What Does a "Miracle" Mean to You?

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. ; - )

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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?”

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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.

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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.

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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?

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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?

It’s a different epistemic boat that denies objective evidence.

in a way that does not involve a Boris like God, e.g. one that breaks his own laws given to nature to show he is all powerful.

The truth value of ones worldview depends on its level of internal correspondence or coherence. This fails if it is based on logical incoherence like his birth being an unnatural event or his miracles creating a fake reality. Faith in ones own wishful thinking, like being rewarded with becoming an eternal self, is based on the temptation to eat from that tree to become like God oneself.

A logical explanation of the birth of Jesus would be a stronger case for a metaphysical intervention of God with regards to reality than a magical one. If one looks at the birth of Jesus at a logical level, coherent with ones experienced reality of biology, the birth of Jesus is a miracle as in defying human values and wishful thinking. A virgin becoming pregnant and giving birth is nothing magic, not even low in probability, as the statistical success of getting pregnant in the first month of trying is 30%. Considering the number of fertile days (3 in a cycle ~10%) and a natural miscarriage rate estimated at 50% (including failure to implant) would give you a chance if random pregnancy for a single copulation of around 5% which correlates with the data found about pregnancies through rape of fertile women.
The prophecy to Mary that she was to become pregnant before being married and her commitment to go through with that pregnancy would be a commitment to sustain a life against the social norms and expectations still in place today, in her times actually likely to incur a death penalty for her. That her contemporaries treated her as an A-list celebrity for becoming pregnant by magic because they did not know how women got pregnant is unlikely. That it was done so later and she was celebrated for being an instrument of magic in an attempt to exploit the gullibility of men is a sad fact of history. This turns her from being a mother defending human life against its adversaries into a tool of patriarchal control. The “natural” explanation shows how the word of God can turn an act of hate and oppression into a beacon of love and hope. It also is coherent with the expression of the word of God - to love thy neighbour like thyself - (not oneself) becoming flesh. In addition it gives us justified hope that we can bring the same king of changes to reality, e.g. turning evils and suffering to glorify God in how we change them when applying his word.

The challenging question is why such logical explanation might offend some of us, and if so, what does it say about us and our values?

Thanks for explaining, Marvin.

I’ve steered clear of this thread to avoid the cooties (J/K) but realized in reading the recent posts that there has been some interesting ideas discussed.

I agree that the little ‘miracles’ are mostly confirmatory rather than revelatory. They elicit gratitude, I think, because we recognize the many ways we are dependent upon something greater - whatever we may think that is. But the really big historical miracles which, from the outside, sound like legends are different. These convey insights about inter-subjective truths that impart ways to understand the narratives of our own lives in ways that provide meaning.