According to the Oxford English Dictionary, a miracle is ‘an extraordinary and welcome event that is not explicable by natural or scientific laws’ and is therefore attributed to God. Miracles are frequently given by believers as a reason for their belief, and they have been a source of inspiration for those of faith for millennia. So, what is the evidence for miracles? Should we believe in them? If we do, what does this mean?
Many scholars and philosophers have sought to debate about the existence of miracles. For example, the philosopher David Hume said that it is always more rational to deny the occurrence of a miracle than to affirm it. This is because, even if a witness is a reliable one (which is obviously something to take account of when deciding whether a story is believable), it will always be less probable that something miraculous occurred. However, some disagree. Miracles that break the laws of nature such as Moses parting the Red Sea could and did happen, because, unlike the laws of logic, the laws of nature can be broken. This is because the laws of nature are merely the record by science of that which has occurred. Science relies on repeated experimentation, and miracles by definition are not repeatable. So, science cannot explain the existence of miracles, and scientists’ attempts to refute miracles are unsuccessful. Likewise, as God created the laws of nature, it is within his power to transcend them.
For some of it may be difficult to set aside our ‘rational’ thinking and believe that these miracles occurred. However, there are many things that occur that we don’t understand, and that don’t appear rational. That does not mean that they did not happen. However, as with many spiritual things, we may be missing the point if we attempt to have an intellectual debate about the existence of miracles. Miracles are about faith in the power of God, about hope that amazing things can happen, and about sharing stories that inspire us to follow our faith.
For example, take this story of a miracle performed by Mother Theresa. A Brazilian man was diagnosed with a viral brain infection, which left him in a coma with multiple abbesses on his brain. His wife, he was newly married at the time, prayed to Mother Theresa, and her family also prayed to her. An operation was arranged and on arrival at the hospital, the surgeons found the man awake, and his symptoms were gone.
Then there is the most famous of all, the miracles of Jesus. In all four gospels, we have the story of the feeding of the 5000, in which Jesus feeds 5000 people with just 5 loaves of bread and 2 fishes. After everyone has eaten, there is still plenty of food remaining. And of course the resurrection, in which Jesus rises from the dead and appears to his awestruck disciples, beating the biggest law of nature of all: death.
Have you ever witnessed a miracle? What are your thoughts on miracles?
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