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Lee Strobel Asks, “Are Miracles Real & Still Happening?”

Lee Strobel is best known for his book The Case for Christ, which details his immense effort to prove Jesus was not the Son of God.

He failed. And he failed for the best reason there is: you cannot prove false that which is true. Strobel began his investigations as an atheist and ended as a convinced Christian.

Strobel has a new work, this time with the happy goal of providing evidence of the miraculous. The book is entitled (sticking with what works) The Case for Miracles. On Wednesday night, Strobel held a simulcast at the World Outreach Church in Murfreesboro, Tennessee, launching the book.

He summarized his findings:

    1. God is still in the miracle business;
    2. Miracles happen a lot more often than people think;
    3. Many miracles are far better documented than skeptics claim.

Strobel promised his audience that “by the end of tonight, you will witness a miracle.” More about this miracle (a real one) below.

What Miracles Are

He asked four important questions about the nature of miracles.

Question One: How to define miracle? There are varying opinions, but Strobel prefers the definition by philosopher Richard Purtill. “A miracle is an event brought about by the power of God that is a temporary exception to the ordinary course of nature for the purpose of showing that God has acted in history.”

Question Two: Aren’t miracles impossible because they violate the laws of nature? That’s what the (in)famous skeptic David Hume thought. Miracles are not, however, a violation of the laws of nature. They are instead interventions by God. Strobel used the analogy of him dropping an apple which you intercept before it hits the ground. You intervened. You did not violate the law of gravity.

Strobel also explained that whatever begins to exist has a cause. God, of course, never began: He always was and necessarily is. But there is certain scientific evidence that the universe started with the Big Bang; if so, this event was caused by God.

Where Miracles Happen

Question Three: How common are miracles today? Strobel discovered (by a poll) that nearly 40% of Americans said had they experiences that can only be explained as miracles from God. Suppose 99.9% of these accounts “are wrong and speak of merely coincidences.” That “still leaves nearly a million miracles in USA” alone.

Skeptic magazine said that “only the uneducated and the uncivilized believe in miracles.” But 55% of educated and civilized physicians say they have seen results that can only be described as miraculous.

Question Four: How can we know if a miracle is genuine? The placebo effect is real. Mistaken diagnoses happen. Fakery and fraud are ever with us; charlatans do exist. There are faulty memories and spontaneous remissions. But many healings are inexplicable except as miracles.

Some skeptics are dogmatic. They say “Miracles are impossible. Period.” Other atheists, like Jerry Coyne, admit this is not a very scientific attitude and so allow possibility of miracles. But Coyne insists on scientific evidence for miracles. Yet “scientific experiments must be repeatable. So if someone comes back from the dead, what do you do, shoot them?”

And what about the “massive, well-documented and either replicated or independently corroborated evidence from multiple sources” about Jesus rising from the dead?

Get Up And Walk

Consider the case of clicking here to read the rest.

26 thoughts on “Lee Strobel Asks, “Are Miracles Real & Still Happening?” Leave a comment

  1. It’s probably wise to suspect Strobel. If he’d really done his research he’d have ended up Catholic.

  2. I’m not surprised to learn that Briggs is promoting the work of a fraud.

    And, although I don’t mind if others want to believe in “miracles”, I still don’t know what a miracle is supposed to be. “A miracle is an event brought about by the power of God”, etc. But this definition only makes sense if you already believe in a “God” that produces miracles, in which case any further demonstrations would seem to be superfluous.

    The survey of doctors was a survey of 1100 doctors who happened to be religious (https://www.businesswire.com/news/home/20041220005244/en/Science-Miracle-Holiday-Season-Survey-Reveals-Physicians). I think you can see the problem (and it was conducted by a religious organization, without revealing methodology, response rate, etc. I guess the “stars” don’t expect much from their statisticians).

    “by the end of tonight, you will witness a miracle.”

    This turned out to be an audio recording of someone talking somewhere else at some time in the past. Presented by someone already exposed as a liar.

    “experiences that can only be explained as miracles from God”
    “results that can only be described as miraculous”
    etc., etc.

    These are other ways of saying “I think something happened that I don’t understand.”

  3. “Whatever begins to exist has a cause.”

    Within the universe, things which “begin to exist” are really just rearrangements of existing matter and energy. For example, a tree forming from CO2, water, and nutrients from soil, using energy from sunlight. This means that we actually don’t have any examples of anything ‘beginning to exist’, so there is no evidence to support this premise. With it gone, the argument goes with it.

  4. Palmer ::
    Back in the day, I had huge problems with Josh McDowell; Since then I also have had issues with Lee as well. My problem is that (assuming both started life as skeptics, they quickly forgot what it is or was to be a skeptic (maybe it was that whole transformation thing took such a strong hold on them, they lost the thread)

    Cricket ::
    Like John Michael Talbot?

    Swordfish ::
    What is it you do with the the “Big Bang” theory? Or are you a steady-state kinda guy?

  5. Skeptic is not denier, denier is not necessarily skeptic (or he would be skeptical of his denial).

    These definitions of miracle are superb. I like the concept of “intervention”. I also have had a sense that miracles are a lot more common than one might suppose from reading the news.

  6. As usual, our band of scoffers (not sceptics) exclude one important ingredient of a valid investigation; that is science, and in particular, the science of logic.

    It is scientifically (logically) impossible that anything changeable (subject to any kind of “movement” as classical terminology has it), like the Universe, does not have a transcendent, and superior, anterior, cause. Unless some absurdities are assumed this can only revert to an Uncaused First Cause of Power, Intellect and Will as I have explained many times before in these pages.

    That leads to the inevitable conclusion of, at least, a necessary first cause (that it happened) and a final cause (why it happened). Within that parameter there can be (and there obviously is) a whole series of “secondary” causes all tending toward the final cause, or purpose, of the whole shebang. Everything is subject to the final cause including the “natural order” which may be locally and temporarily suspended or overridden to facilitate the purpose.

    That is what a miracle is; something that does not occur according to the natural order. No discernible natural order = no miracles possible because everything is random, inconsistent, and therefore, unintelligible.

    Welcome to the Voodoo religion of Materialism, Atheism where everything is assumed to be the product of random accidents where any apparently random accident that does not suit the randomly accidental ideology is randomly poohooed by random “reason” that is not connected to the decidedly not random science of logic.

    Boys and girls, reality is what it is and it is not the slightest bit altered by Strobel’s perception or anyone’s finding fault with his procedure or method.

    I agree with Chirpy: “It’s probably wise to suspect Strobel. If he’d really done his research he’d have ended up Catholic.”

  7. The religious people point out the Big Bang as the creation event of the universe. But this is simply misunderstanding though abetted by how the physicists talk.
    There is no Big Bang event–it is more properly called a scenario. And the scenario only describes expansion of the universe and not the creation or “coming to be” of the universe. For, creation of universe is beyond the remit of physics whose business is to describe the laws that govern an actual running universe.

  8. Fair enough, Mactoul, but we need to define what is meant by a “Big Bang” and in what context. In our sensual, physical world “bang” is a noisy explosion. But in another sense it might be more like a there was no Universe and “poof” there was a Universe.

    The expanding Universe supposition is based entirely on the assumption that “red shift” is produced by the Doppler Effect in light emitters accelerating away from us (the observer). In my view there is at least one other more credible hypothesis explaining the apparent “red shift”.

    As you say: “creation of universe is beyond the remit of physics whose business is to describe the laws that govern an actual running universe.”

    That is quite so and it is reasonable to assume that reality is consistent (if it is not then no science is possible) and that it is intended to be what it is. Contrast that with the fantastic speculations of Materialists that change by the hour; the only constant being the dogma that everything that exists causes itself by random accidents.

  9. @ Oldavid,

    “In my view there is at least one other more credible hypothesis explaining the apparent “red shift”.”

    Does it also explain the cosmic microwave background radiation, the large-scale structure of the universe and the ratios of hydrogen, helium and other trace elements, as the big bang theory does?

  10. @ noseynoiseyfish
    Those are all separate issues that your BB model does not require or explain except in suppositions proposed as “fact” for public consumption to perpetuate the “everything from nothing” fantasy.

    You bods promulgate anything, even if it is absurd, to bolster your idiotic and impossible ideology.

  11. @ olddavid,
    The Big Bang scenario is derived by assuming the Principle of Mediocrity–our vantage point is not special. But what if it is?
    Could you elaborate on your hypothesis of the red shift?

    The universe might well be created. But the creation was not an empirical event, even in principle. The creation is not observable from within the universe. Thus, physics is unable to describe it.
    The laws of physics merely correlate matter configuration at one time instant to the configuration at another time instant. They can not describe or explain how the matter came into being.

  12. @ Mactoul: Our vantage is special because it’s the one we’ve got.

    There are several hypotheses concerning the red shift; none of which are mine. The one that makes most sense to me is the “tired light” hypothesis. It suggests that light (or any other EM radiation) from a very distant object has to bump and wend its way through low density plasma (if the Sun is any indication [Solar wind] all the stars are belching out billions of tons of ions), refraction and diffraction and interference from all wavelengths of radiation from every direction, magnetic, gravitational and electric fields and God knows what else so that the beam looses some energy on the way. A lesser energy (or lower energy EMR) is longer wavelength = “red shift”.

    I thoroughly concur that physics cannot determine HOW it all happened but we can be very sure that it DID happen.

    Time is a very interesting concept but it only exists as a succession of events.

  13. John B(),

    “What is it you do with the the “Big Bang” theory?”

    If you mean that the big bang is an example of something beginning to exist, then the original “all things which begin to exist…” premise could be modified to:

    “The one thing which we know of which may have begun to exist may or may not have a cause.” Not much of a premise 🙂

  14. Oldavid,

    “tired light hypothesis.”

    Wikipedia says: “Despite periodic re-examination of the concept, tired light has not been supported by observational tests[4] and has lately been consigned to consideration only in the fringes of astrophysics.”

  15. Wikipedia is a valuable resource if one wants to hear and applaud and be applauded for the “official” “Party approved” versions of prognostications.

    “tired light has not been supported by observational tests[4] and has lately been consigned to consideration only in the fringes of astrophysics.”

    1, What “observational tests”?
    2, What is it in “the fringes of astrophysics” that makes “tired light” unacceptable to Materialist fantasies? Let me guess….. it is not convenient to Einstein’s Relativity fantasies, perhaps?

  16. The proponents of Tired Light should advance a demonstration of it. The doppler effect is well demonstrated and in fact your little hand-held GPS receivers have to compensate for doppler in moving satellites.

    This is the first I have heard of Tired Light and I nearly laughed out loud. With absolutely no observational or theoretical support it exists. Well, why not. Not one of us can prove that we existed yesterday; or even that we are having a conversation with Real Persons. Yet it remains a practical consideration that you and I exist, eat, sleep, etc; and doppler effect exists and reveals that the universe is expanding which implies that it must be expanding from a *center*. It is implied; but where exactly is that center cannot be determined since it seems the Observer is at the center; but a different Observer will be at a different center.

    Just make sure to eat, sleep, breathe while wrestling with cosmic questions.

  17. Oldavid,

    “What “observational tests”?”

    What difference would it make? You’d just reject those anyway.

  18. Satellites provided the earliest proof of portions of Einsteins theories; namely the time dilation of an object moving in reference an inertial frame (Earth itself or an observer on the earth). Doppler shift is well established older than that; a police radar uses doppler shift to measure the speed of something approaching or departing (relative speed).

    Proving that light could be bent by gravity is a bit harder since it isn’t bent much and it takes a LOT o gravity. Lensing of distant stars provided the observational evidence; the same star is seen on either side of a powerful neutron star or black hole; sameness established by having identical spectra.

    Why it matters is less clear to me but I find these things interesting. At any rate, each time one of these theories is supported by observational evidence the remaining portions of the theories obtain more credibility. Not that it matters in the slightest, but I accept the near certainty of a “big bang” especially as it lends credence to “Let there be light.”

  19. I’m not disputing that the Doppler Effect is real I’m only disputing that it is the cause of the “red shift”. The “size” of the Universe could be fairly static or constant and the redshift caused by something else. In the “tired light” scenario any observer of far distant objects from any position would see the redshift without having to assume that every point in the Universe is the centre of an accelerating expansion.

    Gravitational lensing is also far from a certainty. Recent observation and measurement of “gravitational lensing” about our nearest star the Sun suggests that the lensing is caused by refraction of the Sun’s outer atmosphere of all the stuff she’s belching out into “cold” space, not gravity.

    Anyhow, all this does not refute the concept of natural order or that it can be temporarily suspended or manipulated to produce a miracle.

  20. “I’m not disputing that the Doppler Effect is real I’m only disputing that it is the cause of the red shift. “

    Why dispute it at all? The possible variations on belief are probably infinite and don’t change the price of apples in the Okanagan Valley.

    The whole thing is an exercise in “inductive logic”. The red-shift is easy to see; the cause of it not easy to see. So, you are as free as anyone to speculate on the cause of red-shift. There is probably some utility in getting it right.

    “Anyhow, all this does not refute the concept of natural order or that it can be temporarily suspended or manipulated to produce a miracle.”

    Natural order is what anyone says it is and so is “miracle”. My miracle might be your coincidence or vice versa. Miracle happens when the attribution of cause is “God” even if it seems quite mundane.

    C.S. Lewis explores the topic in “The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe”. Higher laws supersede lesser laws; the witch did not know the higher law. In the case of an apple falling out of a tree, it is obeying the law of gravity. If you catch it, the apple is still obeying the law of gravity and you can feel its weight on your hand, but it does not fall to the ground.

    Suppose you are the inventor of gravity in the first place.

  21. Michael 2
    The Big Bang scenario requires more assumption than Einstein’s equations. It requires assumption of the Principle of Mediocrity, which is non-empirical and also assumption, also non-empirical, that the space is isotropic. You can find the discussion in Hawking’s A Brief History of Time.

  22. Oldavid writes “It suggests that light (or any other EM radiation) from a very distant object has to bump and wend its way through low density plasma (if the Sun is any indication [Solar wind] all the stars are belching out billions of tons of ions), refraction and diffraction and interference from all wavelengths of radiation from every direction, magnetic, gravitational and electric fields and God knows what else so that the beam looses some energy on the way.”

    The beam loses (one o) energy along the way, photons do not. They are “quantum” and a particular photon can only have its energy and frequency/wavelength. It cannot change frequency or energy (essentially the same thing, and maybe exactly the same thing, where photons are concerned).

    Of course, something might absorb a photon and re-emit; flourescence is an example of this property, but the re-emit is not in the same direction as the captured photon and such activity won’t preserve the absorption and emission spectra of the distant star.

  23. Michael 2,
    Surely a photon changes its frequency as it travels through the expanding universe–doesn’t it get red-shifted to lower frequencies?
    Also, the photon frequency is changed though passing through gravity wells–the gravitational red shift.

  24. ” it seems the Observer is at the center; but a different Observer will be at a different center. ”
    This follows only from the Principle of Mediocrity–which is an non-empirical, practically speaking,
    aesthetic preference.

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