Choose a topic from Vol 3:


Reason proves God's existence
Primitive monotheism
Mystery of God's inner nature
Personality of God
Providence of God and the problem of evil


Immortal destiny of man
Can earth give true happiness?
Do human souls evolve?
Is transmigration possible?
Animal souls
Freedom of will
Free will and faith


Religion and God
The duty of prayer
The mysteries of religion
Can we believe in miracles?

The Religion of the Bible

Historical character of the Gospels
Canonical Books of the Bible
Original Manuscripts
Copyists' errors
Truth of the Bible
New Testament "contradictions"

The Christian Religion

Christianity alone true
Not the product of religious experience
Compared with Buddhism, Confucianism, Mahometanism, Bahaism, etc.,
Rejected by modern Jews
The demand for miracles
The necessity of faith
Difficulties not doubts
Proofs available
Dispositions of unbelievers

A Definite Christian Faith

One religion not as good as another
Changing one's religion
Catholic convictions and zeal
Religious controversy
The curse of bigotry
Towards a solution

The Problem of Reunion

Efforts at the reunion of the Churches
The Church of England as a "Bridge-Church"
Anglicans and the Greek Orthodox Church
The "Old Catholics" of Holland
Reunion Conferences
Catholic Unity
The Papacy as reunion center
Protestant hostility to Catholicism
The demands of charity

The Truth of Catholicism

Necessity of the Church
The true Church
Catholic claim absolute
A clerical hierarchy
Papal Supremacy
Temporal Power
Unity of the Church
Holiness of the Church
Catholicity of the Church
Catholic attitude to converts
Indefectible Apostolicity
Necessity of becoming a Catholic

The Church and the Bible

Catholic belief in the Bible
Bible-reading and private interpretation
Value of Tradition and the "Fathers"
Guidance of the Church necessary

The Dogmas of the Catholic Church

Dogmatic certainty
Credal statements
Faith and reason
The voice of science
Fate of rationalists
The dogma of the Trinity
Creation and evolution
The existence of angels
Evil spirits or devils
Man's eternal destiny
The fact of sin
Nature and work of Christ
Mary, the mother of God
Grace and salvation
The sacraments
Holy Eucharist
The Sacrifice of the Mass
Holy Communion
Marriage and divorce
Extreme Unction
Man's death and judgment
Resurrection of the body
End of the World

Moral Teachings of the Catholic Church

Catholic intolerance
The Spanish Inquisition
Prohibition of Books
Liberty of worship
Forbidden Socieities
Church attendance
The New Psychology
Deterministic philosophy
Marriage Legislation
Birth Prevention
Monastic Life
Convent Life
Legal defense of murderers
Laywers and divorce proceedings
Judges in Divorce
Professional secrecy

The Church in Her Worship

Why build churches?
Glamor of ritual
The "Lord's Prayer"
Pagan derivations
Liturgical symbolism
Use of Latin
Intercession of Mary and the Saints

The Church and Social Welfare

The Church and Education
The Social Problem
Social Duty of the Church
Catholicism and Capitalism

Can we believe in miracles?

95. Why are miracles fewest where people are most enlightened?

I deny your supposition.

96. I am a civil engineer, and my profession treats largely with cause and effect, and is based on mathematical accuracy.

I must ask you to keep in mind that proficiency in the knowledge of natural causes gives no special competency in matters not due to those causes.

97. I have never witnessed a miracle; nor has any other member of my profession whom I have asked witnessed one.

Because you have never personally witnessed a miracle, you cannot conclude that, therefore, miracles have never occurred. As regards your fellow professional men, had one of them declared that he had witnessed a miracle, would you have accepted his evidence? If so, why will you not accept the sworn evidence of equally accredited medical men? You may say that you do not know of any such evidence. But your not knowing of it does not prove it to be nonexistent. The evidence exists.

98. I once questioned a group of illiterate, dirty, drunken peons at La Paz, Bolivia, all of whom were Catholics.

If they were Catholics, it was in spite of, and not because of the conditions you describe. I am a Catholic, but I am neither illiterate, nor dirty, nor drunken; so those qualities are not necessarily associated with Catholicism. Also, on your own methods of testing evidence, since I have never seen a group of illiterate, dirty, drunken peons, you can scarcely expect me to accept your word for it that they do exist.

99. All declared that they had witnessed miracles.

Granted that you did ask them, and that they replied as you say, the fact that the witnesses you consulted were drunk renders their evidence worthless. It would be on a par with the evidence of a drunken man who swears that a given lamp post has duplicated itself. Even if they were not drunk, I would put their evidence down to a great deal of superstition-a superstition found, of course, not only amongst the illiterate. We are surrounded by superstitions even amongst the educated. There are the superstitions of the sceptic, of the spiritualist, of the Christian Scientist, of those who believe in the infallibility of novels and newspapers, of those who swear by astrology, of those who reject miracles without giving a single valid reason for doing so, of the man who thinks that witnesses who have not seen a thing afford reliable evidence that the thing does not exist. But, in the whole of this affair, the most striking thing is that you should seek evidence for miracles from such obviously unreliable sources. If a sensible man really wants evidence, he does not bother about taking that evidence until he has some reason to believe the source reliable. It is a reflection on your own intelligence that you did not bother inquiring in better quarters.

100. What kind of evidence do you call that?

As I have already remarked, I do not regard it as evidence at all. But when you contrast civil engineers with illiterate peons, remember this: If there are educated men who do not believe in miracles, there are educated men who do; the former lacking evidence; the latter possessing evidence.And if you wish to argue, "Drink-sodden men believe in miracles, therefore, miracles don't happen," I will be justified in retorting, "There are plenty of drink-sodden men who do not believe in miracles, therefore, miracles do happen." It's absurd argumentation, I know, but it is based on your own principles.

101. Can you expect enlightened people to believe in miracles?

Yes. They are the unenlightened people from whom we expect unbelief; from people who have never bothered to examine any evidence, but whose opinions are dictated by their prejudices.

102. Does the Church require proof before she will accept any event as miraculous?

Yes, and very strict proof. She takes little notice of people's private opinions concerning the cause of a given event. Before the Church will publicly admit and sanction any event as being a miraculous manifestation of God's power, she demands proof that no merely natural means could account for it.

103. That could never be, because we do not yet know all the forces of nature. There may be natural laws which we do not yet know, yet which could account for an event thought to be miraculous.

There is no need to know all that nature can do, before we can be sure of a miracle. It is enough to know what nature cannot do. And we know that when we perceive an absolute lack of proportion between the means used and the effect produced. That a man rotten with leprosy should suddenly be cured at the men sound of Christ's voice saying, "Be thou clean," is obviously outside the scope of merely natural laws, and, therefore, miraculous. So, too, it is certain that the dead do not naturally rise from the grave and resume their earthly lives. So true is this law that, if one who was actually dead did rise, God alone could have made him do so by a quite supernatural intervention. Here the very thing accomplished is not against, but absolutely beyond the scope of the ordinary laws of nature. Thus all admit that the resurrection of Christ must be ranked as miraculous. Those who refuse to believe in it simply deny that it happened; but they do not deny that, if it did happen, it would be miraculous.

104. You at least advise caution in the matter?

I do. In fact, since not the abnormal but the normal is ordinary, and the miraculous necessarily rare, a prudent judgment will incline on the side of the greater probabilities, and prefer to regard events as nonmiraculous rather than as miraculous. If God really wishes to show His power to men in a miraculous way He will do so in a way which leaves no prudent doubt in the minds of those who study closely the whole affair. Thus, at Lourdes, many cures have taken place. But the Medical Bureau of Inquiry will not register as miraculous any cures which are explicable by natural causes. For example, if a person is cured suddenly of a nervous disease of many years' standing, the doctors will say, "We congratulate you on what seems to be a great favor from God, but we cannot accept it as a miracle. The natural factors of excitement, or of autosuggestion, may be responsible for it; and it does not necessarily, therefore, manifest God's direct intervention." But if a broken leg is healed instantaneously, an inch of bone being supplied to make it the same length as the other, that is a different matter. No amount of subjective persuasion, and no merely natural influences could accomplish that. In the presence of such an occurrence we can but say, "The finger of God is here"; and all reasonable men would admit it to be a miracle.

105. I agree with those who wish to purify the Gospels by eliminating the miraculous element embodied in them side by side with so much good teaching.

It is impossible to eliminate the miraculous element from the Gospels without rejecting them completely as fraud and forgery. You might just as well suggest a life of Napoleon without any military exploits as suggest a life of Christ without miracles. The texts describing the miracles were there from the very beginning, and were written by those who saw them, and who wrote the rest of the matter contained in the Gospels. It is unreasonable to say that the authors were quite reliable in setting down what you happen to approve in the accounts of Christ, but that they suddenly became unreliable in sections which do not happen to appeal to you.

106. The miracles envelop His life in legend, and belittle Him rather than magnify Him.

The miracles in the Gospels are not legendary. They are a matter of history. Nor do they belittle Christ. There is no element in them of the merely curious, ostentatious, and puerile. They bear directly upon His mission as Redeemer. Christ manifested His goodness by curing bodies as well as souls, and proved His divine power against objectors by such sayings as, "Which is easier, to forgive sin, or to say: Arise and walk?" And He bade the crippled to rise and walk; which they did. By His miracles Christ proved both the truth and the necessity of the religion He taught.



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