#toughquestionfriday: Why are there no more grand miracles?
Most Christians say that the reason God performed such evident miracles in the past (stopping the sun, sending fire from the sky, splitting the sea, walking on water, raising the dead, etc) was to prove to everyone that his messengers were speaking the truth, and that his message (the Bible) was a supernaturally inspired book.
If that is true, why would God stop performing miracles today, in a time when billions don’t believe his message, specifically because they have never seen a miracle to authenticate it? Christians say that God doesn’t change, yet, what explains the change in God plan to use of miracles to authenticate his message?
Why did God stop now? If the stories are true, he performed miracles during both the Old and New Testament periods, so why stop now when we need it most?
POSSIBLE ANSWER #1 – God only did it during the writing of the Bible.
If this is true, how does that help us who don’t live during the writing of the Bible. God proved something to people in the past, but not to us. They knew for a fact it was authentic, we don’t. Now we are stuck with just having to blindly believe in the writings of some ancient people we haven’t met. Why should we be punished for simply being born at the wrong time?
POSSIBLE ANSWER #2 – The Bible has already been validated by miracles, it doesn’t need any more.
Not so fast. How can we know that its been validated? Because it says so? If the only “proof” that the Bible is true, is found inside the Bible, that is like trying to pick yourself up by pulling on your ears. If the only proof of superman is found inside a book about superman, would you believe it? Or would you require superman to fly by above you, before you believed?
POSSIBLE ANSWER #3 – If God proved it, then we can’t have faith, and that would be harmful
So then why did God authenticate it to everyone in the past? This still makes things unfair, but just means we are the lucky ones. Why did God treat everyone in history so poorly by proving his existence to them? Why did Jesus hate his disciples so much that he proved his powers to them? Why be so cruel to Thomas by showing him proof of the Resurrection??
POSSIBLE ANSWER #4 – God does prove it, there are miracles everywhere, your heart is just too hard to see.
If there are miracles that prove it, where are they? In the biblical story of Joshua, God purportedly “stops the sun” to give the earth an extra day. How in the world can someones heart be so stubborn that they will not notice an extra day? Besides, in the biblical stories, people with heard hearts frequently see the miracles of God and believe, for example, in the story of Elijah, when fire fell from the sky “all the people saw it, they fell on their faces and said, “The LORD, he is God; the LORD, he is God.” So why did miracles change minds back then, but don’t anymore?
POSSIBLE ANSWER #5 – God doesn’t prove it because there would be no free will to reject him then.
In the biblical stories of biblical miracles, people almost always accept that the miracles are real, but still reject God. For example in the Bible story of the Exodus, the Pharaoh had his heart hardened by God (and God didn’t seem to care much about free will, was able to both (a) believe in the existence of the Hebrew God and (b) reject him.
POSSIBLE ANSWER #6 – Because God gave us the Holy Spirit, and now we don’t need miracles.
This is unfaithful to the Biblical narrative which states that during the first half-century of the church they had (a) both the Holy Spirit and (b) the clearly evident supernatural miracles, like sick people being raised from simply being in Paul’s shadow.
(a) reject him, having accurate knowledge of who he is
(b) accept him, having accurate knowledge of who he is
1. Instead of knowingly choosing A or B, people have a more difficult choice, including dozens of different options in their own religion, some of which are claimed to damn one to hell (Trinity, Unitarian, Pentecostal, Catholic, Prosperity, Free Grace, Pelagianism, and hundreds of other views or “heresies,” etc etc).
2. Instead of knowingly choosing A or B, people have a more difficult choice, including hundreds of religions that are active today, each with dozens of interpretations, each filled with millions who sincerely believe they picked the right God.
3. Instead of knowingly choosing A or B, people are in ignorance and choose from thousands of options depending on their historical era, in many cases, the full truth being unavailable to those who lived before the time of the full truth. (i.e., Islam and Christianity only began after thousands of generations of people died).
1, 2, 3 could easily be averted if God simply revealed himself more clearly, and people could still have free will to chose A or B. So why did God not actualize such a system?
I’m frequently asked “are you and atheist or not?”
I rarely answer.
Why? Because most people have a very simplistic and inaccurate system of labels, often used merely to stereotype people into buckets. Most of us are binary thinkers, we think the choices are “dark red or dark blue” and if you’re not dark red, then you’re dark blue.
Hopefully this chart can help us appreciate the complexity of the situation a little bit more. These positions aren’t necessarily on a bidirectional scale, some positions overlap, some people hold more than one, other people tend to hop around all the time (I’ve been known to do that),there are still significant things missing from this chart, and etc, but at least its a start.
We can certainly agree that there are genuinely thoughtful and brilliant people on every side of this debate, and we are all just trying to figure out the answers together.
Yet, studies have shown that every year of education “reduces the propensity to attend religious services at least once a month by about 14 percentage points.” (1)
So *why* does education tend to make more people less religious?
Is that not counter intuitive? If we can be certain this world was created by God, should not those who study the natural world, or logic/reason, be even more inclined to believe? Yet we see the opposite.
Mother Theresa, probably one of the most famous Christians alive was an agnostic/atheist during most of her life. Below are a few citations from private letters that she wrote:
“So many unanswered questions live within me afraid to uncover them … because of the blasphemy … If there be God … please forgive me … When I try to raise my thoughts to Heaven there is such convicting emptiness that those very thoughts return like sharp knives & hurt my very soul. I am told God loves me … and yet the reality of darkness & coldness & emptiness is so great that nothing touches my soul.”
“What do I labor for?” she asked in one letter. “If there be no God, there can be no soul. If there be no soul then, Jesus, You also are not true.” (1)