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Why isn't there a better word for "miracle" that doesn't have religious connotations?

Sure, according to the dictionary definitions "miracle" doesn't have to hand religious connotations but I've found in real life most people would say it does.

Personally I feel like it is fine too wish for a non religious "miracle". An extraordinary bout of good fortune, that one in a hundred occurrence that happens to only one in a hundred. I guess one could say "good luck" but afterwards does one just say again "it was good luck" or "excellent luck" or "you're so lucky" etc.? I'm not sure. The list of synonyms for miracle isn't very helpful either... [merriam-webster.com]

Basically I wish there was a noun for the phenomenon that is an instance of good fortune without any assumption of divine intervention. Luck can work but it certain circumstances it just seems inappropriate to me . M

prometheus 7 Sep 6
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33 comments

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7

Thesarus.com is your friend. "Miracle" synonyms:

marvel
phenomenon
rarity
revelation
surprise
wonder

I feel comfortable with mystery in life.

@MissKathleen

Thank you. I took this sunset photo at Emerald Lake, in Necklace Valley, WA. Sunset set the cliffs afire, first gold, then red.

6

I have also wished there was a better term than miracle that doesn’t have religious connotations. I still find myself using it—rarely, but when I do, I usually catch myself, and change it to something like “fucking remarkable” for extra emphasis.

"Fucking" anything nicely secularises pretty much everything.

@prometheus Feels amazing, too.

4

What about miracle whip lol

Whip it good!

4

How about these alternatives to miracle or miraculous:
amazing event;
astonishing,
astounding,
awesome,
incredible,
fabulous,
mind-bending,
mind-blowing
mind-boggling,
phenomenal,
portentous,
prodigious,
stunning,
stupendous,
unbelievable,
unimaginable,
wondrous

Great list!

4

It's a wonder.
It's a marvel, a happy mystery.

Anything more equivalent than that would imply magic, which is what I assume you wish to avoid.

4

I have always used the term 'beautiful surprise' to denote things a more religious person would deem a miracle by divine intervention. I like serendipity, too, and it's also quite fitting as others have noted. Though I see serendipity as more fitting to describe a result than a forethought.

I once used it to describe a foreskin. Got a blank stare in response.

4

Yes I do not think that there is a neat single word. I always have to resort to phrases like. "Wonderful good fortune." Which is not very satisfactory. I think that AmytheBruce below comes up with the closest, 'serendipity' though that is not perfect since its has slightly trivial associations. Why not invent one yourself, and persuade this site to begin promoting it ?

How about something like an, "incredibility".

4

It's probably because of two things:

  1. Lack of knowledge on probabilities. The fact that something is extremely unlikely to happen, does not equal to impossible.

  2. Because the moment something improbable happens to people, they link it to god; surprise surpise, the god of their country. Thus, Christ did it, is the most possible outcome, thus they call it a miracle.

For sure a lot of the world's problems and especially America's are caused by really bad math - especially statistics which is actually frequently counter intuitive (Monty Hall problem anyone?). If people knew statistics they definitely wouldn't waste weeks of their lives on their knees praying...

To the rest of us a miracle is just a good black swan event.

@prometheus Well said 🙂

3

You say miracle and I think mayonnaise. That's what a lifetime of atheism will do to you.

3

I’m just fine with phenomenon or wonder. I even use miracle and am ok with that too, because it just means something wonderful which has no evident attributable cause, much like many other unanswered questions about the how and why of our existence and place in the universe. No need to imbue it with supernatural meaning, it just means we are at present unable to understand how or why it happened, but that there’s a logical explanation just the same.

Why so angry at my answer...what did I say that got you so riled up?

Among atheists saying "miracle" is generally understood to not require divine intervention, but I feel like just using that word gives power to those that though there is a personal god doling out miracles like cotton candy or Presidential pardons.

@prometheus That is probably because the word has been misappropriated by the religious.

@prometheus Bingo! You win today's cookie.

3

How about "magic"? 🙂

Surely magic doesn't exist just the skill to develope an illusion of magic. Nevertheless less it still remains on everyone's wish list. The pity is eg. in trying to magic up a Million dollars is that it stops people thinking about how to get a million dollars without magic.

@Mcflewster Surely, miracles don't exist, just the skill to develop an illusion of miracles. 🙂

3

Because miracle's don't happen, just extraordinary circumstances, none of which ever violate the laws of nature.
Perhaps the word you're looking for is "synchronicity."

syn·chro·nic·i·ty
/ˌsiNGkrəˈnisədē/

noun

  1. the simultaneous occurrence of events which appear significantly related but have no discernible causal connection.

Well if there was a word for a singular event. I think serendipitous could work... "it was serendipitous", or "it was serendipity" cover a lot of use cases. But wishing someone "good serendipity" might take some explaining.

3

Take a familiar use of the word and apply the alternatives and see which, if any, work best. For this exercise we;ll use the movie Miracle on 34th Street.

Incredibility on 34th Street
Serendipity on 34th Street
Amazement on 34th Street
Thaumaturgy on 34th Street
Sensation on 34th Street
Big Surprise on 34th Street
Unlikely Phenomenon on 34th Street
Rare Supernatural Occurence on 34th Street

Do any of those work for anyone? I might be able to live with "Sensation" but I'd rather just keep Miracle and live with the religious implications.

The movie The Miracle Worker would be another good exercise.

TIL "Thaumaturgy".

Sensation sounds too sensationally - requiring a spectacle. Serendipity is starting to warm with me.

I love Unlikely Phenomenon on 34th Street but the idea of Santa Claus makes me ill. I also love The Sensation Worker but it changes the story.

3

I agree about the word "miracle", but I don't think that "luck" is much better as even it implies some sort of causative force behind events.

How about "serendipity"? Meaning "the occurrence and development of events by chance in a happy or beneficial way."

2

Definition of Miracle......An event that appears inexplicable by the laws of nature and so is held to be supernatural in origin or an act of God.
As Atheists and Agnostics we know that there are no supernatural events and there is no God so we we should not use the word miracle to describe any event.

2

I say we take back the word.

Science and math the shit out of it? Could work but would probably need to be ridiculously prevelant to have effect.

Or maybe just devalue it mockingly. "Woke up this morning and the sun rise - it's a miracle!"

2

I am a common person and most of the common people I know think that the word "miracle" has something to do with a god. (of course, it just happens to be their god.) Whatever word is used here it means "something they cannot explain" and so any of us take that into "supernatural" which really means the same thing. It is something you cannot explain. BTW, I no longer believe in the supernatural but I know there is so much that we cannot explain.

2

Try "unexplained event".

dumb luck

@Dougl35534 that works in some cases, but in others I'd want something with more positive connotations. I would wish my friend having a lung transplant "dumb luck" in the outcome.

1

Stupendous

That is fricking stupendous!
It's a stupendous event!

1

With billions of people on the planet, something "that happens to only one in a hundred" is a pretty common event.

Shhhhh, don't tell them that, with math like that they will assume you are a witch!

1

"Luck" doesn't exist except as a semantical device.

1

The word is FICTION = miracle ....religion = FICTION .... WHY would a self respecting Atheist pretend a miracle may happen in the future when zero miracles have ever happened since the 1st shamanS invented religionS ???

It’s just a word. It can mean whatever you want. It isn’t a fiction just a word...no need to capitalise it, it isn’t about religion unless you make it so.

I didn't mean it in that sense. I think it is fair to look for a work that expenses empathy with someone in the hope they get a positive outcome in a statistically unfavorable situation. And a more positive word or phrase than "I wish you a snowball's chance on hell".

@prometheus frankly I URGE Atheists to stop minimizing the evils of religion.....millions of baby boys are tortured and harmed for life during/after CIRCUMCISION..... the alleged miracle of childbirth is promptly followed by the barbarity of antiquity ....how quickly the great Ayaan Hirsi Ali is forgotten after her book condemning ritual genital mutilation that slices off the labia and clitoris from her body and millions of girls from Africa.... I refuse to remain silent during our community discussions about words that kill, maim, brainwash and rape

@prometheus empathy for 2 living rapist popes ? KAROL Wotjyla alias jp2 branded a "saint" responsible for 2 alleged miracles???? It is worse than a crock of shit to let these miracle bad boys remain revered rather than condemned universally...... mirroring and enabling believers hopes for miracles IS NOT EMPATHY.... if you really want to help them, discuss real solutions, Express sympathy for their pains/fears ....there is no hell to suggest snow balls melt there so if prospectS for success are nearest zero BE HONEST and say I shall Google search for someone working on such a problem....prEyer and miracles are 100% failure activities

1

I like "fortune" with different qualifiers..."some" "good", "great" "fantastic" "un-believeable", ect. I use to like "luck", but then I said "good luck" and was accused of sarcasm.

Yeah it is too easy to say "good luck" and have it come across as sarcastic, but said sincerely with empathy it should work. Fortune works but doesn't exactly roll off the tongue in all cases.

@prometheus said with sincereity and empathy..."good luck".....nope ...doesn't work for me.. thanks though

@HankSherman a sad statement of the times that "I'll pray for you" could come across as more sincere than "good luck".

@prometheus thats true, I always took "I'll pray for you" with a grain of salt....and considering that I have had "good luck" as a saying for many years, am sadden that some prick used it in a sarcastic way , and it seem to have caught on. So.....I agree on your comment

1

I find myself using the word miracle as " damn near impossible".
I say "It would take a miracle..." as someone else would say "you have a better chance winning the lottery".
I do like the song Miracles by Jefferson Starship though.

1

As Aron Ra says look up the defunitions of miracle and magic. They are almost indistinguishable.

@MissKathleen I Am American by birth. My genetics are literally more Britt. Than most britts. My grandfather was from Canada and thought he was french. Nope. He made up the name when he immigrated to the U.S.

The avatar is something I use online as CompelledUnbeliever the name of my Youtube Channel. The Celtic knot was stolen from the celts and made into a Christian symbol for the trinity. So as a joke I stole it, my daughter added the red "A" and now it is my personal atheist avatar!

@MissKathleen The celtic knot existed in the Celt culture before the Christians Christianized it. I simply commadeered it for myself in that tradition.

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