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The Nature of Miracles
12-31-2017, 07:48 AM
Post: #1
The Nature of Miracles
Every religion places a certain reliance on miracles. They are the way that religions demonstrate the power of their God. The problem with miracles is that the vast majority of them took place out of sight of serious scrutiny. For example, the crossing of the Red Sea by Moses. I have read 'scientific' explanations of how it might have happened but these are not necessarily convincing one way or the other and, additionally, with all the Israeli effort to demonstrate a whole people spending a long time wandering in Sinai, no evidence of such a journey has been recovered. So where does that leave us?

There have been a number of 'miracles' in recent times that had simple explanations. A weeping statue that someone finally noticed was correlated with the use of a public toilet situated behind the statue. It is easy to sneer but some of the miracles require careful thought. Two examples spring to mind.

FATIMA
The Catholic Church and Portugal have a vested interest in maintaining this site of a miracle. The number of people who attest to the miracle runs to the thousands. Can all these people be lying? No! They are, however, guilty of affirmation bias. They believe then repeat the explanation they were given as though it were fact. The British Opthalmological Society (if I recall correctly) gave a perfectly reasoned explanation not long after that is generally ignored in favour of the populist reason. The fact that Pope Pius XII is reputed to have experienced the Fatima effect in the Papal gardens should give one pause for thought as should researching and finding similar occurrences in non-Christian India with larger groups even.
DO NOT TRY THIS AT HOME
Go for a jog of about ten to fifteen kilometres whilst drinking NO water. Work yourself into an emotional frenzy whilst staring at the sun. You will experience all the thrills of FATIMA and if you persist long enough you will go temporarily (eventually permanently if you really overdo it) blind (Paul on the road to Tarsus anyone?). It is caused by stimulus and bleaching of the rods and cones at the back of the eye. If not prolonged it is reversible.

BEATIFICATION OF MOTHER TERESA
Cancer is an evil disease. No wonder people pray for support when it is diagnosed. Intercession of a Saint would definitely help. Well they found one spontaneous remission due to an artefact of MT.
Lets look at some figures (these are all very approximate, the argument changes not one whit if we start counting to the single event).
# of catholics world wide - 1.5Bn
ave. lifespan - 75 years
# who get cancer in their lifetime- 1 in 10 (pessimistic, could be as high as 1:4)
remission in population - 1:100k (pessimistic, the # is between 30k and 60k)

So over 75 years 150 million catholics will get cancer. That is about 2 million each year. Twenty each year will on average gain spontaneous remission. For those twenty each one is a miracle.

If you are selective then finding miracles is not a problem. Are they miracles? Probably not just statistical processes being viewed with affirmation bias.

A true miracle requires supernatural explanation. I await reports of someone regrowing a severed limb without medical intervention.
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12-31-2017, 01:58 PM
Post: #2
RE: The Nature of Miracles
No, not every religion places reliance on miracles.

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