A: … What, like we don’t have video of him?
B: Well yeah, I suppose so.
A: But no one I know thinks he’s the sort of thing you can videotape. Maybe you could expect to have this sort of evidence for Olympians – though even then I’m not sure.
B: That’s not the way the Bible talks about it. The heavens are opening all the time, lepers are being healed, fire is coming down out of heaven, smoke is covering Mt. Sion. That seems easy enough to videotape.
A: “All the time” seems too strong. About half the Old Testament miracles are during the exodus to the Holy Land, which is a relatively short period in salvation history. After that, the miracles are mostly for Elijah, with a few famous ones in Daniel. The videotaping standard won’t even work on that many of them: sure, it would be impressive to see fire come down on Elijah’s altar, but would it be that impressive to see Daniel all night in the lion’s den? If you saw the widow’s son rise from the dead, wouldn’t you just assume he revived?
B: Ah ha! You don’t even find the evidence impressive! Maybe Daniel just got lucky (The Romans couldn’t always make lions eat criminals) Maybe Elijah just got lucky – there are all sorts of stories about people with no vital signs reviving.
A: I took it another way. Big, videotapable miracles seem to happen at phase transitions in Salvation History: the shift from Israel being a group of landless slaves to being a nation; the shift from this nation ruled by kings to being ruled by prophets; the shift from their being a nation to being a wandering people, etc. The first shift is the most significant and accounts for half the miracles, most of the rest occur at the second phase, and a few happen at the last, along with some outlier miracles on the fringes. A Christian would expect the greatest concentration of miracles to occur with Christ, and then for the great public miracles to cease.
B: So we’re in an inter-miracle period.
A: Like the vast majority of history. Scripture records two thousand years of narrative history, and not a hundred years of it are great times of miracle. Even that overstates the case since we certainly don’t mean that we find a hundred years of continuous miracles when we add them all up.
B: But then there really isn’t evidence.
A: I was only trying to speak to your claim that Scripture makes us expect that miracles happen all the time.
B: Okay, but that just leaves you proving a small point but losing the main one. When we look closer at Biblical evidence, we see that it’s either unconvincing (a lucky man in a lion’s den) or that it only happens in rare, transition moments of history. But we need evidence do get us to believe now!
A: But if miracles happen primarily at transition points in Salvation History, then they’re not meant to get unbelievers to believe but to get believers to change their beliefs. If anything, Scripture doesn’t hold out much hope for the power of miracles to cause unbelievers to believe. Consider Pharaoh. Consider that the plot to kill Christ was a response to the raising of Lazarus. Consider the final moral of Lazarus and Dives.
B: You can’t deny that a world with more signs and evidence is one where more people would believe. You can’t doubt that if everyone saw the heavens open up that belief would be far more reasonable.
A: I think that’s exactly what we’re disagreeing about. Your idea of God is a counterfactual opposed to both what we know about God by reason (which gives us no reason to expect videotape-style evidence or great theophanies) and what we know by revelation (since Scripture sees miracles as for believers) Just where are you getting this view of God that tells you he should open up the skies for everyone? What source of evidence can you appeal to prove this is the sort of thing that a God would do?