I must admit to not being sure. Certainly, many individuals believe, deeply, in the reality of past, present and future miracles. They hold in my view respectable and conscientious beliefs. But as for my part, many plausible considerations exist which weaken, in cases seriously, the credibility of miracles.
So I remain unsure. But what about the opposite? acim How would I answer the opposite question, i.e. did miracles not occur? Have there not been, are there not now, and will there not be, miracles?
On that question, I am firmly convinced we can not rule out the possibility of miracles. Despite the credible considerations which cast doubt on miracles, those considerations do not cast sufficient doubt. We must remain open to the possible existence of miracles.
Any why is that? For a number of reasons, and they do not necessarily follow conventional thinking.
Miracles do not need to violate the natural laws
Miracles can be, and often are, defined as occurrences where a spiritual or transcendental power (mainly a God) supersedes, suspends or violates a natural law. That would represent a common characterization, and one that reflects a long and rich record of scriptural accounts, theological reflection and common belief.
I would argue, however, that this traditional characterization excludes phenomena which can properly qualify as miracles.
Consider just about any modern technology. That technology, be it electricity, automobiles, computers, antibiotics, mobile phones, jet planes, even something as mundane as a refrigerator, all would appear miracle-like to individuals living at the time of Abraham, or Christ, or Buddha, or Mohammed.
Looking forward, can we not envision future capabilities that would appear miracle-like today, even against our current technology? I would say certainly. Consider mind-to-mind linkage; consider direct activation of cellular repair; consider harnessing capabilities of extra-spatial dimensions, consider even circular information loops in time. We certainly should be able to envision them; they arise often in science fiction. And we can conceive that such capabilities could fall within the laws of nature, and even at some point the capabilities of our technology.
Given that, if today a conscious, intelligent God-like entity appeared (God-like, i.e. not simply an alien from another world) and exercised those capabilities, could we not reasonably label the acts miraculous? I would posit yes. They would be miraculous, despite not violating the laws of nature, because they lie beyond, well beyond, current and even near-future human capability and because they epitomize and are consistent with the motivations of a God-like entity.
Note the distinction. The technology involved, however advanced, does not quality the action as a miracle. After all, I have stipulated that the technology lies within natural law, and maybe even some far future human capability. The action rises to a miraculous level on the timing of the action. This God-like entity, not with a magical trick, but with a supernatural capacity, has used a technology well before mankind’s ability to do so and before mankind’s understanding of how it works.
Thus, in my view, no presumption must exist that, say Christ, violated the laws of nature. This line of thought does take us outside convention. Many would respond no need exists to “dumb down” miracles – scripture, revelation and theology support a belief that God can, did and does violate the laws of nature.
That is fine. However, my judgment remains – reported miracles could represent application by a God-like entity of advanced technology, and further, that such an application, being beyond, well beyond, the human capabilities at the time, fits the concept of a miracle. This wider – but in my mind still valid – conception of miracles significantly, even severely, impedes my maintaining, with certainty, the non-existence of miracles.