Q2. Can you give your own brief definition of ‘miracle’? Why do you define it that way? Do you think miracles are possible? Why or why not?
A2. A miracle cannot be defined outside of culture. If a group of people observe, or examine evidence of, a certain event and are unable to explain this event in terms of the explanatory tools they have at their disposal, then this event is a miracle to these people. Rain would be a miracle to primitive peoples. An iPhone would be a miracle to 13th century scholars. This definition of miracle does not require the event itself to be supernatural, simply unexplainable. It also allows event formerly classed as miracles to be re-evaluated as explicable events at a later date. I imagine that I am not in the majority when I use this definition, but I think it is a reasonable one.
Any miraculous event needs to be evaluated by its own merits, and examined using the best tools of the day. The reason the age of miracles is over is because our tools of analysis and understanding are becoming more honed. In an age where most people experienced miracles many times during a lifetime, people would tell stories of miracles, amplify them (miracles, by their very nature, need not be plausible or comprenhesible and therefore suffer litte risk of fact-checking) and pass them along, thus causing the plethora of supernatural legends from that age. This still happens in certain parts of sub-Saharan Africa, as an example, and for much the same reasons.