I believe in miracles.
When I say miracles, I mean miracles, not mere coincidence. Coincidences are when you stumble across an old friend in a street somewhere just when you were thinking about her, or when you find just enough amount of change you need in your left trouser pocket to buy your mom that perfect gift for her birthday.
When I say miracles, I’m talking about events too bizarre to put down to mere chance. I mean a cancer-stricken lady on her deathbed, defying her doctor’s premonitions of doom and waking up hale and healthy the next morning, all on the whim of a daughter’s desperate prayer. When I say miracles, I’m talking about the hungry receiving manna from heaven, the dead given new life. When I say miracles, I’m talking about the wrongfully imprisoned set free, walking as a ghost through concrete walls.
It is easy to be skeptical. I am a scientist-in-training myself , and part of that training requires me to be critical, to reject that which is unsubstantiated, to discard all beliefs and tenets that I cannot prove beyond a shadow of a doubt. I enthusiastically bought into this world view, bit by bit stripping away that which I couldn’t see with my own eyes, that which I couldn’t sense with my own touch. Eventually I realized that all this left me was an empty husk of a world, full of dull mechanized certainty- completely devoid of the wonder and awe that had drawn me to science in the first place. This troubled me greatly, and forced me to realize that what I forced myself to believe was out of sync with what I knew was true. I don’t recall the date that I came to this realization, but I remember that night, as I stared at the starry abyss above, it dawned to me how futile it was to understand the mysterious force that formed all that my eyes beheld.
I am still a scientist (or at least, I still aspire to be one). But I have learned not to dismiss offhand claims of miracles. I have learned to take joy in both the things that are known and the things that are unknowable. I now accept that things happen in this world that are beyond comprehension, beyond understanding. I have come to realize that it is arrogance to assume that our feeble human minds can comprehend in entirety what the universe has in store for us, both now and in times to come. The skeptic declares the impossibility of miracles on the grounds that they cannot, by definition be reliably observed, He conveniently ignores the fact that “reliable observation” limits us to a blip of time in eternity’s expanse, to a speck of dust in an infinite swath of space. This, to us is the extent of the known universe. There is so much left unobserved, so much left unknown and unknowable, still so much room for the miraculous to occur right under our noses.
If you enjoyed this essay, please consider making a tax-deductible contribution to This I Believe, Inc.