Here's my response to this week's challenge:
0:01 Is it true that almost anything is more
0:09 likely than the absurdity of a man
0:11 performing miracles? So that's our
0:13 challenge. Now with most challenges, the
0:16 first thing that you have to do is you
0:18 have to get some definitions out on the
0:20 table. And so if someone wants to refer
0:23 to the miracles of Jesus as absurd,
0:26 my question is, "What do you mean by
0:28 absurd?" I need clarification on what you
0:32 mean by that term. So by something being
0:35 absurd, do you mean that it's just
0:38 impossible? Is it impossible that Jesus
0:42 performed miracles? Or do you mean that
0:45 it's improbable or unlikely that Jesus
0:48 performed miracles? And whichever
0:51 definition you choose is really going to
0:52 shape the way I respond to this
0:55 objection. So if someone says, "Well, it's
0:57 just impossible."
0:58 Ok, do you mean logically impossible? Or do you
1:03 mean naturally impossible? Right, so
1:05 there's another distinction here. Is it
1:07 logically impossible for miracles to
1:11 occur? And if that's the claim, that's a
1:13 very strong claim, and I think that claim
1:15 is actually false. What law of logic does
1:20 a miracle violate? Does it violate the
1:24 law of non-contradiction? Well, no.
1:25 So point out to me which law of logic it
1:29 violates if you think it's logically
1:30 impossible. So someone might say, "Well,
1:32 it's it's naturally impossible, right?
1:35 You've got laws of nature, and a
1:41 and a miracle goes against that."
1:43 Well, let's be clear on what a law of
1:46 nature is. A law of nature is not a
1:49 inviolable thing. Really, laws of nature
1:53 are descriptions of regularity.
1:56 They're descriptions of patterns, but they
1:59 can be adjusted. There may be other data
2:03 that kind of comes and helps us to see
2:05 that there's an irregularity or an
2:08 anomaly, right? So when we say
2:12 I think we can rule out logically
2:14 I think we can rule out naturally
2:16 impossible because that doesn't
2:19 automatically rule out miracles. And so
2:23 maybe the claim is well, they're improbable,
2:25 or they're unlikely. And if that's the
2:28 claim, then then I can work with that.
2:30 And so it maybe you can see what I'm
2:31 doing here is i'm just trying to get
2:33 clarity to see what I have to work with.
2:36 The person who says they are just
2:40 well, I'm going to need to know the
2:41 reason why it's impossible and then
2:43 start there, versus kind of just dealing
2:45 with the miracle claim. So if someone
2:47 says, "miracles are impossible because
2:50 there is no God,"
2:52 okay, well then I'm going to set aside
2:54 the miracle claims of Jesus, and I'm
2:57 going to deal with that more fundamental
2:58 claim, "there is no God."
3:00 So what you do in asking the questions
3:03 is you surface people's presuppositions,
3:06 right? Why would someone think that
3:08 miracles should be kind of ruled out
3:11 prima facie, right, as this challenge says?
3:14 Well, maybe because there's background
3:17 beliefs that are operating that prevent
3:20 the person from even, you know, thinking
3:22 that these things are even possible.
3:25 Okay so we need to define that term
3:26 "absurdity." There are even atheists who use
3:29 the term, you know, "absurdity" to refer to
3:33 what happens at the quantum level. So
3:36 are they using that term the same way
3:38 for that quantum activity
3:42 that they believe is happening,
3:45 is plausible?
3:47 So we've got to get that definition
3:49 clear. Now, if someone goes with the
3:52 definition of "absurd means
3:55 it's improbable," let's be a little more
3:57 precise, it's really just
3:58 improbable or unlikely. I
4:02 might say, "Okay, I can agree with that."
4:04 Yeah, there is a sense where maybe
4:06 miracles are unlikely in that they don't
4:09 happen with a lot of regularity. But that
4:12 doesn't mean they're impossible. Now I
4:14 want to say, "Okay, well let's look at the
4:17 evidence," and I brought something to show
4:20 you. Here we go two volumes on
4:22 miracles. Craig Keener, who is a
4:26 bona fide scholar, this guy's a top-notch
4:28 scholar, has in two volumes documented
4:32 thousands of miracles all around the
4:36 Okay, that is evidence that
4:39 has to be put onto the table now, if the
4:42 claim is that these things are
4:43 improbable, yeah maybe they're improbable.
4:45 That doesn't rule out that they don't
4:46 happen. And here we now have evidence for
4:51 miracles. In fact, is it possible that
4:54 maybe there's data that you or I are
4:56 unaware of that suggests that millions
4:59 of people actually have experience with
5:01 miracles? And if that's the case, maybe
5:03 that's something the skeptic doesn't
5:05 know. I'm sure most skeptics maybe have
5:07 not even heard of this kind of research,
5:09 but certainly then, we have to put that
5:12 on the table and consider that. And so
5:15 now we have documented evidence of
5:20 miracle claims, and if that's the case,
5:23 well maybe then we say, "Okay, maybe in
5:28 miracles are more unlikely. Maybe
5:30 we should expect that they would be more
5:32 rare, but we certainly can't say that
5:34 they don't happen. We have evidence
5:36 contrary to that." Now, with either
5:39 definition, impossible or improbable,
5:40 ultimately I think that's going to
5:42 bring us back to the personal God of
5:46 theism. Right, so if you think miracles
5:49 are impossible, then we're gonna set
5:51 aside the miracle claims, and we're going
5:53 to have to jump to kind of larger
5:56 worldview issues of, okay, does God exist?
5:58 And then I would offer you the evidence
6:02 for God's existence to try and see if we
6:05 can it move you from no God to God.
6:08 Because then if God exists,
6:11 well, then miracles are simply possible.
6:13 If there's an all-powerful creator who
6:16 brought the universe into existence,
6:17 well, performing miracles for that
6:22 creator it is no problem. Raising a dead
6:24 person is no problem for that kind of
6:27 being. And even with the improbability
6:29 claim, let's say you say, "Well, they're
6:30 improbable." Well okay, but again, if there
6:34 is this context of theism, if we have
6:37 these background views that God
6:39 exists, and that He is a personal being,
6:42 and He's involved in the affairs of
6:44 well then that strengthens the
6:47 plausibility of the the idea that He has
6:50 actually interacted, that He has done
6:53 miracles, that He's done the miraculous.
6:55 Either way, we come back to the God of
6:58 theism, and we answer another challenge.