Miracles?

Yeah, yeah, Brandon made a post with this same title a while back. But mine has a question mark. So it’s different, see? See? Anyway, the subject matter is slightly different and it’s been, like, almost two months. Now that we’ve settled that this is an entirely different post from Brandon’s, we can continue.

What is a miracle?
A miracle is any event that betrays the laws of nature. It is not simply something science has no answer for, but something science and scientific laws explicitly state could not happen. It is a phenomenon which, without “divine guidance,” would otherwise be impossible. A meteor hurtling toward earth and then stopping, abruptly, about a mile before impact is an example of something that betrays the laws of nature and science and could legitimately be called a miracle.

Some people think a miracle is “anything that happens at just the right time when it is not expected.” This is okay, if you’d like to consider every single coincidence or stroke of good fortune a miracle. By that definition, you would say that winning the lottery is a miracle, but it would be one hell of a stretch to call it an act of god, let alone proof for god’s existence.

There are no miracles, ever.
Now that we’ve got that explanation out of the way, I can make my assertion: that there has never in history been such a phenomenon which, by the above definition, would be considered a miracle.

For the record, I should point out again that as an atheist I am prone to disregard the Bible as a factual account of historic events, so using any examples from the Bible would be completely futile. To argue while citing the Bible as proof is to assume the Bible is one hundred percent factual and accurate. That just doesn’t fly with an atheist. To quote Damon Wayons in one of his greatest characters ever, Homey don’t play dat.

Word of mouth also doesn’t count as a legitimate source. If that were the case, I could tell you that I fell from the top of a skyscraper the other day and landed head-first in a garbage bin full of nothing but broken glass and fire ants, yet suffered no injuries whatsoever. And you’d have to believe me. Because you believe personal accounts of miracles.

All that said, you are welcome to provide me with examples of any miracles for which there is not only documentation (from a reputable source) but, ideally, photo and/or video evidence.

Biblical miracles
Even the so-called miracles in the Bible can be more or less explained away by science. It is entirely possible that “back in the day,” natural events happened. God-fearing people did what they did best and feared god. They embellished the natural events in their tales and as they were passed down more and more through the generations, by the time they were written down they had been so embellished they could now be mistaken for miracles.

Look, I realize the Bible is an actual book. It was written by people who believed in the business they were writing down. That doesn’t make it any more accurate, however. While some of the primary parts of the Bible (Jesus, as an example) are clearly sampled from previous religions, I’m sure some parts are simply huge exaggerations of actual events. Fascinating stories require fascinating embellishments in order to be fascinating.

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8 thoughts on “Miracles?

  1. I hear religious people use the word “miracle” for events that are completely probable — the birth of a baby, for example, or the return of a missing dog. Whenever I hear a miracle story, I ask myself what is more likely, that the miracle actually happened or that the story is just that — a story.

  2. One of my favorite good scientific explanations for biblical “miracles” is that the star followed by the three “wise men” was actually a supernova, similar to and possibly based on SN 185, which shined in the sky both day and night for 8 months before fading away. No one could possibly imagine that a distant star had blown up light years away from us several millennia ago and that the light from that explosion was just hitting our planet. Hell, no one knew that the sun was a star back then, so how could we expect anything otherwise. Yet there are still people in this world who believe that god did some sort of magic to create a sign in the sky for some rich dudes to follow through the desert.

  3. A miracle is any event that betrays the laws of nature. It is not simply something science has no answer for, but something science and scientific laws explicitly state could not happen.

    This is an oversimplification of the term *miracle*. Atheists (Flew et.al) and Theists (Augustine, Aquinas, Spinoza) have offered up various definitions of the term miracle. In what sense are you referring to miracles (strong vs. weak?)

    Furthermore to assert as you do that miracles ‘betray’ the laws of nature seems to be a very unusual way of phrasing such an objection. By ‘betray’ do you mean violated? Assuming this is your meaning how do you know that the law has been violated? As the Physicist Sir George Stokes argued a miracle may not be a suspension of the laws rather a miracle is the new effect of a supernatural cause. You seem to acknowledge this view when you provide the analogy about the meteor.

    Your appeal to science commits you to a position that is untenable. You appeal to science which is based on observations (i.e. empirical data) However without even questioning this presupposition you dismiss miracles. This is a case of special pleading. Either empiricism provides for matters of fact as Hume would say or it does not. Which is it?

    While some of the primary parts of the Bible (Jesus, as an example) are clearly sampled from previous religions, I’m sure some parts are simply huge exaggerations of actual events.

    First, how do you know that Jesus was *sampled* ? The scholarly debate on this subject has never proved anything other than superficial similiarities between the so-called dying and rising savior myths (See Edwin Yamauchi’s work on the subject). Arguing that because something is similar *means* that it was borrowed is a non-sequitar.

    Finally, how do you know that these events did not occur? You are asking me to accept your testimony as authoritative because you did not have this experience, but there is no way for you to argue that they never happened. You can only say, you have never experienced one.

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  7. Miracles do not break the laws of nature! C.S. Lewis
    Is it more probable that nature should go out of her course or that a man should tell a lie? We have never seen, in our time, nature go out of her course. But we have good reason to believe that millions of lies have been told in the same time. It is therefore at least millions to one that the reporter of a miracle tells a lie. Thomas Paine, The Age of Reason

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