Stanley Spencer; The Raising of Lazarus. I think, no caption material.
High time for a new blog. Lazy old Toad that I am. Too much water has been passed since the last installment. The most significant item to report is that Lulu and Nabi, the Greyhound Girls, are off to Leon again next week to be 'neutered.' We took them last week but Lulu had gone into heat.
This operation will cost three hundred Euros each. We have not paid a cent to buy any of our dogs or the cat, but they have now cumulatively cost us thousands. Still, we save by not having a telly.
What has this to do with miracles?, you say. Nothing, unless, you regard everything as a miracle, including the fact that our pets have not yet managed to bankrupt us.
I think this is the general attitude of Kathleen (re miracles that is, not bankruptcy) on the famous 'Catholicism Pure & Simple' blog, to which I regularly subscribe.
Like many others, she is, I believe, of the 'every snowflake, every baby's fingernail, every day without an earthquake, is a miracle' persuasion. If I am wrong, she will swiftly, and rightly, disabuse me.
And Joyfulpapist, another chum on CP&S, is planning a piece on this very subject soon.
Good, because 'miracles' are a stumbling block for me and many others on the Road to Salvation.
So, it's time to flip open the Very Excellent 'Hello!' Magazine Sub-editors' Dictionary, and read that a miracle is defined as:
1. An effect or extraordinary event in the physical world that surpasses all known human or natural powers and is ascribed to a supernatural cause.
2. Such an effect or event manifesting or considered as a work of God.
3. A wonder; marvel.
4. A wonderful or surpassing example of some quality: a miracle of modern acoustics.
Interesting that the word is, in my opinion, in the process of being devalued even now. "I've found the car keys! it's a miracle!"
I suppose Kathleen's point is that, as we are all here as a result, as she sees it, of a supernatural event, everything that follows is, naturally, supernatural. Well, it's one way of looking at it. But I'm old-fashioned, and think this is merely further devaluing the word.
It will be no surprise that I'm with David Hume on this. I was going to run his original text on miracles, but it's long and wordy, and I found a neat little precis on the web.
Hume provides four reasons to think that there has never been sufficient evidence in favor of a miracle to render it probable. We must note that he, like me, does not go so far as to state that miracles don't happen. He merely doubts that they happen and says that, if they DO happen, we can never be sure they were miracles in the first place.
We are getting back to Popper here. No miracle, indeed nothing metaphysical, can either be verified or falsified. So either we must accept them on faith, or ignore all claims of them.
What Hume says:
First, no miracle is supported by testimony of a sufficient number of trustworthy people to rule out the possibility of falsehood.
Second, while we should normally believe that which most closely accords itself with past experience, the sensations of surprise and wonder often lead us to unreasonable beliefs. There are countless instances of tall tales of all sorts that stem not from reasonable inquiry but from a love of wonder.
Third, Hume remarks that most reports of miraculous events occur amongst barbarous or ignorant people, who may not be sophisticated enough to disbelieve fabricated testimony.
Fourth, since every religion claims the veracity of its own miracles as against the miracles of every other religion, the evidence of all other religions opposes the evidence in favor of a miracle in any one particular religion. For instance, what a Muslim might consider a miracle would be considered a heresy by anyone of different faith.
(I find reason number four particularly compelling. And if anyone takes the slightest notice of all this, it will be a miracle.)
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