“How Can I Believe In Miracles In an Enlightened Age?”
by Bo Kirkwood, M.D.
For centuries, Western civilization accepted Christianity which, of course, included a belief in the miracles described in the Bible. With the advent of the enlightenment, which originated in 17th century Europe, intellectuals and philosophers such as John Locke, David Hume, and Voltaire began questioning the historicity of the Bible relying on reason and rational thought instead of "superstition" as a basis for their philosophy. Included in this philosophy was the so-called scientific method in which postulates or theories could be proven or falsified by experimentation.
The enlightenment was represented in America during the 18th century by such men as Thomas Payne, Ben Franklin, and Thomas Jefferson and was the philosophical basis of our country's quest for freedom. Jefferson, a naturalist and primary author of the Declaration of Independence, so disbelieved in the miracles that he physically removed them from his personal Bible.
Through the 19th century, the enlightenment continued to have a significant impact culminating in what has been referred to as one of the greatest works of man, Darwin's On the Origin of Species in which the theory of evolution was espoused. Published in 1859, this book has radically changed the way man has viewed himself and his universe.
The enlightenment continues to exert significant influence on science, culture, and politics in today's world. Many, if not most, no longer accept the authority of the Bible nor do they accept the miracles contained therein. Lawrence Krauss, a part of the New Atheist Movement, whose stated purpose is to rid the world of religion, has said, "You've got to confront silly beliefs by telling them they are silly. If you're trying to convince people, pointing out what they believe is nonsense is a better way to bring them around."
The question proposed is: How can I believe in miracles in an enlightened age? To believe in miracles requires first, a belief in God, then a belief that God communicated to man through the patriarchs, prophets, apostles, and inspired men, and that the Bible is inerrant and historically accurate.
A belief in God is manifested in His creation. Romans 1:20, states, "For since the creation of the world his invisible attributes, his eternal power, and divine nature have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made, so they are without excuse." The evidence of a creator is overwhelming. Scientists admit the universe had a beginning, a beginning they call "The Big Bang," which by its very nature implies a cause and only something or someone not bound by the "the laws of the universe" could have transcended them. Our universe, which is fine tuned to 10 to the 37th power, would require someone to abandon reason and logic to deny a creator.
It is only logical that a creator would choose to communicate to his ultimate creation, man, in some form or another. The Bible itself is a testament to its inspiration and uniqueness. None of the other "so-called sacred books" give an account of the actual creation of the space-time continuum with every other system of cosmology starting with eternal matter or energy in some form from which the other entities were supposedly derived. Furthermore, the Bible is unique in its continuity, circulation, translation, and even its survival. If there is any further doubt regarding the Bible's inspiration, look to the prophecies. The prophecies of the Bible are specific towards individuals, nations, times, places, and peoples. No other "inspired book" can compare to it. Yes, the Bible could only come from a divine creator and though evidences cannot "prove" it is the word of God, any intelligent person searching for the truth can read it and be convicted it could not possibly be just the work of man.
Once a person accepts a creator and the inspiration of the Bible, both of which do not require one to give up reason and logic, a belief in miracles becomes inevitable and Christianity a factual faith. Clark Pinnock has written, "The facts backing the Christian claim are not a special kind of religious fact. They are the cognitive, informational fact upon which all historical, legal, and ordinary decisions are based." Miracles are those things that defy the natural laws and natural processes observed in our world; they represent things that are not just statistically improbable, but rather, physically impossible. Miracles serve a very specific purpose in the Bible, that is to confirm the messenger and the message, and were observed by eyewitnesses (Mark 16:20). In John 21:24, the apostle writes, "This is the disciple who bears witness of these things, and wrote these things, and we know that this witness is true. And there are also many other things which Jesus did, which if they were written in detail, I suppose that even the world itself would not contain the books which were written." Luke further points out in the beginning of his Gospel that his disciples "were eyewitnesses and servants of the word." Speaking of the resurrection of Jesus, Luke writes in Acts 1:3, "To these he also presented himself alive, after his suffering, by many convincing proofs, appearing over a period of forty days, and speaking of the things concerning the kingdom of God." Paul also writes in 1 Corinthians 15:6 that Christ "was seen of above five hundred brethren at once...".
Being a Christian is logical and based upon the interpretation of the facts and does not require one to be superstitious or defy reason. Naturalism is a philosophy and is no more scientific than creationism, neither of which is amenable to the scientific method. To those with an open mind, there is much more evidence for a divine creator than not, and many very influential and important scientists believe in the miracles of the Bible. Astrophysicist Danny Faulkner, Hugh Ross, Jason Lisle, and many others are part of this group. John Ashton's wonderful book, "In six days" lists fifty scientists with doctorate degrees who believe in creation and the miracles of the Bible. Even Francis Collins, the former head of the Human Genome Project, believes in the historicity of the New Testament and its miracles.
Yes, a person can believe in miracles in this enlightened age and I certainly am proud to count myself as one. Like the apostle Paul, "I am not ashamed of the gospel for it is the power of God for salvation." This certainly does not negate the importance of faith, for without it, it is impossible to please God (Heb. 11:6). But my faith is not a blind faith. My faith came by hearing (Rom. 10:17) and that faith is based on eyewitness testimonies (2 Pet. 1:16; 1 John 1:1-3; 1 Cor. 15:6). My faith is incumbent on the miracles of the Bible and, in fact, if the greatest miracle of all, the resurrection of Christ, did not occur, we are all as Paul says, "Men most to be pitied (1 Cor. 15:17).
Contrary to post-modernist views, there is an absolute truth, and that truth is Jesus Christ, and in no one else can salvation be found (John 14:6; Acts 4:12). From my point of view, it takes much more faith to believe in naturalism and evolution than it does miracles and Christianity!
This article appeared in the October 2014 issue of Truth Magazine, available in electronic or print form at www.truthmagazine.com.