17 Oct Do You Believe in Miracles?
Do you believe in miracles? Barna Research says you probably do, assuming you’re part of those 66% of adult Americans who answered “yes” to that question in its survey. On the other hand, you may be part of that group of young “millennials,” 26% of them, who “strongly disagree” with the idea that God can supernaturally heal people. See: https://www.barna.com/research/americans-believe-supernatural-healing/
Barna found that, while 68% of all adult Americans (and 95% of Evangelicals) have asked God to perform a miraculous healing for someone close to them, only 27% of us have actually experienced some kind of supernatural healing. So, is that an argument for supernatural miracles being more wishful thinking than reality? I don’t believe so, and here’s why.
Cambridge scholar C.S. Lewis, in his book Miracles, takes us to the all important starting point. Not surprisingly, it begins with a question about God. He writes:
“But if we admit God, must we admit Miracle? Indeed, you have no security against it. That is the bargain. Theology says to you in effect, ‘Admit God and with Him the risk of a few miracles, and I in return will ratify your faith as regards the overwhelming majority of events.”
In other words, if you begin with the God of the Bible, you have reason to accept the natural order and the rules of nature as a general proposition, those things we take for granted as usual and predictable; but you will also have reason to believe in a compassionate and sovereign God who – for His own inscrutable reasons – from time to time makes exceptions to what we observe as the customary affairs of nature and life, for the good of those who believe in Him.
But to some extent, the cultural use of the word “miracle” has reduced the word to a squishy euphemism, used in pop music to describe gratifying turns in love or sex, like its use in song titles by Rush, Queen, and U2, and by mega singer Whitney Houston, among others. Movies like “Miracle” (depicting the astounding victory of the U.S. hockey team over the Soviets) use the word to suggest improbability; or in “Miracle on 34th Street” to suggest a feel-good fantasy. The film “Miracles from Heaven,” about the true-life healing of a sick child is one of the few to link the word directly to the hand of God.
In my recent novel, “The Occupied,” the beliguered hero is attacked by a dark, supernatural empire, only to learn that help comes to him, not merely from wishful thinking, but from faith in the King who rules that other, opposing spiritual kingdom. While it is understandable why some may blindly hope for a miracle if they, or the ones they love, are facing a crisis, that is fundamentally different than having faith in the God who performs miracles. I found this surprising quote from the 18th century skeptic and philosopher, David Hume, who describes better than I could, the necessary connection between faith in God and faith in miracles:
“ … we may conclude, that the Christian Religion not only was at first attended with miracles, but even at this day cannot be believed by any reasonable person without one. Mere reason is insufficient to convince us of its veracity; and whoever is moved by Faith to assent to it, is conscious of a continued miracle in his own person …”