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Science and Miracles

Danila_Castelli___69th_cure_of_Lourdes_recognized_as_miraculous_by_a_Bishop_-_YouTube

On June 20th, 2013, Giovanni Giudici, the Bishop of Pavia, pronounced the cure of Danila Castelli to be miraculous, 24 years after her pilgrimage to Lourdes. Her cure, and the 68 other cures proclaimed miraculous, began as simply one more of the more than 7,000 cures that have been reported to the Medical Bureau of the Sanctuary at Lourdes. While all of the cases are marvelous in their own way, only this small fraction survived the many stages of extensive investigation, both medical and ecclesial, so as to eventually be considered “unexplained according to current scientific knowledge” by the Lourdes International Medical Committee and finally pronounced miraculous by the bishop of the cured pilgrim. It might seem incongruous to many common conceptions of the relationship of faith and science that a site of religious pilgrimage would have a dedicated medical bureau, with a procedure for the scientific study of purportedly miraculous cures, but really, it is perfectly reasonable.

The very idea of a miracle, an event that happens by divine power outside the normal ordering of nature, is absurd for some. Our ever growing understanding of the universe reveals a tightly woven network of scientific laws that govern all of reality, leaving no room for and no evidence of exceptions. The fear is that allowing even one true miracle would ruin the very order and structure that science is built upon. There is no room for the miraculous in this worldview, so many will not even consider the possibilities.

Some Christians, impressed and intimidated by the advances of science, take the exceptionless character of scientific explanation for granted, and they restrict the idea of miracles to personal transformation and conversion, or perhaps try to find some small space for physical miracles between the fuzzy lines of quantum mechanics. While it is certainly true that personal conversion is beyond any natural power, it is by God working through, not against, our natural free will. Further, God absolutely can work through the seeming confusion of quantum systems, but this is an action of his providence working through, not contrary to nature. These redefinitions in concession to science strip the very idea of the miraculous of its depth and power.

In truth, there need not be a conflict between the scientific order and the miraculous when both are properly understood. Moreover, when the possibility of both is affirmed, they provide a richer and more marvelous picture of reality. I would argue that the existence of miracles is a great benefit to the project of modern science and that the existence of modern science is a great benefit to our understanding of miracles as well.

Considering the relationship of miracles to scientific order, there is the obvious fact that we need to know something about what normally occurs in the world to recognize when something marvelous happens, so the better we understand the natural order, the easier it is to identify the truly miraculous. On the other hand, the existence of miracles, by definition, makes necessary a limit to the power of science to fully explain all of reality. But there is more to the relationship of science and the miraculous than defining mutual limits and cordoning off proper realms.

The order and structure that scientists find in nature does not simply prevent false positives in our search for miracles; it also opens us up to new levels of wonder in the miracles we are blessed to encounter and an even deeper appreciation of miracles of the past, most especially in the Scriptures. St. Thomas Aquinas lays out a number of ways to classify miracles, based on their relationship to the natural order, and he does not hesitate to speculate on the process by which certain effects are brought about. The more we understand the natural order, the better we can understand the particular manifestation of divine power in each miracle, and probe the way God worked with, around, or in spite of nature. These efforts are not aimed at explaining—or worse, explaining away—every detail of the mystery of miracles, but at deepening our appreciation of the variety of ways God chooses to work in the world.

From the other perspective, the existence of miracles does not change the process by which scientists seek out particular natural truths, but it does safeguard the goal of that seeking and the truths that are attained by it. The possibility of real events beyond the power of scientific explanation ensures that scientists approach their subjects with a proper humility. It need not, and should not, change the fact that they expect to find a marvelous order and structure in nature, but it prevents them from falsely claiming too much. This is not a claim that they will find holes in their explanations, but that the very order they discover points beyond the purely physical and, eventually, to the God who created that order in the first place.
 
 
This article was written by Br. Thomas Davenport, who studied physics at the California Institute of Technology and went on to earn a PhD in physics from Stanford University. Originally published at Dominicana Journal. Used with permission.
 
(Image credit: Catholic News Agency)

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The Order of Preachers, known also as the Dominican Order, was founded by St. Dominic in 1216 with the mission of preaching for the salvation of souls. With contemplative study serving as a pillar of Dominican religious life, the Order continues to contribute to the Catholic synthesis of faith and reason, following the example of such Dominican luminaries as St. Albert the Great and St. Thomas Aquinas. The Friars of the Province of St. Joseph administer Providence College in Providence, RI and serve as teachers and campus ministers in several colleges, universities, and seminaries in addition to serving as pastors, chaplains, and itinerant preachers. Follow the Dominican students at their blog, DominicanaBlog.com.

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  • GCBill

    If determining whether something counts as "miraculous" depends on the current state of scientific knowledge, then it appears that perpetual reevaluation of miracle claims would be necessary to avoid false positives (and false negatives). That would certainly cultivate epistemic humity, but who within the RCC heirarchy is actually ready to do this?

  • William Davis

    Spontaneous tumor regression is a fascinating area of medical research. It seems there are strong links to immune function, here's a recent study:

    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3412538/

    I won't say I can explain Danila's miracle with any certainty (and I'm glad she is still doing well), but I might be able to offer one possible explanation (though one can't necessarily rule out many other causes).

    If the immune system can destroy tumors and cause spontaneous regression, what could possible influence the immune system to suddenly start doing where it wasn't before? Optimism. There is a very strong link between mood, mental state, and immune function. Danila's belief that she was healed by the waters could dramatically improve her optimism about her condition, which could affect the immune system, which could kill tumors. If you read the Gospels, many of Jesus's healings required faith for them to work, and I think they were really on to something physically. Of course, faith won't heal every problem, but that doesn't mean it can't heal any and actually aid the healing process overall. Here is one quick link on the immune system and optimism:

    http://www.livescience.com/8158-optimism-boosts-immune-system.html

    Perhaps optimism has a more dramatic affect on some people's immune system than others, there is still much unknown here. If my explanation happens to be correct, the Church can rightly claim that the waters healed this woman, and it didn't even require God to alter physical reality.

    • "If the immune system can destroy tumors and cause spontaneous regression, what could possible influence the immune system to suddenly start doing that where it wasn't before? Optimism."

      Do you honestly think her tumor was instantaneously healed through optimism? That seems ludicrous to me.

      According to that Live Science article, good feelings may perhaps have a "modest" effect on "immune response. But that's a far cry from completely and instantaneously healing a tumor.

      "If my explanation happens to be correct..."

      Unfortunately, there's no reason to believe it is. It's ad hoc and completely implausible, two huge strikes against it as an explanation of the facts.

      • William Davis

        That's fine. I have no reason to believe God intervened, but I'm trying to be nice today :)

      • William Davis

        You are right about that link, I'm going to change it to a MUCH better one that goes right to my premise

        http://www.mdanderson.org/newsroom/news-releases/2012/depression-and-cancer.html

        • "Let me know if this changes your opinion of my comment from "ludicrous" to something less offensive ;)"

          Sorry, William. I didn't mean to be offensive.

          But that link doesn't make your theory any more plausible. In fact, I struggle to see how that article is even relevant to your theory. It simply doesn't concern immediate cures due to optimism. All it does is suggest a vague (and commonsense) connection between mental and physical health, but, as before, that's a far cry from this instantaneous healing.

          • William Davis

            It's ok, I'm not touchy but I though ludicrous was a bit strong, but I'm not going to say I don't use strong language sometimes myself :)
            Do you have any information as to why we should think the healing was instant? I didn't see much information in the links, except she had multiple surgeries. From what I gathered she just got better, something consistent with spontaneous cancer remission. I could be missing an important detail here. If you know of an article with more specific info, I'd like to see it. If it was instantaneous that would be impressive.
            I don't doubt believing the waters healer her caused a sudden remission in symptoms, but symptoms are often the brains response to an illness and psychological factors can have a near instantaneous effect on symptoms. I've had sick children instantaneous get better when they found out company was coming (they were not cured, but they felt better).

            The only reason I posted this is because I find understanding health to be very important (health is your greatest wealth) and we are increasingly beginning to understand how the mind has a dramatic impact on overall health. The problem with testing this idea is that we don't have very good metrics for measure "happiness" or "optimism". Neurologists and psychologists are working on that very hard, however.
            I'm personally confident that the right kind of faith (it's not specific to any religion in this case, but not all religions are necessarily equal) can truly help you live longer.

          • Ye Olde Statistician

            Curiosity. Why is "spontaneous remission" more explanatory than "miracle"?

          • William Davis

            I suppose because understanding the cause of spontaneous remission could lead to new cancer cures.

          • Ye Olde Statistician

            Then you'll have to deal with all those folks who claim "not everything has a cause." Oh, well.

            But that still does not make "spontaneous remission" an explanation. It is simply a restatement of the explanandum. It's like explaining the motions of the planets by referring to "location change."

            "We marvel at something when, seeing an effect, we do not know the cause. And since one and the same cause is at times known to certain people and not to others, it happens that some marvel and some do not."
            -- St. Thomas Aquinas, Contra gentiles

          • William Davis

            I see what you are saying. Spontaneous remission is a special type of miracle, thus a little more explanatory than just "miracle".

          • Doug Shaver

            I see what you are saying. Spontaneous remission is a special type of miracle

            What makes it special is that we skeptics agree it really happens.

          • Ignatius Reilly

            Spontaneous remission happens in 22% of all breast cancer tumors. Is that miraculous?
            Spontaneous remission is not limited to people who receive Lourdes water and many people who receive Lourdes water still die of cancer. Any causal relation between the two is very suspect.

          • Pofarmer

            Given the known rates if spontaneous remmisions, he number of visitors to Lourdes, and the number of Miracle cures, Lourdes is actually a signifigant underacheiver.

      • David Nickol

        Do you honestly think her tumor was instantaneously healed through optimism? That seems ludicrous to me.

        Do we know that the tumor was instantaneously healed? I would certainly accept it as a miracle if a person had a CAT scan that clearly showed a tumor immediately before bathing in the waters of Lourdes, and a second CAT scan immediately after emerging from the water showed no sign of a tumor.

        As I understand it, the Vatican doesn't even consider cases of spontaneous remission of breast cancer as possible miracles, because it is a common enough phenomenon in medical science to be considered something naturally occurring though unexplained.

        It does not seem to me that an "instantaneous" disappearance of symptoms is the same thing as an instantaneous cure of a disease. Someone with great faith and optimism who visits Lourdes may emerge saying they feel great, but for me to consider something an "instantaneous cure," the underlying cause of whatever the malady was would also have to be shown to have disappeared instantaneously.

        I personally can imagine healings that I would consider miraculous even if they did not occur instantaneously. It would indeed be an obvious miracle if a double amputee had both of his arms restored instantaneously. But I would consider it a miracle if they grew back over a period of months.

      • Papalinton

        Do you honestly think her tumor was instantaneously healed through optimism?

        Brandon, do you honestly believe 'instantaneity' is the defining characteristic that distinguishes a normal miracle from a miracle that Shiva deemed to have invoked upon Danila Castelli?

        I don't think it has ever been substantiated by any line of evidential inquiry which of the Gods of the Great Traditions was responsible for Castelli's remarkable remission. How do YOU know it was the Christian God? Do each of the Gods have clearly demarcated territorial patches in which they can practice their miracles? For example, the Christian God is the only God that is permitted to work at Lourdes whereas Shiva only operates in the vicinity of the Indus Valley.

        I am unclear how it is you claim to know who performed the miracle on Castelli? There is absolutely no reason to think Shiva was not responsible. I suspect your claim is little more than an apologetic opinion at its strongest.

        The great German astronomer, Johannes Kepler, with exceptional erudition best sums it up, to which I subscribe:

        "When miracle are admitted, every scientific explanation is out of the question."

        These are serious questions to issues of such ontological and epistemological importance that must be resolved if humanity is to move forward. I will be interested in your explication of how you reconcile these varying and indisputable positions.

        • Andrew Y.

          Your question shows a remarkable misunderstanding of the Christian concept of God.

          I am unclear how it is you claim to know who performed the miracle on Castelli? There is absolutely no reason to think Shiva was not responsible.

          There is no such being as a "Christian" God. He is the Ipsum esse subsistens, or the Subsistent act of existing itself (as Acquinas puts it). To place this concept of God in competition with "other Gods" simply does not make any sense.

          It makes no difference whether the miraculously healed individual appealed to Shiva or even a flying spaghetti monster. If the healing was in fact miraculous, we believe there is only one being who could have accomplished it.

          "When miracle are admitted, every scientific explanation is out of the question."

          It states quite clearly in the article that only 68 or the 7000 odd reported miracles were declared miraculous, and even then only after extensive scrutiny by their medical office. How exactly has this left scientific explanation out of the question?

          • Papalinton

            There is no such being as a "Christian" God. He is the Ipsum esse subsistens, or the Subsistent act of existing itself (as Acquinas puts it). (as Acquinas puts it).

            Then why do you obdurately persist in praying to an 'Ipsum esse subsistens, or the Subsistent act of existing itself ' and talk to Him, beseeching his forgiveness? Why do you anthropomorphise this Ipsum esse subsistens, "Or Father, Who art in heaven, Hallowed by Thy name ...?

            Can you spot the convolution in your statement?

          • Andrew Y.

            Personification helps us speak about God and to God using language that we can more easily understand.

            Praying within the limits of the human intellect does not falsify or even diminish the existence of God.

          • Pofarmer

            Personification shows our cognitive biases.

          • Papalinton

            Personification is a concession that even you, don't know what you're talking about.

        • Ye Olde Statistician

          Shiva is the destroyer, not the creator or preserver. He is but one aspect of the triune God of the Hindus.

          • Papalinton

            Equally the < href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shiva'Great Reformer'. But all supreme Gods are destroyers. That's what they're good at. Your Christian god is no less so. If the scriptures is to be taken as his word He has made no secret of the fact He will be the sole destroyer at the end times in John's apocalypse. [Of course we won't mention John's 144,000 elect. That's just pure symbolism, not to be read literally as one must with the rest of the Bible.]

            There is a very deep sadomasochism undercurrent that luxuriates throughout religious introspection. It is a means by which we humans seek to engage our innate existential fear as a form of social control. Anthropology and the various social sciences and sciences of the mind have pretty documented and confirmed this as a fairly common socio-cultural mechanism. Christianity models the same patterning behaviour. But there is no divine revelatory rationale behind this phenomenon. It is just good ol' human ambient-level psychosis, what Prof Scott Atran from his research has labelled the 'tragedy of cognition'.

            One doesn't have to study rocket theism to understand this all-too-human idiosyncratic trait.

          • Ye Olde Statistician

            That's just pure symbolism, not to be read literally as one must with the rest of the Bible.

            That really bugs you fundies, doesn't it?

            It's like the topic swerve phenomenon.

          • David Nickol

            That really bugs you fundies, doesn't it?

            I think what bugs some of us is that the Church has interpreted the Scriptures differently in different times. The Church read the Scriptures for centuries to justify anti-Semitism. For example,

            And the whole people said in reply, “His blood be upon us and upon our children.”

            And of course, as we have discussed thousands of times, the Church condemned Galileo because he contradicted the Bible:

            "That the Sun is the centre of the universe and doth not move from his place is a proposition absurd and false in philosophy, and formerly heretical; being expressly contrary to Holy Writ: That the Earth is not the centre of the universe nor immoveable, but that it moves, even with a diurnal motion, is likewise a proposition absurd and false in philosophy, and considered in theology ad minus erroneous in faith.....

            Furthermore, I just looked back at Dei Verbum, and it definitely has a "fundie" aura about it:

            Therefore, since everything asserted by the inspired authors or sacred writers must be held to be asserted by the Holy Spirit, it follows that the books of Scripture must be acknowledged as teaching solidly, faithfully and without error that truth which God wanted put into sacred writings for the sake of salvation. Therefore "all Scripture is divinely inspired and has its use for teaching the truth and refuting error, for reformation of manners and discipline in right living, so that the man who belongs to God may be efficient and equipped for good work of every kind" (2 Tim. 3:16-17, Greek text).

            And "conservative" Catholics like Strange Notions contributor Jimmy Akin see no "loophole" in the clause "that truth which God wanted put into sacred writings for the sake of salvation." That is, everything in the Bible is true, not just things that are necessary for salvation.

            Pinning down just what the Church teaching is on "inerrancy" is pretty bewildering, even to me, and I read mainly Catholic biblical scholarship.

            You are fond of dismissing the issue with flip remarks and the wave of a hand, but it is no wonder people are bewildered by the Church's approach to the Bible.

          • Ye Olde Statistician

            The Church read the Scriptures for centuries to justify anti-Semitism.

            "Reasons Why Christ Suffered"
            "Furthermore men of all ranks and conditions were gathered together against the Lord, and against his Christ. Gentiles and Jews were the advisers, the authors, the ministers of his passion: Judas betrayed him, Peter denied him, all the rest deserted him. ... In this guilt are involved all those who fall frequently into sin; for, as our sins consigned Christ the Lord to the death of the cross, most certainly those who wallow in sin and iniquity crucify to themselves again the Son of God, as far as in them lies, and make a mockery of him. This guilt seems more enormous in us than in the ancient Jews, since according to the testimony of the same Apostle: if they had known it, they would never have crucified the Lord of glory; while we, on the contrary, professing to know him, yet denying him by our actions, seem in some sort to lay violent hands on him.”
            Catechism of the Council of Trent, XVI cent.

            or

            Whereas the Jews are made to the image of God, and a remnant of them will one day be saved, and whereas they have besought our protection: following in the footsteps of our predecessors we command that they be not molested in their synagogues; that their laws, rights, and customs be not assailed; that they be not baptized by force, constrained to observe Christian festivals, nor to wear any new badges, and they be not hindered in their business relations with Christians.
            Declaration of Martin V, 1419

            or

            Certain of the clergy, and princes, nobles and great lords of your cities and dioceses have falsely devised certain godless plans against the Jews, unjustly depriving them by force of their property, and appropriating it themselves;... they falsely charge them with dividing up among themselves on the Passover the heart of a murdered boy... In their malice, they ascribe every murder, wherever it chance to occur, to the Jews. And on the ground of these and other fabrications, they are filled with rage against them, rob them of their possessions without any formal accusation, without confession, and without legal trial and conviction, contrary to the privileges granted to them by the Apostolic See… They oppress the Jews by starvation, imprisonment, and by tortures and sufferings; they afflict them with all kinds of punishments, and sometimes even condemn them to death, so the Jews, although living under Christian princes, are in a worse plight than were their ancestors in the land of the Pharaohs. They are driven to leave in despair the land in which their fathers have dwelt since the memory of man…. Since it is our pleasure that they shall not be disturbed, ... we ordain that ye behave towards them in a friendly and kind manner. Whenever any unjust attacks upon them come under your notice, redress their injuries, and do not suffer them to be visited in the future by similar tribulations.
            Bull of Innocent IV to the bishops of France and Germany, 1247

            What remains to be seen is an actual decree of anti-Semitism justified on the basis of the passage you cited, rather than your personal interpretation of the proof text and your serene confidence that the Church simply must have understoon it in your fashion.

            the Church condemned Galileo because he contradicted the Bible

            Actually, she chastized Galileo because he began re-intepreting the Scripture on his own based on an unproven mathematical hypothesis. The Church had no problem reading the scriptures in more than one sense:

            Since Holy Scripture can be explained in a multiplicity of senses, one should adhere to a particular explanation, only in such measure as to be ready to abandon it, if it be proved with certainty to be false; lest Holy Scripture be exposed to the ridicule of unbelievers, and obstacles be placed to their believing.
            - Aquinas, Summa theologica, Part I, Q. 68, art. 1

            But she insisted on two things.
            a) The contrary sense actually be proven with certainty.
            b) The interpretation contrary to the sense of the commentaries of the early Church Fathers, who had all read the passages in the light of the "settled science," be left to the professionals and not to the whims and desires of individuals.

            “As to Copernicus, [Cardinal Bellarmino] said that he could not believe his work would be forbidden, and that the worst possibility, in his opinion, would be the insertion of a note stating that the theory was introduced to save the celestial appearances, or some similar expression, in the same way as epicycles had been introduced. With this reservation, he continued, you would be at liberty to speak freely on these matters whenever you liked… [Regarding Scriptural passages] I [Dini] answered that the Holy Scriptures might be considered in this place as simply employing our usual form of speech, but the Cardinal said that in dealing with such a question we must not be too hasty, just as it would not be right to rush into condemnation of anyone for holding the [Copernican] views which I had put before him … He told me that he intended to invite Father Grienberger to his house that he might discuss the question with him, and this very morning I have been to visit the Father, to see if there were any further news. I found that there was nothing fresh except that Father Grienberger would have been better pleased if you had first given your proofs before beginning to speak about the Holy Scriptures…”
            Letter, Cardinal Dini to Galileo, 7 March 1615

            And that all texts must be interpreted can be noticed here:

            "[I]f there were a true demonstration that the sun was in the center of the universe and the earth in the third sphere, and that the sun did not travel around the earth but the earth circled the sun, then it would be necessary to proceed with great caution in explaining the passages of Scripture which seemed contrary, and we would rather have to say that we did not understand them than to say that something was false which has been demonstrated. But I do not believe that there is any such demonstration; none has been shown to me. It is not the same thing to show that the appearances are saved by assuming that the sun really is in the center and the earth in the heavens. I believe that the one demonstration might exist, but I have grave doubts about the other, and in a case of doubt, one may not depart from the Scriptures as explained by the holy Fathers." Letter, Cardinal Bellarmino to Fr. Foscarini, 12 Apr 1615

            Notice: "may not depart from the Scriptures as explained by the holy Fathers" not "may not depart from the Scriptures as literal." Bellarmino was aware that no text is self-explanatory; it must be interpreted. The Fathers had read things in the light of the rock-solid consensus science. If anyone ever comes up with, like, you know, empirical proof? that the Earth moves, then we'll take another look at how to understand those passages. Meanwhile, let's not be hasty either to approve or condemn.

            The actual case was convoluted and filled with intrigue, anti-Tuscan prejudice, the international crisis, and a wounded amore propre. Even so, it is noted that the recommendation of the judge extensor was simply to do as Dini reported Bellarmino as saying, and had Galileo not as many personal enemies as he had, they might not have subverted the efforts of his friends. A brief precis of the history can be found starting here:
            http://tofspot.blogspot.com/2013/09/the-great-ptolemaic-smackdown-heres-mud.html
            and running through the next few episodes.

            I just looked back at Dei Verbum, and it definitely has a "fundie" aura about it:
            "Therefore, since everything asserted by the inspired authors or sacred writers must be held to be asserted by the Holy Spirit, it follows that the books of Scripture must be acknowledged as teaching solidly, faithfully and without error that truth which God wanted put into sacred writings for the sake of salvation."
            But that everything in Scripture is true does not mean that everything is factual. In particular, "the truths that God wanted to put into sacred writings for the sake of salvation" would not include facts about astronomical mathematics or about geography, etc.

            In the Gospel we do not read that the Lord said: ‘I send you the Holy Spirit so that He might teach you all about the course of the sun and the moon.’ The Lord wanted to make Christians, not astronomers. You learn at school all the useful things you need to know about nature.”
            -- Augustine, Bishop of Hippo, Contra Faustum manichaeum

            Two people can interpret the same passage differently so long as their interpretations do not contradict proclaimed dogma or they do not make a big freaking deal about it, to the scandal of third parties. Then, see Summa theologica, Part I, Q. 68, art. 1, quoted above.

          • Papalinton

            Hi YOS. It's a long time since we first met at First Things. And contrary to your assumption, I'm not bugged in the slightest, though I do acknowledge an element of frustration at various times when believers swap effortlessly in mid-stream, or segue in mid-conversation from biblical allegory and metaphor to inerrancy and fact depending on what takes their fancy in the circumstances of the dialogue.

            I do like your picking the easy-to-handle low hanging fruit [144,000 elect] to comment upon while setting aside the substantive sections of the comment into the too-hard basket.

            And as David Nickol refers below, much that was once rusted-on fact in apologetical exegesis not all that long ago is now, increasingly and more broadly, becoming analogy, metaphor, ever more symbolic and emblematic in flavour and context. Over time Judeo-Christian writings will transition to socio-cultural mythology, in pretty much the same way that the once mighty and powerful 3,000-year reign of the Egyptian religion, the Roman pantheon or that of Mithraism transited to humanity's wonderful treasure chest of past mythological glories. Just as James Feibleman, American autodidact with no formal training or degree became Head of Tulane University's Philosophy Department, and writer of more than 36 influential books, noted:

            "A myth is a religion in which no one any longer believes."

            Cheers

          • Ye Olde Statistician

            when believers swap effortlessly in mid-stream, or segue in
            mid-conversation from biblical allegory and metaphor to inerrancy and
            fact depending on what takes their fancy

            Fr. Georges Lemaître, the mathematical physicist who first devised the "big bang" solution to the field equations of general relativity, had this to say on the topic:

            "The writers of the Bible were illuminated more or less - some more than others - on the question of salvation. On other questions they were as wise or as ignorant as their generation. Hence it is utterly unimportant that errors of historic or scientific fact should be found in the Bible, especially if errors relate to events that were not directly observed by those who wrote about them.

            The idea that because they were right in their doctrine of immortality and salvation they must also be right on all other subjects is simply the fallacy of people who have an incomplete understanding of why the Bible was given to us at all."

            Or if you prefer a more classic source:
            http://www.newadvent.org/fathers/1202.htm
            +++
            You also misconstrue "myth," which is a story society tells itself in order to validate the existing order of things. For example, the myth of Galileo as a validation of the basic tenets of the Modern Ages (vs. the actual history).

          • David Nickol

            As I noted earlier

            And "conservative" Catholics like Strange Notions contributor Jimmy Akin see no "loophole" in the clause "that truth which God wanted put into sacred writings for the sake of salvation." That is, everything in the Bible is true, not just things that are necessary for salvation.

            Akin says

            But if you recognize that there are matters of fact that Scripture asserts that have no bearing on our salvation then you have to explain how these assertions got into Scripture. If God put them there then, since God never asserts anything erroneous, they have to be inerrant, too.

            The only way for errant assertions of fact to get into Scripture would be for the human authors to put them there–independent of God asserting them–and this is precisely what Dei Verbum won’t let you do. Dei Verbum makes a big point of the fact that the human authors asserted all that God wanted asserted and no more, so that every assertion in sacred Scripture is an assertion of the Holy Spirit.

            That means that, even though Dei Verbum does contain an ambiguous phrase that can be read in a restrictive manner, the overall context of the document still blocks an interpretation of Scripture as containing erroneous assertions of fact.

            Anything that Scripture says that appears to the interpreter to be wrong or contradictory, therefore, either must not be an assertion of fact but something else or it must not be understood in the correct fashion by the interpreter.

            Now, as pointed out in a discussion some time ago, Pope Benedict XVI in one of his books on Jesus, says that the discrepancy between the synoptics and John on the time of the Last Supper is best resolved in favor of John, and somehow the authors of the synoptics were misled into believing the Last Supper was Passover meal, as it is not in John. Benedict points out, however, that the ancient traditions seem still to be intact in the synoptics, because nothing in their description of the Last Supper has the character of a Passover meal.

            I am guessing that Jimmy Akin would side with one of the numerous theories that attempt to harmonize all four Gospels on this point. It seems quite clear that Benedict has no problem concluding that there is a contradiction between John and the synoptics, and that John is correct and the other three Gospels are incorrect. But I can't guess where you stand. The exact day of the week of the crucifixion would seem to me to be as unimportant as the exact date of the birth of Jesus, which none of the Gospels bother to record. But of course there is a great deal of religious symbolism involved in viewing the Last Supper as a Passover meal.

          • Ye Olde Statistician

            It seems quite clear that Benedict has no problem concluding that there is a contradiction between John and the synoptics, and that John is correct and the other three Gospels are incorrect. But I can't guess where you stand.

            I know of no reasoning that sets the particulars of the meal as specifically the Passover meal. The only parts of it that are necessary are the events that take place in the course of the meal, and those seem not to be contradicted. Heck, take any set of testimonies about the self-same event and you will find contradictions in detail that do not contradict the content. My old history prof did this one time with the Battle of Waterloo, contrasting British, French, and Prussian accounts of the fight. (He also had some fun with the question "When did World War II begin?")

          • William Davis

            Personally, I just don't see how they could be right about salvation when they were wrong about everything else.

          • Ye Olde Statistician

            Personally, I just don't see how they could be right about salvation when they were wrong about everything else.

            First of all, it was the Christians who chose those books for their Bible because they read into them certain elements of salvation history. It's not like they stumbled across a bunch of books and read them and then *gobsmack said "Holy Cow! Let's believe this!" Their beliefs came first, and interpretation followed. (And the New Testament writings followed that.) Later, some folks decided that their ancestors were fools and starting from the text began to interpret them in contrary manners, disagreeing with the ancient consensus and even with one another. If need be, they dropped some texts from the anthology.

            How could physics be right about relativity when it was wrong about phlogiston, etc.? Simple: it's not all one or all the other. That's why critical reading skills are needed.

            But they are not wrong about "everything else." There are some uncertainties in multiple accounts -- Joshua for example sometimes has three accounts of the same events, each slightly different -- but this is not the same thing as being "wrong." The standards and categories in the early Iron Age were different: compilers simply glommed together different accounts, figuring that diversity of perspective would present a fuller picture; nor did they suppose that late 19th century historiography was the most important thing going on. That's like supposing lawyers and administrators in early Modern Europe thought controversy over the details of astronomical arithmetic was the most important thing going on in the 1600s.

            Example: For a long time, the Bible was the only source that mentioned a people called "Hittites," a minor tribe holding some cities in Syria. Maybe they were even fabricated. Only later was the Hittite Empire discovered in Anatolia which historically had a colonial offshoot in Syria, the which offshoot survived the swarming of Anatolia by the Phrygians et al., though being cut off from the main branch it declines in importance vis a vis other powers.
            Example: The journey of Abraham may or may not be that of a particular person with that name, but it describes rather well the spread of the Amorites across the Fertile Crescent from their jump-off point in Ur of the Third Dynasty all the way around to Canaan.
            Example: there is a mention of a king of Chaldea in one of the books who does not appear in the Chaldean king-lists. But as it transpired, that individual acted as regent for a minority king and as far as folks in the western provinces were concerned may as well have been king for all practical purposes.
            So even when the text is wrong, it is not always wrong in the operative sense.

          • William Davis

            I don't disagree with anything you just said really, but if God was really talking to someone back then, wouldn't he give them some hints about the nature of objective reality. There is nothing known to Christianity that wasn't known to anyone else at the time. It makes it look like just another human creation (with some great lines about love) that happened to become the official religion of the Roman Empire because of Constantine. The Roman Catholic Church still has many elements that are distinctly Roman in origin (not that this is a big deal). I set a high bar for an organization that claims to have direct contact with the divine. You'd think God would give some good clues for the modern critical thinker. Perhaps it is even God's plan that Christianity was only to last for a couple thousand years, and it is now time for "new revelation."

          • Ye Olde Statistician

            wouldn't he give them some hints about the nature of objective reality.

            Why? As Augustine wrote, he "wanted to make Christians, not astronomers." (That's all those parts about "love." Moderns often fail to realize how rare such things were at the time.)

            become the official religion of the Roman Empire because of Constantine.

            All Constantine did was allow it to be practiced. (And his family became Arian heretics.) It was the Roman people who sorta made it "official" by converting in mass numbers. Since the Roman State recognized no "separation," all the emperors were de facto religious magistrates, all temples were State property, and all priests were State employees. As the People became overwhelmingly Catholic/Orthodox and as the Emperors became themselves believers, it made no sense to fund pagan institutions, and so they were repurposed by the State. That is, it was a bottom-up sort of thing.

          • William Davis

            Constantine did much more than just make it legal (though he was an Arian).

            The accession of Constantine was a turning point for early Christianity. After his victory, Constantine took over the role of patron of the Christian faith. He supported the Church financially, had an extraordinary number of basilicas built, granted privileges (e.g., exemption from certain taxes) to clergy, promoted Christians to high-ranking offices, returned property confiscated during the Great Persecution of Diocletian,[15] and endowed the church with land and other wealth.[16] Between 324 and 330, Constantine built a new imperial capital at Byzantium on the Bosporos, which would be named Constantinople for him. Unlike "old" Rome, the city began to employ overtly Christian architecture, contained churches within the city walls and had no pre-existing temples from other religions.[17]

            In doing this, however, Constantine required those who had not converted to Christianity to pay for the new city.[16] Christian chroniclers tell that it appeared necessary to Constantine "to teach his subjects to give up their rites (...) and to accustom them to despise their temples and the images contained therein,"[18] This led to the closure of temples because of a lack of support, their wealth flowing to the imperial treasure;[19] Constantine did not need to use force to implement this.[16] Only the chroniclerTheophanes has added that temples "were annihilated", but this was considered "not true" by contemporary historians.

            http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Constantine_the_Great_and_Christianity

            I could quote a lot more that he did, but I'm sure you are aware. This was all before the separation of Church and state, and the Romans took their official religion very seriously. It was back and forth for a little while between paganism and Christianity, but Christianity had more going for it for empire building. Constantine was well aware of this. Of course, Christianity may have thrived without being made the official religion of Rome (still is actually), but we'll never know.

    • Foreign grid

      Question.... Would it affect the theory any if there were some miracle hearings on babies with the miracle water? I mean like a week old baby who is dying of heart issues and receives the water and gets better the next day?

      • William Davis

        A well documented case such as that, yes. I'd be interested to see something like that from the past 10 or so years.
        Why would God choose to work a miracle just because the baby came in contact with the water? Magic water definitely seems the domain of primitive thinking humans, not an omnipotent God. In general I do not believe in Christianity because I believe God is far greater than anything Christians ever imagined. From every angle, the Christian religion seems to be a purely human construct to me.
        Science is a human construct too, but based upon God's work, reality. Christianity seems to be based on tradition, theocracy (Judaism was originally a form of government), wishful thinking, and a certain degree of altruism. I like the altruism part, but I'm not much impressed with the rest.

  • Doug Shaver

    only this small fraction survived the many stages of extensive investigation, both medical and ecclesial, so as to eventually be considered “unexplained according to current scientific knowledge” by the Lourdes International Medical Committee and finally pronounced miraculous by the bishop of the cured pilgrim.

    So, the standard is "unexplained according to current scientific knowledge"? How does this make any argument for its miraculous nature different from an ordinary argument from ignorance?

    The very idea of a miracle, an event that happens by divine power outside the normal ordering of nature, is absurd for some.

    Yes, some unbelievers call it absurd. The rest of us say it lacks sufficient evidence, but we don't call it absurd.

    it is certainly true that personal conversion is beyond any natural power,

    I see no reason to think that. Conversion is just a change of belief. Most people change their beliefs about everything else all the time, throughout their lives, using their natural powers of reason. They obviously don't always use those powers correctly, but it quite often happens that we change our beliefs, through the natural power of reason, from false to true. There is no reason I can see, other than some dogma, to say that this never happens in the case of conversion to Christianity.

    In truth, there need not be a conflict between the scientific order and the miraculous when both are properly understood. Moreover, when the possibility of both is affirmed, they provide a richer and more marvelous picture of reality.

    I used to believe in miracles. When I stopped believing, my picture of reality became not a whit less rich or marvelous.

    On the other hand, the existence of miracles, by definition, makes necessary a limit to the power of science to fully explain all of reality.

    Reality seems to be perfectly capable of limiting our understanding of it without any help from religious dogmas.

    The order and structure that scientists find in nature does not simply prevent false positives in our search for miracles

    I have yet to see a compelling reason to think there are any true positives.

    • Phil

      Hey Doug,

      In the end, I don't think that there is any natural way to perfectly know whether a miracle, in the proper sense, took place. One can have the reasonable belief that a miracle took place, but never 100% certainty. (The only way one could truly know is through a private revelation where God may reveal this to be the case. But that is normally just a personal grace that God grants for a personal increase in faith, hope, and love.)

      If 100 years from now they find out that something might not really have been a miracle, I don't think it makes that big of a difference. If it brought about a greater trust in God, then a certain kind of "miracle" did actually happen.

      In the end, the ultimate purpose of miracles is to bring about greater trust (faith), hope, and love of God.

      • Doug Shaver

        One can have the reasonable belief that a miracle took place, but never 100% certainty.

        OK. I don't claim 100 percent certainty about anything that is a matter of empirical fact.

        In the end, the ultimate purpose of miracles is to bring about greater trust (faith), hope, and love of God.

        I've seen other believers suggest other purposes. But, I won't expend any intellectual effort on figuring out their purpose until I think I have a good reason to think they actually happen.

      • William Davis

        In the end, the ultimate purpose of miracles is to bring about greater trust (faith), hope, and love of God.

        I think all this can work without God violating the rules of creation. It's the belief in miracles that makes the difference. I'm not saying I can know 100% that God doesn't violate the rules of creation, but I don't think it's necessary to achieve the same end result. Stories of miracles have exactly the same result (increasing faith, hope and love of God) whether or not there actually was a miracle.

      • Galorgan

        "If 100 years from now they find out that something might not really have been a miracle, I don't think it makes that big of a difference. If it brought about a greater trust in God, then a certain kind of "miracle" did actually happen.

        In the end, the ultimate purpose of miracles is to bring about greater trust (faith), hope, and love of God."

        So, the truth of miracles doesn't actually matter as long as it brings more people to God? This is pretty close to an admission that "Lying for Jesus" is OK. "Being Wrong for Jesus" I guess.

  • Like with anything, we should expect a certain amount of error from an agency like the Medical Bureau of the Sanctuary at Lourdes, (which I might suggest is not wholly independent or disinterested in the result here.)

    Even so, they have found the other 99.9% claims of cures to be false claims. I suggest this is well within the margin of error and it is more reasonable to think that the Bureau was mistaken about the 0.01% claims, rather than there was an exception to the laws of nature.

    It also makes you wonder what perfectly moral reasons a God would have for ignoring the pilgrimages of the thousands of people who attended the sanctuary in hopes of a cure. 7000 claimed a cure, how many thousands didn't even think they were cured? How many millions of children have prayed for a cure and been disappointed?

    • "Even so, they have found the other 99.9% claims of cures to be false claims. I suggest this is well within the margin of error and it is more reasonable to think that the Bureau was mistaken about the 0.01% claims, rather than there was an exception to the laws of nature."

      Why? You've offered no reason to think this is true.

      From a different perspective, you could think the 0.01% are more likely to be true given the fact the researchers are so selective in accepting miracle claims.

      • Doug Shaver

        From a different perspective, you could think the 0.01% are more likely to be true

        No perspective means anything, scientifically, without some estimate of an error rate, for both false positives and false negatives. Are you assuming that either of them is zero?

      • Because we have extensive scientific evidence of the laws of nature and none for miracles. There is already a huge prior improbability against it being miracles.

        Against this background we need to assess the evidence that this likely biased group has actually found the first evidence that the laws of nature have been suspended, against the plausibility or alternative explanations for their signal of 0.01% (rounded up). Given that the signal is within any reasonable margin of error, I think it is reasonable to suggest that there are unknown naturalistic explanations for these apparent cures than a theistic explanation. Or plain mendacity, which we know is quite common, even among the Catholic clergy.

        And this is all without any scrutiny of the actual "cures". When we examine the case of Ms Castelli, there are a number of reasons to be suspicious, at least from the story linked. This relates the medical issue as being a tumour on her bladder. In 1988 she did at least two things. She had a number of surgeries and she visited this shrine. We are told that it was the shrine that cured her, not the surgeries. The decision that she was cured occurred 23 years after the cure for some reason. To me this suggests that she was cured by the surgery and various treatments.

      • From a different perspective, you could think the 0.01% are more likely to be true given the fact the researchers are so selective in accepting miracle claims.

        That depends on what the researchers are selecting for. The filter they're applying isn't "Is there sufficient evidence to judge that this claim is true?". They're applying a different filter: "Is what this person claims compatible with our doctrine? If so, does current science inadequately explain the claims?"

      • Papalinton

        Now that %s has been introduced it would seem appropriate to review the context of religion. You will be aware that the existence of other religions reduces the truth probability of one's own. That stands to reason and logic.

        "Assuming that there are, say, 1,000 religions in the world, each with an equal chance of being true and all at least to some degree mutually exclusive, then each religion has a 1/1,000 chance of being true and a 999/1,000 chance of being false. In other words, whatever you believed before the comparison, there is only a 0.1% chance of being correct and a 99.9% chance of being incorrect." Prof David Eller

        Now, on even this most basic of probabilities, let alone any serious historical scholarship through which Bayesian Theory would be applied, one can only reasonably conclude the credibility of religious claims of representing the 'one, true and only religion' is fatally compromised.

    • Kevin Aldrich

      I don't think you are correct in calling the 7000 claims false. Some number of them were probably false but some other number just failed to meet the criteria.

      By the way, if everyone who went to Lourdes got cured, the entire world would be constantly going to Lourdes and no one would ever die again from a disease or injury (provided they could be shipped there fast enough). It is not God's intention at this time for the world to be free of illness, injury, or death.

      • I didn't say they were false, I said they were found to be false.

        I don't see what would be so bad if god cured everyone who asked him instead of just a small fraction.

        • Kevin Aldrich

          You said "false claims." What is false about them? The article does not say they are false.

          Yes, it would be great if God cured everyone who asked him. Then this would be heaven not earth.

          • Pofarmer

            If God can do it in Heaven, then why not on Earth? In fact, if there's this perfect Heavenly realm, why create Earth at all? Just skip the middle bits.

  • Luc Regis

    The fear is that allowing even one true miracle would ruin the very order and structure that science is built upon. There is no room for the miraculous in this worldview, so many will not even consider the possibilities.

    I don't think that is true or the view of most people.. I think the fear is more on the part of some religious and apologists that some of the 'miracles' will be explained away by science.

    In truth, there need not be a conflict between the scientific order and the miraculous

    I totally agree with this....but there has to be some sort of clear demarcation between that which is considered a miracle and that which has a probable/possible explanation in terms of scientific explanation. One thing I feel , is that we have to stop going back to Aquinas and church fathers and apologists of the past,the scriptures etc. as criteria or or grounds for reasonable explanations pertaining to so called miracles and modern science.

    admitting the possibility of real events beyond the power of scientific explanation ensures that scientists approach their subjects with a proper humility.

    Just what the hell does that mean other than that scientists are lacking in humility and objectivity? Of course science does not have an explanation for everything yet, and may never be able to explain everything, but that in no way implies that there will not be any forthcoming explanation to many things that we do not yet understand.

  • David Nickol

    I am open to the possibility of miracles. What concerns me, however, is that someone might recover from a disease by an as yet undiscovered mechanism, and labeling the recovery a miracle might prevent research that would potentially discover the natural mechanism of the cure, with the knowledge then being used to cure others with the same disease. The odds of that happening nowadays, though, do seem rather slim to me.

    I don't think it is necessary to believe in miracles to believe in God. I read a very good book years ago (or at least, years ago I read a book that seemed very good to me at the time) called The Truing of Christianity by John Meagher, in which the author suggested we give up the idea that God intervenes, otherwise we have accept all the horrible situations when he does not intervene as things that he deliberately permitted. It was easier to give up miracles, he argued, than to try to justify all the ghastly things that happened that he sat back and permitted. (I read the book a long time ago, so I may have a faulty memory of it. In any case, the idea makes sense to me, whether it is my own garbled version or an accurate reflection of what Meagher said.)

    When I saw Schindler's List, it was a more comforting thought to me that God never interfered in human history than that he sometimes did but in the case of the Nazi extermination camps chose not to.

    • Luc Regis

      Perhaps something along the lines of?.... Nature...ie God is not malevolent, just indifferent.

    • William Davis

      I definitely agree with here. That was one of the results of Spinoza's monism...we get God that is pure being in the very fabric of reality (or is the single substance from which everything springs) as opposed to a Wizard of Oz type God that is separate from creation who is pulling strings behind a magic curtain. I think popular atheism today is an unnecessary oversimplification of reality, but that might get me shot in some atheist circles ;) That said, I think there is no reason to believe God has ever spoken to anyone, so perhaps atheism is "less wrong" objectively speaking than most religions. I think Feser is way off when he says atheism is the last superstition. I think atheism is a valid protest of superstition altogether, and superstition needs to go, though the concept of God is not necessarily superstition (it's often what people think about God that's superstitious, in my opinion).

  • Gordon Reid

    The very idea of a miracle, an event that happens by divine
    power outside the normal ordering of nature, is in fact absurd. Allowing for
    the existence of these types of miracles destroys the very concept of science.
    If God is performing miracles outside the ordering of nature, the results of
    every scientific experiment might only occur because God performed a miracle to
    cause that particular result. For example, let’s say that I propose that
    gravity does not exist and that gravity only appears to exist because God is
    performing a miracle to make it look like gravity exists. Should God stop
    performing the miracle of making it appear that gravity exists, we would all
    just float off into space as dictated by the original ordering of nature
    provided by God at creation. You have absolutely no way of refuting my claim
    that gravity does not exist. You can show me the results of endless experiments
    but my answer will always be the same. Namely, you only got those experimental
    results because God performed a miracle to give you those results. And since
    you belief supernatural miracles exist, you would have to accept my proposal as
    a rational possibility.

    You are free to believe in miracles that happen by divine
    power outside the normal ordering of nature, but if you do, you have no
    rational way to trust science and its claims about the order of nature.

    • Mr. Reid, speaking as a physicist (published papers and all that jazz) you put too much faith in "Science". Science is limited (see Fr. Jaki's "The Limits of a Limitless Science", C.S. Lewis's "Miracles") or, with regard to the omniscience of science, Nancy Cartwright's "How the Laws of Physics Lie". Science is a very special discipline which can, used properly (experimental verification or rejection of predictions based on hypotheses within a context of general theories.) The greatest miracle of all, why there is something rather than nothing, can not be explained by science.

      • Gordon Reid

        Hi duhem, I don't think I have any more faith in science than you have in science and I also have a degree in physics. What I object to is the belief that God actually performs miracles that violate the laws of nature and at the same time believe that we can detect the difference between scientific experiments producing results that match natural laws from scientific experiments producing results caused by one of God's supernatural miracles. We can't have it both ways. If God is performing supernatural miracles, a miracle of God could always be the cause for the data from any scientific experiment. Please note that I am not limiting God's power to perform supernatural miracles. I am just doing what you do as a physicist and believe that the data from every scientific experiment has a cause based in natural law. What I am saying is that even though God has the power to perform supernatural miracles, God chooses to not use that power in order to we humans to be able to assume that all of our scientific experiments have results caused by natural law.

        • William Davis

          I have always wondered why someone would think God would break his own rules. Isn't someone breaking their own rules an admission of error? If God made the universe right from the beginning, he wouldn't have to change anything would he? I'm an engineer, and I've never been able to build something right the first time, because I'm not God.

          • Ye Olde Statistician

            Why would any author break the rules of grammar, or a composer break the rules of harmony and counterpoint?

          • William Davis

            These cases are different because the author and composer did not create the rules or grammar, or the rules of harmony. The perfect designer would have the perfect design from the very start, at least in my opinion and probably the opinion of other engineers.

          • Ye Olde Statistician

            Are you saying that engineers do create the rules of mechanics or electrics? That seems odd.

            You seem to think that the "laws of nature" are somehow something "apart" from the author of nature, as if the said author were somehow part of or even subordinate to natural laws, just another efficient cause among other efficient causes.

            But why should we suppose the common course of nature is any less remarkable than apparent exceptions to it? (Recall Aquinas' insight, mentioned elsewhere here.) Ordinarily, iron sinks in water. Yet ships made of steel are fairly common. Don't forget that "design" did not originally mean a draftsman at a drafting table, but something more like "intention" or "purpose", as in "I have designs on that piece of chocolate cake." Root: "to mark out" de-sign. Hence, "designate."

            https://thomism.wordpress.com/2014/08/28/miracles-laws-theism-and-otherwise/

            https://thomism.wordpress.com/2011/09/27/miracles-as-dependent-on-ignorance/

          • William Davis

            Are you saying that engineers do create the rules of mechanics or electrics?

            Actually they do, especially electrical engineers (that's what I'm trained in). Sure, electrical engineering is based on natural laws that govern electricity, but I don't think many people realize how built up from natural law engineering gets. Take computing for instance. We started with a binary system because it was easy to implement with transistors. We went from 8 bit to 16 bit to 32 and now 64 bit paradigms, nothing even similar is found in nature. Above the hardwire we have contrived operating systems (even farther away from "nature" than event the hardware) all which have their own laws. Above the operating system we have programs that can be written in a variety of contrived software language, which are even FARTHER removed from nature. We have signal laws or standards for communication, here is one example:

            http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/RS-485

            So yes, we create our own laws, but not of it would work without natural law :)

            You seem to think that the "laws of nature" are somehow something "apart" from the author of nature, as if the said author were somehow part of or even subordinate to natural laws, just another efficient cause among other efficient causes.

            I don't think God is apart from nature, since I'm a monist. However when we anthropomorphize God (something everyone does) we necessarily talk about him as being apart the rest of nature.

            Ordinarily, iron sinks in water. Yet ships made of steel are fairly common. Don't forget that "design" did not originally mean a draftsman at a drafting table, but something more like "intention" or "purpose", as in "I have designs on that piece of chocolate cake." Root: "to mark out" de-sign. Hence, "designate."

            Ships made of steel are a product of engineering. Engineering starts with a design, but as I said earlier it almost never works the first time. After the first design we built a proto-type, and here our design meets reality, and reality shows us what we did wrong through testing. Through trial and error we get the design to meat our intention for it, as you say. Over time our intentions for the design can grow, look at all the novel uses for computers we never imagined before we built it. The universe does seem to work off a process of trial and error (especially anything alive, but perhaps some of that is in star and galaxy formation too), but what we can say what we call natural law isn't working from a process of trial and error. Some things are constant.

      • Gordon Reid

        Hi duhem, I thought I might provide a clearer response to your comment by giving an example. Recent studies have shown that 42% of the people in America believe the universe was created less than 10,000 years ago. We currently have candidates for president who believe the universe is less than 10,000 years old. These people are asked if the universe is less than 10,000 years old, how did the light get to us from stars that are billions of light years away? The answer that many give is that God did a supernatural miracle and put light in the universe that only makes it look like the universe is old, when in actual fact the universe is young. Forty-two percent of Americans simply reject all of the research results produced by Edwin Hubble. If you believe God preforms supernatural miracles, you would also have to accept that it is possible that all of Edwin Hubble's research might not be a true reflection of nature.

        • Ye Olde Statistician

          Such people confuse God with Loki the Deceiver or with Coyote. Their faith is weak, and they likely follow one of those sects which elevate one's personal deductions above the ancient consensus of the Church.

        • You have an interesting reply Gordon, but it requires the we confound scientific theories and facts with everything that we don't understand immediately. It calls to mind an interesting sic-fi story I read long ago (can't recall the title) in which the first astronauts go up some far distance beyond the moon and find that that sky is made up of images on a backdrop. By sending Explorer (?? the voyager) way-up, we know that isn't true, but you can make up far-fetched explanations that violate Ockham's razor for what we know about the Universe.
          Indeed, on a more sophisticated level, Bertrand Russell said we have no way of knowing that the Universe was not created 10 seconds ago and is continually be recreated.

          • Gordon Reid

            I do not understand your reply. What in my reply requires that we confound scientific theories and facts with everything that we don't understand immediately? I am not sure I even know what you mean by the statement "confound scientific theories and facts with everything that we don't understand immediately." Can you help me?

          • I made an error...used "confound" when I should have said conflate. As I understood your comment you were saying people (Creationists?) say that God made fossils to appear old , and to reject all science explains about the natural world.
            I'm not sure that argument is a valid one to deny miracles, if what you mean to say is that there is nothing that cannot be explained by science. That some people put incorrect limits on science is no reason to say that there are no limits.

          • Gordon Reid

            Hi duhem,
            You are correct that my argument is not a valid one to deny miracles. I am not making an argument that denies miracles.

            I am making the argument that if miracles do exist, science does not exist. Here is my argument.

            The foundation for science is based on these statements:
            1. Natural laws exist.
            2. Natural laws describe the way the universe works.
            3. Natural laws operate uniformly throughout the entire universe
            4. Any test of the natural laws will produce the seem results if the test is run under the same conditions.

            If any one of these statements are false, then science does not exist. If miracles exist, statements 2, 3 and 4 are false. Therefore, if miracles exist, science does not exist.

          • Gordon, you're correct in your logic, but what you say can't exist is only a particular view of what science is all about, the so-called "realist" view. There are "anti-realist" views of what science is about espoused by empiricist philosophers, Nancy Cartwright ("How the Laws of Physics Lie"), Arthur Fine ("The Shaky Game--Einstein, Realism and the Quantum Theory"), Bas van Fraassen ("The Scientific Image"). Their view of science as empirically justified--descriptive, not prescriptive--is perfectly compatible with the existence of miracles (and they are not all theists). I personally am more comfortable with that philosophy of science, although I do believe in a framework of natural laws, than a totally realistic view. I've covered this view in a post on my blog (forgive the self-promotion) "Tipping the Sacred Cow of Science--Confessions of a Science Agnostic", so if you want to explore the links given there, feel free.

            http://rationalcatholic.blogspot.com/2014/06/confessions-of-science-agnostic.html

          • Gordon Reid

            duhem, thank you for the link. I could be cherry picking, and I do not want to do that, but your post seems to support my argument. In particular, the statements, "Like van Fraassen, Fr. Stanley Jaki considers only those scientific theories that are empirically validated to be true...", and "I concur with Fr. Jaki's requirement in the following sense: it removes from the scientific domain disciplines that would like the prestige of a scientific cloak, but which do not require empirically verifiable, reproducible, quantifiable tests of hypotheses.", and your closing "Faith in science as a partial mirror of reality is one component of my faith that the world God created would be an orderly and intelligible world...." I, like you, have faith that the world is an orderly and intelligible world.

            My point remains, if supernatural miracles exist in the world, the world becomes dis-orderly and un-intelligible. I once again want to be clear. This is not a argument that denies the possibility or existence of supernatural miracle. It is an argument that expresses how the existence of supernatural miracles has a very negative effect on science.

            Correct me if I am wrong, but your view seems to be that there is science and then there are outlier events which are supernatural miracles. This is certainly the view of the OP author. My contention is that you have no valid method or reason for making the separation between natural events and supernatural events. Your belief in "scientific theories validated to be true" is only possible because you assume God did not performing miracles on your empirical test events when the theories where created. This assumption is questionable if supernatural miracles exist. How do you determine when God is acting on your empirical test and when God is not acting on your empirical test?

            Recently scientists believe they have discovered the existence of the Higgs Boson. Is it possible that God performed miracles to produce the data that indicates the existence of the Higgs Boson when if fact the Higgs Boson does not exist? On what basis do you decide whether God did or did not perform miracles on the Higgs Boson experiment? How can you tell the difference between data produced by a miracle of God and data produced by natural causes?

            These exact question occurred to me when I was doing pi-meson scattering off protons in the 1960s. It dawned on me that if God performed one small miracle on just one nuclear interaction out of the millions of interactions we collected, our research results would have produced a different conclusion about nature. I realized then that I had to assume that God was not performing miracles on my experiments if I was going to believe that my research was producing valid scientific results. I also realized that if science was to have any validity, I had to assume that God was not performing miracles on anyone else's experiment. And finally, if God was performing miracles on scientific experiments, then the results of those scientific studies (and by extension all scientific studies) were incoherent.

          • Gordon, I understand your argument, but i don't agree with premise, which expresses essentially the realist philosophy of science. I believe in several miracles, including the Incarnation and the Resurrection, and I believe it is possible for God/the Holy Spirit to maintain continuously the Universe by a framework of natural laws and, when exceptions are required, to allow such. And God maintaining the universe by the mechanism of natural law is as much evidence of God's agency as God choosing to evade the limits of natural law by one miracle or another. It may seem esthetically pleasing to require a continuous operation of natural law, but it is not logically required.

          • Gordon Reid

            duhem, I am glad you understand my argument. I appreciate and accept that you disagree with that argument. I must confess that I do not understand the "anti-realist" point of view. And finally, I thank you for our interesting conversation.

          • Gordon, I thank you too and if you want to get a better idea of the anti-realist position than I can give, I'd suggest Bas van Fraassen's "The Scientific Image" (although I don't agree with everything he says).

      • George

        "The greatest miracles of all, why there is something rather than nothing, can not be explained by science."

        What can explain it? What other philosophy should we use for this, if we're going to use anything else? What qualifies any other proposed method? Do the assertions of theologians for instance get moved to the front of the line simply because we don't use science there?

        So fine, let's say we throw out science on this question, but we're still going to try alternatives for answering this question(which we are still treating as a meaningful question). Should theologians show their work when they claim an answer? How would they do that?

        • Well, George you pose some interesting questions, many of which have been answered by theologion/philosophers--e.g St. Thomas Aquinas. I can't answer them in a short comment however, because it will take a more extensive discourse.

      • William Davis

        I agree with you about the limits of science in general, but science is a whole lot more than physics. I think biology, medicine, and neurology/sociology/psychology have a lot more to say about most miracles (usually healings) than physics.

      • Pofarmer

        "and by material I don't exclude non-matter). "

        Eh?

        • Sorry, pofarmer, I was was clumsy in my reply. Materialists and those advocating scientism mean not only "matter" as we customarily think of it but all that science has given as non-matter--radiation, virtual particles, creation and annihllation operators, etc--so I wanted to include that also. Of course quantum mechanics posits an equivalence between particles and non-particles, e.g. photons and electromagnetic waves.

    • Ye Olde Statistician

      This occasionalism is in fact what smothered science in the muslim world and has been dangerously resurrected by Ockham and Hume, esp. the latter's elevation of correlation in place of causation. By the Humean account, all scientific laws are simply long-standing coincidences. See al-Ghazali, The Incoherence of Philosophy.

      "...our opponent claims that the agent of the burning is the fire exclusively;’ this is a natural, not a voluntary agent, and cannot abstain from what is in its nature when it is brought into contact with a receptive substratum. This we deny, saying: The agent of the burning is God, through His creating the black in the cotton and the disconnexion of its parts, and it is God who made the cotton burn and made it ashes either through the intermediation of angels or without intermediation. For fire is a dead body which has no action, and what is the proof that it is the agent? Indeed, the philosophers have no other proof than the observation of the occurrence of the burning, when there is contact with fire, but observation proves only a simultaneity, not a causation, and, in reality, there is no other cause but God."
      -- al-Ghazali, The Incoherence of Philosophy

      OTOH, if one accepts a God who is "true to his promises" one is assured that he will not suddenly change his mind about gravity. Hence, the Western belief in secondary causation -- that God had endowed matter with the power to act directly on other matter -- that was commonly accepted in Christendom by the Early Middle Ages; and hence, too, the Western trust in science and its claims about the order of nature.

  • I think an article by Fr. Stanley Jaki about the "miracle" witnessed by the Nobel Prize Winner Alexis Carrell is instructive. Here's the link:

    https://www.catholicculture.org/culture/library/view.cfm?id=2866

    I'll give some quotes from the article:

    "The highlights of Marie Bailly's own account are as follows: On arriving at the baths adjoining the Grotto, she was not allowed to be immersed. She asked that some water from the baths be poured on her abdomen. It caused her searing pain all over her body. Still she asked for the same again. This time she felt much less pain. When the water was poured on her abdomen the third time, it gave her a very pleasant sensation.

    Meanwhile Carrel stood behind her, with a notepad in his hands. He marked the time, the pulse, the facial expression and other clinical details as he witnessed under his very eyes the following: The enormously distended and very hard abdomen began to flatten and within 30 minutes it had completely disappeared. No discharge whatsoever was observed from the body."

    Jaki considers the objection by which the Church authorities did not cite this as a miracle, the possibility that Marie Bailly was undergoing a false pregancy (pseudosciosis):

    " Could so many doctors have misdiagnosed the case? Were all those doctors wrong as they felt through palpation that heavy mucous in the abdomen? For Marie Bailly's peritonitis produced not liquid but heavy mucous. Palpation can easily establish the presence of that heavy stuff, especially when present in large quantities. Again, where did all that heavy mucous go in 30 minutes? Finally, Marie Bailly passed all the psychological tests with flying colors. She was found to be a person with most sound judgment, a person who was not easily impressionable.
    But it seems that because those earlier doctors had not considered the possibility of pseudosciosis, the International Committee decided against recommending Marie Bailly's cure for ecclesiastical approval."

    So it seems the authorities bent over backwards to avoid classifying as miraculous that which could (even on the most unlikely course of events) be termed "natural".

    • Andre V.

      Even if I grant you every item mentioned in the story, unconditionally, we are still faced with far more questions than answers. Why would God allow Bailly to be so inflicted in the first place? Why would such an illness exist at all? Why does she have to go to a specific place to be cured? What if she had not gone there? Why are millions of others who do go there not cured? Why are billions of others not cured and helped with their suffering? What theological or moral point is God making through this event? Why did God create us at all if there is so much suffering?

      Personally I believe that these tales of miracles are simply designed to give believers hope on the long journey. They certainly, in my view, do nothing to support faith when properly investigated, and seem most problematical in fact.

      • Ignatius Reilly

        Apparently, there is some disagreement about what actually happened. According to Jaki:

        The authors of that article in Scientific American devoted the better part of a column to the Marie Bailly case. Unfortunately, almost every statement there is either false or only half true. It is always worth setting the record straight, but there is more at stake in having this case recounted as it actually happened.

      • Andre, you've addressed one small piece of the huge pie of theodicy, whence evil and why does God allow it. There are books and theologies dealing with it. I recommend C.S. Lewis's book, "The Problem of Pain", which I believe is available as a free online e-book.

        • Andre V.

          Why do Christians so often answer this question condescendingly? Why do their responses seem to end with C. S. Lewis?

          I have read Lewis. And Plantinga, and DB Hart, and Feinberg, and Kreeft, and William Lane Craig, and a very long list of other Christian theologians in my previous efforts at making peace with this problem that is so easily dismissed.

          There is no good answer. The best a believer can do is to punt to mystery. If the theodicies work for you, you do not understand the problem.

          • Ignatius Reilly

            I agree with this. When I was a Christian, I supposed the problem of evil was a mystery of creation. I kept my beliefs, because I thought that I had strong reasons for believing Catholicism was correct. As my confidence in those reasons waned, I could no longer chalk up the problem of evil to be a mystery.

            I know think that because of the logical problem of evil, the Christian Tri-Omni God is logically impossible. The apologists fail to reasonably object to the observation that an all-powerful God could have brought about any good without any evil.

          • I apologize, Andre; I didn't realize you were so well-read in Christian apologetics (and I don't mean to seem snide with that comment). But if nothing those authors say satisfies you, then I surely can't.
            But you must keep in mind, that many, many people are satisfied with those answers or with others they've contrived for themselves.
            In any event you seem to be in much pain, and will put you in my prayers, even though you may not think that worthwhile.

          • Andre V.

            No problem.

            Except there you go again, now assuming my pain, while all it is is exasperation. Christians assume the right to get passionate about the errors they perceive on the other side, but if non-believers show those sentiments we are in pain, or aggressive, or shrill, we need and deserve prayers. I know this is water off a duck's back, dear duhem, but that is really patronizing behavior. It is very prevalent though, so you're in good company.

            I do note that in addition to reference to Lewis' free book and prayers you have not even tried to address one of my questions. That may be as well though, they are rhetorical questions. I am not searching for answers anymore. I know there are no plausible answers, at least as far as I am concerned.

          • OK.....I'll take you off my prayer list...it's pretty long already and I'm pleased (no...cancel that) sorry that you're a happy atheist. And as I said in my first response, the answers to your questions aren't ones that could be addressed in the space allotted for a comment.

          • David Nickol

            And as I said in my first response, the answers to your questions aren't ones that could be addressed in the space allotted for a comment.

            Hmmm. I just looked it up, and apparently there is no limit (and no way to limit) the length of a Disqus comment. But I know what you mean.

            I would never turn down an offer of prayers on my behalf. I seriously doubt that they are efficacious, but who knows? They can't possibly do any harm. Everyone is welcome to pray for me.

          • Kevin Aldrich

            No way dude! ;)

      • Kevin Aldrich

        I think all your questions are important. I have the same ones.

        But they don't have much bearing on miracles.

        Jesus Christ, if the Gospels are true, is God-made-man and he performed many miracles of healing but he did not heal everyone in the world. God must have a good reason that the divine economy is the way it is, a vale of tears.

        • Andre V.

          I'm sorry Kevin, but we are asked to accept that on some very flimsy evidence, Gospels included. And I'm not sure how you can accept that those questions have little bearing on miracles. They relate amongst other considerations to the probability of these miracles being true.

          And we simply choose to ignore the question of why God would create a vale of tears, or not just create but maintain, year after year, such groaning suffering. If faith is supposed to hang by such frail threads it cannot prevail.

          We are asked to stand by and either ignore or approve of an atrocity. Some are more comfortable with that than others.

          • Kevin Aldrich

            A miracle is improbable by definition. It is an interruption of the normal course of things.

            Life on earth certainly is a vale of tears. It is also pretty effing wonderful.

            No one is asked to stand by, ignore, or approve of any suffering.

          • Andre V.

            Some of us do just that. Just look at the contorted justifications we are allowed to accept to place the responsibility for the vale of tears anywhere but where it belongs. We even blame mankind for it.

            As I said before, if the theodicies work for you, you simply do not fully understand the problem.

          • Kevin Aldrich

            So, enlighten me.

          • Andre V.

            That's really not combox material. If you were serious about wanting to learn the non-Disney version I will gladly refer you to some good books.

          • Kevin Aldrich

            I've been taken to the woodshed on this topic by some formidable atheists who no longer comment on SN, so I think I know some of the best arguments against the goodness of God.

            I happen to like Disney but you are being snarky. Is that really necessary?

          • Andre V.

            If you really know the best arguments and still accept the theodicies then I suppose little remains for us to discuss.

          • Luke C.

            Do you know why these formidable atheists "no longer comment on SN"? It's because Brandon banned most of them en masse and without warning in January 2014, then deleted over 1,000 of their comments. No trace of the event left visible here without doing some searching.

            If you're interested, most of these atheists are still commenting on these articles here, where bannings without warning do not occur and any comments deleted by the moderator (there are very few) are noted in a moderation thread for transparency.

            Edit: Formatting.

          • Michael Murray

            I've been taken to the woodshed on this topic by some formidable atheists who no longer comment on SN.

            You mean all these ones who where banned ?

            Andre B, Andrew G, Argon, Articulett, Ben Posin, BenS, Danny Getchell, Epeeist, felixcox, Geena Safire, Gwen, Ignorant Amos, Jonathan West, josh, MichaelNewsham, Mike A, Noah Luck, M. Solange O'Brien, Paul Boillot, picklefactory, Ray Vorkin, Renard Wolfe, Rob Tisinai, Stjepan Marusic, Susan, Zen Druid.

          • Kevin Aldrich

            I have no way of knowing if they were banned or joined the "banned" wagon.

          • Michael Murray

            Very punny!

            But I was careful to check with all of these. I removed a couple who I noticed had stopped posting but they told me that it was a voluntary boycott and the still had posting rights.

    • Gordon Reid

      Hi durem, I have no comment or opinion about Marie Bailly's experience. My point is that if God is in fact performing supernatural miracles, then science is in fact absurd.

      Here is why that is the case. Two medical doctors on opposite sides of the earth are performing the exact same experiment under the exact same conditions on a collection of medical patients. Let us call them Doc A and Doc B. Now it just so happens that God performs several supernatural miracles on Doc A's patients while doing nothing for Doc B's patients. At the end of the experiments Doc A and Doc B publish their results. And the results are different. It is foundational to science that the same experiment under the same conditions will produce the same result. The very foundation of science has been destroyed by supernatural miracles. Science has become absurd because of the existence of supernatural miracles.

      It is perfectly ok for the OP author to believe that God performs supernatural miracles. It is not ok for the OP author to say at the same time that science can be used to understand the natural order of things because the belief that God performs supernatural miracles turns science into nonsense.

  • By the way, I would not necessarily agree with the author's statement that "God can absolutely can work through the confusion of quantum systems". That is controversial. For other views see the volumes on the Proceedings from Conferences on Divine Intervention (called by St. John Paul II), with papers by noted scientists, theologians and philosophers:

    http://www.ctns.org/books.html

  • Ignatius Reilly

    It seems that most if not all miracle claims are simply cases of post hoc ergo propter hoc.

    • Kevin Aldrich

      Could you read this short description of the process and then explain why you think miracle claims are claims that it happened after therefore it happened because of?

      http://en.lourdes-france.org/deepen/cures-and-miracles/recognition-of-a-miracle

      • Ignatius Reilly

        Any miracle cure is a basically a case of someone being cured from a disease after they visited a shrine, prayed to a saint, or made some other act of religious devotion. The person then ascribes the cause of their cure to the religious devotion. When the medical doctors cannot explain the cure, instead of assuming that the cure came from unknown causes, the church assumes that the cause was miraculous.

        There is no way to establish a miraculous cause. In order to establish a causal relationship, it would seem that you would have to be able to repeat it. There are many people who have prayed to saints, visited Lourdes, and went on other pilgrimages without getting cured.

        If God truly curing people, why are the cures limited to things that people could lie about or could be cured by natural causes or modern medicine? For instance, we don't see any amputees growing limbs.

        There are other cases, such as the cure for Mother Teresa's beatification, in which doctors felt that the cure was due to their medical efforts. I'm not sure why we should think that the Church always follows the rules that she sets out. I am also not sure why we should think that the Church is honest.

        • Kevin Aldrich

          That someone is healed miraculously is established by a rational enquiry that includes both medical and theological criteria. At Lourdes that criteria was found to been satisfied 69 times so far. Since it is a rational enquiry it is not infallible and no one is demanding that you believe it.

          Do you think judges and juries in general are honest? How about a judge and jury that believes it is morally wrong to be dishonest and that they sin if they are?

          Saying that you have no reason to think the Church is honest is an odd thing to say to Catholics in a place that people ostensibly come to to engage in dialogue. What if I said "I am not sure why we should think any atheist is honest"?

          • Ignatius Reilly

            I am not talking about individual Catholics. I am talking about the Church as an institution. Is there a particular reason I should put more trust in the Catholic hierarchy than I should put in other human institutions? The Church has done things that are grossly unethical. I see no reason to believe that they are completely honest or free of confirmation bias when it comes to miracle claims.

            Certainly, JPII ignored all rules about canonization of saints.

            If a lie would save a thousand souls, is that lie moral?

            I think all of the theists that I have dialoged with on this website are honest and just describing the truth as they honestly believe it.

          • Kevin Aldrich

            I don't agree that the Church has done anything unethical. Individual Catholics at all levels certainly have.

            If a lie would save a thousand souls, it would still be immoral.

          • Ignatius Reilly

            Is it possible for the Church to do something unethical, or would the blame always be placed on individual Catholics?
            By the same token, can the Church ever do anything good? It would be individuals doing the good in that instance as well.

          • Kevin Aldrich

            The good individual Christians do is through the graces received through the Church, which is the mystical body of Christ (we believe).

          • Ignatius Reilly

            Problem with this line of thinking is that it closes off anyway of actually evaluating the fruits of the Church. If Catholics do evil, then that is because individuals do bad things. If Catholics do good, then it is because of the graces received through the Church.

            I think it is important to evaluate institutions and belief systems according to their fruits. In order to do this, we must apply the same standard to both good and bad actions.

          • Kevin Aldrich

            . . . because of the graces received with which they cooperate.

            Feel free to judge the Church by her fruits. You are going to do that anyway. I would just recommend you judge deeply and comprehensively.

          • Ignatius Reilly

            When I was a Catholic with doubts, it struck me as rather problematic that Church would have so many bad fruits, while the scriptures state (paraphrasing) that we shall know by their fruits. To assign these bad fruits to the behavior of individual Catholics always struck me as a poor apologetic.

            It seems to me that the Church's mistakes should give more Catholics pause.

          • Kevin Aldrich

            What do you consider to be a proper ratio between good fruit and bad fruit? Then we can compare that to reality.

          • Ignatius Reilly

            Let us say more than half. I would think a divinely inspired institution would hit a higher marker than any other institution, but it seems rather arbitrary to assign a number.

            I grew up Catholic and remained a devout Catholic into my mid 20s. I noticed that many people that I knew who were Catholic would seemingly have been better off with Catholicism. It made them to dogmatic and tribal. My evidence, if you want to call it that, is very anecdotal. It is just what I have observed.

            I suppose we could try to calculate the good and bad the Church has done over history, but that seems like an impossible task. Let me ask you this. If an individual would be better off spiritually and mentally if they left the Catholic Church, should they leave?

          • Kevin Aldrich

            The number of bad apostles was evidently 1 in 12. The number of priests who were accused of committing sexual abuse with minors over a forty year periods (when there were no safeguards in place, unlike now) was 1 in 25. Now I would say it is 1 in 1000.

            As to your question, I can't see how anyone could be better off spiritually by leaving the Church. If they would be better off psychologically, then I would say they need to attend to their psychological problem.

          • Ignatius Reilly

            I was not thinking of pedophiles, I was thinking more about how Catholicism affects individuals spiritually. I do not think one can consider Catholicism to be bad solely on the bases of sex scandals.

            As a materialist, I equate the spiritual with psychological. I am thinking about the mental health and well-being of a person. There are cases of psychologists recommending that someone stops going to Church or being involved in religious practices, for the persons well being. There are those who become obsessive with certain Catholic practices or beliefs.

            I have another question for you (if you don't mind). Is it possible to judge the spiritual well being of a person? Is it possible to judge the spiritual well-being of yourself?

            I as a nonbeliever equate spiritual well-being with mental well-being. So I think this is possible, and would probably measure in terms of life satisfaction, happiness, and contentment. I think as a Catholic I would have answered no to the first question and have been agnostic on the 2nd.

          • Kevin Aldrich

            People with scruples think something they have done is wrong when it actually isn't. They also can't get over things--like they might confess the same sin over and over (not different instances of a particular sin but the same act). They have a kind of obsessive compulsion. That is a disorder.

            I would say that spiritual well-being includes one's mental and moral condition and one's relationship with God.

            If a person is really open with another person--say a spiritual director--and the other person is competent to make judgments, he can be pretty confident in judging the spiritual condition of that person's soul. I think a person who has enough knowledge and experience can more or less judge his own spiritual condition, although we still pray, "God deliver me from my hidden faults."

          • Galorgan

            Do you feel like that contradicts what Phil said below?

            "If 100 years from now they find out that something might not really have been a miracle, I don't think it makes that big of a difference. If it brought about a greater trust in God, then a certain kind of "miracle" did actually happen.

            In the end, the ultimate purpose of miracles is to bring about greater trust (faith), hope, and love of God."

            Or is it only true if it is an outright lie and not a misappropriation?

          • Kevin Aldrich

            We are made for the truth not errors and certainly not for lies. Still, God respects when we act according to our consciences,

          • Galorgan

            So if I lie to save a thousand souls, but do it according to my conscience, God respects it?

          • Kevin Aldrich

            If you really and legitimately believed it was right, yes, but it is hard to see how that could be the case.

          • Galorgan

            So if you knew (say God came and told you that it was the case but not whether to do it or not) that telling a certain lie would ultimately cause 1000 (extra) people to be in heaven rather than hell without any other negative consequences, it would be immoral to do so?

          • Kevin Aldrich

            You are asking me to cooperate in weirdness. Not interested.

          • Galorgan

            OK, I was just trying to learn what you believed by going off what you said about a lie being immoral even if it saved 1000 souls. You just responded to David about lies vs legitimate deception. What is the difference between the two? And why does that not apply to saving 1000 souls by a lie?

          • Kevin Aldrich

            The legitimate deception (in my view) was to save the lives of innocent persons whose lives were unjustly being sought.

            I have no idea how a lie could save a single soul.

          • Galorgan

            I just don't get how it's not a lie. If Anne Frank is in my house and I tell the Nazis that she isn't (or that she's somewhere else), that's a lie. How is legitimate deception not a lie? If the only thing that separates a lie from legitimate deception is "legitimacy," then isn't that a no true scotsman?

          • Kevin Aldrich

            Sorry, man. It's a whole other topic. Time to move on.

          • I'm enjoying reading your comments. (I actually find some interesting possibilities with respect to Dennet's reductionism, for instance, which is what primarily the 'cause' of my current confusion/crises, with the various modes and explanations as to the meaning of the immateriality of the soul. I'm working on it.) But as per above, a good answer, (my opinion) was given to me years after no one offered an answer in Philosophy classes: that there was a hierarchy of preference with respect to rules and duties. eg. morality over legality. You don't do something because lying is not lying, but because there is a more universal/necessary application possible in following another maxim. (used in the context of Kant's imperative) Do you 'buy' this?

          • Galorgan

            Hey Loreen, I thank you for your compliments. I know that you have had problems with people saying that you've been incomprehensible in the past, so I don't wish to pile on, but I am having trouble figuring out what you mean in the meat of your post (by which I mean the middle third). However, I don't see a lot of people explaining what they don't understand, so I will do so. Hopefully, this allows us both to communicate more effectively.

            "that there was a hierarchy of preference with respect to rules and duties. eg. morality over legality. (even this is difficult- are human rights moral or legal principles?) You don't do something because lying is not lying, but because there is a more universal/necessary application possible in following another maxim. (used in the context of Kant's imperative)"

            This is the part I have trouble understanding. I'll take it sentence by sentence to show you why (and maybe the fault is my own).

            The first sentence "that there was...over legality." is in response to my post asking why the legitimate deception of the Anne Frank scenario isn't considered lying. I don't see the direct connection to a hierarchy of preference to what I wrote. Maybe you could point it out to me?

            The first part of the second sentence seems like a contradiction, "You don't do something because lying is not lying," I just don't know what you mean by this at all. By "You" do you mean me specifically or just a general you. And what does "because lying is not lying" mean? I think by following the second part of the sentence, you might mean that I shouldn't lie because there may be a better way to get the outcome of Anne Frank not dying. If this is what you are saying, then I'd respond in kind:

            1. I don't know that this is true, and in fact I disbelieve it at least some of the time. There are (probably) at least some times when lying results in the most good.

            2. Even if it was true that there may be some alternative which is better, it doesn't mean I am capable of thinking of it on the fly under pressure. Just because a hypothetical alternative exists when we have the time and wherewithal to think of it, doesn't mean it's a viable option under pressure. When confronted by a Nazi soldier asking where Anne Frank is, at the time, my only real options would be to give her up, obfuscate poorly, or lie (with a success rate at least higher than obfuscating).

            If you find the time to respond, I ask you to please do so with a small paragraph structure similar to my own in this post. I find this is the best way for me to understand the ideas that we are conversing about. Thanks again, Loreen.

          • Quote: However, I don't see a lot of people explaining what they don't understand, so I will do so.

            Thank you for this. Indeed, I have requested just what you are taking the time to do here, but you are the first person to respond to this request. So I thank you for being so generous with your time.

            Quote: I just don't get how it's not a lie. If Anne Frank is in my house and I
            tell the Nazis that she isn't (or that she's somewhere else), that's a
            lie. How is legitimate deception not a lie? (or How is a lie, not a lie?)

            In other words you are referring to the possibility that there is indeed a contradiction: which I acknowledged explicitly by the phrase: " You don't do something because lying is not lying" instead of saying "deception is not lying"..

            Quote: "You" do you mean me specifically or just a general you" Answer: I believe the use of the term "me" is often referred to as the 'royal we", so yes, I'm using the term "You" within a universal context.

            Quote: "that there was a hierarchy of preference with respect to rules and duties. eg. morality over legality.
            Answer:As in believing that your personal values are more important to protect and fight for even in a case where they go against specific laws enforced by a government. Indeed, people have been hung or even burned at the stake because of such conflicts as 'fighting for the rights of free speech" in the first place.(!!)

            Your quote: I don't see the direct connection to a hierarchy of preference to what I wrote. Maybe you could point it out to me? (That is true. There is not necessarily a 'direct connection to what was said. My comments are only an attempt to explain a philosophical method or criteria for making an assessment of different 'values')

            I am not talking about facts but about theories.
            For instance:

            Quote: Edit: the l00 souls thing is not the same as a maxim which is a
            principle. I think this would mean that one would have to present
            another completely valid alternative or argument or reason, not merely a
            counter to the original thesis within the original framework.Like l00
            is preferable to l?

            In considering the 'principles of morality', it could be considered that killing one person is just not essentially different than killing l00 persons. Both are necessarily classified as the deprivation of human life. Whether it is a case of abortion, or something that is a result of war however, would constitute a different criteria, but only within the context that l is not l00..

            Similarly with respect to the conscious choice of what criteria would be best within a specific situation, in identifying the reasons for doing something.

            Quote: "When confronted by a Nazi soldier asking where Anne Frank is, at the
            time, my only real options would be to give her up, obfuscate poorly, or
            lie (with a success rate at least higher than obfuscating)"

            My quote: "I think this would mean that one would have to present another
            completely valid alternative or argument or reason, not merely a counter
            to the original thesis within the original framework."

            The exact physical situation is not described here. My comments are not directed to what is actually said, whether it be a lie or obfuscating, but the 'philosophical' principles which it is assumed, would govern such a choice: specifically whether you would simply give her up, or make an attempt to save her, for instance.. I think therefore that you have reached the heart of the matter for instance, why no one within those philosophy classes was able to come up with an answer, and why the suggestion I told you about was actually dependent upon an independent context. (As perhaps within the abortion arguments. One of the reasons I constantly object to the importance given, (to what I often consider not very good in any case) arguments. Thus the philosophical principle, as taken out of the context, of an actual situation, could therefore be described as a metaphysical abstraction, rather than a scientific theory. Such theories are not always helpful, when it comes right down to 'push or shove', A maxim is considered to be a 'guiding principle'. Kant actually qualified same, with respect to the principles of universality and necessity, as being merely 'regulative'. Later, this was thought to place the individual within a position of 'solipsism' with respect to moral considerations, but instead of going back to a dependence on some interpretation of what constitutes an 'absolute authority' which I presume is the context to some degree within both church and state,whether a magisterium or a rule by precedent, the philosopher Jurgen Habermas placed an importance of developing understanding within the context of general dialogue between individuals. I believe this is not always accomplished by argument in which the purpose is in finding error, or otherwise confronting a thesis, rather than in developing mutual understanding. (For instance - there are obviously other reasons or factors to consider).

            Consequently, I believe, the development of such principles as the ten commandments, natural law, and legal civil codes, still retain an important function within morality. But yes, in a direct confrontation with the Nazi's it would be hard to distinguish whether or not the 'lie is a lie', or merely an obfuscation.
            There are (probably) at least some times when lying results in the most good. By when it comes to the fact that there are unacknowledged contradictions, within our considerations of right and wrong: is not the phrase: lying is not lying, just what is assumed whenever we do, actually lie?

            "Forgive them father, they know not what they do"?????? Indeed I would suggest, that within the context of my study of philosophy of language, there is little 'real' communication. Rather than acknowledge any possible incoherence within our understanding, we would more often than not, assume that we have indeed understood what another is saying. There is possibly far less 'real' communication between individuals than is assumed. To what degree to each of us live within our specific personal understanding. And indeed, this is an unavoidable phenomena.)

            Thus, either this helps, or not. In any case, I can assume that I will have to keep explaining and explaining. what 'I-we' mean', forever and forever. I find this amusing somewhat, for I wonder how many of those who write these comments have actually struggled with the original writing of such philosophers as Kant and Heidegger, or whether the comments, in many cases, are often simply adapted, or copied from what is on line. Would it not be very easy to operate under a Nietzschean mask or Freudian persona within such a 'virtual' reality as SN or EN.

            Galorgan: I understand you to be a most caring person. I do believe it is possible to discern the 'real' individual within all the possibles of the 'ideal'. Thank again for your concern. I truly hope that I have made some advance, at least, in my understanding of how my comments can be less than 'coherent' to others. Your comments have certainly helped in this quest, even though my response, might again be considered to be somewhat 'incoherent'. .Thank you so much for your personal concern. I sincerely hope that I have made my remarks somewhat 'clearer'. .

          • David Nickol

            If a lie would save a thousand souls, it would still be immoral.

            There is an ancient and unresolved debate among Catholic moral theologians as to whether lying is always wrong. The classic example is the murderer knocking at the door asking if his intended victim is there, and of course the more modern version is the Nazis knocking on the door and asking if you have Anne Frank in the attic.

          • Kevin Aldrich

            I would not classify those as lies but as legitimate deception.

          • David Nickol

            Who decides what is "legitimate deception" and what is a lie? You are skating on thin ice, it seems to me. And you have parted company with Aquinas (and Augustine). Aquinas says:

            Therefore it is not lawful to tell a lie in order to deliver another from any danger whatever. Nevertheless it is lawful to hide the truth prudently, by keeping it back, as Augustine says (Contra Mend. x).

            As I understand the positions of Augustine and Aquinas, you can do pretty much anything to the Nazis at the door short of telling an untruth. When they ask if Anne Frank is in the attic, you can say, "How would I know where Anne Frank is?" Or you can say, "How dare you even suggest I might be hiding Anne Frank." Of course, you can say, "I won't answer that question," but that is tantamount to saying, "She's in the attic." What you can't say, according to Augustine and Aquinas, is, "No, Anne Frank is not in the attic. I don't know where she is." That would be a sin, even if done to save a life.

            It would be interesting to have a tally of how many times you have cited Aquinas as an authority, but now you disagree with him. Or would you like to reconsider your opinion?

          • Kevin Aldrich

            It is a complex matter and I am sure you know there are legitimate philosophers who are Catholic who say it is right to deceive evil persons seeking to harm you or another.

          • Pofarmer

            Lol. "It's complicated." The last refuge of the scoundrel.

          • Kevin Aldrich

            There were about a zillion comments on this topic about two years ago over Lila Rose's undercover tactics to expose Planned Parenthood.

            You and David Nickol can check this out if you wish.

            http://www.firstthings.com/article/2011/06/fig-leaves-and-falsehoods

          • Pofarmer

            So, planned parenthood is affecting statistics in Europe? They are sneaky.

          • Kevin Aldrich

            If you give a woman an IUD, she will not need a therapeutic abortion, but she may have many undetected early abortions, since one of the ways it acts is as an abortifacient.

            The article is really an ad for Planned Parenthood and free contraception (that they get paid by us to give out).

          • Pofarmer

            Kevin, you would have a lot more allies if you would drop the "Oh noes, an fertilized egg might not be implanted" numbnuttery. If you had read the link I gave you to Libby Anne's blog, you might understand why.

            http://www.patheos.com/blogs/lovejoyfeminism/2012/10/how-i-lost-faith-in-the-pro-life-movement.html

            You would understand, for instance, that the information is pretty clear.

            Both the highest and lowest abortion rates in the world are in Europe, and the only thing that distinguishes them is birth control methods used. You might also have noticed that around 20% of fertilized eggs naturally fail to implant. You would have found out, that in women taking chemical birth control, fewer fertilized eggs fail to implant than in women not taking birth control. For every 100 women on the pill, .15 fertilized eggs will not implant. For women not on birth control, 16-18. will. Now, you might have also learned, that as many as 50% of zygotes, even among that ones that do implant, fail to thrive and die. That's 50%, as a conservative estimate, of fertilized eggs that make it naturally. Hell, it certainly looks like nature is the biggest abortion provider there is, here. Now, I know that you're not worried about numbers or facts. You're worried about your precious theology. You're worried about controlling people's behavior. You're worried about getting out the word of the Church. Let me tell you what. What you are doing is insuring that millions of children that don't have to grow up in poverty. You are insuring that millions of young mothers have children they can't care for, and remain uneducated and in poverty. You are insuring increasing levels of violent crime(surely you've heard of freakonomics?) You are insuring more people wind up in jail. Now, not only this, but your own BIBLE reccomends abortion for women who are "whoring around". Surely you've read Numbers 5? Apparently, God has no trouble having illegitimate children aborted. That's-inconvenient. So, in short, you can continue to emote, and I will continue to bring numbers and facts, and you'll get all huffy, and I'll probably get a warning. But this stupidity really needs to stop.

          • Pofarmer

            You would be much better off admitting that the Church has done unethical things and going the "we're all sinners" route than trying to defend a position that is so clearly incorrect.

          • Andre V.

            Are these rational enquiries open to independent medical assessment and verification?

          • Kevin Aldrich

            I read on the Lourdes website that some of the medical examiners are not Catholics.

            I would guess that if you assembled a qualified team you could examine the records. I've never heard of anything being done like that, though. You'd need a lot of money and qualified people. These records can run thousands of pages.

          • Andre V.

            I have in mind more a situation where an independent doctor or team is involved in the process right from the beginning.

            In any event, you don't see any objection to any part of the process or assessment or finding being completely open to independent verification? Surely that's the way it should be. It would certainly, in my view, add a lot to the integrity of the process, and add a lot of weight to the cases found to be genuine.

          • Kevin Aldrich

            Since neither of us actually knows that much about these processes, it would be premature to judge how they could be done better.

            For example, Jacalyn Duffin was (and is) a Jewish atheist whose expert medical testimony as a hematologist contributed to the judgment that a Montreal woman's leukemia was cured through the intercession of Marie-Marguerite d'Youville.

          • Andre V.

            I had a quick look at Amazon for any worthwhile books on the process and "The Rationalization of Miracles" by Paolo Pirigi looks like a good read.

            Duffin's book on medical mysteries also looks interesting. Not sure though why she would still be an atheist after being so intimately involved in that specific incident. Thanks for the referral though.

          • Kevin Aldrich

            She says she is an atheist. I have both her books. Her academic career went in the direction of the history and sociology of medicine and that is pretty much how she treats miracles.

          • Papalinton

            I have in mind more a situation where an independent doctor or team is involved in the process right from the beginning."

            Yes, like a double-blind test, to see if the two decisions concur.

          • VicqRuiz

            Kevin,

            Since John Paul II removed the role of the office popularly known as the "devil's advocate" in the investigation of miracles, the volume of canonizations has gone up by a factor of something like 20:1. Do you think this is coincidence??

          • Kevin Aldrich

            I don't think it has anything to do with that particular change.

            Have you analyzed the data?

  • ... only this small fraction survived the many stages of extensive investigation, both medical and ecclesial ...

    Back when I was Catholic, in discussion with an atheist friend I brought up the more interesting anecdotes of miraculous healing. He asked how the Church decided which recoveries counted as miracles. So I looked up the official guidelines that were used to determine whether a claimed miracle could be counted as a miracle. I was very disappointed to discover that it involves lengthy interviews and background evaluation of the person claiming to have been healed, to make sure that they are sufficiently docile toward the Catholic hierarchy, orthodox in their religious interpretation of their healing, and in general have a background and personality unlikely to cause embarrassment to the Church. (Interestingly, although not critically, the religious examination is much more exacting than the medical one.)

    In short, before any meaningful conclusions can be drawn, a severe bias (in the statistical sense) is applied to the data. If and only if the stories are expected to make the Church look good, they are counted as miracles. That's how we get to the point where the 68 hits are publicized and the 7000 misses are covered up. :(

    The entire process is designed to maximize confirmation bias. So for any rational seeker of truth, the Church's list of claimed miracles provides no evidence whatsoever for miracles. And unfortunately, that's true even if the Church's list really does contain miracles. They've designed the whole process to be unworthy of belief, except by those who already have faith.

    • David Nickol

      Well, it is important to remember that the Vatican decides which alleged cures are miracles, both in cases of the beatification/canonization process and also alleged miracles at Lourdes. The medical experts involved do not confirm miracles, but merely offer their conclusion that there is no current medical explanation for what happened. It is theologians who decide whether or not a miracle occur. Quite naturally, they are going to view things within a Catholic framework.

      So to take a hypothetical example, suppose that the wheelchair-bound Joan Crawford in What Ever Happened to Baby Jane? prayed to St. Jude for a miraculous cure of her paralysis so she could kill Bette Davis, her caregiver/tormenter. If Joan Crawford inexplicably rises from her wheelchair, stalks Bette Davis up and down the stairs and through the house, and kills her, no Catholic theologian is going to declare the inexplicable freedom from paralysis as a miracle granted by St. Jude. The miracle story has to make some kind of sense within a religious framework.

    • Kevin Aldrich

      It involves lengthy interviews and background evaluation of the person claiming to have been healed, to make sure that they are sufficiently docile toward the Catholic hierarchy, orthodox in their religious interpretation of their healing, and in general have a background and personality unlikely to cause embarrassment to the Church. (Interestingly, although not critically, the religious examination is much more exacting than the medical one.)

      If and only if the stories are expected to make the Church look good, they are counted as miracles.

      These statements sound bogus to me. What is your source?

  • Kraker Jak

    On the topic of miracles...just my two cents worth. I have been blind in my left eye ever since I can remember other than blur, a problem which has excluded me from many career options, not complaining about that, managed to get by. Now I am retired early due to health problems involving heart attacks and surgery, and have now lost most of the sight in my right eye. In my desperation over the years I have prayed and have even had others pray for me but to no avail. Some of you here will remember me on this site for posting ascerbic, sarcastic cartoons. My intention for posting this has nothing to do with seeking pity or sympathy....but is only my expression of doubt as to the veracity of so called miracles. Please see the following cartoon as an expression of dry humor as it is intended and not as an angry expression toward god as I am not a believer.

  • Kraker Jak

    I am blind in my left eye.....since birth...only a blur.... now due to ill health, 50 percent blind in my right eye. Some here may remember me for my acerbic or sarcastic cartoons. So on the matter of miracles....I submit one more?

  • Michael Murray

    Of course there is no need to actually go to Lourdes. You can have your own miracle at home

    http://www.amazon.com/Glass-Lourdes-Bottle-Filled-Grotto/dp/B00NAG55P6/ref=pd_sim_201_6?ie=UTF8&refRID=1B5TP3B1Q8XCW2P40V8R

    • Alexandra

      Of course the Church is against simony. To top it off someone might see this at Amazon and think the church actually approves!

      • William Davis

        This is who is selling it:

        http://www.directfromlourdes.com/

        It seems pretty Catholic approved from the storefront, but could just be marketing. Do you have an official condemnation?
        To me, the Church condones simony when it approves miracles from a place like Lourdes. I don't think the Church should approve miracles because it is too easily abused. I don't like to see people swindled, and that is certainly what all this feels like.

        • Alexandra

          As long as the company is not selling the holy water nor profiting off the holy water, this may be licit.

          • William Davis

            It's selling holy water and much more. I'm willing to bet it's for a profit, especially considering the prices. I'm sure the cost in manufacturing holy water is exactly the same as regular water. Holiness is free :)

          • Alexandra

            I think you're right. (We agree ! ;) ). Technically they could sell the bottle without profit and it would be licit. The only reason I mention this is there may be a charity or good hearted group who wants to provide the water to people who can't go to Lourdes. They might provide it for free and charge for say only shipping. I can't know if that's what this company is doing.

          • David

            The odds that water has been anywhere near Lourdes are approximately 0%. This is a genius business. I want to steal it.

          • Alexandra

            Ha! Should I invest in your stock options? ;)

            (I reserve judgment on the company without more information.)

          • Michael Murray

            I would have thought it if was a not for profit charity they would say so here

            http://www.directfromlourdes.com/about_us

          • Alexandra

            Right. But they could be a for profit company but provide this one product for "free". Not profit off the specific holy water. Make profit on other items.

  • neil_ogi

    we often observe living dying.. but atheists believe in some form of 'miracle'.. dead (non-living things) becoming living again, or dead evolve to live, and yet they refuse to believe in the miraculous event that Jesus has risen again.

  • neil_ogi

    isn't life itself a miraculous process? then i believe i miracles!

  • neil_ogi

    secular astronomers say that the big bang started the universe, the tiny dot, which is trillion times smaller than ever you can imagine, exploded 'somehow' and started the evolutionary process of the universe..i haven't seen a tiny 'something' ever produce a pebble by natural means, so it must be a 'miraculous' events that created the universe..

  • Dhaniele

    The problem with skeptics and miracles is that they get lost in abstract reasoning. Jesus avoided such abstractions and told the Pharisees: if you don't believe my words, at least believe my works.

    Just to give one example of such a work: in 1968 the Virgin
    Mary was reported to have appeared on top of a church. Everyone could see her
    and even take photographs. This went on for months. This is what the police
    report said after a thorough investigation: Report of General Information and
    Complaints Department, Cairo, Egypt, 1968:

    "Official investigations have been carried out with the result that it has
    been considered an undeniable fact that the Blessed Virgin Mary has been
    appearing on Zeitoun Church in a clear and bright luminous body seen by all
    present in front of the church, whether Christians or Moslems." These, and
    very many other miraculous occurrences, are simply ignored by the skeptics in
    the sense that they just laugh them off which is not really a rational approach
    at all. This event (at Zeitoun) can be found on yahoo dot com by simply putting
    "zeitoun Mary halo" in the search. Of course, every single
    canonization also has its miracles which the doctors find inexplicable while
    the know-it-all skeptics again shrug off their expertise in an irrational way.

    • Michael Murray

      The problem with skeptics and miracles is that they get lost in abstract reasoning.

      That's funny. Have you looked at the metaphysical "proofs" for God ?

      These, and very many other miraculous occurrences, are simply ignored by the skeptics in the sense that they just laugh them off which is not really a rational approach at all.

      Rubbish. You posted this six months ago and I replied

      https://strangenotions.com/prayer-science-and-the-existence-of-god/#comment-1698724164

      giving you a link to a peer-reviewed scientific article about this in

      http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/2648309

      Abstract

      Temporal analyses were completed between the occurrence of intense displays of exotic luminous phenomena over a church in Zeitoun (Egypt) during the years 1968 through 1969 and regional seismicity. These phenomena, viewed by thousands of onlookers, began one year before an unprecedented increase (factor of 10) in seismic activity about 400 km to the southeast. Monthly analyses also demonstrated a moderate (0.56) correlation between increases in seismicity and the occurrence of luminous phenomena during the same or previous month. These results were interpreted as further support for the hypothesis that most anomalous (terrain-related) luminous phenomena are generated by factors associated with tectonic strain.

      Believe or don't believe the article as you wish but don't spread the lie that skeptics just ignore these things.

      • Dhaniele

        In this case, we have to say that the skeptics propose laughable explanations. Look at the photographs! They are not random displays of light .They are clear figures of someone even the police recognize. To see this as the result of "seismic activity" is truly a leap of faith in support of your ideology.

        • Michael Murray

          In this case, we have to say that the skeptics propose laughable explanations.

          Moving goalposts. What you said was

          are simply ignored by the skeptics inthe sense that they just laugh them off

          Are you admitting you were wrong ?

          • Dhaniele

            Laughing them off and proposing laughable explanations are one and the same. If seismic causes are proposed, how is it possible that only the Virgin Mary appeared, occasionally together with doves. If seismic explanations were possible, moreover, such things would be all over LA and San Francisco, just to name two places. You are simply proving my statements.

      • neil_ogi

        how i wish mr murray have witnessed it.

        anyway, miracles are to be subject to scrutiny, whether these events are from God or not!

  • The general concept of a marvel, an occasion that happens by celestial power outside the ordinary requesting of nature, is silly for a few and a few unbelievers call it ludicrous. Whatever is left of us say it needs adequate confirmation, however we don't call it ludicrous. The vast majority change their convictions about everything else constantly, for the duration of their lives, utilizing their regular forces of reason.