This is the miraculous event that made Pope John Paul II a saint, as described in the article entitled 'Costa Rican woman who elevated the Pope to sainthood: "Praying to John Paul II saved me''':
Floribeth Mora Díaz was told there was no hope. Taken to hospital in Costa Rica, she was devastated to discover that her persistent headaches were the result of an aneurysm in the brain. The doctors said her days were numbered. [...]
Alejandro Vargas Román, the neurosurgeon who treated Mrs Mora, is convinced that her recovery is the result of divine intervention.
"Of course it's true," he told Costa Rican newspaper La Nacion. "I am a Catholic, and as a doctor with many years of experience I do believe in miracles. No one has been able to provide a medical explanation for what happened."
Mr Román was questioned by Vatican authorities in San Jose, who concluded that she was saved by a miracle.
"I talked to the priests, but maybe they were specialised in something," he said. "They weren't doctors; they were theologians or lawyers, so my role was that of medical investigation."
But he is adamant that the science is sound.
"We have to remember that the arteriography [images of the blood vessels] was seen by various people within this hospital, and also shared at a symposium in Mexico. The images are stored here. Any person who needs to see the studies; they are here," he said.
From another source:
"The neurosurgeon who admitted and diagnosed Mora, however, denies he gave her a month to live. Alejandro Vargas says he forecast only a 2 percent chance Mora could bleed into her brain again within a year of her diagnosis, possibly killing her.
"She was sent home with medication that would reduce her blood pressure and was advised to improve her diet so as not to raise her cholesterol levels and thus decrease the chance of her having a second bleeding episode. She was sedated because the headaches were too sharp," he told Reuters. "We didn't send her home to be sedated and wait until she died in her sleep."
Thus, the God of the Gaps reigns supreme. Find a pocket of ignorance, add religion, some wild exaggeration, bake for 2 minutes, and God appears.
Crackpot: How do you explain X?
Me: I can't.
Crackpot: See? God did it. It's the ONLY explanation! The science is sound!
Chesus is just allright by me!
“From a scientific perspective, I think the question is falsifiability”.
Exactly Bob. However that is not what the Papacy has done. It is not even allowing its data to be independently peer reviewed which makes a mockery of any claim to using a scientific approach. The Church is doing exactly as my earlier diagram suggests. It is calling the cure in Costa Rica an act of God in one step. Does the Catholic Church investigate similar claims of “miracles” by (say) Hindus in order to check if they are possibly the work of the Christian God? It would need to do so if it was applying the Scientific Method.
No, at best the Church has used Inductive Reasoning poorly. I only see white swans therefore all swans are white or I only look at cures that happen to Catholics and deduce that our God is behind them all, even when non Catholics report identical cases.
I would suggest that “Is there a god” is not a Scientific question even though I can hear the roar of disagreement. Hawking would disagree as philosophy is redundant to him but what I mean is that God is a supernatural entity and therefore not falsifiable by the Scientific Method. We cannot test any prediction to reach any Truth on the subject.
So if “At the same time, when we can't falsify such a claim, we have to be honest about just not knowing” you cannot then claim this cure to be a miracle on behalf of your God. If the Scientific Method was applied to a natural world event then you cannot say it was done supernaturally without calling your own honesty into question. You can only claim not to know how she got cured. Causal reasoning does not apply.
As with my (sort of) Bayesian deduction the probability of it being an unknown natural world cure, is immeasurably greater than the probability of it being a supernatural cure, and even (by several orders) less probable that you know the name of this supernatural entity. If you see merit in the Bayesian argument then Occam’s razor must apply. A miracle cannot be inferred.
“One should probably never start to believe in God because of claims of individual miracles by others, at least not without a whole heck of a lot of them sufficient to adjust the Bayesian probability.”
Once again Bob, I am in agreement. The likelihood of even one miracle being deduced to be the work of a specifically named God is so slight as to never merit having its own wave function.
I also agree that reports of miracles to not (in general) lead people to believe in a God. That is not their purpose. Miracles are only used to reinforce a belief in God by confirming a bias. Do you know why people start to believe in God? Could it be because they believe what other people already believe and just take it on board for themselves and eventually make it their own?
Note: the white swan analogy is the “Raven Paradox”. I think mine is from a Dawkins book. Anyway the link is worth a look.