Eric Metaxas, best-selling biographer of Dietrich Bonhoeffer and William Wilberforce, has often sought to challenge a materialistic worldview that rules out the possibility of supernatural intervention in everyday life. His latest book, Miracles: What They Are, Why They Happen, and How They Can Change Your Life, continues that theme with a wide-ranging tour of philosophy, science, and personal testimony. Tim Stafford, CT senior writer and author of Miracles: A Journalist Looks at Modern-Day Experiences of God’s Power (Bethany House), spoke with Metaxas about opening the eyes of believers—and skeptics—to moments when a God beyond time and space seems to be reaching down into our world.
In the acknowledgements section of Miracles, you describe your editor’s determination to get you to write this book, and your determination to say no.
Isn’t that the funniest thing? For the first time in my life I’ve reached the point where I can write what I want to write. I’ve had in mind things I want to write, and this wasn’t one of them. I thought a book on miracles might be a great idea, but just because it’s a great idea doesn’t mean I’m supposed to do it. But my editor persisted, and eventually I thought, “He’s right. I should write this book.”
What made you change your mind?
It’s one of those topics that needs a kind of balance. It needs a level of skepticism and critical acumen, coupled with an open-mindedness and openheartedness to the subject. That’s rare. You usually find a hard-boiled journalist, or you find people gushing—a subjectivity that’s too subjective.
This is a subject at the heart of everything—to determine the nature of reality. Is this all there is? Is there something beyond the natural world? And if so, can we know? It’s not just a religious question.
You spend quite a bit of time on the discoveries of science, which is not something I expected in a book on miracles.
In asking the question, “What is a miracle?” I began with the parting of the Red Sea, healing a tumor, curing blindness—things that aren’t fluffy like a kitten in the sunlight. People say life is a miracle, and yes, this can be a cliché that doesn’t mean anything. But if you look at it in a different way, it’s a miracle and maybe the most hard-to-fathom and mind-blowing miracle.
From science we can get this idea that we absolutely should not be here. The existence of life is an unfathomable reality. I go into the fine-tuning of the universe, what’s called the anthropic principle. Most scientists, if they aren’t ignoring that, are contorting themselves impossibly to figure out a way out of it, like the multiverse theory. Incredibly, science has led us more and more to the idea that life is an outlandish impossibility and a miracle. The average person hasn’t heard this. This is news, huge news.
Maybe the most amazing thing for me is the existence of the moon, and how it came to be. You know, everybody looks at the moon. It’s not some obscure thing! The scientists’ explanation of how it came to be makes the parting of the Red Sea seem like nothing!
You say you are writing to both believers and non-believers. What do you hope these two audiences will come away with?
I want to challenge and inspire both. A believer should say, I am not enough in awe of God. Every breath genuinely is a gift. That’s not a cliché; that’s something I need to think about because science helps us understand how real that is. The way God designed the universe is a staggering thing, and I ought to be in awe. I ought to be praising God for this more than I probably am. And the same thing with the miracle stories I tell in the book. A believer should think, wow, I don’t know if I buy every one if these, but gee whiz, look at the welter of evidence just from people that Eric knows. I need to think about this. Maybe I ought to pray that God would speak to me in this way.
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SOURCE: Christianity Today
Interview by Tim Stafford