Last night, I mentioned that I had spoken at an event recently on a panel. Now my topic was on the question of God’s existence, but most of our questions seemed to be about the second topic of miracles. The first one given was about what we do with miracles in other religions. Hume had a problem with this also saying that all miracles cancel each other out.
The first question to ask though is whether we have reason to believe these other miracles. Take for instance, Islam. The Qu’ran is quite clear that Muhammad performed no miracle. On the other hand, it does affirm that Jesus performed miracles. Miracle stories show up later, but these can be traced to when Muslims debated Christians and they had a miracle-performing Jesus to face from their non-miracle performing prophet. The first biographies of Muhammad also showed up well over 100 years after his death. Compare this to the Bible where the gospels can easily be dated to before 70 A.D.
What about a pantheistic system? Miracles don’t make much sense though if all is maya, an illusion. Why have a miracle that will get someone more attached to the physical world? Would God be doing a miracle on God if all is God? This would also assume that God is personal. Another pantheist, Spinoza, rightly saw that if God is all and God is impersonal, as he often is in pantheistic systems, then miracles are impossible.
Buddhism? For classical Buddhism, there is no God. Now there are some forms of Buddhism that believe in a deity, but Buddha said the question of God is irrelevant. Why would miracles fit in though? Buddha’s teaching was that we needed to be detached from the world and eliminate our desire. How would a miracle help his system?
Also, was mentioned this modern wave of faith healers and such. Friends. I am quite skeptical of snake oil and such and with what these people are teaching, I am quite skeptical indeed. However, it is at this point that we need to get to the second point that is to be covered when we are dealing with the question of the miraculous.
A miracle in another worldview does not prove that worldview. I believe God can grant miracles to people in other religions as light that can get them towards him. I am also open to false miracles that come from dark powers. Again, I’m skeptical of such claims, but I’m open to them. The question to be asked is “What does the miracle verify if it is true?”
For Christianity and the resurrection, it’s clear. It is a verification that Jesus Christ was who he said he was and God is vindicating his claim. It is proof that we will rise again as well and that the battle against the forces of evil has been won. It is now up to the Christian to go and spread that good news to the world Christ came to save.
If you encounter a claim, by all means, examine it. If it is false, disregard it. If true, look at what it says. I anticipate you’ll still be at the cross at the end of the day.