You could be an observer of the Mosaic Law without believing in Moses and the parting of the Red Sea. You could observe the five pillars of Islam without a belief in miracles. (In fact, it’s denied in the Qu’ran that Muhammad even did miracles.) You could follow the noble path of Buddhism and have no miracles. You could reach the Nirvana of Hinduism and not have any miracles.
You cannot be a Christian without miracles. They’re at the heart of the Christian faith. You have the Son of God acting in the world in the first place by taking on a human nature in addition to his divine nature. Then, you have his life to be a life where he displayed his power and identity through miracles. Finally, the cornerstone of Christianity is the grand miracle of the resurrection.
This, at the heart, is one of the reasons the New Testament is not readily accepted like other ancient writings. It is full of miracles! If you are to be a Christian, then you must believe that God revealed himself in his Son and raised his Son from the dead. If there are no miracles, there is no Christianity.
Thus, a believer of Christianity should be able to defend miracles. There is one argument against miracles that is probably the most common one, but when it is examined, it is also the most foolish one. This is the argument that the people in the ancient world did not understand natural law and thus believed in miracles.
Now we can be clear on one thing. It is quite certain the ancients did not understand the molecular make-up of water. They did not understand that this is hydrogen and oxygen coming together and forming a substance called water. They did not understand that we can move through water because the molecues are not tightly packed together.
Let us be clear that while they did not have the extent of knowledge that we have today, they did have this much knowledge. They knew that if a man jumped onto water, he would not stand on it. Instead, he would go under the water. (They obviously had to have some understanding since they built excellent boats in that time period.)
Thus, when the disciples see Jesus walking on the water, they know that it is something miraculous going on. We know this because Peter asked if he could do so also. If Peter had believed that this was something perfectly natural, we can be sure that he would have leaped out of the boat immediately. (In fact, had he believed it was natural, why have a boat anyway?)
Yet in the writings of those opposed to the faith, this is the kind of statement I see. I constantly hear that we know about laws of nature and they didn’t. Yet even writing out the explanation seems a bit ridiculous for as soon as one starts writing out how they knew it was an anomaly, one feels required to say “Of course. Wouldn’t anyone know that?”
Of course, this doesn’t prove the miracles happened. That’s not my goal here. My goal is simply to get rid of one of the most bizarre objections I heard. If someone wants to say they were later additions to the text, then that is one thing. If, however, one wishes to say that the ancients did not know about natural law, then that is making the ancients the most unbelievable of fools.
The ancient world had tombs. Why? Because they knew that when people died, they weren’t coming back. The ancient world also had a Joseph who planned to divorce his bride-to-be in secret because she was pregnant. Why? Because Joseph was not ignorant of what it took to make a baby and he knew that he hadn’t done that.
In fact, there was only one way to recognize that something was a miracle and that was to have some idea of a natural working order. Miracles were noted because there was something that seemed to work contrary to that natural working order. Of course, this doesn’t prove that miracles happened, but again, that is not the goal.
If this objection is brought up, it is a fair question to ask the critic exactly when these discoveries were made. Oh? What scientist discovered that dead people stay dead? When was this verified? What scientist discovered what it takes to make a baby? When was this verified?
I have yet to see a real answer to those questions. I doubt you will either.