Chapter 4: Miracles, Revelation, and Prophecy
Section I: Introduction
The divine intervention of a god or supernaturality that may be viewed through miracles, revelation, or prophecy, is the reason why many people personally believe in a god. It is through seeing something that appears to be unexplainable through nature that many people conclude that god - or another form of supernaturality - is responsible for things that are not "naturally possible." When a person sees these inexplicable phenomena, much of the time they can only conclude that they do not know the answer. Much of the other time, they conclude that it was divine intervention. Something may be so awesome and infinite, they claim, it must have been caused by a god or spirits. In this chapter, I will not analyze each, individually proclaimed miracle. I shall analyze and criticize the concept of miracles and divine intervention. A miracle is an act of god or spirits intervening with the natural world. Revelation is an act of god or supernaturality where a truth is revealed or confirmed. And a prophecy is a promise of a god or supernaturality that is fulfilled. Revelation by a god or a form of supernaturality is a miracle of sorts, so that is how I shall deal with revelation: by refuting the concept of miracles. It is these concepts - miracles, revelation, and prophecies - that I shall attack.
In the previous chapter, I discussed origins and the theories - both natural and supernatural - which attempt to explain the existence of beings in this Universe. The flaw with a supernatural explanation is that it is based upon ignorance, the lack of understanding of the mechanics of the Universe. The most primal form of this ignorance is a miracle: to claim that a simple (and most likely naturally explainable) happening was due to the intervention of the omnipotent.
Section II: The Nature Of Miracles In Regards To The Natural Universe
When something happens that is inexplicable, it is through science and not theology that we ought to try to explain this phenomenon. Just as to claim that plants grow because the god Ceres causes them to grow or to claim that this Universe originated from a god is ignorance, to claim that something unexplainable is divine just to explain it is also ignorance. We can understand as logical and reasonable beings that the laws of nature govern the cause and effect relationships of matter. If one were to witness a rainbow and then to claim that it was a miracle, it would be out of the ignorance of the witness, not out of the validity of the miracle. Rainbows are scientifically caused by chemical reactions. The true cause can be known scientifically. To claim that a miracle is responsible for an action is to be ignorant. It is obvious, then, that to claim a miracle is to admit ignorance the natural laws that govern the Universe. To quote Percy Bysshe Shelley, "Every time we say that God is the author of some phenomenon, that signifies that we are ignorant of how such a phenomenon is caused by the forces of nature." 
There are those who will claim that prayer has power to cause miracles. The error with prayer is that it only appears to work although it has no real power. For example, if I pray that the Sun comes up tomorrow, the way it has for the past thousand years every day, and the Sun does come up, does that mean that the prayer is responsible for the Sun coming up? Certainly not. The Earth revolves around the Sun due to gravitational pull; thus what would appear as the Sun coming up. It is through science that we have identified gravity and the laws of nature. These laws of nature are what cause the bodies in this Universe to move and it governs their paths. If I pray for the Earth to revolve around the Sun, it is done in vain. Once again, scientific law is capable of explaining natural phenomena whereas theological speculation leaves us with no answers. Furthermore, if I prayed for the Sun not to come up tomorrow, would it cease to come up? I seriously doubt this possibility. A prayer may appear to work when someone prays for something natural to happen - like the Sun coming up in the morning -, yet a prayer fails when we pray for something unnatural to happen - like the Sun not coming up in the morning. Robert Green Ingersoll gives us some light on the nature of miracles and how they can be counted as valid. To quote Ingersoll...
I am sure that many people pray for certain things to happen that they get: a friend to get healthy from an ailment, or for some self benefiting request. I am certain that there are these situations where a person prays for something and gets it. However, the qualm that I have with these prayers being proof of a god or any form of supernaturality is that the prayer was in no way related to the supposed effect. A prayer absolutely has no effect on the rotation of the planets. If I pray for a planet to change its orbit or to explode, my prayer is not fulfilled. However, if a planet does change its orbit or explodes, of if anything happens to a planet's condition, it can certainly be explained through the natural laws of science. If it is 2:00 PM and I pray for it to be 8:00 PM later tonight, and time does go through its natural occurrence of passing, would that mean that the prayer is responsible for time passing? Certainly not, as the laws of science and physics are perfectly capable for explaining the natural phenomena of the Universe. To claim that things happen on divine account is to be arrogant. Similarly, if someone prays for their family member to get healthy from ailment - and the family member does get healthy from ailment -, it is rather due to a doctor's skill or a medicine's efficiency. It is through science and medical knowledge that patients recover. It is certainly not through miracles or theological speculation. In ancient times, all ailments were said to be of demons and mythological beasts. Also, our primitive ancestors also believed that these ailments were cured through a sort of divinity. To quote Ethan Allen...
If a miracle was capable of causing unnatural phenomena or of ceasing a natural phenomena - two things which are identical - then I may be inclined to believe a miracle. When I state "causing unnatural phenomena," I mean causing something unprovoked. For example, in a row of dominoes, each domino moves because it was pushed. No domino will ever move without being provoked, or pushed. One may say that wind can cause the domino to fall over, but this is simply a different form of provocation, but still a form of provocation. If a domino falls over without being provoked to fall over, then this is an unnatural phenomena. If a domino is pushed sufficiently and does not fall over, then this is the ceasing of a natural phenomenon. If a miracle were capable of doing these things - of breaking the very laws of science - then I may be more inclined to believe in their existence. The error with the concept of miracles, at its primal core, is that a miracle is defined as breaking the laws of physics and logic through divine methods. If it is true that miracles are defined as breaking the laws of physics and science, then all miracles by their own definition are breaches in the natural laws of science and therefore are rendered foolish and should not be believed, unless one is akin to believing that a breach in the natural laws of science is acceptable. The Universe is governed by natural laws of science. The divine powers of whatever religion have no affect on our daily affairs. To believe that god may be responsible for the Sun coming up, for someone getting healthy from a disease, or from one of any other so-called miraculous events, is ignorance.
There are many arguments, however, for defending the concept of miracles. In regards to the breach of natural laws of science by god's or spirits' miracles, such as a domino falling over without being pushed or a domino not falling after being sufficiently pushed, one may say that god himself moved the domino. Nothing happens without a cause, this argument would agree, but the cause of miracles would be god physically causing it to happen; a rock would move, for example, because god moved it physically, just as a man could. Certainly, this explanation of the problem may appear appealing at first. It explains that rather than a miracle being an obscure calling or command of supernaturality, it explains that a miracle is the actual physical movement of a god. However, this position runs into problems. How does a supernatural being - composed of nothing except supernatural parts - move a natural object? All natural objects are measurable in their weight and mass. If something were to knock down a pole, for instance, what knocked it down could be measured as a natural object. For example, if it was a car, we could measure the speed it was going at and the size of the car; and cars certainly are not supernatural objects. If it was the wind, we could measure the speed of the wind; and wind is certainly not a supernatural object. However, if god is responsible for knocking down a pole, there is no way to observe this god committing such an act and there certainly is no way in which its actions are measurable. Until god is actually seen committing these miracles, or measured in some sort of way, then we have no reason at all to believe that this god is physically causing these miracles. It is absurd.
One may argue, in finality, that god does not answer all of our prayers for particular reasons. This seems ludicrous in its highest estimates. The Christian god, for example, could be held responsible by several thousand people for saving their lives, possibly from illness or a accidents. These Christians may believe that god saved them at one point or another. In what degree of righteousness, however, can god save one Christians from cancer yet allow millions of children to starve in foreign nations every day from malnutrition? How could this Christian god save one life yet condemn the rest of lower animal creation because they are born with four legs instead of two, just as the Christian god permitted slavery of the races?  Perhaps the Christian god - or any god who poses as "benevolent" or "loving of its creation" - is so revolting and vile in nature that his regard for heathens is so less than his regard for his followers that he will allow heathens to die brutal deaths. In no respect do I mean to convict the Christian god alone of iniquity. Why is Allah so content to get his followers a closer parking space to a store when these countless famines across the planet rage with unending anguish? Why is Yahweh undisturbed to get his followers good luck at gambling when plagues continue to infect and kill thousands? If the miracles of these gods are true, then there would be no evil whatsoever in this world. There could be a tyrannical god who causes miracles only for his favorite subjects, but certainly not a benevolent god. Any argument that comes forward presenting that evil is necessary, a blessing in disguise, or some other theological dogma, cuts itself at its premises, as if there is no evil in the world, then certainly, there is no need for miracles.
Of course, the concept of gods giving miracles to only their followers and allowing infidels to die unaided only renders these gods as vile, disgusting, and completely unworthy of worship. There is no such thing as a benevolent god who leaves the infidels unaided. There may be a tyrannical god, but certainly no benevolent god. However, if there is a tyrannical god, then I would certainly see no reason why this god would perform any miracles at all. Certainly, however, there was a time when man was not advanced and a time when he needed miracles to explain why people got sick or got better and to explain why the planets moved. They were miracles, divine interventions, acts of gods. Clearly, this lack of science and acceptance of divinity is a clear sign that ignorance breeds religion, and nothing else.
There are those who propagate the concept of prophecies. They will claim that religious scripture has indicated that a particular event will happen and then they will claim that the particular event has happened. The first error I encounter with these prophecies is that they are quite vague to the point where they are unrecognizable. For example, a prophecy may be fulfilled when a war happens or a region officially becomes a nation. For a prophet to make a prophecy and then the prophecy occurs, both the prophecy of an event and the prophesied event are unrelated. Just as someone may pray for their family to get better from an ailment and their family does improve in health, it is no proof of a miracle, because improving in health is a natural and completely normal event. Also, it would also be natural and normal for a patient to die from an ailment. A miracle cannot be ascribed to a dead patient, certainly, as it is a negative thing when miracles are supposed to be positive. By what regards may one apply a miracle to a living and surviving patient, when both events are completely and equally natural? If a prophecy claims that a war happens, and a war does happen, both are completely unrelated phenomena. Wars happen because of affairs in politics and the will of the people of various nations. As time passes many things will come to happen: famine, plague, war, political change, etc.. However, these things have natural causes. Just as a rainbow happens because of scientifically plausible explanations, a war or political affairs happen because of the cause and effect of the various institutions of government. For a prophecy to claim that a war will happen in the century is equivalent to a meteorologist saying that a rainy day will happen eventually in the month. The only difference between a meteorologist and a prophet is that meteorologists have a higher rate of accuracy. One could claim that, "One day it will rain, and this is a prophecy of Allah," just as much as one could claim that, "One day it will thunder, and this is a prophecy of Vishnu." Both are equally fraudulent prophecies, as they are based on natural phenomena, much in the way that miracles are.
Even if a prophecy, revelation, or miracle were indeed proof of a god or supernatural being, by what means can we interpret them? If a miraculous event explainable by no other way than a miracle happens, how shall we interpret it? One may say that it is the god Zeus who is responsible for it. Another may say that it is the god Ra who is responsible for it. And another may say that it is the god Christ who is responsible for it. The fact of the matter is that we cannot point to any one religion or another for a miracle. In fact, one could create a religion based on natural phenomena. If one were to claim, "When you see a river flow, it is a result of invisible, pink unicorns," it would be equal to someone claiming, "When my daughter recovered from cancer, it was the result of god's good graces and his miracles." Both statements are based on ignorance; a river flowing, a patient improving, or any other natural phenomena is completely explainable through natural and scientific terms. There is no necessity to invoke dogmatic, theological speculation to the realm of knowledge - it simply distorts reality. We may explain the physical world naturally. Miracles, revelation, and prophesy do nothing to prove god or any other form of supernaturality, as all phenomena in the tangible Universe is explainable through scientific methods. I now end this section with a quote by Thomas Hobbes (1588-1679)...
Section III: The Miracle Of God
Many will purport that it is absolutely necessary that a god or some form of supernaturality exists on account of miracles and prophecy. However, from the inconsistency of a god to cause miracles for a rare select and allow other dire situations to go unaided with no miracle, it would appear that god is simply an unconscious, erratic form of supernaturality that is governed by chaos. For a god to heal a child who has cancer yet let millions of children starve in foreign lands is certainly not a consistent, nor even a benevolent god.
The error with claiming the necessity of a god to explain miracles falls to the same scrutiny that claiming the necessity of a god to explain the natural Universe: both end up creating a larger hole than they were attempting to fill. For example, does it not seem miraculous that there is a god or form of supernaturality that may alter the physical Universe? Would it not seem as though the existence of this god is based on a miracle of perhaps a higher god? The error is that to claim that miracles and prophecies exist because of a god or form of supernaturality is that god must have also been created by a miracle, and that cause of the miracle must have also been created by a miracle, ad infinitum. It creates an endless line of gods, each having miracled the other into existence. Thus, in conclusion, we are given a lengthy line of gods all having created each other.
Section IV: Conclusion
Miracles are ignorance of nature and the laws of the physical Universe. To claim that a rainbow is a miracle is ignorance of the chemical reactions that take place to cause the rainbow. Furthermore, for a god to break the laws of physics by causing a miracle is absolutely impossible regardless of the apologetics that attempt to excuse god. Prophecies are no mere mystical thing. To claim that something as vague as a nation forming or a war waging is equal to claiming that it will rain one day eventually. Rain, just like wars and politics, is a common thing and if given the proper amount of time, you will have a war, political upheaval, or rain. Prophecy, miracles, and revelation are based on misconstruing the natural laws of nature so that they appear to be what they are not. The concept of divine intervention is based on the ignorance of the mind.
1. Percy Bysshe Shelley, Shelley's Notes to Queen Mab.