Chapter 5: Miracles

15 March 2006

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In this section we find Krueger raising three objections to the argument that God’s existence has been proven through the occurrence of miracles. He argues that testimony about a miracle is never sufficient justification, miracles cannot be construed as evidence for God’s existence, and that there is no evidence that miracles have actually occurred.

Is Testimony Ever Sufficient?

Krueger claims that no testimony could ever establish a miracle’s occurrence, but I think his assertion is overplayed. He argues the following:

“Most religious believers agree, in fact, that testimony alone is not sufficient to show that a miracle has occurred. Other religions besides Christianity also claim miracles, but Christians don’t consider reports of Hindu miracles as proof that the Hindu gods exist.” [127]

The major flaw here is that Krueger fails to recognize the difference between good testimonial evidence and bad testimonial evidence. Obviously Christians (or anybody for that matter) are not compelled to believe the claims of miracles simply because somebody said that they witnessed such an event. Rather, one must question the credibility, honesty, and character of the witness. Does the witness have an underlying motivation to claim a miracle occurred? Does the witness have a history of reporting questionable claims? These are questions which must be asked or answered before we even begin to assess testimonial evidence.

Moreover, the resurrection of Christ, the central miracle upon which the Christian faith is based, can be defended with very little dependence on “testimony.” See HERE

Are Miracles Evidence for God?

Krueger next argues that a supposedly miraculous event could never be evidence for God anyways. His arguments here involve quite a bit of special pleading. For example, he claims that one can never prove that natural law has been violated (i.e., a miracle has occurred) because not all laws are known. However, this is just absurd. Compare this argument to the most convincing miracle report in Christian theism- that of Christ’s resurrection. Would the following argument make much sense?

Even if Christ did actually raise bodily from the dead, it could be that natural law allows such an event to occur, so it is no evidence for God’s existence.

Any atheist who would propose this argument is beyond help, for they are simply using special pleading to retain their own atheism. But even more damaging to the atheistic argument here is that Christ’s life was a unique one in which His bodily resurrection has significant religious meaning. If the laws of nature actually did allow bodily resurrection every now and then, what are the odds that this quirk would happen to Jesus Christ rather than some average man? The probabilities against such a “lucky” occurrence are almost too great to imagine.

Next, Krueger tries to argue that there are always alternative explanations to miracle events, other than God. He proposes a race of clever aliens who are playing tricks on us. Theoretically, they could be responsible for the bodily resurrection of Jesus Christ. However, Krueger actually supposes that we should take such a suggestion as a refutation of the claim that miracles are evidence for God’s existence! Krueger expects us to believe his alien scenario over God’s involvement in the world. It is clear that he is not playing fair here. If we are supposed to assume that aliens are playing with our heads when dealing with miracles, then how do we know that they are not doing the same with regards to scientific affairs? How do we know that our universe is nothing but a small test sample in some elaborate extra-universal laboratory? If we allow such silly ponderings to actually distract us from rationally deciding the issues, then we will put ourselves on a slippery slope in which anything and everything could be true or false.

Krueger also argues that one could not prove that any particular god was responsible for any given miracle. This is essentially true, but nevertheless besides the point. Krueger, as an atheist, is just as wrong if it is Zeus causing a miraculous event rather than the Christian God. Either way, theism is vindicated and atheism is refuted. In any case, the miracle of Christ’s resurrection would tend to support the existence of the Christian God, due to the context in which the miracle is performed. Krueger could argue that it was merely the act of another god playing a trick on humans, but such a hypothesis is much more outlandish than the simple conjecture that Christ was raised in order to vindicate his claims of deity.

Is There Any Evidence That Miracles Have Occurred?

In the last section of the chapter, Krueger briefly argues that there is no actual evidence for any miracle. He dismisses the Bible merely by claiming that he already refuted its reliability in CHAPTER 4, which is of questionable merit. Next, he argues that the CSICOP and other organizations have shown extra-biblical miracle claims to be dubious. However, as a Christian I have no problem accepting this. His case against miracles amounts to almost nothing at all.

Conclusion:

Krueger relies almost completely on his previous (and questionable) “refutation” of the Bible’s accuracy and reliability. He makes a few philosophical arguments against miracle testimony, but does not get into nearly enough detail in order to produce a solid argument. It seems that his case against miracles is rather weak.

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