We would expect God intervene a lot in our world to prevent misery. But there are at least three things that could give God reason limit his interventions:
- The value of our trusting in him without being overwhelmed by the obviousness of his interventions.
- The danger that we would end up counting on miracles, which would undermine our motivations for helping others.
- The intrinsic value of the world proceeding according to its natural course.
Notice, however, that considerations (1) and (2) only apply to evident miracles, though (3) applies to all. Thus while God always has general reasons to refrain from miracles, those reasons are stronger when the miracles would be evident. Thus if the reasons God has against evident miracles--namely reasons (1), (2) and (3)--are sometimes overcome, we would expect the reason God has against non-evident miracles--namely reason (3) alone--to be overcome as well. (This is not a conclusive argument, because there are also special benefits to evident miracles, namely that God's message spreads.) Hence if there are evident miracles, we would expect that there would likely be hidden miracles as well. I am imagining here cases like this. Francis has early, undetectable cancer. But God has things for Francis to do, plus God doesn't want Francis to suffer, and so he miraculously stops the cancer before anybody knows about it. (Transsubstantiation is also an invisible miracle, but I am not counting it as hidden, since God has made it known that it occurs.)
Given (1)-(3), we could imagine God doing something like this in response to the misery of the world. First, he draws a rough limit nv on how many visible miracles can happen without seriously endangering (1), (2) and (3). That number might be relatively small. Second, he draws a rough limit nh on how many hidden miracles can happen without seriously endangering (3). That number is likely to be much larger. So now we have two questions very relevant to the problem of evil:
- Do we have reason to think there are fewer than about nv visible miracles?
- Do we have reason to think there are fewer than about nh hidden miracles?
(Some people wouldn't count hidden miracles as "miracles", because miracles must be wondrous--they must speak of God and his ways. That's just a terminological point as far as this post is concerned.)