A church I used to attend is talking about a "miracle": Several youth from the church survived, and were rescued from, a very hazardous accident in the mountains with barely any injuries. (I have to spare the really specific details here, sorry.)
What bothers me is how nearly impervious such an event like this is to rational critique. So many variables are involved, and many (though not all) of the variables are in favor of the kids coming out ok. Yet, it's not hard to create a narrative around the incident where it sounds like nothing short of Divine Intervention could have made it so the kids are as okay as they are today. I can agree (tentatively) with them that it sounds less than probable...
But proof of miracle?! How can you remotely claim that until you stop biasing your data with apparent improbabilities and recognize the other (conflicting and non-conflicting) variables and all of their inherent uncertainties? Ugg!...
(In a nutshell, why I'm not much into this church anymore.)
Of course in a situation like this, I'd sound like a jerk trying to point out any of these probabilistic concerns to them by seeming to be an unfeeling (I.e. "over-analytical" ) skeptic and not focusing on sympathizing with their happiness during a near-tragic event. That's anti-social, right?!
Moral of the story: For those of us who care about good empiricism, "God" uses the pressure on us of not socially 'misbehaving' to get away with seeming to have performed "miracles."
The appropriate response is "it's extremely fortunate that this turned out well, and I'm glad that it did. But it's boorish and insensitive to crow about it when it DOESN'T turn out well for a whole lot of pious and godly persons. What about all the people who prayed for safety on 9/11 and then were wiped out in the ensuing attacks? How do you think THEIR families feel about the ones who claim that god prevented their alarm clock from ringing that day?
So a group of young people got lost in the mountains and were rescued by a highly trained mountain rescue team.
I assume the young people were not devoid of any training and had the sense to stay put and find/make some sort of shelter.
This is a scene played out many times throughout the year in Europe, the majority of which are concluded with limited injury and great success.
At what point does something rare or unlikely become a miracle?
I have no problem believing in a miracles. I may have made up my own illusion on the matter. If anything changes course in the middle of something that could be a miracle. If a person who's heart was bitter and hard and for some unknown reason he almost changed over night...that is a miracle in my eyes. I cannot remember specifics, but I know that I have heard of storms that came thru and spared houses in very close proximity to ones that were destroyed...that is a miracle to me! Once I was driving in a dark area and I was distracted with a young mother i was taking to get food that i had found panhandling. I made a left turn into a short cut off, that would put me onto the left road. And I did not see a car that was coming from the right, because of my passanger. If I had pulled out even 5ft we would have been hit on the passanger side! It was the closest call, that I have ever had...that was a miracle to me. Of course there are explanations for all these things! But, they are miraculous to me. The randomness of the Universe! Even that seems like a miracle to me.