Sunday, September 07, 2008


Poems are made by fools like me
But only God can make a . . . turtle?

I haven’t participated in Sunday Scribblings in quite a while and the one for today is challenging. I’ll start with a disclaimer which is that I do not profess to teach other people how to believe. I only write about the world, spiritual and otherwise, as I see it.
I don’t believe in miracles. Or at least not in ordinary circumstances and ordinary times. I celebrate a miracle-based holiday yearly—the holiday of Hanukkah. We say on that holiday, “Nes Gadol Hayah Sham-- A Great Miracle Happened There”. But “there” was on a planet far, far away.
I believe in physics, evolution, happenstance and statistics. That being said some things are, simply, miraculous, for example, photosynthesis, embryogenesis, turtles. As to the latter, how but through a hypothetical miracle could an animal with a concave shell on its back, continue to walk the earth. Who would have thought of an animal that has to use its neck to right itself? But in these instances I technically mean “wonder” rather than “miracle.”

Dandelion Upended

What I can’t believe in is the kind of miracles people pray for. I couldn’t pray for my grandmother to recover when she had terminal cancer. It seemed presumptuous. Why should she be granted a special effort from God when so many other people are denied the same? Did I really believe I was worthy of a miracle on my own selfish behalf?
The world is full of suffering, inequality and unfairness. I can’t believe in an equation where there is a God who will step in to save one child and slaughter a thousand others. A building collapses and one child walks away. If this is a miracle there is an implication that all the other people who died were denied the courtesy of God’s attention. I’ll buy that this is chance or good luck for that one child but not that this child is more worthy or that his survival is part of a greater plan that included all those other deaths.

Unreinforced Masonry

I might pray for world peace or an end to global warming but I cannot honestly pray for something to step in and turn a hurricane away from New Orleans or save one person above all the other sufferers. Bad weather happens. Tsunamis happen. Cancer, AIDS, heart disease, schizophrenia and head colds happen. To be slightly trite and slightly vulgar, shit happens.
Miracles would seem to let us off the hook. If we pray enough, truly believe enough, and are pure enough of heart, we don’t have to work, struggle and take our chances like everyone else. Perhaps, I am being selfish. I don’t need a miracle at present. The only direct threat to my life is that of being mortal. But there is no room for miracles in my world.


susan said...

Given the definition you're using, I can follow your argument. Thanks for the read.

A Free Man said...

Well said. The difference between wonder and miracles is an important one. I studied photosynthesis quite extensively and am still awestruck by the intricacies - how each of these processes came together to form such a beautifully efficient system. But I don't have to invoke God to explain it. I have a god of my understanding, but he/she fits nicely in with physics and evolution and reason. The two don't have to be in conflict.

angela said...

I guess the word "miracle" has become devalued over the years...I like your choice of photos to illustrate the theme..(please tell me someone gave the turtle a helping hand!)

self taught artist said...

wow you made me totally remember about sunday scribblings...
nice to see you so active again.
good post, i wish more people had the sensibility that you do. this world might be more grounded.
i have to say to me a miracle is just something totally unexpected and wonderful happening. thats it. chance. no one is better or chosen, just a bizarro out of this world happening.

Rayne said...

Well written and it made me think. I am in agreement with you in that I don't see why God would bother with granting my prayer out of the billions that are sent every day. What makes me any more worthy. A special peeve of mine is when somebody tries to comfort me over something bad that has happened by saying, "It's all according to God's plan." Why would God set up such horrible plans? How could this be something that he had set up and what reason could He have for setting out to target just me, or you, or someone else?

sarala said...

No turtles were injured in the making of this post.

Anonymous said...

You put that really well and I agree with you. I think people say it's a miracle when one person walks away because we need something to cling onto, some kind of hope.

lisaschaos said...

I understand what you mean. I hadn't thought it all out but I don't pray for miracles for those reasons. I never felt worthy, but deeper I can follow your thoughts.

Love the turtle, so did you help him out?

Rinkly Rimes said...

I think it's a miracle that some people believe in miracles, religious ones, anyway. I read recently that someone thought it a miracle that the antibodies of the 1918 flu are still floating around in survivors' bodies! But millions died! Was that also a miracle?

Larry said...

I really don't know what to make of God, miracles and anything ese that has to do with religion.-The only thing that I can say is that it is less difficult for me to believe in a higher power han it is for me to believe that life was created by a cosmic accident.-Seeing the sense of purpose and order in the natural world won't allow me to believe that this was accidental.-I like your take on miracles-interesting read.