A miracle (from the Latin mirari, 'to wonder'), is an event that is not usually explicable by natural causes alone. A reported miracle excites wonder because it appears to require, as its cause, something beyond the reach of human action and natural causes.
For its part, modern naturalistic science tells us that miracles cannot occur; they put the whole 'miracles' thing down to ignorance, superstition and to the misunderstanding of various events which actually have perfectly rational and scientific explanations.
Of course, many of us would say that many events which are fully explainable by laws which we understand may nevertheless be termed as miracles; is not every single newborn baby an incredible miracle? What about the way in which an apparently dried up and 'dead' flower seed will burst into life in the spring, sending forth flowers of often stunning beauty? What about a glorious rainbow? We all know the 'science' of those things but is not each one a thing of a quite miraculous beauty? Yes, many of us would include such things as miracles, thus we perceive two classes of 'miracles':
a) wonders of life which continually stun us even though, broadly speaking, we grasp the science.
b) incredible occurrences which appear to defy physical laws.
Here we must - primarily - consider things for which there is no naturalistic scientific explanation.
Now there is no doubt that many occurrences which are considered to be of a miraculous nature are especially appealing to the impressionable and to the 'religious,' that is, in a looser, possibly more superstitious sense. Sceptical modern science likes to leave the matter there, feeling that they themselves are above such things. But is it even reasonable for modern secularists to reject harder to explain miracles out of hand? Is it reasonable of them to suggest that only the superstitious, impressionable and naive experience such things? No, I don't think that it is, moreover, there exists extensive evidence opposed to the modern Darwinist-inspired narrow approach of scientism on this point.
Truth is: There are no obvious and rational explanations for thousands of occurrences in this world.
Many things in the history of mankind - both past and present - cannot be satisfactorily explained without using such words as 'miracle' or 'miraculous,' (or some other suitable word if you prefer to use it). They are otherwise unexplainable occurrences. Modern secularist reasoning tends to hide from this fact, but a fact it certainly is, the evidence substantive. The only explanation for certain things which - make no mistake - thousands have experienced and witnessed - must lie somewhere within the metaphysical/spiritual. Now, these are not just a few imagined episodes but clearly thousands of events and episodes affecting people of all cultures and all ages. Sometimes there is simply no logical or scientific explanation for things. Secularists really cannot go on insisting that there is a physically-explainable solution for everything. One could take many examples here. Let's look at just a few of these areas:
THINGS IN THE SKY??
Many thousands of people claim visions of, or experiences of angels. Can they all be wrong? I propose that they are not all wrong and that angels are a reality, but not dwelling/existing within the physical realm, so normally unseen. This does not mean that a few accounts are not bogus; this does not mean that some are, very strangely, more interested in pursuing a relationship with angels than with Jesus Christ.
Here is one such account taken off the internet:
"When I was 9 years old, I fell off a horse. While my father was carrying me through a field to take me to the hospital and as I was drifting in and out of consciousness, I saw a female figure standing off in the distance, surrounded by light, with her arms outstretched toward me. That's all I remember. And it didn't occur to me until I was older how strange that experience really was."
Such accounts are now very common and several books are filled with them.
Now I don't necessarily think we can look upon UFOs ('flying saucers,' if you prefer) as in the realm of the 'miraculous,' nevertheless, there are things of interest here. It has been estimated (by men with good scientific and investigative minds - not gullible idiots!), that when you take out the mistakes and the mis-sightings, plus the claims of those clearly of unsound mind, you are still left with several thousand accounts of such phenomena from sound and reliable sources including pilots, policemen and army personnel. These concern occurrences which are not open to reasonable and rational explanation. This begins to tell us that not everything which may be witnessed is explainable by immediate ration and reason.
VARIOUS OTHER UNEXPLAINED PHENOMENA
I have only chosen a very few examples here but could have used hundreds.
* I did not laugh when an old - and very 'scientifically-minded' - friend told me that he saw his mother standing at the foot of his bed a week after she died. Why? Because I also briefly saw my mother after she passed away. Explanation? I cannot produce one. Further, there are accounts of those who were in a foreign land when a close relative died yet they 'knew' with a rare certainty that it had happened even before being told of it. Is all of this purely hysterical or imaginary? No, I really don't think that it can be. There is a catalogue of such claims from reliable and trustworthy people. Clearly there is a spiritual, or metaphysical, dimension out there which - as yet - we don't fully understand, let's accept that.
* Many years ago, I was a passionate taker of notes when listening to any good sermon. I took copious notes, usually in a 'reporters notebook' (as we call them here in the UK). Normally I then went through those notes a few days later, even re-writing them if I deemed it helpful. On one occasion, on the Wednesday, I believe, I went to get my sermon notes, only to find that they were not there, but I later found them, wrenched from my note book and screwed up on the floor, thrown into a corner. We only had two children then, not of an age in which they could have physically accomplished this and my wife was certainly not guilty of it, moreover no visitors had been in our home. Explanation? I cannot offer one. On another occasion I was last retiring to bed in the evening and, as was our usual routine then, I ensured that our kitchen table was left cleared and clean. Next morning a few of my tools were placed on the table in quite an orderly manner. I said to my wife, "Why did you put these things here?" She said, "I didn't, I presumed that you had." Explanation? I cannot offer one.
* Back in the 1950s, the very fine English actor Sir John Gielgud met the young American actor James Dean only days before he (Dean) died in a car crash. Dean showed Gielgud his new car which he was very excited about. Gielgud later recounted how he 'knew' with a most terrible certainty that that car would be the cause of the young man's death. He boldly warned him never to use that car under any circumstances! Of course Dean did not listen, probably thinking something like, 'here is yet another eccentric Englishman.' But he did indeed die in that car only days later. Sir John was later asked (on several occasions, including a BBC TV interview with Michael Parkinson) how he could have possibly known. His response was something like, 'I have no idea. I am not particularly religious or impressionable and it never happened before or since. I just knew that car would cause his death and I knew it was my responsibility to warn him.' Is there a practical, rational, logical explanation to this which would be acceptable to the strict secularist? No, I don't think that there is.
* Now for a very different example; answered prayer; numerous well-documented accounts here just cannot be explained away. George Muller is an outstanding example here (among many others). It is a matter of public record (so, undisputed) that a man who refused to make direct appeals to the public for funds actually accumulated many thousands of pounds during his life, funds which he used to support several missionaries and have five orphanages built in Bristol, England. Many, many thousands of orphans greatly benefitted from the work of Muller. But where did all that money came from? People donated it. But how so, if no public appeals were ever made? Christians know the answer to this puzzle: Muller was a Christian who strongly believed in the power of prayer; he 'prayed in' the money! He looked at Psalm 81:10 which states, '...Open wide your mouth and I will fill it,' and applied it to the terrible conditions of orphans in 19th century Bristol. The Lord responded. But to the secularist the behaviour, and certainly success, of Muller was - and is - inexplicable.
* Directly related to the above point, this is also about answered prayer: In 1999, patients in a Missouri intensive care unit recovered faster after prayers were said for them compared with those who did not have prayers said. This study was unique due to its size - nearly 1,000 patients - and neither the patients nor their doctors knew which patients had prayers said for them. About five such tests conducted in US hospitals over the last 10-15 years have confirmed the success of patients who are prayed for. Just one such survey showed little difference in the results. Physicalist scientism will never be able to explain such things because this clearly involves a metaphysical/spiritual dimension, something they must rule 'out of court.'
* What about the 'placebo effect'? It still has no satisfactory explanation. A doctor may say, 'Go ahead, take this; you'll soon be much better!' All you have to do is believe you'll be better, and you probably will be. This is how the placebo effect could be put in the very simplest way. A placebo is a substance or procedure which a patient accepts as a medicine or therapy but which (as far as is known and understood) has no specific therapeutic activity for the condition; the results are believed to be caused by the power of suggestion. But the success of this tactic, and it is only a sort of tactic, continues to mystify secular science. In some studies, patients put on a completely 'useless' placebo drug have well out-performed those on established treatments for particular illnesses! There are things here which we do not yet fully understand, 'suggestion' is not enough to cover it. The answer, almost certainly, resides somewhere in the world of metaphysics and of human consciousness, which brings us to our next point.
* Out-of-Body experiences. I would almost rather not include this point because some of my fellow Christian believers often consider it 'occultic,' whether or not it is I will not consider here. There is, in fact, a very good reason to include this group of phenomena, as will see. As several books have made plain over the last few years, such occurrences - as well as 'near-death experiences' in general - are now very well-documented. The amazing thing in many such experiences is that people who were either considered brain-dead, or very close to it, and were certainly unconscious to all appearances, have later described being able to see their bodies on an operating table, even being able to describe various details in the emergency room which they should have been unaware of; in one case even naming the music being played in an adjoining room! All of this would be impossible, of course, if the conclusions of Darwinistic scientism were correct!
So these are several completely random points which modern secularistic science refuses to even consider, writing such areas off with disdain. But there is more...
THE MIRACLE OF CONSCIOUSNESS
Even now, science cannot explain human consciousness; it remains a mystery. Science can explain how we breathe, how we walk, how our heart and lungs work, but human awareness and consciousness? It is a deep mystery! Absolutely nothing within evolutionary theory can account for the power and flexibility of the human mind. J.P. Moreland is a good writer for Christians to consult here (but be warned: it is difficult reading in parts). The point is: consciousness is not a physical phenomenon, and cannot be explained (or, maybe just partially), in a physicalist way. It is the land of metaphysics yet again. Brain is known not to equal mind, nor consciousness. In short, human consciousness is more - much more - than the brain alone! Needless to say, this is a huge problem for physicalist evolutionists, so they will do their very best to avoid the subject.
THE MIRACLE OF INFORMATION
Finally, information. Okay, I admit this one is a favoured argument of mine. Information is not matter. I repeat: information is not matter!
I like to illustrate this by taking the computer example. I now mostly use a small and portable laptop for my internet work but I used to mostly use a bigger Windows Vista desktop system. Vista was a huge system (unlike Windows 8) but if - when I originally purchased that desktop computer - a mistake had been made in the factory and Vista had not been installed, in other words, if that computer had no OS (operating system), that would not have made my old desktop even slightly lighter in weight! Why? Because information is not matter and does not add to physical weight! Now I admit that this example might cut one or two corners in order to get at a point, but it illustrates something important. When God made this world He did not create a system which was all chemistry and physics (as science likes to infer), but with no operating system. In other words, He did not create a 'desktop' which was simply matter and had no information installed (information, remember, is not matter). Regarding the human creation, the most needed information was already installed into us (DNA), with the rest available with just a little research. So information is not part of matter, it is a separate thing which modern science still struggles to explain. This is the realm of laws, the law of gravity, the laws of physics, the law of entropy; pick any ones you like. This universe moves along according to pre-decided laws - otherwise we would never even have got here; human procreation itself works according to definite laws - Where did these laws come from? Who made them? Evolution cannot explain this, as even a leading evolutionist privately admitted to me.
If you could delete a person's DNA, it is doubtful that that would make that person even a few ounces lighter because the DNA is just solid information, yet there is so much of it that if unravelled, it could stretch from the earth to the moon! Again, science pretty much understands at least some areas of matter but it has very little understanding on 'information,' because evolution restricts itself to a material, physicalist, godless universe. So, in a sense, evolution teaches that our world is similar to a powerful computer but one with no operating system (information), since it rejects all non-physical components. Modern science hates the concept of information, of course, because it does not want to admit that there must have been an information giver. Of course, science must admit that information exists (since it plainly does) but they have various ways of getting around the philosophical problem, including "information is part of evolution" and - even dafter - "information has always been here, it did not need God" Huh??? Of course, both of those are question-dodgers.
Scientists like to say that - at the time of the so-called 'big bang' - there was only mass and energy - nothing else, but they are entirely wrong, information was also necessarily present, otherwise we could never have reached our present point. Information simply had to be there when our universe came into existence; there is no alternative; but don't expect to find too many evolutionists talking about this because it places them in a difficult philosophical position.
So why do I cite these highly varied examples? (by the way, I could have added many, many more).
It is to challenge the modern, scientistic, secularist view that physicalism and naturalism can explain everything in this world without recourse to metaphysics or to the supernatural. Darwinistic scientism is only able to attempt to do this by ruling huge areas of human experience 'out of court.' It reduces these very extensive areas of the human experience to hysteria, imagination, superstition, romantic notions and baseless hearsay, it then places itself into the chair as the 'chairperson' of 'that which we can demonstrate and establish.' Even more perniciously and malignantly, it insists that physicalist science is the only reality, even many writers and poets strongly object to this for this is to reject great swathes of the humanities. But this is a very disingenuous enterprise, refusing, for example, to admit that 'scientism' itself is governed by a philosophy - that of naturalism - which must dictate everything; 'only what we can prove' is the convenient 'cover story' employed to mask quite dreadful biases including the rejection of much solid evidence seen as opposed to their naturalistic philosophy.
Modern Darwinistic scientism is thus revealed to be a dishonest enterprise. It claims to want to uncover truth, but if that truth is inconvenient truth (that is, for its inherent naturalism) it is prepared to ridicule that truth or pretend it is not there (the elephant in the room).
Scientific reductionism is in fact, not able to provide any sort of explanation for probably millions of various phenomena experienced by millions of people. Whilst many examples one might find probably are indeed possibly in the area of imagination, superstition, and hallucination, such things could not account for everything; there undoubtedly remain many thousands of substantiated occurrences which give the lie to the currently preferred closed, naturalistic, physicalist universe model which scientism insists on operating within.
Bible-believing Christians believe that Jesus performed several miracles whilst walking this earth and sometimes the comment is made that "it is absurd to believe in those miracles in the 21st century," but- truthfully - nothing has happened, nor been established, which makes it any harder to accept those miracles. Most of those who count ourselves as Christian believers certainly accept the miracles of Jesus and believe that other miraculous occurrences may still occur, though we believe they will not be commonplace (else they would not be miracles). Certainly the notion that such things are 'scientifically-impossible' should worry no one in view of the material we have covered here.
Despite the above report on modern scientism, there is some good news: the present closed and narrow approach used by much modern science is increasingly being challenged and much of this challenge is not coming from Christian believers at all but coming from highly qualified experts involved in various fields of science and philosophy. One such example is the huge 2010 book, 'Irreducible Mind,' written by a team of psychologists and psychiatrists. That particular book insists that the human brain - all on its own - cannot possibly explain human consciousness, putting forth huge and carefully collated anecdotal evidence for this conclusion. It is definitely not a Christian book but a book which could be said to be open to metaphysical/spiritual explanations. Now that is encouraging. It challenges modern science to change course from its present narrow approach. Rupert Sheldrake is another highly qualified scientist who has started to urge modern science to change its course from strict materialism/physicalism to embrace a much wider field of the mind, consciousness and human experience. I hope to review a book by Rupert shortly. Expect more such books...
Robin A. Brace. June 9th, 2013.