William M. Briggs

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Can A Scientist Believe In Miracles? — Guest Post by Bob Kurland

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“Miracles always relate to the faith. That is why a belief in miracles is not a vacation from reason, a little holiday from the tedious demands of rational responsibility. Not only is it reasonable to believe that miracles can and do happen, it is unreasonable to think they cannot and do not occur.” –Ralph M. McInerny, Miracles–a Catholic View

“The divine art of miracle is not an art of suspending the pattern into which events conform but of feeding new events into that pattern.” –C.S. Lewis, Miracles

Some 22 years ago when I was being catechized, preparing to enter into the Church, I was much troubled by the Eucharistic phenomenon, transubstantiation. As a physicist, I could not understand how the wafer could become the flesh of Christ and the wine His Sacred Blood. The wise old priest who was instructing me asked: “Do you believe in the miracle of Christ’s Resurrection?” I answered, “Yes, of course—that’s why I’m going to become a Catholic.” He then said, “Well, if you believe in one miracle, why not a second, or more?” And that answer made a lot of sense to me.

The first property of a miracle is that it is related to faith in God, as an act or sign from God. Miracles are presumed to be rare events, supernatural—that is, not wrought by natural law. Certainly not all rare events are miracles. Winning the lottery is a rare event. But if you needed to win to pay for cancer medication, then you might consider it a miracle. We’ll see below what evidence the Church needs to certify a rare event—a medical cure or other phenomenon—as a miracle.

Science does not create roadblocks to a belief in miracles–if we assume God exists, is omniscient and omnipotent, then he can, as C.S. Lewis suggests, feed a new event into the pattern of natural law, bring down manna from heaven to feed the Israelites.

The various types and categories of miracles are well covered on the internet:

The Catholic Church has to be very cautious in endorsing miracles. Should a Church-approved miracle turn out to be due to natural, rather than supernatural causes, or—worse yet—to be the product of fakery, the Church will wind up egg on her face. The supposed miracle will be cited by non-believers as additional evidence against the truth of the Church’s theological and moral stance.

A general protocol for approval of “Private Revelations” is given by the Sacred Congregation for Propagation of the Doctrine of the Faith (SCPDF). The first stage is approval by the bishop of the local diocese; he may seek the aid of a committee of experts. Further approval is given by the SCPDF, either using a permanent commission, as in the case of healing miracles required for canonization, or an ad hoc commission.

These agencies can return three verdicts on whether the event is truly miraculous, not to be explained by natural laws: yes, no, can’t decide (translating from the Latin). Whatever this judgment, and the final judgment of the SCPDF, might be, it should be emphasized that other than those miracles which are part of Doctrine or Dogma (e.g. the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary), the faithful are not required to believe in miracles, although they are encouraged to do so. The following are some types.

Marian Apparitions (paraphrased from the linked source).

There must be moral certainty, or at least great probability, that something miraculous has occurred, something that cannot be explained by natural causes, or by deliberate fakery. The person or persons who claim to have had the private revelation must be mentally sound, honest, sincere, of upright conduct, and obedient to ecclesiastical authority.

The content of the revelation or message must be theologically acceptable, morally sound and free of error. The apparition must yield positive and continuing spiritual assets: for example, prayer, conversion, increase of charity. Not all Marian apparitions have been approved. The most noteworthy example is that of Medjugorje.

Eucharistic Miracles

Eucharistic miracles occur when the host, previously consecrated, either issues blood or is transformed into human tissue. One of the oldest (8th Century A.D.) occurred at Lanciano, Italy. The host was transformed into cardiac tissue, and subjected in 1970-71 and 1981 to histological analyses. The results corresponded in blood type (AB) to that found for the Shroud of Turin. Remarkably, the tissue remained uncorrupted for the 1100 years after the miracle occurred.

The most recent in Legnicka, Poland occurred in 2013 when a host was dropped and then found to bleed. Examination by pathologists confirmed that it was most likely cardiac tissue.

These results are hotly contested by atheists who claim that they are either the result of fraud or that the internet reports of their occurrence are made up (including several in Buenos Aires when Pope Francis, then Archbishop Bergoglio, supposedly certified the miracle.) Given the reluctance of Church officials to certify miracles which might be revealed as fraudulent or natural (see the section on Healing Miracles below), it seems unlikely that this objection is valid. Whether all internet reports are totally accurate is another question.

Healing Miracles for Canonization

The process of canonization requires that the candidate for sainthood be responsible for at least two miracles. The miracles must be the result of prayer to the saint-to-be and only to him or her. Moreover, the miracle must involve a disease or injury that medical authorities say is totally without hope of cure. A committee of doctors (not all of whom need be Catholic) must examine the medical circumstances of the cure and certify that it is indeed miraculous.

A good example is that given by the canonization of Pope St. John Paul II. Three months after his death a French nun suffering from Parkinson’s disease (the same affliction that Pope St. John Paul II suffered from) prayed to him and woke up one morning in perfect health, even though she had been unable to move her legs before. The second cure, after his beatification, was that of a Costa Rican woman who had been told by her doctors that her brain aneurysm gave her only a month to live.

We emphasize that the evaluation process for such miracles and for other miracles at shrines, such as Lourdes, is extremely rigorous. A group of doctors have to certify that there has been no previous medical treatment that could give a cure–that is, 0 % chance according to conservative diagnosis for a cure. There is no way to argue that fraud is involved in these cases or that something outside of “natural law” has not occurred.

Can a scientist believe in miracles?

Very briefly, the answer to that question is YES! It should be evident that the Church applies rigorous and scrupulous standards in evaluating miracles. Mother Church does not want to be embarrassed when fraud or natural causes are proven to be the cause of what are supposed to be miraculous events.

If the answer were no, I would have to assume that science explains everything, that “Naturalism” (or materialism or scientism) is the only explanation for all things and processes; in other words, I would accept that the so called laws of nature are just that, prescriptive, rather than descriptive attempts to give a mathematical picture of some aspects of our world. I would have to assume there is no “veiled reality” in quantum mechanics, and that a physicist who told me “I understand quantum mechanics” is neither a liar nor a fool.

If I believe that God is omnipotent and omniscient, I also would have to wonder why God could not, as C.S. Lewis proposed, feed new events into nature to create what seems to us to be a miracle. The so-called laws of nature, to repeat, are descriptive not prescriptive. God can’t make 2 + 2 = 5, but he can curve space so that the sum of the interior angles of a triangle do not add up to 180 degrees.

Accordingly, my faith in miracles does not contradict my belief that science is a wonderful tool to understand the world, to help us appreciate the beauty described in Psalm 19A:

The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament sheweth his handywork.
Day unto day uttereth speech, and night unto night sheweth knowledge.
There is no speech nor language, where their voice is not heard.

Indeed, to take this a step further, to realize that the “unreasonable effectiveness of mathematics” in science is itself a sort of miracle,

40 Comments

  1. There is something Monty Pythonesque about the bureaucratization of miracles.

    Lewis points out that Jesus’s miracles were natural processes compressed in time (water to wine occurs by natural growth and fermentation) or within normal physical parameters (it’s possible to walk on water when it’s frozen). Healing and resurrection reverted organisms to normal biochemical activity. In this they differed from sleight-of-hand which only has the appearance of doing things physically impossible (sawing a body in half then recombining the pieces undamaged).

  2. Miracles are presumed to be rare events, supernatural—that is, not wrought by natural law.

    IOW: all events are possible since they can happen despite physical limitations.

    God can’t make 2 + 2 = 5

    Why can’t a fifth thing suddenly appear when adding another pair to an already existing pair? Pretty much the Loaves and Fishes thing, yes? Apparently God can make 2+2=5. All things are possible in a world with miracles.

    Speaking of suddenly appearing, is Dark Energy a miracle?

  3. DAV, I’m not sure your example corresponds to violating a logical or arithmetical truth. There will be a third thing there to add up to 5. And as C.S. Lewis said, God can introduce new events into the natural order.

    Speaking of violating logic, Andrej Grib supposes that God follows a “quantum logic”, which violates the distribution law (I’ve written about this in my blog–“Last Days and the Resurrection of the Dead I–Quantum Cosmology and Quantum Logic” at
    http://rationalcatholic.blogspot.com/2016/03/the-resurrection-of-dead-and-quantum.html
    According to Grib, one of the reasons we find quantum mechanics so difficult to grasp is that our brains operated in Boolean logic rather than God’s quantum logic.

  4. swordfishtrombone

    July 1, 2016 at 11:02 am

    “Well, if you believe in one miracle, why not a second, or more?”

    Good question. Why not just decide in advance that everything is miraculous and give up science altogether?

    Here’s another good question: Why does god only cure people of things like cancer, which can spontaneously remit anyway, but not missing limbs?

  5. Bob,

    I’m not sure your example corresponds to violating a logical or arithmetical truth.

    Well, if 2+2=4 is a logical truth that can’t be violated then I can only apply logic as a rule of thumb since if I put two pairs of something in a box I will have four things unless I don’t. Can’t count on it always being four in a world with miracles.

    Arithmetic truths aren’t logical ones?

  6. I believe in the miracles recorded in the Bible.

    However, left unanswered is that which begs the question: What is a scientist?

    Am I not a scientist, though I hold a BS from an accredited university? Am I not a scientist, though I, like every acting human being, regularly use a process that some refer to as the scientific method?

    Or is all that meaningless and the proposition is a scientist is simply those who will not accept miracles? Though such a proposition would rule out many great minds, both yesterday today.

  7. “There is something Monty Pythonesque about the bureaucratization of miracles.”

    It’s not the miracles that have been bureaucratized, rather it’s official church recognition of them that is bureaucratized.

  8. I don’t see why God couldn’t make 2+2=5. Mind you, it will still also be the case that 2+2=4 by the definition of 4, which itself implies that 4=5 and consequently 0=1. That’s not *really* a contradiction, it just requires that God is working in the trivial group. (Or possibly (C,+)/R, or anything other superset of R, etc.) Surely, the one who can tear the curtain of the inner sanctuary from top to bottom can also unify 4 and 5. It only takes a bit of abstract algebra, after all.

  9. (I’m separating comments)

    It fascinates me that people will dismiss miracles while believing computer models and the idea that humans can destroy the planet with CO2 when the planet was fine for millions of years. The mathematical probability thereof is highly questionable, assumes humans posses knowledge they do not and cannot be proven without making it explain everything—which would fall under the “why not make everything miracles” category. Truly interesting how the mind works.

  10. swordfishtrombone: A very good question. Let me give it a run for an answer—
    1. If you argue God not restoring limbs is somehow “proof” God is flawed, then it follows that allowing the limbs to be lost in the first place is the source of the flaw and therefore, allowing amputations to occur “proves” God is not your version of omnipotent. Then we’re at the “argument from evil”.

    2. Not having a record of an amputation being healed does not mean they did not occur. There were probably other miracles not recorded or the record was lost. True, absence cannot be proven, but there really is no reason to assume the Bible covered every single event from the beginning of time and that claim is not usually made. The Bible is representative, a guidebook. Human recorded history is missing huge pieces, but people don’t generally argue that only recorded history occured.

    3. “Why not decide in advance everything is miracles”—because that’s the same as saying 2 + 2 = 5. Miracles are defined as outside of normal physical laws. They cannot be “common” or they are not miracles. Redefining words doesn’t change the reality, just the words used.

    4. “Miracles” of healing are rare. There are many claimed miracles, but they do not fit the criteria. As Bob noted, there needs to be medical documentation that spontaneous remission was highly improbable, the diagnosis was correct, etc. While a lot of people claim miraculous healing, very few cases fall under the actual “miracle” category.

    5. Much of this is terminology—what theists call miracles, atheists declare an unexplained phenomena. In reality, both are following their preconceived beliefs. The reality is some things cannot be explained by science. You can say that we will find the answer eventually and perhaps we will. A theist would say we will find the answer, but not in this world. For some reason, atheists seem the most annoyed by this. Why? Because the speaker is not adhering to your “only science counts” mantra and if science can’t explain it, no explanation exists at this time? Not really a valid argument (it assumes science explains everything and then uses that belief to “prove” we will be able to explain everything with science).

  11. DAV, I don’t quite understand your comment, but if I do this empirically:
    I’ve put four rabbits into a box, three does and one buck, with food, water and air. After a little while I open it up, there are three mature does, one mature buck, and two kits. Obviously 3+ 1 is not equal to 4 in this case, and it certainly isn’t a miracle. If, when I opened it up, there were three mature does, one mature buck, and a minature horse, that would be a miracle.
    If you open up your box in your example and count, you will count one, two, three, four, plus one more. You can group your first two counts into a pair, and your second two counts into a pair, so that there will still be 2 + 2 = 4, to which you add one more (miraculously produced?) to make 5.

  12. A miracle is an unexpected nice thing that happens to a religious person. Either that, or just fraud and fancy. To be honest, I think the belief in miracles is a positive aspect of religious faith, as is confession and charity, cathartic.

    JMJ

  13. JMJ: A check from a relative’s estate is a nice thing that happens to a religious person. That is not a miracle.

  14. acricketchirps

    July 1, 2016 at 9:31 pm

    As Sheri “what theists call miracles atheists declare as unexplained phenomena” and JMJ “an unexpected nice thing that happens to a religious person” obliquely point out, miracles never really answer the questions, does God exist? Is faith real? What they do answer is the questions, where is faith? Where is God?

  15. Fr. John Rickert, FSSP

    July 1, 2016 at 10:02 pm

    A brief word in regard to Eucharistic miracles. As far as the case in Buenos Aires goes, look directly at what Dr. Ricardo Castañon, the main investigator, and Dr. Frederick Zugibe, a forensic expert, themselves have to say. (So much the better if you understand Spanish, too.) I don’t have any reason to think they would jeopardize their careers and their reputations by perpetrating a fraud. Castañon was an atheist when he started looking at this case but converted to Catholicism because of it. Definitely not the way to endear himself to the world.

    Another aspect of Eucharistic miracles worth mentioning is that some saints have lived healthily on the Eucharist alone. This is physically impossible because the host, by Church law, must be made only of wheaten flour and water, and hence does not contain enough vitamin C.

    A laboratory is part of reality, and it helps us learn about reality, but reality is so, so much bigger, thanks be to God.

  16. I didn’t say it was the only nice thing, Sheri, though some Biblical miracles were not so miraculous to some.

    JMJ

  17. DAV July 1, 2016 at 9:32 am


    “Miracles are presumed to be rare events, supernatural—that is, not wrought by natural law. IOW: all events are possible since they can happen despite physical limitations.”

    Philosophically correct!

    “God can’t make 2 + 2 = 5”
    Arithmetically/mathematically correct!

    “Why can’t a fifth thing suddenly appear when adding another pair to an already existing pair? Pretty much the Loaves and Fishes thing, yes?”
    No! We need not assume that an apparition has any objective or physical reality!
    “Apparently God can make 2+2=5. All things are possible in a world with miracles.”
    2+2=4 is a mathematical construct, and nothing physical! Such has nothing to do with a concept of ‘existence’ or ‘pair’! Mathematically, integer summation yields a singular integer result! such is in no way statistical!
    You seem to enjoy inducing ‘confusion’ into ‘science’ through slipshod use of ‘words’!

  18. Sander van der Wal

    July 2, 2016 at 3:12 am

    But how did Pope Francis *caused* these illnesses to be cured?

  19. Good onya, Bob, for your politically incorrect challenge to an enormously complacent scientism.

    A little by-the-way. To imply a complete and arbitrary “freedom” to God is ultimately absurd. Sure He can do anything… except contradict Himself. He is not “free” to not be what He is… or to be what He is not…

    And here’s one that’s bound to excite a bit of consternation; nor is He “free” to not know what He knows or to not do what He does.

  20. @Bob Kurland:

    “According to Grib, one of the reasons we find quantum mechanics so difficult to grasp is that our brains operated in Boolean logic rather than God’s quantum logic.”

    Quantum logic is something of a misnomer. There is such a thing as a quantum logic, but there are various problems (no non-trivial valuations, which means no semantics, no well-behaved conditional operator, etc.) and, even though there are have been advances at solving them (e.g. see the work of Pavicic, Megill, etc.), its formal similarities with classical logic (or even weaker logics, like intuitionistic) is more an accident than a deep fact. The field has produced some interesting mathematics, but not much has come out of it for physics, and barring some spectacular new insight, it does not seem it will.

    @swordfishtrombone:

    “Good question. Why not just decide in advance that everything is miraculous and give up science altogether?”

    While one could do that, that would be extremely bad philosophy and theology (yes, theology; that position has some very unsavory theological consequences).

    @ARB:

    “That’s not *really* a contradiction, it just requires that God is working in the trivial group.”

    But 2 are not elements of the trivial group but of the semiring of natural numbers w. If you proved that for w, 1 = 0, you have proved a contradiction (since it is provably true that 1 != 0), and by the principle of explosion anything can be proved from a contradiction.

  21. JMJ: True, you didn’t say it was the only nice thing. However, equating miracles with “nice things that happen” is kind of like equating a fire cracker with an H-Bomb. Both explode. (Note: An H-Bomb may not be considered that big an explosion by some.)

    All: It is interesting reading over the comments again—the post was written by a retired physicist. That’s important, because as a physicist, he refers to miracles as being outside the explanatory power of science, something that defies all physical and scientific “laws”. On the other hand, commenters take the word to mean “super special very unusual” occurrences, more like one sees in faith healers or fundamentalist ministers. There is a third “definition” that is often used, calling virtually everything miraculous (making swordfishtrombone happy, I would think) including the “miracle of birth”, the “miracle of life”, etc. The existence of “miracles” and their significance depends very heavily on which definition is being used.

  22. Thank you Fr. Rickert for your information about the Buenos Aires Eucharistic miracles. I’ve seen the information you provided on the web, but I haven’t seen that these miracles have been confirmed by the Sacred Congregation for the Propagation of the Faith, although a more recent miracle, that at Legnicka, has been, as shown in the web site “The Real Presence”. I’ve seen criticisms of the testimony that it’s been made up on the web, that the doctors are fictitious. I’d be most grateful if you could clear up my confusion.

  23. G.Rodrigues, thanks for your comments. I was aware of various forms of non-Boolean logic (the article in the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy), but I am certainly not au courant on the mathematics. I was more less parroting what Grib wrote in his article (referenced in the link) for the Proceedings of the Conference called by Pope St. John Paul II on quantum cosmology and the laws of nature. (see http://www.ctns.org/books.html)

  24. Fr. John Rickert, FSSP

    July 2, 2016 at 11:54 pm

    +JMJ

    Greetings, Bob. Thank you for your response and let me see whether I can at least partially answer your questions. As for official recognition by the Propagation of the Faith, I honestly don’t know. The website therealpresence.org refers to the miracles in Buenos Aires here:
    http://www.therealpresence.org/eucharst/mir/engl_mir.htm
    This page has the title:

    The Eucharistic Miracles of the World
    Catalogue Book of the Vatican International Exhibition
    with a Foreword by
    The (Most Rev.) Raymond Leo Burke, D.D., J.C.D.
    Prefect of the Supreme Tribunal of the Apostolic Signatura
    Former Archbishop of Saint Louis

    More information about Dr. Ricardo Castañon:
    http://www.thedivinemercy.org/news/A-Matter-of-Faith-a-Matter-of-Fact-5114

    And about Dr. Frederick Zugibe:
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Frederick_Zugibe

    A very good video in English that includes Dr. Zugibe (if my memory is correct): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2RUvrSu6_CQ

    And an excellent video in Spanish but with English subtitles:
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qbg_dhI4XCs

    Hope this helps. God bless.

  25. Again, the question the article is supposed to be answering is, “Can a scientist believe in miracles?”

    Not, are there miracles? Or, can anyone believe in miracles?

    Simply, can scientist believe in miracles?

  26. “Andrej Grib supposes that God follows a “quantum logic”,”

    Is he trying to explain miracles using quantum mechanics?. If so, he is trying to show that the Divine Acts may be understood in physics and are actually explicable. Thus, this amounts to explain away the category of miracles as inexplicable events.

    Is you define “miracles” as events inexplicable within the natural order, then you should avoid temptation to bring in quantum mechanics, quantum logic etc.

  27. “Winning the lottery is a rare event. But if you needed to win to pay for cancer medication, then you might consider it a miracle. ”

    Which natural law is violated in this?
    This event is better regarded as provedential.

  28. Jim: We do get off-subject, don’t we?

    Mactoul: Agreed. If quantum mechanics can explain something, it wouldn’t be a miracle.

    Winning the lottery is chance, but happens often. It’s not a miracle, even if it pays for cancer treatment. If God is to invoked in the explanation, then one would have to say that God intervened and caused the cancer patient to win the lottery. Does that defy natural law? I guess it depends on what natural law is and how God accomplished the win. If the number was drawn at random, and random is not a cause, then something caused it and God may have simply utilized that method.

  29. Fr. John Rickert, FSSP

    July 4, 2016 at 12:15 pm

    +JMJ

    One more followup, a talk in English by Dr. Ricardo Castañón very much on the topic of what has been discussed here. I have not listened to the talk yet, but I intend to.

    http://www.thedivinemercy.org/videos/podcasts.php

  30. Sheri,
    In my opinion, the idea of God “utilizing some method” is always misleading.
    We can say that God acted but how he acted, if we are able to say something, then we know how that thing happened–it is explicable, and then God did not act. Of course, God is the primary author of all happenings, but I assume when one says “God acted” , one is meaning in a more direct sense of “acted”.

  31. Mactoul: To me, saying God acted means God caused something to happen and that the speaker believed that God had intervened in what could have turned out another way quite easily. For example, one’s car manages to miss hitting the tree that would have killed them. God kept the car from hitting the tree, but no physical laws were violated. I suppose one could define a miracle as anything God did and then God affecting any action would be miraculous. I don’t know. To me, a miracle was something that was so unlikely as to be impossible for humans, and God “acting” was an occurance with a low probability that occurred because God intervened. Perhaps they are the same thing, but to me, they don’t seem so. If God caused the driver of the car to suddenly pull harder on the steering wheel and miss the tree, that would not be a miracle. If God caused the car to steer itself away from the tree, that would be.
    Are you saying God causes everything that happens when you say God is the primary author of all happenings? Different interpretations abound for that statement.

  32. Sheri,
    “the speaker believed that God had intervened in what could have turned out another way”

    But is the speaker justified in believing so?

    “one’s car manages to miss hitting the tree that would have killed them. God kept the car from hitting the tree, but no physical laws were violated”

    Why invoke God here?.

    It is the inexplicablity, and not improbablity per se, that marks a miracle.

  33. Mactoul: Sorry—I must not be clearly explaining myself. “the speaker believed that God had intervened in what could have turned out another way”—is the speaker justified in believing so? I don’t know. I just know people say this all the time—God intervened. Maybe it’s wishful thinking on their part. Maybe it’s belief in the power of prayer. I don’t use the phrase very often because I don’t think God intervenes that often. I think there needs to be an actual request on the part of the person involved, as in praying for an outcome. That being said, praying for your team to win is probably not something God is going to intervene in, so there are limits. Kind of like I view luck (assuming it exists) —save these things for when you really need them, not on a daily basis.

    “Why invoke God here?” Again, I’m not calling missing the tree a miracle. I am saying that people often see the hand of God when improbable things happen. I don’t know if it’s true or not—I don’t think that believing that God had a hand is necessarily bad, unless people stop taking responsiblitiy and start saying God did it for everything, not them. You can look at it from either direction. I’m not trying to prove what God does and does not do, rather stating what people attribute to God in some cases. I can see where it could be confusing—which was the reason for the third definition from one of my previous comments “Everything is miraculous” as in births, everyday things, etc because God is involved in everything. It’s just a definition some people use. (To keep with the answer to the “can a scientist believe in miracles” question, I’m not sure if this definition is compatible with science.) Hopefully that clarifies things.

    As for miracles, yes, I agree the inexplicability marks the event as miraculous.

  34. swordfishtrombone

    July 6, 2016 at 4:04 pm

    A scientist can believe in miracles but science can’t. Science isn’t a job title it’s a process, a method of finding out how the world works. Accepting that an event is a miracle means abandoning the scientific method and giving up. This isn’t something which science should ever do, unless faced with a completely intractable problem. Suffice it to say that miracles do not qualify as such a problem.

    Having no idea what a ‘Eucharistic miracle’ was, I followed some of the links. I can only say that I personally find it difficult to believe that anyone could be convinced by such weak, largely anecdotal evidence – it’s on a par with that for UFOs, but actually less convincing due to a distinct lack of videos and photographs. For example, in one miracle, a communion wafer leaves a circular blood stain. You would think that at the very least the blood stain would have been DNA tested? If it was, there was no mention of it.

    It’s far more likely that all miracles are wishful-thinking, misinterpretations or outright fraud than that they are genuine.

  35. To Swordfishtrombone:
    Some of the eucharistic miracles have had DNA analysis, see
    http://www.churchmilitant.com/news/article/eucharistic-miracles-confirm-real-presence-of-jesus-christ
    I found this (although I had seen it previously) through a Google search
    “Eucharistic Miracles DNA”
    which, if you had a mind, you could have also. There are other instances.
    As I said in my post, the Church is very circumspect about approving such miracles; if they turn out to be due to natural causes or to fraud the Church winds up with egg on her face.
    Your comment
    “It’s far more likely that all miracles are wishful-thinking, misinterpretations or outright fraud than that they are genuine.”
    suggests a bias conforming to the aphorism
    “For those who believe, no proof is necessary; for those who do not believe, no proof is sufficient.”
    I’ll repeat my comment made in the post that Catholics are not obliged to believe in miracles other than those that are in Dogma or Doctrine, such as the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary.

  36. Hilariously supercilious title to this post. Give me a bucket. Like ‘a scientist’ actually exists as an entity. Like somebody (I take it that’ll be the Catholic Church giving permission) for sheep followers to believe in miracles. I wouldn’t like to refer to them as the uninformed masses, that might look like politics or snobbery. I’ll leave that to the days when we discuss politics.

    CS Lewis was a protestant,
    Apparently it’s only the Catholics who care about this if the first page of google is to be believed.
    However you found it necessary to point out the Catholic credentials of the others you quote.
    He was in our team, be sure an make that distinction as you normally do when the boot’s on the other foot or somebody might think you’re trying to hide the truth about a man who’s opinion you actually agree with. You naughty disobedient Catholic. Next you’ll be saying Queen Elizabeth had a point when she had bloody Mary put to death.

    The shroud of Turin was demonstrated to be a fake.
    Sad, but true. Still, the church won’t treat it as anything but a holy relic. This is the kind of dishonesty that nobody needs in any church. If they can’t be intellectually honest about that then there’s not a lot of hope for it’s having credibility throughout history when it begs higher holiness and truth.

    I see the Catholic church’s ‘rules’ on miracles as rather suspect since learning about Thomas Aquinas’s canonisation.
    Now I’m supposed to believe that somebody’s histology sample was proved to be cardiac tissue. Sorry, don’t believe it. If it happened in a hospital where I was working and I actually experienced the thing, different matter. It doesn’t matter whether I believe the same miracles as you or anybody else or why we believe it. What matters is the bible’s validity. That’s all. Nothing more, no embellishment by chosen individuals who management has ratified. That is gilding the lily. Personal revelation, personal experience and personal relationship is paramount.

    Having also read the appalling post about child abuse in the Catholic church and snivelling apologetics from commenters, there’s no longer the luxury of taking what people say on trust and faith who proclaim Catholicism as some kind of magnetic screen against all criticism. Quite the reverse, without the honesty that should attend it, it is nothing but a brittle, old, empty shell. Unless the church, and by that I mean all it’s members, can’t recognise the shortfall of each of it’s transgressions it will fail as all things grounded on fiction ultimately do.

    It’s as though Catholics are all under a spell or party to a gangster group that won’t hear it’s management criticised. It’s tribal, political, group think.

    I don’t believe a word about the histological study and the cardiac tissue.
    Sorry and all that.

    Having seen what is done by people on here when a small piece of evidence is given up in support of private revelation or even a whiff of implication about miracles I am utterly unmoved by this list of provisos or official miracles. If people who still believe in the shroud can’t take a comment seriously I call that person utterly biassed and without critical faculties.

    “Let every eye negotiate for itself and trust no agent.” Even if that eye is “Helen Keller’s” or what was it about primitive ape man Bob? A natural category bedfellow for Helen Keller. Such wisdom.

    So forgive me for mocking at you believing in the shroud of turin. After all, If it’s good for the goose, it’s good for the gander.

  37. Thank you Joy, for giving us an excellent example of uninformed vitriol.
    I’ll take the time to respond to only one of your remarks…the Shroud of Turin has not been shown to be a fake. See
    https://www.shroud.com and http://www.newgeology.us/presentation24.htmlamong many other sites.
    I’ll repeat the aphorism applied to Swordfishtrombone’s comments:
    “For those who believe, no proof is necessary; for those who don’t believe, no proof is sufficient.”
    And that will be all I have to say to you, and to others who suffer from the fault of invincible ignorance.

  38. Fr. John Rickert, FSSP

    July 8, 2016 at 3:33 pm

    Speaking of the Shroud of Turin, Juan Manuel Miñarro made a crucifix based very precisely on the Shroud. Here is one video, though others are available:
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Gs7ROjbY2nA

    A page in Spanish that discusses Miñarro’s image:
    http://ladiablesadeorihuela.blogspot.com/2013/02/cristo-segun-la-sabana-santa.html

    Joy, and anyone else to whom this applies, consider carefully what P. Jaime Balmes says: “Life is short, death is certain. Hence within a few years even a man who enjoys the most robust and youthful health will have descended into the grave, and will know from experience what truth there is in what religion says about the destinies of the other life. If I do not believe, my disbelief, my doubts, my insults, my mockery, my indifference, my insane pride will not destroy the reality of the facts. If there exists another world where rewards are reserved for the good and punishments for the evil,
    it will certainly not cease to exist simply because it pleases me to deny it.”
    El Criterio. 21.1

    You are all in my prayers.

  39. Bob,
    You know to what I refer.

    As far as miracles and faith are concerned, it is not me who requires QM to turn to the faith. Not me who needs to be told what I should and should not believe. If you give it out you have to be able to take it. As I said what’s good for the goos is good for the gander. I’ve certainly taken a bellyful on here. Perhaps because I’m the token protestant? Who knows, it’s a mystery but the clientele has certainly altered to an non gentleman’s club which explains the exodus.

    I’ve seen extensive documentaries in detail about the shroud. So your insulting me as ignorant is misplaced.

    If something is shown to be a fake why continue to believe. I believed it until logic and good sense got in the way. The man’s about sixty! Jesus was young when he died, and that’s just the beginning. Last I heard the church refuses to let the shroud be tested. I am somebody who does believe in miracles, not that one.

    I don’t need a lecture about faith from a man who found it necessary to make remarks about Helen Keller to be deliberately hurtful when you know one reader is blind. You are the one who is full of venom and yet you cowardly hide the fact. Sorry would have been a better response and not before you were forced. What is mysterious is where the venom arose and why. It was a shock to me coming from your direction. Shame on all of those who have found it necessary to do the same or similar. Not since infant school have I had that sort of nonsense thrown at me. Well there was one flight SGT in the RAF who was discharged for mocking my visual impairment. He was jealous of my pay and officer status. He forgot that the warrant officer had only one eye and a very big stick. So, you and your fellow mockers are in the same camp as Flt SGT whos’ feet were “nailed to the floor”.

    With regards to the response to Swordfishtrombone;
    The rule does not apply because if something is shown to be wrong one cannot with honesty continue to say that it is true. Given the logical findings of the investigations into the shroud you would find that the rule has found it’s limits. It works until there is unequivocal proof of the absence of miracle at which point it is redundant.

    Where there is doubt there can be faith. Where there is knowledge there is no need of faith, there is fact.
    To be clear and to prevent twisting of what I say. When I say faith I refer to faith in the particular miracle in question. This is not to say proof is NEEDED. Those were your words, not mine. It was also your post that went to great lengths to explain what kind of official ratified proof of miracle having occurred was needed.

    Everything I said was absolutely true. However you and friends were part of a group that systematically attempted and failed, to undermine and intimidate somebody why? because she is not Catholic and she is blind. Because she can give back and doesn’t cower to bullies. Bob I have met far scarier bullies in my time and unfortunately you broke your own rule when you chose to pick on me.
    You were utterly rude and deliberately and coldly so.

    As for all the comments I have ever made on here and comedy aside, the only thing I have ever said that wasn’t true painful or not was on April 1st.

    It matters not to me that Thomas Aquinas’s canonisation is suspect in particulars. What he writes can be judged and he can be appreciated on his own merits. I don’t believe man can “make” somebody a saint.
    They are recognised and decorated men and women, worthy of memorial and leave the judgement to God. This is such a small issue and yet it matters so much and it intrigues me as to why. I never even gave the matter a thought until I had reason to question, thanks to the attitudes on here.

    The ‘process’ is nothing more than a committee. A very glittery gold spangled one with brass knobs on. You can thank the atheists for bringing the truth about Thomas to the fore.
    It is dogma that created this difficulty for the church. Rather than change the rule/dogma they bent the truth .

    I never asked or told anybody to believe what I believe and I don’t care what others believe if it isn’t evil. I’m sure allowed to give my opinion after months of goading.

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