Friday, May 01, 2009

Book Excerpt: I Don't Have Enough Faith to be an Atheist by Norman L. Geisler and Frank Turek

Book Excerpt:


Many people today have a very provincial view of history and of human experience. "If I personally don't see certain events happening today," they think, "they probably never happened." The implication for miracles is obvious. Namely, "If there are not public, biblical-quality miracles happening today (and if they were, they'd be on the Fox New Channel), then why should I think they happened in the past?" It's a fair question.

However, there's a common misconception behind this question. It's the belief that the Bible is filled with miracles that occur continually throughout biblical history. That's only partially true. It is true that the Bible is filled with miracles, about 250 occasions of them. But most of those miracles occur in very small windows of history, during three distinct time periods-during the lifetimes of Moses, Elijah and Elisha, and Jesus and the apostles. Why then? Because those were the times where God was confirming new truth (revelation) and new messengers with that truth.

If most of the miracles are bunched there, what's happening miraculously during the other periods the Bible covers? Nothing. In fact, there are huge gaps of time in the Bible (even hundreds of years) where there are no recorded miracles from God. Why? Because there was no new word from God, and most miracles confirmed some new word from God.

So why don't we see miracles today? Because if the Bible is true and complete, God is not confirming any new revelation and thus does not have this main purpose for performing miracles today. There is no new word from God that needs to be confirmed by God.

Now don't misunderstand us here. We are not saying that God cannot do miracles today, or that he never does. As the sovereign Creator and sustainer of the universe, he can do a miracle anytime he wants. It's just that he may not have a reason to publicly display his power the way he did during biblical times because all of the truths he wanted to reveal have already been revealed and confirmed. As with a house, the foundation only needs to be laid once. Biblical miracles were special acts of God that laid the foundation for his permanent revelation to mankind.


E.D. Mills said...

This is an interesting statement: "If there are not public, biblical-quality miracles happening today (and if they were, they'd be on the Fox New Channel), then why should I think they happened in the past?"

First, I realize that the authors are quoting skeptics, perhaps even in a vicarious manner, but I would like to ask, do the authors define the term "biblical-quality"? Does this type of miracle have to be on grand scale? If so how big of miracle does it have to be in order to qualify?

Does healing qualify? I have personally seen, as well as been informed by reliable witnesses, numerous healings of injuries due to accidents, heart conditions, cancer and other diseases that were instantly healed.

Also testimonies about the prevention of injury when injury should have occurred, example someone whom I know fell twice from over 20 feet (while working in construction) with only scratches and a car crash where the car was totaled and everyone inside had either no harm or suffered only minor injuries.

I have to wonder if these qualify as "biblical-quality miracles". I think they certainly qualify as miracles. I realize that there was a disclaimer at the end that they were not stating "that God cannot do miracles today, or that he never does. As the sovereign Creator and sustainer of the universe, he can do a miracle anytime he wants.” But the excerpt as a whole seems to suggest that God has at least regressed in the display of His miracle working power since the completion of the Scriptures. I do not see a Biblical foundation for this concept.

I think they have made a big assumption when they stated that “nothing” miraculous happened during the “huge gaps of time in the Bible (even hundreds of years) where there are no recorded miracles”. Just because no miracles were recorded does not mean that they did not occur. Not every miracle that Jesus performed during His life was recorded according to John 21:24 & 25. I think it is logical to conclude that to be true of Old Testament and Apostolic times as well. Hebrews 13:8 states that Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, and to day, and for ever. Therefore, why wouldn’t he still perform miracles today?

Perhaps the rare, grandeur scale miracles, such as the splitting of the Red Sea, are what is meant by “biblical quality miracles”. I will assume, for sake of discussion, that this is what the term means. Should a miracle of this degree occur in our life time and it were to be recorded on film, I do not think that would guarantee that the News Networks would air the footage, because it could likely be dismissed as a fraud. Even if all the News stations aired the footage there would still be those who dismiss miracles. Therefore I do not think there is sufficient reason to conclude that miracles do not occur based on news coverage or lack thereof.

Chad said...

E.D. Mills,

How are you, brother? Thanks for taking the time to comment on this one. I thought it was thought-provoking and worth a look.

I believe that Geisler and Turek, when referring to "biblical quality miracles" are referring to miracles such as the parting of the Red Sea, etc.

Like you, I do believe that God can/does still do miracles (I think Geisler and Turek do as well, as you mentioned); I think their point is that many people reject the Bible because of claims such as:

"When is the last time you saw the Pacific Ocean parted?"

"Miracles were a dime a dozen in the Bible; why not now?"

Their goal, in my view, is simply to dispell the misconception that miracles happened everyday, all the time, throughout the biblical record. Further, I think their aim is to highlight the purpose behind the miracles.

Perhaps, partnered with the context of the chapter quoted, the excerpt would have been more clear.


E.D. Mills said...

Hi, Brother Chad.

I am well. I hope things are good with you and your family and that you had a beneficial doctor’s visit yesterday for your youngest daughter.

As for skeptics rejecting miracles based on the idea that they supposedly occurred all the time during Biblical times and do not today, I think that is a strange conclusion, because if miracles were “a dime a dozen” as you put it then they would not be miracles by definition: (per Merriam Webster)

1: an extraordinary event manifesting divine intervention in human affairs
2: an extremely outstanding or unusual event, thing, or accomplishment

Plus the grander scale miracles that involve whole groups of people (Dead Sea parting) are even less frequent than the miracles that happen for the individual (physical healing). So their erred conclusion seems to come from misunderstanding the nature of a miracle.

I agree that this excerpt from Geisler and Turek is dealing with misconceptions involving the frequency of miracles both in Biblical and Modern times, but they seem to suggest that God does not perform many miracles if it does not serve the main purpose for the miracle which would be to confirm new revelation. I just wonder how they have come to that conclusion.

Anonymous said...

Miracles happen all the time in the Orthodox Church. Here is one example.


Chad said...

Anonymous One,

Hello and thank you for stopping by and taking the time to comment.

I do not doubt that God can do a miracle both inside and outside of the 'Orthodox' Church.