Jonah being swallowed by a great fish. Jesus feeding 5000 people with two fish and five loaves. Did these really happen? Are we to take this literally?
The whole concept of God:
The real problem is not with miracles or prophecy but with the whole concept of God. Once we assume that God actually exists, there is no problem with miracles, because by definition God is all-powerful.
God is not bound by natural laws:
The real question becomes, “Does an all-powerful God who created the universe, exist?” If He does then miracles are possible. A miracle transcends natural law which God is the author. Some people define miracle as a violation of natural law, but this definition practically deifies natural law, and God becomes a prisoner to that natural law, and in effect ceases to be God. It’s fine to believe in natural law, because we can see the usual cause and effect process at work year after year. God does not restrict His right to intervene because He is over and beyond natural law, not bound by it. Laws do not cause anything but are a description of what happens or is observed.
What is a miracle?
We generally use the term to describe anything out of the ordinary or something unexpected; however the term is used in the Bible in a different sense. Some events in the bible could have a natural explanation, like the parting of the Red Sea. High winds could have pushed the waters back, but the miraculous part was the timing. They just reached the shore, the Egyptians approaching, and all the Hebrews were able to cross on dry land.
One the other hand, there are some that do not have a natural explanation, like Lazarus being raised from the dead, or many of the physical healings (like leprosy or the man born blind). This is more than a psychosomatic situation.
Some believe that ancient people were gullible, ignorant and superstitious. Perhaps the disease they had could be explained by modern science, like demon possession could have been psychosis or epilepsy. A primitive person might see a modern jet and call it a silver bird god in the sky. But there is a problem with this perception, since many of the miracles do not fit in this category.
There is no natural explanation for the healing of a person born blind, then or today. How could anyone explain the resurrection of Jesus? One cannot get away with the supernatural aspects of the Bible.
Not in conflict with natural law:
Miracles are not in conflict with natural law! One definition of miracle is that they are unusual events caused by God; the laws of nature are generalizations about ordinary events caused by Him. Some people believe that miracles employ a higher natural law which is unknown to us. We must increase our knowledge we actually realize that the things we thought were miracles were actually higher laws of the universe, of which we were not aware at the time.
An act of creation:
On the other hand, we can view them as acts of creation. Biblical miracles are not scattered throughout the Bible randomly, but are associated with purpose. From the Exodus, through the prophets and into the time of Christ, miracles confirmed faith by authenticating the message or the messenger, or to demonstrate God’s love by relieving suffering.
Miracles are never performed for personal prestige, or to gain money or power. Jesus was tempted to do this in Matthew 4, and resisted, but He regularly used miracles to show evidence of His claims (John 14:11, John 10:25).
Why not now?
Many believe that if God would only do it today, then I would believe. But even in Jesus’ day, He dealt with this in Luke 16 in the story of the rich man and Lazarus. The kicker verse is Luke 16:31. If people have ruled out the possibility of miracles, no amount of evidence will convince them otherwise. It’s like the talking animals in the movie, Babe (1996 – the dog spoke slowly and precisely to the sheep because it was a cold fact of nature that all sheep were stupid and no one could convince him otherwise).
We have reliable records:
We don’t need miracles today because we have reliable records that tell us these miracles really happened. If miracles are capable of sensory perception, then they can be matters of recorded testimony. If they are adequately testified to, then the recorded testimony has the same validity for evidence as the same experience of beholding the event. Every court operates on the basic of reliable testimony. If an eyewitness saw and recorded the event (like Lazarus’ raised from the dead), then this witness’ testimony is as good as being at the event.
Miracles were done in public: anyone could have seen and investigated the events. Even the chief opponents of Jesus never denied the fact He could do miracles! They either attributed the event to Satan or tried to suppress the witnesses.
Miracles were performed in front of unbelievers: Jesus was no cult member that deluded his private audience, it was before unbelievers, too.
Miracles were performed over a period of time and involved a great variety of powers: power over nature (John 2:1-11), power over disease (Mark 1:29-34), power over demons (Mark 1:21-27), power with supernatural knowledge (John 1:48), power over creation (Mark 6:30-44), power over death (Mark 5:35-43).
We have testimony of the cured: lie in the case of the man born blind (John 9:25) and Lazarus (John 12:10-11).
We cannot discount biblical miracles because of the extravagant claims of pagan miracles: many pagan believe in these miracles because they already believe in the pagan religion; the Bible uses miracles to help people discover the true religion (John 20:30-31).
These do not display the same order, dignity and motive as those found in the Bible. They do not have solid authentication of the miracle. Same can be said of miracles in our time today, they do not stand to investigation. Just because some miracles are counterfeit, does not mean all miracles are counterfeit (like discovering a few counterfeit bills does not less the authentic bills).
The question is philosophical:
The question as to whether miracles are possible is not scientific but philosophical. Science says they do not occur in the normal course of nature or observation. Science cannot forbid them because natural laws do not cause not forbid miracles. They are merely description of what happened. The only question the scientist must ask is, “Are the records of miracles historically reliable?”
Miracles in the Bible are seen as God communicating with us. The whole matter depends on our belief in the existence of God; settle that question and miracles cease to be a problem.