When Joe and I were in Ohio for Blosser’s wedding, we were sitting around with everyone at Mike and Rosy’s, and somehow the subject of birth being a miracle came up. Of course Joe quoted some comedian he heard say “Anything that happens 12 million times a day is NOT a f**ing miracle!” I can’t take JoeKim anywhere. The face of Roberto, our Christian marriage counselor friend, was priceless. Berto, along with my best friend, who has one child and one on the way, argued that indeed, growing a baby in your belly and giving birth is a miracle. I did not bring up the fact that one also grows a tapeworm in one’s belly. Bascially, the argument was over the definition of “miracle.” Joe feels that it’s overused — “A miracle cure,” A miracle shot at the buzzer,” etc. And, furthermore, the strict definition of miracle, according to Joe, is that which cannot be explained. Fetal development can be explained, and ergo, is not miraculous. But Julie and Berto argued that it is a miracle, because it is growing life, and growing a whole person from scratch, whether it can be explained or not.
But, you know, I’ve been thinking, and I’m not sure that there have to be two separate sides to this. And really, I think that’s one of the fundamental problems about this whole “science’s war on religion,” or “religion’s war on science,” depending on your take. I don’t think that the two negate each other, and if you believe in science, you can’t believe in religion, and vice versa. Just because you can explain something, does that make it any less amazing? Thinking about an entire person being created from a couple of microscopic cells that all know what to do is pretty amazing. Just because the how is explainable, does that mean that the why a trivial question? Personally, I don’t think so, and I don’t think that things have to be so binary.
I remember once in a lit class in college, we were talking about the Scientific Revolution and its effects on literature. Th eprofessor told us that basically, the Scientific Revolution was the beginning of the end of faith, because scientists and authors and everyone would see the way blood moved through the body and realize that it was all explainable. I raised my hand and asked the question “wasn’t there anyone who, when they saw all this complicated stuff, actually was MORE convinced of their faith?” Apparently not anyone who wrote anything worth reading. Cyincs, all these great authors. But I think I still feel that way i did when I asked that question. The more I learn about how well everything works together, and how often it goes right, the more I think it’s pretty incredible.
When I worked at the planetarium, plenty of people came in to argue religion versus science, and every time, I tried to tell them that I didn’t think that the two had to be mutually exclusive. But society, or politics, or something, seems to have set it up that way for some reason. I think that the miracle discussion is the same thing. Just because we have big words for it, growing a person from scratch is a pretty amazing thing. I mean, I’m always surprised when my luggage ends up at the right place, and creating a baby has a few more steps than getting a suitcase from O’Hare to Philly. Miracle or science, it all seems like just a question of semantics to me.
I do think that often, people in the “miracle” camp can be a little species-ist. Is a kitten a miracle? A baby pig? A dandelion? I don’t know that people who would argue that human babies are miracles necessarily think about it, or what they’d say if they did. But, I guess I wouldn’t mind people thinking that kittens and pigs and dandelions are miracles. Hopefully they’d treat kittens, pigs, dandelions, and everything else along the way a little bit better.