Paul was struck blind on the road to Damascus and “saw the light.” Jesus restored his vision after 3 days. That “miracle” turned a persecutor of early Christians into a believer.
Don’t bother trying to enlighten your devout friends, but like a lot of the Bible, this is a parable, a tall tale just like the myth of George Washington’s cherry tree. Not history. Its intent is to make a point, namely, that to be a true believer you have to trust in blind faith. (Because, Lord knows, nobody using logical thought processes would believe a word of it.)
Perhaps the historical Paul actually lost and regained his sight. If so, modern day neurologists and psychiatrists can provide scientific explanations. But to the faithful, most of whom are as ignorant of science as was Paul, that’s neither here nor there.
Now, let me tell you about a real miracle.
I started wearing glasses when I was eight. My vision progressively worsened throughout my life. Before I was in my teens, I couldn’t see the big E on the eye chart. Eyeglasses served well enough until recent years as my cataracts ripened. Without lens replacement, it was a matter of time until I’d be as blind as Paul and, unlike Paul, permanently.
I underwent that surgery a few months ago. Roll over Jesus and Paul. This is no parable. It’s a verifiable and genuine miracle.
Genuine miracles are performed by people like my ophthalmologist. It was her mastery of modern medical knowledge and techniques that bequeathed unto me the sight that the Almighty, though reputably capable of bequeathing it, didn’t choose to.
Riffing off of third century BC philosopher, Epicurus, the sine qua non of God is that He is all-good and all-powerful. If He’s not both, He’s not God. If God is all-powerful, surely He’s able to give all people good vision. And if God were all-good He wouldn’t choose to let innocent babies be born without it.
Some use God’s failure to meet Epicurus’s criteria as evidence He does not exist. Does that prove He doesn’t? Not necessarily. Maybe He’s just a slacker. Some theologians reconcile the chronology of Genesis and geological time by asserting that each “day” in Genesis lasted many millions of Earth years. After God made Man on the sixth day (according to Mark Twain, “when He was tired”,) He rested on the seventh day. In Earth years, it may still be the Genesis Sunday and he’s still watching the game scarfing down snacks and throwing back a few beers.
As my regular readers know, I doubt the Big Guy exists, but since most people believe He does, for argument’s sake let’s just assume the majority rules (which is another bogus argument for His existence, one of many that you can learn about if you join Lester’s philosophy class in my novel “Guitars of the Gods” available from Amazon books, cheap.)
And now back to our regular programming.
God may exist, but don’t tell me He has some grand plan that required me to go through life legally blind, having to wait until my twilight years to be able to see like a normal person. If God ever wanted me to some day see as well as I do now, what purpose did He have for creating me with such lousy vision in the first place? Aside from providing income for opticians and optometrists, who simply would have had to find alternative work, like telemarketing, I defy you to explain how some grand plan for the universe would be furthered by making a no account human unable to see the freakin’ universe. (Though I am sure some true believers could come up with several cockamamie rationalizations.)
When I was a kid and still believed in God, making me eligible for His grace, (Whoops, wait a minute, I didn’t meet the necessary criterion of being Christian, silly me) I sometimes prayed for my sight to be miraculously restored.
I was a good kid. Was a Boy Scout. Never hurt a soul or skipped school. Studied hard. Honored my parents and teachers. Attended religious education and services. Respected the law. Worked my butt off through my 20s in med school and post-doctoral training while my peers were spending theirs in a haze of sex, drugs and rock and roll. I went on to assist thousands of mentally disturbed people and their families to live happier, healthier lives. I was a faithful husband and a caring parent. What more could God demand? But, nope. He didn’t come through. And for this I should praise him?
He can’t claim any credit for my now perfect sight, but, assuming God makes everything happen, here’s what He can be held responsible for: He made Covid and every other pestilence and disease. (Thanks, God.) On the other hand, scientists gave us vaccines and anti-viral drugs. If you have not died from Covid, should you praise the one who created the virus or the ones who discovered how to protect us from it?
And, please, don’t tell me God “sent” the eye surgeon to help me. Actually, she defied His will, giving me what He, for no good reason, clearly didn’t want me to have. She, and those who led the way for her to possess the knowledge they needed to perform this miracle, did it on their own.
If God is more than just a figment of our imagination, He certainly didn’t facilitate their research. If He had, it would not have taken the human race hundreds of thousands of years to achieve the level of knowledge we now possess. Being omniscient, if God wanted us to possess the scientific knowledge we now have, or better, all the knowledge we may ultimately attain, He could have bestowed it on us in the garden of Eden (along with a more serviceable set of threads than fig leaves.) Think of how much better off the human race would have been if He had.
Au contraire, according to the Bible, God wanted us to remain forever in a state of ignorance to the point that seeking knowledge was a capital crime.
There’s one thing we should all see clearly. Miracles are not the province of some supernatural being. Real miracles are performed by people, who, defying the will of the Almighty and the willful ignorance of His most devout disciples, embrace hard won knowledge and use it in the service of their fellow Man. You are entitled to praise the Lord to your heart’s content, but it’s for the real miracle workers that I reserve my praise.