Sheikh Mansour Leghaei (Earlwood, Australia)
Are Miracles Possible?
Three different concepts of possibility:
1. Rational Possibility
2. Scientific Possibility
3. Historical Possibility
4. Religious Possibility
1. Rational Possibility
In order for a statement to be rationally impossible it has to eventually lead to the Principle of Contradiction.
The principle of contradiction is a law of thought stating that a thing cannot ‘be’ and ‘not be’ at the same time. The principle of contradiction usually develops itself on three specific forms known as the “Three Logical Axioms” which are:
• A is A.
• A is not ‘Not-A’
• Everything is either ‘A’ or ‘Not-A’.
For a miracle to be logically and rationally impossible, it should result in the principle of contradiction. If for instance the concept of a miracle is like a ‘triangle square,’ then it is rationally impossible. Then we are obliged to conclude that what happened was not a miracle or whatever is a miracle does not happen.
Here we can certainly assert that the claim of Christians on the deity of Jesus and the concept of trinity as a miracle is wrong, for it is rationally impossible and hence their claim must be rejected.
Similarly, the law of cause and effect is a rational law and hence for miracles to be in violation of any rational law, it has to be rationally impossible. If a prophet for instance claims that the total of the angles of a triangle miraculously equals to 190 degrees, then his claim is rationally impossible.
Our claim is that miracles are rationally possible for it is not against the principle of contradiction nor is it against the law of cause and effect.
In order for something to be rationally possible, it is enough that it cannot be logically proven wrong. Presumably no one can rationally prove that there cannot be any other influencing force to nature beyond ordinary human knowledge.
If the concept of miracle is like saying this object is a triangle square, then it is irrational.
Miracles are rationally impossible if they happen without any cause. But if the natural cause that we are aware of is replaced with another cause – which was not known to us, it is not irrational.
For instance, we have discovered a relation between Nurofen as a painkiller and a cure for headaches. If one claims that, ‘My headache was miraculously cured,’ meaning that it was cured without any cause whatsoever, then he is talking irrationally and only then we can say that either a miracle did not occur and he is wrong in his claim, or what happened is not miracle.
The claim in a miracle is that perfect humans such as prophets, due to their access to divine knowledge, have access to other causes of healing a headache different from ordinary known medical methods. Thus, the cause is there, though it is a different cause to the one known to ordinary humans.
Moreover, the correlation between a cause and its effect is also present in a miracle. Because what the necessary correlation between a cause and its effect is that the cause must enjoy what it wants to give to the effect. For instance, ice does not enjoy the heat to burn the wood. Again, the claim in a miracle is that the extraordinary cause by far enjoys the properties required, for instance to cure a person who was born blind.
Therefore, our claim in miracles is the substitution of one cause with another; be it a known physical cause to us, or a metaphysical.
There are many phenomena that appear to contradict physical laws but today parapsychologists suggest the possibility of their causation by mental processes such as telepathy, clairvoyance and psycho kinesis that are inexplicable by science.
Dr. V. Frankle; the founder of logotherapy claimed that he could even cure an asthmatic by the method of logotherapy. Does it mean his claim is irrational?
In religion we are taught of some causes that otherwise would have been unknown to us. For instance, paying charity, visiting the first of kin, and praying for others are introduced as possible methods of prolonging one’s life.
Statistics today show that people with strong religious faith react better to fatal diseases such as cancer and enjoy more chance for recovery. (See the chapter on the Power of Faith)