Saturday, June 16, 2012


I confess, one of the shows I follow on TV is the SyFy channel original series Eureka. Yes, it is often hokey, and the science is bogus, and the alternate universe stuff gets annoying, but for whatever reason, I find it enjoyable. So there. Besides, it's in its final season. Warning, here come spoilers.

If you've been watching recent episodes, you know there was an experimental FTL (faster than light) spaceship that disappeared with the crew on board. It turned out that the ship never left the Earth, but the crew was kidnapped and put into a virtual reality machine (ala The Matrix). They discover they are in a virtual reality when there are glitches. In one case a bird flies through a rock. In another, the NPC (non-player character) becomes pixelated or flickers. When the characters see this they realize that this is not "reality" but a virtual reality inside the real world.

In the movie "The Matrix" the "proof" that there was a deeper reality than what was seen is even more subtle. Things like seeing the same cat cross a room twice. Experiencing deja vu is also "proof" of a reality deeper than what can be seen.

It strikes me that despite the banishment of all thing religious from both story lines, there is something very Christian about these stories. We see things that defy the laws of nature (aka miracles) and point to them as evidence of a deeper spiritual reality than just the physical one we experience with our senses normally.

As Catholics, we believe, as the Disciples and Church Fathers did, that Christ meant what he said in John 6, and in the synoptic Gospels, where He said [emphasis mine] "this is my body" "this is my blood". And so we believe that each mass is itself a miracle, in that the bread and wine actually become the body and blood of Christ, but the appearances do not change.

But sometimes they do. The image at the top of this post is of the Miracle of Lanciano, which took place around the year 700 in what is now Italy. What you are looking at is a consecrated host, which contains a perfect cross section of a human heart, complete with all the expected structures. My atheist friends say that miracles are just low probability random events that we impose our superstitious meanings on, but how does one explain this?

This is not just a "low probability event", it defies anything plausible. Even assuming an evil priest who wanted to trick everybody into his wrong-headed ideas, who had the technology to merge bread and human heart 1,300 years ago? Or even to produce a perfect, undisturbed slice? And how does one explain that, of all the miracles involving Christ's blood over thousands of years, every one has turned out to be blood type AB. Blood type AB occurs in only 5% to 10% of the population, so the probability of choosing someone with that blood type so many times in a row itself is highly unlikely. And since blood types were only discovered in the last century, there is no way our ancient priest could have tested for it.

Certainly miracles are neither necessary for nor sole proof of our faith, but they do present a dilemma for those who will not believe. As G.K. Chesterton, wrote in Orthodoxy, "The believers in miracles accept them (rightly or wrongly) because they have evidence for them. The disbelievers in miracles deny them (rightly or wrongly) because they have a doctrine against them."


Excellent piece. To be bookmarked for reference!

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