Thursday, January 18, 2018

The Blue Nun

One of the traditional arguments for Catholicism is the argument from miracles. Catholic miracles. 

A problem with that argument is that reported miracles are hardly confined to Catholicism. There are well-documented Protestant miracles (see case studies by Craig Keener and Robert Larmer). 

But there's another wrinkle. What if Catholic miracles provide evidence that Catholicism is false? That's a paradox, but here's what I mean:

i) Take Fatima. Lucia dos Santos became a threat to the papacy because she accused the papacy of disobeying the Marian command to consecrate Russia to the Immaculate Heart of Mary. That puts the papacy in a bind. If Lucia is the mouthpiece of the Mother of God and Queen of Heaven, what pope dare oppose Sister Lucia? 

ii) Or take the claim that Catholic seer and stigmatic Anne Catherine Emmerich foresaw the the apostasy of the Roman church?

iii) Or take Maria de Agreda, the Blue Nun. She could reputedly bilocate, and her corpse is reputedly incorrupt. For instance:

Yet her writings were repeatedly condemned by Catholic authorities:

These examples generate a dilemma for the Catholic argument from miracles. They become rogue power centers. 


  1. I've told Roman Catholics before too that miracles are not unique to Roman Catholicism. At best, miracles are supplemental to the person who is already a believer or leaning towards a particular religion/theology.

    I do like your analysis of how certain Roman Catholic miracles can actually backfire apologetically speaking. It's something that I would like to look into more.

  2. Then there was the time that the pope himself was unable to exorcise a demoniac:

    (although I don't see it as an exorcism so much as a disagreement between old friends)

    1. ... (although I don't see it as an exorcism so much as a disagreement between old friends)


  3. Here are some other examples from Philip Schaff:

    "Henceforward the Immaculate Conception became an apple of discord between rival schools of Thomists and Scotists, and the rival orders of the Dominicans and Franciscans. They charged each other with heresy, and even with mortal sin for holding the one view or the other. Visions, marvelous fictions, weeping pictures of Mary, and letters from heaven were called in to help the argument for or against a fact which no human being, not even Mary herself, can know without a divine revelation. Four Dominicans, who were discovered in a pious fraud against the Franciscan doctrine, were burned, by order of a papal court, in Berne, on the eve of the Reformation. The Swedish prophetess, St. Birgitte, was assured in a vision by the Mother of God that she was conceived without original sin; while St. Catherine of Siena prophesied for the Dominicans that Mary was sanctified in the third hour after her conception." (The Creeds Of Christendom [Grand Rapids: Baker Books, 1998], Vol. I, pp. 123-124)

    Here's a series I wrote several years ago on Christian miracles, based largely on Craig Keener's work. And the segment in that series linked here addresses how to evaluate competing miracle claims. That post discusses Catholic miracles. I also addressed non-Christian miracles in another post.

  4. In my dealings and debates with Catholic family members, I am often subjected to their devotion to and interpretations of so-called Eucharistic Miracles. They believe that these miracles prove beyond the shadow of a doubt that Catholicism is 100%, capital "T" Truth, authenticated by Christ Himself. I believe 180 degrees opposite, that if these "miracles" prove anything, they prove that Catholicism is false. A typical Eucharistic Miracle plays out in the following way: A Catholic priest begins to have doubts about transubstantiation and whether the bread wafer and the wine truly change into the body and blood of Jesus Christ, so the Priest prays to God for reassurance. God answers his prayer in the next Mass led by the priest, and the bread wafer is literally and visibly changed into flesh and blood. The Priest's doubts are assuaged, and he returns to his duties with newfound conviction and zeal. The miracle is often (or always?) ongoing, because the flesh and blood are claimed to be incorruptible, even after centuries of time in some instances. Claims also include scientific corroboration, including the belief that Jesus' blood has been tested and shown to be type AB, the rarest human blood type. In my humble opinion, these incidents are more likely to be some sort of deception, whether by man or by demonic agent. However, if some visible miraculous transformation really occurred, it should be interpreted as God saying, "This is what a true miracle looks like - it does not require a twisted explanation of 'substance and accidents' to explain away the lack of any scientifically verifiable evidence." When Jesus turned water into wine, the wedding guests in Cana did not need a nonsensical explanation that the beverage in the wine glasses still looked like water, smelled like water, and tasted like water, but it was actually the finest wine that money couldn't buy. Anybody privy to the details of what had happened knew that a miraculous transformation had occurred. In addition to these points, I would ask the priest, "Why did you choose to not eat the bloody flesh and drink the actual type AB blood?" Jesus said that we must eat His flesh and drink His blood, not just when it is presented in a more palatable disguise. For these and other reasons, I am convinced that Catholic miracles fail to prove what Catholic apologists say they prove.