Do you believe in miracles?

Posted 24 December 2011 by

Recently on Facebook, I posted a link to a video about Hanukkah with the comment, “Happy Holidays! Do you believe in miracles?” A friend matter-of-factly replied, “No, not really.” That statement was an opening for a discussion. However, the problem with Facebook is that nuanced answers given in postings are almost impossible. Here is an attempt to answer “yes, but” in a meaningful way.

Do I believe in miracles? Yes.

Do I believe that there is a suspension of natural law and physical law? No.

What type of confused belief is that? Less confused that you may think.

A miracle takes place in those realms where we lack knowledge. The day humans find out everything—and I mean everything—there is to know in the world, miracles will cease.

Bill Cosby got so much right in his comedy piece called “Noah.” One of those things is when God tells Noah that he has two male hippos, so Noah has to exchange one of them. As these were the last two animals, and Noah was tired. Therefore, Noah tells God to change one of them. The response Cosby has God making is so correct.

Come on. You know I don’t work like that.

Things we call miracles happen every day. We do not know why they happened. That is why those things are miracles.

We only see shadows on the wall or see dimly in a mirror. Some believe that Schrödinger’s cat is alive and dead at the same time, at least to some observers.

The Virgin Mary in Stained Glass at the Florence Henry Memorial Chapel

The Virgin Mary in Stained Glass at the Florence Henry Memorial Chapel, Shoreline, Washington

Aside from length, width, height, and time, how many dimensions exist? For that matter, is time a single line that marches on as tempus fugit or does time have more than one dimension?

Are the Celtic “thin places” a place where we sense all the dimensions that exist? Is the possibility of the Ascension of Jesus something accepted easier after reading Flatland: A Romance of Many Dimensions by Edwin Abbott Abbott?

When I was in college, the rector of the Episcopal parish in Rolla, Missouri, at that time was a theological liberal. While he believed in a God that was among us working in the world, he had trouble with miracles. For example, the description of the post-resurrection Jesus as a person that simply appears and disappears without using a door or window was impossible. Serving in a town with one of the leading undergraduate technical universities in the United States, you would think this former rector was always in good company.

Do not be too sure about that.

Winter Night

Winter Night

One of the parish members was the professor for the Atomic and Nuclear Physics course I took. In a class one spring day—during the Easter season where a Gospel lesson has Jesus popping in and out on the Apostles—there was a discussion of the vast amount of space that exists between atoms, even in solids. The professor announced to the class—while looking directly at me—that, with all the space that exists between atoms, if you could get your atoms vibrating at the right frequency, you could pass right through that wall.

I took that as a second opinion on whether Jesus could pop in and out of a room without using a door.

Faith does not require me to believe in things that scientific laws say is impossible. Faith requires me to believe that humans do not know everything that exists. Faith requires me to believe that I do not know the cause of all things. Faith requires me to believe that each of us is connected to the past, present, and future in ways that no one can understand.

Faith is not acceptance of fables as fact. Faith is the acceptance of myth as truth.

I hope you do not lose your joy and wonder in the unknown. May you find light, life, and healing in your life.

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