Monday, February 14, 2011


Last Friday was the feast of Our Lady of Lourdes. Yet another feast day associated with miracles. Many people have been to the waters of Lourdes and received an amazing healing. I think the church has documented 67 that meet their standard of proof. That is just the tip of the iceberg. Of course, most people who go to Lourdes don't get a physical healing. Many claim to have received a spiritual peace from their trip there. We are more comfortable with that.

Miracles and modern minds are a strange mix. Even many strong Catholics don't want to trumpet miracles. They are quick to point out that the church does not require all the faithful to believe in particular miracles. That is like saying a Green Bay Packers fan is not required to believe Aaron Rogers is a great QB. It is technically true but you have to wonder about it. True fans love to talk up evidence that their favorite players are great. When the evidence is strong, like it is for Rogers, then why would any fan hesitate? Yet you have big fans of the Catholic church that see very strong evidence of miracles and they just don't want to go there.

I see two reasons for it. One is a more strategic one. That is that they don't want to lose their credentials as solid thinkers with all those modern skeptics out there. There are a lot of people who will dismiss you as simple minded if you talk about miracles too much. There is an idea that truly advanced thinkers know better. It is arrogance disguised as intelligence. The reality is many Catholics want to avoid being sneered at that way. Partly because they think they can be more convincing with other arguments if they don't destroy their reputation by telling miracle stories. Partly, it is because they have bought into the skeptics way of thinking. They care about their reputation not just because it allows them to be heard but also because it feeds their ego. They want to be thought of as an advanced thinker because their self esteem is wrapped up in the praises of men. I know when I have shied away from miracle stories it has been a conflation of these two things. The fear of Christianity being dismissed with the miracle and the fear of me personally being dismissed with the miracle.

The other reason I see given is that nobody will change their creed based on a miracle. CS Lewis says this. People who don't want to believe in something will assume it was an illusion or someone is lying or whatever. That they won't allow the evidence to change their creed. There are examples he quotes and I am sure they are real. But there are also many examples of people who have come to faith based on miracle stories. It is like arguing for the Catholic faith. About 99 times out of 100 a protestant will dismiss you. But there are some that do convert. Miracles are the same way. If we talk about them they do have the potential to put some people on a journey towards the faith.

Look through church history. Look at scripture. Time and time again a miracle is given to call people back to faith. The book of Acts is full of miracles. God wanted His young church to grow quickly and miracles were a big part of it. Would God do that in our modern times? Why not? France in 1858 was pretty strongly immersed in the enlightenment. If anything, they were more skeptical than us. Why did God choose to work miracles through an uneducated girl? Maybe to tell us human reason is good but not the ultimate good.

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