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Book's List > Muhammad and Christ > Chapter 1: Miracles > Section 1: General Remarks

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Chapter 1: Miracles --
Section 1: General Remarks
:

The Gospels are full of the stories of the miracles wrought by Jesus Christ and in them, as in nothing else, is thought to lie the argument of his Divinity. Even the central fact in the Christian religion is a miracle: if Jesus did not rise from among the dead the Christian faith and the preaching of Christianity is in vain. Religious duties, normal teachings and spiritual awakening do not occupy the place which miracles do in the Gospels. The dead are made to rise from their graves, multitudes of the sick are healed, water is turned into wine, devils are cast out, and many other wonderful deeds are done. Suppose for the sake of argument that this record of Gospels is literally true; what was the effect of this on the lives of those who witnessed these miracles? The miraculous in a prophet's life is needed to assure the people of the truth of his message and to convince the ordinary mind that being a possessor of extraordinary powers he must be followed in spiritual matters. The bringing about of a moral and spiritual transformation is admittedly the real object, the miraculous being only needed as a help towards the attainment of that object. The former at most may be looked upon as the means to an end, the latter is the end itself. The best evidence of miracles thus consists in the effect they produce.

The most important question for us therefore is: supposing Jesus wrought all the miracles recorded in the Gospels, what was the result? How great was the success he attained in bringing about a transformation? One Gospel tells us that Jesus was followed by multitudes of sick persons who were all healed, another says that many were healed. Now, if either of these statements were true, not a single person should have been left in the land who should not have believed in Jesus. It is inconceivable that those who saw such extraordinary deeds done by Jesus Christ should have rejected him as a liar. They saw the sick healed and the dead raised to life and yet they all disbelieved in him as if not a single miracle had been wrought! And how strange that even the great multitudes that were healed do not seem to have been believers in Jesus, though the Gospels tell us that faith was a condition prior to being healed; for if even these multitudes had believed in Jesus he would have had a following at the time of his crucifixion far more numerous than he actually had, and sufficiently large to baffle the authorities.

But what do we find? The following of Jesus is poor, not only as regards number, but also as regards its character. From among the five hundred that followed him he chose twelve who were to sit on twelve thrones, who were to be entrusted with the work after the Master, and these twelve showed a strange weakness of character, the greatest of them, Peter, denying Jesus thrice for fear of being treated harshly by the enemies, and not even hesitating to curse when he thought that a curse was the only means of escape. The others even durst not approach Jesus, while one of the chosen ones turned out to be a traitor. On an earlier occasion when Jesus asked them to pray for him, he found them all asleep. Often had he to rebuke them for having no faith. Who was it in the world on whom the miraculous deeds of Jesus, if they were ever done, made an impression? The mere fact that Jesus was unable to bring about any transformation either on his friends or foes, is a sufficient testimony that the stories of miracles were invented afterwards.

The poorness of the result attained by Jesus Christ notwithstanding all the stories of miracles becomes the more prominent when compared with the wonderful results attained by the great World Prophet that appeared in Arabia. The Holy Prophet had before him a nation which had never before been guided to truth, among whom no prophet had appeared before him, the attempts at whose reformation by both the Jews and the Christians had proved an utter failure. This nation had, both as regards material civilisation and moral calibre, been sunk in the depth of degradation, and for centuries the voice of the reformers had fallen on deaf ears. Yet within less than a quarter of a century a wonderful transformation was brought about. The old evils had all disappeared, and ignorance and superstition had given place to love of knowledge and learning. From the disunited elements of a people who did not deserve the name of a nation had sprung up a living and united nation before whose onward march in the world the greatest nations of the world were powerless and whose civilisation and knowledge fed the world for long centuries. But this material advancement was only the result of an inner change, of a moral and spiritual transformation, the equal of which has not been witnessed in the world. Thus both morally and materially, Muhammad, may peace and the blessings of God be upon him, raised a nation from the depths of degradation to the highest plane of advancement. As against this, what did Jesus do? He had before him the Jewish nation read in scriptures and practising many virtues at least externally. He also found them living under a civilised government with advantages of a material civilisation to help their progress. In spite of these advantages he was unable to produce the least change in the life of that nation as a whole. If the effect was so poor, it is impossible that anything great was done. In this light, the stories of the miracles are clearly pure inventions or exaggerations made to compensate for the apparent failure.

A critical examination of the Gospels leads to the same conclusion. Mark 8:12 contains a plain denial of signs:

And he sighed deeply in his spirit, and saith, Why doth this generation seek after a sign? Verily I say unto you, There shall no sign be given unto this generation.

Similar statements are contained in the other Gospels; see Matt. 12:39; 16:4; Luke 11:29.

Then certain of the Scribes and the Pharisees answered, saying, Master, we would see a sign from thee. But he answered and said unto them, An evil and adulterous generation seeketh after a sign; and there shall no sign be given to it, but the sign of the prophet Jonas (Matt. 12:38, 39).

Here we have a plain denial to show any sign except the one sign of Jonas, which is understood by some commentators as meaning the sign of preaching, by others as remaining in the grave (alive of course, as Jonas was) for three days and three nights. If Jesus worked such great wonders, how was it that the Pharisees asked for a sign and how was it that Jesus refused to show any sign. In answer to their demand, he ought to have referred to the testimony of the thousands that had been healed; in fact, the masses around him should have silenced the questioners by their evidence. But no such thing happened. The commentators say that the Pharisees asked for a greater sign than the healing of the sick "to which they were accustomed." If it was indeed so, then too it is clear that Jesus' healing of the sick was nothing extraordinary. And why did not Jesus refer to his raising of the dead?

Again, Mark tells us that Jesus was unable to do any mighty work in Nazareth, save healing a few sick persons: "And he could there do no mighty work, save that he laid his hands upon a few sick folk, and healed them." This too shows Jesus' inability to work any miracle, the healing of the sick being looked upon as a very ordinary occurrence. These statements are a clear evidence that the stories of wonderful works were invented afterwards, or at least there is much exaggeration in them.

 

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Introduction

Chapter 1: Miracles; Section 2: Raising the Dead to Life

Book's List > Muhammad and Christ > Chapter 1: Miracles > Section 1: General Remarks

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