miracles and the "leave it alone if you have no natural explanation" response

A miracle is an event that is not naturally possible. That does not mean it is necessarily impossible. There could be a power greater than nature such as a god that can do it. A miracle is supernatural. It's really magic and superstition under a different name. If a power can instantly remove an incurable terminal disease, then it can guarantee bad luck for those who walk under ladders.

When Jesus said he did miracles and when the Church says miracles happened and points to events to back this up, what is happening is they are saying, "Ha ha you can't explain these events. Don't try to come up with a natural explanation." In other words, when something is decided to have been a miracle the question is closed. Miracles are pro-censorship. They are pro-bias. They are pro-bigotry. They are pro-arrogance. They are the oil religion uses to lubricate the machinery that it deploys to get power.

Suppose there is no evidence that a reported miracle is indeed a miracle. Believers will say that absence of evidence that it is a miracle is not evidence that it is not a miracle. This is a variation of the argument: "absence of evidence is not evidence of absence" that is used particularly to respond to scientists who contend that they believe that God does not exist because they see no evidence for his existence. Absence of evidence that there is a secret zoo in the house next door indicates that there is no zoo there.

A Catholic bigot and I had a dispute on the authenticity of the Padre Pio miracles. I gave evidence for my scepticism. He retorted, "If you can' t come up with a natural explanation then leave it alone". Religion teaches that miracles are signs from God who alone has the right to order us what to believe. If so then miracles certainly imply that his attitude was right. Miracles do indeed themselves shout, "If you can' t come up with a natural explanation then leave it alone". This says a lot of things - all negative and all disturbing.

One is that it is up to the critic to disprove the supernaturality of the miracle. It is not up to the critic to do that. A miracle claim is so strange that it is up to those who say it happened to show that it did indeed happen supernaturally. Religion is insulting and being unfair to the critics.

Two, it says that the miracle should not be criticised if no natural explanation can be thought of. But even if no natural explanation can be thought of that doesn't mean there is no natural explanation. It does not mean we should regard the miracle with reverence and shun all critical thoughts.

Three, people can be wrong about whatever they want and this is fine but it is not fine in relation to miracles. One must be right about them. This is clearly religion seeking the power of getting people to think what it likes. What a lovely motive it has for proposing miracles for belief! How impressive!

Four, once you admit that a miracle has a supernatural explanation you shouldn't go any further than that. And that is simply because you can't. The supernatural cannot be understood. Religion says that a miracle can seem by all accounts to be a healing by some benevolent power. But it does not "seem" at all. A blind force could do it too. Maybe the devil had to heal for the sake of making a complicated plan work. The religion is only seeing what it wants to see. It's about that and not the truth.

Five, if religion is right that miracles are an invitation or a warning to the world to join the one true faith and live it and believe its teaching then those who disagree and oppose are bad and must be stopped. Do we really need an attitude like that developing in the modern world? All religion can say to that is that it advocates accepting the sinner as a good person while not accepting her sin. Sorry but the sinner is the sin in a real sense. Sin is shorthand for sinner for there is no sin apart from a sinful person.

Miracle claims and bullying are clearly two sides of the one coin.


Miracles are a menace and those who promote them are up to mischief whether they know it or not.

Further Reading ~
A Christian Faith for Today, W Montgomery Watt, Routledge, London, 2002
Answers to Tough Questions, Josh McDowell and Don Stewart, Scripture Press, Bucks, 1980
Apparitions, Healings and Weeping Madonnas, Lisa J Schwebel, Paulist Press, New York, 2004
A Summary of Christian Doctrine, Louis Berkhof, The Banner of Truth Trust, London, 1971
Catechism of the Catholic Church, Veritas, Dublin, 1995
Catholicism and Fundamentalism, Karl Keating, Ignatius Press, San Francisco, 1988
Enchiridion Symbolorum Et Definitionum, Heinrich Joseph Denzinger, Edited by A Schonmetzer, Barcelona, 1963
Looking for a Miracle, Joe Nickell, Prometheus Books, New York, 1993
Miracles, Rev Ronald A Knox, Catholic Truth Society, London, 1937
Miracles in Dispute, Ernst and Marie-Luise Keller, SCM Press Ltd, London, 1969
Lourdes, Antonio Bernardo, A. Doucet Publications, Lourdes, 1987
Medjugorje, David Baldwin, Catholic Truth Society, London, 2002
Miraculous Divine Healing, Connie W Adams, Guardian of Truth Publications, KY, undated
New Catholic Encyclopaedia, The Catholic University of America and the McGraw-Hill Book Company, Inc, Washington, District of Columbia, 1967
Raised From the Dead, Father Albert J Hebert SM, TAN, Illinois 1986
Science and the Paranormal, Edited by George O Abell and Barry Singer, Junction Books, London, 1981
The Demon-Haunted World, Carl Sagan, Headline, London, 1997
The Book of Miracles, Stuart Gordon, Headline, London, 1996
The Case for Faith, Lee Strobel, Zondervan, Grand Rapids, Michigan, 2000
The Encyclopaedia of Unbelief Volume 1, Gordon Stein, Editor, Prometheus Books, New York, 1985
The Hidden Power, Brian Inglis, Jonathan Cape, London, 1986
The Sceptical Occultist, Terry White, Century, London, 1994
The Stigmata and Modern Science, Rev Charles Carty, TAN, Illinois, 1974
Twenty Questions About Medjugorje, Kevin Orlin Johnson, Ph.D. Pangaeus Press, Dallas, 1999
Why People Believe Weird Things, Michael Shermer, Freeman, New York, 1997


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