You can't read any news-related source today without finding a reference to this thing or that thing being a "miracle." It would be hard to think of a more overused word in the English language today, with the obvious exception of "like." "It was like.... and then I like.... " but don't get me started on that horrid misspeak! I hear it a 100+ times a day from my residents. But back to the topic of this blog...
The "miracle" of the day that caught my eye recently was the story in the news of the extremely lucky young woman who was a victim of the Aurora, Colorado shooter and survived a front to back brain penetration by a shotgun pellet with minimal injury because vital structures were missed. The story quotes Dr. Michael Rauzzino, a neurosurgeon at The Medical Center of Aurora who operated on the patient to remove the pellet.
"I would say this is definitely a miracle," he said, while showing an MRI of the patient's brain.
At this point, it's wise to reflect on the primary definition of "miracle:"
1. an event that is contrary to the established laws of nature and attributed to a supernatural cause.
Now as some of you will be quick to point out, there are other second-order definitions of miracle that seem to justify its use for virtually any unusual or wonderous event. Fair enough, but I would argue that the word has been grotesquely over used, and over time the definition has been bent to suit the rampant over usage.
When applied to an unusual or amazing medical outcome it immediately discounts the real science and medical expertise or just dumb luck that went into achieving the result, and instead seems to ascribe the result to some unknown force or devine intervention. That's really unfortunate. Patients don't get better because of true miracles... at least none I'm aware of. They get better (or they don't) because of the natural order of things, coupled with the high quality of medical care that exists today.
I would humbly suggest that the word be reserved for events (if any) that truly defy the laws of nature and not just for wonderful or amazing things. As such, its usage should be limited virtually entirely to religious texts. Walking unaided on (liquid) water, or parting the Red Sea, I freely admit would be true miracles. Events clearly explained by science and luck are not miracles and should not be treated as such...
Of course, I realize the chance of "miracle" being used in a more restrictive and appropriate fashion in the current version of the English language is about the same as my chance of being bitten by a polar bear and a grizzly bear in the same day, or winning the lottery without buying a ticket, but I can still dream!