Thoughts about miracles

Hi, can I have your opinion about miracles? some are acknowledged by the church but most aren’t. what is an atheist view about these things that happen and people say that even science can’t explain them? stuff like sudden cures of illnesses, sudden marks on the body, pictures of saints that start dripping oil, etc …

thank you

Many of the so-called miracles have adequate natural explanations, eg. a weeping statue, due to a leaking toilet cistern in the room behind.

Medical miracles may simply be outliers of what can happen naturally - sometimes people get well when it’s not expected. A really impressive medical miracle would be what might happen to someone who has had an arm damaged beyond repair, and amputated, so that only a stump remains. Then if a new arm with useful extremities were to grow out - now that might be a medical miracle, (or maybe not), but it seems never to happen.

So claims for miracles might be things out of the ordinary, but miracles don’t seem to be cases of the otherwise impossible. So it’s the otherwise possible, such as recovery from severe cancer, that gets categorised as a miracle. I know of no extraordinary occurrence that has not been explainable by natural causes, when some folk have said: “It’s a miracle”.

It’s also interesting that many miracles are quite mundane, like the image of Jesus appearing in some toast, or knots in wood, (as if we know what Jesus might actually looked like).

Furthermore, some miracles pale into mundanity, like when a person survives a crash, when 3 or 4 or more others died. Surely, the miracle would be if the crash is diverted altogether, and no one is hurt? Maybe if a car was headed for the edge of a cliff, and it soared outwards through mid air, and then 'flew" back onto the road with no damage or injuries. That would be quite an occurrence - maybe a miracle - if it’s an ordinary car.

Furthermore, it also seems that as we have come to understand how the world works naturally, over the millennia, so the frequency of miracles seems to have dropped significantly. When one person survives and several others don’t, and the cars are wrecked ~ that’s just sh*t that happens.

Mutorc S’yriah

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Name a specific instance of what you consider a miracle.
Then explain exactly how your version of a god performed it.
Then explain and produce the evidence that “it” was not natural phenomena but instead was an active intervention by: (Insert supernatural being here)

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Well I’m not sure why this requires atheism specifically, but if it can’t be explained then making an assertion that this validates a belief or claim is by definition an argumentum ad ignorantiam fallacy.

This a documented natural phenomenon, but again the lack of an explanation tells us nothing, and any assertion based on a lack of contrary evidence would again be an appeal to ignorance fallacy.

When debating with a blind believer, the only argument i find to be hard for me is the miracles part. everything else can be explained with logic and reason so i wanted to see your opinion and gain information on the subject so i can have a strong argument. most of the instances are people who couldn’t walk and suddenly started and curing cancer also painting or framed pictures that started leaking oil or statues that started dripping blood from the eyes. that sort of stuff.

There I tried again…answer the question.

I remember all the hype around “John of God” - he’d do those “surgeries without scalpels” and other spiritual healing stuff… just don’t be in a room alone with the guy

He was convicted. The point was OPRAH brought attention to him so…

People can convince themselves of all sorts of things; and then there is the placebo effect. Get a group, and off we go… feeding one another what the experience should be (and turns out to be).

For example, I can be in my kitchen listening to my kids music, AC/DC- uh, OK … different experience then with a few thousand at a concert with lighters.

What people? Are they perhaps people who have vested interest in “miracles”, like money-grubbing religious charlatans and faith healers?

If you want to find the truth about miracles, look for the money. It’s always about money. Medieval cathedrals with weeping madonna statues and other such flim-flammery could attract millions of pilgrims and massive amounts of donations.


Those are typically scams.

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All claims must be supported by sufficient objective evidence, and no claim for a miracle has ever done this. What’s more all claims for miracles, again as with all claims, mean the burden of proof rests entirely on whoever is making the claim.

NB A claim for a miracle is not evidence for that miracle, and in every instance I have ever encountered the bare claim is all you get, though theists will occasionally use an argumentum ad populum fallacy to try and lend some credence to the core claim, of course this is just a bare appeal to numbers, and so again it is not evidence the claim is in any way true, let alone the assumption that what was claimed to happen was caused by a miraculous intervention.

Firstly they must evidence that claim, then evidence the claim that a lame person could suddenly walk, then they must offer sufficient objective evidence that this had a supernatural cause.

This is called remission, and it is a documented medical fact it occurs, how does this evidence a miracle? Since we now it can occur naturally then clearly Occam’s razor applies when theists try to add extra unevidenced and inexplicable claims.

O-B-J-E-C-T-I-V-E E-V-I-D-E-N-C-E is required for these claims, and then objective evidence that the cause was a supernatural miracle.

A simple inquiry into any of them reveals the bullshit. Miracles fall into two categories… Completely and Thoroughly debunked or Completely retarded and supported with no evidence at all.

Never seen or heard of a “verified” miracle. So my opinion is, there is not much reason to have an opinion on them. It is like having an opinion on naming earth’s second moon to be called Apollo. We have not yet even discovered a 2nd moon.

First a quick definition so we are all on the same page:

“a surprising and welcome event that is not explicable by natural or scientific laws and is therefore considered to be the work of a divine agency”

As an atheist, why do you care if the church acknowledges some of these supposed miracles or not?

Well my view is: in the sentence you wrote, “…and people say that…”
People saying science cannot explain it? Well in my mind you can stop right there. If all it is people saying stuff, it is meaningless. If instead, a group of scientist examine a supposed miracle, have unlimited access, do an exhaustive report that is open to peer review and follow up testing, that all point to an actual miracle (see definition above) then, I would actually sit up and take notice. Such an event could even shape my entire world view. Until then, it is just what so many people doing what they do best… talking, not doing.

All of those things even if they could not be explained, still in no way ties any particular god notion to those events. Even if it was verified that these events could not be explained via science/study/nature a lot more work would have to be done to tie such an event to an undetectable god idea.

I also want to add:

There is a background rate of low odd events. Let’s take something simple, say getting dealt a royal flush in a hand of 5 card draw poker. Is 1 in roughly 650,000.

Getting a royal straight flush after praying to a god idea = a miracle? Well, let’s look at how often it happens around the world. Millions upon millions of hands of 5 card draw poker is played every day. If we go around and collected all that data, we would find, sure enough, about 1 in 650k draws that happens. Regardless of a person’s faith, or if they prayed or not. Who they are, what they done, etc etc.

Now if we saw 1 in 10 people that prayed to a certain god getting royal flushes on the next 5 card draw, THEN we would have something. We could observe it happening, we could account for any possible other contributing factors (say a clever way of cheating) and we could have it presented over and over again.

One of my favorite all time studies is: when there were people that stated they could see angelic halo’s over certain people. The folks conducting the study, would find these people that make this claim, ask them to point out a person that had such a halo, then conducted a simple experiment:

They created a variable height solid wall, between the person that could “see” the halo’s and the person that supposedly had this halo. Then they simply asked the person that could see the halos to point where on the other side of the solid wall, that was just high enough to hide the person from view, but not above their head where the halo would be.

The success rate of these people pointing to the location of this supposed angelic halo person was after much testing was exactly the same rate as a random chance of guessing the correct location from anyone. Unlikely and possibly unexplainable events do happen, but when they cannot rise above even just random chance, you do not have a miracle. Just a rare event.

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I like to use Lourdes as an example.

It was 1858, when l4 year old Bernadette Soubirous saw her lady. Since then millions of pilgrims have gone to Lourdes seeking a cure. The Catholic church has recognised 65 cures as miracles due to the intercession Of Bernadette with god. Saints do not perform miracles, they only ‘intercede’ with god. I guess because god is too ignorant and hard hearted to just do it himself. As far as I know, there is no record anywhere of the miracle of a regrowth of a missing body part.

The church’s method if verifying miracle is no more than an argument from ignorance fallacy,and/ or confirmation bias. IE We lack the knowledge, imagination or wit to think of any other reason, therefore god did it.----UFOlogists use the same logic and mindset,except they replace ‘god’ with ‘alien’

Meanwhile, in the real world, the rate of spontaneous remission of disease is 1:30,000

IF there was a real 18 carat miracle, the event would not prove the existence of god(s)

That’s right Cranky! It would prove the existence of time travellers :luggage:

Mais oui mon petit fromage,*** we are all time travellers. We are constantly time traveling from the present into the future, albeit very slowly.**

Over a lifetime which has whizzed by, I have come to learn the truth of the adage: “The past is a foreign country, they do things differently there” (L P Hartley)


** With apologies to my favourite US president, Jed Bartlett

** I have found that between the ages of say 11 and 72m, my perception of the passage of time has changed from the speed of a turtle to a road runner. These days it seems that each time I blink,another year has passed.

What’s the difference between magic and miracles?

Makes me think of that quote, “any technology sufficiently advanced enough, becomes indisguishable from magic”

Well this raises 2 points that always occur to me when people claim a miraculous event has occurred.

Firstly why does their deity sit on it’s hands while countless millions of children suffer and die, then intervene when someone is gullible and superstitious enough? Secondly and bearing in mind my first observation, why is a deity lauded as responsible for specially selected events that either have a favourable out come, or that are largely innocuous, yet is never blamed for bad events or suffering? The most disgusting example is when someone is successful and claims their deity is responsible, as if a deity took the time and trouble to make them rich, while ignoring untold suffering throughout the world.

Of course by now anyone with any critical thinking abilities will have observed the obvious selection bias at play when miracles are claimed. You simply can#t dent the kind of reasoning that watches a baby fall into a busy road and roll through traffic to arrive unharmed at the side, and cries miracle, but then when a baby falls and fatally fractures it’s skull in the corner of a table, shrugs and calls it tragic bad luck.

I am reminded of the moronic people that insist bad things always happen in threes, but fail to notice they stop counting, and start again each time they reach three. :roll_eyes:

Generally speaking people who scoff at the word magic, don’t see the irony of remaining unabashed when claiming a miracle has occurred.


  1. the power of apparently influencing events by using mysterious or supernatural forces.

You have to admit it is pretty funny… :face_with_raised_eyebrow: :laughing:

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Right. Some people have an irony deficit. “Magic” means a wonderful action by someone with special powers or wisdom (a magi).“Miracle” just means something amazing to see. So in 1900 my smartphone would have been both magic and a miracle.

The only difference between magic and miracles is who supposedly did them.
Jesus: Miracle
Gandalf: Magic
St Patrick: Miracle
Alladin’s Genie: Magic
Moses: Miracle

But what about Q?