By Charlie McKenna, Staff Writer
Millennials typically don’t believe in miracles. The Miriam Webster dictionary defines miracles as “a divinely natural phenomenon experienced humanly as the fulfillment of spiritual law.” We aren’t the first generation to doubt, we’re really just following a long trend of thinkers, beginning in the 17th century with Benedict Spinoza, who argued that miracles are violations of natural laws, that these laws are immutable, and that it is impossible for them to be violated. Thus, miracles are impossible. Many thinkers, up to the present, have added to this notion, such as Hume and Kant. Antony Flew contributes particularly well, simply saying that natural laws are proven by absolutely consistent data. Hence we know that natural laws are just that: laws. The evidence for these laws are irrefutable. We can be absolutely certain that they exist. Miracles however, by their nature are singular events, opposed to these natural laws. We cannot track, monitor, or prove their existence through data or reasoning. So, it is unreasonable to argue that things we know to be true without exception (natural laws) should suddenly be subject to change due to something we cannot prove: miracles.
So what’s the philosophical response to these challenges? Essentially, it is that all these thinkers are missing the point. Miracles are manifestations of the supernatural. Sure, you can’t prove them through human reason. That’s why they’re miracles. Thomas Aquinas stated, "Since those things which are of faith surpass human reason, they cannot be proved by human arguments, but need to be proved by the argument of divine power." Aquinas was not responding to these thinkers’ challenges to miracles, as he wrote in 13th century. However, his statement is a valid counter point. Miracles are a surface issue. The actual question is whether or not it is reasonable to believe in a supernatural reality at all. So in a sense, none of these thinkers are refuting miracles, they’re just taking their preexisting worldviews (secular humanist, materialist) and superimposing them onto the subject. It all comes down to whether or not you think there could be a supernatural reality.
And now we’re back where we started. The arguments go back and forth for the existence of supernatural reality, back to the very beginning of philosophical history. However, to be clear, both points of view are based on more than arbitrary feeling. Most of us millennials tend to attribute belief in miracles to lack of education. It’s just the same old people living in the dark ages, calling what they don’t understand miracles. This argument is somewhat unfair. It is easy to simply dismiss the doubter as a cynic, or the believer as a sentimentalist, however both beliefs are based in a developed worldview, even if a particular person is unable to articulate it.
My original inspiration for this topic was randomly coming across an article on the incredible exploits of a so called, “Buddha Boy” who’s name is Ram Bahadur Bomjon. His activities aren’t news; he’s been around since 2005. He meditated in extreme conditions, being observed by crowds and media, and yet not eating or drinking for extended amounts of time. This is a miracle. The overwhelming evidence points to the fact that this man somehow was sustained in his meditation, breaking all logical natural laws. There simply isn’t a rational explanation for the phenomena.
There is the spring of Lourdes in France. The story is that in the 18th century in France, Mary the mother of Jesus appeared to a young girl named Bernadette and told Bernadette that She wanted a church to be built in her honor. As a sign, Mary had Bernadette dig to find a spring, which proved to have healing powers. To this day, the spring of Lourdes draws thousands of pilgrims from all over the world seeking a miraculous cure for their maladies.
All we know is some are cured, some are not. Why some and not others? We don’t know. What special quality does this water have? We don’t know. How could Ram Bahadur Bomjon survive for months without food or water? We don’t know. Skeptics assert that these miracles are either very elaborate fraud, or scientifically explainable. However, media teams have watched Bomjon for 48 hours straight, and seen so signs of dehydration. Doctors have confirmed that there is simply no explanation they can offer for the cures at Lourdes. Even if there is a rational explanation for these phenomena, we don’t know what it is. So until we find something, saying that they are miraculous is a perfectly reasonable assertion. Millennials just need to open their minds and understand the true meaning of miracle.