Not that there is any reason to listen to me about such things.

“We forget that nature itself is one vast miracle transcending the reality of night and nothingness,” 1

Loren Eiseley

Something about this sentiment, so common, yet… we are, as best I can figure, the embodiers of miracles. We define what they are and we define them in relation to ourselves. Except to the extent the universe may be pan-sentient, and I don’t completely count that possibility out, we are the beginning and end of what is miraculous.

A miracle is an event that seems inexplicable by natural or scientific laws and accordingly gets attributed to some supernatural or praeternatural cause. 2

My personal attitude is that the miraculous is synonymous with the extremely rare.

Informally, English-speakers often use the word miracle to characterise any beneficial event that is statistically unlikely but not contrary to the laws of nature, such as surviving a natural disaster, or simply a “wonderful” occurrence, regardless of likelihood (e.g. “the miracle of childbirth”). 3

Identifying something as a miracle is a religious posture. A positive view on the universe and humanity’s place in it. It is a reverent attitude that makes room for things to be sacred. I believe in the concept of sacred, but only in a secular sense. I believe that when we view something as sacred, we offer it respect and agree not to violate it. It only has meaning through common agreement.

A true miracle would, by definition, be a non-natural phenomenon, leading many writers to dismiss miracles as physically impossible (that is, requiring violation of established laws of physics within their domain of validity) or impossible to confirm by their nature (because all possible physical mechanisms can never be ruled out). The former position is expressed (for instance) by Thomas Jefferson, and the latter by David Hume. Theologians typically say that, with divine providence, God regularly works through nature yet, as a creator, may work without, above, or against it as well. 4

I don’t believe anything happens in the universe that isn’t inherently possible, including god, should s/he exist. I do believe in the extremely rare.

Personally, I believe theologians are out on a limb.

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