A CATHOLIC'S THOUGHTS ON MIRACLES AND MY RESPONSE

Source: The Third Day by Arnold Lunn

MY FOREWORD

Miracle read like magic under another name which is why they raise concerns.  In fact while Catholicism will present apparitions and cures and signs of the love of God, most people read magic and occultism into this and are emboldened to promote irresponsible harmful unscientific nonsense.  Mary Baker Eddy the founder of Christian Science would say that the cures were down to people secretly using her method.  She taught that sickness and death are only in the mind and when you see that you become healthy.

Lunn weakly tries to argue that a miracle is like putting out your hand to stop an apple falling to the ground.  But using your hand is natural and within nature.  If he is saying that a miracle is an unknown law of nature then there are no miracles.  We should regard a rose bush flowering as better than Jesus rising from the dead for we can see the rose bush and surely one miracle is not really more convincing than another?  He defines a miracle as an act of creation but that only underlines this point.  Despite saying a miracle is not a violation of nature he then goes on to say that it is.  He cites Mill saying that God's will working on nature and interfering is not an exception to natural law any more than us doing that with our will is.  None of this is coherent.  Plus he dismisses the miracles of seance room as not miracles for they are not using God.  But mediums always claimed the spirits were given the power to manifest by God. 

Lunn seems to sense that you cannot show a miracle is a special act of creation by God that is meant to stand out.  It might stand out but that does not mean it is meant to.  The fact is that something you cannot imagine might have suspended Jesus' life so that he appeared dead and healed him rapidly so he could present himself three days after his crucifixion.  You never know if a resurrection ever happened.  Nobody can show that even if the data says Jesus came back that we should probably say he was raised from the dead.  There is no probably.  There is only a possibly maybe.  The individual is taking an arrogant leap and didn't Jesus forbid pride?

He says Lourdes, the healing shrine of France, does not spread disease.  And yet Lourdes had to close for the COVID 19 virus spread there.  And people were getting sick after going home from Lourdes and Lourdes just argued that it had nothing to do with the shrine.  How could it know that?

Lourdes became famous after the apparitions of 1858.  The vision never promised cures and the Church regards only a small number as true miracles that cannot be explained by nature.

CITATIONS FROM THE BOOK

A miracle is not the violation of a law of Nature. An apple falls from the branch of a tree towards the grass immediately below. Science insists that this apple will inevitably reach the ground unless an agent arrests its passage through the air. I put out my hand and catch the apple. No law of Nature is violated. The law of gravitation, for instance, continues to operate, and produces on my outstretched hand the sensation of weight, as the hand checks the downward flight of the apple. All that has happened is that my human will has modified some of the effects which normally follow when an apple falls to the ground.

A miracle might be defined as the modification of the normal course of Nature by divine will. That there is no "a priori" objection to miracles is conceded by the eminent agnostic, John Stuart Mill. "The interference", he writes, "of human will with the course of Nature is not an exception to law: and by the same rule interference by the divine will would not be an exception, either."

A miracle is a form of divine creative activity. "The 'a priori' arguments against theism, and, given a deity, against the possibility of creative acts," wrote T. H. Huxley, "appear to me devoid of reasonable foundation."

Chapter I, Page 6. Miracles

A Catholic would define a miracle "As an event above, or contrary to, or exceeding nature which is explicable only as the direct act of God." The supernormal phenomena of the seance room would not be recognized by Catholics as genuine miracles because they attribute them not to God but to demoniac agencies. Miracles, writes Mgr. R. A. Knox, in the C.T.S. pamphlet from which I have already quoted, "are a message addressed from God to Man. And although they may have various secondary purposes—the relief of human pain, the satisfaction of human needs, the vindication of innocence against justice, and so on—they have all one primary purpose, and that is to be an evidence—if the word had not become vulgarized in our day, I would say an advertisement—of His Almighty Power.... I do not even feel certain that a miracle might not be done to attest the message of some Salvation Army Missionary in China, while he was preaching all the faith he knew to men who had no chance of hearing about the faith from Catholic teachers."

A miracle is above nature when it involves something which surpasses the forces of nature, as for example, the restoration to life of a dead person. It is contrary to nature when the effect produced is contrary to that which should have occurred according to natural law: for example, the Three Children unhurt and untouched by fire in the furnace. A miracle exceeds nature when it surpasses the forces of nature relatively, as regards their mode of operation. Most supernatural cures are of this class, for it is often only the time factor which differentiates such cures from cures which could be effected without miracles.

The nineteenth-century secularist [Zola] did not test his conclusions by the evidence; he tested the evidence by its conformity to his beliefs. Thus Strauss, author of the notorious "Life of Jesus," laid down as a canon of New Testament criticism the principle, "in the person and acts of Jesus there was nothing supernatural", and he accordingly dates the gospels on the assumption that miracles must be a later interpolation. Zola, like Strauss, accepted with simple faith the unproved and unprovable dogma that the natural world is a closed system, and that supernatural agencies do not exist. Zola's negative faith was proof against the stubborn fact of the two miracles which he himself witnessed at Lourdes, of which the first was the sudden cure of an advanced stage of lupus. Zola describes Marie Lemarchand's condition as he saw her on the way to Lourdes. "It was", writes Zola, "a case of lupus which had preyed upon the unhappy woman's nose and mouth. Ulceration had spread and was hourly spreading and devouring the membrane in its progress. The cartilage of the nose was almost eaten away, the mouth was drawn all on one side by the swollen condition of the upper lip. The whole was a frightful distorted mass of matter and oozing blood." Zola's account is incomplete, for the patient was coughing and spitting blood. The apices of both lungs were affected, and she had sores on her leg. Dr. d'Hombres saw her immediately before and immediately after she entered the bath. "Both her cheeks, the lower part of her nose, and her upper lip were covered with a tuberculous ulcer and secreted matter abundantly. On her return from the baths I at once followed her to the hospital. I recognized her quite well although her face was entirely changed. Instead of the horrible sore I had so lately seen, the surface was red, it is true, but dry and covered with a new skin. The other sores had also dried up in the piscina." The doctors who examined her could find nothing the matter with the lungs, and testified to the presence of the new skin on her face. Zola was there. He had said "I only want to see a cut finger dipped in water and come out healed". "Behold the case of your dreams, M. Zola," said the President, presenting the girl whose hideous disease had made such an impression on the novelist before the cure. "Ah no!" said Zola, "I do not want to look at her. She is still too ugly", alluding to the red color of the new skin. Before he left Lourdes Zola recited his credo to the President of the Medical Bureau. "Were I to see all the sick at Lourdes cured, I would not believe in a miracle."

The modern skeptic is less dogmatic than Zola. Many such skeptics would admit the fact that inexplicable cures take place at Lourdes, but refuse to believe that they are due to supernatural agencies. Thus Professor J. B. S. Haldane, F.R.S., the distinguished biologist, who exchanged letters with me which were published under the title "Science and the Supernatural," and who attacked not only Christianity but theism in the course of our correspondence, wrote as follows: "Still, one or two of the more surprising Lourdes miracles, such as the immediate healing of a suppurating fracture of eight years' standing, seem to me to be possibly true, and, if so, very remarkable and worth investigating, although if they were shown to be true they would not prove the particular theory of their origin current at Lourdes" (p. 13). Haldane contends that sooner or later science will explain such alleged miracles in terms of natural law.

Absence of infection at Lourdes.

The town of Lourdes en joys absolute immunity from the spread of disease in spite of the fact that there are at times more than 20,000 patients present suffering from advanced diseases, many of them cases of virulent tuberculosis. The patients plunge into the baths, and though these are cleaned twice daily, the water inevitably contains pus from the sores and ulcers of patients. "At Lourdes are to be found accumulated all imaginable forms of infection, and only there do the people seem to have a supreme indifference for the fears of infection expressed by official hygienists." The town of Lourdes has never suffered from epidemics even during the great pilgrimages.

In Madeira, on the other hand, when wealthy consumptives began to flock there during the last century the native population formerly free from tubercle has been decimated by the scourge (pp. 79-81).



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