Are there miracles?


#1

Let’s make sure we define the word miracle in the same way: “an event which cannot be explained by natural causes”. I hope we can agree on this definition.

With this definition comes the question: how can we declare that an event was a bona fide miracle? Suppose we see something that our level of knowledge cannot explain. The only honest way to put it: “as of now, our knowledge does not provide a natural explanation”. That does not preclude that the event cannot be explained in natural terms, merely that we don’t have an explanation today.

The event we observe would happen in nature. That is a fact. To state that the cause is supernatural would require omniscience, the person who would assert that would have to know that a natural explanation is forever impossible. Since we have no omniscience, we can never be sure that there is no natural explanation. Therefore it is always an error to declare something miraculous.

Besides, what would qualify as a true miracle? Suppose God came down and would start healing amputees, by the wave of his hand. Would that be a true miracle? It would not. Maybe there is a natural explanation for it. A better example of a miracle would be something that contradicts our knowledge of natrue. If God came down and would declare the next ten Powerball winners, along with the exact amount they will win in the future, now that would be astonishing.

Would it qualify as a miracle? No, it would only tell us, that our understanding of time is incomplete.

Miracles do not exist, only lack of knowledge exists.


#2

Since miracles are not doctrine or dogma, the Church only states that with what we now know of science and medicine, this event/healing has no natural explanation. This does not preclude that at some future time a natural explanation might be forthcoming. As far as I know, however, no miracle the Church has recognized has ever had a rational explanation. And yes, the Church has doctors and scientists examine such events/healings who have no connection to the Church and nothing to gain by lying and goes by their findings.


#3

[quote=Della]Since miracles are not doctrine or dogma, the Church only states that with what we now know of science and medicine, this event/healing has no natural explanation. This does not preclude that at some future time a natural explanation might be forthcoming. As far as I know, however, no miracle the Church has recognized has ever had a rational explanation. And yes, the Church has doctors and scientists examine such events/healings who have no connection to the Church and nothing to gain by lying and goes by their findings.
[/quote]

I do not doubt your sincerity or the examiners’ sincerity at all. As long as one keeps an open mind we can all learn and benefit from the pursuit of knowledge.


#4

[quote=Hitetlen]As long as one keeps an open mind we can all learn and benefit from the pursuit of knowledge.
[/quote]

An absolute statement such as this last one does not reflect an “open mind.” :wink:


#5

[quote=Della]Since miracles are not doctrine or dogma, the Church only states that with what we now know of science and medicine, this event/healing has no natural explanation. This does not preclude that at some future time a natural explanation might be forthcoming.
[/quote]

Is the first part of this statement correct? In the case of cannonization: this is said to be infallible, and part of the requirements for cannonization are miracles. Doesn’t that show that miracles are doctrine?


#6

In a sense, it is really not possible to say that something is a miracle without certain presuppositions about the world (namely that there is a supernatural entity who would do such a thing). To illustrate:

Let’s take a trip way back when, to when Roentgen leaves a sample of radium in a drawer with some photographic plates. Now, what he later observed - that the plates had become marked - could not be explained by natural causes. There was no way that this event could fit in the current picture of nature. So what did Roentgen and the other scientists at the time conclude? Not that this was a miracle with supernatural causes - but rather they modified their picture of the natural world so that it could explain this phenomenon (and some others).

In other words, when we come across some phenomenon currently unexplainable, and in principle unexplainable by our current theories of the natural world, we can either appeal to supernatural causes, or we can modify our picture of the physical world. But which way we decide depends on our previous presumptions about the world in general.


#7

So you assert that it might have a natural explanation, and then conclude it is not a miracle?

You seem to be polluting the premises of your logic with imaginings, and then acting as if your conclusions are legitimate.

Suppose I asserted that everything I read on this forum might be generated by a computer program, therefore none of these people really exist?

The fact is, if the instantaneous replacement of missing limbs has a natural explanation, then why does it not happen naturally?

Perhaps to the one who has the knowledge and power, it would not seem “miraculous”.

But to the poor recipient, it certainly is.

But this reminds me of an ungrateful spirit that depreciates anything that a greater power does, on the basis that it was “easy” for that greater power to do.

Are you cutting off, in advance, a cause of being grateful to a greater power?

Would you be grateful if you experienced a miracle? Or would you decline to thank a higher power for its goodness to you?

hurst


#8

Hi Hurst,

A happening that cannot be presently explained is not sufficient to make a miracle.

What makes a miracle (that is a divine intervention), is the circumstances.

For example, if the sun starts spinning in the sky, scientists will spend years speculating about what caused it, but no one will call it a miracle. But if some children who claim to have seen the Blessed Virgin predict that there will be a miracle to prove that the Virgin really appeared to them, then it is a miracle. We might find out years later that the event could be explained naturally. But it is the conjunction of an extraordinary event and the appeal to divine intervention that makes a miracle.

Verbum


#9

Originally Posted by Della
Since miracles are not doctrine or dogma, the Church only states that with what we now know of science and medicine, this event/healing has no natural explanation. This does not preclude that at some future time a natural explanation might be forthcoming.

nobody’s response
Is the first part of this statement correct? In the case of cannonization: this is said to be infallible, and part of the requirements for cannonization are miracles. Doesn’t that show that miracles are doctrine?

Miracles are signs of sainthood, but not the only ones. The person also has to have led an exemplary life of heroic virtue. Signs such as these in and of themselves are not infallible, but the decision of the Church that the person is a saint certainly is.


#10

[quote=Hitetlen]Let’s make sure we define the word miracle in the same way: “an event which cannot be explained by natural causes”. I hope we can agree on this definition.

With this definition comes the question: how can we declare that an event was a bona fide miracle? Suppose we see something that our level of knowledge cannot explain. The only honest way to put it: “as of now, our knowledge does not provide a natural explanation”. That does not preclude that the event cannot be explained in natural terms, merely that we don’t have an explanation today.

The event we observe would happen in nature. That is a fact. To state that the cause is supernatural would require omniscience, the person who would assert that would have to know that a natural explanation is forever impossible. Since we have no omniscience, we can never be sure that there is no natural explanation. Therefore it is always an error to declare something miraculous.

Besides, what would qualify as a true miracle? Suppose God came down and would start healing amputees, by the wave of his hand. Would that be a true miracle? It would not. Maybe there is a natural explanation for it. A better example of a miracle would be something that contradicts our knowledge of natrue. If God came down and would declare the next ten Powerball winners, along with the exact amount they will win in the future, now that would be astonishing.

Would it qualify as a miracle? No, it would only tell us, that our understanding of time is incomplete.

Miracles do not exist, only lack of knowledge exists.
[/quote]

A broken leg, say, healed by medical means, is not healed by a miracle.

And IMO your proposed definition is not precise enough

A broken leg healed in three seconds, would have been healed miraculously (from the POV of humans)

The distinguishing mark of a miraculous healing, is that it is beyond the capacities of the entities involved in it - for instance:
[list]
*]a broken leg does not heal in as short a time as three seconds
*]water does not have the property of restoring bodily completeness on so large a scale or so quickly
*]the human hand does not have that capacity either
*]Nor do all of them together
[/list]A miracle is a purely Divine act - no creature, possible or real, is capable of being the author of a miraculous act: God alone, Who is Infinite Power and Infinite Being and Infinite Activity, is the author of them. All other beings are creatures, and are instrumental causes of activity; not its authors. Only God can bring beings into being, for thkis requires omnipotence; so only God can bring about being where it is not; and that seems to be what a miracle is - a coming into being of what was not. Because the Goodness of God is exercised by means of created instruments, by whom and which “He does what He Wills in heaven and earth”, creatures are able to be subordinated instrumental agents of the creativity of God - IOW, human beings are able to be involved in the coming about of miracles.

Any use to you ? ##


#11

Are there miracles?

Each time I walk into Church, and God doesn’t strike the building with lightning, I consider it a miracle!!!

Take Care!

Notworthy


#12

[quote=nobody]Is the first part of this statement correct? In the case of cannonization: this is said to be infallible, and part of the requirements for cannonization are miracles. Doesn’t that show that miracles are doctrine?
[/quote]

:clapping: :amen:


#13

Can this be explained?

livingmiracles.net/Incorrupt.html


#14

[quote=Gottle of Geer]## A broken leg, say, healed by medical means, is not healed by a miracle.

And IMO your proposed definition is not precise enough

A broken leg healed in three seconds, would have been healed miraculously (from the POV of humans)

The distinguishing mark of a miraculous healing, is that it is beyond the capacities of the entities involved in it - for instance:
[list]
*]a broken leg does not heal in as short a time as three seconds
*]water does not have the property of restoring bodily completeness on so large a scale or so quickly
*]the human hand does not have that capacity either
*]Nor do all of them together
[/list]A miracle is a purely Divine act - no creature, possible or real, is capable of being the author of a miraculous act: God alone, Who is Infinite Power and Infinite Being and Infinite Activity, is the author of them. All other beings are creatures, and are instrumental causes of activity; not its authors. Only God can bring beings into being, for thkis requires omnipotence; so only God can bring about being where it is not; and that seems to be what a miracle is - a coming into being of what was not. Because the Goodness of God is exercised by means of created instruments, by whom and which “He does what He Wills in heaven and earth”, creatures are able to be subordinated instrumental agents of the creativity of God - IOW, human beings are able to be involved in the coming about of miracles.

Any use to you ? ##
[/quote]

In the past, science has indeed run into things for which there was no current explanation - things which nothing which existed in the current picture had the power to cause. Instead of saying “It’s a supernatural miracle,” science instead has said, “Well, looks like there were more things and more laws than we were previously aware of.” Basically, whether or not it is even reasonable to talk about miracles depends on your other metaphysical assumptions.

To talk specifically about the water/leg thing, if we already assume there are no supernatural forces, we would say “Looks like water, or hands, or legs, or something here has properties we didn’t notice before!” On the other hand, if we already are Christians, it is pretty reasonable to say “Look! It’s the hand of God.”


#15

This makes sense.

And yes, some Christians seem to often prematurely attribute things to the special intervention of God, even something that seems normal to a more knowledgable Christian. But then some unbelievers seem to often prematurely deny that anything could be due to the special intervention of God, even something that seems miraculous to the most knowledgable scientist.

I think what distinguishes the two is appreciation. One is seeking to express thankfulness to their Creator wherever they might possibly be able to. The other is seeking to deny or depreciate whatever it is that is happening.

Unfortunately, a religious person could be ungrateful in this manner, as evidenced by various trials recorded in the lives of the saints. Surprisingly, a nonreligious person could be appreciative in life.

The Church teaches that supernatural grace is not needed in order to live a morally good life.
[list=1]
*] Even in the fallen state, man can, by his natural intellectual power, know religious and moral truths (De fide)
*] For the performance of a morally good action, Sanctifying Grace is not required (De fide)
*] The Grace of Faith is not necessary for the performance of a morally good action (Sent. certa)
*] Actual Grace is not necessary for the performance of a morally good action (Sent. certa)
*] Supernatural grace is a participation in the divine nature (Sent. certa)
[/list]

So according to Church teaching, an atheist can live a morally upright life without having any supernatural grace.

But living an upright life of a sequence of morally good actions can not be kept up indefinitely, nor will it suffice to obtain eternal life.

Supernatural grace is a gift, and its effect is to make us a friend of God, and in His favor. With this grace, all our morally good actions acquire merit!

hurst


#16

[quote=Hitetlen]Let’s make sure we define the word miracle in the same way: “an event which cannot be explained by natural causes”. I hope we can agree on this definition.

With this definition comes the question: how can we declare that an event was a bona fide miracle? Suppose we see something that our level of knowledge cannot explain. The only honest way to put it: “as of now, our knowledge does not provide a natural explanation”. That does not preclude that the event cannot be explained in natural terms, merely that we don’t have an explanation today.

The event we observe would happen in nature. That is a fact. To state that the cause is supernatural would require omniscience, the person who would assert that would have to know that a natural explanation is forever impossible. Since we have no omniscience, we can never be sure that there is no natural explanation. Therefore it is always an error to declare something miraculous.

Besides, what would qualify as a true miracle? Suppose God came down and would start healing amputees, by the wave of his hand. Would that be a true miracle? It would not. Maybe there is a natural explanation for it. A better example of a miracle would be something that contradicts our knowledge of natrue. If God came down and would declare the next ten Powerball winners, along with the exact amount they will win in the future, now that would be astonishing.

Would it qualify as a miracle? No, it would only tell us, that our understanding of time is incomplete.

Miracles do not exist, only lack of knowledge exists.
[/quote]

Tell me something, do you believe Jesus Christ performed miracles when He was on earth? Do you believe what it
says in the Bible about the account of some of the miracles
He performed while He was on earth? Do you deny it? Also,
do you believe in God, or are you an athiest, agnostic?

Do you believe in the resurrection? Do you think Christ was
resurrected? Do you believe He raised Lazarus from the tomb?
The Bible states that Jesus performed far more miracles than
was documented in the Bible. or do you think that Christ did not
exist, and therefore He did not perform any miracles?

I myself do believe in miracles, look at the account of Fatima,
Lourdes, Medugorje, Padre Pio, Guadalupe, look at the Holy
Shroud of Turin! 70,000 people in Fatima witnessed the miracle
of the sun. You can read about that account online. or do you think it was mass hallucination? Not possible.

What about all the miraculous healings from Lourdes? I can personally testify that my neice was ill, and when my sister
put some Lourdes Holy Water on her, her fever left. That is a
fact.

Jesus states that “things impossible with man, are possible with
God” I believe in Jesus Christ, and I believe He performed
miracles while He was on earth, Jesus is True God, and True Man. I believe in Him, and always will.


#17

[quote=hurst]This makes sense.

And yes, some Christians seem to often prematurely attribute things to the special intervention of God, even something that seems normal to a more knowledgable Christian. But then some unbelievers seem to often prematurely deny that anything could be due to the special intervention of God, even something that seems miraculous to the most knowledgable scientist.

I think what distinguishes the two is appreciation. One is seeking to express thankfulness to their Creator wherever they might possibly be able to. The other is seeking to deny or depreciate whatever it is that is happening.


[/quote]

I think that the point that I and Hitetlen are trying to make here (pardon me if I misrepresent your position, H.) is that miraculous occurrences are not evidence for the existence of God, since whether or not a particular event is thought of as a miracle depends on the answer already given to the question “Is there a God?”


#18

[quote=Vicia]Can this be explained?

livingmiracles.net/Incorrupt.html
[/quote]

Thanks for the link Vicia. The web site is well layed out. The stories are amazing.

It would seem pretty difficult to suggest that al these “miracles” have natural explainations. When you factor into the equation who most of these miracles happened/occured to the odds of a natural explianation seem quite slim.


#19

As is often the case, the answer to the question depends critically on how the terms are defined. Starting with the proposed definition “an event which cannot be explained by natural causes”, I would say that this is somewhat vague because it is not clear what the OP means by “natural causes”. Amplifying this somewhat, I think the OP means to define a miracle as:

Some observed event that could not possibly have been predicted or explained as a consequence of “laws of nature”, either those which are well-known, or those laws that are speculative or yet to be discovered in the future.

For this post I will assume that by a “law of nature”, I mean any consistently observed pattern of events that can be identified and could potentially be used to predict future events. When some event occurs, we say that we have an explanation of that event when the event fits into one of these previously identified patterns.

I would first like to state that I do not agree with this definition, and because the definition is wrong I think the conclusions drawn from it are likely to be more confusing than helpful. Nevertheless I will attempt to answer the original question given the stipulated definition.

If an event does not fit into any known pattern, then the observer is likely to conclude that the pattern is actually more complex, and will therefore devise a more complex pattern into which the new event will fit. Therefore, every event either fits into a pattern – or the pattern is changed until it does!

In other words, when ever an event does not conform to what I understand the laws of nature to be, I just redefine my understanding of the laws of nature until it does. Therefore, every event can be made to conform to the flexible “laws” of nature.

Given these definitions (which I do not agree with), the question of whether “miracles” occur is equivalent to asking whether all events which occur are consistent with some predictable pattern, or whether some are truly unpredictable or random. This I take to be equivalent to the question of whether the universe is deterministic, or whether “random” events that are not predictable or explainable occur.

Even with this definition of a “miracle”, I think that miracles do occur. That is, I believe that the universe is not completely deterministic, and that future events cannot be perfectly predicted even if I had the most perfect possible knowledge of all past events. I believe that there is evidence for this in physical science, but I would be out of my area of expertise to attempt to provide details. I am convinced of non-determinism however, primarily because of the human realities of choice and freedom, both of which would be meaningless in a universe that was in fact completely deterministic.


#20

Hitetlen, I think it is necessary here to agree on the definitions of “natural”, “supernatural”, “spiritual” and “miracle”. I think you are using the word “miracle” as if it means “impossible event” or “event which has no natural explanation”, which I don’t think is exactly what we mean by this word. For instance, if you wish to hypothesize that there is a “natural” force or entity which does not obey the laws of nature that we are currently aware of, this would fall under the category of what we frequently describe as “supernatural”. In a sense, the distinction is arbitrary; there is only real and unreal, and if the reality of such things as spirits, telepathy, prophecy, God, angels etc. is supported by evidence, you could just as easily call these things “natural”, although they would not fall within the bounds of human knowledge and control. If such events involve living, intelligent beings, one could not expect them to be predictable and controllable.


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