Sunday, 2 March 2014

On Miracles

When a theist is trying to convince me that the god in which they happen to believe is real they'll often cite miracles as evidence. 

Of course the first question to ask is 'what do you mean by miracle?' The answer which comes back is usually something like an event which can't be explained, something inexplicable. 

Surely this is where the argument ends - if they understand what they've just said at all. Of course you will most likely recognise this as pure argument from ignorance. They can't explain what happened, therefore they think god did it. 

We all know it doesn't work like that. To make a case for God, you need to demonstrate that God was responsible, not that you don't know what was responsible. 

One of the most common examples is the surprise recovery from serious illness. The person wasn't expected to recover, they were given a short time to live...but 5 years later, here they are, alive and well. Must have been God, right? No. For one, they're not considering that people recover unexpectedly *all the time*! Well...maybe not all the time - but unexpected recoveries do happen. At what point does it lose it miraculousness? 

People throw around the word miracle for a rare event, an extraordinary occurrence, something they didn't except, or even something everyday that they really wanted (I got my concert's a miracle!). But as with prayers - miracles are never something that is demonstrably impossible without the involvement of a god. Where's the amputee growing a limb back? Where's going to bed with a normal back and waking up with wings? No, these things never happen. Miracles are always things that could have happened anyway. 

It comes down to something I've written about previously. Not understanding something doesn't mean a god is responsible for it.


  1. What do you think would happen if amputee's limbs miraculously became whole again or the blind could see, or the dead resurrected? A penny for your thoughts!

    1. Every religion would claim it as an act by its own god or gods and scientists would investigate to find out what actually happened.

    2. Limbs either growing back or replacement parts grown is really just a matter of time and research dollars.

      As long as the operation is done for a good looking white Christian, it'll still be claimed as God working through the surgeon. I'm sure there's a bible quote that would explain it too.

      God works in mysterious ways, and challenging him to do miracles is just your lack of faith. Anecdotal religious miracles are non-falsifiable, just like God, and alien based anal insertions.


  2. What are your thoughts on the Christians that argue that god runs the laws of reality and so everything including miracles is the result of god acting in the world?

    1. I would ask how they know this and if they can demonstrate it to be true.

  3. how about scientific miracles in the quran try reading this long article

  4. what scientists are dicovering recently was already mentioned in the quran 1400 years ago. who could have mentioned this unless it is the word of god?

  5. I'm always amazed by the flimsy evidence that is put forward in defense of a miracle claim. My standard for evidence is extremely high. When it comes to the efficacy of a drug for instance or data supporting climate change, I require vast amounts of empirical evidence....consistent, repeatable results and even then I take a view of caution.
    The recent canonization of Mary Mckillop was justified on the say so of a couple of miraculous healing events. For a start, it's not impossible that these ailments cured spontaneously. The second stretch of credibility for me is the fact the this dead nun was prayed to at all. If one believes in the power of prayers by a sort of celestial spokesperson, wouldn't you go with a saint with a proven track record in the miracle department?


  6. I'll tell you what is a miracle. It is a miracle that I am now an atheist after having been indoctrinated from toddler age with superstition, hate and racism, all justified in the bible.

    I prayed daily for almost 30 years that "god" must make me straight because I didn't want "his" bible-thumpers to hate me and kill me as instructed in the bible. They still hate me and call me a filthy, disgusting pervert and paedophile, but they haven't tried to kill me yet, which I could see as a miracle, right? Although they have vandalised my property, the sort of thing I've come to expect of them. Isn't it amazing that they always use the words homosexual, paedophile and bestiality in the same breath?

    "God" made me gay and then tell "his" people to hate me and kill me? Really? As so many gay men I hated myself and other gay men too. But I didn't kill myself or others as some of them do. I guess gay men killing themselves is also considered a miracle because "god" is getting rid of the evil perverts that "he" created, right? What a brilliant miraculous god! After 30 years of praying to be a "better" person, I gave up and decided that the existence of "god" is extremely unlikely.

    So I thank the church and its bible-thumpers for turning me into an atheist, which is a miracle! I'm really grateful for that because I'm a much better person now. All my racism is gone. Reading The God Delusion in 2007 finished the job and I thank Richard Dawkins for that. He is one of my favourite people on the planet.

    Since 2007 my copy of The God Delusion has been sitting on my bookshelf between two bibles which were gifts. It is on display for everyone to enjoy, I think it is amusing and ironic. I'm still waiting for "god" to smite me for that. Now *THAT* would be a miracle, right?

    At 55 I'm quite tired of life anyway, so I ask all religious people who read this, to please pray that "god" must kill me. Which I suppose would be seen as a miracle. But please, not a heart attack because that is painful. Just quietly let me die while I'm sleeping and send me straight to "hell", where I shall meet my gay brother who killed himself. I'll keep you posted.

    Now that I'm done blowing off some steam, I'm going to make a nice cup of tea and worship the Flying Spaghetti Monster.

    MrOzAtheist: Thanks for this blog, excellent job and you are hunky too, I hope you don't moderate this post into non-existence. That would be a miracle :)

    1. Your comment made very depressing reading. It's amazing how those of faith can justify such cruelty and lack of empathy by appealing to religion and the will of their supposed god. Never ceases to amaze!
      I wish I could somehow creep into your mind and insert the notion that life is worth living! 55 years is not old ( just late middle age)

    2. Hi Anita, apologies for depressing you. I could try to ignore the comments some christians keep making but we are reminded of it so often by people like Cory Bernardi, Fred Nile etc. Nile has been quieter lately, but other high profile christians are ramping up their rhetoric. I have a morbid curiosity for reading vitriolic catholic websites/blogs/forums, I should avoid doing that.

      Much of the depression and suicides among gays are caused by religious people I think, but they deny their culpability. Quoting a former colleague of mine who is a reborn christian: "Homosexuals are depressed and commit suicide because they KNOW they are wrong/disgusting/etc"

      My older brother was gay, deep in the closet and married as so many gay men did in those days, (and still do!) hoping it would cure him. It became too much for him and he killed himself at age 29. He would've been in his 60s now.

  7. Hi Anonymous. I was cut short with my comment last time. ( I have a great deal of difficulty with the format and find myself unable to continue typing if I leave it for more than a couple of seconds. I hadn't wished to post under my real name either! Damn!)

    @ Anita

    Anyway, I was going to add that I'm 66 yo so 55 seems very young in comparison.

    Fred Nile and his ilk are an anachronism. What sort of withered intellect would they attract? They're not representative of mainstream opinion, and even if they were, those opinions would be wrong! As for the RCC, they're in no position to pass judgement on anyone. The murky past of this organisation is being revealed more each day!
    It's a shame that the heavy burden of indoctrination still has the power to affect individuals for decades after they've stopped believing. My own views are very strong ( probably in the realms of anti theist more than atheist in actual fact) but it's the sheer silliness of such beliefs that offends me. I find them an insult to the intelligence.