What is a miracle? What comes to mind when you hear the word?
That my wife would quit nagging for 10 minutes.
David Hume and Bayes’ Theorum, per the Craig vs Ehrmann debate.
Also, how a Boltzmann brain is as probable as Lawrence Krauss’s extraordinary evidence that the stars all line up in the sky and appear to everyone at the same time in their own language, saying, “I am God and I am here.” This in spite the fact that a Boltzmann brain is much more likely than our own observable universe.
“Miracle” is the label people give to events they believe to be rare and that they themselves cannot see an obvious explanation, with an implied so-called supernatural cause. It then often comes down either to a failure of probabilistic thinking (i.e. the event isn’t really rare, but seems rare to the person who doesn’t understand probability) or to an argument from ignorance.
What would you say to someone who claims to have experienced a miracle?
A few things comes to mind when I think about miracles.
The first is what might be considered “commonplace” miracles. Like holding your newborn baby for the first time and being struck by the amazing miracle of life, and how the coming together of two people resulted in this glorious new being, squirming in your arms. It’s walking in the woods and suddenly being struck with the miracle of our earth, our universe, our existence. It’s the fine threads that brings things about in our lives that you only see and understand after the fact, and realize that if just one thing had been different, X could never have happened. That sort of thing.
Then there are the “real world” miracles. Like my mother surviving her recent car accident, walking out of the mangled remains with nothing more than a bruised knee. It was as much a miracle of engineering and technology as anything else. It was also a miracle of coincidence that one of my best friends from high school witnessed it and was there to help my mother (and she still is astonished my mother survived).
Then there are the miracles that drive some people nuts, because there is no explanation. There’s the “miracle of the sun” at Fatima, witnessed by an estimated 100,000 people, and other unexplainable events and apparitions. There are medical miracles, such as a person having termincal cancer one day, then cured with no sign of it the next. Some miracles might be described as “supernatural,” while others simply have no explanation, but can be thoroughly examined and tested. Medical miracles are the ones easiest (relatively speaking) to acknowledge as such, because there can be so much hard evidence and documentation involved prior to the event.
I have read that one of the secular professions with the highest number of religious believers is in medicine. They see – or perhaps I should say, recognise – more miracles than almost any other profession, because they are elbows deep in some of the most difficult and traumatic times of people lives, trying to fix what’s wrong with them. A doctor treating a terminal patient who is suddenly healed knows intimately how impossible it is. They are in a position to *know* that what has happened cannot be explained. Likewise, emergency responders also are in a position to witness more miracles than others, and have the expertise and experience to know if something is just amazing coincidence, or blatantly impossible.
As an aside, one of the things I appreciate about the Catholic Church is that, for an event to be officially recognised as a miracle, substantial investigation is done first. They go out of their way to seek out experts who would *not* willingly accept something as a miraculous event, such as atheists. Only when all other possibilities are rules out will the Church officially recognise something as a miracle.
“Blatantly impossible” is a good definition of “miracle”. And though Kunoichi’s piece regarding the medical world can provide examples, I would further add that a true miracle is evidenced only by the testimony of witnesses to that miracle. What I mean is that the result of the miracle is that no other physical evidence of the miracle having happened may be present. If water is turned to wine, only wine will be present and no testing would reveal that the wine was once only water. Or perhaps a cripple walking would appear to have been one who always possessed the ability after being miraculously healed. It would necessarily leave one to state that “I know B is true now, but until B became true, A was the case, and A doesn’t just become B in the real world UNLESS a miracle occurs.” A miracle does not manifest in accordance with known laws of physics or of the physical world. They manifest regardless of known laws. They are “blatantly impossible” or physically impossible yet have occurred according to the testimonies of witnesses.
I have a book on Unexplained Mysteries and there’s stuff I think would be relevant to this thread. The Miracle of Fatima Kuinochi mentioned is in there. I’ll dig through it later on and see if I can find any other relevant information.
I found the book. There’s a bit in here called “Miracle Vegetables” where in 1997 a London grocer, Mr. Sidat, sliced an aubergine only to discover that the distribution of seeds spelled out “Allah.” It was viewed among his family and friends as a blessing from “Allah.” A few months later, different people discovered the Hindu symbol for “God” in their aubergines, which attracted even more public attention.
I’m reminded of a recent post by John Barron called “Cheesecake Jesus.”
There’s another one in here called “Maitreya and the Crystal Tears.” In 1996, a 12-year-old girl in Lebanon cried solid crystal tears from her eyes several times a day, accompanied by religious visions of the figure Maitreya, a Buddhist figure said to be the “future Buddha” of this world. Doctors could find no scientific explanation so labeled it “an act of God.”
Then there’s stuff in here about Seers and Oracles like Rasputin and Edward Cayce, medical miracles, and things like that. I’m not sure any of them are actual miracles, unless they all are and God has a sense of humor.
“I’m not sure any of them are actual miracles, unless they all are and God has a sense of humor.”
I’m not sure a lot of them should be considered miracles, either, but I do believe God has a sense of humour! LOL
Yeah. LOL. But consider the irony if they were actual miracles. “Allah,” Muslim in one vegetable. And a Hindu symbol in another. Crazy.
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