Argument from scriptural miracles

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It has been suggested that this article be merged with Argument from miracle testimony

Jesus and the miracle of the feeding of the multitudes

The argument from biblical miracles states (more or less) that because a holy book states that people witnessed miracles, people actually did witness miracles. This is often associated with a holy figure such as Jesus or Buddha and is interpreted as evidence of their divine character. It is a form of argument from miracle testimony.

David Hume criticized belief in miracles based on testimony in his essay Of Miracles because it is far more likely that the supporting testimony is incorrect.

"The miracles of Jesus and of the Bible writers are God's stamp of approval on their teaching. This witness testifies that there is a God who possesses supernatural power. And since the Bible writers did miracles, they must have been guided by God's power. Likewise the fact that Jesus did miracles confirms the truthfulness of His claims that He was the Son of God.[1]"
"Further : some parts of Scripture containing an account of miracles fully sufficient to prove the truth of Christianity, are quoted as genuine, from the age in which they are said to be written, down to the present : and no other parts of them, material in the present question, are omitted to be quoted in such manner as to afford any sort of proof of their not being genuine.[2]"

"I should not be Christian but for the miracles"

— St Augustine of Hippo[3]


The Bible[edit]

Jesus is said to have performed many miracles, including walking on water, raising from the dead (both others and himself) and healing the sick by touch.


There are relatively few claims of Muhammad performing miracles.


Gautama Buddha is recorded as performing many miracles, along with other Buddhist sages.

Counter arguments[edit]

Assuming the Bible is accurate[edit]

Main Article: Argument from scripture

This argument assumes the Bible is true, which is questionable since it is full of false statements, contradictions and written long after the events by non-eye witnesses.

Redundant argument[edit]

  1. If the Bible is assumed to be true, the Bible confirms that God exists (e.g. Genesis 1:1 Bible-icon.png) and the argument is not required.
  2. If the Bible is not assumed to be true, the argument is based on an unsupported premise.

Accepting unreliable testimony from confirmation bias[edit]

Main Article: Outsider test

There is no other evidence of the miracles apart from the holy book that a man walking on water, or feeding 5000 with five loaves and two fishes, or turning water into wine. We are left solely with testimonial attestation of these events.

Imagine taking a number of tribesmen from New Guinea and subjecting them to a magic show. Afterward, it would be possible to collect as many testimonies as desired to the "fact" that, for example, the magician was beheaded by a guillotine, but was re-integrated and completely unharmed several minutes later. These testimonies are contemporary (indeed, as contemporary as is possible) and mutually corroborative, Moreover, these witnesses could be questioned to any degree. What would be our reaction? Would we take these testimonies as evidence and conclude, based only on them, that the magician really did have his head cut off and survive? Or would our incredulity at the likelihood of the event override the testimonies and lead us consider other alternatives (the tribesmen were fooled, they aren't remembering correctly, they're lying, etc.).

Would adding centuries of possible embellishment and distortion make the testimonies more, or less, credible?

The reason we reject their testimony is that we have prior experience that these things do not usually occur. We base our beliefs depending on the weight of the evidence, considering that such things might occur outside our experience and the possibility that the "miracle" witnesses were mistaken. This standard of evidence for miracles was suggested by John Locke and in David Hume's essay Of Miracles.

The primary reason such miracle testimony is accepted is that the believers' incredulity are overridden by their a priori assumption that their god, or Jesus, is all-powerful; the testimonies are worthless without it. This will shift the discussion in that direction.

Miracles don't prove God exists[edit]

"Now one point that John Lennox made, appealing to the resurrection [of Jesus], was to say if the resurrection is true there is a God. That doesn't follow at all. All that follows at most is there is some supernatural being capable of performing a physical resurrection of a human being. Why should that be omnipotent? Why should that be omniscient? Why should that be perfectly good? It could be a being that is doing it in order to dupe loads of us into having belief in a false religion.[6]"


  1. Gospel Way, Testimony #5: Miracles [1]
  2. Joseph Butler, The Analogy of Religion, Natural and Revealed, 1736
  3. The Westminster Collection of Christian Quotations, edited by Martin H. Manser
  4. Miracles of the Qur'an
  5. Islam and Miracles
  6. [2]

See also[edit]

External links[edit]

v · d Arguments for the existence of god
Anthropic arguments   Anthropic principle · Natural-law argument
Arguments for belief   Pascal's Wager · Argument from faith · Just hit your knees
Christological arguments   Argument from scriptural miracles · Would someone die for a lie? · Liar, Lunatic or Lord
Cosmological arguments   Argument from aesthetic experience · Argument from contingency · Cosmological argument · Fine-tuning argument · Kalam · Leibniz cosmological argument · Principle of sufficient reason · Unmoved mover · Why is there something rather than nothing?
Majority arguments   Argument from admired religious scientists
Moral arguments   Argument from justice · Divine command theory
Ontological argument   Argument from degree · Argument from desire · Origin of the idea of God
Dogmatic arguments   Argument from divine sense · Argument from uniqueness
Teleological arguments   Argument from design · Banana argument · 747 Junkyard argument · Laminin argument · Argument from natural disasters
Testimonial arguments   Argument from observed miracles · Personal experience · Argument from consciousness · Emotional pleas · Efficacy of prayer
Transcendental arguments   God created numbers · Argument from the meaning of life
Scriptural arguments   Scriptural inerrancy · Scriptural scientific foreknowledge · Scriptural codes