In the Face of a Miracle

Question from Markian:
Ok so sometimes people make claims that they saw something that some would file into the “paranormal” or “supernatural” category. Two examples come to mind. 1) a girl wakes up at 2:30 am, sees a transparent image of a girl she hadn’t talked to in 10 yrs. Then she sees the devil’s face, prays to God, the images go away. 2 days later she sees in the newspaper that this exact girl died at 2:30 that night from an accident. Another one actually happened to my parents. They were at a Church event, and they claim that suddenly things turned demonic. One blonde haired lady suddenly had black hair, people were choking, and finally the priest shouted at “demonic spirits” to leave and then everything turned back to normal. Both of these events are anecdotal and I know many would reject these as hearsay. Although you are being rational by doing so, let’s just say for argument’s sake that these events somehow took place, just give them the benefit of the doubt for a second. Would that confirm the supernatural or paranormal? Or would it still be more appropriate to say that we don’t know what caused these events therefore we could never say they are supernatural or paranormal? I personally believe that even if these 2 events are totally real that they don’t necessarily confirm the existence of spirits, gods, supernatural etc. I want your opinions on my opinion. I know many will say these events are bull but I want to know hypothetically if they were real, does that mean supernatural or is it just something currently unknown? People used to think thunderstorms were gods fighting. Others thought lunar eclipse was something to do with gods. Now we know this isn’t true, so could these cases (granted that they actually occurred) be placed into that category?

Answer by SmartLX:
Thanks for getting the basic point about whether the stories are true out of the way for me.

So, say as far as we can tell one of these things really did happen as described and wasn’t essentially made up by the witnesses. The first thing to ask would be whether or not a hoax can be ruled out. Someone could have scared the first girl with a projection of a photo from Facebook and a devil mask, and turned the clock back to allow for several hours of preparation after the news of her death. The church could have had a quick spray of a noxious gas or odour that affected people sharply before dissipating, and if the woman was a plant she could have had a wig. Elaborate in both cases, yes, but if something apparently amazing has really happened, it’s not unreasonable to suppose that someone just went to a lot of trouble. Some of Derren Brown’s shows have put people through some incredible stuff and not told them right away that it was a trick.

So then let’s say it can’t have been a hoax (the kind of evidence for this would have to be pretty convincing), and therefore you can finally say with confidence that something supernatural or paranormal (the definitions are practically the same) has happened. The nature of both events you describe have elements specific to Christian mythology: the antagonist is the devil or the location is a church and, most importantly, invoking God makes everything all right. That does suggest that an otherworldly intelligence is behind it if it can respond to a specific declaration, but there are several possible reasons why it might do so. Maybe it really is Satan and he fears God. Maybe it’s some lesser poltergeist pretending to be Satan, or who fears God regardless – whether God is also real or not. (If humans can fear a God who appears to be non-existent, why can’t a spirit?) Maybe a living human psychic/telekinetic is making it happen, consciously or not. Use your imagination, but the point is that even if the supernatural occurs exactly the way believers expect they may still need to wonder whether they’re being supernaturally had. Lots of them fall for false miracles done in old-fashioned ways as it is, or Peter Popoff would never have got anywhere.

8 thoughts on “In the Face of a Miracle”

  1. Unfortunately I can’t give these scenarios the “benefit of the doubt” and then talk about them in a rational way. Assuming they are true just for the sake of discussion is a waste of time in my opinion, because we still know that the stories are heresay and devoid of empirical evidence. To ignore that is to ignore part of the story.

    1. There are plenty of instances that also speak of things happening that can not be explained. God has been known to communicate by way of dreams. And satan also has somehow impersonated individuals. So, there is nothing in the Bible that could be used to disavow this instance, except if it contradicts what the Bible has made clear. And since I don’t remember that the anyone came back to life then the dream may or may not be a communication. There is nothing one way or the other then to cause to doubt what is said to have happened. Demons are cast out in the Bible. All that is necessary is to have faith in the One who can give the power to do so.

  2. I wander how come that such ‘miracles’ never happen to us, atheists!
    The answer is that one sees what the one believes is possible and wants to see.
    It never happens to those who do not believe in miracles.
    So, the theists’ ‘miracles’ have a preferences to those who believe miracles are possible and want them to be possible.
    So, they see them. lol

    1. Or atheists see them and chalk them up to something more “realistic” denying what they really are.

      1. That is very possible James. But when there is zero evidence or data supporting the claim of a miracle, my opinion is that searching for a “realistic” answer makes much more sense than accepting speculation. Just claiming “miracle” is not enough for me to call it so.

    2. Have you never taken the opportunity to talk to the Christians who used to be Atheists? There are quite a few, who have written there testimonies for all the world to see. Physicists. And other Scientists. Doctors and Writers. All coming out of Institutions that had Atheism as its bedrock foundation. Yet when these took the time to explore and put the Bible and God to the test they did an about face and accepted Christ as their Savior. Or they at least said that Atheism does not meet the demands of what science is looking for to be a valid theory, to accept it as being possible.

  3. I have personally come across such miracles.
    Assuming that these things were real (and all possibilities of a simple or elaborate hoax have been rule out) the single question to which I have never found a satisfying answer is – “so what ?”.
    How does any of it being real impact anything at all? How does all this work to prevent destructive and negative human behavior (war etc.)? How does it reduce general misery and promote well being?

    For me at-least, the existence of the paranormal would be an interesting phenomena at best (and for quite some time after giving up the god concept I was still interested in the paranormal).
    But compared to the benefits of science, technology and general modern knowledge … the benefits of studying and understanding the paranormal (if it is really real) seem to be only subjective, personal and very few.

    Plus the explanations one could give for such “real” miracles (if they are actually real) could be many – each religion will explain such events as per its tastes and preferences. There is no single clear explanation based on a clear underlying theory of any sort. Any old explanation I imagine up and give some semi-logical structure to is as valid as any other. There is no demonstrability of any kind whatsoever.

  4. You dismiss way too easy. You fail to follow through with the concept supernatural. You are failing to receive the most from that which you don’t understand, by simply yawning at an unnatural occurrence by not allowing it to peak your interest. In something is unnatural, that means that it is occurring at the behest of someone else. Only an intelligence makes something unnatural happen. For good or bad. So that means that a super Intelligence is causing something unnatural to happen at a time when something else usually happens. How do you know what it is or what is real, study. And that is where the Bible comes into play. That is where the testimonies of others who have read the Bible comes in to play. Sure you can look at the other religions. At the other writings. Even of some that claim to be on par with the Bible. Yet they all fall short of the trial under fire that the Bible has come through. It has survived and come out on top of all that has been thrown at it. And all you have to do is pick it up and read it. You will find that there is no book like it. It has changed peoples lives, I’m talking about the people read the book to use it. I’m talking about people who read it to receive truth. And there are far more who have accepted its truth and have been changed, then those who read it to be able to take advantage of others. It’s a fact. It has been seen down through history. The Bible is a book that produces changes in the lives of individuals. And it can do the same for you.

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