Monday, July 1, 2013

No Miracles Here

At a church service one Sunday when I was ten years old, the pastor asked congregants who wanted to share stories of their personal experiences with God to gather at the front of the church. This was the very same church I attended that moved to me convert through a fearful sermon less than a year later, but getting back to my point, I decided to share an experience.

My younger brother had recently been born. A high-risk pregnancy, I thought his uncomplicated birth was indisputable evidence of God's work. After all, my mom was a carrier of a virus that, although caused no harm to her, had the possibility of causing developmental damage to my brother. The doctors also paid special attention to her pregnancy because she was nearly 35 when she became pregnant. After sharing my mom's "miraculous" story, a woman approached me after everyone had spoken and told me she enjoyed my testimony. To have another person approve of my story only reaffirmed my belief in miracles...but only ones that happened to me. Everyone else's was subject to criticism.

I was trapped in a hypocritical situation that many religious people find themselves in today. Everyone else's miracles, I told myself, had an explanation. The ones that happened to me, however, were immune to questioning. I  remained completely ignorant to answering the questions surrounding the improbable happenings in my own life until I did away with religion entirely in my early teens. I wanted to believe that my stories were the only unique ones. Surely the survivor of that car accident was just exaggerating about their odds of survival and therefore did not experience a miracle. Certainly that person who was "healed" by prayer was just secretly taking medication, exaggerating about the severity of their ailment, and feigning their "miraculous" recovery.

Everyone's "miracles" have explanations, even if a person may never find out the real cause(s) behind his or her situation. Some people just don't want to hear and believe the truth, even when the explanations for their miracles ARE in plain sight. My older brother was rear-ended by a semi truck two years ago and nearly clipped by another, escaping only with minor injuries. Was he very fortunate? Yes, but it wasn't the work of a guardian angel or God's intervention, as some have suggested to me. Was my younger brother being born without developmental complications unlikely? Again, yes, but I now understand that the situation had  biological, not theological, answers.

There have been happenings in my life that I am unable to explain and will probably encounter more. That does not make them miraculous "works of God" by default. Some of these instances will later be explained through new evidence, and some I'll die without ever figuring out. Attributing seemingly inexplicable events to the miraculous work of a deity is a psychologically satisfying, but intellectually inaccurate way of interpreting something. It requires further investigation and inquiry, not taking the easy way out and giving the credit to some god just because the real answer isn't available right now.

In my case, I wanted to believe everyone's miracles but mine had no divine explanation. Until I learned to see  ALL miracles as potentially solvable mysteries, none of which deserved the label of "unique," my mind was closed. Having it open now has been a brilliant journey for me, unashamedly and rigorously searching for answers to some of life's toughest questions and situations. I may never figure them out, but that is no reason to stop pushing the limits of the human mind in favor of a supernatural cop-out answer.