Christians love to talk about how powerful God is. They often quote verses such as Matthew 19:26 which says, “With God all things are possible,” and talk about the miracles God has performed in their lives. Miracles are very interesting to me because, if they are real, they are the best evidence that God exists. So let’s look at some of the miracles God has performed throughout history according to fundamentalist Christians.
The most impressive miracle of all is in Genesis 1. Most of that chapter is about the creation of Earth and the things on it, but I’m much more impressed with the creation of everything else: countless stars, solar systems, galaxies, and black holes. Even if you believe God caused the big bang, you have to figure that he set it up to where all these cosmic objects would come into existence. That is one hell of a miracle. Nothing God has done since even compares.
The next most impressive miracle is in Genesis 7, the worldwide flood. For this, God would have had to create enough water to cover all the land on Earth, even Mount Everest. Of course, this is nothing compared to the creation of Earth itself, but still quite amazing.
After this, God’s miracles become more local. In Genesis 19 he destroys two entire cities with fire and brimstone. Beginning in Exodus 7 he sends a series of plagues to Egypt. And in Exodus 14 he parts the Red Sea so the Jews can escape the Egyptian army.
There are many more miracles throughout the Old Testament, so I’ll just mention the most famous ones (in chronological order): Food falls from the sky (Exodus 16:4), the walls of Jericho fall down (Joshua 6:20), the sun stops moving for a day (Joshua 10:13), Elijah flies to Heaven (2 Kings 2:11), Jonah survives inside a whale for 3 days (Jonah 2), and Daniel is not mauled while spending a night in a den of lions (Daniel 6:16-22).
All of these miracles are incredible, but by now you may have noticed a pattern: as we move forward through the Bible, in general God’s miracles are less and less impressive. By the time we get to Jesus, the good ole days when God destroyed entire cities and wiped out powerful armies are long gone. There are a few fairly impressive miracles such as the resurrection of Lazarus and many others, but these miracles don’t even compare to what God did before.
Once you’ve read the Old Testament, the miracles in the New Testament seem kind of boring. Jesus walks on water, turns water into wine, heals the sick and the blind, performs exorcisms, causes pigs to commit suicide, curses a fig tree, and so forth. But many of these miracles are the sort of things modern day magicians, exorcists, and faith healers pretend to do. Even if they really happened, they are nowhere near as amazing as the creation of galaxies.
God has quieted down even more since the days of the New Testament. Today the only miracles god seems capable of performing are appearing on toast, giving people warm fuzzy feelings, and occasionally healing the kinds of ailments that sometimes get better on their own (we have yet to see God heal an amputee). Many Christians claim that God is still performing lots of miracles, but they tend to play fast and loose with the word “miracle”. By definition, a miracle is a suspension of the laws of physics. So even though you prayed really hard, it’s not a miracle that the traffic lights were all green and you were able to get to work on time.
The question I’m getting at is: Why doesn’t God perform amazing miracles anymore? The standard apologetic is that God must remain hidden because if everyone knew he existed, there would be no need for faith (as if believing something without evidence is commendable). There is one major flaw with this argument: God didn’t remain hidden at all during Bible times. As I just described above, God performed all sorts of dazzling miracles in full view of thousands of people.
One of my favorite examples is the story of Elijah on Mount Carmel (1 Kings 18:16-40). Elijah is the Lord’s only prophet, but Baal has 450 prophets, so Elijah proposes a test that will prove to the people of Israel which god is real. They will both cut up a bull, put it on an alter, and call out to their god. Whichever god responds by consuming the sacrifice with fire is obviously the one true God.
The prophets of Baal agree and do as Elijah instructed. They build an alter, place a bull on it, and start calling out to Baal. Of course, nothing happens. Eventually Elijah starts taunting them (maybe Baal is on the can!), so the prophets cry out louder and even cut themselves, but still nothing happens.
Finally it’s Elijah’s turn. He builds an alter and, to make it even more impressive, has the people soak the bull with water. Then he calls on God to prove himself. God immediately sends fire to burn up not just the bull but also the stones, dirt, and water. When the people see this, they fall on their faces and declare, “The Lord, he is the God!”
So again I ask: Why doesn’t God perform amazing miracles anymore? Why can’t people living in the 21st century see a similar demonstration of his power? It’s almost as if miracles aren’t real and the Bible is just a book of fairy tales. Either that or God is getting weaker.