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Meditation 126
Miracles? I don't think so.

by JT

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I've reached an age where my doctor thinks it advisable for me to have an annual PSA test. This February, he told me the results were significantly higher than in the past, cause for some concern, but nothing to be alarmed about. He would like me to take the test again in three months and come back and see him.

I figured it was not serious; not yet anyway. If it was, we wouldn't be waiting three months to do further tests. But I did a little research on some medical sites. I found out the "normal"  PSA test results I had been getting indicated that, at my age, there was about a 1% chance of prostate cancer. The results from the latest test indicated a 20% chance. The odds were still 4 to one in my favour.

As a precaution, I checked out the current treatment options, made a provisional decision as to which I was prepared to follow, and which I would not. And I started eating more salads, broccoli, and brussels sprouts. (A little late for that to change anything, but... )

Anyway, in June I had another PSA test, went back to see the doctor and my results were "absolutely normal." No big deal, the earlier result was probably a routine "false positive," not unusual with any medical test.

If I was a different person, if I was a believer, I might have done something else in reaction to the earlier test. I might have prayed. I might have told family and friends, and they might have prayed. And when the second round of test results came back "normal," prayers would have been considered answered. And some might even have interpreted this as a miracle cure of a cancer.

This is a pretty minor item to build a case on. But I have had closer calls, and survived without anyone praying ; without any miracles.

When I was twenty, I was in Sunnybrook Hospital for a knee problem (which would eventually lead to knee replacement 35 years later - another story.). One day, for lunch I had the salmon loaf.. A couple of hours later, on a routine check, the nurse found my temperature was elevated. Two more hours later, it was 107 degrees, and I was being lowered into a bath of ice and water to halt the rise and hopefully bring my temperature down.

Food poisoning can be fatal. A temperature of 107, in itself can be fatal. The nurse told me that if I had not been in hospital at the time getting my temperature routinely taken, it is highly unlikely I would have been diagnosed and treated in time. (Of course, if I hadn't been in hospital, I wouldn't have eaten that salmon loaf.)

A believer might have regarded survival with that temperature as a miracle. I don't; it's just luck and timely medical care.

When I was four, my older brother, Tony, who shared a bedroom with me decided to show off to me, as seven-year-olds will, by climbing out the window and walking along the window ledge and back in the next window. Needless to say, I was impressed, and I decided I would have to do the same. So, later when I was alone in the room, I decided to practice the stunt so I could show off to him. And out the window I climbed.

Sometime later (no-one knows how much later because the time I went out the window isn't known,) I was found semi-conscious on the cement driveway, thirteen feet below the window. And I was rushed to the hospital.

Nothing broken. The extent of my injuries was a bruise on the head. But nothing serious enough to warrant admission to hospital, at least by the standards of the day.

A fall like that onto cement can kill. If not, it can cause serious and permanent injury. And I got away practically unscathed. A miracle? Certainly, some would have called it so. But a four-year old body can be pretty resilient, and while I was indeed lucky, my good fortune is not unusual.

I could go on. Among other things, I've been shot at, I've been hit by a car crossing the road, I've been lost while back-country hiking. And I've gotten away relatively unscratched, without a word of prayer uttered; without any apparent divine intervention; without any miracles.

Troublesome events happen to us all. Sometimes, things get worse, sometimes they get better. Some people pray, and if all turns out well, they call it a miracle; and if it gets worse, well, that was God's plan.[1] And as for me, I see it as just probabilities and statistics.

If anyone wants to consider my survival a miracle, then it must be God's plan for me to be out here preaching agnosticism.

But I won't believe in miracles until I wake up some morning with my titanium and Teflon knee joint suddenly turned into bone and cartilage. That would be a little outside of normal probability. Any believer lacking something to pray for can work on that!


  1. If this supposedly omniscient and perfect god really has a plan, why do people insist on praying to him to change the plan?