7/28/2013 | Share this article: View Commentsby Kenneth W. Hawthorne ~
Is the phrase, "extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence" (with all due respect to Carl Sagan), sufficient to describe miraculous claims and the evidence needed to prove them? (miracle, "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:") (extraordinary, "1 a: going beyond what is usual, regular or customary...; b: exceptional to a very marked extent," and is normally used to describe naturally occurring events that are out of the ordinary.) So it seems to me this phrase is lacking--the word extraordinary just seems too generic for this purpose.
We need a phrase that immediately and unambiguously gets to the heart of the type of evidence it would take to prove miraculous claims. Let's take the miraculous claim that a man came back to life after being dead for three days. It is more than a claim that something beyond what is usual or regular occurred; it is more than a claim that something exceptional to a very marked degree occurred. This claim is more than extraordinary it is miraculous. It is a ridiculously absurd, and preposterous claim if it is not accompanied by unimpeachable, unequivocal,irrefutable evidence. A more appropriate phrase in regard to miraculous claims such as a man coming back to life after being dead for three days, would be:Miraculous claims require unimpeachable, unequivocal, irrefutable evidence.
The New Testament presents the miraculous claim that Jesus Christ came back to life after being dead for almost three days and says that if you don't believe it you will die in your sins (John 8:24) and suffer eternally in hell (Mt. 7:13-14). With allegedly so much on the line what kind of evidence does the New Testament give us that this miraculous claim actually happened? Unimpeachable, unequivocal, irrefutable evidence that would put an end to all doubt and thus prove this miraculous claim? Hardly. What the loving, merciful Yahweh, who allegedly is not willing that any should perish, has given us is completely inadequate hearsay testimony that this miraculous event happened.
If miracles were allegedly performed to "attest" (Acts 2:22) deity to humans in the first century A.D., in order "[to] provide...clear evidence" for them to believe in and obey this "divine agency", why would this type of evidence be withheld by God today? It is impossible for testimony (especially hearsay testimony) to even come close to the level of evidence needed for a rational person to believe miraculous claims. Is this what the God of the Universe wants from his intelligent creation--credulity rather than critical thinking? I don't think so. (By the way, I know my heart and if Yahweh is God he also knows my heart and both of us know what it would take for me to be a believer--so, what is Yahweh waiting on?)
Filed Under: Articles