If nobody believed in superstition it would be unable to hurt anyone
HOW MIRACLES DISPROVE GOD
Religion claims that miracles have happened. Miracles are magical events such as cancers just vanishing. They are propounded by religion as evidence for the existence of God for only God can do them. A miracle is what is not naturally possible. It is a supernatural occurrence. It is paranormal.
FROM STANFORD DICTIONARY OF PHILOSOPHY
Overall (1985) argues for the ... contention that a miracle would count as evidence against the existence of God, on three grounds: (1) if order and harmony are evidence for the existence of God, then a miracle, which entails a breach in the order and harmony of the universe, must count against the existence of God; (2) the inevitable controversies over the identification and authentication of a miracle are an impediment to the growth of scientific knowledge and philosophical comprehension; and (3) an omnipotent God who does intervene in His creation would be obliged, on pain of moral defect, to intervene more often and more evenhandedly than He is supposed to have done in the Christian tradition.
These considerations have not, however, moved many philosophers to endorse Overall's position. Argument (1), besides giving a tendentious characterization of a miracle, exemplifies a fallacy in probabilistic reasoning, assuming that if F entails ~E and E is evidence for H, then F is evidence against H, which is not in general true. Claim (2) is arguably simply false, as such controversies do not appear noticeably to have impeded the progress of science or philosophy. Argument (3) will be effective against a certain sort of theological position, but it is not one that many believers in miracles actually hold. For further discussion of this issue, see the exchanges between Larmer and Overall. (Larmer 1988: 75–82, Overall 1997, Overall 2003, and Larmer 2004).
Suppose a miracle happens. All you may be able to show is that it is unexplainable and that the testimony to this is reliable. You cannot prove or give adequate evidence that God did it. All you get is an extraordinary fact. You can only guess what did it. What if it's an artificial intelligence that cannot be seen or heard just like God cannot be seen or heard? In fact, you would be entitled to make the best guess and that would be that its some kind of artificial intelligence. God is not the best guess for its going further and God is more than an intelligence and certainly would not be an artificial intelligence. It is false that miracles would show us the existence of God or that Jesus is his supernatural messenger. They would show the presence of an artificial intelligence. You don't assume your antibiotic medicine was made for you in a spaceship hovering around Mars. You assume it was made in a mundane way in our mundane world. Assume no more than you need to.
If order and harmony in creation are evidence for God then a miracle would count as evidence against the existence of God - Overall.
The Christians say a miracle should not be defined as a breach of the order in creation. But it looks as if it is even if it is not and that is all that counts. If we perceive order in the universe and take that as evidence for God, then this is based on our perception. Thus we are saying we should assume that a miracle is a breach. We perceive a miracle that way. That is what it looks like. If you perceive one then you have to perceive the other. Thus as it is all about our perception of order - and perception is what comes first - the miracle is a proof against God if its a proof at all of anything.
Christians argue that creation looks designed and the miracle looks designed too. But if people experience crazy apparitions of say Jesus with garbled incoherent messages are they going to tell us? If they do tell, they will fib that the apparition makes sense. It is only a guess that most or all miracle claims show signs of design. We see that creation looks designed. We only assume that miracles are designed. The rational person will hold that Overall is correct. The harmony should be believed in more strongly than the miracle because we see the harmony and only guess about the miracle.
Philosophers may argue that its a fallacy to think there is no designer if some things seem to not have been designed. They argue that to think everything must be designed if there is a designer is as foolish as thinking there is no artist just because a painting is incomplete.
But this overlooks the fact that God is said to be all-powerful. He can design everything.
If we assert, "Anything that looks designed is to be assumed to have a designer", then it follows that, "If the universe shows some signs of not being designed while everything else seems designed then the designer is imperfect. Or there is no designer for the undesigned bits." This alone proves that the argument, "Some design proves the existence of a perfect designer all-powerful God" is fanciful and going too far.
The inevitable controversies over the identification and authentication of a miracle are an impediment to the growth of scientific knowledge and philosophical comprehension - Overall
The Christians deny this but it is obvious that if religion is right about the duty to honour God and understand his works and miracles being the only ultimate duty or at least the principle duty then clearly it is more important to investigate an alleged miracle than a cure for cancer. It's still the principle. It calls for acceptance and obedience. Religion must be rejected for standing for evil principles EVEN if most members ignore the principles.
It is only through luck and the laziness of most believers if religion has not impeded science and medicine over miracles.
And religious philosophers and scientists HAVE wasted time on miracles. The Vatican spends a fortune on checking out miracle claims while the poor starve. And that is how it spends the Peter's Pence money it gets from the poor. It is church law that you give the Church money and its a serious sin if you would rather keep your money than give it to the upkeep of the Church.
If miracles are not signs from God or if they are nonsense then the fact that we have to address them and refute them if we can proves that there is a serious problem.
Believers chase after miracle claims without caring about the philosophy of miracles. Of course miracles have impeded knowledge. Medjugorje believers still look into the sun regardless of those who have permanently damaged their eyesight. No visionary has warned against this practice.
An omnipotent God who does intervene in His creation would be obliged, on pain of moral defect, to intervene more often and more evenhandedly than He is supposed to have done in the Christian tradition - Overall.
What should we assume in relation to all that?
He uses the word intervene. If God sets up the rules and loses control so that he has to intervene then he is not much of a God.
Suppose God should intervene more. It follows that its a pity he cannot intervene all the time. This would imply that suffering is to be seen as ultimately useless.
What if we strike out the word intervene and rephrase the argument of Overall as "An omnipotent God who does what looks magical in His creation would be obliged, on pain of moral defect, to do this more often and more even-handedly than He is supposed to have done in the Christian tradition".
If God is love we should be able to perceive it. Christians are forced to reason their way to the notion that God is love. They stress miracles as signs of divine love as if they need them to convince themselves of what they deeply down perceive as false.
If miracles are signs from God meant to indicate his true religion for us, it follows that as most of us do not have the expertise or the time to examine the issue we should be able to witness one or hear of one and know that its real and from God. This does not happen. We are forced to get the data about God and his deeds second-hand or third-hand or whatever.
Overall's argument does not specify what the moral defect would be. Would it be that God is doing a miracle to help one person and not bothering with others? Or would it be that God chooses some to witness the signs and leaves others to depend on hearsay? Or is it both?
Think of this. If I believe in miracles because of hearsay I am saying that, "I hear God has cured Johnny's deaf ear. He has not willed to cure Miley of her terminal cancer." It is said that a God curing some people of problems that are not that terrible while others suffer horrendous illnesses which brings horrendous torment on their family are not cured is not a God any decent person would worship. No decent person decides on hearsay that God cures some illnesses as a sign of his love while worse is left uncured. What would you think of a person who decided your suffering is deserved for he heard that you were a sinner? Miracles lead to our corruption and do not then show a loving God.
In the light of the fact that God should have it so that the miracle speaks of his presence and true religion plainly so that even the most naive person can understand it Overall is absolutely right about the divine moral defect.
Our conclusion can only be that Overall was right. Miracles are evidence against God if they are evidence for anything.
NEED TO PROVE GOD FIRST
The Roman Catholic Church says that miracles show that it is the only right Church. And so do the Mormons, the Pentecostals and on it goes and there is only confusion. But anyway they say that miracles are not just happenings, they take place to show us something.
The Church says that miracles are not done by God just to show off - that would be beneath him. They are done to deliver a message.
If they verify a message as true, then the message takes on the role of being God's message. Say a philosopher comes on the true doctrine of God by accident. If God appears and approves it, the doctrine then becomes God's message. A human message becomes God's when God verifies it. God delivers the message through verifying it.
A miracle such as an apparition that speaks delivers the message of God.
So it is not the miracle that is important. It is the message. The miracle only exists to deliver the message. If you need to learn that your father is sick how you get the message that he is sick is not important. What counts is the message. If God makes blood come from a statue, what is important is the message that he can do this and any other message it gives.
God shouldn't need miracles then if it is only the message that matters. Religion says our reason and power to feel are gifts from God by which he endeavours to bring us to the light of religious truth. Miracles then are evidence AGAINST God. If he had given us the intelligence to work out the message on our own in the first place miracles wouldn't be required. If he thinks he needs them then he is either stupid or showing off or both. A stupid being is not a God - he hasn't even the power to put on a better thinking cap.
God could make blood come from a statue to show you that Jesus suffered for you. To be focused on the blood coming from the statue wouldn't be right and would be missing the point. Yet that is what miracle fans run after. They go to shrines where the Mother of God is supposedly appearing because it is the miracle they are fans of. They could savour any alleged message of hers at home. Miracles then are a bad way to get the message out.
The miracle exists not to verify the message but to draw attention to the message. However, God drawing attention to the message is God saying the message is true.
Suppose I have apparitions of the Sacred Heart of Jesus.
I will only attribute them to God if I believe in God in the first place. Others would say they were tricks done by aliens and others would say they were caused by a burst of rare psychic energy, that is, psychic powers. Even if I fail all psychic tests it does not mean that once or twice in my life I may have had these powers for a while. Hallucinations can happen to fulfil some need that I may not even acknowledge and they can mimic reality and appear for no apparent reason and stop for the same. Psychic hallucinations could do the same. Others would say a mad God is doing the visions. Others would say that the spirits of the dead are doing them or that some being is trying to communicate and does not know that I am receiving the communication wrongly and seeing it as a vision of Jesus. Perhaps I am filtering it and altering it subconsciously. There are thousands of explanations. Though I cannot prove that humans have psychic powers from miracles for I cannot prove that miracles are the products of human supernatural power – for some spirits of the dead might be able to do them as a result of winning the powers after death – it is enough that we might have these abilities. There is no reason to believe in gods or higher beings so it is more plausible to believe that the clue to the mystery of miracles lies in psychic power.
We know we can prove that there is no proof for God and piles of proof against him. If there is a God he would still prove his existence somehow.
MIRACLES REFUTE THEISM
A miracle is:
1- 1 An event against the law of nature.
2- Or 2 an event that unknown natural laws perform.
This is simple, a miracle is either against nature or it is not.
The first denies that there is a God. If God sets up natural law and then changes it then clearly God didn’t set the laws up properly in the first place. If God cannot do things properly then he is not a God. He is not supreme. If God planned to change the law of nature, then it follows from his perspective that he has not changed his laws as he planned it that way all the time.
The second denies that there is any evidence for God when unknown laws could be doing the miracles.
The two definitions are the only two possible ones. Because religious leaders and theologians know that nobody rational believes in miracles, they always claim they reject these definitions. They are embarrassed by them and set out to cause confusion and to keep the wool over the eyes of the people. For example they will say that a miracle is just an act of creation by God that cannot be explained by nature. That is actually just 1 reworded. The view that God has set up laws of nature and miracles are not against these laws at all but just exceptions is another one of these reworded conjuring tricks. Exceptions only prove the rule when there is no other way but to allow an exception. Otherwise they just break the rule. The view implies that God made the laws of nature and then is forced to change them. Again we are left with a bumbling God.
David Hume said that God would not make natural laws and then change them to do a miracle if he is perfect. This is usually held to be just an assumption on the grounds that it may not be perfect to let nature alone at times. It is mistaken for an assumption. We have no free will where beliefs are concerned even if we have free will. One thought leads to another whether we like it or not and shows that our thinking is programmed. So if God does miracles he does them for nothing for he can carry out his plan by discreetly altering our beliefs instead.
Beliefs limit our options and can cause us to do good all the time even if we do have free will. We don't so it is impossible that there could be a God.
Miracles then are arbitrary acts of God. Miracles are an affront to belief in a God of holiness and perfection for he would not be perfect or competent if he did them.
Some think that God can do miracles for nothing if he wants to. They say it is rational to throw your ball into the pond simply because you want to.
God is not like us. It is rational for us to do arbitrary and pointless things for we want to do them – so they are not arbitrary or pointless in a real sense - but he does not need to behave this way. He is love so he uses his power to serve the interests of love. God cannot perform arbitrary miracles. It is okay for us to do so-called pointless things to amuse ourselves but God is perfect and happy and so has no need to amuse himself. We may waste energy when we have nothing better to do but he always has something to do. In fact we never waste energy for we always do what we would like to do under the circumstances.
Hume argued that God doing random pointless miracles is foolish. It would be insane of God to set up nature with its regular way of working and then to keep playing with it. It would be like producing a perfect painting and then doing it damage.
Some religious people would answer Hume that God did not need to make the world and the people in it but he did. So they reason that he can do miracles without need and randomly. But that contradicts the notion that God made us out of love. An entity that does not love is not a God and so you can believe in it and still be an atheist!
They deny the validity of the religious argument, "Why is there something rather than nothing? The answer is God being understood as goodness." In other words, good is a person and good has made all things and that is why there is something rather than nothing. That is what the why means. It is about the purpose. To use a creator as an explanation for why there is something is merely to talk about where things came from as opposed to the purpose of why they exist.
The view that miracles are incredible and striking coincidences has its problems. This view would say that God set it up so that the red sea would be divided naturally when Moses predicted it. But if that is true, then there is no reason for miracles to be rare and uncommon. But they are. And it is dangerous to imply that they should be. It is wanting us to be unsure despite the evidence of Johnny's guilt that he murdered his wife.
If miracles are meant to convert us to what religion calls the truth - or at least the right interpretation of God, its teachings, then why do we just do and think what will gratify us? We do not believe in religion unless we get pleasure from it - even if it is just the pleasure of believing something because you are afraid to deny it for God will get you if you do - so God should change our feelings to get us to accept doctrines for we can’t help our feelings anyway if he wants us to believe. Miracles deny that there is a God for they speak of supernatural incompetence.
Miracles evidences or proofs of divine omnipotence?
God by definition must have and be infinite power. If a miracle shows there is a power above nature to which nature is subject it does not prove that power is all-powerful or omnipotent. For example, if a statue comes to life and talks for five minutes, how you do you know that the power above nature that caused this has energy left to do other alterations? How do you know the power is God? The miracle would only show that there is enough power above nature to accomplish the miracle not that the same power can do anything bigger or create a universe. It cannot show there is a God. It in fact leaves us with no more reason to believe in God than it would if it never happened. It is not even relevant to the existence of God. A miracle is about power not love - but it is not about godlike power. Believers in miracles deceive us with their stupidity. A God who lets miracles happen is obviously hiding from us as much as one that doesn't let them happen. Miracles are not evidence for God - not even if they claim to be. Claiming to be makes them out to be purveyors of lies.
Miracles and divine love
Religion says that God is more extraordinary than any miracles he does. He is bigger than what any miracle says about him. If a miracle reveals God even darkly it is doing its best. Then in a sense it is more sacred than God. The revealer is always more important than the revealed. It is unsurprising that religion uses miracles in a sectarian way. The Hindu is happy with a statue god seeming to drink milk and not happy with the alleged spinning of the sun at Fatima by a God who opposes the worship of any other god.
If God is to be worshipped, he must be perfect love. Only perfect love can be considered worthy of love - worship means declare and see the absolute worth of. Worship and worth are related words. If God is love, he must sacrifice himself. Love is sacrifice in the sense that you work for the wellbeing of another without knowing with absolute certainty that you are doing the right thing. Maybe the love will be wasted or you end up depriving yourself for another. You love then in spite of the fact that it might not be best for you. That is a fact, that is the truth. If you love in spite of the truth then love means you do not fully respect yourself. You reduce your dignity for the sake of others. If you love because of the truth then you clearly ask (not necessarily want) to be abused and disrespected and you love so that these might happen. So love is imperfect. Thus the notion of miracles giving us a God of perfect love is absurd for such love is absurd. And God cannot sacrifice for he sees the future and knows the response he will get. He must love in spite of the truth that it will be disparaged by many and because of it. And God cannot deprive himself. If miracles give us a perfect God then that perfect God cannot be the real God if there is one. Miracles disprove God in the sense that they give us a God who cannot exist. Prayer is disgraceful for it is worshipping a God who gets more honour than he deserves. You demean yourself by worshipping him.
Miracles are evidence against God for they do a better job of leading us away from sense than leading us to him. God gave us sense if he exists. To go away from it is to go away from him. Miracles do not deserve the esteem and reverence lavished on them. They do not intend our edification but our religious destruction. They at best are irrelevant to the question of the existence of God.
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
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
Philosophy of Religion for A Level, Anne Jordan, Neil Lockyer and Edwin Tate, Nelson Throne Ltd, Cheltenham, 2004
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 Reality of God and the Problem of Evil, Brian Davies, Continuum, London-New York, 2006
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