Extraordinary Claims Require Extraordinary Evidence

Extraordinary evidence

Carl Sagan said, “Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence.”  The problem with this is that Sagan does not define what would constitute an extraordinary claim[1] or what would represent extraordinary evidence.  So, no matter what evidence you give the skeptic he will simply say it is not evidence or it is not extraordinary evidence.  The skeptic then becomes the judge of what is evidence, what is not evidence, and what is extraordinary evidence.  From this simple observation I would have to conclude that evidence is for the seeker or for a person who has the will to believe.  A seeker or a person who has a will to believe is surely not a person who has a prior commitment to skepticism.


Usually, what the skeptic wants is absolute or overwhelming evidence.  In other words he wants you to beat him into submission.  Of course, this is a requirement and condition that many skeptics only apply to the existence of God.  For example, many of them believe in the string theory and the existence of aliens, both of which have no evidence at the present time, yet they believe these highly speculative theories.  So, what is the difference between these  beliefs and the belief in a deity?  These theories seem to be extraordinary claims, which means they should all have extraordinary evidence to prove them.  However, they have none and yet they are believed.  This is said not to disagree with Carl Sagan but rather to show the inconsistencies of skeptics and their bias towards faith in God.  Many of them have a prior commitment to materialism and atheism[2].

We also need to point out that you can prove very little to a person who has a will to doubt.  René Descartes the famous French philosopher believed that you could only prove to yourself your own existence.  Thus his famous statement, “I think therefore I am”[3].  When people demand proof before they will believe something, they are asking for a lot.  Proof and evidence seem to be somewhat in the eyes of the beholder.  Absolute proof cannot be given, because a person could claim that the thing to believe, or the evidence, is an illusion or that we live in a matrix where everything is not real.  On the other hand, there seems to be room for different degrees of evidence which point to the truthfulness of something.  There can be circumstantial evidence which is inferred from other things and there can be eyewitness evidence.

However, I do believe there is some extraordinary evidence for the existence of God.  That extraordinary evidence comes in the form of miracles.  By miracles I mean something that cannot be explained by natural causes or by the laws of nature.  When we use the word miracle we also are inferring that the things that we are talking about are very rare or only happened once in the history of the universe.  These miracles are (1) That something came from nothing. (2) That part of the something was alive. (3) That some of the living stuff had consciousness (4) That something which was alive changed into something else.

Let’s look at each one of the above.  First, that something came from nothing.[4]  This miracle happened when the universe came into existence.  Science refers to this event as the big bang theory.  If you wanted a detailed explanation of what happened in the big bang, you need to go to science.  If you go to the book of Beginnings (Genesis) it simply says in  concise speech, “In the begin God created the heavens and earth”.  In this we find that the something came not from nothing, but was rather created by a something (God).  For the how of that, you would have to go back to science again.

My question is this, what is more of extraordinary claim.  That God, an intelligent being, created the heavens and the earth or the claim of the naturalist atheist, that something came from nothing.  If you believe that something came from nothing please send me your extraordinary evidence.

The second miracle is that a part of the something that was created is alive.  When we look at the universe, its order and its complexity, we must stand in awe not only of the universe but also of the fact that there is life in it.  Life is a miracle and there is no evidence  of life coming out of nonlife today[5]. That secures the creation of life a place among miracles of miracles.

The third miracle is that some of the living stuff had consciousness; certainly we are talking about the existence of man.  The fact that the universe gave birth to a conscious being like man is an extraordinary happening beyond imagination.  There is one thing that is more miraculous than consciousness  and it is that conscious beings could believe that consciousness came from unconsciousness.

The fourth miracle is that something that was alive, changed into something else.  Yes, I am talking about evolution or continuous development.  Did you ever think about how much of a miracle, evolution is?  In essence the universe and life does not exist but it is becoming and we do not know what it is becoming.  Some say it is dying, but I don’t think so.  I think it is simply changing, growing and maturing.  Could it be evolving toward the omega point?

A part of this growth and development is still another miracle which was the resurrection of Christ into a higher life form, or the new being.  His resurrection was the last evolution of mankind into his final and complete form.  In his pre-resurrection form he was called “a root out of dry ground” which expressed the unlikelihood of his existence.  His existence like the other miracles was a onetime happening that is hard to explain.  In his death and resurrection he demonstrates something coming from nothing, something that was dead coming to life, and something changing from one state to another and becoming something else.  In this, he is the one that all existence points to. As scripture reads, “He is the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end”.  He is the over man of Nietzsche or the omega man who is over all of creation.

I know that all of these miracles can be explained away by materialists and their tall tale of naturalism.  They tell an unbelievable story of how these things happened and then declare the story as evidence that all these miracles just happened naturally without an intelligent guide behind it.  In other words they were just accidents.  It is up to the reader to choose what they will believe.  Accidents or miracles?

[1] Sagan being an atheist or at best an agnostic only used this criteria when talking about religious questions. He seemed to have no problem with the speculative theories of physics, i.e. string theory, big bang theory and black holes. All of which are based on very thin scientific evidence. Sagan is a classic example of scientific bias, which comes from a prior commitment to materialism.

[2]  Richard Lewontin (evolutionary geneticist), s,” hints at this predisposition and bias when he says “[The public] take the side of science in spite of the patent absurdity of its constructs, in spite of its failure to fulfill many of its extravagant promises of health and life, in spite of the tolerance of the scientific community for unsubstantiated just-so stories, because we have a prior commitment, a commitment to materialism.” “Billions and Billions of Demons,” page 31 Quota in Never Pure by Shapin Steven

[3] A statement by the seventeenth century philosopher René Descartes. “I think; therefore I am” was the end of the search Descartes conducted for a statement that could not be doubted. He found that could not doubt that he himself existed, as he was the one doing the doubting in the first place. In Latin (the language in which Descartes wrote), the phrase is “Cogito, ergo sum.”

[4] “A Universe from Nothing: Why There Is Something Rather than Nothing” By Lawrence M. Krauss is an attempt to explain the universe without God  or a first cause. The book is a disappointment, for the nothing that it propounds that the universe came from, turns out to be a something.   Jan 1, 2013 by Lawrence M. Krauss and Richard Dawkins

[5] There was a time when some scientists believed in spontaneous generation, however, this theory was disproven by Louis Pasteur when he established beyond a shadow of a doubt that spontaneous generation is impossible under present day conditions. Even if science were to create life in the laboratory, it would only confirm that the lesser comes from the greater. For such an experiment would show that it took consciousness to arrange the elements to make life.  In 1953 the Miller-Urey experiment created some of the chemical ingredients that are found in basic life forms.  However, these scientists’ claim that they had done this by reproducing early earth conditions has been proven false.  Plus, it is basically a false presupposition that they created life.  A few of the building blocks of life is not life.  A few bricks are not a house.  Even if science were to create life in the laboratory, it would only confirm that the lesser comes from the greater.  For such an experiment would show that it took consciousness to arrange the elements to make life.


The Gnostics Among Us-The Death of Christianity

The Gnostics Among Us

A Study in First John

1 John 2:7-8

Dear friends, I am not writing you a new command but an old one, which you have had since the beginning. This old command is the message you have heard. Yet I am writing you a new command; its truth is seen in him and you, because the darkness is passing and the true light is already shining.

1 John 2:24-25

 See that what you have heard from the beginning remains in you. If it does, you also will remain in the Son and in the Father.  And this is what he promised us-even eternal life.

1 John 2:27-28

 As for you, the anointing you received from him remains in you, and you do not need anyone to teach you. But as his anointing teaches you about all things and as that anointing is real, not counterfeit-just as it has taught you, remain in him.

 And now, dear children, continue in him, so that when he appears we may be confident and unashamed before him at his coming.

1 John 3:11

 This is the message you heard from the beginning: We should love one another.

1 John 3:23-4:1

 And this is his command: to believe in the name of his Son, Jesus Christ, and to love one another as he commanded us.  Those who obey his commands live in him, and he in them. And this is how we know that he lives in us: We know it by the Spirit he gave us.

1 John 4:4-6

 You, dear children, are from God and have overcome them, because the one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world.  They are from the world and therefore speak from the viewpoint of the world, and the world listens to them.  We are from God, and whoever knows God listens to us; but whoever is not from God does not listen to us. This is how we recognize the Spirit of truth and the spirit of falsehood.

The book of First John is one of the most interesting books in the Bible and one of the most relative for the American Church.  Someone once said that America is a nation that has the soul of a Church.  Well, that is true but the church that it reflects is a Gnostic Church.  What do I mean by Gnostic?  Gnosticism was an ancient philosophy that was quite diverse in its beliefs.  However, there are a few general tenets in all forms of Gnosticism which we can note.  The word Gnostic comes from the Greek and means “to know.”  People that embraced this philosophy claimed to have special knowledge that was given only to them or their group.  They often claimed that this knowledge came to them through some form of revelation.  These revelations came in the form of impressions in the mind or a warm feeling that confirmed the thinking of the person or group.  If they are Christian Gnostics, they also claimed that this revelation and knowledge are greater or equal to that of the apostles of Christ.  They furthermore, believed that their revelations were personal, making them purely subjective.  By personal and subjective, I mean there was nothing outside of their own mind that they could appeal to as a source of authority.  In contrast, the apostles of Christ worked miracles to confirm their word and revelations (Heb 2:1-4).  Gnostics seem to feel no need to ground their teaching in scripture or the doctrine of the apostles of Jesus.  In fact, they often created their own scriptures –  sometimes forging the name of one of the apostles of Jesus.  The proof of their experience is and was only their own testimony, a subjective experience in contrast to the sign and wonders done by the apostles of Jesus. Of course, some Gnostics claim the same power of the apostles and worked counterfeit miracles, which are and were as subjective as their revelations (2 Thess 2:5-12).  The Gnostics tried to prove their revelations and miracles by their words. The apostles proved their words by their miracles.

Gnostics also embrace an extreme form of dualisms. Dualism is the separation of the spiritual and the physical.  Their dualism was extreme because they believed unlike other dualists that the material or the physical was evil and unclean.  This belief had some serious implications for how these people interpret the Christ story.  If the physical was evil, how could Jesus –  a spirit being who was completely holy enter into a physical body which was evil?  So they taught that Jesus was a ghost or illusion.  The apostle John addresses the false assumption that Jesus did not come in the flesh in a number places in his letter (1 John 1:1-4).  Because, of their negative view of the body, the Gnostics slip into the errors of ascetic and extreme pietism (thinking they were perfect); this led to the abuse or neglect of the body and the denying of any worldly or physical pleasures.  They often try to separate themselves totally from what they called worldly activities and people.  The desert fathers where gnostics to the highest degree and are still held by Gnostic Christians to be great heroes of the faith.

Many Gnostics embraced antinomian, which is the dislike of law and authority. These folks misused the apostle Paul’s doctrine of grace and turned grace into a license to sin (Rom 6:1-3).  There were many false teachers in the early years of Christianity, who taught that Christians were not under any law and therefore, could not sin.  Of course, Christians are not under the Mosaic Law, but they are under the law of Christ, which is the law of love (Gal 6:2, 1Cor 9:20).  The apostle Peter warns Christians to watch out for these lawless men who could lead them away from Christ (2 Pet 3:17).  John corrects both views of extreme pietism and antinomian by pointing out that Christians do sin, and yet they do not keep on sinning.  In other, words the Christian seeks a lifestyle that is free of habitual sin. (1 John 1:8-2:2).

My main interest in writing this article is to look at the Gnostics doctrine of the anointing which John speaks about in his letter. From the words of John, we can build a picture of some of the claims and teachings of the Gnostics, who were a part of the fellowship that John was addressing.  However, we know that at least some Gnostics have left the fellowship, believing they were too spiritual to be in the fellowship of mere believers who proclaimed their relationship with Christ through eating bread and drinking wine ( The Lords supper).

The Gnostic world of the first few centuries after Christ, as it is today was one of subjective impressions and feelings. Their truth was not out there in the physical world, in the church or scripture, but in each of their own minds.  Truth was what they believed and in the end only supported by their impression and feelings.  When someone would challenge their Gnostic beliefs, they would simply say they had an anointing from God that would teach them all truth.  Interpreted this means; I have this warm fussy feeling that I have the truth.  In this, there were as many faiths (religions) as people.  John and the other apostles saw this movement as the greatest damage to the true faith.  John refers to these people as anti-Christ.  In our day we see the identical thing in what we call religious relativism, which stems from the same sources of Gnosticism.  Religious relativism in its simplest form says that religious doctrines are not important and the only thing that matters is what an individual person believes and feels.  All beliefs are equal.  The authority to choose is left up to the individual.

This brings us to the question of what is the anointing that John speaks about in his letter? (1 John 2:27) Before giving my interpretation let’s note some general observations about this anointing that John speaks about.  First of all, whatever, it was; it was given to every Christian not just those with a personal knowledge or a personal religious experience (1 John 2:20).  Second, the truth that the anointing provided was a truth that was public and shared by all the body of Christ.  It was not personal or individual “all of you know the truth” All Christians had the anointing and the truth that came from it.  Third, the anointing came in the beginning of their faith when they placed their faith in Christ through the preaching of the gospel which is the bearer of the Spirit.  There is no room here for any second work of grace in the believer, which would create two kinds or classes of Christians[1] (1 John 2:24).  This anointing taught all Christians the same truth, a truth that was public and corporate.  If we were to boil down the teaching of the anointing to its simplest form, it would be a teaching of faith and love.  The anointing of the Spirit teaches all Christians to have faith in Christ and to love one another.  Faith and love are the sign and seal that someone has the anointing (Eph 1:13-14, Col 1:4-5, 1Thess 1:2-3).

The anointing comes when one believes the gospel and identifies with Christ in baptism, which puts one into Christ (Acts 2:38, Rom 6:1-3). It confirms in the heart of the believer that Jesus is the Christ in order that the believer may have a certitude of their relationship with Christ (I John 5:10).  It is faith in Christ and love for our brothers which gives the believer a mark or seal of assurance that we have the anointing and are saved (Eph 113-14)[2].  We need no subjective knowledge or religious experience to confirm our relationship with Christ other than our baptism, faith and love.  Because our faith, baptism and love are public, they are both subjective and objective.  That is, you can feel them and see them.

There is nothing in John’s words on the anointing that would lead anyone to think that God is guiding them into all religion truth or personal truth by putting impressions on their minds. If that is or were the case why did the early Christian ask the apostles for the answer to their questions?  Why did they not just pray for answers to come through revelation?  It is obvious the early church believed that only the apostles of Christ had the authority to speak on all religious questions concerning the faith, the faith that once and for all was given to the saints (Jude 3).  This faith was completely delivered to the apostles by the Lord and in turn the apostle delivered it to the fellowship (church) through their words and the traditions that they pass down to the church which words are recorded in scripture and interpreted by the spiritual mature.  There is no room for new revelation in regard to doctrine, which goes beyond the teaching of the apostles.  The church must reject any teaching or tradition that goes beyond the teaching of Christ and His apostles (2 John 9).  Only the apostles of Christ were promised to be led into all truth (John 14:26) and even among the apostles, it had to be confirmed by two or three of them (Matt 18:18-20).  The revelations were not private.  Even the apostle Paul set his teaching before the other apostles to be confirmed (Gal 2:2).

The apostle Paul put little stock in personal religious experience for he knew they were private and in the end proved nothing[3] (2 Cor 12:1-60).  It was this kind of personal subjective knowledge, which comes from individual experiences and subjective impressions that filled individuals with spiritual pride.  It is not book knowledge that fills people with spiritual pride as Gnostics would have us believe.  Book knowledge requires a person to submit to another and gives another credit for one’s knowledge.  It recognizes that it is dependent on someone else for knowledge and that knowledge is outside itself and public.  In other words, it looks to an authority outside itself for knowledge where subjective knowledge looks to itself.  One of the characteristics of Gnosticism is its anti-intellectualism, which stems from its hatred of objective knowledge.

Is there a problem with Gnosticism in the American Church? It seems that many evangelical leaders think so.  “Despite the vast cultural differences between North American Protestantism and ancient Gnosticism, the parallels between the two innovations can no longer be ignored.” Philip Lee, “Against the Protestant Gnostics.”

“The studied creedlessness of American Protestantism, its reliance on the guidance of the inner light, its resistance to the specific authoritative claims of Scripture, its ignorance of the teaching of Scripture, its preoccupation with the millennium, its anti-sacramental and anti-ecclesiastical biases are all indicators of an essentially Gnostic world view.” Jay Grimstead, Crosswind Spring/Summer

In his book “Gnosticism: The Coming Apostasy, D.M. Panton alerted Christians to expect Gnosticism the most dreaded foe the Christian faith ever confronted to reappear as a new Theology “ D.M. Panton.

Once we gain a historical perspective on the church’s continuous struggle with the Gnostic seed for over two millennia, we should not be surprised that much of the essence of Gnosticism has managed to permeate evangelical Christianity. The critical difference is that today, due to our disinterest in church history and distaste for doctrinal boundaries, the enemy stalks our camp unrecognized.”[4] Doner Colonel, “The Late Great Evangelical Church”

I could go on quoting church leaders from the Pope to R.C. Sproul and all would say the same thing, that this generation of American Christians are in a death struggle with Gnosticism or what we call the new-age movement which has already infiltrated the Church. Only time will tell whether we are ready for this battle with this anti-Christ.

[1] In the new testament there are not two kinds of Christians or class of Christians.  In Scripture all Christians are born again and all Christians have the Spirit.  The only thing that separated Christians are their  degree of  mature and the gifts given by the Spirit.  Spirit filled Christians were simply those that had yielded more to Spirit.  The expression “filled with the Spirit” is a metaphor denoting the level of control that the spirit has in one’s life.

[2] The mark in Eph 1:13-14 is the seal that a king would place on a letter sent with his authority. The mark of a Christian is the Holy Spirit that is manifested in a life of faith and love.  Nothing mystical in this passage unless you are a Gnostic and looking for something mystical to set you apart from ordinary Christians.

[3] Subject and provide religious experiences means nothing more than the fact that you had an experience which you believe came from God. However, your belief that it came from God may be wrong.  It may have come from Satan or your own imagination.  Every cult leader in the past and present uses their subjective and private religious experiences to prove their religious doctrines and to confirm their authority, to get men to follow them.  The greatest example of this is Joseph Smith the founder and first prophet of the Mormon church.  He had nothing to prove his cock and bull story other than his own personal revelation.  The Mormon Church now has 12 million members and is one of the most Gnostic groups among American religions.

[4] I highly recommend this book because of the author’s insight into the influence of Gnosticism on American Christianity.

The Centrality of The Resurrection Part III

The Centrality of The Resurrection

Part III

 In part two of our series on the centrality of the Resurrection we saw how the apostle Peter used the Resurrection as the centrality of his argument for the Lordship of Jesus Christ (Acts 2:1-38).  As we move on in the book of Acts to the third chapter, we find the apostle Peter and John speaking the message of Christ to a multitude of people.

However, before looking at that sermon we need to talk a little bit about the miraculous.  It seems that modern man has a hard time believing in the miraculous.  The question is, why?  I think one of the reasons is because that modern men compare modern-day miracles with those in the Bible, thinking that they are the same.  The reason for this is their lack of scriptural knowledge and the assumption that the word miracle is used today as it was in biblical times.  When you begin to study the subject of miracles in the Bible, especially in the New Testament, you begin to see a clear distinction between modern-day miracles and the miracles of the Bible. The clearest distinctions are is that in the New Testament the miracles which were attributed to Jesus were never questioned as to their authenticity, as miracles are today.  The closest thing to challenging the miracles of Jesus was when the religious leaders made the charge that he performed miracles through the power of the devil and not God. However their accusations, in this there was no denial that he was not performing miracles.  Another difference was that the miracles done by Jesus and the apostles were complete. There were no partial healings and the majority of the miracles were done in public. I mean that they were wonders that were accomplished right before your eyes.  They were not vague demonstrations of the miraculous like curing an unseen cancer or tumor, nor could they be explained by the natural healing processes.

Let me summarize the difference by pointing out that in the first century Jesus and the apostles proved their words by their miracles.  Today, men try to prove their miracles by their words.  Because of this, their words seemed to be somewhat hollow and lacking a ring of truth. Why the difference?  The difference is seen in their purpose.  Modern day miracles, if that is the right word to refer to them by, seem to be for the purpose of comforting the afflicted.  Now there’s nothing wrong with comforting the sick and afflicted.  However, I do not believe that comforting the afflicted was the main purpose of the miracles of Jesus and the apostles.  Their miracles were performed to confirm their authority and the authority of their message.  The writer of the book of Hebrews infers this when he says, “This salvation, which was first announced by the Lord, was confirmed to us by those who heard him. God also testified to it by signs, wonders and various miracles, and gifts of the Holy Spirit distributed according to his will.” (Heb 2:3-4).  Here the writer says that the apostles confirmed their witness of the Lordship of Jesus to the early church and the world by their miracles.

In the gospel of Mark chapter, two we find the story of Jesus healing a paralyzed man who could not walk.  However, when the man was brought to Jesus for healing, Jesus told him that his sins were forgiven.  The story tells us that some of the lawyers of the law who were sitting there heard statement and challenged his authority to forgive sins.  In response to their challenge Jesus said to them “but that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins… he said to the paralytic.  I tell you, get up, take your mat and go home.” When the onlookers saw the man get up and walk the Bible says that they were all amazed, and they praised God, saying, we have never seen anything like this!  Here again, we see the same pattern.  The miracles were done to establish the authority of the speaker; in this case it was Christ.

Why do we not have miracle workers today like Jesus and the apostles?  Well, it’s quite obvious; Jesus went back to heaven and the apostles and those that were given  the gift of working affirmation miracles died out.  The early fathers of the Church in the second century seem to indicate that in their lifetime, there were fewer and fewer authoritative and verification miracles.  This seems to indicate that these kinds of miracles were limited to the first century and the early part of the second century.  This is in keeping with the fact that God, throughout history, has been a God that hides himself and only reveals himself miraculously in certain periods of time, and to special people (Isa 45:15).  When the kingdom draws close, and is present in certain people, then the miraculous becomes more frequent.  Jesus said the kingdom of God is near, and he also said that the kingdom was present in him. The word ‘kingdom’ is a symbol that stands for the authority and rule of God. So Jesus was saying that the rule and authority of God were present in Him, and his authority and power were being confirmed by the miracles that he performed.

Some may be asking why are verification miracles not happening today?  Let me give you a number of answers which may explain why we don’t see these kinds of miracles today. Any one of the explanations is sufficient to answer the question. It could be that a lack of true faith mighty be a hindrance to God working miracles today, just as it was sometimes in the first century.  Jesus said a “A wicked and adulterous generation asks for a miraculous sign! But, none will be given it except the sign of the prophet Jonah”.  Many have misunderstood the words of Jesus in this passage believing that Jesus was talking about the actual resurrection.  However, if that was the case he would be contradicting himself, because the resurrection was the miracle of miracles.  What he was talking about was that the only thing which the people of that faithless generation would see is the presence of the son of God.  In other words, you cannot kill the truth, for God will resurrect it.  Even as he rescued Jonah from the ocean, He rescued his son from the grave.  Today we have a similar situation; we live in an adulterous unbelieving generation.  The only sign unbelievers will receive is the presence of the Son of Man, in his Body, called the Church.

It is also self-evident to those that know the overall context of the Scriptures and the history of God’s people that God never intended for his people to live on a mike and toast diet of miracles.  The Scriptures are clear that we live by faith not by sight.  Those who are constantly looking for miracles are immature and carnal, they need to grow up and learn how to live by faith.  The history of God’s people demonstrates that there had always been long periods of time where there were no miracles (Judges 6:13).  In fact, if miracles were commonplace and frequent they would no longer be miracles.  The word miracle itself means something that is out of the ordinary and supernatural. When you make miracles normal or daily you destroy the meaning of the word.

We also need to remember that miracles were signs to the unbelieving people of God, not to unbelievers in general. Signs and miracles were to confirm the word not to people in general, but mainly to the Jewish nation (I Cor. 14:18-25).  The apostles and the prophets of the first-century church confirmed the word to the nation of Israel by signs and wonders and miracles.  If this is true, then their purpose has been fulfilled, and in being fulfilled they are no longer needed for that purpose.

¶When the apostle Paul spoke to the Greek philosophers in Athens he did not work any miracles to confirm his word, but rather, he reasoned with them from their own authors and personally bore witness to his experience with Jesus (Acts 19:23-41).  I believe this is evidence that the confirmation miracles were mainly for believers (mainly Jews) and not for Gentiles.  However, there are exceptions for example; the story of Cornelius in the book of Acts in the 10th and 11th chapters.  But even there Cornelius was a Gentile convert to Judaism and was a believer before he heard the gospel. Then there is a man who was crippled from birth listening to Paul preach at Lystra in the Book of Acts.  Even there it says that the crippled man  had faith; he was not an unbeliever (Acts 14:9).  In that chapter of Acts, we may see the reason for God limiting signs to believers.  It is clear from this particular chapter that pagans were prone to worship those who were performing the miracles.  So working miracles for unbelievers would’ve been confusing for them and counterproductive in the preaching of the Gospel (Acts 14:11-18).  In contrast, the Jewish people understood the purpose of miracles, that purpose was to confirm God’s word (Deut. 18:21, 22). In fact, the Jews expected anyone claiming to be speaking for God to prove their words by miracles. Paul said that “Jews demand signs and Greeks look for wisdom, but we preach Christ crucified:” (1 Cor. 1:22). Paul understood that the power of God is not in the miraculous or human reason but rather in the gospel of Jesus Christ. A  lesson that sign seeking Christians need to learn.

This raises the question; does God need to confirm his word to every person in every generation to create faith?  No.  The main purpose of the signs, wonders and miracles were to confirm and establish a body of knowledge that God’s people would look to as authoritative. That body of knowledge was formed by God through his providence by creating the New Testament Scriptures through the work of Christ, his apostles and the Holy Spirit.  The Scriptures have forever been confirmed to the believer and are sufficient to create faith in those that are truly seeking God (John 20:30, 31).  The reason for this is because Jesus put his Spirit in his word and when one believes the word, the Spirit is imparted to them by the word of God.  The spirit that is born by the word creates the life of God. Jesus said, “The Spirit gives life; the flesh counts for nothing. The words I have spoken to you are spirit and they are life” (John 6:63 also note 1Tim 3:16).

In the Gospel of Luke we have a further confirmation of what I have been articulating. In the story of the rich man and Lazarus, you have the rich man asking father Abraham to send Lazarus back to his five brother’s  that they might become believers. He seemed to think that a miracle of someone coming back from the dead would persuade them to believe.  Abraham responded by saying to him that “they have Moses and the prophets” in other words, the Scriptures.  However, the rich man continued to insist that they would believe if a dead man appeared to them.  In response, Abraham tells the rich man, “if they do not listen to Moses and the prophets, they will not be convinced even if someone rises from the dead” (Luke 16:27-31).  This appears to confirm what I’ve been saying; that miracles in themselves do not create faith and  their purpose never has been to create faith.  Their purpose was to confirm the word of God’s and create a body of knowledge for future generations to believe through all time.

It is interesting to note that all miracles spoken about happening after the death of the apostles and prophets of the first-century church are worked by the antichrist and the false prophet spoken about in the books of First Thessalonians and the book of the Revelation of Jesus Christ (2 Thess. 2:9-11, Rev 16:13-14).  This alone should cause people to be skeptical about modern-day miracles and the men who claim to perform them.

All this has been said about miracles, to demonstrate the fact that an intelligent person can question and not believe in the so-called signs and miracles of modern-day religion, and still believe in the miracle of the Resurrection and other New Testament miracles. It is also important to know that the author believes that God is still actively working in his creation, healing the sick and comforting the afflicted. However, His work today is hidden and can only be seen with the eyes of faith. In this way, God confirms his existence and faithfulness to the faithful and hides himself from the unbelievers. Our ancestors called this the providence of God and believed that God was absolutely in control, but worked behind the veil to accomplish his will. 

To be continued

Heb 2:1-4

 We must pay more careful attention, therefore, to what we have heard, so that we do not drift away.  For if the message spoken by angels was binding, and every violation and disobedience received its just punishment, how shall we escape if we ignore such a great salvation? This salvation, which was first announced by the Lord, was confirmed to us by those who heard him.  God also testified to it by signs, wonders and various miracles, and gifts of the Holy Spirit distributed according to his will.







Miracles and Science

Miracles and Science

By its very nature, atheism must appeal to science as a basis for its unbelief, for without science, it would have little intellectual ground for its beliefs. Of course, most knowledgeable people know that science cannot prove God’s existence or disprove it.[1] At best, science can only offer a naturalistic way of looking at things. This raises the question: Are miracles contrary to nature?

Einstein once said there are only two ways of looking at the world—everything is a miracle or nothing is a miracle. At first, I did not quite know how to take Einstein’s statement. Then I realized that for Einstein, time no longer mattered. He had found the eternal now through his theory on relativity.

You may say, “Okay, what has this to do with miracles?” It has a lot to do with miracles if miracles are in any way connected to time, which I believe they are. But before pursuing that thought it is important for us to clarify the word miracle.

I have had a number of atheists tell me that the difference between science and religion is that the latter believes in miracles and science does not. However, I do not believe that assertion is true. There are two miracles which both science and religion claim to have a belief in, though they may not call them miracles. It is the creation of the universe and the beginning of life.  I say this because these events happened one time; they fall outside of natural law and are beyond a reasonable probability. Remember, to be consistent atheists must conclude that nature and its laws did not exist at the time of the creation, since they were specifically created by “the big bang,” just like the rest of nature.

Just by the observation of nature no one can explain how nothing could be turned into something; and no one can explain how something could turn into something else without a miracle. Of course,  there are many who believe that they have explained these extraordinary changes, but we need to remember that the explanation is not the observation, and the explanation is not the evidence.

Authentic science is based on the scientific method, which states that in order for a phenomenon, occurrence or event to be a true scientific fact, it must be observed and one must be able to reproduce it.  There also must be a means, by which at least an attempt can be made to falsify it.   Neither the creation of the universe, nor the creation of life was observed by anyone living today or in recorded history.  These events cannot  be reproduced either, which puts them outside the arena of science and into the sphere of speculative philosophy or religion. It all comes back to the metaphysical or religious question of why there is something instead of nothing. [2]


Now here’s the astonishing parallel. Both religion and science believe in the miracles of creation (something from nothing) and in the evolution of life (something turning into something else).[3] The only difference is the time factor. One believes in fast miracles (religion) and the other in slow miracles (science). Either fast or slow, both of the above fits into the category of the miraculous.  I know that religion does not like slow miracles, and science does not like fast miracles, but remember what Einstein taught us?  Time is relative.

To us humans we have an awareness of time, but it means nothing to the deity, unless when dealing with humans. For that matter, time also means nothing to the animals. There is no evidence that animals are conscious of time.

By now I am sure that those who believe in scientism[4] are about to blow their tops.  Well, let it blow; it may help you to get into your right mind. Your right mind is the mind that can discern the difference between facts and the interpretation of facts, between the data and the explanation and the difference between science and philosophy. Blowing your top may help you get rid of your fuzzy thinking about existence.

So, what have we learned? We have learned that when talking about a metaphysical phenomenon, occurrence or event like the creation of something out of nothing; i.e., things relating to the transcendent or to a reality beyond what is perceptible to the senses, both science and religion appear to believe in some of the same supernatural events. One of those events is the creation of something out of nothing, a phenomenon which is completely outside of nature and space-time as we know it.  However, we find both religion and science telling us  that something changed into something else. Within religion, it is God turning the dust of the ground (star dust) into life, and within science, we see a similar idea, but a lot slower (evolution).

Some of you science buffs are probably saying, “Wait a minute. The big bang theory, science’s creation story, is backed up with facts.”  Well, if there is evidence for the big bang theory, the same facts could prove that God created the universe ex-nihilo, out of nothing. The only difference is that instead of referring to God, scientists call the Alpha a ‘singularity which is a convoluted description of the infinite, the nothing or unknown. No matter what you call it, it sure looks like a miracle. It is something coming from nothing. By far, this must be the greatest miracle of all. It even tops one being resurrected from the dead, which is another example of something changing into something else, and nothing becoming something.

When someone tells me they cannot believe in miracles  but at the same time tell me they can believe in the big bang theory and evolution, I have to wonder if they either misunderstand miracles or the big bang theory and evolution. The statistical probability of the big bang and life coming from non life and then evolving undirected to its apex in mankind is just unbelievable. Yet, many believe in both. Why is it so hard for these folks to believe that God did it? Could it be the conditioning of an atheistic and secular culture?

I know nature has its laws and that some believe they are never suspended or superseded by an outside source. However, from my perspective, a miracle is not the deity suspending natural law, but simply speeding nature up or slowing her down to serve His purposes. So, a phenomenon, occurrence or event in my thinking is a miracle, whether it happens swiftly or slowly. When Jesus turned water into wine He was simply speeding up what nature does with the help of man s every season, in turning grapes into wine.

When Jesus healed people, it was always  instant and complete demonstrating  His power to speed up the natural healing process. When he calmed the storm he was not overriding nature’s laws, but simply speeding them up. Storms always pass given enough time. However, sometimes God gives them a little nudge. I think some scientists might call this the ‘butterfly effect’.

Nature never changes its mind on its own, for it is quite dumb. In fact, it is mindless. It is totally controlled by cause and effect in itself. It needs intelligence outside of itself to speed it up sometimes, as when Jesus turned water into wine. I know a lot of people have a problem with this, but it happens on a small scale every time humans exercise their will. When I hit a cue ball on a billiards table, I have set into motion the natural law of cause and effect.  The laws of nature take over until one of my friends reaches down and quickly removes one of the balls or the cue ball. My friend’s action, which came from his will (mind) has changed the game.

In essence, the game was started by a will and it was changed by a will every time the players interacted with the billiard balls. The game did not create itself nor did it start the game all by itself.  The game is the effect not the ultimate cause, nor is the game the maker of the rules for the game.  If the game has rules, there must be a rule maker and one of the rules of the game is that the creator of the game can speed it up or slow it down or for that matter, do anything he wants thereby changing the rules of the game or the game itself. Of course, the expression speed up or slow down are completely irrelevant to the Uncreated One who is outside space-time. However, He does seem to respect our finiteness and accommodates the failure of our language to communicate His reality, i.e., His game.

For those wishing to pursue the subject of miracles, I would suggest that you begin with C.S. Lewis’s book on miracles and The Everlasting Man by G.K. Chesterton. Both books will give you plenty to think about.

[1] The US National Academy of Sciences has gone on record with the following statement: “Science is a way of knowing about the natural world. It is limited to explaining the natural world through natural causes. Science can say nothing about the supernatural. Whether God exists or not is a question about which science is neutral.” Taken from “Who made God? A Searching for a Theory of Everything by Fay Weldon.

[2] Note: The Everlasting Man by G.K. Chesterton. . The ultimate question is why they go at all; and anybody who really understands that question will know that it always has been and always will be a religious question; or at any rate a philosophical or metaphysical question.

[3] Religious people need to remember that God did not make man out of nothing. He formed him out of the dust of the earth or you could say star dust. In this God changed man from one thing to something else. How He did it is debatable for no one was there watching. It could have been fast or slow.

[4] Scientism is an expression used by some to designate a group of people who have made science into a religion.