If nobody believed in superstition it would be unable to hurt anyone

 

MIRACLES ARE NOT SIGNS
 
The Roman Catholic Church using its claimed infallibility at Vatican I, Session 3, The Dogmatic Constitution on the Catholic Faith, Chapter 3, “On Faith,” declared:


Canon 3 - If anyone says that divine revelation cannot be made credible by external signs, and that therefore men and women ought to be moved to faith only by each one’s internal experience or private inspiration: let him be anathema.

 

Canon 4 - If anyone says that all miracles are impossible, and that therefore all reports of them, even those contained in sacred scripture, are to be set aside as fables or myths; or that miracles can never be known with certainty, nor can the divine origin of the Christian religion be proved from them: let him be anathema.

 

From http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/10338a.htm -

 

The word semeion means "sign", an appeal to intelligence, and expresses the purpose or final cause of the miracle. A miracle is a factor in the Providence of God over men. Hence the glory of God and the good of men are the primary or supreme ends of every miracle. This is clearly expressed by Christ in the raising of Lazarus (John 11), and the Evangelist says that Jesus, in working His first miracle at Cana, "manifested his glory" (John 2:11). Therefore the miracle must be worthy the holiness, goodness, and justice of God, and conducive to the true good of men. Hence they are not performed by God to repair physical defects in His creation, nor are they intended to produce, nor do they produce, disorder or discord; do they contain any element which is wicked, ridiculous, useless, or unmeaning. Hence they are not on the same plane with mere wonders, tricks works of ingenuity, or magic. The efficacy, usefulness, purpose of the work and the manner of performing it clearly show that it must be ascribed to Divine power. This high standing and dignity of the miracle is shown, e.g., in the miracles of Moses (Exodus 7-10), of Elias (1 Kings 18:21-38), of Eliseus (2 Kings 5). The multitudes glorified God at the cure of the paralytic (Matthew 9:8), of the blind man (Luke 18:43), at the miracles of Christ in general (Matthew 15:31, Luke 19:37), as at the cure of the lame man by St. Peter (Acts 4:21). Hence miracles are signs of the supernatural world and our connection with it.
 
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A miracle is what is not naturally possible. It is a supernatural occurrence. It is paranormal.
 
Even if you do not believe in the supernatural, some things cannot be explained. Believers in miracles may assume that some of these things are miracles. Something being unexplained or unexplainable does not entitle you to assume a miracle has happened. If a miracle is a sign then it is a sign that you are entitled. But that is a lie. You are not. Regard the miracle as a lie if it pretends to be a sign or otherwise regard it as a mere random fluke and not a sign.

Christians pretend that they regard miracles as evidences of God’s action in the world and that God does them to provide evidence to attract us to his Church and to believe what it believes.

 

This view is sectarian through and through. It is intrinsically bigoted and about using doctrine to cause division and arrogance wherein members of a religion will consider themselves superior to members of another and seek to rival it. What is wrong with it? If there is a God, we should be getting to know him through a relationship with him. But the notion that God wants us merely to accept truths about him implies he is keeping distant from us. The true Christian if he exists has a relationship with God and not with the words about God or the doctrines about God or the books or Bibles about God. Knowing Annie is a nice person is no good. You need to bond and relate with her. And so it is with God. While a relationship with God will help us see the truths about him, it does not follow that the relationship is merely about doctrine. If it were it would not be a relationship. If miracles are signs, they are not signs from God. It is outrageous that people will flock to miracle sites instead of trying to relate to God in their hearts.

 

Miracle believers sometimes say that miracles are real but add that they don't know which ones are real or not. They say many of the miracle testimonies might be based on wishful thinking. This is a fair point because only witnesses can know or should know if the miracles are convincing or if wishful thinking played a role. This means you cannot depend on miracles as signs when you don't know for sure what miracles really are miracles! It would mean you do not believe miracles can happen or are real but are only guessing it.

 

The teaching that faith in God or the knowledge of God is to be a relational matter implies that those who do not believe are deliberately darkening their minds and hearts. In Romans 1 Paul states that creation shows what God is like. It shows his nature. Romans 1 is about what God has shown everybody in general of his nature. It is not about nature showing the existence of God. To accuse people who do not believe in the Christian or Jewish version of God of acting in bad faith is vile sectarian arrogance. Augustine and Calvin argued that the knowledge of what God is like is innate. They followed the teaching of Romans 1 where idolaters are not condemned for thinking there is no God but for seeing what he is like and ignoring it. Paul in Romans 1:28 says the idolaters did not see fit to recognise God meaning it was their own fault. Verse 25 says that idolatry is simply preferring what you want to believe about the divine to the actual truth.

 

Jesus himself said in Luke 16:31 that if people will not believe the call to repentance made in the bible word of God that a man rising from the dead to tell them to repent will not do them any good. He implied that any miracles would be useless. Imagine then how useless Catholic miracles are as signs for the Catholics state that you do not have to believe in them and you can be a good Catholic and debunk them.

 

Natural theology insists that God has given us the rational powers to work out that he probably exists and that we should have a relationship with him. Christians object that it leaves us to find God rather than God finding us. But our reason could be interpreted as a gift or grace from God. It could be thought that he guides it. Miracles demand natural theology in the sense that you have to reason from miracles to the existence of God. Miracles seem pointless for if God helps our reasoning then we should not need them but find nature to indicate the existence of God. Religion complains that natural theology tends to be too optimistic about the human power to learn of the probability of God and to prepare for relating to him. It is too optimistic then about human nature. But surely it is better to listen to reason than to feelings or to what we think we experience in terms of a relationship with God? If reason has dangers the others have bigger dangers. Christians say natural theology is about finding God without his aid and thus it is arrogant. But there is more arrogance in believing in God because you think he is inspiring you than in you trying to find out about him with your unaided powers. If we have to work out God's existence from his miracles and do it without his aid, then that is just natural theology we are doing. If it is bad then miracles are bad.

 

The Bible insistence that we must live by faith and not by sight (2 Corinthians 5:7) tells us not to seek wonders or grand experiences of God and says that anything based on anything other than pure trust in Jesus is a sin.

 

God, if wholly good and wholly powerful, does not do miracles to fix things he has got wrong. He does them as signs of his love and presence and to teach us and inspire us. Religion says that God being almighty does not make mistakes so miracles, changing the way nature works say by making the Virgin Mary appear, are done to make people see what the true religion is. God doesn’t need to do miracles except as signs. So a miracle can only happen because God is desperate and at the end of his tether to get people to believe and convert. But the very fact that he needs miracles to persuade people shows that he does make mistakes. If he had organised the spread of the word of God better and made people brighter and more interested, just by giving us the same brain faculties that very religious people have that cause their religiosity, when it comes to religion more than anything else there would be no need for the miracles for after all the faith has to make sense and be the most credible faith on earth for otherwise all the miracles of the day are of no assistance.

 

Religion uses miracles as evidence for the truth of its claims. If a miracle happens in a religion it is said that it is intended by God to indicate that the religion is his one true religion. Others argue that God can do a miracle in any religion for the miracle is about confirming the truths in that religion which is not the same thing as saying the religion is the only true religion. It could be argued that the apparition of Our Lady of Lourdes only verifies the Catholic devotion to Mary and the rosary and the sinlessness of Mary but not the Catholic faith as a whole. This view is unpopular for it leads to confusion among believers. It would make more sense for God to use miracles to promote the religion that teaches the truth faithfully and without error rather than specific doctrines as such.

 

Miracles should be rare. If a miracles are signs from God, then only one good and well-attested sign is necessary. God doing more signs would imply that God has a lack of confidence. People are comforted by miracles and that is strange for they imply that if there is a God then he is a bungler.

 

A miracle cannot prove God's existence unless a non-miracle does it too. Think of it this way. You have to believe that nature works a certain way - eg stones don't come to life - in order to recognise a miracle - the temporary change in the way it works. So unless you see non-miracles as the work of God you cannot see the miracle as the work of God. It follows then that a miracle is useless as propaganda. A miracle does nothing to show that God exists any more than a non-miracle does. So the miracle is pointless. No decent God will manipulate our stupidity and desire for religious thrills by doing miracles to convert us for they only make us worse.

 

Religion says that miracles are a sign that its doctrines are true. For example, in Catholicism it is said that God does miracles to draw people to the Catholic faith, the one true faith. People have a liking for believing in magic. That is the attraction. They like to be astonished. How the Church can say miracles are signs when miracle fans and pilgrims to miracle sites will respond to them superstitiously shows it finds no shame in lying outright. Miracles imply approval for superstition.

 

Not all miracles claim to be signs. Miracles such as blood oozing from communion wafers are not edifying but disgusting and sinister and shocking.

Why would God heal people miraculously at Lourdes to show that Mary appeared there? The miracle itself and the meaning are often disputed. God should only do miracles that verbally communicate a message. That makes things clearer.

 

The Church says it regards miracles as signs from God and that it believes he uses them to teach us some truths. It does not believe that for it makes up its mind first and then looks for miracles that seem to support what it wants to believe. If God goes along with that then miracles are not signs. Many forms of religion use miracles as evidence for the truth of their claims. Miracles are not evidence for religion being true or for the existence of God. Why? Because we don’t really know what they are evidence for - if anything!

 

If miracles are meant to convert us to what religion calls the truth, its teachings, then why do we just do and think what will gratify us? We do not believe in anything unless we get pleasure from it so God should change our feelings to get us to accept doctrines for we can’t help them anyway if he wants us to believe. Miracles deny that there is a God for they speak of supernatural incompetence.
 
If miracles are signs telling us what doctrines are true or approved by God, it follows then that if miracles are signs we should look to see if the doctrines they bolster are true. THEN we should check if the miracles are real and verify them. This is never done.
 
What religion is doing is this, "Miracles show us the faith is true" which translates as, "Miracles show us the faith is true and the faith is true for miracles say so." That is a totally irrational vicious circle.
 
Philosophers say that if miracles happen they must be done for some good purpose and as signs to draw people to the truth. But the Bible contradicts this with silly unnecessary miracles taking place. E.g.: Balaam’s donkey speaking. And if that is not bad enough the Catholic Church tells us that Jesus' mother appeared at Lourdes a number of times and gave no message and just kept Bernadette looking at her.
 
Miracles do not square with the view that God does good just because he is good. They do not make much of an effort to show goodness directly. For example, is it really good for John to be instantly cured of cancer when he might take a worse illness later? What good does putting stigmata wounds on Padre Pio do? The goodness must be shown clearly and directly and in such a way that nobody can deny the obvious goodness. Instead we get miracle reports and Christians are forced to speculate about in what way they show short-term and long-term good. And nobody agrees on what the goodness is. It's rationalisation.
 
The evidence we look for is the evidence for the direct goodness in the miracle. The case for it being supernatural should come second. If miracles are really about God giving us good example and edifying us that is the way it has to be. Religion cares about supporting the view that the miracles are supernatural or proving the miracles supernatural. And even then, its only some of the alleged miracles that suit its claims that its the true religion that it wants to check.
 
Christians and Muslims and Jews claim that they are systems of faith. They claim that those who dispute their claims are also depending on faith. Which faith then is the most reasonable? The one that refuses to easily believe in miracles, secularism. Because if these are all different systems of faith then it follows that the one that suits our experience best is the reasonable one. When nature goes on its normal way and cows don’t give birth to pigs and statues don’t bleed it follows that we should believe in secularism for all forms of faith cannot be equally reasonable or good.
 
The central message of miracle, according to the Church, is that prayer is needed and miracles are said to happen in response to prayer. Miracles would be meaningless and just curiosities unless they invited and claimed justification for prayer. But prayer is evil. Prayer has insulting implications. Read the relevant pages on www.miraclesceptic.com . If miracle justifies prayer then there is nothing more to be said. Miracle is poison and whatever is responsible is evil. Whatever is evil is hardly a good source of information!
 
We have to assume that miracles don't happen until we see evidence that they do.
 
We have enough to be afraid of without introducing the supernatural. It is something extra to be worried about. We have burglars and terrorists to frighten us so why would we want to believe in evil spirits?
 
The Church says that miracles are to be defined as events that the laws of nature cannot do meaning that God (or a being he has empowered) could do them. The arrogance and deception of this definition is plain for the Church claims to know that nature cannot have the freak laws to create seeming miracles and to know that God is the only explanation when he is really just one of many. The Church would need to be scientifically omniscient to achieve all that knowledge. Yet what other definition can the Church choose for the Church says miracles are signs from God that point us to the things he has revealed in religion? To say miracles are a suspension of the laws of nature is still saying they are against nature because natural law is not supposed to be changeable. Besides if you unfairly dismiss a pupil from your school against the rules, you cannot say you are suspending the rule not breaking it. Same difference. To settle for saying that miracles are just inexplicable occurrences means you cannot know if they are supernatural or from God or not for inexplicable does not necessarily mean supernatural. Lightning was inexplicable to cavemen but now we know that it is not supernatural.
 
Using miracles as pointers to the true gospel results only in chaos for competing miracle claims can and do cancel each other out. Anybody could fake a few books that they perhaps said they transcribed from an angel in visions that speak of another dying and resurrecting saviour who condemns Jesus as a fake and seem credible for the same reasons that religious nuts say they find the gospels credible. All they need then is a few sworn affidavits from two or three others who are generally trusted but who have a crafty side to say the angelic visitations occurred. It isn’t overly hard to authenticate false miracles for we authenticate loads of things that are not true. Those who say miracles authenticate their religion are simply telling you to trust them and nobody else which is thoroughly nasty.
 
The Church lies about miracles being signs from God that Christianity is the true faith. The Church says we cannot dismiss miracle reports as mistakes or lies or the meanderings of deranged minds for that would be like saying human testimony is worthless. And then the Church turns a blind eye to the fact that most miracle reports, for example, alien abductions and ghosts, indicate that miracles are just freak events that happen without a purpose for that denies its dogma that miracles are signs. Reliance on miracles as signs is a sign for only two things: arrogance and deceitfulness. With these nice attributes the Church cannot be trusted in verifying miracles.
 
It is sectarian arrogance to say that miracles which indicate that say the Roman Catholic Church is true are real miracles while the ones reported by rival religions are trickery. To say miracles are pointers to the truth is saying just that. It is also arrogance to say that miracles point to the one true faith because there would be many unreported miracles that do not support this faith. Frankly, anybody using miracles to make his religion win the argument is a liar.
 
There are many miracles that refute the view that miracles are meant to be signs. The “Floating Wonder” Reynard Beck astounded America in the nineteenth century with floating in mid-air. No expert was able to debunk him or catch him out hoaxing. He even vanished in such a manner that it appeared that he had floated up to the sky and died. He is one of millions of examples of a miracle report that is better verified than any Catholic or Christian miracle, which indicate that miracles are freaks of nature. He did better than the witnesses of Mary at Fatima and the witnesses of Jesus risen from the dead. Why? For all one had to do to see his miracle was go to see him and so one was not dependent on witnesses one didn’t even know personally. You need to refute all the miracles like Reynard Beck that say miracles are just freaks of nature before you can dare to use your miracles as evidence for your religion being true for the simple reason that they cannot be evidence until the evidence that miracles are not signs is dealt with. Until that is done – and nobody and no Church has done it - nobody can let miracles dictate to them what they should believe. But the trouble is the case against miracles being signs is stronger than the case for them being signs simply because there are more miracles that are freaks of nature than ones that seem to be signs. Miracles then that are supposed to be signs do nothing but increase human arrogance and duplicity and all the evil things that go with them. That is all they are for.
 
If religion is right that miracles are signs of God's love then the following mystery occurs. Why is Johnnie boy cured of paralysis and why is toddler Tanya who is dying of lung cancer overlooked? Obviously religion has to say that God puts himself and his own will first. So they will have to say miracles back up the doctrine that God should be put first by me even if it means I have to endure extreme torment forever to help others. Do miracles seem as attractive now?
 
When miracles are so needless and therefore ridiculous and ridiculous in their own right they make us less sure that a person found guilty of murder really did it for a demon or something could have pretended to be him and did it and that is bad for the surer you are of something so serious the better. The less miracles people believe in the better and why we must try to find alternative explanations remembering that if there is any doubt that a supernatural event has happened we must not believe in it for if we start preferring supernatural explanations when we can do without them we will have to believe anything at all to be consistent. Human testimony alone can verify a miracle. If ten people see a miracle and one liar says they are frauds then we can’t believe in the miracle even if he is a liar for we don’t know if he is and God wasted his time.

If a miracle is a sign from Heaven that a doctrine is true and tests persuade you that a miracle has taken place, then you believe the miracle happened more strongly than you believe the message. The message cannot be tested like that and you can’t prove the message was given as reported. And even a miracle cannot guarantee that the message was true just like even a driving licence doesn’t prove you are a good driver. When miracles are more interested in getting you to believe in miracles than in the message it is clear that miracles are just a deity childishly showing off. The answer that God can’t do anything else and that it is a Hobson’s Choice is wrong for there are plenty of other easier bad ways to get a message across.
 
If miracles are signs confirming the truth you have to work out this truth theologically first. You have to work out the theology without obvious miracles but with the help of the inspiration of God before a miracle can verify it so what do you need miracles for? Even miracles cannot make nonsense to be non-nonsense so their message needs independent checking. So miracles are random and arbitrary though they don’t look it. Therefore man who says he did not kill his wife though he was caught holding the gun and that the gun miraculously fired could be telling the truth. Miracles weaken our faith in human testimony – the very thing they depend on! (They contradict themselves!) If you assume that miracles like that don’t happen then you are saying you will only believe miracles if they fit your presuppositions which is very biased and unfair and dishonest. It would not be right to jail that man if there is any doubt of his guilt so your belief in miracles gets you marked as an evil person if you do.
 
Christians believed in what their religion said were miracles so they were believing the religion more than God. There is a difference between trusting in God and in trusting in God because of the Church. So miracles are not about helping God get converts but to get the Church more power.
 
If the Turin Shroud and the image of Our Lady of Guadalupe are miraculous then they should be burned. If tests show that the children of Medjugorje are seeing something then they should not be disclosed to the public.
 
Christians say miracles call you to obey the Christian faith with its doctrine of the cross and heroic self-sacrifice. All miracles are malignant and unfair because you are surer that pain exists than you are that a miracle happened and miracles call you to suffering on the grounds of religious faith. All religions say you have to suffer to obey them, so you undergo what is certain, namely suffering, for what is of inferior certainty, namely faith. This is still true if you have seen the miracle yourself. The miracle asks you to trust in a revelation suggesting that we need help from above to determine right and wrong and cannot do it ourselves meaning doing what you are told matters more than stopping pain even if you are told to stop pain. It is even worse to take a miracle or revelation seriously when you have not seen it so people reporting miracles are trying to make you evil. Miracles that look for a big focus such as the resurrection of Jesus are vile when we consider that the miracle of a truly rotten life seeing transformation into one of remarkable philanthropy is far more important.
 
The miracles of Christianity are alleged to be the best verified and the Christians boast about their investigative scientific approach. These miracles are supposed to bolster the evidence for Christianity. But Christianity’s main doctrine teaches that the resurrection of Jesus was the supreme and therefore the best verified miracle ever which is not true. There are many miracles which have better evidence than four short books (the four gospels) of unknown authorship with loads of gaps and twelve witnesses whose alleged deaths by martyrdom we can know nothing about for sure. No God would raise Jesus who was so evil that he claimed that sinners who die will go to Hell forever. We see and touch one another and we cannot be as sure as that that God exists and yet we are expected to have faith that people we know can go to Hell and this should be approved of all for this God. When Christian miracles verify error, nonsense and doctrinal contradictions it is clear that miracles are not signs and should not be considered as such. Naturally, modern miracles would be more credible for people know human nature better and know science better these days.
 
Religion just assumes that God would not deceive through or in his miracle signs. You know it is bad to trust anyone without knowing a bit about them first so miracles are bad. A stranger who asks for trust except in an emergency is up to something. Yet miracles are the only way God can talk and when they happen so rarely and are hard to verify it follows that we cannot trust God. He might be trustworthy but we don’t know that. When you see a miracle you should get evidence that God can be trusted before you trust it for you have no evidence that it can be trusted. Some people say you should assume when somebody tells you something that it is true even when there is no evidence that the person is being truthful. But that is what you are doing, assuming not trusting or believing – assuming is trusting yourself not the other person and not trusting yourself to be right about what is being assumed but to be doing the right thing. If you assume A and B follows from A and you say you believe B it follows that you do not believe B at all for when its foundation A is an assumption it must be one too. No God is going to do miracles to have us assume that he tells the truth. He’d want better than that when he goes to the bother of doing miracles. If miracles act as evidence and just get us to assume then they are failures and are not done to convert us at all. If miracles lead us to assume that religion is true then they hamper the faith that the Bible asks for and they do what the Devil wants – to destroy faith and loyalty to God. Who do you think then is doing them now?
 
To believe in miracles as signs is evil and a thoughtless insult against all who live on this planet and any God out there if there is one. Miracles or supernatural events are hopeless when it comes to searching for support for any dogma or system in them.

Further Reading ~
 
A Christian Faith for Today, W Montgomery Watt, Routledge, London, 2002
Answers to Tough Questions, Josh McDowell and Don Stewart, Scripture Press, Bucks, 1980
Apologia, Catholic Answers to Today’s Questions, Fr Marcus Holden and Fr Andrew Pinsent, CTS, London, 2010
Apparitions, Healings and Weeping Madonnas, Lisa J Schwebel, Paulist Press, New York, 2004
A Summary of Christian Doctrine, Louis Berkhof, The Banner of Truth Trust, London, 1971
Catechism of the Catholic Church, Veritas, Dublin, 1995
Catholicism and Fundamentalism, Karl Keating, Ignatius Press, San Francisco, 1988
Enchiridion Symbolorum Et Definitionum, Heinrich Joseph Denzinger, Edited by A Schonmetzer, Barcelona, 1963
Looking for a Miracle, Joe Nickell, Prometheus Books, New York, 1993
Miracles, Rev Ronald A Knox, Catholic Truth Society, London, 1937
Miracles in Dispute, Ernst and Marie-Luise Keller, SCM Press Ltd, London, 1969
Lourdes, Antonio Bernardo, A. Doucet Publications, Lourdes, 1987
Medjugorje, David Baldwin, Catholic Truth Society, London, 2002
Miraculous Divine Healing, Connie W Adams, Guardian of Truth Publications, KY, undated
New Catholic Encyclopaedia, The Catholic University of America and the McGraw-Hill Book Company, Inc, Washington, District of Columbia, 1967
Raised From the Dead, Father Albert J Hebert SM, TAN, Illinois 1986
Science and the Paranormal, Edited by George O Abell and Barry Singer, Junction Books, London, 1981
The Demon-Haunted World, Carl Sagan, Headline, London, 1997
The Book of Miracles, Stuart Gordon, Headline, London, 1996
The Case for Faith, Lee Strobel, Zondervan, Grand Rapids, Michigan, 2000
The Encyclopaedia of Unbelief Volume 1, Gordon Stein, Editor, Prometheus Books, New York, 1985
The Hidden Power, Brian Inglis, Jonathan Cape, London, 1986
The Sceptical Occultist, Terry White, Century, London, 1994
The Stigmata and Modern Science, Rev Charles Carty, TAN, Illinois, 1974
Twenty Questions About Medjugorje, Kevin Orlin Johnson, Ph.D. Pangaeus Press, Dallas, 1999
Why People Believe Weird Things, Michael Shermer, Freeman, New York, 1997

THE WEB

The Problem of Competing Claims by Richard Carrier
www.infidels.org/library/modern/richard_carrier/indef/4c.html