Tuesday, October 12, 2021

How To Argue For Miracles And Demonic Activity In Particular

Here's something I recently wrote in private correspondence about miracles. I was addressing a large number and variety of issues and providing links to articles that say more, so I didn't go into a lot of depth in the correspondence itself. I wasn't attempting to cover every category of miracle or every related issue.

One of the most popular types of evidence people want for miracles is video evidence, and I've written a post that discusses the subject and links some relevant videos:


That post gets into some of the conceptual difficulties involved (e.g., we can have video evidence for the fulfillment of prophecy, but many people won't include prophecy in a consideration of miracles; the videos don't settle disputes over other issues involved, such as how to interpret a Biblical passage containing the prophecy in question; etc.). There are other examples of miracles on video that can be cited, and I may write another post on the subject, but one of the points you might want to make is that we have a lot of video evidence for the paranormal. The common suggestion that we don't is false.

If you're going to address video evidence, one topic I recommend including is the evidence we have that some sources of paranormal activity don't want to be filmed. I discuss the subject near the end of my article on video issues linked above. The occurrence I cited from the Enfield case involving camera equipment that broke down in multiple highly unusual ways is a striking example that would provide a good illustration. That sort of interference with recording equipment happened frequently in the Enfield case. Here's an article that, in part, discusses the subject:


One reason why that sort of evidence is important is that it offers a partial explanation for why we don't have more video evidence and other types of evidence (though we have more than people often suggest). If something like a video camera breaks down in a way that seems paranormal, as happened in the Enfield case, then that's evidence that a source of paranormal activity doesn't want to be filmed. So, the idea that paranormal agents sometimes don't want to be filmed isn't just a speculation or a dubious excuse that's being offered for an absence of evidence. It's something that's been documented.

Another category that's often neglected is audio evidence. See my recent post on testing the knocking phenomena in the Enfield case. The post also makes reference to testing that's been done in other contexts. The article by Barrie Colvin that's linked there is especially significant:


A good source to go to and cite for paranormal issues in general is Stephen Braude. His book The Gold Leaf Lady (Chicago, Illinois: The University of Chicago Press, 2007) provides a good introduction to the paranormal from a non-Christian perspective. For deeper discussions of some of the best cases, see his treatment of the mediumship of D.D. Home in The Limits Of Influence (Lanham, Maryland: University Press of America, Inc., 1997) and Leonora Piper in Immortal Remains (Lanham, Maryland: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, 2003), for example.

One of the topics Braude often addresses is how difficult it is to determine the source of paranormal events. How do you know that something like a table levitation comes from a deceased human rather than a living one? What if some events are caused by the subconscious of a living individual or by somebody with some kind of dissociative identity disorder, for example, which would complicate an evaluation of whether paranormal activity is consistent with that person's characteristics, such as his interests and behavioral tendencies?

Braude makes a lot of good points on these issues, and Christians should learn from him and others who have made such points. We have good evidence for the truthfulness of Christianity and the Divine inspiration of the Bible, which in turn gives us good reason to believe in the existence of demons and demonic activity. And given how active demons were on earth during the Biblical era, it seems more likely than not that they would be active in earthly affairs to some extent in the post-Biblical era we're living in. Furthermore, some Biblical prophecies involve demonic activity on earth in the post-Biblical era. But none of that tells us whether something like an apparition in eleventh-century Spain or a table levitation in nineteenth-century England was caused by a demon or some other source. Making judgments about the source of a paranormal event is often much more difficult than people suggest, as Braude and others have rightly argued. So, you should be cautious in characterizing the sources of miraculous activity accordingly. You could make arguments for ongoing demonic activity in the world, as I have above, and cite examples of miraculous activity that seems to be of an evil nature and may come from demons (in other words, we have many plausible candidates for demonic activity in the post-Biblical world), but you need to be careful to not claim to know that something is demonic when you can't show that a demonic explanation is probable. You might want to report examples of phenomena that seem to be paranormal and seem to be of an evil nature, but leave the identity of the source of the activity unidentified. Explain to your readers that the demonic hypothesis is one of the explanatory options, and discuss the evidence for demons and their activity, like what I've mentioned above, but don't apply the demonic explanation where there's not adequate evidence for it. Many Christians have a tendency to appeal to the demonic explanation too quickly and too often, and that's given Christians a bad reputation in many circles.

The best source I'm aware of for documentation of extrabiblical Christian miracles is Craig Keener's work on the subject. Here are a couple of posts in which I discuss some of his more evidential examples:



For other sources on modern miracles, see the section on the argument from miracles at:


Regarding apparitions of Jesus:


You could also cite the evidence for answered prayer in the lives of individuals like George Muller:


If you want to include prophecy fulfillment among the miracles you cover, here's a page linking resources on fulfillments accomplished or corroborated by non-Christian sources. It includes modern fulfillments to some extent and ancient fulfillments that are often acknowledged by non-Christians:


I've experienced some apparently paranormal answers to prayer and coincidence miracles. I'll give some examples, but there are others I can't discuss for various reasons.

There was a lot of supernatural activity surrounding my father's death, which I hadn't expected and contrasts with the absence of such activity surrounding the deaths of other close relatives. For those and other reasons, it wouldn't make sense to dismiss what happened on psychological grounds (e.g., wishful thinking) or as a matter of mistaken interpretation. I'll cite a couple of examples, among other events that occurred.

My father died in 2012. He became a Christian shortly before his death, and my mother is a Christian (and was one when the event I'm about to describe occurred). During the afternoon one day in late 2013, my mother was doing some dusting and sweeping. She had her head down, about to start dusting one of the rooms (my old bedroom), and had a strong urge to look up. When she did, she saw my father walking across the hallway, looking at her (and smiling), after which he walked into my brother's old bedroom (directly across from mine). The walls in my bedroom should have prevented her from seeing most of the hallway, but she was able to see him through the wall. That initially doesn't seem to make sense. If there's going to be an appearance, why not have it occur in a more open area, where there wouldn't be so much blocking her view? But the place where my mother was standing at the time has a lot of significance to me and makes a lot of sense in the larger context, though I've never told her that. I suspect that her ability to see through the wall was meant to accommodate her being in the right place and to underscore the significance of her being there. The incident dovetails well with other events surrounding my father's death, including other paranormal events.

After my mother told me what happened, I asked her a lot of questions about it. (I took notes, which I recorded shortly after talking to her, and I've checked these comments against those notes.) She said she'd never had such an experience before. Every other paranormal experience she'd had was of a relatively minor variety, such as answered prayer. She wasn't expecting to see my father, at that point or at any other point leading up to the incident. She has no history of hallucinations or anything similar. She wasn't tired at the time. Doing common housework during daylight hours doesn't make somebody prone to hallucinate. She was confident that it was an objective experience. It would require multiple naturalistic explanations to dismiss what happened. Why did she have an urge to look up when her head was down? Why did she think she saw a deceased person she wasn't expecting to see? Did she just happen to think the incident occurred in a location that was so significant to me, without her knowing it? And the incident just happened to line up so well with and to so much help explain other incidents (which she also had no way of knowing)? For these and other reasons, I think it's highly probable that the event occurred and was paranormal.

In the weeks leading up to my father’s death, I had settled on a phrase from John 14:19 as something I’d like to place on his grave (“because I live, you will live also”). Shortly after his death and just before we made arrangements for what would be on his gravestone, my mother came across something my Dad had made, apparently something he made as a child in a church context. I don’t remember having ever seen it before. It was a painting featuring that phrase from John 14:19. My mother didn’t know about my intentions regarding that passage when she found the painting. That's not a Biblical passage that gets cited much, and I don't think there are many other objects from my father's childhood that were kept for so long, much less that we came across just before having to choose the design for his gravestone. The incident seems highly likely to be paranormal on multiple grounds.

These are a couple examples among other apparently supernatural events that occurred in the context of my father's death. Not only are the individual events significant when considered in isolation, but the cumulative pattern is significant as well.

That's another subject you may want to write about. Miracles are often clustered. They take on a higher significance in connection with other miracles.

No comments:

Post a Comment