Religions often describe events caused by supernatural powers as "miracles" even while they may deny that other forms of magic exist or ascribe them to an evil source of supernatural power. Is there a difference? Jesus, Pentacostal ministers, Reiki practitioners, and Navaho shamans have all used supernatural powers for healing. Are these magical rituals, miracles, or something different? What do you think?
As defined in Baker's Dictionary of the Bible, a miracle is
an event in the external world brought about by the immediate agency or the simple volition of God.
Further, it is added that a miracle occurs in order to demonstrate that
...the power behind it [the miracle] is not limited to the laws of matter or mind as it interrupts fixed natural laws. So the term supernatural applies quite accurately.
In other words, a miracle cannot be explained by scientific means. While there is much more nowadays that can be attributed to some scientific cause or steps, there are yet phenomena that are inexplicable. Kris Samons, a Baptist minister of Probe Ministries writes,
Deists believe that it was only at creation that the supernatural and the natural related. But we Christian theists believe that God has intervened in nature by its inception, sustained it by His preserving power, and will redeem it through the final act of intervention. The creation and incarnation of Christ are the perfect examples of supernatural inertia (another way of referring to a miracle), not to mention their conclusion as well, in His second coming. God is still in the business of working miracles. And we wait eagerly for that greatest miracle of them all--the redemption of all creation.
Admittedly, then, one's faith enters into the concept of "miracle." For example, a woman was miraculously cured of a brain cancer moments after she prayed to Pope Paul II, two days after he died. How can this be explained? Is it only because there is no means to doing so?
The stigmata of Jesus (His wounds from crucifixion) have truly appeared on others such as St. Padre Pio, who died in 1968 [examinations by scientists were conducted extensively] and St. Gemma Galgani, who died in 1903. Are these miracles? Many believe so as scientists were unable to explain the phenomenon, but the majority of these believers are also of the same Roman Catholic faith as the saints, although there are certain criteria that must be met before the Vatican declares something a miracle. Most likely, though, few believers would be atheists or, perhaps, far different creeds.
Some of the Jesuits and other missionaries who lived among Indians wrote of miraculous events that seemed to have no physical explanations; however, they were no scientists. Faith healers are yet in existence, but many have been shown to be charlatans. And, so, the debate will continue as is true of all matters of the heart and faith, beliefs, and superstitions.