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The Probability of a Miracle

-Daniel Kipp Astin

Vlog Verses: Mark 7:31-37 and 13:24

Quotes for Contemplation

-“He has done all things well." (Mark 7:31-37)

-"He makes the deaf hear and the mute speak.” (Mark 7:31-37)

-“But in those days, after that tribulation, the sun will be darkened and the moon will not give its light (Mark 13:24)

What is a miracle? According to The Oxford dictionary, a miracle is “a surprising and welcome event that is not explicable by natural or scientific laws and is therefore considered to be the work of a divine agency. For many, such a definition comes as no surprise at all, and could even be deemed cliché. If such a construct were anecdotally applied across multiple cultures from around the globe, or even to different eras of time, would it hold up? In theory, a member of one of the currently 100 known un-contacted tribes would consider a helicopter, essentially a flying box that can carry human beings across hundreds of miles, to be nothing short of a miracle. To them, something as simple as human flight is probably inexplicable through logical or anecdotal means. After all, as Plato’s Allegory of the cave explains, humans are only as aware as the world they perceive. Inevitably, if you sent the member of one of these un-contacted tribes to proper schooling and University, they could not only learn how to understand one of these seemingly magical machines, but build or fly one themselves. The same rule applies to time. In the early days of self propelled transportation, the steam locomotive was thought to be capable of such blistering speed (78 miles per hour by 1850) that such forces could not be withstood by something as frail as the human body. As late as the 1860’s, it was thought the extreme nature of these comparatively mild rides could unhinge the human mind and cause 'Railway Madness'. During the same time frame, humanity had devised instant communication through the telegraph, photos and cataract surgery (available since the 1700’s), which was a procedure that forever altered the world as a method of curing the blind from the accumulative effect of the sun on the human retina. Yet, something as unfamiliar as a locomotive was thought to be capable of inducing incredible madness in the most sane.

Although science can explain how humans fly, cure blindness and permit travel across continents in hours, it is not useful at acknowledging why we choose to do it. While some miracles remain miracles throughout time, the rest fade with each year and discourse with others. For example, science can estimate that the miracle Constantine witnessed in the year 312, which inspired him to go into battle and win Rome, was possibly a solar halo, a metrological phenomenon. A solar halo is rare and caused by the refraction of light through ice crystals in the earth’s atmosphere. The image projected happens to closely resemble the name from which it was given, a halo, the early Christian-church symbol of the divine. I had the privilege of witnessing the lunar version during a moon rise, on Mount Whitney, in California, at 13,000 feet (pictured top). Science can explain why such an event can occur due to weather conditions, but not how Constantine happened to witness one in the exact moment before he was to go into battle. Many would refer to this as chance or probability. In reference to Christ, one of two eclipses occurred in the exact area of his crucifixion in the years 29 and 33. Scientists can comprehend and follow the cyclical pattern of the solar cycle to confirm that possibly two eclipses did happen in the area, as was recorded in Mark 13:24 (above). Science cannot explain why one of the most important events described in the text of the world’s largest religion, occurred in that exact spot and moment. The academic words for studying such an area of human culture and psyche could be explained through Anthropology, Theology or even Statistics. One or more of these disciplines could and have analyzed the likelihood of such events occurring in nearly the exact area of Christ’s crucifixion, or a lunar halo in front of Constantine before battle. In the end, these matters all boil down to the likelihood of the event occurring in the exact moment. To me, the probability is the miracle. Although these are only two examples of naturally miraculous events in Christianity, their mere existence can be explained by science fairly easily. The significance is left to faith.

Daniel Kipp Astin is a 2020 graduate of Susquehanna University with a bachelors in Creative Writing. Astin enjoys exploring the effects of place, time and spirituality on identity. Astin enjoys writing historic and outdoor adventure fiction. He also specializes in essays dealing with anthropology, history, technology, polemics and faith.

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