Those who base their faith on miracles confuse the supernatural with the Supreme

Some people feel that their faith in God will be boosted if they see miracles performed by him. In fact, many people accept some godmen as God because of their purported power to perform miracles.

Irrespective of the bona fides of the miracles of such godmen, the more seminal issue is the bona fides of the notion that someone be deemed God based on his or her capacity to perform miracles.

This criterion is problematic because it conflates the supernatural with the Supreme. That is, it mistakes the capacity of a person to do something that can’t be explained naturalistically to be the proof of that person’s supremacy.

However, this reasoning is flawed because:

1. Our knowledge of naturalism may be incomplete : Nature is endlessly complex and our understanding of it is progressing. What can’t be explained naturalistically at present may be explainable naturalistically in the future. For example, survival of life within fire was considered impossible in the past, but pointers towards its possibility have come up with the discovery of thermophilic creatures. So too might be the case with the claimed capacity to miraculously produce ashes or fire.

2. Our conception of naturalism itself may be incomplete : There may be phenomena that may be material and naturalistic but beyond our present conception of naturalism. For example, yogis have mystic powers for mind-reading that come from manipulating the mental or subtle material level of reality – a level that is beyond today’s mainstream naturalism which assumes the gross material level to be the only reality.

Given these problems with inferences from miracles, they can’t be a sound basis for faith. The Bhagavad-gita shows the way to a sounder philosophical basis when it asks (18.63) for serious deliberation of its message before making choices about one’s faith.

Bhagavad Gita Chapter 18 Text 63

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Philosophy should expand our human sensitivity, not shrink it
As a basis of faith, miracles may supplement, but not supplant, philosophy

Author: Chaitanya Charan Das

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