Friday, October 15, 2010

Ebert on Miracles

Yesterday Roger Ebert questioned the use of the term "miracle" to describe the rescue of the Chilean mine workers. In doing so, he attempted to explain what a miracle is, which for Ebert seems to be something like "a violation of the laws of nature by God."

Ebert is a smart guy, working outside his area of expertise (film), so he makes a lot of mistakes in his treatment of miracles, theology, and history. But what I find remarkable is what he says at the end of his discussion of miracles.
I argue that few people have a good idea of what a miracle actually is. It's not like entering the lottery. God doesn't perform miracles for a few lucky winners. They take place for one purpose only, and that is not to spare lives, cure disease, heal limbs or prevent a bus from falling off a mountain. Their only purpose is to demonstrate the glory of God. They're sort of wake-up calls: "Hey, people, this is Me up here on the mountain top, hurling these lightning bolts."
While Ebert says he does not believe in miracles of this sort, he is concerned with separating out a proper understanding of what a miracle is. What do you think of Ebert's claim about the purpose of miracles (according to his reading of Christian tradition)?

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