A MIRACLE is an event which purportedly cannot be explained or understood by science.
Since the dawn of human history, miracles have occurred – or so it is claimed. The question is, do they?
Years ago I had a conversation with an elderly Baptist preacher who told me he flatly refused to have either a television or a radio in his home.
Why? Because, he said, there was just no way that a person’s voice or image could be transported from a place hundreds or thousands of miles away and appear in a “box of tricks sitting in the corner of my living room”.
He believed that TV and radio represented a “miracle”, but not a godly one. He passionately believed that TV and radio were “works of the Devil”.
Now it would be easy to laugh at that old preacher, especially considering that we now understand the scientific principles behind radio and TV broadcasts. Laugh if you must, but I won’t be joining you.
In fact, I admire that man and the stance he took immensely. He was passionately sincere in his conviction, and made his decision on a distinctly moral platform.
He may have been misguided in his scientific understanding, but his overriding desire was to abstain from doing something he believed to be malign. We need more people like him.
But what about “positive miracles”; that is, inexplicable events which people attribute to God?
A quick browse of YouTube will throw up thousands of testimonies of allegedly miraculous events – everything from the almost instantaneous disappearance of cancerous tumours to the resurrection of dead budgerigars.
What are we to make of them? Well, it’s no coincidence that the vast majority of miracles seem to take place within a religious context.
If you believe in God, all things are possible.
Miracles are getting a bad press just now, partly due to the scoffing of sceptics (in many cases it’s hard to blame them), but primarily due to the supposed miracles performed by TV evangelists who can earn an absolute fortune by praying for you – providing you make a suitable donation, of course.
This sort of malarkey can be found in all the major religions, and I find it loathsome.
But there’s another kind of miracle that I find much more palatable.
I know of a man who was diagnosed with terminal cancer. He was given six months to live.
Two weeks after the diagnosis he suddenly became symptom-free. Subsequent investigations showed that the tumour had completely disappeared.
Was this a miracle in the true sense of the word? I don’t know.
Sometimes such “spontaneous regressions” do occur, although they may not be currently explicable in scientific terms.
What makes “miracles” like this more palatable – and perhaps more believable – is that their recipients do not court publicity and they take place without the presence of a mega-rich miracle worker who claims he can cure the sick with a sprinkle of magic pixie-dust.
They just happen, they can’t be explained rationally and that’s it.
Throughout history there have been many apparent miracles which really do seem to defy rational explanation of any kind. Those who don’t believe in miracles will always reject that, which smacks of the supernatural.
Those who do believe in them will have to make up their own mind on a case-by-case basis.
Me? I take the middle ground. I do believe that miracles sometimes occur, but I also believe that many supposed miraculous events are probably explicable without resorting to the supernatural.
Perhaps I should finish with the words of that anonymous sage who observed, “We live on a blue planet that circles around a ball of fire next to a moon that moves the sea, and you don’t believe in miracles?”
• Seen something strange? Tell Mike at firstname.lastname@example.org