To play the miracle game

Miracles do conflict with science. But we can still discuss them. Well, most of us.

1. All theologies that accept miracles admit they are exceptional events. That’s what “miracle” means. So if there’s a possible natural explanation of an phenomenon, we go with the natural explanation.
2. If you stand to gain from explaining something away as a miracle, you don’t get to play.
* If you’re from Enron, you don’t get to claim your documents disappeared miraculously. It only happened if the FBI and the SEC said it did.
* If you’re a defendant, you don’t get to claim your fingerprints miraculously appeared at a crime scene. Only the DA is allowed to say that.
* If you’re a bookkeeper, you don’t get to say money miraculously disappeared from your company. If the auditors conclude that’s what happened, all right, but not you.
* If your religion needs to postulate a miracle to keep some doctrine from going south, guess what? You don’t get to do that. Only someone with nothing to gain from claiming a miracle can say that.

2 Responses

  1. If some coincidence happens to fall your way, you don’t get to be claimed as a saint by one of the most corrupt, immoral organizations on earth: the Roman Catholic Church.

  2. Most of that article is devoted to saying that the real issue with miracles is one of assuming (and being right all but one out of a million or more times) that someone cooked the books.

    The author also takes a great stride to say, not that miracles conflict with science, but… well here it is:

    Clearly, we would have to conclude that something extraordinary had happened, something outside the known laws of science.

    Also in the authors opinion

    It is perfectly possible to be a religious believer and still practice methodological naturalism.

    I would give the example of Lourdes. The Catholic church gives free access (if you’re a doctor) to all of the medical files of accepted and not accepted miracles. That doesn’t give evidence of a miracle of course but what it does do is do a decent job of filtering out everything that without a doubt isn’t a miracle.

    Of course a lazy skeptic would simply dismiss all of them, call the church names and tell me I’m an idiot. To close up another from our author:

    Writing off all alleged miracles as fraud is not only logically dubious (and lazy), but it has proven to be historically wrong as well. The classic example is the case of meteorites, which were once dismissed by almost all scientists as fakes or folk tales. When a meteorite fell in New England around 1800 and was described in the scientific literature, the normally scientifically astute Thomas Jefferson said (classic Hume reasoning here) that he could more easily believe that two Yankee professors could lie than that stones could fall from heaven.

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