Sunday, February 14, 2010

Radio Replies Second Volume - Existence of Miracles

82. One who accepts revealed religion is expected to believe in miracles.

Revelation includes the fact that miracles have occurred.

83. What is a miracle?

A miracle is an extraordinary event beyond the powers and outside the scope of any created agency, and therefore produced by God Himself. No natural forces could account for it.

84. When you say that nature cannot account for a miracle, what do you mean by nature?

Nature can refer to the whole created universe, with all its proper forces and powers; or it can refer to each individual thing in the universe, as when we say that the nature of a man differs from the nature of a beast. But, whether taken in reference to each created thing, or to all created things, nature embraces all that these things can be or do according to the constitution and powers given them by their Creator. And we maintain that the miraculous transcends completely all these powers.

85. Most people would be very surprised to hear that miracles take place.

As an extraordinary event not due to natural causes, every miracle is calculated to surprise us to some extent. Of its very nature it is a surprising thing. But, from another point of view, we are not surprised that God should at times work miracles. He is not bound by the secondary laws He Himself appointed as the normal causes of events in this universe.

86. I am afraid I could never believe in miracles. They are much too strange for me.

We are naturally inclined to be astonished by the unusual, but we are not justified in denying the truth of an event merely because it is unusual. '"The government of the whole universe is a much more wonderful thing than the multiplication of five loaves of bread," says St. Augustine, "but men are not astonished by the former because they are used to it, while they are astonished by the latter because it is rare." Granted an omnipotent God, it is absurd to say that miracles cannot happen. Belief in a miracle depends entirely upon the available evidence as to whether it did happen. As a matter of fact, miracles seem strange only to minds which make no allowance for God. He who lives in the presence of God is not surprised to see God act. It is as easy for God to restore life to a dead man as to preserve the life of a living man.

87. Miracles seem so arbitrary, and so destructive of scientific certainty.

The God who arbitrarily created all tilings, and who arbitrarily established the ordinary laws of nature, is not bound to restrict Himself to those ordinary laws. He may arbitrarily intervene and act independently of ordinary natural laws should He wish. Nor are miracles destructive of scientific certainty. After all, no scientist can be certain of what you yourself will choose to do tomorrow. And if that does not destroy scientific certainty, why should it be destroyed by uncertainty as to what God will do? Scientific certainty can be had concerning natural facts. When a supernatural fact occurs, science can testify to the historical occurrence of the event, and then declare that the nature of the event is not within the boundaries of ordinary science. Thus, of a sudden and miraculous cure, science can say, "That person had a broken leg five minutes ago, and now he has not a broken leg. Negatively I can say that no merely natural power can account for the phenomenon." And there natural science stops.

88. Would your faith be greatly disturbed if the miracles recorded in the Bible never really happened at all?

It would not only be disturbed. It would be shattered. If any man could prove that the miracles recorded in the Bible did not happen, or that miracles could not happen, I would abandon Christanity altogether. But to disprove miracles you must prove one of three things: You must prove either that there is no God, and that God cannot operate independently of the laws of nature He Himself established or that the Bible is a lying forgery and not authentic history. No man can prove any of these things.

89. Since people do not believe in miracles today, why should they believe in miracles that happened 2000 years ago?

Some people believe that miracles happen in our own day; others do not. I certainly believe that they can happen; and am prepared to believe that any given event is a miracle provided satisfactory evidence can be produced that it did occur, and that it surpasses the capability of any natural law.

Yet even if miracles did not happen in our own times, that would not be proof that they did not happen 2000 years ago. Events of 2000 years ago must be judged on the evidence of what happened then; not on the evidence of what does not happen now. In other words, the historical evidence for past miracles must be examined on its own merits. It would not be disproved by any absence of miracles now. Otherwise you could prove that women never wore hoop skirts by the fact that the modern woman does not happen to do so.

90. If miracles have ceased to take place, why have they ceased?

Miracles have not ceased to occur. There arc three classes of miracles: intellectual, moral, and physical. Prophecy is an intellectual miracle, for it is the prediction with certainty of future events, often dependent upon human liberty. God alone can know with certainty what a given human being will do, say in ten years' time; or what future generations of men will deride to do. A moral miracle is one which does not surpass the inherent capacity of created powers, but which does surpass the ordinary laws regulating them. Thus the unity of some 400 millions of people in the Catholic Faith — people of different nationalities and varying degrees of intelligence; people who probably disagree on almost every other matter, is a moral miracle. God alone can be responsible for their allegiance to the Catholic Church. Physical miracles are sudden external and astonishing events beyond all created powers — an obvious work of God quite outside God's ordinary providence; such as the sudden cure of a broken leg or the instant restoration to perfect health of one suffering from consumption or cancer in an advanced stage. Miracles of all three classes have occurred right through the ages from the time of Christ until our own days. An exhaustive study of the records at Lourdes, or of the lives of the Saints in every century, or of the Archives of the Congregation of Rites, where the most scientific evidence of modern miracles is collected, would convince you of this. Encoding copyright 2009 by Frederick Manligas Nacino. Some rights reserved.
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