Do Miracles Really Violate the Laws of Science?
Dr. Timothy McGrew is professor and chairman of the Department of Philosophy at Western Michigan University.
The late Christopher Hitchens, in his debates with Christians, liked to put his opponents on the spot with a straight question or two, gravely asked. “Do you really believe that Jesus was born of a virgin? Do you really believe that he rose from the dead?” If the Christian answered in the affirmative, Hitchens would turn to the audience with a theatrical flourish: “Thank you. Ladies and gentlemen, my opponent has just demonstrated that science has done nothing for his worldview.”
It is always a shrewd move to paint one’s adversary as an enemy of science, and Hitchens rarely let slip an opportunity for good theater. But good theater is not always good reasoning. Did Hitchens really believe that first century Jews didn’t know where babies come from or that Roman soldiers didn’t know how to kill an unarmed man? Did he doubt that peasants in an agrarian society had seen enough death to know that in the natural course of things, men who are dead—completely dead, not just mostly dead—stay that way? Christians from Pentecost onward have been shouting from the rooftops the astounding message that Jesus, who was crucified and buried, had risen bodily from the dead. Did Hitchens really think he could show them up by suggesting that there is something out of the ordinary about the claim?Read More
Can Atheists Believe in Miracles? Can Theists Reject Them?
Elliott Sober is Professor of Philosophy at the University of Wisconsin.
Can atheists believe in miracles without contradicting themselves? Can theists disbelieve in them, again without contradicting themselves? In both cases, the answer depends on what you mean by a miracle.
Atheists believe that God does not exist. If a miracle is defined as an event that is brought about by divine intervention, then atheists are obliged to think that miracles don’t exist. However, if you adopt a different definition of a miracle, the situation is different.
People often speak of “the miracle of childbirth,” meaning that the event is awe-inspiring and welcome. Atheists can and do believe that miracles in this sense are not only possible; like their fellow theists and agnostics, atheists think it is obvious that such miracles actually occur.Read More
The Ubiquity of the Miraculous
Craig Keener is F. M. and Ada Thompson Professor of Biblical Studies at Asbury Theological Seminary.
Is it possible to believe in miracles today? That might depend on how one defines “possible,” but certainly the majority of the world’s population does believe in what could be called miracles. This is true even in many parts of the secular Western world. Thus surveys over the past few decades have placed belief in miracles in the United States at roughly 80 percent. Indeed, one wide survey of physicians gave a figure of 73 percent, with over half of U.S. doctors believing that they had witnessed one.
Moreover, for many, the belief in miracles goes beyond the merely hypothetical to how they understand some of their experiences. One 2006 Pew Forum Survey of Pentecostals and charismatics in ten countries suggests that some 200 million people from these groups claim to have witnessed divine healing. Even more surprising, 39 percent of Christians in these countries who did not identify as Pentecostal or charismatic claimed to have witnessed divine healing.Read More
The Irrationality of Belief in Miracles
Larry Shapiro is Professor of Philosophy at the University of Wisconsin.
Consider one of the “big” miracles, by which I mean those that require divine intervention. Events that are simply awe-inspiring or marvelous—like the “miracle” of childbirth or the Miracle on Ice—don’t count. Instead, consider examples such as Jesus rising from the dead or turning water into wine; Moses parting the Red Sea; a trace of oil burning for eight nights. Events like these require divine intervention because, presumably, without such intervention the natural laws according to which the universe marches would have prevented them from happening.Read More
At Twilight of the Sabbath Eve
Lenn Goodman is Professor of Philosophy and Andrew W. Mellon Professor in the Humanities at Vanderbilt University.
Biblically, there is bound to be some tension between talk of miracles and thoughts of nature, with God its guarantor. The Talmudic Rabbis seek to ease the tension by imagining the prominent exceptions to nature’s regularity woven into its fabric from the start:
Ten things were created on the Sabbath eve at twilight: the mouth of the earth [that swallowed Korah and his cohort (Numbers 16)], the mouth of the well [of Miriam], the mouth of the she-ass [of Balaam (Numbers 22:28)], the rainbow (Genesis 9:13-17), the manna (Exodus 16:14-26), Moses’ rod (Exodus 4:17, etc.), the Shamir [whose tracks cleaved the stones for Solomon’s temple, lest any iron tool desecrate it with even a suggestion of bloodshed (Exodus 20:22, 1 Kings 6:7)], the letters, writing, and tablets [of the Decalogue (Exodus 24:12)].... And some say, the tongs made with tongs. (Mishnah Avot 5.8)Read More
The ShamWow! Argument for the Possibility of Miracles
Kelly James Clark is the Senior Research Fellow, as well as a visiting professor of Religious Studies and Honors, at Grand Valley State University.
Imagine for a moment Bob, an extraordinarily gifted terrarium maker. Bob builds and outfits one of his extraordinary terrariums (terraria?) and places in it some baby salamanders. No ordinary salamanders, these: when mature, they have the brain capacity of a human being: fully human thinking capacities in a salamander brain (to paraphrase the Genie from Aladdin, “phenomenal cognitive powers…itty bitty living space.”). Bob’s terrarium is a nearly perfect living space for his brainiac amphibians. The terrarium has an equilibrium of vegetation, temperature, water, air, and everything else that salamanders require for their existence. They never multiply beyond what their limited space can handle. And their feces and dead bodies, along with the decaying flora, fertilize future flora as needed to sustain life. In order to preserve the equilibrium, a light regularly turns on at increasing and then decreasing intervals as it moves slightly around the top perimeter over the course of a year. Finally, the terrarium is made of glass that is opaque to salamanders but transparent to Bob.Read More
When Is Belief in Miracles Rational?
Hans Halvorson is Professor of Philosophy at Princeton University.
A recent New York Times bestseller presents numerous accounts of surprising events in the lives of everyday people, arguing that these events were miracles. Should you believe it? My answer here is simple: for any event you experience in your life, no matter how strange, surprising, or wonderful, you should not believe that it is a miracle. Similarly, if somebody tells you that a miracle occurred, you should not believe him.
Really? What if an oncologist is 100 percent certain that her patient has terminal cancer and cannot possibly recover? And yet, when that person’s church holds a prayer vigil, miraculously the next day, the cancer is gone. Would it be rational to suppose that a miracle occurred? I’m sorry to sound harsh, but the answer is No. The oncologist, and everybody else, should continue believing that there is a perfectly cogent scientific explanation for the patient’s recovery.Read More
Does God Intervene in the World?
Owen Gingerich is Professor Emeritus of Astronomy and History of Science at Harvard University.
The word miracles derives from the Latin word for wonder.
I asked several of my friends what is the greatest wonder in the universe today, and the most common answer was the same as mine: the birth of a human baby. The complexity of the process from a microscopic beginning to a macroscopic infant is wondrously awesome. And to top this off, the human brain is the single most complicated thing we know about in the entire universe.
But in common usage, wonderful is not the same as miracle. To be a miracle there has to be something unexpected, something that goes against the grain of ordinary experience.Read More
Susan Grove Eastman is Associate Research Professor of the New Testament at Duke University.
Are miracles possible? This is a distinctly modern question. It presumes the existence of a “natural world” governed by laws that must be broken for a miracle to occur and a “spiritual world” of divine action that may operate contrary to the laws of nature. But if we take off the post-Enlightenment lenses that make such a distinction between the natural and the spiritual realms, then the question looks very different.
For example, the Greek word translated “miracle” in the New Testament writings of the first century is dynamis, or “power.” Think “dynamite.” When Jesus does “works of power,” the point is not that he contravenes some independently existing natural order, but that he personally enacts the presence and power of God. There were other “miracle workers,” both Jewish and pagan, in the ancient world; the “possibility” of such demonstrations of power was not debated. What mattered was determining their source. How do we recognize a powerful event as coming from God? The question is not, “Are miracles possible?” but, “How do we know or recognize God’s action?” And that question takes us to questions about how we know anything or anyone at all. In answer to this question, the writings of some contemporary cognitive scientists and the ancient letters of Paul converge in surprising ways.Read More
Has Science Subsumed the Miraculous?
Stephen Barr is Professor of Physics at the University of Delaware.
For many “scientific skeptics,” the most absurd aspect of religion is belief in miracles. The miracles claimed by Christianity are looked upon in the same way as magic spells, voodoo dolls, and Ouija boards; and the prophesies of Isaiah or Christ are seen as just as baseless as the predictions of Tarot cards or fortune tellers.
In this view, nothing could be more antithetical to modern science than miracles. Fundamental to science is the conviction that phenomena have rational explanations, whereas belief in miracles supposedly reflects an obscurantist hankering after the mysterious and inexplicable. The prestigious scientific journal Nature famously gave voice to this opinion in a 1984 editorial:
[F]ar from science having “nothing to say” about miracles, the truth is quite the opposite. Miracles, which are inexplicable and irreproducible phenomena, do not occur.Read More
A Deeper Vision of Nature
Alister McGrath is Andreas Idreos Professor of Science and Religion at the University of Oxford, and author of the acclaimed biography C. S. Lewis: A Life (2013).
Debates about miracles have become fairly predictable set pieces these days, partly because the arguments on both sides are so familiar. One of the problems is that so much seems to depend on definition. David Hume famously defined a miracle as “a violation of the laws of nature,” raising the difficult question of what it would mean for a “law of nature” to be violated. If the laws of nature are simply summative statements of natural regularities, an apparent “violation” of those laws could be seen as a miracle—but would more reasonably be taken as an indication that what had hitherto been assumed to be a “law of nature” was actually nothing of the sort. No law of nature was violated, because it wasn’t a “law” in the first place.Read More
Miracle Quotes (66 quotes)
Dogbert (gazing at night sky) No matter how bad the day is, the stars are always there.
Dilbert Actually, many of them burned out years ago, but their light is just now reaching earth.
DogbertThank you for shattering my comfortable misconception.
DilbertIt's the miracle of science.
— Scott Adams
Dilbert comic strip (21 Nov 1990).
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When asked what he meant by a miracle:
Oh, anything with a probability of less than 20%.
— Enrico Fermi
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[Attributing the origin of life to spontaneous generation.] However improbable we regard this event, it will almost certainly happen at least once
. The time
is of the order of two billion years.
Given so much time, the impossible becomes possible, the possible probable, and the probable virtually certain. One only has to wait: time itself performs the miracles.
— George Wald
In 'The Origin of Life', Scientific American (Aug 1964), 191, 46. Note that the quoted time of 2 billion years is rejected as impossibly short by such authors as H. J. Morowitz, in Energy Flow in Biology (1968), 317.
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A magician of old waved a wand that he might banish disease, a physician to-day peers through a microscope to detect the bacillus of that disease and plan its defeat. The belief in miracles was premature, that is all; it was based on dreams now coming true.
— George Iles
From chapter 'Jottings from a Note-book', in Canadian Stories (1918), 176.
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A Miracle is a Violation of the Laws of Nature; and as a firm and unalterable Experience has established these Laws, the Proof against a Miracle, from the very Nature of the Fact, is as entire as any Argument from Experience can possibly be imagined. Why is it more than probable, that all Men must die; that Lead cannot, of itself, remain suspended in the Air; that Fire consumes Wood, and is extinguished by Water; unless it be, that these Events are found agreeable to the Laws of Nature, and there is required a Violation of these Laws, or in other Words, a Miracle to prevent them? Nothing is esteem'd a Miracle, if it ever happen in the common Course of Nature... There must, therefore, be a uniform Experience against every miraculous Event, otherwise the Event would not merit that Appellation. And as a uniform Experience amounts to a Proof, there is here a direct and full Proof, from the Nature of the Fact, against the Existence of any Miracle; nor can such a Proof be destroy'd, or the Miracle render'd credible, but by an opposite Proof, which is superior.
— David Hume
An Enquiry Concerning Human Understanding (1748), 180-181.
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A physician is an unfortunate gentleman who is every day required to perform a miracle; namely to reconcile health with intemperance.
— Francois Marie Arouet Voltaire
In Great Thoughts from Master Minds (1887), 8, 49.
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An honest man, armed with all the knowledge available to us now, could only state that in some sense, the origin of life appears at the moment to be almost a miracle, so many are the conditions which would have had to have been satisfied to get it going. But this should not be taken to imply that there are good reasons to believe that it could not have started on the earth by a perfectly reasonable sequence of fairly ordinary chemical reactions. The plain fact is that the time available was too long, the many microenvironments on the earth's surface too diverse, the various chemical possibilities too numerous and our own knowledge and imagination too feeble to allow us to be able to unravel exactly how it might or might not have happened such a long time ago, especially as we have no experimental evidence from that era to check our ideas against.
— Francis Crick
In Life Itself: Its Origin and Nature (1981), 88.
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Anybody who looks at living organisms knows perfectly well that they can produce other organisms like themselves. This is their normal function, they wouldnt exist if they didnt do this, and its not plausible that this is the reason why they abound in the world. In other words, living organisms are very complicated aggregations of elementary parts, and by any reasonable theory of probability or thermodynamics highly improbable. That they should occur in the world at all is a miracle of the first magnitude; the only thing which removes, or mitigates, this miracle is that they reproduce themselves. Therefore, if by any peculiar accident there should ever be one of them, from there on the rules of probability do not apply, and there will be many of them, at least if the milieu is reasonable. But a reasonable milieu is already a thermodynamically much less improbable thing. So, the operations of probability somehow leave a loophole at this point, and it is by the process of self-reproduction that they are pierced.
— John von Neumann
From lecture series on self-replicating machines at the University of Illinois, Lecture 5 (Dec 1949), 'Re-evaluation of the Problems of Complicated AutomataProblems of Hierarchy and Evolution', Theory of Self-Reproducing Automata (1966).
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Atoms for peace. Man is still the greatest miracle and the greatest problem on earth. [Message tapped out by Sarnoff using a telegraph key in a tabletop circuit demonstrating an RCA atomic battery as a power source.]
— David Sarnoff
The Wisdom of Sarnoff and the World of RCA (1967), 251.
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Decades spent in contact with science and its vehicles have directed my mind and senses to areas beyond their reach. I now see scientific accomplishments as a path, not an end; a path leading to and disappearing in mystery. Science, in fact, forms many paths branching from the trunk of human progress; and on every periphery they end in the miraculous. Following these paths far enough, one must eventually conclude that science itself is a miraclelike the awareness of man arising from and then disappearing in the apparent nothingness of space. Rather than nullifying religion and proving that God is dead, science enhances spiritual values by revealing the magnitudes and minitudesfrom cosmos to atomthrough which man extends and of which he is composed.
— Charles A. Lindbergh
A Letter From Lindbergh', Life (4 Jul 1969), 60B. In Eugene C. Gerhart, Quote it Completely! (1998), 409.
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Does it seem all but incredible to you that intelligence should travel for two thousand miles, along those slender copper lines, far down in the all but fathomless Atlantic; never before penetrated
save when some foundering vessel has plunged with her hapless company to the eternal silence and darkness of the abyss? Does it seem
but a miracle
that the thoughts of living men
should burn over the cold, green bones of men and women, whose hearts, once as warm as ours, burst as the eternal gulfs closed and roared over them centuries ago?
— Edward Everett
A tribute to the Atlantic telegraph cable by Edward Everett, one of the topics included in his inauguration address at the Washington University of St. Louis (22 Apr 1857). In Orations and Speeches on Various Occasions: Volume 3 (1870), 509-511.
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Each human life is unique, born of a miracle that reaches beyond laboratory science.
— President Bill Clinton
Quoted in Kim Lim (ed.), 1,001 Pearls of Spiritual Wisdom: Words to Enrich, Inspire, and Guide Your Life (2014), 42
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For the religious, passivism [i.e., objects are obedient to the laws of nature] provides a clear role of God as the author of the laws of nature. If the laws of nature are Gods commands for an essentially passive world
, God also has the power to suspend the laws of nature, and so perform miracles.
— Brian Ellis
In The Philosophy of Nature: A Guide to the New Essentialism (2002), 2.
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From now on we live in a world where man has walked on the Moon. Its not a miracle; we just decided to go.
— Tom Hanks
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From now on, we live in a world where man has walked on the moon. It wasnt a miracle, we just decided to go.
— Jim Lovell
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Herewith I offer you the Omnipotent Finger of God in the anatomy of a louse: wherein you will find miracles heaped on miracles and will see the wisdom of God clearly manifested in a minute point.
— Jan Swammerdam
Letter to Melchisedec Thevenot (Apr 1678). In G. A. Lindeboom (ed.), The Letters of Jan Swammerdam to Melchisedec Thivenot (1975), 104-5.
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His [Thomas Edison] method was inefficient in the extreme, for an immense ground had to be covered to get anything at all unless blind chance intervened and, at first, I was almost a sorry witness of his doings, knowing that just a little theory and calculation would have saved him 90 per cent of the labor. But he had a veritable contempt for book learning and mathematical knowledge, trusting himself entirely to his inventor's instinct and practical American sense. In view of this, the truly prodigious amount of his actual accomplishments is little short of a miracle.
— Nikola Tesla
As quoted in 'Tesla Says Edison Was an Empiricist', The New York Times (19 Oct 1931), 25. In 1884, Tesla had moved to America to assist Edison in the designing of motors and generators.
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Hope is the companion of power and the mother of success, for those of us who hope strongest have within us the gift of miracles.
— Sydney Bremer
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I believe the universe created uswe are an audience for miracles.
— Ray Bradbury
Quoted in Kim Lim (ed.), 1,001 Pearls of Spiritual Wisdom: Words to Enrich, Inspire, and Guide Your Life (2014), 7
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I think the real miracle is not to walk either on water or in thin air, but to walk on earth.
— Thich Nhat Hanh
Quoted in Kim Lim (ed.), 1,001 Pearls of Spiritual Wisdom: Words to Enrich, Inspire, and Guide Your Life (2014), 8
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I thought it was a miracle that I got this faculty appointment and was so happy to be there for a few years that I just wanted to follow what was exciting for me. I didnt have expectations of getting tenure. So this was an aspect of gender inequality that was extremely positive. It allowed me to be fearless.
— Susan Lindquist
As quoted in Anna Azvolinsky, 'Fearless About Folding', The Scientist (Jan 2016).
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I waited for Rob and, linking arms, we took our final steps together onto the rooftop of the world. It was 8.15 am on 24 May 2004; there was nowhere higher on the planet that we could go, the world lay at our feet. Holding each other tightly, we tried to absorb where we were. To be standing here, together, exactly three years since Robs cancer treatment, was nothing short of a miracle. Standing on top of Everest was more than just climbing a mountain - it was a gift of life. With Pemba and Nawang we crowded together, wrapping our arms around each other. They had been more than Sherpas, they had been our guardian angels.
— Jo Gambi
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If matter is not eternal, its first emergence into being is a miracle beside which all others dwindle into absolute insignificance. But, as has often been pointed out, the process is unthinkable; the sudden apocalypse of a material world out of blank nonentity cannot be imagined; its emergence into order out of chaos when “without form and void” of life, is merely a poetic rendering of the doctrine of its slow evolution.
— William Knight
In Nineteenth Century (Sep c.1879?). Quoted in John Tyndall, 'Professor Virchow and Evolution', Fragments of Science (1879), Vol. 2, 377.
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If we can combine our knowledge of science with the wisdom of wildness, if we can nurture civilization through roots in the primitive, mans potentialities appear to be unbounded, Through this evolving awareness, and his awareness of that awareness, he can emerge with the miraculousto which we can attach what better name than God? And in this merging, as long sensed by intuition but still only vaguely perceived by rationality, experience may travel without need for accompanying life.
— Charles A. Lindbergh
A Letter From Lindbergh', Life (4 Jul 1969), 61. In Eugene C. Gerhart, Quote it Completely! (1998), 409.
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If, as a chemist, I see a flower, I know all that is involved in synthesizing a flowers elements. And I know that even the fact that it exists is not something that is natural. It is a miracle.
— Albert Hofmann
In Pamela Weintraub (ed.), 'Through the Looking Glass', The Omni Interviews (1984), 161.
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In earlier times they had no statistics and so they had to fall back on lies. Hence the huge exaggerations of primitive literature, giants, miracles, wonders! It's the size that counts. They did it with lies and we do it with statistics: but it's all the same.
— Stephen Leacock
In Model Memoirs and Other Sketches from Simple to Serious (1971), 265.
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In my understanding of God I start with certain firm beliefs. One is that the laws of nature are not broken. We do not, of course, know all these laws yet, but I believe that such laws exist. I do not, therefore, believe in the literal truth of some miracles which are featured in the Christian Scriptures, such as the Virgin Birth or water into wine. ... God works, I believe, within natural laws, and, according to natural laws, these things happen.
— Sir Nevill F. Mott
Essay 'Science Will Never Give Us the Answers to All Our Questions', collected in Henry Margenau, and Roy Abraham Varghese (eds.), Cosmos, Bios, Theos (1992), 66.
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In the early days of telephone engineering, the mere sending of a message was so much of a miracle that nobody asked how it should be sent.
— Norbert Wiener
In The Human Use of Human Beings: Cybernetics and Society (1950), 4.
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In those parts of the world where learning and science has prevailed, miracles have ceased; but in those parts of it as are barbarous and ignorant, miracles are still in vogue.
— Ethan Allen
In Reason, the Only Oracle of Man (1836), 46.
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In wilderness I sense the miracle of life, and behind it our scientific accomplishments fade to trivia.
— Charles A. Lindbergh
Declaring a preference for contact with nature rather than with technology. In 'The Wisdom of Wilderness', Life (22 Dec 1967), 63, No. 25, 10.
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It is almost a miracle that modern teaching methods have not yet entirely strangled the holy curiousity of inquiry; for what this delicate little plant needs more than anything, besides stimulation, is freedom.
— Albert Einstein
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It is sometimes helpful to differentiate between the God of Miracles and the God of Order. When scientists use the word God, they usually mean the God of Order.
The God of Miracles intervenes in our affairs, performs miracles, destroys wicked cities, smites enemy armies, drowns the Pharaoh's troops, and avenges the pure and noble.
This is not to say that miracles cannot happen, only that they are outside what is commonly called science.
— Michio Kaku
In 'Conclusion', Hyperspace: A Scientific Odyssey Through Parallel Universes, Time Warps, and the Tenth Dimension (1995), 330-331.
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It is, as Schrödinger has remarked, a miracle that in spite of the baffling complexity of the world, certain regularities in the events could be discovered. One such regularity, discovered by Galileo, is that two rocks, dropped at the same time from the same height, reach the ground at the same time. The laws of nature are concerned with such regularities.
— Eugene Paul Wigner
In 'The Unreasonable Effectiveness of Mathematics in the Natural Sciences,' Communications in Pure and Applied Mathematics (Feb 1960), 13, No. 1 (February 1960). Collected in Eugene Paul Wigner, A.S. Wightman (ed.), Jagdish Mehra (ed.), The Collected Works of Eugene Paul Wigner (1955), Vol. 6, 537.
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Life is not a miracle. It is a natural phenomenon, and can be expected to appear whenever there is a planet whose conditions duplicate those of the earth.
[Stating his belief that planets supporting life cannot be rare.]
— Harold C. Urey
Lecture at New York Academy of Medicine. Quoted in article, 'Life Begins,' Time (24 Nov 1952).
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concluded with a panegyric upon modern chemistry
: The ancient teachers of this science said he, Promised impossibilities and performed nothing. The modern masters promise very little; they know that metals cannot be transmuted and that the elixir of life is a chimera. But these philosophers seem only made to dabble in dirt, and their eyes to pore over the microscope or crucible, have indeed performed miracles. They penetrate into the recesses of nature and show how she works in her hiding-places. They ascend into the heavens; they have discovered how the blood circulates, and the nature of the air we breathe. They can command the thunders of heaven, mimic the earthquake, and even mock the invisible world with its own shadows.
— Mary Shelley
In Frankenstein: Or, The Modern Prometheus (1823), Vol. 1, 73-74. Webmaster note: In the novel, when the fictional characters meet, M. Waldman, professor of chemistry, sparks Victor Frankensteins interest in science. Shelley was age 20 when the first edition of the novel was published anonymously (1818).
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No true geologist holds by the development hypothesis;it has been resigned to sciolists and smatterers;and there is but one other alternative. They began to be, through the miracle of creation. From the evidence furnished by these rocks we are shut down either to belief in miracle, or to something else infinitely harder of reception, and as thoroughly unsupported by testimony as it is contrary to experience. Hume is at length answered by the severe truths of the stony science.
— Hugh Miller
The Foot-prints of the Creator: Or, The Asterolepis of Stromness (1850, 1859), 301.
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One may say the eternal mystery of the world is its comprehensibility
The fact that it is comprehensible is a miracle.
— Albert Einstein
Physics and Reality, Franklin Institute Journal (Mar 1936). Collected in Out of My Later Years (1950), 60.
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People usually consider walking on water or in thin air a miracle. But I think the real miracle is not to walk either on water or in thin air, but to walk on earth. Every day we are engaged in a miracle which we dont even recognize: a blue sky, white clouds, green leaves, the black, curious eyes of a child - our own two eyes. All is a miracle.
— Thich Nhat Hahn
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Religion shows a pattern of heredity which I think is similar to genetic heredity. ... There are hundreds of different religious sects, and every religious person is loyal to just one of these. ... The overwhelming majority just happen to choose the one their parents belonged to. Not the sect that has the best evidence in its favour, the best miracles, the best moral code, the best cathedral, the best stained-glass, the best music when it comes to choosing from the smorgasbord of available religions, their potential virtues seem to count for nothing compared to the matter of heredity.
— Richard Dawkins
From edited version of a speech, at the Edinburgh International Science Festival (15 Apr 1992), as reprinted from the Independent newspaper in Alec Fisher, The Logic of Real Arguments (2004), 82-83.
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Science can give us only the tools in the box, these mechanical miracles that it has already given us. But of what use to us are miraculous tools until we have mastered the humane, cultural use of them? We do not want to live in a world where the machine has mastered the man; we want to live in a world where man has mastered the machine.
— Frank Lloyd Wright
Frank Lloyd Wright on Architecture: Selected Writings 1894-1940 (1941), 258.
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