In my previous question Do any Christian groups pray for the sick to get healed of medically incurable diseases?, a user posted this answer. And in response, about some claimed healings, a skeptical third user posted the following comments (emphasis mine):
Are there any witnesses (other than the one claiming the event) to the raising of one from the dead ? What of the 'seven doctors' who proclaimed the death (an unusually large number of doctors to pronounce a decease). Are they available to testify to the 'resurrection' on the morning afterwards ? Surely this notable event is catalogued in The Lancet ? Do you have the reference ?
Any sign from heaven, that is to testify to the glory of the risen and ascended Lord Jesus Christ, will have providences surrounding it (as we see in the gospels and in Acts) such that witnesses will be present and proper documentation will ensue in order that the event may be, properly and reliably, testified to across the whole world. Any event lacking such providences immediately becomes invalid. These momentous events are not done in a corner.
Similar ideas were shared by another user in response to my related question How do Cessationists who believe in modern-day miracles judge the credibility of modern miracle claims? :
What criteria do Cessationists use to inspect a modern miracle claim and decide whether it is believable or not?
Cessationists would use the same criteria that a general critical thinking Christian uses: a supernatural event that is not explainable by natural or scientific laws. (see Wikipedia article on Miracle). Although different than atheists who may a priori eliminate even the possibility of a miracle (i.e., they exclude any kind of supernatural causes), Cessationists (who because they are Christians allow the possibility of God performing miracles) ask for roughly the same rigor of evidence an atheist would ask.
For example, if the claim is resurrection from the dead, Cessationists would ask for the following medical evidence:
- Doctor's report on the cause of death
- A period of time when the patient is confirmed to be dead
- A period of time when the patient is confirmed to be alive
To be more precise, let's use Aquinas's scheme of 3 degrees of miracles described in Summa Contra Gentiles (quoted here). I believe Cessationists / general Christian would allow the first two degrees as miracles, and possibly the third one as well (case by case):
Highest rank: nature can never do. Examples: an amputated leg was restored, sea open up and offer a way through which people may pass.
Nature can do, but not in this order. Examples: a patient who has been brain-dead longer than 10 minutes came back to life without permanent brain damage, a blind person from birth can see (and his vision stays for the rest of his life). Jesus's resurrection would most likely be in this category.
God does what is usually done by the working of nature (thus beats statistical probability). Examples: a person may be cured by divine power from a fever which could be cured naturally, rain suddenly poured down when all weather scientists say it's extremely unlikely, etc. About the sudden reversal of Joy's bone cancer in Nov 1957 C.S. Lewis wrote in a letter: "the cancerous bones have rebuilt themselves in a way quite unusual and Joy can now walk" and regarded it as a miracle, even though the cancer came back about 2 years later.
In all 3 degrees above, there is an empirical evidence, which can enlist an instrument to aid regular human perception, such as a microscope, genetic analysis, multi-spectral video to allow infrared / radio signal, etc. Obviously, the first two degrees are easier to prove, and help exclude the usual objections: lack of proper verification, psychosomatic, temporary healing, etc.
Question: How do believers in concrete present-day cases of miraculous healings respond to objections by skeptics requesting thorough and indisputable scientific medical verification, that anyone on any part of the world should be able to have access to, based on the assumption that God will always ensure providentially that such level of evidence will be available to validate each and every one of the miracles He ordains, so that belief in such reports will be epistemologically justified?