Miracles would be nice, but really – are they possible? One of the biggest stumbling blocks in Christianity for most people is the belief in miracles. After all, Thomas Jefferson famously took scissors and cut out the miracle verses in his Bible because he found them too hard to believe. The miracle stories in the Gospels seem less plausible for thinking people today who use logic and reason. The question I am going to zoom in on is the possibility of miracles. People think miracles are not possible because of logic. However, I will use logic to show that not only are miracles possible; but they are also very likely given what we know about nature and the creation of the universe.
The very first verse in the Bible is a miracle. “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth” (Genesis 1:1). There it is – the word beginning and created in Genesis 1 declares that the universe came into being. The first miracle is that the universe was created. The idea that the universe was crafted and came into existence was a preposterous idea for much of human history. Scientists almost unanimously agreed that the universe was eternal – that is the universe had always been and had existed with no beginning and thus, with no creation. In fact, Einstein wrote in a 1931 manuscript that the universe had always existed in a “steady state.”
However, this idea began to change in the mid 1930’s thanks to the mathematics of a Catholic priest, Father George Lemaitre. Given Lemaitre’s equations, physicists started to see that the universe was expanding. Lemaitre’s math was confirmed by Edwin Hubble’s discovery of a red shift in the galaxies of the universe that showed the universe was, in fact, expanding at a rapid rate. Lemaitre’s math also showed that if we went back in time from this expansion, the universe would have contracted to a single point of infinite density. This point marks the creation of the universe. In fact, scientists today all agree that the universe was created in a single act just like Genesis 1 indicates. If you enroll your child at an introductory course in physics at Vanderbilt University, they will learn in week one that the universe and all of nature (space, time, matter, and energy) began at a creation event called the Big Bang. Not only does this creation event confirm Genesis 1, it also suggests that something outside the universe had to cause this creation event. As physicist P.C. W. Davies explains [my comments in brackets]:
“If we extrapolate this prediction [Lemaitre’s math] to its extreme, we reach a point when all distances in the universe have shrunk to zero [nothing]. An initial cosmological singularity therefore forms a past temporal extremity to the universe. We cannot continue physical reasoning [before the big bang is beyond our human reason], or even the concept of space-time. For this reason, most cosmologists think of the initial singularity as the beginning of the universe. On this view the big bang represents the creation event; the creation not only of all matter and energy in the universe but also space-time itself.” (The Study of Time III “Spacetime Singularities in Cosmology”, p. 78-79)
What this means is that all the properties of the universe were created. Space, time, matter, and energy were created some 13.5 billion years ago. As Davies suggests, this also means that before this creation there was no nature – no space, no time, no matter, no energy. This idea is astonishing if you think about it. Before creation, the concept of time was meaningless as time didn’t exist. When you try to explain what caused the big bang, you will notice you have to enter into the realm of miracle to explain this. Why? Because you can’t use physics to explain the big bang because the big bang itself produced the laws of physics. In other words, you can’t use natural processes to explain the origin of natural processes. This wouldn’t make any sense because in logic to use nature to explain the origin of nature results in an incoherent circular reasoning. Your reason can’t run around in an endless circle of causes. Therefore, if you can’t use nature to explain the origin of nature, you have to use something outside of nature to explain how nature started. When you enter outside of nature you enter into supra nature or what we call supernatural. And the supernatural realm is the realm of miracles. In other words, you need a miracle to get all of nature up and running.
Here is how you can see this. Before the act of creation, there was exactly nothing – no nature. Physicists John Barrow and Frank Tiple state, “At this singularity, space and time came into existence; literally nothing existed before the singularity [the big bang]. So, if the universe originated at such a singularity, we would truly have a creation out of nothing.” (The Anthropic Cosmological Principle, p. 442, emphasis added)
Before the big bang, there was no nature – there was absolutely nothing. The reader needs to reflect on the idea of what nothing is. Nothing means literally nothing – no space, no time, no matter, no energy. When people think of nothing, they often thing of a black square in space. This is not nothing. A black square in space has properties of space, properties of time, and it contains potentiality (energy). Nothing is again, literally nothing! Nothing is not a quantum vacuum, or an energy field, or a gravitational force. These all contain a whole lot of energy, and energy is something. Nothing is nothing! Nothing is the essence of non-entities. The only thing you can get from nothing is – nothing! As philosopher Peter Kreeft notes, “From nothing; nothing comes.”Or, as Maria sang in the Sound of Music, “Nothing comes from nothing, nothing ever could.”
Therefore, the ultimate miracle is going from nothing to something. To get anything from nothing is truly miraculous because nothing only produces nothing. The only way nothing can produce anything is by way of miracle. If we know that God can create the entire laws of the universe from nothing, then all other miracles God does flows from this creation miracle. What is remarkable is that physicists tend to gloss over the teaching that the universe came from nothing. Hold the phone! This is no mere fact we should casually skip over. The creation of the entire universe from nothing within the universe is the fact that all other facts must come from. This indeed is the miracle smoking gun.
In fact, going from nothing to something shows us that the act of creation was the greatest miracle. All other miracles in the Bible go from something in nature to something else. For example, virgin birth goes from virgin woman to pregnancy. Eucharist goes from bread to flesh. So, God’s first miracle is the most miraculous (philosophically speaking). The creation of the entire universe from nothing automatically points us to something outside of nature.
If we reflect on this fact, it becomes astonishing. The big bang is scientific evidence that miracles are real and very possible. Now, what is ironic is that the scientific community teaches this creation miracle with a rather ho-hum attitude. And people view all other miracles (virgin birth, resurrection from the dead) as too far out there to grasp. I contend it is actually the other way around. The creation event from nothing to something is too exceptional for us to grasp while the other miracles can be understood as they go from something to something. Only the creation event goes from nothing to something. The creation event of the big bang is as much as a scientific fact as the formation of galaxies. We now know that miracles are not only possible, but miracles help explain our world much better.
So when you hear someone say miracles are not possible all you have to do is point them to the creation miracle. Given the creation of the entire laws of the universe from literally nothing, all other miracles are mere child’s play for God.