Looking for a Miracle
Weeping Icons, Relics, Stigmata, Visions & Healing Cures
By Joe Nickell

This book is a brief examination of currently popular "miracles," ranging from "the face of Jesus in tortillas" to the "Shroud of Turin." It discusses "miraculous" paintings that bleed and "weep" or magically appear; weeping and bleeding icons; mystical relics; "gifts of the spirit" such as "speaking in tongues," prophecy, snake handling, and drinking posions; faith "healing;" visions; and mystic "powers" such as levitation, stigmata, and bilocation. The subject matter is huge, but Nickell does an excellent job of condensing purported miracle claims into logical groups.

Do miracles exist? Have there ever been purported miracles that withstand objective scrutiny? The answer to the first question is "No one can say," and the answer to the second question is "No." It is often the case that people claim miracles for events that they do not understand: that is, their claims are based upon ignorance. It is also often the case that confidence artists (read: priests, parishioners, neurotics, the greedy) find it extremely easy to con the gullible--- especially when the gullible have an emotional interest in believing. Nickell failed to find even one purported miracle that withstood careful, objective scrutiny.

Indeed, most "miracles" do not hold up to even casual scrutiny. Some "miracles" are blatent pranks and hoaxes, but that doesn't seem to bother the True Believers. (It seems to me that the most flagrantly bogus claims for miracles tend to be the ones True Believers believe the most--- a topic for another book, I suppose.)

If one is looking for a quick, thorough examination of miracle claims, this is the book. Looking for a Miracle was published in 1993 by Prometheus Books. It is 253 pages, including the index. ISBN 0-87975-840-6

On the Shy David Book Review Scale from one to six stars (six being best), I think this book deserves three stars.

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