Friday, April 26, 2013

Read Along: Chapter 3—Are Miracles Possible?

Today we continue with Chapter Three in the Read Along with Apologetics 315 project. This is a chapter-by-chapter study through the book Is God Just a Human Invention? And Seventeen Other Questions Raised by the New Atheists by Sean McDowell and Jonathan Morrow. (Hear an interview about the book here.) Below you will find an audio intro for Chapter Three, a brief summary of the chapter, a PDF workbook with questions for the chapter, and some notable quotes. You’re also encouraged to share your comments and feedback for each chapter in the comment section below. Feel free to interact!

[Audio Intro] – Sean McDowell introduces this chapter.
[Chapter 03 Study Questions] (with kindle locations) – PDF study guide.
[Podcast Feed RSS | Podcast in iTunes] – Click to subscribe to the audio.

Chapter Three: Are Miracles Possible?
(pages 44-56)

Chapter three looks at the objections to miracles. The authors start by discussing how presuppositions shape acceptable or rejection of miracles. For instance, if naturalism is true, miracles are not possible. But if God exists, miracles are possible. They look at the definition of miracles used by Richard Dawkins, and show that probabilities must be considered in light of all the evidence. David Hume’s “in principle” and “in fact” objections are explained and answered and a case is then made for the resurrection of Jesus based on agreed-upon historical facts.

Apologist Gary Habermas contributes with an essay showing that the resurrection of Jesus is a precursor to heaven. He lists ten biblical facts that point to our future hope in light of the nature of Jesus’ resurrection.

Notable quotes:

The New Atheists are especially unwilling to consider evidence for a miracle because such an event does not fit their preconceived view of the world. Because of their commitment to naturalism, they discard miracles from the outset, regardless of the strength of the evidence. (p. 45)  

If God exists, miracles are possible. If it’s even possible that God exists, then we can’t rule out his intervention in the natural world before we consider the evidence(p. 46)

Only one conclusion takes into account all the accepted historical facts and does not adjust them to preconceived notions. It is the conclusion that Jesus rose from the dead—a miraculous event in history. (p. 54)


  1. Which argument from David Hume have you heard most often?
  2. How do you answer someone who says that miracles are, by definition, impossible?
  3. How are we rational in believing an immensely improbable event has occurred?
Recommended Reading
Next Week: Chapter 4—Is Darwinian Evolution the Only Game in Town?

1 Comment

  1. Using probability based on our personal experience has the only or major criteria for evaluating the truth of an event is simply fallacious. Based on this I would have to reject both the Theory of Relativity and Quantum Mechanics. That this is one factor to consider is reasonable, but to make it the major one causes problems long before you get to miracles.