Science has to do with what can be observed in nature. Though we often speak of the “laws” of nature, these are really just observations that are consistent and dependable. These, however, are not “laws” in the sense that they can prohibit something from happening that is not typically observed.
Science is limited in scope. It is bound by what can be observed, tested, and repeated for further observation. Unique events are outside the scope of science. And if there is anything supernatural, then this, too, would lie outside of the scientific realm. It would be a huge mistake, however, to assume that because something is not testable by scientific means, that it is therefore not true or real.
The miraculous has to do with the supernatural. It is beyond the the boundaries of nature and is, therefore, not amenable to the scientific discipline (which again is bound by the natural). C.S. Lewis wrote that a miracle is “an interference with Nature by supernatural power. Unless there exists, in addition to Nature, something else which we may call the supernatural, there can be no miracles” (Miracles, p. 5).
Can science prohibit the miraculous? Not at all. Remember that science is based upon present observations. It cannot prohibit a unique event or stop something supernatural from occuring. It can only draw conclusions based upon repeated observations. So, if miracles did indeed ever occur, modern science could have precious little to say about that.
Though many would view the miraculous as the figments of overactive imaginations, there is actually good evidence that the miracles have happened.
First, the believability of miracles rests upon whether or not one can believe that God exists. If God exists, then one should have no problem accepting the idea that God has, at some point in time, intervened in nature in a miraculous way. So, if one does not believe in God in the first place, then this would be the beginning point of any such discussion.
Second, miracles fall into the category of history, not science. As with any past, unique event, they are open to historical investigation and interpretation. If one rules out the possibility before even examining the evidence, then a clear bias is present. However, such a bias that would prohibit the learning of truth, if that truth exists, would be a dishonorable and undesirable one. We cannot logically or honestly determine in advance that it is impossible for a miracle to have ever occurred.
The Bible contains a history of the miraculous. It is this very point that causes many to reject the Bible. They don’t believe a miracle could have ever happened, therefore, since the Bible speaks of miracles, then it cannot be true. This is logically fallacious, however, and does not bode well for honest investigation. The claims of the Bible are historical and, as has been pointed out before, the historical trustworthiness of scripture is evidenced on many fronts.
Miracles were seen by eyewitnesses. Even the enemies of Jesus admitted to the miracles that had occurred (e.g., Acts 4-5). When Peter spoke on Pentecost, he referred to the “miracles and wonders and signs which God performed” in the midst of the very ones to whom he spoke (Acts 2:22). They all knew about it. Many had witnessed them. No one could honestly deny them.
If the Bible did not contain the miraculous, there is little doubt that it would be generally accepted as historically impeccable. If these reports were false, then the enemies of Jesus and the early Christians had ample opportunity to stamp them out before they had the impact they did. But they could not do it. And they knew they couldn’t do it.
Why aren’t we seeing miracles today? Did Hume have a valid point in arguing that since we were not seeing miracles occur today, then that proves that they never occurred? This might be a valid argument, if the Bible claimed that miracles would commonly occur for the rest of earth’s time. In fact, there is no such claim in the Bible, and the evidence demonstrates that such miraculous activity through the hands of men would indeed cease at the completion of God’s revelation (1 Cor. 13). So there is biblical reason why we are not witnessing the miraculous today. This does not prove, however, that they never happened.
The resurrection of Jesus is the monumental miracle that proves that Jesus is who He claimed to be. It also justifies all the miraculous claims of the Bible. If you are not familiar with the evidence for the resurrection, you need to be. It stands alone as an unparalleled event in history.
Doy Moyer is a native of California. He is 41 years old and has been married to Laurie (Teel) Moyer since May 1986. They have three children: Caleb (17), Luke (14), and Audrey (12). He has been preaching the gospel for over 20 years, working with congregations in Louisiana, Kentucky, Ohio, California, and Florida. He presently resides in Florida and works with the church in Cork, outside of Plant City. For five years he was an associate editor of Focus Magazine, and has written numerous articles for various publications. Since August, 2001, Doy has been teaching Biblical Studies, Evidences, and Philosophy at Florida College in Temple Terrace, FL. He has his own web site located at http://studywell.org. You can write him at firstname.lastname@example.org.