I think the question of God and miracles is formally undecidable by mere mortals. Entering the Kindom of Heaven requires some degree of child-like faith because we are not omniscient and thus we have to assume on some level, some things which we cannot formally prove.
So, that said, it seems to me each person has their standard for what would count as evidence of miracles, God, the Christian God, etc.
I called into an atheist TV show known as the Atheist Experience. I spoke to ex-evangelical-turned-militant atheist Tracie Harris. I was particularly interested and captivated by her deconversion story so I asked her specifically some questions.
I raised two accounts of blind people being healed. The first account was this by creationist Astronaut Charles Duke who walked on the moon years ago:
In his book Moon Walker pages 271-273:
I have seen miracles of healing, miracles of deliverance as demons fled in the name of Jesus, and wonderful manifestations of the love and power of God, just like in the Bible.
One such instance was at a military prayer breakfast in San Antonio, Over the years I have spoken for a number of prayer breakfasts–conventions, states, cities, and military. During this particular meeting held at Fort Sam Houston, there was opportunity for ministry following the program. A number of people came up for prayer; one was a young girl and her father.
The father explained, “My daughter’s eyesight is failing. She has this disease and is declared legally blind. All she can make out are shadows and shades of light. The doctors say that within a month she will be totally blind.”
General Ralph Haines, who had organized the breakfast, and I laid hands on this young girld and asked God to heal her eyes and restore her sight. After the prayer, they thanked us and left. Nothing seemed to have happened–no-miracles-so we continued to pray for other who were waiting in line.
A few minutes later, this same girl came running throught the back door of the NCO Club, joyously happy! She was screaming at the top of her lungs, “I can See…I can see… I can see!” Everyone stopped what they were doing while she came running over to us to explain what had happened.
and this account in John 9 in the New Testament:
As he went along, he saw a man blind from birth. 2 His disciples asked him, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?”
“Neither this man nor his parents sinned,” said Jesus, “but this happened so that the works of God might be displayed in him. 4 As long as it is day, we must do the works of him who sent me. Night is coming, when no one can work. 5 While I am in the world, I am the light of the world.”
After saying this, he spit on the ground, made some mud with the saliva, and put it on the man’s eyes. 7 “Go,” he told him, “wash in the Pool of Siloam” (this word means “Sent”). So the man went and washed, and came home seeing.
I asked Tracie, hypothetically, if these were accounts were true, and if she were the young girl in the story, or the blind beggar, and were healed, would she believe and serve Jesus the rest of her life. I said, “yes”, she said “no.”
She said, “I’d want to figure out the mechanism and get everyone healed.” I was actually shocked at her answer. To me, if God granted grace, I would follow Him. To her, the right thing would be to take that technology and heal everyone. Since I hold to reformed theological views, I tend to think we should be grateful for when God spares us from wrath, but Tracie echoes the common view that God ought to make the world a happy place if He has all this power, so by way of implication, the events of such statistically improbable miracles can’t be miracles of God in the ultimate sense, but rather miracles of indifferent nature. That’s not exactly what she was saying, but in conveys the sentiments of many people in general with respect to statistical miracles.
So this leads to a question for Christians also. If they accept that Jesus fed the 5,000 and rose from the dead, if they accept those account based on human testimony alone, they are accepting violations of natural law (more properly, normative expectation). One is faced with the possibility these accounts are fictions. After all, even the great Evangelical Albert Mohler was duped by the human testimony of CJ Mahaney, so how much more should one be skeptical of claims about history based on human testimony 2000 years ago! One might appeal of course to religious/spiritual experiences, but these are only available to the individual, they could be delusions, and they certainly aren’t amenable to laboratory experiments.
Some have said, they would accept miracles if they could demonstrate them in the lab, but by definition repeatable mechanisms aren’t miracles. Further more, if one can tell God what to do, when, and how, and how many times at the whims of the experimenter, then the experimenter is greater than God! There is a certain logic to this as far as believability, but the problem is that if the is God who is Lord of the universe, evidence is provided at God’s discretion, not according to human whims. If someone displeases God, He just might let them wallow in their delusions and not give them evidence of His existence:
Therefore God sends them a strong delusion, so that they may believe what is false, in order that all may be condemned who did not believe the truth but had pleasure in unrighteousness – 2 Thes 2:11-12
So then we’re left with issues like abiogenesis, evolution, solar system evolution, galactic evolution, cosmic evolution. Did these happen by slow God-made processes or were they the result of miraculous instantaneous acts of special creation like God turning water into wine, feeding the 5000 by creating matter de novo (a violation of the 1st law of thermodynamics).
Ok, so let’s suppose hypothetically these WERE miracles of instantaneous special creation rather than God working through natural processes. At what point would anyone decide, “this looks like a miracle.” There is a comparable issue with the search for the aether. At some point the quest ended for some. The same might be said for a naturalistic solution to the question of abiogenesis, eukaryotic evolution, solar system evolution, galactic evolution, cosmic evolution.
Some fine chemists like James Tour and Marcos Eberlin and even Nobel Laureate Richard Smalley don’t think abiogenesis agrees with the normal operation chemical principles in a pre-biotic environment. How exceptional must an event be before a miracle of God is accepted as the cause of the event. Again, I’m suggesting we think of the question on the hypothetical assumption the event was a miracle. I think the answer for some would be, “well if were a miracle, I’m just going to be wrong because I’ll keep looking for natural answers.”
Those were the sentiments of Robert Shapiro, who ironically, inspired a lot of ID and creationist researchers:
some future day may yet arrive when all reasonable chemical experiments run to discover a probable origin of life have failed unequivocally. Further, new geological evidence may yet indicate a sudden appearance of life on the earth. Finally, we may have explored the universe and found no trace of life, or processes leading to life, elsewhere. Some scientists might choose to turn to religion for an answer. Others, however, myself included, would attempt to sort out the surviving less probable scientific explanations in the hope of selecting one that was still more likely than the remainder.