Miracles – Chapter Summaries - Chapters 1 & 2
Every event that we might interpret as a miracle is an event that is perceived through our senses. We know, however, that our senses are not infallible—our senses can play tricks on us and we can be fooled by illusions. The way that we interpret our experiences depends on our philosophy. Some people believe that we can determine—using normal standards of historical investigation—that miracles have happened in history. These standards, however, cannot prove whether or not miracles are possible in the first place. We must think through the philosophical issue before turning to the historical. Certain critics deny that predictive prophecy is possible, so whenever they read the Bible they say that the books that contain predictions were written after the events took place. If a person doesn’t know if predictions are possible, pointing them to a text where a prediction allegedly occurs will not solve the problem for them.
“I use the word Miracle to mean an interference with Nature by supernatural power.” Naturalists believe that Nature is all there is, so there is nothing outside of Nature that can interfere with it. Supernaturalists believe there is something more than Nature. The first task is to determine which position is right. Naturalists believe that everything simply exists and is going on of its own accord. Everything that happens is determined and there is no free will. The entire system—which consists of everything—exists as a brute fact. Supernaturalists believe that reality must be divided into two camps: the great, self-existing Fact is the supernatural, and everything else is what he has made. This book will refer to the self-existent reality as God, and will assume monotheism. Naturalists see Nature as an unfolding, united process that exists on its own, whereas supernaturalists believe that the space-time universe has been created. If the supernaturalists are right, then God could possibly interfere with the natural system he created. This doesn’t mean that he does or that miracles have happened, but miracles become a philosophical possibility. In naturalism, miracles must be considered impossible.