The recent movie Exodus: Gods and Kings tries to take a naturalistic view of miracles caused by Moses. When The 10 Commandments was made in the 1950s, there was no trying to explain away the miracles. Cecil B. DeMille did not hesitate to give the credit to God. However, the predominant culture of modern America needs to explain away miracles. No doubt this is in part rooted in the role evolution plays in our schools. In the 1950s, audiences could more easily accept that the miracles in the Bible really happened. Now, with attempts to classify God with Santa Claus and the Easter Bunny, “rational” people have to reject miracles because to believe in miracles is proof that you are kooky.
Eric Metaxas’s new book, Miracles: What They Are, Why They Happen, And How They Can Change Your Life and David Limbaugh’s new book Jesus on Trial: A Lawyer Affirms the Truth of the Gospel, both effectively challenge the post-religion modern view that miracles are not real. They argue from a position of evidence and logic, not scripture and tradition. New Atheists and radical secular humanists are unlikely to consider these compelling arguments to accept miracles as facts (they suffer from the closed-mindedness they wrongly believe is a problem unique to religious people). However, open-minded people who have perhaps unconsciously accepted the modern view that miracles are not real should find both books enlightening and may reconsider their position.
Metaxas takes the position that those who do not believe in miracles because everything can be explained away as happening by chance, are actually more irrational than those who recognize that God can perform miracles. To support this point he discusses our most current understanding on cosmology and astrophysics. The evidence time and time again suggests the only reason we exist is due to hundreds of situations that had almost no chance of happening randomly. In other words the best explanation would be that we exist because of the actions of a grand designer of the universe. The historic atheist position is that the universe has always existed and everything that happens is from random chance. The random chance explanation is getting harder and harder to accept as we keep learning more about how the universe and life originated and evolved. In fact, it is fair to say that it takes a lot more faith and suspension of rational thought to believe in a random chance explanation than a grand designer explanation.
For example, there is an incredibly fine balance in the ratio of electromagnetic forces to gravitational forces. If it is too much in one direction, the universe would only create heavy stars where the heavy elements are created. If it is too much in the other direction, the universe would create only light stars (like our sun), which are needed to support the existense of life on an earth. How fine a balance? If you are off by 0.00000000000000000000000000000000000000001, you won’t get both types of stars.
How easy is it to hit this sweet spot? Caltech astrophysicist Hugh Ross explains it this way. Take a bunch of dimes (and I mean a bunch) and use them to cover every square inch of North America. Now stack another layer of dimes, and another, and keep doing it until your North America shaped stack of dimes reaches 238,000 miles to the height of the moon. Now that’s a lot of dimes, but we are not done yet. Next step -- do it a billion more times. Then take one dime and paint it red and hide in one of these billion piles. The last step is to blindfold a friend and have him pick out the dime on his first try. If you believe this could happen by random chance, you are either nuts or a closed-minded atheist who refuses to see the hand of God in the creation of the universe.
Let’s give our atheist friend the benefit of the doubt and accept the fact that this did happen by dumb random luck. Now it’s got to happen more than a hundred times more because there are that many other “impossible” actions that have to happen for us to exist.
Here is just one more. Scientists think that 4.25 billion years ago, the earth was a much smaller size. Then one day a Mars size mass that had been travelling across millions of light years hit the earth perfectly to blast away an old atmosphere that could not support life and give earth the gravitational mass needed to support life. To assume that this was a random event is like believing two bullets randomly shot from guns on opposite sides of the Grand Canyon could collide head on in such a way to cancel out each other’s momentum. It’s hard to do, but much easier if you are trying to do it on purpose instead of relying again on random chance.
Both Metaxas and Limbaugh point out that many modern Americans may profess to follow Christian teachings, but at the same time have difficulty accepting the miracles in the Bible. Metaxas makes the great point that if God can create a universe, the miracles in the Bible are easy in comparison. Since the best explanation by far is that the universe was created by a grand designer, it shouldn’t be hard to accept that he could also perform Biblical miracles.
C.S. Lewis famously stated that Jesus must either be a liar, a lunatic, or the Lord. There is no neutral option of being a great teacher. With cosmological support for the reality of miracles, it is easier to accept Jesus for what he claimed he was. Christians rejoice in their understanding that Jesus is more than a great teacher, that he has a special relationship with all of us and that he has created a path we can follow to return to God our father. Secularists may scoff at such beliefs, but as a group they make bad scientists by not testing out whether what the Bible teaches is true. Metaxas, Limbaugh, Lewis, and many other believers did not start out as believers. They approached the study of Christianity as a scientist or lawyer would, weighing the evidences and testing the doctrine. They were all converted as a result. These are highly educated, first rate minds. They are not following some foolish tradition of ignorant nomads.
The new Exodus movie tries to explain away most of the miracles as resulting from natural events. It does not show Moses taking credit for causing the plagues like the Bible shows. In an age where many people don’t read the Bible, this may become the story they remember instead of the Bible version. Hopefully, some people will want to learn more of the Exodus story and actually pick up a Bible to read the original version.
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