What is a miracle?
Many scientists today don’t believe in miracles and they often belittle or disparage people of faith who do. But really, what is a miracle?
Before we define a miracle, let us first look at the prevailing view of nature as held by the discipline of science which emphasizes observation and experimentation. One of the main assumptions of science is that the universe is orderly. This means that nature is rational and has regularity, pattern, structure, and operates according to mathematical rules or laws that describe the order that is found in the physical world. This assumption that must be accepted by faith alone is foundational to all science. Without it science cannot be performed. That is, to do science, you must adhere to this assumption without proof (and it can’t be proven). When you have this faith, then you can begin to investigate and study nature to discover the order that has been assumed a priori. If you don’t believe that there is such order, then why conduct experiments? You know that much of the order in nature is not apparent. It takes some scientists a lifetime to discover something. It even takes generations of accumulated knowledge in science to discover other things. So this is not something that happens in a day or two. To spend that much time investigating, you must believe by faith alone that such order exists. This necessary but unprovable assumption that is at the core of science is the reason why some scientists belittle those people of faith who don’t hold to this assumption quite the same way that these scientists want everyone to do.
Let’s take Christians for example. The Christian faith not only holds to the assumption that there is order in the universe, but Christianity is the source of this assumption that scientists have borrowed and now hold. Early modern scientists got this faith from Christianity’s insistence that the universe is orderly because it was created by a rational God. Christians not only believed that the universe was rational (orderly) but that human beings had brains that could understand it. Why? Because the Bible says that God made man in his image. This means that man has a little bit of the genius of God in him and so can figure out the creation of his intelligent God. This second assumption is also borrowed by science from Christianity. Let’s not dwell on the source of these assumptions for now because doing so may detract greatly from the focus on defining a miracle. So, the truth is that the belief in order in the universe is an assumption that both science and Christianity hold. Only an assumption (speaking in scientific terms). Again, Christianity also believes in the assumption of order in the universe just like science does (again, science got this faith from Christianity who attributes it to the Biblical attributes of God).
The reason some group of scientists have decided to pick a quarrel with Christianity is that Christianity’s assumption is not 100% like theirs. To Christians, a miracle is a departure of the orderliness of nature. Christians belief that in very rare cases, God suspends the natural order to do things the way he desires. And God is able to do this because he created the universe and knows things about how the laws of nature work that we will never fathom. So, the Christian view of the orderliness of nature is not like the Islamic view of that order. Muslims belief that God is constantly modifying the laws of nature so that everything really becomes a miracle since God is always changing it. At the risk of sounding repetitious, I’ll emphasize that the Christian view of the orderliness in nature is exactly like that of science (because science borrowed it from Christianity) with only one tiny modification. This modification or difference is that Christianity allows for exceedingly rare circumstances where God can supernaturally interfere with the orderliness of nature for very brief moments such as to heal a cancer, leprosy, raise somebody from the dead etc. To do this, God can suspend the order of nature for way less than a nanosecond to get the job done.That little door that Christians allow for God to still affect natural order (as perceived) by humans is the source of the quarrel that some scientists have with Christianity (and by extension other religions). These scientists then exaggerate and say Christians don’t believe in the orderliness of nature and that is why they believe in miracles. Again, I will remind you that in both science and Christianity, the orderliness of nature is purely an assumption that cannot be proven by science. Now, these scientists are mad that the Christian assumption that allows a door for God to act on his creation is different from their assumption which doesn’t. So it is a battle between two very similar assumptions which cannot both be proven scientifically! Do you see how absurd it is?
So what is a miracle? Miracles are departures from the orderliness that is ASSUMED to normally prevail in nature. This is due to a rare suspension of this natural orderliness by God who sometimes causes an event (miracle) to happen that unmistakably involves his immediate and omnipotent action to show His character and purpose.
We will produce another article that explains in greater detail and shows by example the use of miracles in the Bible. Please check that article out if you want to understand miracles more from a Christian perspective.