Miracle or Mirage? The Paradox of Miracles & Science – Part 4

By Sheikh Mansour Leghaei (Earlwood, Australia)

Suggested Answers

1. Naturalism V. Supernaturalism

C.S. Lewis the well-known 20th century’s Christian writer maintains in ‘Miracles’ that in order to assess whether miracles exist, it is first necessary to decide between naturalism and supernaturalism.

He argues:” It by no means follows from Supernaturalism that Miracles of any sort do in fact occur. God (the primary being) may never in fact interfere with the natural system He has created. If we decide that Nature is not the only thing there is, then we cannot say in advance whether she is safe from miracles or not. But if Naturalism is true, then we know in advance that miracles are impossible: nothing can come in to nature from the outside because there is nothing outside to come in, Nature being everything…our finest choice therefore must be between naturalism and supernaturalism.

Comment

Obviously, if Lewis is correct, then the existence of miracles could not provide any independent support for the existence of God, since in order to establish the existence of miracles one would already have to assume supernaturalism.
Moreover, even if we assume Supernaturalism, still one ought to be able to have a rational explanation for the miracles.

2. It’s Symbolic

Paul Tillich; the famous Protestant German-born U.S. theologian and philosopher, died in 1965, based on his opinion on religious language, suggests that the language of the Scripture is symbolic. Thus, passages such as ‘Jesus healed a born blind’ are more symbolic than narrating a historical event.

Sheikh Muhammad Abdu; the author of the Al-Minar interpretation of the Quran also suggests that when Jesus – as quoted in the Quran – says that he will create a bird with the permission of God, does not imply that he really did create a bird. He is rather informing them of the possibility of it, should God will so.

Comment

This explanation is rather disclaiming the validity of miracles and is not a solution to the problem.

3. Simultaneity of Two Events

Al-Ashaera denoted the law of cause and effect and believed that there is no real causative law in the universe. According to them, the observed order in the world is solely due to the fact that we are used to simultaneously seeing them together and hence assume that one is the cause for the other. For instance, we are used to always seeing fire burning, and hence by mistake assume that fire is the cause of burning. In other words, in reality fire burns not because it’s the cause of burning, but because it is the habit of God to burn wood when it is next to the fire.

Thus, God can change His habit and although fire is associated with wood, it may not burn, such as in the situation of Prophet Ibrahim.

Comment

Without the law of cause and effect one of the principle proofs of God will be missing. Also, this explanation is based on the assumption of faith in God which the miracle is claiming to prove.

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Shk Mansour Leghaei

About the author

Dr Sheikh Mansour Leghaei is the founder and a director of the Imam Husain Islamic Centre and the School of Islamic Theology in Earlwood, Australia, serving as the imam from 1997–2010. He previously served in Nigeria, where in 1992 he opened an Education Centre called Ahul Bayt.
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