Judaism, especially during the Moses period advanced itself rapidly with publicly displayed miracles. This continued through with the various prophets. Later the four Gospels and other writings dated as early as the first century AD describe Jesus doing all sorts of miracles to help establish belief in him as the long awaited Jewish Messiah. For example:
John 2:23…many believed in his name, when they saw the miracles which he did.
John 7:31..many in the crowd believed in him. They kept saying, “When the Messiah comes, he won’t do more signs than this man has done, will he?”
Luke 19:37 And as He approached the descent from the Mount of Olives, the whole multitude of disciples began to praise God joyfully in a loud voice for all the miracles they had seen.
Jesus appeared to his disciples and others alive, and apparently looking quite well after his crucifixion ordeal. Along with the introduction of the Comforter (Holy Spirit); this was the miracle that initiated Christianity. Without the Resurrection of Jesus and inspiration of the Holy Spirit which followed, no Christianity.
In spite of the earlier mighty works, after they saw dead Jesus pulled from the cross and shut up in the tomb, his disciples were looking for an exit strategy. After his post-crucifixion appearance, though, and with some type of ordination of the Holy Spirit, his disillusioned followers became super energized. They carried his message to every land they could reach and preached to any who would hear it. As they endured great hardships along the way, many astounding miracles were attributed to them as well including at least two resurrections of the dead as described in the Book of Acts.(Acts 9:36-42 ; Acts 20:9-12)
Questions arose in my mind. Is there well documented phenomena constant with what might be termed “miracles” that have occurred in the world since post Biblical times? Christianity has cemented itself as a legitimate religion in the eyes of its followers especially in the first 10 years largely because of the miracles. Does it continue to do so? Is there some form of independent corroboration apart from anecdotal stories passed around in the pew that can be referred to?
In looking for answers, I have constructed a partial list of notable phenomena constant with claimant(s) belief of “God events” that is miracles/ Divine interventions that have affected an objective public reality. To my knowledge these have never been adequately explained by science, medicine, psychology, sociology or other disciplines rooted strictly in the naturalistic world:
1)–1429: Joan of Arc, an unknown farm girl claiming to have instructions from heavenly personages sent by God she later identified as Saint Michael, Saint Catherine, and Saint Margaret; is given command of a losing army by a reluctant king. A city thought lost to a 5 month English siege, Orleans is saved in 9 days after her arrival. The longstanding English enemy power is broken, their fabled longbow troop, “superweapons” of Crécy , Poitiers and Agincourt, are all but destroyed in subsequent battles that quickly follow. That aforementioned king, Charles VII is crowned official sovereign of France 150 miles inside of enemy territory, a task thought impossible weeks earlier. That Joan had some form of supernatural assistance was never doubted by her friends or enemies, the main concern was whether she was guided by God as she stated, or heretic, Satanically inspired / deceived as her enemies contended.
2)–Guadeloupe (1531) an image of the Virgin is imprinted on a garment as the result of a claimed visit by Mother Mary. Studies reveal unusual properties, notably lack of deterioration after 500 years. An enlarged an image of the Virgin’s eyes by 2500x is claimed to have found not only the aforementioned single figure, but images of all the witnesses present when the cloth was first revealed in 1531. Because of this apparition, restive Aztecs and their Spanish conquerors were able to reach some point of agreed upon national unity. Claims also convey millions of Aztecs were converted to Christianity in the decade to follow.
3)–68 healings as the result of events at Lourdes France, (1858 to present) as investigated by doctors of the Lourdes Medical Bureau, are “medically inexplicable.”
4)–Approximately 70,000 people of diverse backgrounds visit Fatima Portugal in 1917 in response to an nondescript miracle that was predicted months earlier to occur. The event happens within the same hour as predicted by three children, seen by some miles away and astounding even to the unbelievers present. One person on site, anti-Catholic witness, alternately described as atheist/agnostic chief editor Avelino de Almeida of the “O Seculo,” an anti-clerical Lisbon daily paper, writes excitedly in his article—I saw it … I saw it … I saw it!”
5)–Aimee Semple McPherson is also known for her extensive “divine healing” work. Biographer Daniel Mark Epstein writes: No one has ever been credited by secular witnesses with anywhere near the numbers of faith healings attributed to McPherson. “The healings present a monstrous obstacle to scientific historiography. If events transpired as newspapers, letters, and testimonials say they did, then Aimee Semple McPherson’s healing ministry was miraculous…The documentation is overwhelming: very sick people came to Sister Aimee by the tens of thousands, blind, deaf, paralyzed. Many were healed some temporarily, some forever. She would point to heaven, to Christ the Great Healer and take no credit for the results.” She would point to heaven, to Christ the Great Healer and take no credit for the results. It was one such healing session that brought the Romani (gypsies), a previously unreached group in the United States, to Christ by the thousands.
6)–Catholic priest Saint Padre Pio’s (May 25, 1887 – September 23, 1968) exploits were so remarkable that even the Vatican found them unbelievable and investigated him numerous times even with atheists and agnostics. The Padre has a even has a bizarre incident attributed to him where he supposedly “supernaturally interviewed” to stop an Allied bombing raid. His stigmata wounds healed hours after his death with no traces of acid burns, cuts or other mutilations.
7)–A two year incident at Zeitoun, Egypt, a mysterious apparition of the Virgin Mary, seen by thousands, appeared over a Coptic Church 1968 to 1971, first noticed by Muslims, keeps people guessing.
8)–The Medjugorje Six (1981 to present) have been investigated by doctors and scientists and the uniqueness of the event is acknowledged. For 30 years no one can can find any health or fraud or other explanations why it is their behavior is consistent with what the Six appear to be claiming: the visitation of Mother Mary to each of them at the same time. The Vatican has yet to rule on the validity of the claimed visions but are keeping a close observatory eye on them. Nevertheless the Six are useful in understanding the mechanism of how the sages of yore such as Moses, Elijah and Joan of Arc and others might have received visions and messages without factors of schizophrenia and temporal lobe epilepsy.
9)–The Shroud of Turin has been gone over by numerous scientists over many decades. Painting up another one with medieval technology would settle the controversy but so far no one has been able to rise to that challenge. Just as some scientist declares it a fake or genuine, important inconsistencies remain unanswered and they are back trying to solve the mystery of it.
List of Marian Apparitions
A Marian apparition is a preternatural appearance by the Virgin Mary, the mother of Jesus Christ. Apparitions of Jesus and other holy personages have been claimed but none seem to have been more numerous and affected the public more that the Marian ones*. For example, in the above “laundry list,” there are no less than 4 such events.
Addressing the controversy surrounding Marian apparitions in general:
Messages given largely follow the same template, to repent and to pray for the lost. The apparition that represents herself as Mary, if there is a prayer request she redirects the supplicant towards her son, Jesus Christ.
The takeaway from that is:
“The miracles surrounding these events are difficult to ignore, for anyone who does any serious investigation into these events. “
The Vatican, when investigating their phenomena, proceed cautiously using “blind” witnesses such as atheists to avoid any empathy contamination inserted into the results. An example here is from an article of one such witness who described the process:
Quote from article:
“….analyze 1400 miracles used in the canonization process for several hundred saints over the course of 400 years. Almost all of these miracles are healings and the majority involved up-to-date science and the testimony of physicians.
The research uncovered dramatic stories of recovery and courage. It revealed some striking parallels between medicine and religion in terms of reasoning and purpose, and it showed that the Church had not shrunk from science in its deliberations over the miraculous.
Though still an atheist, I believe in miracles – wondrous things that happen for which we can find no scientific explanation.”
While each of these events has its own local flavor, overall they appear to attest in one way or another, to the Existence of God and in these examples at least, continuing sovereign power through Jesus Christ.