How to explain miracles to religious people?


How do you explain miracles
to religious people? We’ve all had this sort of conversation where
someone religious comes up to you and they say: “No, you have to believe in God, because this thing
happened to me. I was sick and then I got cured.” “And the doctors didn’t know
what was happening. It’s a miracle.” “How do you explain that, Mr. atheist?”
You know, we’ve had that conversation. And the question is: how do you
rebut that? How do you respond to someone who says
they experienced a miracle when you know
it wasn’t a miracle? And the truth is: I probably wouldn’t– I probably wouldn’t
try to convince them that it wasn’t. Because why– I mean, I think it’s very hard to tell
someone that what they’re feeling, what they experienced, isn’t real. If they experienced it, good luck trying to tell them:
“No, that’s not what you felt.” “I know what you felt.”
Like, “No, you really don’t.” So, that’s a hard sell to try to tell someone that what they thought
was a miracle, really wasn’t. But if I was pressed and I had
to explain what happened, the truth is there’s a lot of things
out there that we can’t explain. Why did you get better? How come
the doctors said you were going to die, but then you ended up living? Well, there are a lot of medical things out there that
even doctors, even the best of doctors can’t always explain. It doesn’t mean God like stuck
his hand in there and fixed you, but it does mean maybe the doctors didn’t
catch something. Maybe the x-rays didn’t say– Maybe they didn’t read the
x-rays properly. Maybe all the– the printouts they had, all the tests
they did, didn’t show the problems that
were going on with you. And maybe they missed something.
Human error happens a lot. And so, that’s a possibility. And it’s also a possibility that you are
the anomaly; that something crazy did happen. One out of a million– something that
happens one out of a million times happens thousands
of times a day. And it’s really weird when you think you’re one
of the rare people that something happened to. Like, “Oh, you won the lottery.
That’s crazy.” No, it’s crazy that
you won the lottery. It’s not crazy that someone won the lottery.
It’s actually weird if no one wins the lottery, you know. And so it’s not weird that
“miracles” happen to people. It is just kind of weird when
you feel like it’s happening to you. But, how do you
overcome this? Understanding how probability works, understanding
that there are things out there that we just can’t explain, and sometimes we have to live with that
ambiguity and we have to live with that knowledge that, “Oh, I might not be able
to explain what happened.” That helps, too. And realize that, you know,
from an atheist perspective, we don’t believe God put us here on this earth.
We believe we got here over millions and millions of years of evolution. And if you think about how amazing
it is that we are here right now. Like, your parents had to meet in this amazing
way for you to be alive right now. And their parents had
to meet in a particular way. And think of all those serendipitous moments
that people always talk about, like, – Oh, how did you meet your wife? – Well, I was
standing at the bus stop one day and she walked by. Or, you know, “I clicked on
that online profile and this person responded.
That never happens.” I mean, there’s all these crazy things
that had to happen perfectly for you to be alive. Some people may argue
that’s a miracle. And, by the way,
they all had to be alive Like millions of years, all your ancestors are winners,
because they all lived and you are here because of that. You descend from
a long line of winners and some people may say
that’s a miracle. And I would argue:
“No, it’s not a miracle.” But if it didn’t happen
that way, you wouldn’t be here
to discuss it. So, it just so happened that all the ways
things turned out: “Hey, here you are.” That’s amazing and we should revel in how
extraordinary that is, that we are here today. But it didn’t have
to happen that way. And if it didn’t, you wouldn’t know about it; you wouldn’t be here
to talk about it, or you wouldn’t even know what happened. So, to me that’s not a miracle. That’s just, “Oh, the way things worked out,
this is the hand we were dealt.” Sometimes that’s good;
sometimes that’s bad, but it’s not something that is there
because of the hand of God. My name is Hemant Mehta and I write
for FriendlyAtheist.com Please, leave your questions and comments
below and we will check them out.

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