Re: Do You Believe In Miracles?

A xangan asked the above question and this was my response, I thought it blog-worthy:

A miracle is just something we don’t understand. Stage magicians produce them all the time. So does nature.

When we didn’t understand thunder, it was a miracle. Now it’s a wave of compressed air produced by a high speed electrical discharge.

If you mean do I think god (or any other force) suspends the properties of the universe to benefit human beings, I’ve never seen this happen. No one who ever falls from a building ever gently floats to the ground – properties like gravity are by definition constant. The bible says that god makes it rain on the sinful and the virtuous alike – he also pulls them toward concrete with equal speed and acceleration.

The only things we call miracles are those where we have no real understanding of what happened, like someone mysteriously getting better from an illness. But it is apparent that we are believing only what is comforting in these instances because if we applied that reasoning equally, any healthy person mysteriously getting ill would be a “miracle” too. But it doesn’t feel nice to think that god is a jerk who goes around making people miserable, so we don’t entertain that notion. But it’s comforting to think that god is kind and benevolent and goes out of his way to help people (and might help us too), so we believe that. And in a world where 1 in 3 people will be diagnosed with some form of cancer, it makes sense why this view would remain popular.

But I value truth and objectivity above personal comfort, so I have to say that no, I do not believe that miracles in that sense occur. They might, but I’ve never seen one, or heard a verified example that qualified as more than a mystery.

(Edit: Btw if the blog seems unusually intelligent or high-minded, I just read a bunch of quotes from the founding fathers on religion and government in composing a comment on another blog refuting the claim that the founders didn’t believe in separation of church and state, so I think their smarts and style of speaking kind of rubbed off on me – reading or listening to brilliant people makes me smarter for awhile, lol.)

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About agnophilo

Nerd.
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7 Responses to Re: Do You Believe In Miracles?

  1. YouToMe says:

    nevertheless, i still believe in them (miracles). I am sorry,friend

  2. apb102088 says:

    The Bible does say that God sends ailments and disasters to people (not many people know that). And also, we have to remember that there were many miracles performed by Jesus so that people would know that he is God, and so that he would fulfill scripture. They stood out during that time period too, just as they would today. And lastly, I guess it depends on how some people use the term “miracle”. I have extensive knowledge of how conception works (I wanted to be an OBGYN at one point), yet I still call it a miracle just because it’s so darn cool how all that happens and a human is formed. Sometimes I use “miracle” as a synonym for amazing. I sometimes say something is a miracle even when it’s not going outside the laws of physics. The laws of physics in and of themselves are pretty kool. I think our whole universe was very nicely designed. IMO.

  3. agnophilo says:

    @YouToMe – You don’t have to apologize.  But you didn’t say why my logic is wrong either : P@apb102088 – “The Bible does say that God sends ailments and disasters to people (not many people know that).” Oh I know.  It also says thunder is god’s voice and the clouds are dust from his footprints.  You’d probably be amazed at what all is in there.  I know I was – I had to become an atheist to find out though, they don’t teach you this stuff in christian school.”And also, we have to remember that there were many miracles performed by Jesus so that people would know that he is God, and so that he would fulfill scripture. They stood out during that time period too, just as they would today.” The miracles he was said to have performed, resurrections, rising from the dead and ascending into heaven, turning water to wine etc were actually common miracle stories before jesus, and similar miracles were attributed to many other people just within judeo-christian tradition.  There are many “heretical” texts describing other people who were believed to be the messiah, were crucified, had devoted followers etc.  Jesus was the strand of spaghetti that stuck to the wall so to speak, largely because (if you step back from the mythos for a moment and look at the sociopolitical history) of the conversion of constantine to christianity and his proclamation of christian tolerance throughout the roman empire, followed later by theodosius the first making christianity the official state religion of the roman empire, the largest empire in the history of the planet, and banning all other forms of worship.  The nicene creed, complilation of the “bible” from various “accepted” texts (excluding more texts than it included) etc were all decreed by an iron age dictatorship.  This was the birth of the religion.  Then after the collapse of the roman empire the new dictatorships emerged in the now christian roman empire claiming divine authority and lineage of the royal families and with support of the catholic church which arose in rome as the only legal form of worship.  For almost all of the history of christianity (at least 3/4) not adhering to the religion was illegal in the christian world.  Even in the early american colonies not attending church services at least once a month (in the age before automobiles when farmers had to travel many miles to attend) was punished by being publicly whipped.This is historically why christ’s miracles are accepted and others are not (in the christian world, in other places people believe in other miracle stories and reject christianity and they worshiped literally hundreds of gods in rome before it was outlawed).”And lastly, I guess it depends on how some people use miracle. I have extensive knowledge of how conception works (I wanted to be an OBGYN at one point), yet I still call it a miracle just because it’s so darn cool how all that happens and a human is formed. I sometimes say something is a miracle even when it’s not going outside the laws of physics.” I can understand that, but it’s another sense of the word than the one I was talking about – more of a sentiment than a logical/philosophical sense of the word.  Sort of how I might wish someone luck (though in this case I don’t literally think I’m imbuing them with any mystical power or charm.)”The laws of physics in and of themselves are pretty kool. I think our whole universe was very nicely designed. IMO.”I think the laws of physics are very cool too, though I don’t make assumptions about their nature or origins.  And really the “laws” are a man-made construct, not the properties themselves.  As far as design, here, here and here are a few blogs about that if you’re interested in the naturalistic understanding of the design in nature : )  Especially the last one which deals with how living things are designed by nature.  You don’t have to read them, but it’s all good stuff : )

  4. apb102088 says:

    @agnophilo – Sure, I’ll read the links you sent.And about all that other stuff you said, I appreciate your response. I don’t agree with all of it but I do agree that Christianity spread due to lots of providential things happening throughout history. And for the record, the Nicene Creed is fine to me. If I remember it correctly, it does a great job of explaining how Jesus is “God of very God, light of very light”; explaining the mystery of his deity yet humanity simultaneously. And for the record, have you read some of the excluded scriptures? It’s pretty obvious why they were excluded. They either were in direct opposition to what we already knew was scripture (i.e. the old testament) or they went against Jesus’s direct teachings. Pretty interesting stuff. I’m really glad the gospel of Thomas is not scripture. I probably wouldn’t be a Christian if it were!

  5. agnophilo says:

    @apb102088 – “Sure, I’ll read the links you sent.”I appreciate it.  Most of the time when I try to explain my side to religious folks they respond with “la la la la I can’t hear you” or block me.”And about all that other stuff you said, I appreciate your response. I don’t agree with all of it but I do agree that Christianity spread due to lots of providential things happening throughout history.” So 1500 years of brutal dictatorships violently putting down non-christians was divine providence?  Are the centuries of dictatorships responsible for 1.7 billion people being muslim the divine providence of allah?  Or did god screw up?  Or is all of this just arbitrary assumptions with no logic whatsoever?”And for the record, the Nicene Creed is fine to me. If I remember it correctly, it does a great job of explaining how Jesus is “God of very God, light of very light”; explaining the mystery of his deity yet humanity simultaneously.” It’s a contradiction, not a mystery.  It’s like saying “1 + 1 = 4, but this is such a deep mystery your tiny mind will never comprehend it”.  It’s cheap mysticism.  Just like when the vatican declared the pope able to make “infallible” statements, which is just a spoooooky way of saying not being wrong.  And the ones he’s made are about things like whether mary is in heaven that a) they have no way of knowing other than claiming to have magic powers, and b) can’t be falsified.  It’s like those old magicians that pretend to have magical powers (who were believed through most of human history btw). “And for the record, have you read some of the excluded scriptures?” Not much.  Bear in mind I’m not even christian.”It’s pretty obvious why they were excluded. They either were in direct opposition to what we already knew was scripture (i.e. the old testament)” Already knew was scripture?  Already decided was scripture.  And how is the new testament not in contradiction with the old testament?  You and me can’t know their reasons for picking those texts, we would have to be both time travelers and mind readers.”or they went against Jesus’s direct teachings.” Jesus’ teachings go against jesus’ teachings.  Blessed are the peacemakers!  Oh and think not that I come to bring peace, but a sword…The truth is that the bible is a complex jumble of contradicting ideologies over numerous texts that can be cherry-picked to suit any theology from yours to that of the KKK or hitler.  If you want some examples of contradictions, here are some in a humorous parody (including chapter and verse).”Pretty interesting stuff. I’m really glad the gospel of Thomas is not scripture. I probably wouldn’t be a Christian if it were!”What in it do you find objectionable out of curiosity?

  6. apb102088 says:

    @agnophilo – Regarding provision, I was thinking more along the lines of Constantine. Easy, killa. Don’t jump too fast there.And I have seen the link that you sent me before. I find it humorous, but as I looked up some of the passages, it was evident that they hadn’t took the time to actually read them. But, looking forward to your future blogs. I’d like to have a good convo with you but you seem a bit hostile to Christianity. I take it you’ve encountered some cold/pushy Christians before? Sorry about that if so. Give me a chance before you take me for an idiot. 

  7. agnophilo says:

    @apb102088 – “Regarding provision, I was thinking more along the lines of Constantine. Easy, killa. Don’t jump too fast there.”I asked if that’s what you meant.  Everything I said had a question mark after it.”And I have seen the link that you sent me before. I find it humorous, but as I looked up some of the passages, it was evident that they hadn’t took the time to actually read them.” Like which ones?  I know for a fact many of them (and many more) are valid.”But, looking forward to your future blogs. I’d like to have a good convo with you but you seem a bit hostile to Christianity. I take it you’ve encountered some cold/pushy Christians before? Sorry about that if so. Give me a chance before you take me for an idiot.”Who hasn’t?  But I don’t judge groups of people by what individuals do.  I do however oppose elements common to american christianity – dogma, fear or peer-pressure based philosophy/theology, bad logic, opposition to civil rights, as GW put it “the important bridge between church and state”, blind faith etc.And I didn’t say (or think) you were an idiot, it just seemed you were saying something messed up.

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