Supernatural events are central to the discussion of the truth of religious claims. Whether supernatural events — miracles — are possible affects whether claims made by religions can be trusted. For example, if miracles are not possible, Jesus did not rise from the dead, and therefore the claims made about Jesus can be dismissed, and Christianity is false. Even the Apostle Paul recognized this when he wrote in 1 Corinthians 15:13-17:
But if there is no resurrection of the dead, not even Christ has been raised; and if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is vain, your faith also is vain. Moreover we are even found to be false witnesses of God, because we testified against God that He raised Christ, whom He did not raise, if in fact the dead are not raised.For if the dead are not raised, not even Christ has been raised; and if Christ has not been raised, your faith is worthless…
I find this subject (the possibility of miracles) especially difficult to discuss with skeptics, particularly Naturalists. Naturalism generally speaking, affirms that only the physical realm exists, and that science is adequate to explain all phenomena without any need to invoke a supernatural explanation for any event. Herein lies the difficulty. According to the definition of the worldview, miracles are impossible. Miracles are as nonsensical as square-circles. How can an honest inquiry into the subject can be had if even the possibility has been eliminated from the outset before any inquiry is made?
It is an exorcise in futility for the Naturalist who demands or expects evidence for miracle claims. For the Naturalist, there is no evidence. Not because none exists, but again, according to the worldview, no evidence is possible. Evidence in favor of a miracle claim is dismissed using any possible alternate explanation no matter how unlikely or implausible, since of course, any alternate explanation is more plausible than the possibility of a miracle given the naturalistic worldview.
The Naturalist’s argument could be summed up as follows:
An out-of-the-ordinary event has been reported by a witness or witnesses
Some people infer a supernatural explanation as the cause for the event
No one is justified in concluding a supernatural cause for the event unless every possible natural explanation has been exhausted
We are never justified in concluding every natural cause has been exhausted even if at this point we have no natural explanation
Therefore no conclusion of a supernatural cause is ever justified for an out-of-the-ordinary event
Of course it doesn’t help to have believers (of the possibility of miracles) attribute Divine intervention to every out-of-the-ordinary event. In fact by definition, miracles are very rare*. All too often believers are quick to assign a supernatural cause to every out-of-the-ordinary event, which in my opinion dilutes true evidence for — and reduces the ability to recognize truly miraculous events .
Nevertheless, Naturalists have essentially rigged the game in such a way so that they can never conclude a supernatural cause for anything. I find it suspect that Naturalists on one hand demand evidence for miracle claims, and on the other omit any possibility of positive evidence in favor of miracle claims.
I was debating miracle claims with another Christian who actually claimed that human reproduction (child-birth) was a miracle. I pointed out that miracles are by definition rare and therefore child-birth wouldn’t actually count. He replied, “yes, well, miracles are rare but common, you know?”.