, when you have children, you are the parents for life. Shouldn’t it apply to “god’s children.” Monotheism is the belief in the existence of one God or in the oneness of God. In pantheism, God is the universe itself. In atheism, God is purported not to exist, while deemed unknown or unknowable within the context of agnosticism. God has also been conceived as being incorporeal (immaterial), a personal being, the source of all moral obligation, and the “greatest conceivable existent” These are some of the reasons believers jibber jabber incoherent answers to legitimate question about god and religion. Atheism is not a force of the devil like I hear time and time again. It is more a reality to a lot of people that religion and god are not your protectors here on earth. It’s fair to say that if you jump out of a window from a tall building, the chances of you surviving from the fall is very low. This is not Voodoo Science, it’s just a fact, and it is not being blasphemous as some would answer to my comments.

        • humblesmith says:

          You ask legitimate, reasonable questions, and you deserve a reasonable response. I appreciate your comments, for you seem knowledgeable on the subject. I too become frustrated with Christians who all too often give trite responses to legitimate questions.

          The answers to your questions are multi-faceted, and I have dealt with them to varying degrees in several posts. I do not want to repeat all of it here, but lest I come across as dismissive, I will attempt to give brief summaries here and provide some links to the posts at the end. Keep in mind that this is not a discussion board….I try to keep it educational, and I am getting off-topic here by giving this response. Please, let’s move the discussion of the topics to the proper blog post.

          First, the primary purpose of miracles in the Bible never was exclusively out of compassion or to solve problems. Yes, Jesus had compassion and healed people, but this was not the predominant purpose for miracles, either in the New Testament or the Old. Rather, miracles are given as signs to attest to the legitimacy of the prophet or his message. Miracles are clearly called signs in the Bible.

          Second, Whether you or I can determine or even agree with why God does something is a separate issue from His existence. As humans, we do not always know why we do things ourselves, let alone other people, let alone an infinite God. It’s entirely logical to say that God exists but does things I do not understand or agree with. The mere fact of evil things happening in the world does not disprove the existence of an infinite God.

          Third, part of the support for the moral argument for the existence of God is that evil and good exist. That we can point to something and call it evil, as you have done, shows that we have a standard of morality that transcends the system we are in.

          Fourth, the atheist puts God into a paradox. If He does not stop all evil, then we give the criticisms you give above. If He does stop evil then He is accused of being a domineering tyrant that forces people to behave certain ways and not give them freedom. Think of all the criticisms that have been lobbed at God for forcing morality on people.

          Fifth, we have to think of what would the world be like if indeed God did what your comment suggests. No one ever got cancer, no one ever went hungry, everyone had a home. Well, we could not stop there, for He would have to stop all broken legs, burns, allergy attacks, and indeed anything painful. But some people go hungry due to laziness and selfishness, so now no one ever suffers the consequences of their actions. God would have to shut mouths before any hurtful word was ever said, would have to force people to only say or do positive, righteous things. If we say ‘No, let’s just have God stop the worst things,” then now we are back to one person’s opinion of what is bad enough to stop and what should be allowed, and God’s current approach would be just as good as yours. It also brings the next point….

          Sixth, if we do not ask God to stop every last trace of pain or injustice, then we cannot say that He is not stopping the worst evil now. We can all think of worst evils, more injustice, greater pain. It could be that God is already stopping the greatest evil, keeping things from being as bad as they could be. Think of the child who has skinned his knee or whose parent has denied the toy. To the child, the world seems to have come to an end, yet the parent knows of greater evils that are being prevented. Unless God prevents every paper cut and unkind word, then we are in a subjective sea of opinion on what He should allow and what He should stop.

          Seventh, as alluded earlier, stopping evil would require stopping freedom, which would be an evil.

          Eighth, stopping evil would mean eliminating the greater good. Having courage, bravery, and compassion is better than a world without these things. Yet the only way to have these things is in a world with situations that require courageous, brave, and compassionate acts. Eliminating the possibility of death would eliminate bravery and courage.

          Ninth, if we look at every logical alternative of how a world could have been created, we find that the one we have now is actually the best. I have gone over each of these in the post linked here:

          Tenth, if God does not exist, then everything is ultimately matter and energy, and ultimate good and evil do not exist. We then lose the ability to criticize the world for having evil. Therefore comments that say “evil exist therefore God does not’ are self refuting.

          As you can see, the responses to your question will raise a series of discussions. As I mentioned earlier, everything I listed here has one or more separate posts on this blog. I would prefer to move the comments of each to those posts; the current one is about how atheists have a tendency to ask for special signs, which your comments do, yet when they are given in the Bible, they were dismissed by those who witnessed them and by modern skeptics.

          Some other relevant posts on these topics are:

          Other explanations are in the three posts I linked in my earlier comment.

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