Do You Believe in Miracles?

Story about the stenographer who interrupted the House vote the other day.
What’s interesting to me is that she apparently is a devout Catholic. And it was the Holy Spirit that lead her to do this. And part of me thinks, I believe her. Because if you believe in miracles, why isn’t that possible. I certainly get being frustrated with Congress.

Who knows. My wife is dear friends with a a woman who wont’s come to Georgetown when she visits us, b/c of the steps that were featured in the Exorcist, because as she says, “That shit is real.” Also a devout Catholic. They met at ND. Incredibly smart and talented. My wife kinds of laughed it off. But I wasn’t so sure. Because, like she said, that shit IS real.

18 Responses

  1. I grew up on a farm and thought a great deal of what went on around me was miraculous. Corn growing, calving, the incredible number of stars in the sky, and how many more were visible with binoculars, the teeming tiny life forms in a mason jar of water taken from the clear brook that could only be seen with the aid of my 60x microscope from Edmunds Scientific. Lightning hitting one of the decorative wagon wheels in front of a neighbor’s farm house, flashing the rim blue and then rolling off in a ball through the house. I could go on.

    Wow factor? Yes, for me.

    Belief in the supernatural? No – and don’t get me wrong – if it can happen it is natural, IMHO, and more things can happen then I have experienced. And I have experienced enough to know that I didn’t think they could happen before I experienced them. So could some event have happened for which hitherto there has been no natural explanation? I think surely yes. Are there supernatural events? I think not.

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    • Mark:

      Are there supernatural events? I think not.

      I can’t think of a conception of God that would exclude the possibility of the supernatural. To believe in God, it seems to me, is to believe in the supernatural. God is not a product of the natural world, in any belief system that I am aware of.

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      • But “any belief system that [you] are aware of” is a qualifier, isn’t it. Let me suggest this conundrum: if God exists in time and space then God is natural. Or more to the current physics, if God exists in any of the 11 or so postulated dimensions, God is natural.

        As I have said here many times, I am more often than not a doubting believer, as opposed to an agnostic. And as I have repeatedly admitted, I cannot explain it. I want the God I believe in to guide humans to respect each other. I do rely on my belief to ask for personal guidance.

        Many other constructs: God as thunder, God as parter of the Red Sea, God as answerable to me to perform magical acts, God as Avenger, God as Jesus’ daddy in a different way than God is my Confessor, are kinda lost on me. I was a Deist in HS as soon as I learned what that meant, but I am not in the same place now. I still admit the Argument from Design is powerful for me. It is undeniable that no bio-engineer could make a grasshopper, so however it came to be, that power is far greater than human. But I do think it is a natural and not a supernatural occurrence.

        I have no belief in the hereafter or salvation. I do believe we all have spiritual lives – just as much as we crave. For some it is reaching out and touching and being touched by other humans, for some it is the life of the mind, for some it is recognizing a Higher Power and learning humility. And for others it is rolling on the floor and speaking “in tongues”, or martyring themselves by suicide bomb.

        I know that belief can sometimes create reality in the natural world. Once enough people on a hijacked plane believe that several others will back their play they can save the White House from the hijackers/terrorists. Once a basketball team believes all teammates will be in the right place at the right time the team will rock. I do think it is a positive to think of the USA as e pluribus unum and that belief, shared, is the first key to the continuing existence of the nation.

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        • Mark:

          But “any belief system that [you] are aware of” is a qualifier, isn’t it.

          Of course.

          Let me suggest this conundrum: if God exists in time and space then God is natural. Or more to the current physics, if God exists in any of the 11 or so postulated dimensions, God is natural.

          I think this just eliminates the notion of the supernatural by definition. Obviously events that others explain via the supernatural exist in time and space. It seems that you are just saying that, by definition then, they are not supernatural. But that doesn’t help us when talking about whether God-induced miracles exist. It just tells us that if they exist, they are necessarily part of the natural world.

          To be sure I think the notion of God presents all kinds of conundrums. The inability for anyone to sensibly explain their notion of God is one reason why I am a non-believer. The belief is not natural to me, and it cannot be rationally induced in me. I think most people who believe in God don’t even know themselves what they actually believe in.

          As I have said here many times, I am more often than not a doubting believer, as opposed to an agnostic. And as I have repeatedly admitted, I cannot explain it.

          So how is your inability to explain it, but your continuing belief in it, different from the people who say they experience things (like getting messages from God) that they can’t explain, and calling those experiences miracles, or supernatural? This is why I said that I don’t understand how people who claim to believe in God can then dismiss the notion of miracles or the supernatural.

          I want the God I believe in to guide humans to respect each other. I do rely on my belief to ask for personal guidance.

          How do you ask for this guidance? Thru some process that can be explained via that natural world, like e-mail or a phone call? Or is it via some unexplainable phenomenon that someone else might characterize as supernatural, like via prayer? And please, I know that might sound flippant and dismissive, but I truly don’t mean it that way. I am not mocking the notion of prayer. My only point is that I strongly suspect that you, as a believer in God, actually do accept the existence of what others describe as supernatural, even if you won’t call it that.

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  2. I still cannot get past the concept of life, of the development of the first single cell and think that it occurred without divine intervention. It’s my bias.

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  3. Very much so. If DNA life developed here, why not some other based life form?

    If panspermia, same question.

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    • When you speculate about the natural and physical universe do you assume that unexplained events are unexplainable within the natural, and are thus supernatural; or do you assume that a natural explanation will likely be found at some time through scientific inquiry and experimentation?

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  4. I was more surprised than anything by her dragging Freemasons into it. . . but then, the Catholic church teaches that Freemasonry is an alternate religion.

    Freemasonry is incompatible with the Catholic faith. Freemasonry teaches a naturalistic religion that espouses indifferentism, the position that a person can be equally pleasing to God while remaining in any religion.

    Masonry is a parallel religion to Christianity. The states, “Freemasonry displays all the elements of religion, and as such it becomes a rival to the religion of the Gospel. It includes temples and altars, prayers, a moral code, worship, vestments, feast days, the promise of reward and punishment in the afterlife, a hierarchy, and initiative and burial rites” (vol. 6, p. 137).

    As for miracles, no I don’t believe in them in the Catholic church sense of the word. I do believe that many inexplicable things happen every day, but they aren’t supernatural.

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  5. Mark, I don’t know if your questions were directed at me. I’m essentially a Deist and if life did firm spontaneously I can fall back on the Origin of the Universe. Infinity is an impossible concept for me to really *believe* ultimately.

    I admit to struggling with the divinity of Christ though I am more or less Christian. I also wonder if my lack of certainty on that dooms me eternally. I’m one of those believers that figures better to believe something and be wrong than the opposite.

    Then of course, accepting that, is it enough? It would suck to find that it’s not.

    I also believe that the Worship of Science is a false God. So there’s that.

    A riddle, surrounded by mystery, wrapped in enigma?

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  6. McWing:

    (Seriously though, I think that, if there is a Christian God, you’re going to be OK)

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  7. I went to an extremely fucked up Catholic grade school and that pretty much ended it for me and the Catholic religion (or any religion for that matter).

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  8. “extremely fucked up Catholic grade school”

    how so? I’m considering Catholic schools for my soon to be kindergarten kid. that or 2 other privates are on the table.

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  9. how so? I’m considering Catholic schools for my soon to be kindergarten kid. that or 2 other privates are on the table.

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  10. pastor was busted for molesting girls… the principal was a lesbian nun who despised boys (and especially me) with a passion. The church ended up removing her from dealing with kids… worst years of my life.

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  11. ugh. I’m sorry. that’s awful.

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  12. yeah, kind of ruined the whole religion thing for me.

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  13. Regarding Mark’s post:

    In my experience, the only person who can reasonably expect to argue to a draw with a well-educated Jewish man who is also a lawyer is a Jesuit.

    This is going to be interesting.

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