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Miracles - Fact or Fiction?

Updated on March 22, 2012
Jesus in the clouds
Jesus in the clouds | Source
David Hume
David Hume | Source

Philosophy and Believing in Miracles

David Hume presents an idea that states that an individual is never justified in believing in miracles. Hume says that miracles are violations of the laws of nature, which is hardly arguable, as by essence; that is exactly what a miracle is. If some sort of incident has taken place; that does not, by some nature of the event, suggest that the general understanding of natural laws has been violated; that event would be unlikely to be regarded as a miracle. For an event to be considered a miracle it must be miraculous to some degree for the event to have taken place; which would require that either some law of nature has been violated, or that there are laws that exist that are not yet understood, or that a miracle did in fact take place.

Physical Laws

If I explore the idea that there may be laws at work in the world around us for which no understanding exists with in our world, I have at least, a good starting point for further exploration of those laws. I may be forced to assume that no observations can be made of them except for on the rare instances that they manifest in such a way that they can be observed. This does present a great difficulty to the prospect of further exploration, but does not give logical deduction of the occurrence of a miracle, nor does a natural law necessarily need be violated; only misunderstood, incomplete, or missing from our current list of known occurrences. Of course, some miracles don’t seem to properly fit into this category. On one hand, the parting of the Red Sea could be explained by some natural phenomenon that is not known about, but the story of the train engineer who passed out and as a result causes the train to stop just in time to avoid hitting a child stuck on the track ahead, would be much more difficult to find or imagine a law for. In this case the only logical options are to believe it was a coincidence, or a miracle. This is where I think Hume’s argument begins to weaken.

Logical Thought

Hume’s idea that believing in miracles is contrary to logical thought because of the violation of natural laws miracles are attributed to, falls apart with the occurrence of astronomically improbable events or coincidences. If you are to believe that the event didn’t take place at all and was just fabricated, you could get by with saying a miracle is not logically believable, but suppose there were many witnesses, and a thorough investigation concluded that every aspect of the event happened as it was told. If you continue to deny that the event took place you are in fact engaged in illogical thought already, and there is no point in moving forward. So, in this case the logical conclusion is that the event did take place, now the question remains as to whether this event would be classified as a miracle or not.

Space | Source

Astronomical Coincidence

Back to the story of the train engineer who has passed out and as a result has caused the train to stop just in time to avoid hitting a child stuck on the track ahead. Assume that all of the evidence shows that the child was riding in a toy car which became stuck on the tracks while crossing them and the child remained seated trying to get the car to move; unaware of an oncoming train. While at the same time a train moving quickly towards the child was just beyond a bend in the track preventing any view of the stuck toy car or the child, allowing no chance of stopping before hitting them once they come into view. Also, at this time a medical problem experienced by the train engineer causes him to become unconscious, thus releasing the throttle and causing the brakes to automatically be applied, which brings the train to a stop just before hitting the toy car with the child still seated in it. Also, at this time the child’s Mother steps outside and sees her child stuck on the track, and hears the train coming, but is too far away to do anything about it. Let’s also assume that there are several witnesses to all of this as it takes place. After all reports are in and there is overwhelming evidence that the events happened as stated, believing the events took place is the most logical conclusion, but what of the explanation for the event. The investigation shows that there is a rational cause for every thing that happened, but it can’t be explained why the events took place in such a way, as to spare an impending tragedy. When you consider all of the other moments in time that could have resulted in the engineer becoming unconscious due to a medical problem; why did it happen at this particular moment? If, you truly evaluate the probability, the likeliness of events unfolding as they did, are astronomical. I would conclude that there was a violation of the known laws of nature. Some may argue that all of the events were explained by logical causes, but just because the events have known causes the event as a whole is still left as an amazing coincidence, that seems to have had to be dictated by some higher power.

The Argument

I could argue that the likeliness of our very existence constitutes just as astronomical of a figure or maybe more so, yet here we are. Again, we have a situation that seems very unlikely, yet has come to be, so there has either been a miraculous coincidence, or a miracle. So, we have reached a point of understanding that concludes that miraculous incidents do happen now we must define those incidents. In the case of our existence, I ask, what law of nature do you know that could bring about our existence? I have heard of none that could presumably produce the universe, and the Earth and our selves; certainly not with out an unimaginable number of coincidental incidents taking place. I’m not talking about one coincidence or two coincidences, but millions of coincidences. Consider, that each of these are reliant of all of the others, if even one of them were to have failed to happen as it did, our existence would not be possible.

No Ordinary Coincidence

This is no ordinary coincidence; our existence is no ordinary coincidence! If for no other reason, I argue that it is reasonable to believe in miracles, because I am able to believe in miracles. I am here, the universe is here, and the coincidence; if it was a coincidence at all; that allowed it is absolutely miraculous, and does violate the known laws of nature, and therefore is a miracle. In fact, it would be a miracle; if there were no miracles.


Believing in Miracles

Do you believe in miracles?

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    • dmop profile image

      dmop 5 years ago from Cambridge City, IN

      nick071438, I believe in miracles as well, though I can't explain exactly why or how they come to be. I suppose part of what makes them miraculous is the fact that they can't be explained. Thanks for stopping and leaving a comment I appreciate it. I hope your day is terrific.

    • nick071438 profile image

      nick071438 5 years ago from City of Catbalogan, W, Samar, Philippines

      I may not be able to explain fully and clearly, but I sense and believe in miracles.

    • dmop profile image

      dmop 5 years ago from Cambridge City, IN, great comment and point you make. I had this very argument with my philosophy teacher, who claimed that there was proof of God and that belief did not rely upon faith. I however disagreed and argued the point very successfully according to my fellow class mates. Thanks for stopping by and for the thoughtful comment, have a great day.

    • profile image 5 years ago from upstate, NY

      One important aspect of miracles is thier purpose. Miracles occur to glorify God, although God will usually allow some room for doubt for the purpose of leaving room for faith. We come to God through faith and without faith it's impossible to please God! God could choose to reveal Himself in such a way that none could deny His existence but then there would be no faith or freewill in regards to our relationship with Him.

    • dmop profile image

      dmop 5 years ago from Cambridge City, IN

      Sturgeonl, thank you for reading, sharing, and for the thoughtful comment. There are some things that just can't be explained by reason or logic no matter how you look at it. Have a blessed day.

    • Sturgeonl profile image

      Sturgeonl 5 years ago

      This is a very well expressed position on the existence of miracles. I love your example that raises the idea of a miracle being the sum of many rational occurances happening for a specific outcome. At some point even the biggest sceptic has to see when things are beyond coincidence. Excellent hub and I look forward to sharing it. Voted up and awesome!

    • dmop profile image

      dmop 6 years ago from Cambridge City, IN

      Dreaver Endus and Cre8tor, thank you both for reading and commenting.

    • Cre8tor profile image

      Dan Robbins 6 years ago from Ohio

      I voted up and interesting because I love the topic and struggle with this issue myself.

      I say I believe in miracles but when I do...I mean it with no connotation. Let's go to the train. Engineer falls out and the boy is saved by a miracle?...yes. But!...boy grows up to be the world's most vicious dictator in history.

      Suppose this is my struggle with "miracles", not that they exist.

    • Dreaver Endus profile image

      Dreaver Endus 6 years ago from Coos Bay, Oregon

      How do I put this?

      Existence is like trillions of separate Rube Goldberg machine. Every action leads to another and another and another. The actions the take place always cause a reaction to another. This creates a string of events that in tandem occur and eventually finalize to a simple ending.

      We can manipulate how these events occur in our reality physically, instinctively, and spiritually. Therefore miracles occur internally just as much as they occur externally if not more.

      Miracles aren't miracles when finally understood, but that sure doesn't make them seem less miraculous.

      Awesome writing! Very inspiring and highly inspired!