In all Five of the World’s Great Religions, the Gods Perform Fewer and Fewer Public Miracles as Time Progresses to the Present

Image result for image of woodward's The book of miracles

 

How many times have you heard a Christian say the following:  The reason that God no longer performs big, public miracles is because the age of public miracles ended with the Apostles.

How can any skeptic disprove such a claim???

I am currently reading Kenneth Woodward’s “The Book of Miracles” , a review and comparison of the miracle stories in the world’s five “great” religions:  Christianity, Islam, Judaism, Hinduism, and Buddhism.  Here is one stunning finding in my reading so far:

“In [Judaism, Christianity, and Islam], therefore, there is a time when God is present to the world in ways that later He is not.  And in each tradition, the withdrawal of the palpable presence of God is followed by the emergence of saints who are seen as the friends of God in ways that the rest of humankind is not.  Although the meaning of sainthood differs in each tradition, its function is much the same.  Saints witness to the continuing power of a God who otherwise often seems distant—if not absent—from the world.”   —p. 32

“Miracles gradually disappear as the [Hebrew] Bible moves from the first book to the last. In Genesis, only God works miracles.  When, in the book of Exodus, Moses is introduced, God begins to work miracles through the agency of Moses, aided by his brother Aaron.  Then, almost imperceptibly, control of miracles passes from God to His prophets.  Finally, God himself ceases to make appearances in the Biblical text, and eventually miracles cease as well.  There is another pattern in this pattern:  miracles become more personal.  From Moses to Elijah, miracles are performed by individuals (as God’s agents), but only before groups.    That is, they are public miracles.  With Elijah and Elisha, miracles are for the first time performed by individuals for individuals.  That is, miracles become increasingly private.”   p. 36

 

Gary:  Amazing.  This is exactly what we see in the Christian New Testament:  In the beginning, God (in the form of Jesus) performs many great, public miracles such as raising the dead Lazarus before a large crowd.  After Jesus’ death, the Twelve allegedly performed miracles but nothing on the scale and quantity of Jesus.  Finally, Paul is  portrayed as converting people to The Way based on his persuasive preaching, not by performing public miracles, except for the healing powers of the cloths he carried.  So in Christianity, miracles go from big, dramatic, and public…to personal healing handkerchiefs.

I haven’t studied Islam much, but Mr. Woodward describes a similar pattern in that religious tradition.

Isn’t it interesting, friends, that the closer one gets to the present time, the stories of miracles get less dramatic and less public?  Isn’t it, therefore, entirely possible that the reason for this change in the behavior of “God” is that making up facts about an alleged event in the ancient past is much easier than making a claim that can be fact checked with other historical records.

It’s all a tall tale, friends.

 

8 thoughts on “In all Five of the World’s Great Religions, the Gods Perform Fewer and Fewer Public Miracles as Time Progresses to the Present

  1. In this passage: And in each tradition, the withdrawal of the palpable presence of God is followed by the emergence of saints who are seen as the friends of God in ways that the rest of humankind is not. — I would change the word “saints” to (take you pick) preachers, priests, pastors, ministers, clergy, clerics, evangelists, reverends, etc., etc.

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  2. So… no miracles performed by Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Joseph. Balaam hears a donkey talk. That’s all for over 100 years.

    Miracles under Moses. Last two miracles Israel witnesses is the parting of the Jordan and the sun standing still under Joshua.

    Only miraculous happening for 400 years or so is Samson. None of the 11 other judges perform any miracle.

    No miracles for another two or three centuries – Samuel, Saul, David, Solomon perform no miracles. None of the kings of Israel or Judah perform miracles. Jeremiah and Ezekial perform no miracles. None of the Minor prophets perform miracles.

    Only Elijah and Elisha perform miracles. Only 25 (?) altogether in what? 45 years or more?

    Isaiah saw the shadow go back 10 paces, right? That’s one miraculous occurrence. Daniels friends in the furnace and the den of lions are the only miracles during the exile.

    Have I missed any?

    My point is that there seems to be fewer than what? 100 miracles recorded in the Old Testament. That’s a story that covers 2000 years or more.

    Not everyone and anyone could perform miracles. Only under Moses and Elijah & Elisha do we see anything akin to a cluster of miraculous occurrences in the Old Testament.

    Where is this “withdrawal”? It seems that from the beginning miracles are incredibly rare.

    Of course the next period of miraculous working is when Jesus walks the earth.

    If you follow the pattern of the Old Testament, the New Testament seems to pretty much confirm the rarity of miracles after Jesus’ ascension.

    Anyway, the skepticism that you seem to think validates non-belief seems to require the Bible to present a different story to the one that it does record. Miracles have always been incredibly rare. Why should today be any different?

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    1. “So… no miracles performed by Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Joseph. Balaam hears a donkey talk. That’s all for over 100 years.”

      That’s correct. Prior to Moses, God did all the miracles (according to the Hebrew Bible). And God did BIG miracles like creating all the different languages on earth, overnight, to thwart an attempt by humans to build a tower up to heaven. Then there is the biggest of all public miracles: causing so much rain to fall that water covered the top of Mount Everest, the highest mountain on the planet by several feet of water, killing every breathing creature on earth, except those saved in a big boat. Then there is the heavenly fire bombing of the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah.

      So if the Bible is correct, God performed several amazing, public miracles over the first several thousand years of human existence, and then performed many more public miracles through his prophets starting with Moses and ending with the apostles…but how many has he performed during the last 1,900 years?

      Answer: Zero.

      Why? Sure it is possible that this is “God’s will”, but I would say that it is much more probable that the lack of big public miracles in the last 1,900 years is due to another reason: Human beings started keeping better records. An event such as the killing of all the first born of an entire nation in one night would be recorded by multiple sources, therefore for someone to claim such an event happened, when no one else recorded that it did, would be far less believable than a claim that such an event happened in 1250 BCE.

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    1. I’m not greedy, Liam. I am not asking your god to appear to me as a massive pillar of fire as he did for several million ancient Hebrews. I am not asking your god to rain down fire upon an altar filled with wet firewood, in front of me and a crowd of other skeptics, as he did for Elijah. All I ask for is that your god levitate my coffee table, three feet off the ground, for thirty seconds.

      That’s it.

      Is that too much to ask, Liam?

      Liked by 1 person

  3. @liam
    catholics require at least one miracle to be beatified, and 2 more miracles to become canonized as saints.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Beatification#Practices_under_the_Popes
    “Pope John Paul II (18 May 1920 – 2 April 2005) markedly changed previous Catholic practice of beatification. By October 2004, he had beatified 1,340 people, more than the sum of all of his predecessors since Pope Sixtus V (1585–1590) [….]”

    that’s a whole lot of miracles in the last century or so. here’s a list of more:
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chronological_list_of_saints_and_blesseds_in_the_20th_century

    so if the catholics are right, there’s still a lot miracles going on. not rare according to them. are they wrong?

    Liked by 1 person

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