Explain or Defend This Miracle

Creationism, Evolution, and other science issues

Moderator: Moderators

User avatar
William
Savant
Posts: 10486
Joined: Tue Jul 31, 2012 8:11 pm
Location: Te Waipounamu
Has thanked: 494 times
Been thanked: 1129 times
Contact:

Explain or Defend This Miracle

Post #1

Post by William »

A miracle is an event not explicable by natural or scientific laws.[2] Such an event may be attributed to a supernatural being (especially a deity), magic, a miracle worker, a saint, or a religious leader.

Informally, the word miracle is often used to characterise any beneficial event that is statistically unlikely but not contrary to the laws of nature, such as surviving a natural disaster, or simply a "wonderful" occurrence, regardless of likelihood. Some coincidences may be seen as miracles.


I thought it would be interesting to have a place where claimed miracles [specifically biblical] can be analyzed through scientific method to establish if there may be an explanation regarding any claimed miracle, which can be shown to be able to occur through natural causes rather than supernatural ones, thus establishing that the claimed miracle is not really a miracle at all.

My first choice is the following.


Image

The Holy Fire

Description from within the Orthodox faith
Orthodox tradition holds that the Holy Fire happens annually on the day preceding Orthodox Pascha (Orthodox Easter). During this time, blue light is said to emit within Jesus Christ's tomb, rising from the marble slab covering the stone bed believed to be that upon which Jesus' body is to have been placed for burial. The marble slab is now in the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in the Old City of Jerusalem. The light is believed to form a column of fire, from which candles are lit. This fire is then used to light the candles of the clergy and pilgrims in attendance. The fire is also said to spontaneously light other lamps and candles around the church.[2][3] Pilgrims and clergy say that the Holy Fire does not burn them.[4][5]

While the Patriarch is inside the chapel kneeling in front of the stone, there is darkness but far from silence outside. One hears a rather loud mumbling, and the atmosphere is very tense. When the Patriarch comes out with the two candles lit and shining brightly in the darkness, a roar of jubilation resounds in the Church. [Link]

User avatar
DrNoGods
Guru
Posts: 1903
Joined: Wed Jan 11, 2017 2:18 pm
Location: Tucson, AZ
Has thanked: 349 times
Been thanked: 804 times

Re: Explain or Defend This Miracle

Post #2

Post by DrNoGods »

[Replying to William in post #1]
I thought it would be interesting to have a place where claimed miracles [specifically biblical] can be analyzed through scientific method to establish if there may be an explanation regarding any claimed miracle, which can be shown to be able to occur through natural causes rather than supernatural ones, thus establishing that the claimed miracle is not really a miracle at all.
I"d think the "Holy Fire" example could be easily investigated by simple observation, along with some straightforward spectroscopic measurements. If this blue light does appear (presumably direct observation with a pair of eyeballs could confirm/deny this) and it originates from a slab of marble, the light could be directed into a dispersive spectrometer to analyze its spectrum as a function of wavelength to identify the atoms and/or molecules responsible for the emission.

Then the marble could be analyzed to see if those atoms/molecules or their precursors exist within the marble or on its surface. If so, then further spectroscopic investigation could reveal the mechanism for the blue light production (eg. fluorescence, elastic scattering, Stokes or Anti-Stokes emission, Raman scattering, etc. ... all requiring indicent light of the same or different (eg. Raman) wavlengths). If the conditions do not exist for any known production of blue light (eg. no exciting light of the same, or another, wavelength), and no heat source is present so the emission is not thermally induced, etc. then this would argue for the "miracle" explanation. However, it would be good to look for human interference to see if this blue light is supplied by some man-made method produced intentionally to support the story (ie. it is generated as part of the "show").

The "column of fire" said to light candles could also be tested to see if the temperature of said fire is high enough to actually ignite a candle wick. Or is this fire defined so loosely that its properties are ambiguius, or it is not accessible for measurement (typical of many supernatural descriptions, and tactics of faith healers, psychics, etc.). The comment that the "holy fire" does not burn human skin, but is hot enough to light a candle wick, is a contradiction in the real world. You cannot have both at the same time, without a "miracle", and no miracle has never been demonstrated (scientifically) to have actually happened. The mystery and ambiguity around their descriptions often seems specifically designed to bypass any actual scientific investigations or reasoning. If this "holy fire" event is a regular thing, I'd expect whoever stages it makes sure no spectrometers or other scientific instrumentation (especially IR thermometers) gets anywhere near it.
In human affairs the sources of success are ever to be found in the fountains of quick resolve and swift stroke; and it seems to be a law, inflexible and inexorable, that he who will not risk cannot win.
John Paul Jones, 1779

The man who does not read has no advantage over the man who cannot read.
Mark Twain

User avatar
Miles
Prodigy
Posts: 3353
Joined: Fri Aug 28, 2009 4:19 pm
Has thanked: 257 times
Been thanked: 927 times

Re: Explain or Defend This Miracle

Post #3

Post by Miles »

William wrote: Fri Feb 05, 2021 1:53 pm
A miracle is an event not explicable by natural or scientific laws.[2] Such an event may be attributed to a supernatural being (especially a deity), magic, a miracle worker, a saint, or a religious leader.

Informally, the word miracle is often used to characterise any beneficial event that is statistically unlikely but not contrary to the laws of nature, such as surviving a natural disaster, or simply a "wonderful" occurrence, regardless of likelihood. Some coincidences may be seen as miracles.


I thought it would be interesting to have a place where claimed miracles [specifically biblical] can be analyzed through scientific method to establish if there may be an explanation regarding any claimed miracle, which can be shown to be able to occur through natural causes rather than supernatural ones, thus establishing that the claimed miracle is not really a miracle at all.
Of course, science's failure to explain an event or our attempt to use the scientific method to explain it doesn't mean it's supernatural.



.

User avatar
William
Savant
Posts: 10486
Joined: Tue Jul 31, 2012 8:11 pm
Location: Te Waipounamu
Has thanked: 494 times
Been thanked: 1129 times
Contact:

Re: Explain or Defend This Miracle

Post #4

Post by William »

When I first became aware of this claimed miracle, I thought to myself "This is easy" - the important guy holding the 2 stacks of bounded candles goes into a room claimed to be the tomb of Jesus [which is then sealed] and comes out later - candles lit and without saying so, "a miracle" because the claim that this is what happens [spontaneous supernatural event] has long since been taken for granted as being the truth of the matter, by those who expect a miracle to take place.

Obviously the important looking guy [or his companions who enter the tomb with him] lights the candles when he is out of view of the crowd expecting said miracle.

User avatar
William
Savant
Posts: 10486
Joined: Tue Jul 31, 2012 8:11 pm
Location: Te Waipounamu
Has thanked: 494 times
Been thanked: 1129 times
Contact:

Re: Explain or Defend This Miracle

Post #5

Post by William »

Here is another;

Fire Consumes Nehemiah's Sacrifice
We thought it important to remind you of this, so that you too may celebrate this festival. In this way you will remember how fire appeared when Nehemiah offered sacrifices after he had rebuilt the Temple and the altar.
At the time when our ancestors were being taken to exile in Persia, a few devout priests took some fire from the altar and secretly hid it in the bottom of a dry cistern. They hid the fire so well that no one ever discovered it.

Years later, when it pleased God, the Persian emperor sent Nehemiah back to Jerusalem, and Nehemiah told the descendants of those priests to find the fire. They reported to us that they had found no fire but only some oily liquid. Nehemiah then told them to scoop some up and bring it to him.

When everything for the sacrifice had been placed on the altar, he told the priests to pour the liquid over both the wood and the sacrifice. After this was done and some time had passed, the sun appeared from behind the clouds, and suddenly everything on the altar burst into flames. Everyone looked on in amazement. Then, while the fire was consuming the sacrifice, Jonathan the High Priest led the people in prayer, and Nehemiah and all the people responded.

User avatar
Difflugia
Guru
Posts: 2294
Joined: Wed Jun 12, 2019 10:25 am
Location: Michigan
Has thanked: 1844 times
Been thanked: 1363 times

Re: Explain or Defend This Miracle

Post #6

Post by Difflugia »

William wrote: Thu Feb 11, 2021 1:28 pmFire Consumes Nehemiah's Sacrifice
We thought it important to remind you of this, so that you too may celebrate this festival. In this way you will remember how fire appeared when Nehemiah offered sacrifices after he had rebuilt the Temple and the altar.
At the time when our ancestors were being taken to exile in Persia, a few devout priests took some fire from the altar and secretly hid it in the bottom of a dry cistern. They hid the fire so well that no one ever discovered it.

Years later, when it pleased God, the Persian emperor sent Nehemiah back to Jerusalem, and Nehemiah told the descendants of those priests to find the fire. They reported to us that they had found no fire but only some oily liquid. Nehemiah then told them to scoop some up and bring it to him.

When everything for the sacrifice had been placed on the altar, he told the priests to pour the liquid over both the wood and the sacrifice. After this was done and some time had passed, the sun appeared from behind the clouds, and suddenly everything on the altar burst into flames. Everyone looked on in amazement. Then, while the fire was consuming the sacrifice, Jonathan the High Priest led the people in prayer, and Nehemiah and all the people responded.
Whether coincidental to current threads or not, that's 2 Maccabees 1:18-23. That particular pericope also sheds an interesting light on 1 Kings 18, when Elijah had a contest with the priests of Baal to see whose god would light a fire. The priests of Baal tried in vain to get Baal to light a fire and Elijah mocked them ("...maybe he's thinking, pooping, or taking a trip; or perhaps he's sleeping and needs to be awakened!"—18:27). Then it was his turn:

2 Kings 18:25-40:
Elijah said to all the people, “Come near to me!”; and all the people came near to him. He repaired Yahweh’s altar that had been thrown down. Elijah took twelve stones, according to the number of the tribes of the sons of Jacob, to whom Yahweh’s word came, saying, “Israel shall be your name.” With the stones he built an altar in Yahweh’s name. He made a trench around the altar large enough to contain two seahs of seed. He put the wood in order, and cut the bull in pieces and laid it on the wood. He said, “Fill four jars with water, and pour it on the burnt offering and on the wood.” He said, “Do it a second time;” and they did it the second time. He said, “Do it a third time;” and they did it the third time. The water ran around the altar; and he also filled the trench with water.

At the time of the evening offering, Elijah the prophet came near and said, “Yahweh, the God of Abraham, of Isaac, and of Israel, let it be known today that you are God in Israel and that I am your servant, and that I have done all these things at your word. Hear me, Yahweh, hear me, that this people may know that you, Yahweh, are God, and that you have turned their heart back again.”

Then Yahweh’s fire fell and consumed the burnt offering, the wood, the stones, and the dust; and it licked up the water that was in the trench. When all the people saw it, they fell on their faces. They said, “Yahweh, he is God! Yahweh, he is God!”
My preferred pronouns are he, him, and his.

User avatar
William
Savant
Posts: 10486
Joined: Tue Jul 31, 2012 8:11 pm
Location: Te Waipounamu
Has thanked: 494 times
Been thanked: 1129 times
Contact:

Re: Explain or Defend This Miracle

Post #7

Post by William »

Difflugia wrote: Thu Feb 11, 2021 2:31 pm
William wrote: Thu Feb 11, 2021 1:28 pmFire Consumes Nehemiah's Sacrifice
We thought it important to remind you of this, so that you too may celebrate this festival. In this way you will remember how fire appeared when Nehemiah offered sacrifices after he had rebuilt the Temple and the altar.
At the time when our ancestors were being taken to exile in Persia, a few devout priests took some fire from the altar and secretly hid it in the bottom of a dry cistern. They hid the fire so well that no one ever discovered it.

Years later, when it pleased God, the Persian emperor sent Nehemiah back to Jerusalem, and Nehemiah told the descendants of those priests to find the fire. They reported to us that they had found no fire but only some oily liquid. Nehemiah then told them to scoop some up and bring it to him.

When everything for the sacrifice had been placed on the altar, he told the priests to pour the liquid over both the wood and the sacrifice. After this was done and some time had passed, the sun appeared from behind the clouds, and suddenly everything on the altar burst into flames. Everyone looked on in amazement. Then, while the fire was consuming the sacrifice, Jonathan the High Priest led the people in prayer, and Nehemiah and all the people responded.
Whether coincidental to current threads or not, that's 2 Maccabees 1:18-23. That particular pericope also sheds an interesting light on 1 Kings 18, when Elijah had a contest with the priests of Baal to see whose god would light a fire. The priests of Baal tried in vain to get Baal to light a fire and Elijah mocked them ("...maybe he's thinking, pooping, or taking a trip; or perhaps he's sleeping and needs to be awakened!"—18:27). Then it was his turn:

2 Kings 18:25-40:
Elijah said to all the people, “Come near to me!”; and all the people came near to him. He repaired Yahweh’s altar that had been thrown down. Elijah took twelve stones, according to the number of the tribes of the sons of Jacob, to whom Yahweh’s word came, saying, “Israel shall be your name.” With the stones he built an altar in Yahweh’s name. He made a trench around the altar large enough to contain two seahs of seed. He put the wood in order, and cut the bull in pieces and laid it on the wood. He said, “Fill four jars with water, and pour it on the burnt offering and on the wood.” He said, “Do it a second time;” and they did it the second time. He said, “Do it a third time;” and they did it the third time. The water ran around the altar; and he also filled the trench with water.

At the time of the evening offering, Elijah the prophet came near and said, “Yahweh, the God of Abraham, of Isaac, and of Israel, let it be known today that you are God in Israel and that I am your servant, and that I have done all these things at your word. Hear me, Yahweh, hear me, that this people may know that you, Yahweh, are God, and that you have turned their heart back again.”

Then Yahweh’s fire fell and consumed the burnt offering, the wood, the stones, and the dust; and it licked up the water that was in the trench. When all the people saw it, they fell on their faces. They said, “Yahweh, he is God! Yahweh, he is God!”
I stumbled upon this supposed miracle through following your thread on 2 Maccabees.

This thread is specific to Defending why [the examples] should be considered miracles or Explaining why they should not be.

User avatar
William
Savant
Posts: 10486
Joined: Tue Jul 31, 2012 8:11 pm
Location: Te Waipounamu
Has thanked: 494 times
Been thanked: 1129 times
Contact:

Re: Explain or Defend This Miracle

Post #8

Post by William »

William wrote: Thu Feb 11, 2021 1:28 pm Here is another;

Fire Consumes Nehemiah's Sacrifice
We thought it important to remind you of this, so that you too may celebrate this festival. In this way you will remember how fire appeared when Nehemiah offered sacrifices after he had rebuilt the Temple and the altar.
At the time when our ancestors were being taken to exile in Persia, a few devout priests took some fire from the altar and secretly hid it in the bottom of a dry cistern. They hid the fire so well that no one ever discovered it.

Years later, when it pleased God, the Persian emperor sent Nehemiah back to Jerusalem, and Nehemiah told the descendants of those priests to find the fire. They reported to us that they had found no fire but only some oily liquid. Nehemiah then told them to scoop some up and bring it to him.

When everything for the sacrifice had been placed on the altar, he told the priests to pour the liquid over both the wood and the sacrifice. After this was done and some time had passed, the sun appeared from behind the clouds, and suddenly everything on the altar burst into flames. Everyone looked on in amazement. Then, while the fire was consuming the sacrifice, Jonathan the High Priest led the people in prayer, and Nehemiah and all the people responded.
A clue is found not far on into the document {2 Maccabees chapter 1 vs 36}
"Nehemiah and his companions called the liquid nephthar, meaning purification, but most people named it naphtha."

User avatar
Sherlock Holmes
Under Suspension
Posts: 1567
Joined: Wed Dec 29, 2021 10:42 am
Has thanked: 41 times
Been thanked: 81 times

Re: Explain or Defend This Miracle

Post #9

Post by Sherlock Holmes »

[Replying to William in post #1]

By that definition you cite, surely the presence of scientific laws must constitute a miracle?
When one has eliminated the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth.

User avatar
William
Savant
Posts: 10486
Joined: Tue Jul 31, 2012 8:11 pm
Location: Te Waipounamu
Has thanked: 494 times
Been thanked: 1129 times
Contact:

Re: Explain or Defend This Miracle

Post #10

Post by William »

Sherlock Holmes wrote: Sun May 15, 2022 2:41 pm [Replying to William in post #1]

By that definition you cite, surely the presence of scientific laws must constitute a miracle?
Why?

My definition as it is, cites along the lines that there are no such things as miracles, but only such things as scientifically unexplained.

Anything unexplained by science does not constitute a miracle, any more than the secrets of a magicians illusion constitutes a miracle.

Theoretically, a magicians secrets re an illusion can ALL be explained through scientific method, even if the secret is difficult to uncover.

The magician him/her self already knows the answer to the secret, and so in that sense, already knows the science behind the illusion, which is to say - there is always a scientific explanation to what appear to be 'miracles' and thus, there are really no such thing as miracles. There are only such things as unexplained/secrets which are - in the case of the magicians illusion - purposefully kept from the observers knowledge.

Post Reply