Say something nice: the Miracles-Don’t-Exist-So-Miracles-Don’t-Exist argument is conditionally true. If miracles are impossible, miracles, it follows logically, don’t happen. No escaping the iron cladedness of that (you heard me: iron cladedness).
Not only that. If miracles are impossible, it must be that every report of a miracle is some kind of mistake. Error in reporting, perhaps, mistaken observation. Hallucination. Ignorance. Downright fraud. Exaggeration of facts into myth. Lying. Scams. Point is, whatever or however a miracle is reported or is seen in this scheme, something very badly has gone wrong.
And then, human thought sinking into the abyss is hardly unexpected. Have you ever read a history book? Or watched television? Even at the highest levels the outlook is bleak. I need only mention what’s happening on college campuses these days as definitive proof of how low thinking can go. A university is now the worst place you can be to learn anything useful about mankind—except how the insane can rake in large salaries.
But help me. Isn’t the Miracles-Don’t-Exist-So-Miracles-Don’t-Exist argument, oh, I don’t know, dogmatic? Adopts a perfunctory and brutal attitude, wouldn’t you say? It’s Science as impatient father. “Daddy, why don’t miracles happen?” “Because I said so. Where’s your mother?”
Of course, you rarely hear the Miracles-Don’t-Exist-So-Miracles-Don’t-Exist argument—fallacy, rather—stated in so bold a fashion as its name indicates. Usually it’s tarted up in the fashion Richard Dawkins’s simulacrum in the video does it. (Incidentally, if you have to ask why Donall and Conall are calling Dawkins “Patrick”, watch more videos by the same creator.)
Faux Dawkins says miracle stories are cheap fiction substituting for Science, and that once Science arrived, miracles were no longer necessary. This is a fancy restatement of the MDESMDE (pronounced I have decided, made-smade). So is insisting the universe (multiuniverse, whatever) is entirely physical, driven only by materialistic forces. Saying all is only physical presupposes there is no spiritual element and thus miracles are impossible.
Another restatement: God doesn’t exist, so don’t look for miracles. Another (Hume’s): We can’t trust any report of a miracle because it’s more likely that any report of a miracle is due to error, lying, etc. than a miracle was miraculous. To this very day, Hume’s restatement of the fallacy is beloved by your better class of atheists everywhere.
By now you can come up with your own variants. In fact, that’s your homework. Find instances of the Miracles-Don’t-Exist-So-Miracles-Don’t-Exist fallacy in the wild and report back here with documentation in hand.
It can’t go without saying—hence my saying it—that any miraculous claim, like any claim which is logically (and physically!) possible, must be investigated. And when and if the miracle is proven to have occurred, it must be believed. If it is proven to not have occurred, it must not be believed. If proof is not definitive, believing or disbelieving depends on factors too multitudinous to explain here. Outright rejection, however, is not warranted. Outright rejection invokes the MDESMDE.
Why any miracle happened when where and how it did is a separate question than if it happened. Some commit the fallacy of rejecting miracles because they dislike the why. That’s nuts. But nobody except Utopians ever claimed men aren’t crazy—or can be made not crazy. Perfection of mankind is the goal of Progress, which is why those would would progress must necessarily despise history and tradition. But skip it.
Do any people say miracles can’t happen because they disliked the reason they happened? Well, Dawkins does. His video twin says something very like the real Dawkins often claims. Faux Dawkins commits the fallacy right before the best laugh line: “Did you honestly just argue that God doesn’t exist because he’s mean?”
He did. And that, too, is a popular argument. It’s most common form (that I’ve heard) is God doesn’t exist because He wouldn’t have had the Amalekites put to the sword; and since He did put the Amalekites to the sword, He doesn’t exist and therefore neither do miracles. Conall would suggest getting riotously drunk after hearing this.
The miracle of Jesus’s resurrection? Glad you asked. Well, Peter Kreeft is glad you asked. Go and see his “Evidence for the Resurrection of Christ” for details. Lee Strobel’s The Case for Christ is also a good introduction.
HT to Father Z, where I first learned of the new video.