Do Miracles Happen? | Teen Ink

Do Miracles Happen?

December 22, 2021
By aparaashwin BRONZE, Taunton, Other
aparaashwin BRONZE, Taunton, Other
2 articles 1 photo 0 comments

Miracles can be defined one of two ways, either as ‘a lucky coincidence with religious significance’, a definition used by the philosopher R.F Holland, or as ‘an event that breaks the laws of nature through the decision making of a deity’, a definition used by the philosopher David Hume. One could argue that miracles do not happen on the basis that people may believe what is a miracle right now, but in the future there most probably will be evidence to contradict it.

A reason for holding this view is that science is developing everyday and furthering knowledge, this means that an understanding of a miracle that has happened today, could easily be explained by science a year from now. As John Hicks, a philosopher put it, ‘miracles are events that don’t really break the laws of nature, they only break what we understand about natural laws currently.’ Hicks makes a convincing claim because new discoveries about science and our universe are being made every day, so it is natural to believe that there is an explanation for everything ‘miraculous’ that has happened in the past or will happen in the future.

To show why this view is convincing, one can examine the example of Jesus curing a demon-possessed mute. At that point in time, mental illnesses were unknown and many people thought that it was a demon inhabiting someone’s body. And in some cases of severe depression, a person may become mute; maybe this was what happened to that man. Curing this ‘demon-possessed’ mute was definitely something special, Jesus made this person believe that they had been cured and that was what gave them the strength to combat this mental illness. This is called the placebo effect. And doctors and scientists acknowledge that it can be very powerful; however, this was not a miracle.

Some may challenge such views on miracles, using an argument such as: what is logically explained with science right now, may be disproven in the future. However, I believe that this challenge is not convincing because there aren’t many examples of this happening, and in this day and age, claims are not usually made without sufficient proof as it would be labelled as ‘fake news’. It is reasonable to understand why this claim may be made, using examples such as the geocentric model being disproven in favour of the heliocentric model. There however exists the counter-argument that technology at that point in time was very limited compared to the technology we have now (e.g. satellites). And the geocentric model was only disproven as science progressed and the telescope was invented.

As a case study, one can examine the miracle of the dancing sun at Fatima. On May 13th, 1917, in the fields near Fatima, Portugal, three shepherd children said the Virgin Mary appeared to them, telling them that a miracle would occur on October 13th that year. News of this apparition began to spread throughout the region. The children recounted that God had sent Mary with a message for everyone: she promised God would grant peace to the entire world if Her requests for prayer, reparation and consecration were heard and obeyed. While many believed that the children had seen the Virgin Mary, many others discounted their story. When October 13th, 1917 came, many pilgrims made plans to attend. Although the region had been subjected to three days of torrential downpour, tens of thousands journeyed to the place of the previous apparitions to witness the predicted miracle. Many were scornful nonbelievers; whose sole intent was to discredit the children’s story. But, around noon “the clouds parted suddenly…and the sun appeared between them in the clear blue, like a disk of white fire.” The people could look at the sun without blinking and while they gazed upward, the huge ball began to “dance”. The sun was said to turn into a spinning disk, flinging out all sorts of brilliant colours that reflected on the faces of the crowds. And the crowd discovered their previously drenched clothing to be perfectly dry.

In the present time, this event does not seem like a miracle under scrutiny, and shouldn’t be classified as a miracle because there could be a meteorological explanation. It is believed by Artur Wirowski of the Lodz University of Technology that clouds of ice crystals at high altitudes can create ‘sun dogs’ or false suns and bands of rainbow in the sky; and sun dances may be a more complex variation of such effects. This agrees with the earlier point that it may have appeared like a miracle to them as it broke the laws of nature that they understood then, but because a century has progressed since then, we now have technology to disprove this miracle and expand our understanding of the laws of nature.

In conclusion, miracles don’t happen on the grounds that one believes that it is a miracle in the present, however, in the future it may be disproven as science progresses. This thesis may be challenged by an argument such as: what we believe now and has been logically explained may be disproven in the future. However, it is rather difficult to reckon that this challenge will be fatal.

The author's comments:

Miracles: A sign of divine presence or just a coincidental as-yet unexplained scientific phenomenon!?

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