Suppose a certain miracle does, in fact, happen. Now, every skeptic that hears of this miracle wants proof. So the miracle is repeated and proved. If the miracle is repeated to every skeptic that ever exists, is it still a miracle, considering that a miracle is a rare event?
I call this the “Proven-Miracle Paradox.” After searching my mental database and Google’s, I cannot find this paradox; if you do find it elsewhere, please let me know. When setting up a story-line in a previous post The God You Can See, I noticed this paradox creeping up. Proving a miracle presents a problem by nature of a miracle.
The problem is that miracles are defined to be an “unusual event.” Therefore, if enough people see it happening enough times, it is no longer unusual. It could even be argued that it is now a natural occurrence or phenomenon. But miracles are thought to supernatural, not natural! The Proven-Miracle Paradox reveals something about the skeptic, something about the miracle, and something about God.
About the Skeptic
For the skeptic, the Proven-Miracle paradox begs another question. Why did the skeptic ask for proof of a miracle in the first place, when universal proof only diminishes the miracle? The skeptic has not thought out the entire process. Is it fair that everyone gets to see the miracle, or does that one skeptic have a privileged advantage? But while giving proof to the one skeptic, he cannot confirm it to others without making the miraculous disappear. The skeptic is correct in saying, “I will believe in the supernatural when I see a miracle.” But he cannot say, “I can prove to others that I have seen something besides a hallucination.” Nor can multiple skeptics have a fair share in saying “I believe in the supernatural because I see a miracle.” Perhaps the skeptic had already dismissed the possibility of a miracle, by making a predetermined, biased judgment. Perhaps the skeptic really did not want to accept a real God, so he devised a test that would knowingly fail.
About That Miracle
Let’s conclude that the miracle cannot be proven on a universal level. Then, in order for sensible people to accept the miracle, there must be something else about it that carries weight. One way for this to happen is to have enough witnesses gathered within the vicinity of a single rare event. Also, the miracle has to have significance; it cannot be arbitrary. If a skeptic demands to see a wooden desk float, what does it mean? Does it mean that the law of gravity is inconsistent, leading to the conclusion that physical laws are not always consistent? Does it mean that a demon is making the desk float, or a god? And which god? The god of wooden desks? Rather, if the miracle is said to be a sign, it should point to other facts or statements in a meaningful way, much like a traffic sign does. It should “connect the dots.”
Now About God
The Proven Miracle Paradox seems to be a problem for God. How can He prove Himself to be miraculous in a fair, universal way? And yet we’ve seen that miracles can carry weight through other means. If a real God arranged a miracle, how could that miracle be the most advantageous? We’ve ruled out universal proof with our paradox. Take the case of Jesus as God. The miracle of His resurrection was directly observable by more than 500 witnesses. (1 Cor. 15:3-8). Rather than dying again and again until everyone in existence could see, Jesus accomplished this miraculous feat once. The effective means was taking 500+ good witnesses, people who would testify even through the pains of death. We know for certain that the witness of the resurrection spread globally and continued to be accepted for 2000 years.
The miracle of the virgin birth of Christ takes the effectiveness of significance. It puts the “sign” in “sign-ificance.” We are not asking “What is the significance of any virgin birth,” but rather “What is the significance of the virgin birth of Jesus Christ?”
Isaiah 7:14 “Therefore the Lord himself shall give you a sign; Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel.”
This verse is one of many prophecies. The “sign” points not only to a virgin birth, but to the name Immanuel, meaning “God with us.” So this was one sign pointing to Jesus as God revealed.
Luke 2:12 “And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger.”
The significance of shepherds coming to see Jesus is two-fold. Bethlehem was known as the city of David, the shepherd who became king, an ancestor king of Jesus. The shepherds were also looking upon the one to be called “Lamb of God,” who would take away the need for animal sacrifices.
Prophecies preceded the virgin birth, and signs led the shepherds and later the wise men to worship the baby. Then, when the baby had grown to maturity, he spoke of such things as being “born of the Spirit.” Jesus’ many miracles were not discounted by witnesses, but they were not accepted by all. The miracles of healing were not good enough for the more religious people. Some were too legalistic to accept what Jesus’ miracles signified; others would have preferred a ‘miracle’ of victory in war. Jesus’ miracles focused on life – by means of healing, feeding, and resurrection. So the virgin birth of Jesus is not any random virgin birth. It is not the first freak incident of parthenogenesis in humans. Neither is it a miracle simply for the point of proving the existence of the supernatural. The virgin birth is the birth of a sinless, immortal human fashioned in the original image of God. Jesus would go on to exhibit his incredible trait of being immune to staying dead. And He would make this trait available to be transferred to any who accept. Who is the giver of life? Who originally made a man without the use of a man? The God of the Bible, who creates with His word. (See John chapter 1. The perfect will of God is shown to be active both in the original creation and the special creation through the virgin birth.) This God is the supernatural agent to which all signs of Jesus point.
Let’s recap. Based on the Proven-Miracle Paradox, we get the following conclusions. If you repeat a miracle enough times in front of enough people, it’s no longer unusual. A skeptic, hoping to provide proof of a miracle, would never accumulate enough empirical evidence. A God who relies solely on miracles for proof of His existence is apparently doomed to fail in His revelations. A God who ties miracles with logic, history, and meaning is the God who will succeed. The God of the Bible uses all these to prove His existence.