Miracles"First let us define our terms. What is a miracle? A miracle is "an act of God superseding or suspending a natural law." Many use the term "miracle" in a very loose way, contrary to the biblical concept of the word. To some, almost everything is a miracle; from the trees budding in the spring, to the birth of a child. But these things are not actually miracles. A miracle is not a work of nature or an effect resulting from natural law. Neither should we confuse a miracle with God's providence. Providence is God working, but through a natural means."
Aquinas (Summa Contra Gentiles, III) says "those things are properly called miracles which are done by divine agency beyond the order commonly observed in nature (praeter ordinem communiter observatum in rebus)." A miracle, philosophically speaking, is never a mere coincidence no matter how extraordinary or significant. (If you miss a plane and the plane crashes, that is not a miracle unless God intervened in the natural course of events causing you to miss the flight.) A miracle is a supernaturally (divinely) caused event - an event (ordinarily) different from what would have occurred in the normal ("natural") course of events. It is a divine overriding of, or interference with, the natural order. As such, it need not be extraordinary, marvelous or significant, and it must be something other than a coincidence, no matter how remarkable — unless the "coincidence" itself is caused by divine intervention (i.e., not really a coincidence at all). Miracles, however, are ordinarily understood to be not just products of divine intervention in the natural order, but extraordinary, marvelous and significant as well. Thus, Aquinas says a miracle is "beyond the order commonly observed;" and Dr. Eric Mascall says that the word "miracle" "signifies in Christian theology a striking interposition of divine power by which the operations of the ordinary course of nature are overruled, suspended, or modified" (Chamber's Encyclopaedia).
According to many religions, a miracle, derived from the old Latin word miraculum meaning 'something wonderful', is a striking interposition of divine intervention by God in the universe by which the operations of the ordinary course of Nature are overruled, suspended, or modified. People in different faiths have substantially different definitions of the word miracle. Even within a specific religion there is often more than one usage of the term.
Sometimes the term miracle may refer to the action of a supernatural being that is not a god. Thus, the term divine intervention refers specifically to the direct involvement of a deity.
According to the philosopher David Hume, A miracle is "a transgression of a law of nature by a particular volition of the Deity, or by the interposition of some invisible agent."
Miracles as viewed by different religions
Different religious traditions and doctrines are divided on their views of miracles. Some religions view miracles as the provenence of their deity or deities only, while others report ongoing miraculous occurrences. Some faiths subscribe to the belief that miracles happened in the past, but do not currently occur. There is also division within sects, and between the religious leadership and the followers of many religions.
Christian views of miracles
The description of most miracles in the Hebrew Bible (Old Testament) and in the Christian New Testament are generally the same as the modern-day definition of the word: God intervenes in the laws of nature.
A literal reading of the Biblical accounts shows that there are a number of ways this can occur: God may suspend or speed up the laws of nature to produce a supernatural occurrence; God can create matter out of nothing; God can breathe life into inanimate matter. The Bible does not explain details of how these miracles happen.
Today many Orthodox Jews, some Christians, and most Muslims adhere to this view of miracles. This view is generally rejected by non-Orthodox Jews, liberal Christians and Unitarian Universalists.
Some events commonly understood to be miraculous may not be instances of the impossible. For instance, consider the parting of the Red Sea. This incident occurred when Moses and Israelites fled from bondage in Egypt, to begin their exodus to the promised land. The book of Exodus never says that the Red Sea split in an immediate fashion, and the "waters [as] a wall unto them on their right hand, and on their left" could be figurative. The text might rather be interpreted to say that God caused a strong wind to slowly drive the shallow waters to land overnight. In this scheme there is no claim that God pushed apart the sea as it is shown in many films; rather, the miracle would be that Israel crossed this precise place, at exactly the right time, when Moses lifted his staff, and that the pursuing Egyptian army then drowned when the wind stopped and the piled waters rushed back in.
Early Christian writers of the first few centuries appear to take the biblical stories of miracles at face value. In addition, they report additional miracles that happened in later centuries. The purposes of miracles vary, but recurring themes are miracles done for the benefit of a person, such as physical healing, or raising from the dead; miracles done to prevent or discourage some evil from happening, such as Herod Agrippa being consumed with worms upon inviting people to worship him, or various martyrs being found unusually difficult to kill, such as not being touched by flames (Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego; or Polycarp of Smyrna); and oftentimes to increase the faith of those who witnessed or later heard of the miracles, whether the faith of current believers or unbelievers moved to convert to Christianity after witnessing a miracle.
Miracles are central to most of Christian theology; they are the pillar upon which the reasonableness or truth of the religion is set to stand. Although most Catholic and certain Protestant theologians believe that the existence and certain limited properties of God can be proven philosophically and/or scientifically, these theologians explain that other elements of their beliefs have come from statements made by God either directly or through a person who proved that the statement was coming from God by performing a bona-fide miracle. (This assumes God wouldn't lie, something which is believe true by a philosophical argument.) This is seen by many theologians as the primary reason for Jesus to perform miracles, to prove that he was God so that humans would follow him. The miracles of Jesus were performed in front of many people, not in private. He did them wherever he went, at all times. They were done for all types of people, not just Jews. The miracles benefited the people Jesus was with, not Jesus himself other than serving as proof as to who he was. C.S. Lewis, Norman Geisler, William Lane Craig, and Christians who engage in jurisprudence Christian apologetics have argued that miracles are reasonable and plausible.   .
There have been a large number of Catholic Christians, philosophers, and clergy who have discussed a wide variety of ideas concerning the nature of miracles. These ideas vary from strict literal acceptance of the Biblical text, to neo-Aristotelian rationalist interpretations of miracles. In some Catholic views, a miracle is an unnatural occurrence that is brought about by divine intervention. Saints like St. Francis of Assisi and St. Anthony have been credited with hundreds of miracles during their lifetime and thousands after their death. Many Catholics believe that dead saints are still performing miracles, by interceding on behalf of the sinner before God.
Islamic view of miracles
Miracles are found to be common in Islamic beliefs and traditions. It is believed that all miracles are done by the will of Allah (God). The Muslim holy book, the Qur'an, talks about miracles that happened to people, tribes and prophets. Miracles are not described as "miracles" in the modern definition, but large uncommon events all performed by God's will. Some examples of miracles include events that happened in the life of the prophets of Islam such as Abraham when he was about to sacrifice his son Ishmael, the sudden appearance of the Zam Zam well to Hagar (the wife of Abraham) when she was desperately looking for water for her baby, Jesus who was able to speak as a child and cure lepers, the parting of the Red Sea as Moses and the Israelites fled from slavery in Egypt, and many more miracles are discussed. Also things that humans can not accomplish, but were done by God are also considered miracles, such as the Qur'an itself including many scientific, mathematical and other discoveries inside it.
Hindu views of miracles
Hindus believe in divine intervention of God and that all of their deities and many of their saints and yogis have performed miracles.
There are countless examples of miracles in Hinduism from the most ancient of times right to the present day.
The ocean allowing a floating bridge to be built on itself to let the armies of Lord Rama cross, child Prahlada, an ardent devotee of the Lord, not being able to be killed by many means (fire, trampling by elephants etc), physical healing by saints, fire walking, and disappearance of the physical body on entering the sanctum of a temple (Saint Mirabai, Andal) are just a few examples. The lives of saints, the epics Ramayana and Mahabharata, as well as numerous other Hindu narratives showcase miracles. For example, Lord Krishna, raised from the dead, Parikshit, grandson of Arjuna, who was born stillborn.
The Hindu Milk Miracle of September 21st 1995
Never before in history has a simultaneous miracle occurred on such a global scale. Television stations (among them CNN and BBC), radio and newspapers (among them Washington post, New York Times, The Guardian and Daily Express) eagerly covered this unique phenomenon, and even sceptical journalists held their milk-filled spoons to the statues of gods - and watched as the milk disappeared.
It all began on September 21st when an otherwise ordinary man in New Delhi dreamt that Lord Ganesha, the elephant-headed God of Wisdom, craved a little milk. Upon awakening, he rushed in the dark before dawn to the nearest temple, where a skeptical priest allowed him to proffer a spoonful of milk to the small stone image. Both watched in astonishment as it disappeared, magically consumed by the God.
What followed is unprecedented in modern Hindu history. Within hours news had spread like a brush fire across India that Ganesha was accepting milk offerings. Tens of millions of people of all ages flocked to the nation's temples. The unworldly happening brought worldly New Delhi to a standstill, and its vast stocks of milk - more than a million liters - sold out within hours. Just as suddenly as it started in India, it stopped in just 24 hours.
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