Reflection 7: Perhaps a Student Being Too Stubborn | Stephen Scheidell Corner suggests that a due criterion for the

miraculous must be that they are “extraordinary, in the sense that they are contrary to what we might reasonably have expected.”1 I will here take issue with this final clause. I fear that he leaves too ambiguous what a “might reasonably have been expected.” erhaps a closer read will dispatch this ob!ection, but one may question whether reasonable expectability sets a sufficiently strong criteria. "or example, an oncologist might come across a case of a relapsing, remitting cancer. If she examined this patient and saw shrinking yet still benign tumors, she would not count it as extraordinary, because she reasonably expects some cases to behave precisely in this manner. #uppose Corner responds to a case like one of relapsing, remitting cancer. $e would argue that such a case still falls within his criterion of expectability. If the oncologist has seen, or simply read of certain cancers that have behaved in such a way, she would call the matter “a stroke of luck” in the patient%s favor. #he would not call it extraordinary and nor should the patient. In a case like this, Corner might argue that we call this providence, but not &uite miraculous. 'ow let us raise the problematic again by raising the odds against a patient. #uppose a patient comes down with a dangerous kind of pneumonia. (he doctor, knowing this kind of pneumonia well, gives him a )*+ chance of survival, with the stipulation that ,*+ of the survivors end with brain damage from the lack of oxygen to the brain. In short, 1 in 1* of these cases fully recovers. -ill the doctor here, find it extraordinary should every so often a patient fully recover. robably not. /f course, the patient himself would thank 0od 1if he participates in theistic religious practice2 for the providence. 3ut, could he !ustifiably call the phenomenon a miracle. Corner would respond in the same manner as in the cancer patient%s case. In both cases, the doctor knew the odds of recovery. (herefore, a recovery could have been reasonably expected. I want to argue that more and more diseases are being understood in ways similar to the above cases. 4s 1albeit rare2 cases of recovery from “terminal” diseases are documented in medical !ournals, doctors are more and more careful in their “reasonable expectations.” (hat is to say, I fear that Corner may not have sufficiently guarded against the “expanse of scientific research” even in teleological accounts of the miraculous. #cience disrupts this model at a different point than in the apologist%s account of supernatural causation. In her account, science fills in more and more “gaps” in which she might have put 0od. In the teleological model, science muddles further and further what might be “expected.” 5ore and more terminal diseases are being understood as leaving a crack in the door for a “reasonably expected” recovery.


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