I don’t have a problem with the concept that miracles might occasionally occur at moments of great significance where there is a message being transmitted to us by God Almighty.Francis collins – from a May 20, 2020 Scientific American article written by john Hogan
In May 2020, John Hogan wrote about a 2006 interview he had with Francis Collins. When asked how he, as a scientist who looks for natural explanations of things and demands evidence, could also believe in miracles like the resurrection, Francis Collins responded with, “My first struggle was to believe in God. Not a pantheist God who is entirely enclosed within nature, or a Deist God who started the whole thing and then just lost interest, but a supernatural God who is interested in what is happening in our world and might at times choose to intervene. My second struggle was to believe that Christ was divine as He claimed to be. As soon as I got there, the idea that He might rise from the dead became a non-problem. I don’t have a problem with the concept that miracles might occasionally occur at moments of great significance where there is a message being transmitted to us by God Almighty. But as a scientist, I set my standards for miracles very high. And I don’t think we should try to convince agnostics or atheists about the reality of faith with claims about miracles that they can easily poke holes in.”
As I’ve been slowly reading through the Gospel of Matthew over the last month, I’ve had to come to terms with the Miracles of Jesus. The first recorded miracle in Matthew is in chapter 8.
Large crowds followed Jesus as he came down the mountainside. Suddenly, a man with leprosy approached Jesus. He knelt before him, worshiping, “Lord,” the man said, “if you want to, you can make me well again.” Jesus touched him. “I want to,” he said, “be healed.” Instantly the leprosy disappeared.Matthew 8:1-2 (NLT)
At first, I simply read the miracles as I was getting into the habit of reading my Bible again but they weren’t what stood out to me. It was the morning of August 15th, one month after what I wrote about here, that my attention was particularly drawn to them. I had to pause as I began to wrestle with these miracles. “What am I to do with these now?” was the question resonating in me. I knew the question wouldn’t let me go and understood that I would have to answer.
I had to pause as I began to wrestle with these miracles. “What am I to do with these now?” was the question resonating in me. I knew the question wouldn’t let me go and understood that I would have to answer.the Question I had to wrestle with on the morning of august 15, 2023
What followed was a one hour conversation with God as I read and re-read some of the miracles on the pages before me. There was a deep rooted hesitation to acknowledge those miracles as possible and true. I was uncomfortable with the thought of accepting them for what they are.
Horgan: The problem I have with miracles is not just that they violate what science tells us about how the world works. They also make God seem too capricious. For example, many people believe that if they pray hard enough God will intercede to heal them or a loved one. But does that mean that all those who don’t get better aren’t worthy?
Collins: In my own experience as a physician, I have not seen a miraculous healing, and I don’t expect to see one. Also, prayer for me is not a way to manipulate God into doing what we want Him to do. Prayer for me is much more a sense of trying to get into fellowship with God. I’m trying to figure out what I should be doing rather than telling Almighty God what He should be doing. Look at the Lord’s Prayer. It says, “Thy will be done.” It wasn’t, “Our Father who are in Heaven, please get me a parking space.”FROM A MAY 20, 2020 SCIENTIFIC AMERICAN ARTICLE WRITTEN BY JOHN HOGAN
What am I to do with these now?
The question lingered as my thoughts became distracted. Once I regained my focus there was a new question that had surfaced.
Why do miracles make me uneasy? I also wondered why these questions couldn’t have waited for the weekend! Yet, here I was on this Tuesday morning faced with a question. A question that once answered would necessarily have a trickle down effect to answers about other questions regarding the Bible but more about that another day.
Do I not like the idea of miracles being possible. Of course I do! Who doesn’t? Then why be hesitant to accept these?
Why do miracles make me uneasy? As I continued conversing with God on the matter, I ended up jotting down 6 things in response to the question. Here they are in the order they came to my mind along with a few thoughts that accompanied them:
- Because I can’t understand them – Is it that I can’t understand them or that I’m uncomfortable with what people might think of me if I say that I believe them to be true and still possible, in various ways, today? I think it’s the latter. Hmmm, I worry to much about what others think of what I think and believe. But also, I can’t say that I fully understand them either. How does someone walk on water, heal the sick, feed thousands of people with 5 loaves and 2 fish? It certainly challenges what seems to be the natural way of things. Then again, they wouldn’t be miracles if they didn’t. Do I not like the idea of miracles being possible. Of course I do! Who doesn’t? Then why be hesitant to accept these?
- My head tells me the texts are more of an exaggeration used by the author to prove a point about Jesus – that sounds smart at a superficial level but doesn’t really seem to make sense.
- If they are real and true, then I need to seriously contend with the reality of Jesus and who he says he is – this is the kicker! Jesus is either a fictitious character, a real person who had a significant impact and was then venerated by his followers who exaggerated stories about him after his death, or he is who he says he is … the very son of God, he himself also God revealing to us who God the father is and what he is accomplishing through Jesus.
- I have not seen any … or have I? – I guess it depends what I’m looking for.
- Why do we not see more like them? – good question. I don’t know.
- Did I not personally experience one just a few short weeks ago? – Yes, I most certainly did. It was undeniable and I better not forget it!
Ok, so that was a short look into what was going on in my head that morning! There was still a question remaining to be answered … What am I to do with these now?
As I wrapped up my meeting with God, I acknowledged the tension and anchored my faith not in my understanding (in this case of miracle dynamics) but in the one who did them, Jesus. There are hundreds of other things that I believe to be true without being able to claim a proper understanding of how they work, so why not this.
What about you? What is your understanding of and level of comfort with, Jesus’ miracles?