Gold Coast Bereans

Out of Ghana, West Africa; Christian hearts and critical minds seeking, speaking and writing the truth with love. This is a conversation of a group of friends, now living in the USA and the UK, who have known each other for more than 20 years.

Monday, January 14, 2008

MIRACLES, SIGNS, etc. Part III.

The Perception of a Miracle. by Calorius

The perception of a miracle is partly based on who the observer is. Even when a voice spoke from heaven identifying Jesus as the Son of God, some of the people who heard it said it had merely thundered. Many skeptics rationalize a genuine miracle, in the face of incontrovertible facts. On the other hand, we as Christians often commit the opposite mistake by attributing a natural event to God's miraculous intervention. This includes of the very ridiculous and easily seen-through "how God told me whom to marry" and "how God chose me for this ministry" ones.

Personally, I am quite sure of many occasions when something happened or didn't happen because I prayed. I am convinced they would not have happened except for Divine intervention, but whether I can call that a miracle or not is largely subjective and based on my faith. Some of Jesus' miracles fall into the same category, although not all. Lepers who became clean (maybe it was a temporary rash) and people who were "sick nigh unto death" and became well at the same time as a conversation with Jesus are hardly events that are beyond the possibility of chance. Peter's mother's illness could have been healed by a placebo effect; hysteria is even more powerful than the placebo effect. Then someone can ask this question; was the snake that bit Paul really poisonous, and was it really an envenomation bite?

Then, there is Gideon's fleece in the Old Testament- a good "scientific" method, but very observer dependent. He was his own observer, and it is not impossible to convince oneself that there is or there is no dew on a fleece. Temperature changes could easily cause condensation on something like that and do the opposite the next day. After all it was the same fleece, and maybe it didn't dry well and so attracted dew the next time.

What about Daniel in the lion's den? That's an example of something that still happens, like the people who walked unscathed through battlefields in war, etc. There are several of such stories from Liberia and Sierra Leone. Were the warlords just bad shots?

There is a school of Biblical interpretation which actually admits that these miraculous events did occur, but then rationalizes them. For example, people teach that the Red Sea parted because of an earthquake; and Jericho fell because of sound resonance etc. I actually find such explanations more illogical than the views of outright doubters who deny that the reported events occurred. I also have more to say on this subject and will leave it for another post. – Calorius

See also
What is a miracle?
Where have all the miracles gone?

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