I watched a man run away from church, out of his mind, dirt flying as he ran, and for the first and only time heard my dad say: “Stop in the name of Jesus!” The man flew up in the air as if he had received a cross body block and fell to the road. Soon he was sane and in his right mind and I was glad. He was a fine fellow.
We gave away our car, told nobody, and for the first and only time in our lives, received a new car.
I was sick all the time, the doctor was unsure what was wrong, and then Mom and Dad prayed for me. I immediately felt better and have never felt sick in just that way again.
Are these miracles? Anybody could explain away these events since most healings do not occur with doctors nearby, my memory could be flawed, and few events happen under test conditions. All these things happened in my presence and the simplest explanation is that God did them. After all, if you ask a person to do something and he does it, then it is decidedly odd to go looking for another reason it happened.
Miracles are reported under rigorous test conditions, but even then, skeptics are not satisfied. Sometimes this is because the skeptic misunderstands the nature of a miracle. Sometimes it is because he thinks that any impersonal explanation is better than any personal explanation . . . as if you could explain the impact of a great movie simply by discussing digital streaming.
A miracle is not magic and is not breaking any laws of nature unless the laws of nature exclude consciousness. Persons make decisions and these decisions impact the natural world. I choose, speak, and even over a distance, the physical world can change.
My mind has chosen, out of all the possibilities I considered, to ask you, just now, as you read, to lift your little finger on your right hand. If you did, and a few may have, then even if I have been long dead and you are reading this years later, then being dead, I still speak. The causal chain of what you just did includes my decision. Was Dickens right in his Christmas Carol?
The curtains of his bed were drawn aside; and Scrooge, starting up into a half-recumbent attitude, found himself face to face with the unearthly visitor who drew them: as close to it as I am now to you, and I am standing in the spirit at your elbow.
Probably not, though stranger things have happened! We have, of course, no naturalistic explanation whatsoever for consciousness. It exists, our wills exist, our decisions exist, we exist. Foolish people can try explaining all this away, but still years from now persons will decide, as you have decided, whether to raise a finger on your right hand.
We are not now, together, defying the laws of nature, but there is no causal chain of matter and energy connecting us, only ideas. If in some century far ahead, where English has been forgotten or evolved in directions that make this mysterious, an intrepid translator will break the code and read and decide.
This is not magic, but the power of language, persons, and mind. So it is with nature, persons, and “miracles.” God is a person like we are persons and God decides what God will do. He has many levers to pull, the sustaining will of His Mind that we call natural law, and when God speaks, His Word is irresistibly creative . . . unless God hides Himself to give us free choice.
Do I think? Do I write? Are we self-aware to dare to “know thyself?” Yes. Yes. Yes.
Next to these mighty acts of personhood, the healings are real, but tiny, the freedom from other, more malevolent personalities (demons) incidental and gaining a car trivial.
I think, therefore miracles are.
*M is a non-Christian that sent me 55 questions earlier this year. He has asked that I not reveal his or her name. I will write as if “he” is a male, but this is for convenience. I do not know if I will get to all his questions. I try to limit my answers to hundreds and not thousands of words. Here are questions 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24, 26, 27, 28, 29, 33, 34, 35, 36, 37, 38, 39, 40, 44, 46, 47, 49, 51, 52, 53, 54, and 55.