When debating with atheists, Christian apologists and evangelists use a variety of arguments for the existence of God, such as cosmological, teleological and moral arguments. I go through several of these in my video on seven reasons why God exists. There I also talked about the argument from miracles, which has often been used historically and which is being used a lot by evangelists, although apologists have not started to use it until recently for reasons I will give towards the end of this blog post.
Let me briefly introduce the argument and add some comments on possible counter-arguments. I would love to unpack this argument in greater depth in the future but for now I would just want to give you a glimpse of how the argument can be formulated. my suggestion is:
1. If miracles occur, God exists.
2. Miracles occur.
3. Therefore, God exists.
As for the definition of “miracles”, I’d use the first half of the Oxford Dictionary definition: “A surprising and welcome event that is not explicable by natural or scientific laws and is therefore considered to be the work of a divine agency”. Alternatively, I’ve come up with my own definition: a supernatural act impacting nature as demanded by human beings.
One should then not define miracles as “acts of God”. That would give the argument a circular nature. Rather, whether it is God or another spirit or even demon that’s doing the miracle is secondary, because even if the miracles in question are caused by the devil, I’d still say that they prove God’s existence.
This relates to the basis for the first premise. I would argue that a world where spirits and miracles exist but God doesn’t exist is impossible. Even though atheistic new age is somewhat popular in the West it is irrational and self-contradictory when relating to established religions.
What about the second premise? I would first of all refute David Hume’s circular argument against miracles and point to medically verified healings as well as the millions of eyewitness reports throughout human history.
Somebody might object that the argument doesn’t prove which God exists, that is, if it’s the Christian, Muslim, Hindu or any other God. And that’s correct, just like the cosmological, teleological, moral and ontological arguments it can be applied to several religions. Other arguments deal with why Christianity is true, such as the resurrection argument.
The miraculous argument for God, in contrast, can even be defended by using miracles that are caused by demons. As such, the latter part of the Oxford definition isn’t even needed. The Bible uses words such as signs and wonders even when describing false miracles (Deut 13:2, Mt 24:24) and so the causal agent that produces the miracles are of secondary interest.
Finally, why hasn’t this argument been used that much in apologetic circles? I think it’s because modern apologetics grew out of reformed theology, which is cessationist, and so many early apologists didn’t believe in miracles today due to their presumptions about miraculous Spiritual gifts having ceased. This idea is getting out of fashion since it’s unbiblical and boring, and so an apologist like Gary Habermas now embraces the miraculous argument and endorses the research of Craig Keener who is a proponent of it as well:
There are many other things that could be said concerning this argument that I will return to in the future. I hope you find it fruitful when debunking atheists!