Allan Kardec

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15. We have, in the foregoing argument, pronounced the word miracle; a short observation on this subject will not be out of place in a chapter treating of the "marvellous."

The word miracle, in its primitive acceptation, and by its etymology, signifies something extraordinary, something admirable or wonderful; but this word, like many others, has lost its original meaning, and has come to be understood, in common parlance, as an ad of the Divine power, contrary to the known laws of nature. This is, in fact, its usual acceptation ; and it is no longer applied. to common things which surprise us and of which the cause is unknown, except as a metaphor. It is not our intention to examine, in this place, whether God may see fit, under certain circumstances, to act in opposition to the laws established by Himself; our object is solely to show that spirit-phenomena, extraordinary as they are, derogate in no degree from those laws, that they have no "miraculous" character, and are not even "marvellous" or "supernatural." A miracle cannot be explained ; spirit-phenomena, on the contrary, explain themselves, and in the most rational manner ; they are, therefore, not miracles, but simply effects which occur in virtue of general laws. A miracle has quite another character; it is something unusual, isolated. If a fact can be made to recur, so to say, at will, and through different people, that fact is no miracle.

Science works miracles daily in the eyes of the ignorant. In former times, any man who knew more than his neighbours passed for a sorcerer, and, as people then believed that all unusual knowledge came from the devil, they generally burned him; but now that we have become so much more civilised, we content ourselves with consigning such a one to the madhouse.

For a man who is really dead, as we remarked above, to be recalled to life by Divine intervention, would be a veritable miracle, because it would be contrary to the laws of nature. But if the man's death were only apparent, if there were still within him some remains of latent vitality, and if a physician, or a magnetiser, should intervene and restore him to life, it would be, to men of science, a natural phenomenon; but, in the eyes of the ignorant vulgar, it would pass for a miracle, and its author would either be stoned by the mob, or venerated by it, according to circumstances. If, in some rural district, a natural philosopher, with the aid of an electrical machine, should strike down a tree, as though by lightning, the new Prometheus would certainly be regarded as being armed with diabolical power (and here let us remark, in passing, that old Prometheus would seem to have got the start of Franklin); but the arresting of the movement of the sun, or rather of the earth, by Joshua, would indeed be a miracle, for we know of no magnetiser sufficiently powerful to accomplish such a prodigy. Of all the spirit phenomena one of the most extraordinary, without doubt, is that of direct writing, demonstrating, as it does, the power of the occult intelligences by whom it is effected; but it is no more miraculous than any of the other phenomena due to the action of those invisible agents, because the occult beings who people space are one of the powers of nature, and exercise an incessant action on the material world, as well as on the moral world.

Spiritism, by enlightening us in regard to this power, gives us a key to a host of things hitherto unexplained, and that are inexplicable by any other theory; things which, in the olden times, have passed for prodigies. Spiritism, like magnetism, reveals to us a law, the effects of which, if not wholly unknown, have been hitherto imperfectly understood; a law of which, while its effects were known, the world was ignorant, and the ignorance of which engendered superstition. This law being known, the marvellous disappears ; and phenomena, formerly regarded as miraculous or super natural, are brought into the category of natural things. Spiritists no more perform miracles by making a table to rap, or the so-called dead to write, than does the physician when he restores a sick man to health, or the electrician, when he produces artificial lightning. Whoever should pretend to perform miracles by the aid of spiritism would prove himself an ignoramus or a charlatan by the mere fact of such a pretension.

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