Summary: Can a modern, rational person still believe in the miraculous events described in the Bible?
I used to love fairy-tales.
They’re full of amazing, supernatural, magical events.
• Snow white rises from the dead
• Sleeping beauty awakened by a kiss
• Jack climbs a beanstalk to the sky
• A fairy godmother grants Cinderella a wish
• A frog turns into a handsome prince
Many people seem to think that the Bible is the same as a book of fairy-tales. Nice stories you tell children – but certainly not really, historically true.
What is a miracle – supernatural event; an event with no natural explanation; something beyond or outside the normal laws of nature.
What are some of the miraculous events you can think of from the Bible?
• A 80 year old woman who has never been able to have children becomes pregnant and gives birth
• 10 Plagues against Egypt
• Parting of the Red Sea
• The pillar of cloud by day and pillar of fire by night
• Healed from the plague by looking at the staff with a serpent’s head
• A donkey speaks to Balaam
• Parting of the Jordan River
• Samson killing 1000 on his own armed only with a donkey’s jaw bone (Judges 15)
• Elijah calls down fire on the altar (1 Kings 18)
• Elijah is taken up to heaven in a whirlwind
• Elisha calls two bears out of the forest to maul 42 teenagers who are making fun of him because he’s bald.
• Elisha raises the Shunamite’s son.
• Axe head floats
• Shadrach, Meschach and Abednego survive the fiery furnace
• Daniel survives the lions’ den.
• A virgin, Mary, becomes pregnant with a child
• Jesus heals the sick
• Jesus drives out demons
• He calms the storm
• He walks on water
• Feeding of the 5000, 4000
• Turning water into wine
• Jesus raises Lazarus from the dead
• Peter heals the crippled beggar
• An angel leads Peter out of prison
• Paul raises the young man from the dead.
• Jesus Christ dies on a cross, is buried, rises on the third day and 40 days later ascends into heaven in front of his disciples.
The Bible is full of amazing, wonderful, supernatural events.
What do you make of all that? When you hear of all these extraordinary things, how do you react?
Sometimes I’m almost tempted to feel embarrassed about them. I tell someone that a virgin gave birth or a bloke held a staff in the air and a massive ocean parted before him and they look at me as if I’m just a bit backward. It’s like a went up to them and said “I rode a unicorn today” or “later tonight I’m going to climb a tree and half tea with the elves.” It’s as if I’m a little kid living in a fantasy land!
If it’s not completely insane, at least it’s just a bit naïve? I mean, all those people hundreds of years ago, they believed in magic and miracles and all that sort of stuff but that was only because they didn’t understand science. They were easily tricked.
That sort of reaction is very common in 21st century Australia. I get it all the time from students at school. Some just scoff that anyone would believe that the Red Sea had actually been parted or that a virgin really gave birth to a Son. Interestingly enough, more than any other miraculous event in the Bible, the one that more kids have some sort of philosophical problem with than any other is the virgin birth. I’m not quite sure why – perhaps it’s the matter-of-fact way reproduction is taught in science and personal development classes. But it’s usually like – “sir, don’t be silly – we know how babies are made! A virgin can’t give birth!” At which point on more than one occasion some bright spark has piped up: “Yeah they can – Mary could have had IVF!”
There’s the scholars who have spent years working out supposedly ingenious natural explanations for the ten plagues God sent against Egypt. Apparently, the Nile turned to blood because of algae, and the first born all died because of bacterial growth in the grain stores which only affected the top part of the grain which the first born children would eat. Or the Red Sea crossing which was just an exceptionally low tide – a low tide which then amazingly drowned the entire Egyptian army.
Is that the right attitude to the miracles in the Bible?
I’ve heard lots of preachers and teachers who call themselves Christians who say that. They say that none of the miracles recorded in the Bible actually happened. They’re nice stories with perhaps an important message – but not literally true. Sort of like a fairy tale.