El milagro de los milagros

A viewer of televangelist Pat Robertson’s 700 Club asked an obvious but important question about Miracles.  Here it is (via Raw Story via Reddit):

On Monday’s episode of CBN’s The 700 Club, Robertson responded to a viewer who wanted to know why “amazing miracles (people raised from the dead, blind eyes open, lame people walking) happen with great frequency in places like Africa, and not here in the USA?”

That is a good question.  For one famous answer, see David Hume.  For another answer, listen to Pat Robertson:

“People overseas didn’t go to Ivy League schools,” the TV preacher laughed. “We’re so sophisticated, we think we’ve got everything figured out. We know about evolution, we know about Darwin, we know about all these things that says God isn’t real.”

“We have been inundated with skepticism and secularism,” he conintued. “And overseas, they’re simple, humble. You tell ‘em God loves ‘em and they say, ‘Okay, he loves me.’ You say God will do miracles and they say, ‘Okay, we believe him.’”

And that’s what God’s looking for. That’s why they have miracles.”

One could argue the reverse ought to be the case: you need a background knowledge of the laws of nature in order to appreciate their violation.  But what does he know, he didn’t live in Africa.

8 thoughts on “El milagro de los milagros”

  1. Such simple people over in the massive continent called Africa.

  2. Hey John,
    So I wonder, especially given the new movements in religious epistemology these days placing a focus on participant evidence, whether the argument could go a little differently. Here’s a shot: for you to appreciate the communicative acts of X for what they are, you’ve got to be in a regular communicative relationship with X or be a regular speaker/hearer of a shared language. The trouble with the West is that with secularism, we don’t speak God’s language anymore, so we become insensitive to his communications to and with us. It’s not that those in Africa are merely simple, its that they aren’t falsely sophisticated with their naturalisms and scientisms, which plug their ears to and prevent their appreciation of God reaching out to them. It is, as C.S. Lewis argued, less a case that miracles establish that God exists, but more that miracles are seen when one has an established relationship with God.

  3. Hey Scott–

    I think that would be an iron man version of it. But I think Robertson is making a different claim from the one you’re making. He saying that Miracles do not happen here on account of our scientific attitude. God goes where he is appreciated. He is appreciated, so it appears, in Africa.

  4. This sounds like an argument against elitism, similar to the argument made by the political right against common sense, err, science. As you learn more things, you lose your faith, so you should not learn things, just like those poor Africans who don’t learn things (e.g. because they are kept in poverty). Don’t go to school, read the Bible!

    Also, I can totally see scarequotes around ‘skepticism’ and ‘secularism.’

    Lastly, I just moved to Africa, I’m an highly educated American, and I read this blog. What does that make me? Anecdotal evidence against Pat Robertson’s argument? 😉

  5. Scott,
    Love your CS Lewis reference.

    John,
    Comparing Pat Robertson to David Hume it’s like comparing Rosie O’donnell to Thomas Aquinas. 🙂

  6. @Sean Leather, I’m certain that Robertson would be very surprised to find that a great number of those “simple” Africans are highly educated. A simple visit to Kenya, Ghana, Zimbabwe or any other country with a large population of highly educated people would be anecdotal evidence enough to reveal Robertson’s ignorance.

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