SCEPTIC.INFO Free your mind - question!
SCEPTIC.INFO Free your mind - question!
IS A TINY MIRACLE AS MUCH OF A DIVINE SIGN AS A MAMMOTH ONE?
A miracle is a magical event. For example, if a stone turns into bread then that is a miracle. Religion pretends that miracles are done by God as evidence of his presence and love and are not magic. But that is a distinction without a real difference. A witch doing miracles as evidence of her love is still a witch.
So a miracle is something that cannot be explained by the natural processes of nature. For believers, it is not just that. They go as far as to say that God doing random absurd miracles is magic not miracles. The miracle then is what cannot be explained naturally and which bears some message of spiritual or moral importance. Richard Swinburne in his book Miracles from 1989 asserts that a God interrupting the way nature works is not doing miracles unless the interruption shows his ultimate love and purpose for us. This implies that the message or the inspiration to be a better people is hugely far more important than the miracle being supernatural.
This invites a number of thoughts.
* If the edifying and inspirational effects swamp the supernatural nature of the event, then that pressures people to recognise dubious miracles as real as long as people seem to feel inspired by them.
* If the inspiration is that important, the supernatural nature of the event is not then the supernatural does not need to come into it at all.
* If the inspiration is that important, the supernatural nature of the event is not then the supernatural is so unimportant that it shows God is working miracles arbitrarily. A God who arbitrarily sends Mary to appear at Lourdes and who does not cure a dying baby instantly is an evil God and is too mean to mention.
* If miracles are more about inspiring than about being supernatural then a tiny miracle such as a white feather appearing out of nowhere is as important as the resurrection of Christ to eternal life. God can surely give us the gift of grace which is the real point. Grace is his inner working that makes us respond to a miracle properly and find him. There is a lack of faith in those who want their miracles to be more dramatic. Also they fear that being too liberal with calling something a miracle makes one insane in the end.
Many philosophers argue that miracles that are not hugely important are dubious. "If miracles are about divine love, then they have to be about the ultimate purpose of your existence. God does not heal X then to heal X but to call the people to him. Such miracles are too small and the ultimate purpose is not obvious so religionists believe that God does very few miracles and they are huge ones of universal importance. Islam says the supernatural dictating of the Koran to the Prophet enabled all mankind to learn the truth and benefit from it. The resurrection of Jesus for Christians supposedly proves that God intends to save the whole human race in body and soul."
This argument would refute the claims made by Jesus Christ. Most of his miracles were not that important and if they are therefore doubtful so is his resurrection. He and his followers were not reliable teachers.
God instantly curing somebody at Lourdes of a paralysed arm will be taken as a sign of God's love. Do things like that happen? Many say yes. What if they are right? Then you have the small miracles contradicting the doctrine that only big miracles of huge religious significance should be considered for believing in. Those miracles are fraud if the doctrine is right and if it is the best doctrine to adhere to. If people get away with their lies about miracles then how can you trust the accounts of big miracles?
If you take miracles as signs about what God wants us to believe, you will assert that not all miracles are equally signs.
Assuming a miracle claim can be less of a miracle claim than a bigger and more dramatic one, let us grade miracles starting from the biggest to the least.
Ultra-miracle: Something being made from nothing.
Top Miracle Sign: seeing God and he tells you stuff - maybe he predicts the future - that only a supernatural entity could know.
Next biggest: hearing his voice that tells you the unknown.
Next: Divine Vision or hearing God in the context of being given knowledge that could have been gleaned without the supernatural.
Next: Statues bleeding, stigmata etc.
Next: Miracles of healing. Never any reports of amputated limbs reappearing.
Next: miracles of conversion. These are the lowest for you don't need a miracle to explain conversion. They are the lowest for you cannot be sure if it was a miracle or not. Alcoholics and addicts have been known to give up their addictions suddenly without religious faith being involved.
Observations: The miracle of conversion is the lowest. Miracles, then, are not really about changing lives but about promoting religious power and influence on earth. The doctrines matter more than the change of heart. The miracles, if they are signs, speak of an ugly God who is ugly at heart. Catholicism requires you to believe in miracles. The miracles speak of a religion that is more interested in control than anything else.
If you accept the ultra-miracle which is creation from nothing, then dismiss all miracles but that one for you don't need to believe in any more. And if you do, you should not feel strongly defensive of them. If you believe Jesus rose then you should care little if anybody laughs at that.
So believers say we are not entitled to dismiss the view that miracles may happen. But we are entitled to dismiss them all except one. The exception would be the creation miracle. The trouble with it is it makes no sense. When God does not make all things from anything at all that is to say that creation just pops into existence. That is not creation. So all miracles should be dismissed.
We conclude that miracles are to be taken as superstitious degrading nonsense.
Website Created & Hosted with Doteasy Web Hosting Canada