"Medical Miracle" and the Other Side of the Coin
To present a different view regarding the question "what is a medical miracle?", I have extracted a small portion of a paper written by Boguslaw Lipinski, Ph.D., D.Sc. and to be found at the Faith and Culture website. Go there to read the entire paper titled "Christian Roots of Western Medicine" Also it would be most interesting to read what my visitors to this blog have to say about medical miracles. So.. comment! ..Maurice.
What is a medical miracle? There is a religious meaning, a lay meaning,
and what we shall call a scientific meaning. We define a scientific miracle an
event that has an extremely low probability of occurring. Such miracles are well
known in medicine, but generally physicians call them spontaneous remissions.
Scientific, or medical, miracles do not need any explanation: their occurrence is
explained by statistical probabilities. In other words, miracles - in our scientific
sense of the word - are definitely part of scientific thinking. (Berry RJ: “What to
believe about miracles.” Nature, 1986;322:321-322.)
In 1984 fourteen signatories, all of them professors of science in British
universities, submitted a letter to the Times about miracles (The Times, 13 July
1984). They asserted that:" It is not logically valid to use science as an argument
against miracles. To believe that miracles cannot happen is as much an act of
faith as to believe that they can happen. We gladly accept the virgin birth, the
Gospel miracles, and the resurrection of Christ as historical events. Whatever
the current fashions in philosophy or the revelations of opinion polls may
suggest, it is important to affirm that science can have nothing to say on the
subject. Its 'laws' are only generalizations of our experience." The authors have
exposed the fallacy of Hume's attack on miracles based on an assumption that
events have only a single cause and can be explained if the cause is known. "
This is logically wrong. For example, an oil painting can be 'explained' in terms
either of the distribution of pigments or the intention and design of the artist. In
the same way, a miracle may be the work of (say) a divine up -holder of the
physical world rather than a false observation or unknown cause. The authors
quote Medawar (Medawar P. The Limits of Science. [Harper&Row, New York,
1984]) who said: " There is then a prima facie case for the existence of a limit to
scientific understanding." Most of our anxieties, problems and unhappiness
today stem from a lack of purpose which were rare a century ago and which can
fairly be blamed on the consequences of scientific inquiry.