If nobody believed in superstition it would be unable to hurt anyone
NEED TO SEE A MIRACLE YOURSELF TO BELIEVE
Miracles are events like magic. Religion says God does them. God makes all things out of nothing so he can do them. Making things out of nothing is a miracle.
Nobody has the right to ask you to believe in a miracle unless you can see it for yourself. You would be demeaning your reason and yourself by doing what they ask.
Religion contends that God has set up laws of nature. At certain times, he will do things such as make a dead man live that seem to go against these laws. Why the change? Because he wants to use the event to communicate something religiously significant. In other words he uses miracle as a sign that he exists and as a teaching tool.
A miracle is what is not naturally possible. It is a supernatural occurrence. It is paranormal.
Now we all know that there has to be some things we must see ourselves before we can be asked to believe in them. If a miracle appeared saying that Ron Hubbard was God and that we must all eat frog spawn to gain his salvation, religion would say we should not believe in the message for its ridiculous. If we should not believe even when we see such a miracle, then clearly religion is saying there has to be things we must see ourselves before we can believe in them.
If miracles do not fall into that category then what does?
We hear that we should see extraordinary evidence for extraordinary claims. I would clarify it. Miracles are extraordinary claims. The only evidence that would be enough would be seeing or experiencing the miracle. I would say that miracles are so unusual that you should only believe in them if you see them yourself. Take the miracle of Jesus coming back to life. This would require that you feel for Jesus’ pulse, see him buried, sit by his tomb to make sure there is no funny business, see the body missing and know that nobody stole it, and then finally see Jesus and touch him. That is not biased. It’s the same principle as, “Don’t accuse Johnny of stealing from your kitchen unless you see him doing it.” We are not asking for miraculous evidence for a miracle. Should we be though???????
Catholicism has tons of miracles which are as believable as the ones it accepts, but which it has never accepted though it could for it accepts very very few. God will always guide a religion to accept a sign that is real. He will not do a miracle just for the benefit of a few witnesses but for the Church and it would be silly to just worry about a few. He knows that it is better for you to see a miracle yourself than to listen to somebody else testify to one for seeing it yourself is listening to him and trusting in him rather than trusting in a person to reveal God which is idolatrous.
Miracles which convey a false message are in the majority showing that no miracles are signs.
To say that you can only believe in a miracle if you see it yourself is not to say you should believe in the religion it allegedly verifies. A God who shows his wonders to so few could not deserve to be called honest or reliable or sensible so the miracle would verify nothing except his stupidity.
Keep in mind that a miracle you see yourself has more importance than one that is just reported by others for it is more certain. For example, if you see a miracle that has been done to prove that Jesus never rose from the dead – it might be a hoax and it might not be but if you cannot refute it you have to believe it even more than you would have to believe in the resurrection of Jesus. Jesus commanded that dissent from his teaching and the authenticity of his miracles was to be forbidden. Thus it follows that the miracle of the resurrection of Jesus forbids you to believe in what you see. Accordingly, the miracle of the resurrection was a dishonest miracle and by no means can it be considered to be a reliable marker of the true gospel. It follows that if you have a friend who testifies to a miracle you know that friend better than the apostles - the witnesses to Jesus Christ and his powers - so the friend comes first even if he or she contradicts them. So even when miracles seem to point in the one direction they point in every direction but that. They are useless as signs. The Bible says that God is not a God of confusion. He is a God of confusion and division and altercation if the doctrine that he causes miracles is right.
It is no answer to say that a miracle never refuted the resurrection. The stubborn dogmatic attitude is still there. Miracles mixed up with dogma cook up only bigoted vice. And loads of miracles have refuted the resurrection. We know that.
The idea that Jesus can appear to you and tell you that he rose again as the apostles testified is full of problems. He is asking you to believe not because of the vision you see but because the apostles said he rose. He is asking you to prefer an ancient testimony to what your eyes see and what your ears hear. In fact, he may be saying the apostles were truthful but if you think about it the fact that he is appearing in a miracle shows that he holds that they were not! A reliable miracle or testimony will not run down your own experience and demote it.
The Church claims that miracles outside the Bible are not binding for belief while the ones in the Bible are. That makes no sense. A miracle is a miracle. Now if you see Our Lady that is the miracle you have to have more faith in than the Bible miracle of Jesus rising from the dead. The miracle destroys your Christianity for it gives you a semblance of faith but which is not the real thing. Your faith is far more in what you have seen not in the resurrection that you are supposed to regard as one of the essential truths that God has revealed.
Trickery can be used to produce a fake miracle that ends up being authenticated and accepted as true by the Church. Scientists have been frequently fooled because they don’t know the secrets of high-level stage magicians. God would respond by doing the miracle of exposing it fast if miracles were intended to be evidence and if he were honest. But this does not happen. And even when it does, not everybody is satisfied. Miracles testified to by people you know come before the likes of Lourdes and Fatima and ones you see yourself come before the ones these people report. So if they or you are or could be deluded by the staged miracles what use are any miracles? It is faith in men and women and not in God. If I know of a million people seeing visions of Mary and somebody tricks me with a miracle done before my very eyes that says they were liars then I have to believe the miracle and deny the visions.
David Hume said we could believe in a miracle only if the people lying or being wrong would presuppose a bigger miracle. People who don’t believe in miracles say that it has never been known for it to be more miraculous for people to be lying or mistaken than for them to have experienced what they said they experienced.
David Hume was right that a miracle is such a strange event that it needs better evidence than anything else would need for the stranger and more unlikely the event looks from our perspective (after all only a handful see miracles) the more evidence we justly require for it. For example, suppose a bizarre natural event like a volcano starting up in your garden you would need to see it with your own two eyes rather than believe even reliable people when they tell you about it. You can’t risk making a fool of yourself or of truth by believing them. This is far more true of a miracle which is a crazier event. Nobody has the right then to ask you to believe in their testimony that a miracle happened for when nature works according to fixed laws nearly all of the time if not all and a miracle changes that law then the miracle is a very unlikely event.
If a God does a miracle as sign, he will want you to believe the message it gives because of him not because of other people. No loving God wants you to have to depend too much on the word of man - especially when man's religious record is not good. You will see the miracle yourself. Basing your concept of God on other people means you are devising a God based on the word of man. It is looking at God through the distorted and faulty vision of others instead of looking for the real God.
It is silly to imagine God would have you taking other people's word for it that a miracle happened because he does not want to force you to believe. It is as silly as saying he keeps things from being proven because there is goodness in you believing good things without proof. So God must ruin and hide evidence and proof for the true doctrine to facilitate this! Such an idea is outrageous and insane.
Some would even praise believing without any proper evidence. But evidence is a good thing! The good person puts evidence first!
The argument that God keeps the evidence from his people so that they might just believe is just an excuse for the fact that nearly every believer has to depend on hearsay to believe in miracles. Knowing the right thing to do and doing it does not and cannot make the person who only thinks or believes it is the right thing to do and who does it better than you. It is intention that matters not what you know. It is not about what you know but about what is in your heart. Your knowing that Christianity is true can help you be a happy good person of your own volition. Christians praise the uncertainty of their miracles and thus contradict the truth: knowledge and love can serve each other and often do and depending on faith not knowledge to be good is overrated and often dangerous. Their belief about miracles is a bad thing. Badly verified miracles are therefore toxic for they enable all that nonsense.
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
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 Problem of Competing Claims by Richard Carrier