Haven’t you heard that extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence? Isn’t that what Christians are constantly being told? Well, I’m here to tell you . . . that’s demonstrably false, and here’s why.
The problem is that the word “extraordinary” is subjective. What’s extraordinary for you . . . may not be extraordinary for me, and vice versa. When people say “extraordinary,” they usually mean “enormous or unusual.” Skeptics like to use this argument when arguing against miracles. But if we take “extraordinary” to mean “enormous or unusual,” why does the evidence also have to be “enormous or unusual?” The fact is . . . it doesn’t. If it did, we would also have to dismiss non-miraculous events as well . . . like winning the lottery. Here’s what I mean.
The odds of winning the lottery are often one out of several hundred million . . . enormous odds, but the evidence doesn’t need to be enormous when it comes to winning the lottery . . . all you need is the winning ticket.
Why do people even play the lottery? Did you know that you have a better chance of getting struck by lightning than winning the lottery? Pretty ridiculous.
Why don’t people go around thinking they’ll get hit by lightning . . . I’ve never met a single person? So why do people go around thinking they’ll win the lottery? Please stop playing the lottery; you’re wasting your time and money.
If someone were to approach me and say, “Chris, I’m really concerned about getting hit by lightning.” First, I would try not to laugh, but I would simply say, “You’re not gonna get hit by lightning; it’s not gonna happen.” Wouldn’t you say that? Why don’t people say the same thing in regards to the lottery? You’re not gonna win!
But let’s return to this extraordinary evidence business . . . you don’t have to have enormous evidence to believe the news report when you hear that someone actually did win the lottery, no matter how improbable the odds . . . just like you don’t need enormous evidence to believe in miracles, no matter how improbable they might be.
If you wanna get real crazy about this, check out William Lane Craig’s book, Reasonable Faith . . . there’s a chapter on miracles where he actually uses Bayes’ Theorem to argue in their favor. Pretty intense stuff.
One more thing on miracles . . . miracles are not a violation of natural laws; they are descriptions of what is naturally impossible. Take the law of gravity, for example. If you have an object in your hand and let it go, it will naturally fall to the ground because the natural laws are causing it to. This is what naturally happens. When we speak of miracles, however, we are referring to something that is not explained by natural causes; we are referring to things that are supernaturally caused. Of course men don’t rise from the dead, ax heads don’t float, and people don’t walk on water . . . these are naturally impossible events, which is why us Christians call them miracles . . . which is also why we believe they are caused by God.