Are miracles real?

iBrian

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How real are miracles, and why are they so often the focus for ancient literature?

Were miracles really so common - or is it that they were a natural misunderstanding of the natural world, an expression of superstitious fears, or else even plain propaganda?

For example, the following passage from Tacitus clearly tells us that Vespasian performed miracles - yet I do not ever recall a history book - or even Christian literature - arguing that Vespasian therefore had Divine Powers and the ability to perform mircales:

The miracles of Vespasian:

"In the months during which Vespasian was waiting at Alexandria for the periodical return of the summer gales and settled weather at sea, many wonders occurred which seemed to point him out as the object of the favour of heaven and of the partiality of the Gods. One of the common people of Alexandria, well known for his blindness, threw himself at the Emperor's knees, and implored him with groans to heal his infirmity. This he did by the advice of the God Serapis, whom this nation, devoted as it is to many superstitions, worships more than any other divinity. He begged Vespasian that he would deign to moisten his cheeks and eye-balls with his spittle. Another with a diseased hand, at the counsel of the same God, prayed that the limb might feet the print of a Caesar's foot. At first Vespasian ridiculed and repulsed them. They persisted; and he, though on the one hand he feared the scandal of a fruitless attempt, yet, on the other, was induced by the entreaties of the men and by the language of his flatterers to hope for success. At last he ordered that the opinion of physicians should be taken, as to whether such blindness and infirmity were within the reach of human skill. They discussed the matter from different points of view. "In the one case," they said, "the faculty of sight was not wholly destroyed, and might return, if the obstacies were removed; in the other case, the limb, which had fallen into a diseased condition, might be restored, if a healing influence were applied; such, perhaps, might be the pleasure of the Gods, and the Emperor might be chosen to be the minister of the divine will; at any rate, all the glory of a successful remedy would be Caesar's, while the ridicule of failure would fall on the sufferers." And so Vespasian, supposing that all things were possible to his good fortune, and that nothing was any longer past belief, with a joyful countenance, amid the intense expectation of the multitude of bystanders, accomplished what was required. The hand was instantly restored to its use, and the light of day again shone upon the blind. Persons actually present attest both facts, even now when nothing is to be gained by falsehood."
 

neoxenos

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What about Paracelsus, who was said to be able to heal at a distance?

Miracles are what we call today that which was called Magic previously.

Magic comes from "mag" and means Priest - link

So, if we read Tanscendental Magic by Eliphas Levi we will find a lot about these things. Moses, Jesus, Hermes, Krishna... these are Magicians, true Priests.

The Man who is King of the Self is King of Creation.

Know thyself and you shall know the Gods and Goddesses.
 

louis

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Were miracles really so common - or is it that they were a natural misunderstanding of the natural world, an expression of superstitious fears, or else even plain propaganda?

From Louis...
I personaly suspect that ALL those explainations apply.
Maybe some "magical" events were invented by zealous
historians as a way to enhance the image of folk heroes,
but things usualy have some basis in fact - maybe
SOMETHING like that happened and got exaggerated
through re-telling.
But there's something wrong with very IDEA of calling
an event "magical" just because we can't figure out
how it was done. We don't know enough about reality
to be able to say what's possible or impossible.
Maybe there IS a way to do things like heal the sick and raise the dead - we just haven't found it yet.
 

louis

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miracles

How real are miracles, and why are they so often the focus for ancient literature?

From Louis....
An interesting topic - worthy of more than one comment.
What exactly do people mean by "miracles" ?
If we assume the existence of a living intelligence that made all of reality,
isn't that enough of a "miracle"? Don't all subsequent miracles pale in
comparison ? Does it make sense to lable something as miraculous just
because it doesn't fit in with OUR notions about what's possible or not ?
It seems to me that personal attitude figures into it too - what if
Jesus or someone like him started doing "magical" stuff today ?
There is so much "technilogical magic" around today, I don't think
many people would fall down and worship. Even if they did think he was
genuine, some Corporation would take him to a lab and wire him up
to see if they could exploit him for profit.
 

Siberia

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I said:
How real are miracles, and why are they so often the focus for ancient literature?

Were miracles really so common - or is it that they were a natural misunderstanding of the natural world, an expression of superstitious fears, or else even plain propaganda?
Hi! :) First off, I think it's important to understand the theory behind miracles. Great spiritual teachers throughout the ages have viewed matter as being merely condensed energy that could be manipulated by will alone to perform what we consider miracles. Thus, great yogis have been able to dematerialize themselves, heal the sick, perceive others' thoughts, etc.

Here's an explanation of miracles by Paramhansa Yogananda from the chapter entitled Law of Miracles from Autobiography of a Yogi:

"A yogi who through perfect meditation has merged his consciousness with the Creator perceives the cosmical essence as light; to him there is no difference between the light rays composing water and the light rays composing land. Free from matter-consciousness, free from the three dimensions of space and the fourth dimension of time, a master transfers his body of light with equal ease over the light rays of earth, water, fire, or air. Long concentration on the liberating spiritual eye has enabled the yogi to destroy all delusions concerning matter and its gravitational weight; thenceforth he sees the universe as an essentially undifferentiated mass of light."

(The whole chapter is definitely worth a read; it's an amazing explanation of miracles! http://www.ananda.org/inspiration/books/ay/30.html)

louis said:
Maybe there IS a way to do things like heal the sick and raise the dead - we just haven't found it yet.
Or maybe we've just become so externally-focused that we've forgotten our own abilities. :p
 

Siberia

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Welcome to CR, Siberia. :)
Thanks a whole lot! :)

I've finally found an awesome religion forum! Most everyone whose posts I've read has been extremely sincere and very intelligent - I'm looking forward to hanging out here!
 

Phyllis Sidhe_Uaine

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Zdrastvuitsye, hola, shalom, salaam, Dia dhuit, namastar ji, hej, konnichiwa, squeak, meow, :wave: Siberia.

My take on the idea about miracles is that what appears to be a miracle to one person might be totally explicable to another. Take for instance when guns were first introduced to the Americas. The indigenous population thought that the Spaniards had some mystical abilities because the "sticks" they carried made loud noises and could injure someone a rather long distance away. The Spaniards, on the other hand, knew that there was a small projectile that was fired from the guns with the help of the gunpowder (not necessarily the physics of the whole matter, but *shrug*.) Then, again, the idigenous populations did things that the Spaniards had no concepts for doing (I guess.)
Phyllis Sidhe_Uaine
 

iBrian

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I have to admit, my experience of reading religious texts is that miracles themselves are used as a form of propaganda - people who are great must therefore be close to God - people who are close to God must therefore have God-like powers. Mediaeval literature is pretty rife with miracles - any old stumbling vicar, it seems, could perform some form of miracle. Curing the incurable, raising the dead, walking on water - all in a days work for a Byzantine bishop - according to the Byzantine bishops.

Therefore when we read the Gospel accounts, for example, I am always amazed that people fail to realise this aspect of the mindset of the ancient civilisations, and therefore presume that every reported instance is therefore truly reported - with modern mystics falling backwards over themselves to explain the literal or figurative nature of miracles, rather than simply accepting that people in the ancient world were not a crowd of rationalists looking to preach objectivism, but instead prone to rampant superstition (cf, Livy's reports, some of which are reported here) - and purposeful propaganda (such as Julius Caesar, being otherwise not too distinguished, therefore openly concocting a Divine heritage for himself ---> some ancestral connection to Venus. apparently).

As for the Vespasian account -> he reunified Rome after 18 months of serious civil war, that saw 3 other Caesars on the Throne, and each removed in that time. Vespasian came and restored order in Rome and the Empire. Therefore - in the eyes of contemporary Rome - he must have something Divine about him.

Of course, Christianity certainly has no time to claim that Tacitus's report must therefore mean that Vespasian was obviously Divine in any way - or else even capable of miracles - because Vespasian was the bloke who set up the war and siege machinery up against Jerusalem in 68 AD, only for his son (later, a Caesar) Titus, to finally overcome the city. And after Titus had his brief stint on the throne of Rome, Vespasian's other son came aboard and started an apparently serious persecution against Christians (against a lot of people, actually - especially the rich), so he was certainly not going to be granted a connection to Divinity by the Christians compiling our earlier histories.

Back on topic - the inexplicable happens - there is no disputing that. And science itself is a constantly developing discipline that never offers us universal truths, but merely reflects on observations - so far as we can quantify them (and the hypotheses that follow on from such observations are often wrong or just need plain re-engineering eventually). There is ample room for mystery, and perhaps there is a great place for "miraculous" events in that. However, the cultural context of the ancient world absolutely requires consideration when evaluating ancient texts, and in that regard, the seemingly magical and mysterious often disappears in a wave of rationalism.

2 personal cents. :)
 

KnightoftheRose

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I said:
I have to admit, my experience of reading religious texts is that miracles themselves are used as a form of propaganda - people who are great must therefore be close to God - people who are close to God must therefore have God-like powers. Mediaeval literature is pretty rife with miracles - any old stumbling vicar, it seems, could perform some form of miracle. Curing the incurable, raising the dead, walking on water - all in a days work for a Byzantine bishop - according to the Byzantine bishops.
I would have to disagree there...the miracles 'witnessed' in the middle ages were oftentimes recorded long after the supposed miracle-worker was dead, by monks with little involvement (if any) with the political going-ons of their time. Imo, the vast multitude of miracles recorded were the by-product of a chaotic, dark time...little stories to give hope and show that God hadn't abandoned their world, even if they were irrational...anyways, that's just my take on that...

Anyways, to answer your original question, 'Are miracles real?', I'd respond that life itself is a miracle...corney and cliche, but true enough :p;)
 

iBrian

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Heh, life as a miracle I can go with, no proble, :)

But mediaeval monks being able to frequently and continually break the known laws of science? That I'm not too sure on. :)
 

KnightoftheRose

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I said:
Heh, life as a miracle I can go with, no proble, :)

But mediaeval monks being able to frequently and continually break the known laws of science? That I'm not too sure on. :)
Lol, I dunno...maybe all that time spent within dark monastary walls affects one's rational abilities ;)
 

alexa

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I said:
How real are miracles, and why are they so often the focus for ancient literature?
Were miracles really so common - or is it that they were a natural misunderstanding of the natural world, an expression of superstitious fears, or else even plain propaganda?
For example, the following passage from Tacitus clearly tells us that Vespasian performed miracles - yet I do not ever recall a history book - or even Christian literature - arguing that Vespasian therefore had Divine Powers and the ability to perform miracles
Maybe we should take in consideration who wrote that literature and who was aloud centuries ago to learn to write and read.

They had no television, no radio, no newspapers, no telephone, etc. So, when they knew something extraordinary had happend, it was written to imortalize the event.
 

iBrian

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The trouble is, it is precisely because of these things that information was easier to control then. And rumour and gossip were regarded as fact.
 

alexa

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Brian, I think this didn't change a lot since. Especially among people who live in small comunities. It's like a phone without wire. When something special happens everbody wants to know. I don't know how gossip can be controlled in such circumstances.

I think a miracle, back centuries ago, was considered something valuable to remember. They didn't have anything to disturb their daily life.

I'm sure, even nowadays, if somewhere on this planet a miracle is announced, people will travel from all over the place to see it with their eyes. I don't know if I make myself clear hear, but I try to imagine the reaction of people when they have to deel with a miracle.
 

arthra

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I think it's an interesting topic to consider "miracles"... I've met people who say they've witnessed miracles and at a certain level I think I can accept that miracles can occur...

An extraordinary event that can't be explained by our everyday way of thinking and experience could be a definition of a "miracle".

When people are pushed beyond their limits and their usual coping mechanisms are exhausted, "miracles" can sometimes occur.

The miraculous I think also can be an attitude...a expectation to be open to the unprogrammed and unexpected event.

The miracles recorded in scriptures are along the line of divine intervention in human affairs... but unless someone was there, how can anyone be certain that a miracle occurred? And even if you were "there" and would testify to a miracle... Who would believe you anyway? That's a little pessimistic but true about today's skeptical attitudes... Better to "button up" to it and use discretion who you relate your personal miracles to...otherwise you'll be castigated and attacked.

I also think the miraculous conveys a message that is often overlooked... We think of the event itself without probing very far into it's ultimate meaning or greater significance.

- Art
 

mirrorinthefog

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There may be some merit to miracles, ones for which there are no apparent explanations that we are able to prove on way or another actually took place. However, just because we can't see the answer to how something happened doesn't mean the answer's not there. Conversely, just because we may eventually see how a 'miracle' was able to work precisely at the right place and time doesn't make it any less incredible.
 

Sacredstar

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Dear All

Yes miracles are real and I have personally witnessed and been involved in at least two both related to healing.

Distant healing yes this is also scientifically proven now, as well as the power of prayer. Remote viewing work has been used by the CIA/FBI for some years, although I call it remote scanning when carrying out this work.

Love beyond measure

Sacredstar
 

murphy

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Interesting topic. I think it’s important when dealing with this topic to confine the words into the context from which they come. Miracle is synonymous with miraculous act. Miraculous act is synonymous with any act or form out of the ordinary. With this said, a subsistence culture that relies entirely on agriculture views a direct correlation between food production and miraculous acts. Being raised evangelical, I always felt there was this strange line to walk between looking for miracles and expecting miracles in times of need, but not pushing or forcing God, and waiting as though it may never actually happen. Some people I know view every act as a miracle, I am a bit more skeptical. For anyone with any amount of belief in any form of God, simply believing in God should make the idea of miracles an easy concept to believe. Think about it: harmony in nature, a self sufficient planet, a creation that is able to conceptualize God... these are all miracle if we wish to view them that way.
 
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