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Show ALL Forums  > Science/philosophy  > How does science account for miracles?      Home login  
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 rearguard*2
Joined: 2/8/2008
Msg: 26
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How does science account for miracles?Page 2 of 4    (1, 2, 3, 4)
Science is an effort to impose an understanding of reality based on the idea of causality. To science, every instance of an event has a cause, and it only wants for an earnest enough investigation to arrive at an explanation for every aspect of reality.

Of course, the history of science is rife with failed theories and explanations, and reality is rife with mysteries that remain unexplained. The merit of science over belief is that it requires no magic and allows no miracles, yet it is doomed to be always an incomplete explanation of the reality we perceive or imagine.

In a sense, all instances of true creativity can be thought of as miracles. Something new, heretofore unimagined, becomes manifest. Initially at least there is no casual link from what was to what is now. Eventually, science may come up with a causal link, but that is not inevitable, and not even common in some fields of human endeavour.

What people commonly call miracles are usually unexpected events that defy whatever current level of understanding of reality that the observers can apply. In scientific terms, this is no miracle at all, just something unexplained. A true miracle has happened when an event occurs that requires the deprecation or abandonment of the current structures of causality that hold sway when the event happens. Science then works diligently to come up with a new structure of causality to explain the event.

To me, the main issue with miracles is that its very hard to decide whether an event is truly one with no possibility of ever identifying the causal structure that could produce it, or whether the event is mundane and routine within the current thought paradigms. Science will say there is no such thing as a true miracle, faith, belief, religion and common human experience will all attest to the common occurrence of miracles that are result of supernatural forces. There is no proof of either view, but both rely on the concept of causality for their conclusions. The unfortunate part of all this is that it is known that there are, theoretically, events for which no path of causality exist. These are real event possibilities, and presumably have a real existence, and they are not reliant on supernatural forces for their existence. That we don't appear to come across them, at least not commonly, is likely a result of the limits of our own perception. If we do observe them, that would be, scientifically, a miracle.
 jay.m83
Joined: 5/18/2011
Msg: 27
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How does science account for miracles?
Posted: 3/5/2012 12:01:37 PM
Thinking miracles happen is the exact opposite of open mindedness. Trying to find the natural cause, is way more open minded than "ZOMG, its a miracle"
 yendor70
Joined: 11/21/2011
Msg: 28
How does science account for miracles?
Posted: 3/5/2012 12:24:13 PM
You're welcome bwena. I believe in trying to understand the natural world to our utmost ability, but also that we will never be able to explain every mystery in this world. My faith fills in the gaps for me.
 jay.m83
Joined: 5/18/2011
Msg: 29
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How does science account for miracles?
Posted: 3/5/2012 12:32:01 PM
Yep, "God did it", or "its a miracle" is way easier than actually figuring stuff out.
 rearguard*2
Joined: 2/8/2008
Msg: 30
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How does science account for miracles?
Posted: 3/5/2012 2:12:10 PM
There have been no cases of spontaneous human combustion that remain unexplained after a competent investigation, except, of course, on TV and in fictional books.

I am surprised that you don't bring up the Bermuda Triangle mysteries. Lots of supposedly unexplained disappearances there. Except, you have to ignore the fact that more planes have been lost without a trace over the continental US than over the triangle. That would make the whole mystery thing suspect....

What about Nazca? All of Charles Fort's stuff.....its all a miracle....that people actually give credence to this stuff. Actually, its not really a miracle. The cause is known. The believers are just naive.....
 Gwendolyn2010
Joined: 1/22/2006
Msg: 31
How does science account for miracles?
Posted: 3/5/2012 5:10:04 PM
My mother experienced a miracle. She found a dime on the street and put it in her pocket. She went home and changed clothes and the dime had vanished.

She went into the kitchen and started to do something and lo and behold! She heard something hit the floor. She looked down and there was the dime! It fell out of nowhere! No, she didn't actually see it fall out of nowhere, but it was obviously a miracle because it had previously disappeared.

I suggested that perhaps it had fallen out of her pocket and stuck to her skin. She informed me that she guessed she knew a miracle when she saw one.

Who am I to argue?
 kailania
Joined: 4/10/2008
Msg: 32
How does science account for miracles?
Posted: 3/5/2012 11:48:14 PM
I cannot and do not wish to copy the entire medical diagnosis page by page,...and doctor to doctor,...to this forum.
its not just a story. I have pages to prove it.
whatever the case..
I am happy that she is a healthy young woman with no signs of cerebral palsy.

I wish God would heal everyone of us.
 Samhein
Joined: 7/20/2010
Msg: 33
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How does science account for miracles?
Posted: 3/6/2012 12:21:45 AM
Since he doesn't, and instead seems to leave most to suffer and die, best not feel that great about him.
 Aristotle_Amadopolis
Joined: 12/8/2011
Msg: 34
How does science account for miracles?
Posted: 3/6/2012 5:01:44 AM

Since he doesn't, and instead seems to leave most to suffer and die, best not feel that great about him.

Yes but you should really cut the dude some slack.

Just look at the number of award shows and sports championships that he has to go to, it is a miracle that anyone gets saved.
 Samhein
Joined: 7/20/2010
Msg: 35
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How does science account for miracles?
Posted: 3/6/2012 5:02:49 AM
True, he does seem to watch a lot of football and Mtv
 lyingcheat
Joined: 9/13/2009
Msg: 36
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How does science account for miracles?
Posted: 3/6/2012 7:57:36 AM

The issue was brought up in his church and they actively prayed for his healing. During later follow-up tests there was no longer any trace of the plaque build-up anymore and his doctor told him to thank god every day because he had been given a new heart. They couldn't rationally explain the remission.

They couldn't rationally explain why they were praying either, which kind of illustrates an important point about the relationship between rationality, belief in miracles, and those that revere deities.


I've read of other miracles as well. I read about a former african islamic man who had late stage aids and was quarantined in a tent left to die. Apparently he had exposed broken sores and the local doctors kept him isolated until he was ready to die. In his own testimony he mentioned a man (who said his name was Jesus) coming in to his tent and telling him that he was going to heal him. The man (who is now a christian) is healed and travels around remote villages preaching the gospel. It's hard to rationally grasp and explain away. He was born into Islam and the penalty for leaving that faith is death.

Gosh, that's such a convincing story.
It reminds me of another one I heard once that was told to me by a person who NEVER lied (so it's obviously incontrovertibly true) after he heard about from his neighbour who once lived next door to the cousin of a women who actually experienced the miracle - so it's really a direct, first hand account by the person it REALLY HAPPENED TO.

So... she looked out her window one day and saw a flock of pigs flying by! Now we all know pigs can't fly so the ONLY POSSIBLE explanation is that was a GENUINE miracle!
Either an eye miracle to let her see something that wasn't there, or a pig miracle that enabled those porkers to soar gracefully across the sky.

Either way IT CAN ONLY MEAN ONE THING. God!

For those with open minds, gapingly wide open sufficient to drive an enormous fallacy through without touching the sides, it's surely absolute proof!!!

Who would doubt it...
 yendor70
Joined: 11/21/2011
Msg: 37
How does science account for miracles?
Posted: 3/6/2012 8:38:28 AM
lyuingcheat:

"Gosh, that's such a convincing story.
It reminds me of another one I heard once that was told to me by a person who NEVER lied (so it's obviously incontrovertibly true) after he heard about from his neighbour who once lived next door to the cousin of a women who actually experienced the miracle - so it's really a direct, first hand account by the person it REALLY HAPPENED TO.
So... she looked out her window one day and saw a flock of pigs flying by! Now we all know pigs can't fly so the ONLY POSSIBLE explanation is that was a GENUINE miracle!
Either an eye miracle to let her see something that wasn't there, or a pig miracle that enabled those porkers to soar gracefully across the sky.
Either way IT CAN ONLY MEAN ONE THING. God!
For those with open minds, gapingly wide open sufficient to drive an enormous fallacy through without touching the sides, it's surely absolute proof!!!

Who would doubt it...


If it happened to you, you would be singing a different tune haha.
 Samhein
Joined: 7/20/2010
Msg: 38
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How does science account for miracles?
Posted: 3/7/2012 12:04:30 AM
The issue was brought up in his church and they actively prayed for his healing.

This is just a case of a sympathetic group trying to help in a situation in which they cannot possibly help. It gives the prayers a sense of accomplishment and ability, neither of which they actually possess. At this point we are all aware that independent studies of sick persons being prayed for, either did not show a significant rise in improvement over someone not prayed for, or even sometimes a statistical tendency to decline.



I've read of other miracles as well. I read about a former african islamic man who had late stage aids and was quarantined in a tent left to die. Apparently he had exposed broken sores and the local doctors kept him isolated until he was ready to die. In his own testimony he mentioned a man (who said his name was Jesus) coming in to his tent and telling him that he was going to heal him. The man (who is now a christian) is healed and travels around remote villages preaching the gospel. It's hard to rationally grasp and explain away.

I'd wager money the story you read was written by the same traveling man. Pretending you have some miracle happen in order to increase your perceived religious power is a very old, very effective scam; it's been on the books at least since Paul of Tarsus, and we all know how successful his was. It allows a basically untalented or otherwise poor person to gain a false veneer of respectability overnight, with no other effort than imagination. The man travels around 'remote' villages because they are the least educated and most likely to be taken in and to heap honors, respect and goods/money on the 'great miracle man' in their midst.

These stories are not true.
 Ubiquitous.
Joined: 11/7/2009
Msg: 39
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How does science account for miracles?
Posted: 3/7/2012 12:17:59 AM
""Ethics are the law of tomorrow; Law is the ethics of yesterday." Similarly, one could say that science is the miracles of yesterday; miracles are the science of tomorrow"

Very well put.
 Gwendolyn2010
Joined: 1/22/2006
Msg: 40
How does science account for miracles?
Posted: 3/7/2012 5:29:13 AM

his own testimony he mentioned a man (who said his name was Jesus) coming in to his tent and telling him that he was going to heal him. The man (who is now a christian) is healed and travels around remote villages preaching the gospel. It's hard to rationally grasp and explain away.


Notice that the guy got healed and became a Christian? It seems that only Jesus heals, eh?

I had a pagan friend whose sister was in a wheelchair with a progressive, degenerative disease. She prayed to the Goddess to be healed and she was. No joke.

Of course, Christians would say she was healed by Satan.

I say she was healed by the power of thought: she wanted it enough and the idea of a goddess gave her the focus.

Why a deity would choose to miraculously heal some and not others is a travesty.
 jay.m83
Joined: 5/18/2011
Msg: 41
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How does science account for miracles?
Posted: 3/7/2012 6:43:05 AM
The Placebo effect, and the confirmation bias when combined is very powerful. More people need to understand how they work.
 nipoleon
Joined: 12/27/2005
Msg: 42
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How does science account for miracles?
Posted: 3/7/2012 10:12:09 AM
What people don't understand is that miracles are a dead end.

If humanity were satisfied with miracles as answers , we'd all still be living in the stone age. We'd still be sitting around a camp fire, afraid of the dark.

The best thing about science is that with every answer, springs forth a new question.
And,it never ends.
The intellect is a never ending quest for answers to questions which never end.
Once you stop the quest for answers, you die as an intelligent being.
 crguy43
Joined: 2/14/2011
Msg: 43
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How does science a ccount for miracles?
Posted: 3/12/2012 8:34:23 PM
The problem Science has is that it is dealing with a seemingly increasingly irrational cosmos. At the subatomic/quantum level, in quite a few cases, classical logic fails, particle entanglement being only one example (spooky action at a distance.) Even in the observable universe, scientists cannot intelligently speculate what physics are extant beyond the event horizon of a black hole. Unimaginable chaos? All bets are off...

Recently the scientific community was thrown into an uproar when one of its most sacred dogmas--that nothing can exceed the speed of light--was called into question by observation of particles seeming to violate that absolute. The jury is still out on that one.

Science postulates the existence of exotic things like Dark Matter and Dark Energy, but can't begin to produce any of it for objective study or say anything for certain about any but its most obvious qualities that affect traditional matter and energy.

Those in the forefront of Cosmology have mathematically determined the possibility of infinite multiple universes, alternate realities with far different physical laws than our own. Perhaps there are situations where the walls between these universes are thin, and the alternate reality of that universe impinges upon and skews our own.

Science operates on the assumption that all legitimate phenomena are replicable. What if that bedrock assumption (for that's what it is) is in error?

Scientists regularly mock the ignorance of people of faith and those who believe in paranormal phenomena (ghosts, miraculous healings, etc.) But in the words of one of their own--a self-avowed hard-core atheist at that, J. B. S. Haldane--"The universe is not only queerer than we suppose, it is queerer than we can suppose."
 bwena
Joined: 2/5/2012
Msg: 44
How does science a ccount for miracles?
Posted: 3/12/2012 9:14:31 PM
Thank you crguy43. That is what I believe, but cannot articulate. I've read all that stuff in many quantum physics books and feel that we do NOT know everything that is "science" but have only scratched the surface.
Even Einstein said, "The most beautiful thing we can experience is the mysterious. It is the source of all true art and all science. He to whom this emotion is a stranger, who can no longer pause to wonder and stand rapt in awe, is as good as dead: his eyes are closed."
 Samhein
Joined: 7/20/2010
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How does science a ccount for miracles?
Posted: 3/12/2012 11:35:39 PM
The cosmos is not irrational. Only people can be.
 nipoleon
Joined: 12/27/2005
Msg: 46
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How does science a ccount for miracles?
Posted: 3/13/2012 2:03:33 AM
Just because we don't understand something, doesn't make it a miracle.

I'm perfectly willing to accept the possibility that God exists and created the universe.

But, if a perfect God created a perfect universe, then what need is there for God to constantly tamper with it ?
There shouldn't be any need for miracles.

If the universe constantly needs God's interference, then it's not a perfect universe and God isn't perfect either.
 null_locus_accede
Joined: 6/25/2011
Msg: 47
How does science a ccount for miracles?
Posted: 3/14/2012 4:05:20 AM
Unpredictable, unexplainable behaviour can be exhilarating to behold.
Just need to find your buffer.
Coddling insecurity is not worth it when one's receptivity is at stake.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GiBr_jctVmk&t=42s
 crguy43
Joined: 2/14/2011
Msg: 48
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How does science a ccount for miracles?
Posted: 3/14/2012 9:02:46 AM
Many people here seem to think that belief in God precludes unbiased scientific inquiry into the nature of things. That's a non-sequitur, and can only be attributed to anti-theistic bias.

God--if he exists, and I'm a believer--established the physical laws by which the cosmos operates. Could he break them? (Miracles?) Of course. An omniscient, omnipotent God could do whatever he liked. But having established the rules, he has very little motivation to interfere with them except in unusual situations where he might seize a "teachable moment" for his sentient creations.

The atheists in the scentific community--and there are more believers in that community than many people might think--continually beat on the dead horse of evolution as their weapon to put down those they see as ignorant members of the great unwashed, arrogantly styling themselves as the sole keepers of the truth, an elite cognoscenti.

Problem is, that doesn't work. I have no problem with evolution, nor do the great majority of believers. We lack the arrogance of all too many scientists, and don't presume to tell God how to do his job. Ditto in regard to the Big Bang, String Theory, Branes, or whatever theory might explain the creation and mechanics of the universe, because to us, they all stem from the God, the Creator and Overmind.

There is nothing more inherently logical about Hawking's cobbled-together version (Roger Penrose's opinion too, not just mine) that the unverse sprang into being randomly out of nothing than in believing in a Creator. In fact, if anything, the latter is the less counterintuitive.
 bwena
Joined: 2/5/2012
Msg: 49
How does science a ccount for miracles?
Posted: 3/14/2012 9:51:18 AM
Well said crguy43! I am actually agnostic. I believe that we just do not know everything. Science is great, but it does not explain how it all started... and that is what keeps me always in wonder of what we have yet to learn.
 rearguard*2
Joined: 2/8/2008
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How does science a ccount for miracles?
Posted: 3/14/2012 11:39:48 AM
Why, exactly, did it all have to have started? That single idea is at the base of all creationist/religious justifications for God. If, for instance, God can be an eternal being without origin, then why must the universe that we perceive have an origin? The evidence for the idea of the "Big Bang" theory of creation is only the perceived expansion of the universe, and its only a theory that it started with a singularity. Even that theory is fraught with increasing issues regarding the evidence we have, and it is far from the only theory of the universe that has be held, both today and historically.

What is not proven is that the "Big Bang" was the consequence of a singularity in space-time, and it is more and more apparent that the event was probably neither a singularity nor unique.

Discard the idea that the universe has an origin, adopt the view that it is eternal, and you no longer need a creator, creation or any of the religious babble associated with all of those notions.
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