Is it possible for mere mortals to predict Miracles?


Or are Miracles only designed, designated, and offered by the Gods unto the mortals?

Can a Miracle ever be technological and non-denominational?

Do Miracles require a request before being granted?  If a request for a Miracle is never created, can one be provided anyway?

Or are Miracles, by their very nature, unpredictable and randomized?

Or are Miracles only invoked through prayer and pleading?

When a person loses 100 pounds — is that a Miracle?

When babies are born to “barren” parents — aping the Virgin Birth — is that a Miracle of God or a Triumph Science?

How soon will we be hearing “Miracle stories” out of Myanmar and Chendgu?

Why do we even need to assign “Miracle” status to pre-existing, indiscriminate, events — what’s in it for us? — and are those “Miracles” imagined and invented or verifiable and provable using the scientific method?

37 Comments

  1. I think there are far more miracles in this world than we realize – whether it’s an alarm clock malfunctioning for a person who has never been late for work a day in his life, causing him not to lose his life in one of the worst human propelled tragedies of the century to a person being delayed at a supermarket due to a price check, causing him to leave a minute later and not bump into the person who was speeding around the parking lot, looking for that elusive “close” spot.
    I think this has all the potential to turn into an “agreement to disagree” but my thought is that something beyond our mortal existence – something that, in my learning, is said to be above time and space – cannot have the scientific method applied to it.

  2. we don’t predict them then we assign them after the fact. Isn’t that how people become saints? Decide you want to make them one and then go looking for proof?

  3. That’s an curious take on the topic, Anne. Do we go digging for miracles in order to apply them to those we wish to become Saints? So are miracles invisible until we decide we want to discover them and give them greater meaning than when they actually happened in real time?

  4. Gordon —
    Is it appropriate to pray for a Miracle?
    Or must one only be gifted with one?
    Is it ever appropriate for someone other than the receiver of the “Miracle” to tell someone they are the recipient of a Miracle when recipient feels they are not?

  5. David!
    maybe sometimes things happen that pull us out of the depths of despair and we call it a miracle? i hope we hear miracle stories from myanmar and chengdu soon enough.

  6. Actually we are taught that it is completely forbidden to ask for a miracle with three very circumstantial exceptions which I’m not even quite sure I understand due to most explanations being half in hebrew.
    I think it’s never appropriate to tell someone that they have received a miracle unless they are of the mindset that such a thing is possible. Otherwise you are just upsetting someone for no good reason and what good is that?

  7. Hi Dananjay —
    I do think we look for the sublime in the tragic — and I think that’s the wrong thing to do, especially when it requires the application of Miracle status. It’s as if one is looking for familiar meaning and reasoning in something that is intentionally foreign and irrational.
    I realize we form our perception against our past experiences, but that’s the danger in always living in the past and never catching up to the new.

  8. Can you share with us the three circumstances, Gordon?
    I think you’re right in that the application of a Miracle can be a dangerous event to those who may not be ripe to the power of its historical context.

  9. David,
    I would hesitate to comment on the nature and work of the almighty. I believe his awesome power is mysterious, complex, and beyond our full comprehension.
    But I do believe in miracles. And that God has many more vehicles today to perform his work through the wonders of technology and modern medicine.
    So not planning to see a blind man who can be healed before my eyes anytime soon.
    But I once worked with a patient who was deaf since birth and referred him to the university for cochlear implants and the deaf man could hear and his life was forever changed . . .

  10. Hi Donna —
    Have you ever prayed for a Miracle?
    Beware of calling Deaf people “Hearing” when they are implanted because a cochlear implant does not make someone part of the hearing culture, or provide traditional 100% hearing restoration as we colloquially think of “average hearing” norms and quantifications.
    A cochlear implant is really just a strong hearing aid — and not a cultural or linguistic solution — though many in the medical field claim that is precisely what the device can do when it does not.
    I would be curious to know if your patient used ASL or not before the operation and if he is still happy with the implant or not. You only have one shot at the surgery because the very process destroys the cochlea forever.

  11. David–The patient did not use or know ASL. We passed notes back and forth to communicate. If I remember correctly he did some reading of lips. But wasn’t real good at it.
    I must correct the info about the patient being deaf since birth. I think sometime in childhood is when he lost hearing. And it may not have been a total hearing loss.
    So definitely not my specialty area here but we encountered this patient while treating him for another chronic disease. He was in his fifties and was wearing one pretty useless hearing aid at the time and he simply could not hear and so he was evaluated through Chapel Hill and found to be a candidate.
    The implants did transform his life in that he found employment, a wife, became highly engaged in his church and community. And he stood about ten feet higher after the surgery. So he was thrilled with the results.
    I’ve never personally prayed for a miracle per se. I pray for God’s intervention and help and healing to those who are suffering. I never pray for anything specific. I simply tell him about the problem and the person and ask for his divine guidance and intervention. That’s just the way I do it.

  12. That’s a sad story about the Deaf man Donna, in that he lives so long without a real language or a cultural identity. I’m glad he found some acceptance after his surgery — but we should never consider him “Hearing” in the sense that we hear. He’s still an island alone in the life that formed him before surgery.
    I guess I’m not understanding the difference between praying for God to intervene and asking for a Miracle. If someone is sick, isn’t that God’s will that they are sick? Who are we to decide that they are suffering and unhealthy and in need of prayers? Aren’t we tempting the opinion and divinity of God?
    Should we be looking for beauty and meaning in the deaths in Chengdu and Myanmar instead of pitying the living and praying for the wounded? Natural disasters are God’s hand at work, right?

  13. David–
    I certainly don’t have any answers regarding the mysteries and wonders of life and death.
    When I see suffering I ask for God to intervene.
    No I don’t see beauty and meaning in human misery and suffering. God I hope will explain all of this to me when I’m with him.
    But my instinct is always to relieve human suffering through human intervention or through prayer. Sometimes my prayers are answered and sometimes they are not. Sometimes I don’t know if they’re answered.
    I never ask for a miracle per se.
    I don’t know the formal definition of miracle but for me it’s something so inexplicably awesome. The brain-dead patient who comes to life. The terminally ill cancer patient sent home to die who is free of any trace of the disease.
    I have personally never directly prayed for those type of miracles or have told God precisely what to do; I just ask for his help and divine intervention and leave it to him.
    I have no answers, David. But somehow I have faith.
    Take care, my friend!!

  14. Hi David,
    I am not sure if miracle can be predicted…I might get it if I am lucky enough…
    Just the way I was rightly diagnosed when I had “Black Measles” at the age of 9 – getting a doctor who was familiar with the disease was a miracle that saved my life.
    My entire family lost hope the day I told all I couldn’t see anything…

  15. I am not sure David, it’s a very rare kind of measles and the germ is carried by ticks – whatever I have heard so far.
    90% cases become fatal, those who survive they either lose their eyesight, or hearing ability and lose their limbs…
    My 48 year old doctor treated 3 cases so far, I was the one who survived – that too without losing anything.
    If I don’t consider this a miracle what else can be?

  16. Hi David,
    I was bed ridden for one year after I managed to overcome the crisis, my school teachers/classmates/and their parents helped me regularly with classnotes/study materials etc. – so I don’t lose a year. I went to my school twice that year – to appear for the exams.
    I was heavily in sports – that had to stop for the rest of my life, the only substitute prescribed was a light jogging…that too after 2 years – finally I managed to run again but nothing else.
    I used to take Indian Classical music lessons (Vocal) – that had to stop too because it was too strenuous for my lungs and heart.
    Later I joined light music classes.
    The marks stayed with me for more than a year – it was so horrible that the kids used run away from me – I looked like as if I grilled myself in 450 degree F temperature.
    My upper gum and inner lips still have a very faint black mark as the gangrene started there.
    I was on continious treatment for almost 5 years after that.
    The only thing that was not a miracle was the way my grandpa tried for the right doc – he almost turned the entire city upside down to find one…
    and he got it. He might not be that lucky…

  17. What an amazing story, Katha! You really should write this up as an article us: “I Survived Black Measles.” What a wonderful story about hope and perseverance against the odds!

  18. Those are pretty scary links, Katha. To think Rocky Mountain spotted fever (RMSF) has been around since 1896 and is still so deadly — gives us great caution as we creep into the future when man and animal become one.

  19. Good point David, I will try!
    It was quite an experience – to say the least!
    I missed your question –
    The right treatment started on the 6th. day of my illness. My doc gave me 6 shots in 12 hrs. and he was there with me for that entire time frame to observe my responses.
    Later he assured my family about my life but could not guarantee about not having any permanent damage – that he confirmed after 15 days.
    Before that I was on medication but my situation was going downhill every minute – that is what makes this disease fatal – it deteriorates pretty quick without providing the time for diagnosis.

  20. That really is the key to defeating any horrible illness, Katha: Speed and correct diagnosis. When you haven’t seen or read about the disease before, you are at a terrible disadvantage as a doctor. That’s why the “old timers” are so valuable in medicine. The longer they live the more they know. Young MDs may be more up-to-date on the latest techniques, but their real life experience has yet to be earned and you only get that by watching death and dying across a 40 year career and learning from your mistakes and the mis-diagnoses of others. What a life and death job!

  21. You are right David, my doctor confessed later – 24 hrs. delay in my case could make a different scenario – I wouldn’t have made it.
    By the time he visited me I was on the verge of losing my eyesight, gangrene got set in a few parts of my body and so on…
    That was exactly the case with his two other patients – he reached there late.
    Well, that was the so called “miracle” I guess!

  22. The links are scary David, but informative.
    Now I can find that information just with a click sitting right here in Calcutta but think about 20/25 years ago – forget internet, India was yet to be familiar with computer!
    I had a habit of rescuing stray/injured cats/dogs/birds – I used to hide them in our huge school garage and used to feed them…
    Now you know the culprit…

  23. Technology is a wonder, Katha. I think it does much more good than damage. Connecting people everywhere for free will be the one great gift for all of humanity when that feat is finally accomplished.

  24. No David, I survived without any surgery but as I mentioned before – my gums and inner lip still have a very thin black film on them.
    I think my doctor was not too sure either whether I needed amputation or not – that’s why he took 15 days to confirm.

  25. Hi Katha —
    Has any doctor suggest a way to heal your lips and gums? Or is that just a permanent state.
    What parts of your body were in jeopardy of amputation?

  26. Hi David,
    My gums and lips already healed David, it’s just the mark which is permanent.
    My fingertips got blue and and toes…got saved finally!!!

  27. I’m so glad you are better, Katha! Are you able to do any sort of strenuous exercise now or must you continue to reserve your strength?

  28. Thanks David!
    I picked up “running for relay” later – I was pretty good at it;
    I used to hike a lot, I still do – try not to use elevators and so on…
    I was never in to power exercise, I still don’t do it.