The Case Against Miracles

I'm done writing and editing books, so I'm highlighting each one of them in thirteen separate posts. This time we look at The Case against Miracles. [See Tag Below]

After a two year break from producing another anthology (2017-18), due mostly to dating and marrying my wife Sheila. I finally decided to do one again. My decision came from debates on Facebook with Richard Carrier and Matthew Ferguson over the use of Bayes' Theorem in assessing miracles, plus the prodding of Richard Miller (who now posts here at DC). Dr. Miller and I were going to co-edit the book together but it just didn't work out. I thank him for prodding me to do it, and I think the book might have been better if it had worked out.

Inside this book is a major defense of David Hume on miracles, including why he didn't use Bayes' Theorem in doing so. David Corner, who unexpectedly and unfortunately died just before the book was published, expertly defended Hume in chapter 1. I defend Hume from his critics in my Introduction, and in chapter 3. The book ends with an Epilogue, letting Hume have the last word. The Appendix is a positive review of Humean scholar William L. Vanderburgh's book, David Hume On Miracles, Evidence, and Probability. I have published that Appendix right here.

Table of Contents

Foreword: On Miracles and Truth by Michael Shermer


Part 1 Miracles and the Abject Failure of Christian Apologetics

1| Miracles and the Challenge of Apologetics By David Corner

2| God Would Not Perform Miracles By Matt McCormick

3| Extraordinary Claims Require Extraordinary Evidence By John W. Loftus

4| Properly Investigating Miracle Claims By Darren M. Slade

5| Assessing Keener’s Miracles By Edward T. Babinski

6| The Abject Failure of Christian Apologetics By John W. Loftus

7| Why Do Christians Believe in Miracles? By Valerie Tarico

Part 2 Properly Investigating the Miracle of Biblical Revelation

8| Why the Romans Believed the Gospels By R. G. Price

9| How the New Testament Helped Jesus Fulfill Prophecy By Robert J. Miller

10| The Prophetic Failure of Christ’s Return By Robert Conner

11| Five Inconvenient Truths vs Biblical Revelation By David Madison

Part 3 Properly Investigating Key Biblical Miracles

12| Evolution is a Fact! By Abby Hafer

13| Old Testament Miracle Genres as Folklore and Legend By Randall Heskett

14| Science, Miracles and Noah’s Flood By Clay Farris Naff

15| Jesus Christ: Docetic Demigod By Robert M. Price

16| Miracles of the Christian Magicians By Robert Conner

17| Credulity at Cana? By Evan Fales

18| The Resurrection of Jesus Never Took Place By John W. Loftus

19| Paul’s Christianity By Robert Conner


Appendix: In Defense of David Hume: On Proof and Mathematical Probability, by John W. Loftus

Two Reviews:

This anthology has received some very high praise (Click Here), including these two substantive reviews:

Dr. Gregory Michna, Assistant Professor of History and Political Science, at West Virginia University reviewed it. Michna starts off as a mind reader, saying: "Loftus envisioned the collection as a response to Lee Strobel’s 2018 book, The Case for Miracles." Not so. It's an independent anthology irrespective of Stobel's book.

He praises the book in these words:
The assorted contributors who provided essays for The Case Against Miracles offer a range of arguments—from the philosophical and intellectual to specific historic deconstructions—suggesting that miracles fly in the face of reason and should be met with credulity. They provide a wide survey of issues inherent in miraculous claims that will give any reader much to consider.
The other review was by the late great Tom Flynn, senior editor of Free Inquiry magazine [June/July 2021, Vol. 41, No, 4]. He wrote:
In 2008, John W. Loftus launched what would become a definitive series of anti-apologetic works. The Case against Miracles is the capstone volume of this astonishing output, and it's an impressive achievement. Any thoughtful Christian whose conviction rests on the evidence of miracles who reads this book with an open mind will be hard pressed not to abandon--or at least profoundly rethink--his or her beliefs. Of course, true believers seldom approach works critical of their faiths with an open mind, which is why The Case against Miracles will probably be of greater value to secular students of religion and especially to those drawn to the challenges of anti-apologetics.
When it comes to my chapter 18 on the resurrection of Jesus, in the Foreword Michael Shermer said, "Loftus devotes a chapter to this greatest of all miracles—the resurrection—and it is the best analysis I’ve ever read." Wow! I thought to myself!

In it I mentioned the theories that help explain the origins of the belief in Jesus' resurrection. I stressed one theory above all the rest:
One theory has recently been defended by Kris Komarnitsky, author of Doubting Jesus’ Resurrection: What Happened in the Black Box? He has done an excellent job of showing what could have happened in an online post on Mathew Ferguson’s blog titled, The Rationalization Hypothesis: Is a Vision of Jesus Necessary for the Rise of the Resurrection Belief? [46] I find it to be the most detailed defense of this theory, making it worth considering, complete with four real-life examples of it in history. He takes issue with the bereavement visionary hypothesis of the disciples, widely regarded as a plausible naturalistic explanation for the data, and argues instead for what he calls the cognitive-dissonance-induced rationalization hypothesis. The question he discusses is whether bereavement visions produced the belief that Jesus arose from the dead, or whether the resurrection belief came first due to cognitive dissonance reducing rationalizations, favoring the later. Go read it. Now! Forget the swoon theory that Jesus didn’t actually die, the conspiracy theory that the disciples purportedly concocted to perpetrate a hoax, the impersonation theory that someone impersonated Jesus, or the unknown tomb theory where the disciples went to the wrong tomb.
I linked to his essay right here. You can also get it directly as a pdf file. I mention this becase everyone should read and share that essay!

Bayes' Theorem

After this anthology came out I wrote a definitive essay on why Bayes' Theorem is not the right tool in critically assessing miracles. The right tool is Hitchens's Razor. I have further defended what I wrote on Bayes here.

Miracles and the Virgin Birth

After this anthology came out I debated Catholic apologist William Albrecht on the virgin birth. I have come to think the gateway to doubting the gospels can be found by examining the miracle tale of a virgin birthed incarnate god.


John W. Loftus is a philosopher and counter-apologist credited with 12 critically acclaimed books, including The Case against Miracles, God and Horrendous Suffering, and Varieties of Jesus Mythicism. Please support DC by sharing our posts, or by subscribing, donating, or buying our books at Amazon. As an Amazon Associate John earns a small amount of money from any purchases made there. Buying anything through them helps fund the work here, and is greatly appreciated!