The notion of miracles is often seen as antithetical to science. Miracles connote sudden, arbitrary and even disorderly events that go against the natural order of things – such as the parting of seas or the lifting of mountains or walking on water. Science involves a meticulous study of the natural order, a study that leads to adoration and even adulation of nature and its laws, which are sometimes enshrined as if supreme.
Miracles are frequently associated with God, whereas science is usually not associated with him. Science, especially when it adopts methodological naturalism, seeks natural explanations for natural phenomena, leaving God out of the explanatory framework.
And yet science begins with a sense of the miraculous, an appreciation of the wonder of the world around us, an eagerness to understand what makes this wonderful world click.
And when science offers an explanation, does its explanation do away with the miraculous? Not necessarily; it can enhance the appreciation of the miraculous. For example, when Newton felt the fruit falling on his head, he saw that event as a miracle, in the sense that it was something out-of-the-ordinary and was therefore worth questioning: What makes fruits fall?
And when Newton came up with gravity as an explanation for the falling of apples, his explanation worked at an operational level. But at a fundamental level, it only deepened the sense of the miraculous. After all, why should two material objects, the fruit and the earth, interact according to definable and comprehensible laws? And why should those laws be of such mathematical precision that they can be embodied in that most exact of all sciences, mathematics? Nobel Laureate scientist Eugene Wigner stated, “We are in a position similar to that of a man who was provided with a bunch of keys and who, having to open several doors in succession, always hit on the right key on the first or second trial. He became skeptical concerning the uniqueness of the coordination between keys and doors … The miracle of the appropriateness of the language of mathematics for the formulation of the laws of physics is a wonderful gift which we neither understand nor deserve.” For the thoughtful, this gift points to a sublime, supreme intelligence who permeates, animates, oversees and transcends nature.
With this understanding, we needn’t restrict the scope of miracles to the occasional – to the rare incidents when the laws of material nature are suspended, a suspension that will be endlessly doubted and even derided by skeptics as evidence of the gullibility of the masses. Instead, we can extend the scope of miracles to encompass the universal – the very existence of natural laws and how they came to be embedded in a world that is supposed to have come without any guiding intelligence from a singularity through some kind of explosion. By thus seeing everything as a miracle, we can enrich all our experiences with excitement and thrill.
The Bhagavad-gita states that advanced spiritualists learn to see God everywhere – to see his intelligence and benevolence in all things. Science, when taken to fundamentals, can help us similarly see God in the acting of natural phenomena, in the wonder of the sweetly singing bird whose tiny voice cords produce sounds sweeter than what our most sophisticated hi-tech devices can; in the wonder of the ever-rotating earth which, despite its high-speed motion, lets us experience stability far better than the best-designed airplanes; in the wonder of the rising and setting sun, which along with other celestial bodies, move with such timeliness that even our most high-tech clocks are based on the movements of those bodies.
If we consider natural explanations to be the ultimate explanations, we lose the opportunity for explanations that truly explain – we end up with laws that exist inexplicably in the very fabric of nature. And we lose the even more precious opportunity to relish the spiritual underlying the material, to rejoice in the magnificence of the transcendent supreme in the magnificence of the manifested world.[ miracle ] [ schence ]