How is the Holy Light "miracle" performed?

The “miracle” boils down to this: The candles in the Jerusalem temple start self-igniting. Only the orthodox priest can do that. Priests from other christian denominations cannot perform the “miracle”.

You can read about the “miracle” in detail here:

My question is: Has anybody ever heared about this miracle, or even better, has anybody witnessed it?

The author of this web page has attempted to debunk that miracle? What do you think about the debunking?

I cannot load that site at the moment, unfortunately (server not found). I do know, however, that the miracle has been consistently reported for centuries, that the Greek Patriarch of Jerusalem is very closely checked for artificial sources of light by Israeli (and before them, Ottoman) authorites before he enters the inner chamber, and that, to my knowledge, it has never been conclusively debunked. I personally believe it’s a miracle, and that it only occurs for the Orthodox because the Orthodox Church is the true one. If it’s ever debunked, however, I may think a bit less of the Jerusalem Patriarchate, but it won’t make much of a difference in my religious faith, and I suspect the same is true for most believers in it.

The author believes that the candles are prepared with some amount of white phosphorus:

Yes, that is certainly a plausible explanation. As I said, though, until it is conclusively debunked (as in, this white phosphorus is actually demonstrated to be contained in the candle wicks), I see no good reason to disbelieve in the miracle.

:dubious: Other than the fact that it violates all known laws of at least three branches of science? :rolleyes:

Considering I believe that every Sunday bread and wine are transformed into the literal body and blood of a man who happens to be God, mystical fire appearing once a year is peanuts.

In scientific terms, it is impossible to arrive at a definitive account of how the candles light unless one is given access to all the relevant data. In this case, having access to ‘all the relevant data’ would mean having someone demonstrate this supposed ability under properly controlled conditions where observations can be made and hypotheses tested until the working mechanism is found or until the ‘miracle’ hypothesis is determined to be the only one which cannot be eliminated.

If someone is willing to give such a demonstration or demonstrations, then we can begin to evaluate the claim being made. If not, then there is no case to answer. It could be a miracle, but any awareness of the history of such claims suggests that the ‘miracle’ hypothesis is the hypothesis of last resort and least likely to withstand scrutiny.

In philosophical terms, you may want to read up on the philosophy of David Hume (or even just Google on Hume and miracles). Hume identified some difficulties with any ‘miracle’ hypothesis which philosophers and theologians are still discussing to this day.

Also (still on the philosophy) there is an epistemological problem with the ‘miracle’ hypothesis. If you accept the ‘miracle’ hypothesis, such that we are invoking super- or supra-natural explanations and departing from the realm of what may be determined scientifically, then any version which fits the facts is as valid as any other. You can say God is enabling the miracle to happen. I could say invisible telekinetic Martians are doing it. Someone else could say it’s Satan’s work, or that Odin is responsible, or an ancient Indian spirit called Disputed Land Claim who operates from Neptune and also draws crop circles. Since all of these fit the facts, and since none yields to analysis more than any other, they must all be allocated ‘equally likely’ status.

From a purely methodological point of view, please don’t try to tell me that only certain kinds of priests can do this. I’m a magician, and I’ve got books on my shelves with various methods in, some of which date back at least a century. Self-igniting and self-extinguishing candles are nothing new, and even Houdini would have seen plenty of both in his time. I won’t divulge any methods here, because we don’t, but if you want to take up an interest in the art and learn about it, you can find the right books and develop your awareness that not everything that looks miraculous really is.

great post ianzin .

From this site

These days, apparently it is done with a cigarette lighter.

Uh… cause it’s a crock o’ shit…

Does anyone know how to actually do this? Where can you obtain white phosphorus? What kind of organic solvents are we talking about here? I’m not trying to perform any miracles, but it would be a nifty thing to do for the girlfriend.

No idea where you can get the phosphorus, but in high school (approx. 1970 - I have my doubts the kiddies would be let near such stuff today) my chemistry teacher dissolved phosphorus in carbon disulfide, and wet a piece of filter paper with it. Neat watching it burst into flame when the solvent evaporated!

I guess this explains why we have war, pestilence, AIDS, and Fox TV; God is too busy doing 3rd rate magic tricks.

Even more controllable than coating with an evaporant would be to coat the wicks in a thin layer of a nearby convenient substance that could be removed at your leisure. Say…wax!

A thin layer of wax wouldn’t be noticable, and the priest could just scrape off the phosphorus-treated wick and POOF!

I think it says a lot about a religion that they have to resort to parlor tricks to impress people. It says even more about the people who believe it…

What kind of liberation would that be to forsake an absurdity that is logical and coherent and to embrace one which is illogical and incoherent?