How do you define a miracle? Is it something tangible such as winning the lottery, surviving a plane crash, or finding the perfect mate? Or are miracles more metaphysical and spiritual in nature—for example, the law of attraction or the ability to create one's own life experience?
A survey in 2010 by the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life shows that nearly 80 percent of Americans believe in miracles.
Greg Smith, a senior researcher at the Pew Forum recently spoke about the survey, called "Religion Among the Millennials," in an interview on National Public Radio (NPR). “[In the survey] We asked people a very straightforward question,” Smith said. “Basically, ‘do you agree or disagree that miracles still occur today just as in ancient times?' It was in the context of a number of questions probing people's belief in things as varied as the existence of things like angels and demons, experience with divine healings and other supernatural phenomena.”
Although the words “ancient times” may seem to have a religious or biblical connotation, Smith said that regardless of religious affiliation, most respondents still stated they believed in miracles.
What Does Unity Say About Miracles?
In Christian Healing, Unity co-founder Charles Fillmore wrote, “Intellectual people do no miracles through faith, because they always limit its scope to what the intellect says is law. It is when faith is exercised deep in spiritual consciousness that it finds its right place, and under divine law, without variation or disappointment, it brings results that are seemingly miraculous.”
According to Unity minister Rev. Tom Thorpe, the laws of nature cannot be broken. Rather, it is our understanding of universal laws that is incomplete and sometimes inaccurate. “When events happen that do not conform to our present understanding of natural law, it's not surprising that we often call those events miraculous,” he says.
Referring to one of the definitions for miracle as “a wonder, a marvel,” Thorpe says, “The ability to wonder and to marvel is one of the qualities Jesus may well have had in mind when he said "Truly I tell you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God as a little child will never enter it" (Mark 10:15, Luke 18:17). When we learn to reach beyond the limits of the intellect, we grow in our ability to experience in greater and greater depth the everyday miracles that a person who refuses to marvel simply cannot see.”
To those who perceive a miracle as a result of some earned favor from God, Unity minister Rev. Paul Hasselbeck asks, “Would a God that is Love arbitrarily dole out miracles or grant them to a special few based on merit? I believe everyone has experienced miracles; however these miracles are not from our historical understanding,” Hasselbeck says. “They are based on the willingness to release, deny and let go of whatever belief or perception you hold, while affirming a higher truth from a higher state of consciousness.”
Other New Thought teachings affirm that miracles occur when we release negative thoughts, feelings and actions created by the ego. In Daily Meditations for Practicing the Course, Karen Casey writes, “Why would the ego obstruct a miracle? Because its power lies in mind control. …A miracle is nothing more than a changed mind, one that is now willing to follow the guidance of God as expressed through the Holy Spirit. Every time we make a decision, we are choosing either the ego and fear or the Holy Spirit and the miracle of love and forgiveness.”
The beauty of a miracle, notes Hasselbeck, is its function in our healing, leading to awakening and awareness of our true Christ consciousness. Thorpe says, “When we know [miracles] as new understandings, perspectives and awareness of possibilities, miracles certainly DO happen today, in numbers beyond our ability to count!”
Read a transcript of the National Public Radio (NPR) discussion.
Read the full Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life “Religion Among the Millennials” report.