Canard (noun) 1. A false or baseless usually derogatory story, report or rumor.
2. A duck intended or used for food.
On occasion, we hear the statement, “You atheists reject claims within the Bible because you presuppose supernatural things can’t happen.” Yeah, Dr. Craig—I’m looking at you! (If you have ever heard a debate with Dr. William Craig, this inevitably comes up—how one’s “philosophical” view affects one’s “historical” view.)
In one very slight aspect this concept is true—because we are convinced no god exists, we necessarily believe no god interacts in the world. The same way you believe there are no unicorns in your back yard results in you not believing the claim unicorns are doing anything in your backyard.
However, just as you are convinced it is more likely there are no unicorns because of the evidence you know—we are convinced there is no god because of the evidence we know.
See, we reject miraculous claims not because of some presupposition; but rather because we are convinced a natural explanation is more compelling. Or, in some situations, a possible natural explanation is more likely.
Let’s put the shoe on the other foot, for a moment, and demonstrate why it is not presuppositions; but rather proof. Take your average Christian. They obviously believe in a God. They believe in a God who interacts within our natural world. A God who “shifts” things from what would be a natural, normal course, to a new course. A miracle.
Your average Christian even prays that God would intervene. Rather than Aunt Jane dying from cancer, as would naturally occur—God would swoop in and stop the natural process. Rather than miss a job interview, God would strategically place the Christian miraculously next to the perfect employer on their next plane flight.
Your average Christian believes in a God who is so mighty, He could perform momentous miracles--spin the continents with a passing thought, and so conscientious He can perform the tiniest of interferences—a smile from a child when needed.
There is every reason in the world such a God can miraculously affect…toast. So does the Christian really believe God miraculously put the Virgin Mary’s Face on a Grilled Cheese Sandwich? Remember, it is logically possible. (The last bastion of every Christian argument.)
Nothing prevents the Christian God from entering the natural world in Miami, 1994—and instead of the normal scorch marks appearing on such sandwiches—rearrange them so they would take the shape of a face. A particular face. Mom.
This is the same God who obtained a coin from a fish’s mouth. Or broke a few loaves of bread into such itty-bitty, tiny pieces, once divided, it could feed 1000’s with basketfuls left over. A God who made bones dance, and sent dreams, and stopped the sun for a whole day. Toast would be a piffle.
So why does the Christian believe this isn’t a miracle? Is it because of some presupposition against Catholicism? Against Cheese? Against cheesy miracles? Of course not! It is because the natural explanation is more believable than a claim of a supernatural intervention.
We see scorch marks on grilled cheese all the time. Putting butter in contact with heat will do that. And we understand how our minds make patterns from randomly generated shapes. It is how, on a summer’s day, we see pirate ships and flying pigs in cloud formations. It is perfectly natural we would do the same with shapes in scorch marks and “see” a woman. (Obviously, it is made even more humorous that the Virgin Mary appears as depicted in Church art, and no one knows what Mary would look like—let alone if that was her.)
We can pick other miracles. Does the Christian believe the Gospel of Peter, and the miraculous sign of Jesus coming out of the tomb, helped by angels whose heads reached to the clouds? And a talking cross following them out? Or tales of Jesus’ swaddling clothes causing healing? Or Thelca magically opening prison doors and not being burned by a fiery execution?
See-no one believes every miracle story ever written. Not even every miracle story written by those within their own religion. At some point, their own skepticism kicks in and they think, “There is a perfectly good natural explanation for this, outweighing any need to resort to supernatural.”
We do the same thing. Only we happen to find natural explanations more sufficient in YOUR claims of miracles. You may not like it; you may think the evidence is compelling and sufficient. But please understand it has nothing to do with presuppositions—just like you it has to do with evidence.
Lose the idea, “You don’t believe this because you presuppose against miracles.” I’ll show you how you suffer from the same “presupposition”—that you are reviewing evidence and remain unconvinced.
Updated: Bugger Blogger. I posted this twice. Vinny and Bruce – I moved your comments to this one and deleted the repetitious entry. Thanks for understanding