Existence of Miracles

By: Samuel E. Moskowitz  

A miracle is an event that is not explicable by all natural laws known at the time of occurrence. The Congregation for the Causes of Saints serves the Catholic Church in establishing the authenticity of a miracle. Prior to becoming a saint, the individual must have performed at least two miracles. A miracle is scrutinized by medical and theological panels. One salient example is the recovery of Sister Marie Simon-Pierre from Parkinson’s disease, a miracle attributed to Pope John Paul II, who died in 2005. Parkinson’s disease (PD) is a movement disorder marked by tremors of hands, arms, legs, and face. PD is caused by a reduced supply of neurotransmitter dopamine secreted from nerve cells within the brain. Dopamine is needed to regulate muscular movements, and provide other neurological functions. Neurons reside within the substantia nigari, and die as the disease progresses. Eventually cognitive abilities are adversely affected. There is no known cure. Recent research has shown that certain emotions can increase the production of dopamine. Sister Marie Simon-Pierre fervent and solemn prayers may have increased dopamine secretion to levels that arrested her tremors. We shall discuss the possibility of inferring a rationale of a miracle from future scientific discoveries. A miracle has no apparent explanation. Sister Marie Simon-Pierre was cured of Parkinson’s disease after fervent and prolonged prayers. The event was declared a miracle. Parkinson is caused by an insufficient amount of dopamine. Certain emotions can increase production. Prayers may have arrested her tremors. Rationale must await scientific discovery.

Miracle, Saint, Prayers
Religious Foundations
Paper Presentation in a Themed Session

Prof. Samuel E. Moskowitz

Research Professor and Emeritus Professor of Applied Mathematics, Research Professor, Hebrew University of Jerusalem

Prof. Moskowitz is currently Research Professor and Emeritus Professor of Applied Mathematics at The Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Jerusalem, Israel. His professional interest is Mathematical Modeling in Healthcare. Recent publications include: Recent Advances in Optical Coherence Tomography (South Korea), Wireless Route Planner for a Programmable Wheelchair, Retinal Curvature in Age-Related Macular Degeneration, Controlled Inquiry Rates of Clinical Interviews in Telehomecare (South Korea), and Guidelines of Telehomecare for the Underserved, and The Hausdorff Measure of Progress Made by the Homeless and Mentally Ill. Prof. Moskowitz was Head of the Israeli delegation to ISO/TC 215, which prepares standards in Health Informatics, and contributed to Working Group Standards Association 1073, in the field of Medical Devices. He collaborated with Hadassah Medical School healthcare providers. Joint collaboration with cardiologists, ophthalmologists, and cardio-thoracic surgeons led to several technological developments. These included an air-cushioned eye bandage (patent 3952735), a look-up table of refractive errors used in ophthalmic surgery, measures of astigmatism in an improved keratometer, a rule-of-thumb for matching arterial grafts, dimensional criteria for shunt implantation in the treatment of hydrocephalus, finite element software for the simulation of heart performance in artery stenosis, and requirements for central heart valve prosthesis.