14. Why doesn't God perform miracles?

God does not perform miracles, just as they do not: Jesus, Our Lady, the saints, Batman, Cinderella… In discussions or reflections on the veracity of religion, the question of miracles always pops up, then you should know that, on this basis, there is only the embarrassment of deciding to believe one religion over another. In fact, all religions offer a vast repertoire of miracles. If Islam presents its own miracles, it is hard to see why they should be less credible than Christian, Hindu or Buddhist ones.

Miracles are, for a believer, currency. The business of miracles, for cultural history, may begin with the priest-king of Rome Numa Pompilius and continue with Pythagoras, credited with several miracles and with going to and from the realm of the dead at will. Pagan shrines, then, were filled with feet, hands, viscera, and every part of the body dedicated in terracotta as evidence of miracles received.

Since even pagans were able to exhibit miracles, Christianity solved the problem by claiming that, in those cases, they were superstitions or magical arts, when not demonic, because a miracle obtained in the name of an untrue religion is completely bogus, while those obtained in the name of a true religion, are a manifestation of divine power. For that matter, this funny logic continues to circulate even today, especially in comparisons between different religions.

Example the case concerning John Paul II, who attributed the “miracle” of surviving to an intervention by Our Lady of Fatima. “A maternal hand guided the bullet”-he declared. Now, one cannot help but wonder: why did Our Lady not guide him in a way that missed him altogether? Was it too difficult?

Extraordinary healings are the centerpiece of the history of miracles. Take precisely the case of the hundreds of millions of sick pilgrims who, to date, have gone to Lourdes. The Church, in a hundred and fifty years of pilgrimages, has so far recognized only sixty-five (or sixty-seven) miracles, the average, less than one in a million, is far lower than the percentage of spontaneous cancer remissions, which is on the order of one in ten thousand. A cancer patient would be a hundred times more comfortable staying at home than bothering to make a pilgrimage to Lourdes!”

Yet, even if one does not go to Lourdes the miracle derived from statistical ignorance always exists for believers. Take the Web site, pointed out by Richard Dawkins, which puts together no less than 565 propositions that would prove the existence of god, most of which are circular reasonings, when not hilarious and, none are consistent, while number eight derives a supposed miracle from the following demonstration:

1) my aunt has cancer. 2) the doctor gave her all the terrible treatments. 3) my aunt prayed to god and now she no longer has cancer. 4) therefore, god exists.

It does not specify which god the aunt prayed to, nor does it mention all the cases in which the patient, without praying, had an identical recovery.

Extraordinary healings do not happen only in the religious sphere. There are Atheists who heal from “incurable” diseases without having prayed to anyone. The characteristics of all these so-called extraordinary healings are randomness and the presence of medical cure. The law of randomness (probability) and, medical cures, combined with spontaneous regression, placebo effect and, sometimes, our own minds, cure an Atheist, a Buddhist, a Muslim, a Satanist, a Christian and a Faerie believer, in the exact same way, without the intervention of an imaginary friend. None of these extraordinary healings violates the laws of nature, no miraculous healing has ever involved events that would be irrefutably prodigious, such as: the spontaneous regrowth of an amputated limb, the re-growth of a severed spinal cord, the reappearance of an eye in the eye socket or from the total regrowth of a severed ear, and so on

Every “answered prayer” is nothing more than chance. One can see the reality by examining a simple example:

Suppose the remission rate of a very malignant type of cancer is 5%. This means that if 20 people have this type of cancer, it will almost always be fatal. Only one person out of the 20 who have the disease will survive. Knowing this we can see what happens if we really analyze the prayers: 20 believers contract the disease, all of them have read the Gospel and all of them pray, 19 of them die. The one who is saved proclaims, “I prayed to the Lord and the Lord answered my prayers! My illness has been cured! It’s a miracle! I knew God would answer my prayers!”

You will never hear anything from the 19 who died. No one has ever written about them in a magazine: “Some people pray and then die” is not a great headline, is it? 

Therefore, if you don’t look at all the facts about “answered prayers” and only know about the one prayer out of twenty that was successful, it seems that prayer works. The fact is that the believers who prayed died from that disease just like the people who did not. One can see the reality of this simply by opening one’s eyes and looking at the data. One has to open one’s eyes, one has to pay attention to both the successes and failures of prayer to understand the reality of our world. When we have a scientific approach and look at both sides of the issue, we see what is really going on.

Don’t waste time, paper and ink refuting the ridiculousness created to entertain believers, such as: statues drinking milk, madonnas crying (never laughing), flying hosts, bleeding hosts, levitating sorcerers, etc. The church is a master in this art; when it feels the crisis in its coffers, it is quick to invent the miracle business. 

According to what believers say, god does not do obvious miracles and wonders, because it would take away our free will. Is there by any chance any exception? Do bleeding hosts or statuettes not take away free will; conversely, does regrowth of amputated limbs?  If god can make useless chunks of plaster cry, it means he really does have magical powers but, coincidentally, instead of using them to heal millions of children with cancer in one fell swoop, he prefers to entertain his chickens with silly magic tricks (see Try praying).

God does not perform miracles because he is only imaginary!