General Question

JackAdams's avatar

Was I the recipient of some kind of miracle?

Asked by JackAdams (6395 points ) August 27th, 2008

I think I was, last night.

I had to drive to a friend’s house, and normally, I would have driven part of my trip on a highway, at 65 MPH.

For reasons I can’t explain to anyone, instead of getting on that highway, I stayed on the normal side streets, and didn’t go much faster than 35.

I went over a “dip” at an intersection and it felt like both of my front tires flattened, so I immediately pulled over to check them, but both were just fine, so I looked under the hood and could clearly see that my front axle had broken, by two pieces separating.

Had this occurred while driving at 65 on the highway, I don’t know if I would have survived.

I was compelled to drive to my friend’s house (for some unknown reason) on the side streets, and that decision on my part, probably saved my life.

So, was I the recipient of a bona fide miracle, or am I just imagining that?

August 27, 2008, 7:19 AM EDT

Observing members: 0 Composing members: 0

49 Answers

damien's avatar

I’d say that’s just good luck. You’re lucky you weren’t on the highway. It’s not a miracle that you weren’t on the highway.

I guess it depends on your interpretation of a miracle and where your beliefs lay.

According to wikipedia, a “miracle” is:

“A miracle is an event believed to be caused by interposition of divine intervention by a supernatural being in the universe by which the ordinary operation of Nature is overruled, suspended, or modified. The term is derived from Latin word miraculum meaning “something wonderful”.”

JackAdams's avatar

I was definitely lucky, but the part of the event that puzzles me, is I can’t explain to anyone why I was compelled to drive on the “surface” streets, instead of that highway, where I normally would have gone, and at 65 mph.

Because I can’t explain my actions, is why I believe that I might have been compelled to drive the way I did.

August 27, 2008, 7:43 AM EDT

osullivanbr's avatar

You know what. The nicest way to look at this is to think of it as a miracle and leave it at that. Don’t overthink it.

lapilofu's avatar

No miracle in the divine sense of the word. It was purely the good luck of coincidence that saved your life.

bodyhead's avatar

What you call miracle, I call statically improbably (but not impossible). I don’t believe in miracles. Man takes care of himself. Even if something happens .000001 percent of the time, it will eventually happen to someone.

SeekerSeekiing's avatar

It could be so many things——It is definitely wonderful. I had a similar experience. Was it God? My Guardian angel? My future self coming back to warm me? And I listened? [theory that the past, present, and future are really all happening at the same time]. Was it a psychic sense?

It was more than luck—since you felt an urging both to drive to your friend AND to talke back roads, AND to go slower than usual. But I can’t name it.

I do know that if you acknowledge it and try to inwardly ‘listen’ more, you can have more of these experiences.

I’m glad you listened.

Poser's avatar

Doubtless it was his holiness telepathically directing you to the surface streets to prevent losing even a single vote. His will be done.

lapilofu's avatar

It was not “more than luck.” For every person who feels a strange inexplicable compulsion that saves their life, there are numerous others who do not. Let’s say there were (probably very conservatively) 100 people whose axles were going to break on that particular day. The likelihood of one out of those 100 people feeling some strange, but completely coincidental compulsion, is not beyond the realm of a completely divine-intervention–free day.

Conversely what about the hundreds of people who decided for no particular reason to stick to the streets whose lives wouldn’t have been in danger anyway. The chance that one of those people (you) had a car malfunction also isn’t beyond the realm of possibility.

Just very happy coincidence, but don’t get the idea that something is out there protecting you.

SeekerSeekiing's avatar

Lapilofu: We’ll have to agree to disagree. I’ve had far far too many such experiences to call it ‘luck.’

Per your example: Yes, there are numerous others who did not feel a compulsion that saves their lives.
OR, they felt it and didn’t heed it——they cannot come back from the dead and tell us that [well, actually they can; but that’s another thread]

Poser's avatar

What about the hundreds (perhaps thousands) of strange compulsions one might have in their lifetime that, unbeknownst to themselves (or anyone else), do save their life? Isn’t it as much a shot in the dark to say these things are absolutely coincidences as it is to say they are absolutely something more?

lapilofu's avatar

@poser: Admittedly, it’s not completely certain that it’s a coincidence, but I would not say that it is “as much a shot in the dark” to say that they are coincidences given that it’s the dramatically more statistically likely option.

Poser's avatar

By what statistics? If anything, I’d say the statistically more unlikely option would be that everything you see is here completely by chance.

bodyhead's avatar

Poser, I’d say no. If 50% of people have a compulsion on a certain day. Chances are that 25% will pursue one action and 25% will pursue another.

Statistically someone will have a good feeling or an ‘awe’ feeling as they accidentally stumble into a situation where their life is saved or they see something much worse that could have happened. It’s all a numbers game.

The worlds population is 6.684 billion give or take a few million. This means that if there was a life experience that was so unlikely that it only happens to .0001 percent of people on earth, then given the earths population, it means that that event has presented itself to 668,400 people. That’s no small number of people. Should all of those people choose to worship a certain God just because something that is unlikely happened to them? I would say no.

Poser's avatar

Nice straw man. Is .0001% the actual chance of me making such a decision? Shoot, why not .00000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000001% as long as we’re just making up numbers?

My point wasn’t about inexplicably making a decision and then finding out that it saved your life, as Jack Adams describes. My point was that we may make thousands of such decisions in our lifetimes that save our lives, and we may never know about them. Why did I drive home this way today instead of that way? I dunno. Maybe for no reason. Maybe, had I been on the other road, I would’ve been creamed by a semi-truck. Maybe I make a decision like that every day of my life. I might never know.

But you’re telling me that, statistically, it’s more likely that everything on Earth—your computer monitor, the internet, dogs, jellyfish, Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony, 1979 Blue Chevy Novas—is simply a fluke of planetary placement, than that there is a consciousness greater than ours that had some hand in creating us? Seems about a 50/50 shot to me. Flip of a coin.

lapilofu's avatar

So what you’re saying, Poser, is that it seems more likely to you that some omniscient entity chose on this day to give JackAdams the thought that would save his life but not the hundreds of other people who died in car accidents that day (or the thousands every year). Or if this entity did try to save other lives, that every single one of those thousands of other people chose to ignore the thought that would have saved their life.

Neither of those seem more likely to me than the simple explanation that JackAdams fortunately saved his own life by making an arbitrary decision which happened to be pretty lucky.

Judi's avatar

I say give credit where credit is due.

bodyhead's avatar

I’m going to have to agree with lapilofu.

I guess the simple question is does that omniscient being break the laws of physics to create ‘miracles’? My answer would be no. I’ve seen no evidence to the contrary. I haven’t been brainwashed into any very dangerous faith so I don’t believe things ‘just because’.

Most (good) scientists believe in some form of the big bang (loosely) even if they are atheist. The argument between God and no god basically boils down to this:
religion: There was god and he exploded everything into existence
no religion: There was nothing and it exploded everything into existence

It’s easy to look back at the good things in our lives and say god was responsible. Who’s responsible for the other times? Me? I’d rather people just take responsibility for their ALL of their own actions. If there is a God, he’d probably want you to take care of yourself. If he took care of you he’d be a babysitter, not a God.

And actually my example was loosely based on the effectiveness of birth control. It’s usually 99.999 percent effective. I just used the world population as a model to show how something will happen, however unlikely, to a bunch of people.

I will give you one point. I will contend that if it was God’s will to save Jack’s life then it was also God’s will for my cousin to get molested as a small child. Just because something good happens doesn’t mean God did it.

SeekerSeekiing's avatar

Maybe it wasn’t God. Maybe it was just a psychic clairvoyance… or as I said the future Jack coming back to warn the newer Jack. Maybe it was a jump from a parallel universe…we don’t know everything about everything——so it could have been something we don’t understand.

bodyhead's avatar

As a staunch Pastafarian. I choose to believe things that can be proved with evidence. I don’t imagine things and contend that they are real because I say so. You shouldn’t have to ever prove something doesn’t exist. You should only have to prove when things do exist.

Do you believe in Russel’s Teapot?

tinyfaery's avatar

Life isn’t absurd; what’s absurd is the human need to place meaning upon it.

—An indirect quote from Sartre.

SeekerSeekiing's avatar

I choose to believe in things that can be proven and things I have experience over and over…..and I leave myself open to believe more or different things than I now do. After all——most of science is theory and at times the newer theory overrides the older one….I think I know what I know, but I’m open to knowing or learning something else also…

lapilofu's avatar

As someone much more eloquent than myself has written: “Each one of us, though only a single person, none the less amounts to a very large population of opportunities for coincidence. Each ordinary day that you or I live through is an unbroken sequence of events or incidents, any of which is potentially a coincidence. I am now looking at a picture on my wall of a deep-sea fish with a fascinatingly alien face. It is possible that at this very moment, the telephone will ring and the caller will identify himself as Mr. Fish. [...] My point is that, whatever you may be doing in any given minute of the day, there probably is some other event—a phone call, say—which, if it were to happen, would in hindsight be rated an eerie coincidence. There are so many minutes in an individual’s lifetime that it would be quite surprising to find an individual who had never experienced a startling coincidence. [...] And the opportunities for coincidence go on and on throughout the day and every day. But the negative occurrences, the failures to coincide, are not noticed and not reported.”

This seems like a small point, but I very much doubt that JackAdams would actually have died had he been on the freeway at the time of breakdown. And assuming that he had been on the freeway, his car had broken down, and he had still survived (Which actually seems rather likely to me. Cars break down on the freeway all the time.) would he have noted that no voice in his head had stepped in to save him from this car breakdown disaster? It seems unlikely. And yet there are many moments like that—so many that any given moment that breaks that mold should sooner be seen as a statistical necessity than as divine intervention.

allengreen's avatar

just imagining that

Poser's avatar

@lapilofu and bodyhead—First off, I’m simply playing devil’s advocate here. Of course I don’t know whether Jack experienced divine intervention—or even if such a thing exists—and I don’t particularly have an opinion on the matter. But I would like to point out how the two of you keep referring to all the impossible coincidences that one may or may not experience on a given day, much less over the course of a lifetime; yet when I suggest the possibility that any number of those coincidences are as likely as not to be the result of some higher force of which we have no current knowledge, you scoff. I’m merely trying to point out that religious-grade zealousness is not confined strictly to religion. The scientific community is not exempt from persecuting ideas that contradict conventional wisdom, even ideas having nothing to do with higher powers.

The belief that science has or can eventually determine all the secrets of the universe takes as much faith as believing there are such things as “secrets of the universe.” How is it any less intellectually honest to be skeptical about the infallibility of science than to be skeptical about higher powers? Heck, even those two things aren’t mutually exclusive—I’m skeptical about both God and science.

lapilofu's avatar

Because science is based on what can be observed and what can be proven by those observations. It’s evidence based, and everyone believes in evidence. Good science always leaves room to be amended, and even Richard Dawkins admits that he cannot prove the non-existence of God, but that he can make a reasonable argument for how probable it is.

I don’t think that many scientists believe that science can eventually determine all the secrets of the universe, but it can explain a great many things that would have previously been inexplicable—and good science explains them with rigorous, reproducible evidence and sound logic.

Now, the reason that these coincidences are not “as likely as not to be the result of some higher force of which we have no current knowledge” is illustrated best by Russell’s teapot, which bodyhead linked above. If you didn’t read that, I’ll summarize it quickly in my own terms:

Essentially, Russell posits that there is a teapot floating somewhere between here and Mars, rotating around the sun, and that it is too small to be seen with even our most powerful telescopes. So you cannot prove that this teapot doesn’t exist. I am a skeptic however, and I don’t believe in this teapot.

So we have two different explanations the world. In one view there is a teapot between here and mars. In another view, there isn’t. It would be erroneous to claim that both views have an equal likelihood of being correct.

Similarly, here we have two different views. One states that things are as they appear—JackAdams arbitrarily decided to stick to the streets, fortuitously saving his own life. The other is that some divine power, or future jack, or whatever, exists that saved his life for some reason. I can’t prove that the latter is untrue, but it would erroneous to think that it is just as probable as the first.

JackAdams's avatar

Relative to my original Q, is the following any kind of “miracle?”

Diaper breaks fall, saves child’s life
As tot fell from third-floor apartment window, diaper snagged on a spike

The Associated Press
updated 3:51 p.m. PT, Thurs., Aug. 28, 2008

SAO PAULO, Brazil – A disposable diaper has saved the life of an 18-month-old boy, breaking his fall from a third-floor apartment window, officials said Thursday.

Caua Felipe Massaneiro survived a 30-foot fall because his diaper snagged on a security spike embedded in the concrete wall around his apartment building in the northeastern Brazilian city of Recife.

The boy dangled from the spike for a moment, then “the diaper opened and the baby fell to the ground, but at a much slower speed,” a police officer said. “The diaper obviously lessened the impact of the fall and saved the baby’s life.”

“It was a miracle,” said the officer who declined to be identified because she was not authorized to speak to the press. “He could also have been killed by one of the spikes.”

The child was treated for minor fractures at the Hospital Memorial Sao Jose, where spokesman Gilberto Tenorio said he was in stable condition.

Police have opened an investigation to determine how the toddler fell out the window and “if parental negligence was one of the causes,” the police officer said.

The Folha de S. Paulo newspaper quoted Caua’s father, 23-year-old Alexandre Cesar Massaneiro as saying that his son climbed onto a sofa underneath the window he fell from – “something he had never done before.”

“It wasn’t the diaper that saved him,” Massaneiro told the newspaper. “It was God.”

©2008 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.

URL: http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/26444404/?GT1=43001

August 28, 2008, 10:36 PM EDT

SeekerSeekiing's avatar

Baby had no presentiment about it, neither did parents, that’s luck, me thinkith….;-]

JackAdams's avatar

Those quoted in the article, believe otherwise.

August 29, 2008, 9:17 AM EDT

SeekerSeekiing's avatar

Yes, those quoted article thought it was a miracle.

Knotmyday's avatar

Yes, it was a miracle. Call the Vatican.

SeekerSeekiing's avatar

Knotmyday, we don’t have to call the Vatican, the newspaper said they said it was….

JackAdams's avatar

It would be better just to send The Holy See a postcard, with a brief summation.

August 30, 2008, 12:05 AM EDT

SeekerSeekiing's avatar

Okay, you write it up, we’ll all sign it…. Holy See???? I’m not catholic, what’s a See and what’s he/she see? The sea?? Seagrams?

JackAdams's avatar

While all episcopal sees can be referred to as holy, the expression “the Holy See” (without further specification) is normally used in international relations (as well as in the canon law of the Catholic Church) to refer to the central government of the Catholic Church, headed by the Bishop of Rome, commonly called the Pope. The Holy See should not be confused with the Vatican City State, which came into existence only in 1929, while the Holy See dates back to early Christian times. Ambassadors are officially accredited not to the Vatican City State but to “the Holy See”, and papal representatives to states and international organizations are recognized as representing the Holy See, not the Vatican City State.

More information on that can be found here.

I hope the above is helpful to you, SeekerSeeking.

August 30, 2008, 8:29 AM EDT

SeekerSeekiing's avatar

JackAdams, yes it did help, very much. I kind of like how the name has the connotation of ‘all seeing.’ Or at least it does to me…I did go to the site you cited. I know more today than I did yesterday, thanks to you.

JackAdams's avatar

I am grateful to have been of some help to you.

The #1 reason why I participate in this website, is TO LEARN.

As many others have correctly pointed out (some, not so nicely, I might add), there is much that I do not know, so I come here to do a tiny bit of what I call, “Ignorance Removal.”

Sometimes, much ignorance is successfully removed, but many times, answering one of my questions, seems to create three more for me.

August 30, 2008, 8:42 AM EDT

SeekerSeekiing's avatar

hahaha, JA, I completely understand the learning something creates 3+ more questions. I have always been told that I ask too many questions…. but now it’s something I enjoy in me. Look forward to seeing you around the FlutherCampus ;-)

JackAdams's avatar

Please note my newest question, regarding vocabulary.

August 30, 2008, 9:00 AM EDT

dayeshere's avatar

It was definately a “God thing”. No question about it, it was a miracle.

JackAdams's avatar

Thank you.

I thought as much.

September 3, 2008, 2:33 AM EDT

deaddolly's avatar

it was luck, instinct, coincidence.

why would a miracle (assuming there are miracles and a god) be wasted on you? No offense. I always thought of miracles as big deals

Maybe you’re destined for greatness?
At any rate, glad things worked out ok.

osullivanbr's avatar

God Lord. Deaddolly’s right.
Jack’s gonna be president. Or perhaps just destined to someday give the greatest answer fluther has ever known. I’m looking forward to that now.

Jack, I’m watching you.

Poser's avatar

I’d assume that not losing one’s life is about the biggest thing that could happen to someone.

deaddolly's avatar

No, I didn’t mean that, I meant stuff like walking on water etc. As far as saving lives go, if it were to have been a MIRACLE, in order for it to be a big thing in my view, Jack would have to be destined for something GREAT in his life. Like discovering a cure for something, etc.

JackAdams's avatar

I’d love to discover a cure for poverty, or growing old.

I’ll work on those, and get back to ya…

Judi's avatar

@jack;
Maybe you are just supposed to influence the person who does something big.

JackAdams's avatar

I’ll buy that…

deaddolly's avatar

There you go.

If you ever discover a cure for old age – let me know!

JackAdams's avatar

I’ll post the cure here, for all to see.

Then watch it get Removed by Fluther Moderators (j/k!)

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