Friday, October 25, 2013

Miracles

Hey, let's talk about miracles, because that's way more interesting than discussing Aristotle.

The first problem with miracles is how to define the word "miracle".  Some definitions make everything into a miracle, including lucky coincidences.  Some definitions make miracles impossible.  I think we want a definition which allows for miracles, but only after thorough investigation.

Of course, I'm Catholic, and I have been influenced by the Catholic Church, which is very strict when it comes to miracles.  Depending on which source you use, only a tenth to a third of all investigated miracles are officially confirmed as miracles.

A bad definition of "miracle" is "an event that cannot be explained".  Just because a person cannot explain an event, it does not mean that said event is a miracle.  Furthermore, it is often the case that something cannot be explained at the time it happened, but it can be explained later as human knowledge increases.  Why, if George Washington was brought back to life today, he would see miracles everywhere: flying machines, self-moving cars, lights which can be controlled by switches!

The famous definition of "miracle" comes from David Hume, who defines a miracle as "a transgression of a law of nature by a particular choice of God".  He then goes on to explain that miracles don't exist, and even if they did, it would be impossible to prove it.  Imagine a court trial, if you will.  On one side, you have the evidence of every human being who ever lived, observing that the laws of nature exist.  On the other side, you have a limited group, saying that a law of nature was temporarily broken at one point.  It is impossible for the limited group to create solid enough evidence to trump the other side.  It's just not going to happen.

Even Jesus Christ, the most famous miracle-worker of all time, was met with skepticism and indifference when he performed miracles.

What do you readers think?  Are miracles possible or impossible?  If a miracle occurs, is it possible to show that it was caused by God and not some other, unknown cause?

4 comments:

Anonymous said...

First, you have to define what a miracle is, which is near impossible to do due to its subjectivity. For example, you choose to define a miracle based off of Hume’s. Thomas Aquanis defined a miracle as, "whatever God does outside and beyond the order commonly determined or observed in nature.”

Stepping outside of Christianity and Buddhism would agree with Aquanis’ definition except that it would replace the word 'God' with the word 'mind'. The development and purification of the mind through ethical and meditational training can unleash powers not normally apparent which would usually be described as miraculous. Examples of these miracles include remembering one's former lives and knowing how to destroy the defilements of the mind. These, among other miraculous powers, often mentioned in the Buddhist scriptures, and sometimes manifested by the Buddha himself. In fact, when asked to perform a miracle in order to impress and thereby convert people, the Buddha refused, saying that education was the greatest of miracles, not him. From the Buddhist perspective, the ability to perform miracles is not proof of holiness and it need not have a spiritual value, although it may be used for the benefit of others. Put simply, you’re not supposed to profit from, or show off, miracles.

So, right away, we have conflicting definitions of what a miracle is, where it comes from, and how they’re supposed to be used. In Christianity, Jesus allegedly performed miracles in front of large crowds in order to prove his divinity. In Buddhism, the Buddha would argue this is a misuse of power. Who’s right?

You also get into the issue of what is a miracle/good to one, can be a curse/bad to another. For example, my father lost his left arm when he was 19 in Vietnam. He’s lived more of his life without his left arm then he has with it at this point in his life. After 40+ years, if his left arm suddenly regenerated, that, to the common man, could be a miracle. We wouldn’t know how it happened (from God, the mind, nature, etc.), but it would certainly be something…out there.

However, even though something physically “good” happened, it could be "bad" to that person. Like I said, he’s lived more of his life without a left arm then he has with it. He got a prosthetic once about 30 years ago and he hated it because he had to re-learn how to navigate his entire life again. He had to learn how to dress, cook, drive, etc. with two arms again. It was cumbersome to him, and it wasn’t something he wanted to go through again. The good news is, he can take a prosthetic off and go back to just his right arm, which he did. If he suddenly grew back his left arm, you can’t take that off. Even though it’s something good, an amputated limb coming back, it might not be good to that person. What is a “miracle” to one person, can be a "curse" to others.

Anonymous said...

please stop talking about religious things. Also, when are you going to play Dual Destinies.

Anonymous said...

Michael is late.

Sammy said...

In my opinion, I believe a miracle is something that is 100% God, and can't be explained any other way.

For example, my cousin (who is now about five or six years old) was born blind. My aunt and uncle went to all sorts of eye doctors around the country, and each one told them that he was in fact 100% blind, and would be his whole life. (He was about two or three at this time. It was very obvious that he was blind.)
That is, until one day, he woke up, and instead or reaching around and feeling for things like he used to, he was actually looking in its direction, and walking directly to it without any problem. His parents took him to the doctor, and they were amazed that his eyes were completely healed. In fact, he is the only one in his family of eight that doesn't even need to wear glasses.

In my opinion, that is a miracle. Something that people saw impossible, God was able to prove them wrong by bringing back Joshua's eye sight. Some people might say that it was just a coincidence, and that it had something to do with his growth, or that the doctors were wrong to begin with.

Jesus says that if you have as much faith as a mustard seed, you can tell a mountain to move, and it'll move. I believe that is also what a miracle is. If you have faith that God can perform miracles, and pray that he does, and that it is in his will, the miracle will occur. But I believe that to have a miracle happen in someone's life, that person, or someone in that person's life would have to be seeking God for a solution in the first place.