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Post Hoc Miracles

Bruce Monson

Christians today are fond of proclaiming that, even in a world filled with "sinful" people who "fully deserve to suffer in hell for all eternity," Jesus, because he loves us all so much, still performs miracles for us, but the reason nonbelievers "fail to see" is because we are blinded by arrogance or deluded by the devil!

Isn't it interesting, though, that all of these so-called "miracles" seem to come in the form of naturally occurring phenomena, or events that have perfectly natural explanations? For example, if a skyscraper collapses from an earthquake (or terrorist attack), killing thousands under millions of tons of concrete and steel, but a few people are rescued from isolated pockets within the rubble (through human effort, mind you), it's labeled "a miracle from Jesus" even though it's a statistical probability that a few people will be alive. While the odds of any particular person surviving such a catastrophe are exceedingly small, the odds that some will be alive is virtually 100 percent; as such there is nothing "miraculous" about it!

From a post hoc perspective, anything can be made to seem "miraculous." Because these miracle claims are devised after the fact, and based on a need to believe that Jesus is real and that he performs miracles, Christians will latch onto any improbable event that fits a preformed expectation they have in their minds, but they ignore the thousands of other "improbable events" they see every day but never notice because they carry no religious weight for them.

This past summer, during a major league baseball game, the famed Arizona Diamondbacks' pitcher, Randy Johnson, threw a blazing fastball toward home plate, and at that moment a bird flew in the path of the pitch and was struck by the ball, which killed it in mid-air. Now, the probability of such an event happening is remote in the extreme, and yet we don't see Christians running around proclaiming what a "miracle" it was! They don't call it a miracle because they have no religious motivation to do so. Besides, they realize that there was nothing outside the natural world required for this improbable event to have occurred.

So why is it, then, with so many billions of prayers being said year-in and year-out by millions of Christians all over the world, we have never seen a "miracle" come in the form of even one resurrection from the dead? In my profession I have seen many children die tragically, and do you know what? They are all still dead!

Evidently, Jesus' best miracle work comes through death and destruction (e.g., WTC, Oklahoma City, etc.), but why can't he provide just one resurrection today as objective evidence to "His" reality? Why not just one Lazarus (John 11); just one Jairus' daughter (Luke 8); just one "Only son of a widowed mother" (Luke 7)? Indeed, in the Lazarus fable we are told that Jesus waited for him to be dead and buried for four days because he thought it would be a good opportunity to perform a resurrection for his disciples (and the people standing round) in order "that they may believe..." (John 11:42). Well, why should we expect anything less, so that WE may see it "and believe"? Why should they get the supposed physical evidence but we, two millennia removed, "just have to have faith"?



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