A miracle, derived from the old Latin word miraculum meaning "something wonderful", is a striking interposition of divine intervention by a supernatural being in the universe by which the ordinary course and operation of Nature is overruled, suspended, or modified.

Many religious texts and people confirm witnessing or prophesying various events which they refer to as "miraculous", although it is disputed whether there are scientifically confirmed occurrences of miracles. One aspect of some miracles which causes their validity to be questioned is the fact that they are often manifested only to small groups of individuals, and sometimes the only evidence we have is the accounts of those individuals. However, there are notable exceptions to this, including the visible transformation of the Eucharistic bread and wine into the Flesh and Blood of Christ in Lanciano, Italy. The resultant substance is visible to this day and has been scientifically verified to be real human heart muscle, undeteriorated despite its 1200-year presence in the church.

People in different faiths have substantially different definitions of the word "miracle". Even within a specific religion there is often more than one usage of the term.

Sometimes the term "miracle" may refer to the action of a supernatural being that is not a god. Thus, the term "divine intervention", by contrast, would refer specifically to the direct involvement of a deity.

In casual usage, "miracle" may also refer to any statistically unlikely but beneficial event, (such as the survival of a natural disaster) or even to anything which is regarded as "wonderful" regardless of its likelihood, such as birth. Other miracles might be: survival of a fatal illness, escaping a life threatening situation or 'beating the odds'.

In this view, a miracle is a violation of normal laws of nature by God or God's servants. Some scientist-theologians like Polkinghorne suggest that miracles are not violations of the laws of nature but "exploration of a new regime of physical experience".

The logic behind an event being deemed a miracle varies significantly. Often a religious text, such as the Bible or Quran, states that a miracle occurred, and believers accept this as a fact.

Most conservative religious believers hold that there is a scientific basis for believing in supernatural miracles. They hold that in the absence of a plausible, parsimonious scientific theory, the best explanation for these events is that they were performed by a supernatural being, e.g. God. Therefore, there is probably God that performs what appear to be miracles. However, Richard Dawkins criticises this kind of thinking as a subversion of Occam's Razor. Because God can perform a miracle, and a miracle has occurred, it does not follow that God exists. Adherents of monotheistic religions assert that miracles, if established, are evidence for the existence of an omnipotent, omniscient, and benevolent God, though not necessarily proof.

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Author's Bio: 

This definition is part of a series that covers the topic of Miracles. The Official Guide to Miracles is Rebecca Hanson.

For more than 30 years, Rebecca Hanson has helped hundreds of people turn their lives around. Her unique blend of teaching, spiritual gifts and practical application of the Law of Attraction have a quick, powerful and long-lasting effect on everyone she meets. In 2003, Rebecca founded the Law of Attraction Training Center (www.lawofattractiontrainingcenter.com) where she mentors a global audience. Rebecca is always one step ahead of leading-edge teachers. As the SelfGrowth.com "Guide for Miracles," her focus is on advanced applications of the Law of Attraction and showing ordinary people how they can allow miracles to happen on a daily basis.

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