Alister McGrathAt one point in Dr. Richard Dawkins' interview with Dr. Alister McGrath, Dawkins proposes a scenario: A disaster of some sort occurs where 1000's are killed, but one child survives. Dawkins asks McGrath if God saved that one child, and McGrath affirms that yes, God did save that one child. Dawkins is perplexed by this, because the natural question that arises from McGrath's answer (that God saved the one child) is: Why God did not save the other children?

That particular question could be addressed by appealing to God's transcendent knowledge and so forth. However, my answer to Dawkins' inquiry would've differed from McGrath's response. I might have said something like this … well, if I was quick enough to respond somewhat articulately in the heat of the moment, that is:

No, I don't think we can say that God saved that one child. Neither can we say that God did NOT save that one child. While God has the power to supersede the natural order, unless there is evidence that He has done so in a particular situation we should not automatically conclude that He has done so. In this hypothetical scenario, there just isn't enough information given to make that decision. The issue we're really talking about here is whether a certain event was caused by miraculous intervention by God or not. I would not claim that God miraculously intervened unless the context of the event supported this conclusion.

A similar example of this came up earlier in their discussion, regarding the issue of Jesus' resurrection. If claims existed that Karl Marx had been raised from the dead, these claims would differ from the resurrection accounts because (among other reasons!) there was in the first century socio-religious context present to make sense of the meaning of Jesus' resurrection. It was not simply a curious event that had no greater meaning; it was in fact triumphantly meaningful.

Of course, McGrath's reply that it is right and proper to be thankful for the blessings we receive is correct; however I would just be more hesitant to say that God had worked a miracle in a particular situation.