Theosophy and Miracles
Theosophist, April, 1883
Article selection by Gilbert Elliot, Esq. | Note by H.P.B.
. . . The main difficulty in the way of ascertaining the truth about so-called miracles is not lack of evidence; the cases are generally presented with attested facts that would prove the miracle, if it were not for other facts not adduced, which prove that the attested circumstances are explainable so as to show the real nature of the extraordinary occurrence. Thus, the evidence which Mr. Clarke offers in his article “Modern Miracles,” establishes the truth of the very wonderful cures of diseases at Lourdes which no known medical treatment can cure. The facts cannot be fairly denied. So far Mr. Clarke is perfectly right. But he is hopelessly wrong in his deductions from the facts. . . . the pretentious infallibility of the Church of Rome so saturates the minds of the votaries that even a skilful Jesuit [Clarke], offering good reason with one hand, cannot resist the habit of his mind to give with the other hand such dole of the knowledge of today as his Church permits. Roman Catholicism has never had, and never will have, the “lucidity” which is so sweet in Mr. Matthew Arnold’s nostrils. She knows too well that to be abreast of the science of her day would be to stand by her grave. . . . I may now accept Mr. Clarke’s challenge to adduce a reasonable hypothesis to account naturally for the phenomena at Lourdes, which, he says, occur “through this spring, sanctified as it is by the presence of God’s Immaculate Mother. His supernatural power is manifesting itself to the world.” My hypothesis is this. . . . Concerning the phenomena at Lourdes, and similar occurences elsewhere at many places, and at all times of the earth’s history, I hope to show that they are invariable the effect of natural causes, which, though known of but misunderstood by the Church of Rome, are much better apprehended by a body of men in whose custody has been reposed for several thousand years before Roman Catholicism existed, at least so much knowledge as can assign the phenomena to their real causes.1 . . . etc., etc.
1. Last year, during Colonel Olcott’s tour in Ceylon, an attempt was made by the Roman Catholic padris to inaugurate an era of miracles by means of a Singhalese “Lourdes.” A fountain or well was discovered, “sanctified by the apparition of the Holy Virgin,” and the lame and the blind, it was alleged, recovered their health, by drinking of that holy water. Then it was that Colonel Olcott produced several wonderful cures of old paralysis, instantaneously, by simple mesmeric passes; and thus proved that there were simple mortals who could vie with gods and goddesses in producing “divine” miracles, without any interference of, or claim to, supernatural powers. This was done by the direct order of his MASTER, one of the “men” alluded to by the author. The Singhalese heard no more of the visits of the Virgin Mary.—ED. [H.P.B.]