Do Modern Miracles Happen to Athiests?

I was listening to Matty in the Morning (108 FM, Boston) recently, and heard an interview with a guy who detailed how prayer was responsible for allowing his wife to become pregnant after all the fertility doctors had given up. He repeatedly referred to this as a “miracle”, said the doctors called it a “miracle”, and said it would not have happened without his strong faith and the will of God.

Which got me to thinking; doesn’t this kind of unexpected, positive medical outcome occur with the same frequency to athiests? To what do the faithful attribute this, if there has been no prayer to cause it?

Do miracles only occur to the faithful, and the rest of us just have coincidences? Or does God sometimes bestow his blessings on athiests “just because”?

There’s a couple different ways of approaching this. The “IMHO” method would have us sharing anecdotes like the one in the article and trying to establish some sort of distribution chart to see where the blessings/coincidences occur. This method will probably not yield any sort of consensus because the definitions of “miracle” are a bit slippery. Throw in the non-representative sample and the distribution of the self-selected set of posters on the SDMB and I don’t think we’d have the data to say one way or another with any reasonable confidence levels.

The GD method is much shorter and actually less interesting. The position of the believer is that God loves all his sheep, even the black ones. The position of the non-beliver is that coincidences happen and sometimes people make up supernatural causes for them. Both of these viewpoints encompass the fact that blessings/coincidences occur in believers and non-believers.


Sure, we have miracles. But we call 'em “luck.”

Darn you beat me to it… :smack:

Well if a REAL miracle did happen to an atheist like me… I would probably stop being an atheist. So the miracle happened to a new beleiver.
So to answer the OP… NOPE. Miracles don’t happen to Atheists. (Or anyone else in my opinion)

Miracles Doth Never Happen to Atheists
For if they happen to Atheists
None Dare Call Them Miracles

(at least among the atheists)

Isn’t that like telling Vegetarians that have never tasted meat that they must beleive that meat is tasty ?

Once you call it a miracle your out of the Atheist Club… :slight_smile:

Seems to me this guy has an awful low miracle-threshhold, is all. Unlikely medical event != miracle. Even an unlikely medical event called a miracle by a religious doctor != miracle.

If the stars in the heavens rearrange themselves into the letters, “DANIEL, YOU DUMBSHIT, DO YOU BELIEVE IN ME NOW?” then I’ll be convinced I’m experiencing either a miracle or a hallucinogen. Eventually, if I can rule out hallucinogen, I’ll change my faith.

But we’re talking about an extraordinary, fundamental change to the way I think the cosmos is ordered; extraordinary proof is required. Pregnancy following sex doesn’t qualify.



Littlewood’s Law of Miracles

Technically speaking, why couldn’t an atheist believe in miracles, as long as those miracles were not attributed to a God/Gods? In fact, couldn’t miracles be the result of extremely technically advanced aliens who are looking out for mankind?

Well, not really, because meat actually exists.

I don’t know whether or not positive outcome follow prayer for non-believers, but it is certain that negative results often follow prayer for believers.

I call it a “cosmic crapshoot”.

One hot summer afternoon, a bunch of us were sitting outside, broiling in our own sweat. We decided to move the picnic table to a shadier part of the yard (where we never hung out). We ate and drank and ate and drank and drank and drank til about 3:00 am. Finally, everyone crashed out. I got up at about 7:00 am to clean up beer cans, and a tree fell in exactly the spot we were all partying, smashing down onto the picnic table we were all sitting at just a few hours earlier.

I remember myself saying, “Geez! What are the odds of THAT happening?” and “Shit! Glad we moved before it fell!”

Not one of us remembered hearing god tell us to high-tail it outta there, for he was going to drop a three-ton tree on us (though, to be fair, we were all pretty schnockered).

Cosmic crapshoot.

Don’t get me wrong, I agree with you Kalhoun; however I remember encountering an atheist who believed in certain supernatural things (such as ESP, Vampires, etc), but didn’t believe in any God/Gods.

Perhaps it’s semantics, or perhaps I’m not entirely sure what is considered an ‘atheist’, but I had to agree with the guy; technically speaking he was an atheist.

Was I incorrect in agreement? I think I need a little clarification on what it means to be an atheist.

I agree that there are atheists out there that believe in the supernatural. But I’m not one of 'em. I think the dictionary definition should suffice:


\A"the*ist, n. [Gr. ? without god; 'a priv. + ? god: cf. F. ath['e]iste.] 1. One who disbelieves or denies the existence of a God, or supreme intelligent Being.

  1. A godless person. [Obs.]

Syn: Infidel; unbeliever.

Not just this guy, EVERYONE who believes in modern-day miracles has an awfully low threshhold.

To know if something is an amazing coincidence, you first need to figure out how many other events would have seemed coicidental if they had happened. Sometimes, certain events that seem, to the individuals involved, to be amazing and impossibly unlikely miracles are actually statistical necessities.

Maybe God was drinking a lot too. Everyone knows drunks have lousy aim.

All he’d have to do was hover over that table for a bit and he’d have had a good buzz going!

Only remembering “incredible coincidences” and wierd events is called Selective Memory. You think about your mom all the time… but that time you thought about her and she rang you is the one that impresses and sticks to the memory.

Check this and other stuff in the Skeptics Dictionary

As for Atheists who beleive in or experience supernatural events, also known as unexplainable event, check my [Atheism and Supernatural are naturally exclusive thread](

Panache loved your sig line !!! Can I use it ?