What makes a good miracle? It has to be believable right? No, what are you thinking!! If it were wholly believable we wouldn’t say it was a miracle now would we. Saying “It’s a miracle I made it to work on time with this traffic” is much less a miracle claim than saying “My leg grew back! It’s a miracle!!” So given those two examples, which would you believe out right? Obviously the former. So the more outlandish the claim, the more we start to define them as miracles. Agree?
It follows that miracles would have to be something that don’t happen very often or then they would become more plausible and less outlandish. So outlandish and infrequent to the tune of being unreproducible, a start to a definition of miracle?
What about who performs miracles? Can anyone perform these things? I’m sure given the right audience and the right miracle performer it would appear so. Many have been miraclelized (my new word, what a miracle of revelation!) in tent revivals, but upon further inspections, only charlatans were found. Over and over again, miracles are claimed to have been performed by countless people and over and over again naturalistic or fraudulent explanations have overruled the miraculous. Without the evidence of people performing miracles, who else could do them? If it’s not natural for a miracle to happen, why not ascribe it to a supernatural cause? Brilliant!! Now our definition of miracle can be expanded, an outlandish and infrequent event, ascribe to the realm of the supernatural. I’m sure we could tweak that definition some and maybe we will but that’s a good skeleton to work from.
With this definition in hand, let’s examine a miracle claim.
Someone comes up and tells you they have teleportation device, they’ve used it and know it works, they’ve experienced it first hand and know without a shadow of a doubt it works. My first reaction is, great, let’s go see it!! They then tell you, well you can’t really see it, you have to believe in it and then you will see it and experience it. Your look of wonder and amazement quickly turns to an incredulous one…
You might think this would provide pause or a stumbling block, ohhhh noooo; actually it enlivens your more credulous acquaintance. In order to convince you he points to a book that, amazingly enough talks all about belief in teleporters!! It’s a miracle! The book, on the surface anyway, seems to support his claim, just believe in teleporters and you can have your own too!
You’re still not convinced?? This acquaintance pulls more teleportation device ammo out of his bag. This book of teleportation is really old, I mean really really old. If it’s that old, then of course that lends more credibility to claim of belief in teleportation…..what’s that you say? Age of documents or people or anything else in no way gives it any more or less truth value? Hmmmm, interesting……
Still giving it the good fight, this maestro of malarkey tells you that a lot of people believe this and have their own teleporters but unfortunately you can’t see theirs either. If all these people believe it, why wouldn’t you? Don’t you know the truth can be discerned through a simple majority….
The incredulous look remains…
This painful allegory is probably above any but the extremely apt and the most cerebrally gifted to comprehend. The point remains…what evidence would you accept for a miracle?
Eye witness testimony? No
Written eye witness testimony? No
Really, really, really old documents? No
Really, really, really old documents that tell you they are inspired and true? I love a circle, but no
Video tape evidence? More compelling, but Bigfoot tells me I need more.
A lot of people telling you it’s true? No
Reproducible, testable, measurable demonstration of said event, with some predictions for future demonstrations of said event that can themselves be tested and measured and repeated that lead to more predictions that can then be tested and measured and………..no wait, lost it, that’s crazy talk
That seems to be the antithesis of our miracle definition….It seems miracles by their very definition are unprovable and if we look at all the possibilities, the least likely. So on what grounds do we have to believe them? I say very little to none at all. Then why are so many of us prone to believe this nonsense? Nonsense such as I went to church, said some words, believed something, now my high blood pressure is cured, my arthritis is cured, my (in my best Wilford Brimley voice) diabetes is cured, my leg grew back…oh wait none of that ever happens. The person cured of high blood pressure is admitted through the emergency department for a stroke, the person with arthritis can’t move out of bed the next morning, the diabetic is found in a diabetic coma and the amputee is lucky because all they have to do is look down to see it didn’t work.
Or maybe you are a less of a big miracle kinda person and you go for instead the miracle of surviving a car wreck, going into and out of surgery without any complications, the miracle of childbirth, finding a close parking space, finding a Starbucks close by, thank Vishnu…
These in no way fit the definition of miraculous. You survive a car wreck in spite of your alcohol level and not wearing your seatbelt, wonderful welcome to the exception to the rule party. You survive and actually walk out of the hospital from your triple bypass caused by years of a horrible diet, cigarettes, alcohol, obesity and of the lone exercise of finding the remote, thank your nurses, docs, techs, the guy who empties the garbage, etc. Hell, thank yourself too for that matter. All are more deserving than assigning this to some miracle caused by some supernatural agent. It cheapens every bit of work the hundreds and thousands of people who worked their ass off to be able to provide the care and technology to keep you alive.
Next time, before you claim a miracle, take a step back and really look. Isn’t there something else there that might explain the situation better……It’s a miracle, it is finished…….