What Does a "Miracle" Mean to You?

I was just at a retreat and the speaker talked about three categories of miracles. The prototypical “something supernatural” miracle, like Jesus resurrection, the amazing, awe-inspiring things we see in nature like a baby forming or a tree living thousands of years, and the crazy coincidences that seem like they have to be something other than random because they specifically answer prayer or provide for a believer in some way. I like this expansion beyond the “something supernatural” category, because I think that in the Bible miracles are signs to believers that God is present and working. God doesn’t have to countermand natural law to provide these signs to people who have eyes to see them. So just because we can come up with “natural” explanations for miraculous things we see, doesn’t make them less miraculous.


but the public sees miracles as that what defeats science

as you can see from the replies of his “fanclub” and a lot of “apologists” pitch miracles against science. And that is were the conflict of science and faith is really manifest. The something supernatural has become the frontier as wishful thinkers claim their wish fulfilment to be the evidence for the supernatural intervention. And perhaps the wish to be resurrected as an everlasting self is the ultimate temptation If after all ones life one still wants to be an ever lasting self one has a problem.

I would contend that in the Bible miracles are never for people who “need proof.” It’s the opposite. Jesus didn’t perform miracles for the skeptical crowd that only wanted signs and wonders. Matt 13:58.


A miracle is a work of God in the world.

And God is not far away simply watching. God is involved in everything. He created the universe for a relationship not an experiment or a wind up mechanism.

I suppose that really means that everything is a miracle. And it is true. Though we usually use the word “miracle” for the unexpected and wonderful things.


Yes, the birth of a baby is a miracle.

Yes, the parting of the Red Sea was miracle.

Yes the mana from heaven was a miracle.

Of course, Jesus walking on water was a miracle.

Our salvation is a miracle.

I don’t think this means that any of these were a violation of the laws of nature God created. God created the universe for a relationship so of course He made it so that He could take part in events and thus He doesn’t need to break anything in order to do so.

So if we find a scientific explanation for any of these things it DOES NOT mean it wasn’t a miracle. No scientific explanation can exclude the involvement of God in that event. So none of the scientific explanations for the mana in the desert means that wasn’t a miracle. A scientific explanation for the parting of the Red Sea doesn’t mean it wasn’t a miracle. And all the involvement of parents and doctors doesn’t mean the birth of a baby isn’t miracle either.


There is truth in what you wrote.

If someone demands that (s)he needs to see a miracle, what is the reason for this? Is it just for a thrilling show? Is it a demand that God must do something that I would accept him? Is it an attitude that I know what is good and God needs to do what I think is right? Is it an attitude that I have my worldview and God must give evidence in the form of a big miracle that I would include him in my worldview?

We are not equal with God. We cannot command Him or demand anything from Him. As long as we demand or try to bargain, God leaves us to play our own game.

I have witnessed changes in attitudes and life as a consequence of events that many would call miracles. For example, I remember a hindu who was healed and it affected that man so deeply that he became a follower of Christ, witnessing to all who knew him how God had healed him and changed his whole life.

I do not know why God gives miraculous help in some cases and not in others but I thank for every case. I also thank for every case where we get an answer to a prayer in need, even if it does not involve anything we would normally call a miracle.


Of course my wont is to cite entire sets of co-instants involving just one individual even when they are not asked for in prayer and even when they are not desired or initially perceived as good. Many biblical miracles are of the extraordinary timing and providential placing sort where no natural laws have been broken. Even in the calming of the storm on Galilee, no natural laws were technically broken, but it was evident that there was a Man who was in control of the wind and the waves. (And it since it became “completely calm”, the needlessly fearful disciples, forgetting God was in control, had to row all the rest of the way. Maybe it is easier to be faith full than faith less. ; - )

1 Like

A miracle for me would be a demonstration of divine intelligence in the NT. That would seal it. Not cold reading God-incidences.

Would you explain what you mean by “divine intelligence?”

1 Like

The acts of God seem to form a wide variety of events and effects. The least likely we often call miracles but maybe we should appreciate more those which are less miraculous.

I was thinking of Paul on his missionary trip. They were “forbidden by the Holy Spirit to speak the word in Asia”. They wanted to go to one direction (Bithynia) but “the spirit of Jesus did not allow them” They went to Troas where Paul gets a vision of a Macedonian pleading them to come over to Macedonia (Acts 16:6-10). The rest is influential history, the gospel spreads to Europe.
Miracles? Most would say no but the impact was perhaps greater than that of any event that we would call a miracle.


Winning a lottery in each of five different states within 48 hours in the same order that you bought the tickets and you were the only one that even bought any tickets is not ‘cold-reading’. How absurd. Anyone’s rationality who was not committed to a false ideology and an expert at their own motivated reasoning would certainly and correctly deduce that something is rigged! Maybe it’s time for a little self-examination and less boasting about humility.

1 Like

Something actually said and done which cannot be accounted for naturally. Something qualitatively, morally anachronistic. Head and shoulders ahead of its time setting. Like the Pericope Adulterae. Except that was written centuries after its setting. But there’s nothing. Jesus was of His time, the bleeding edge of it for sure. But nothing His mother and He couldn’t have made up.


That’s naturally explained by a mixture of conspiracy, started by Jesus, and the psychology of belief. It’s in the novel. And there’s nothing anachronistic about it.

Charles Colson of Watergate infamy and a key player in the scandal does a good job dispensing with the silliness of the conspiracy theory argument in his book, Born Again.

He says that if our Lord’s resurrection was a conspiracy to fool the masses, Christianity wouldn’t have happened. The few Watergate conspirators that there were were among the most powerful men in Washington, and they couldn’t even hold that tiny conspiracy together, let alone if a large number had been involved in trying to perpetuate the plot.

And there would have been whistleblowers.

1 Like

You find the silver bullet entirely in the subjunctive, then? A reasonable, alternate natural explanation wipes out the possibility of the miraculous.
Really, you have been consistent in this. This very exchange feels familiar.

So, when the slate of possible demonstrations of divine intelligence has been wiped clean, scrubbed hard and dried, what’s left to consider?

I understand the hard-wiredness. And its conflict with yearning. But what does one do after one has answered all of one’s own questions and all the others’ answers are deficient? Try to rework the theology? But you’re still left needing that silver bullet warrant, aren’t you?

I won’t deny it; faith is a risky business. You know that better than I do. Where do you go from here, though?

1 Like

Cuh! Fuh! : ) You are relentless! Surgical. Ruthlessly logical. Well, it’s better than being utterly ignored as if what I’m saying doesn’t exist. You are the only one here without their fingers in their ears going ‘La-la-la’.

The subjunctive eh?! My favourite mood. Aye, if only it were so. It is so easy to explain naturally when there is no divine intelligence. What’s left? Pothos. Yearning. Which cannot make it so. But you knew that.

I know nothing better than you. I know what I know is all. Which ain’t much. But nobody is tellin’ me nuthin’ without warrant. Not that you would. I will know when I’m dead. Or not. When I’m

See what I did there?

One feels a tad Jobish. I will still aspire to righteousness regardless.


And pushing even farther: why concern oneself with technicalities of the Godhead?

Credibility. The technicalities that accrued over post-Apostolic history are a cul-de-sac, going down it being driven by slavish acceptance of how Jesus thought of Himself. As YHWH. The killer god of Israel. Thus slavishly validating the god of the OT to this day.


only if the miraculous is for one the irrational that is not logical. I find the miraculous in the logical as there is no physical explanation of the logical, thus a sign pointing at God.
If one understands the birth and death of Jesus and the rebirth of him in all those who accept him as Lord on a logical level, the message is more powerful than it could be than any “magical” interpretation. It breaks the power that evil has over humanity ever since the fall. It makes one born again and experience eternal life. It allows one to go in peace through the door that leads out of the physical reality.

Thanks, Marvin.

Could you explain what you mean by a “logical level” here?