"A born writer, especially a born story-teller. Dr. Sutherland, who is distinguished in medicine, is an amateur in the sense that he only writes when he has nothing better to do. But when he does, it could hardly be done better." G.K. Chesterton.
On miracles, Dr Sutherland wrote:
Mental attitudes towards miracles are often curious. Thus a person may blindly believe that the astral body of a fakir has been seen walking about in Canada whilst the fakir himself was asleep by a dusty roadside in India; that Home, the medium, was levitated in a trance so that his body in a horizontal position floated out of a first-floor room through one open window and floated back through another; that mahogany tables have risen without visible cause to the ceiling or that pianos have likewise walked upstairs.
Towards all such alleged events it is advisable to adopt the attitude of doubting Thomas. It is foolish to believe in them without examining the evidence (which in Home’s case is in favour of the thing having happened). Yet more foolish is the man who blindly believes in astral bodies of fakirs, but refuses to believe in any unusual happening when associated with a Christian saint. “I don’t believe in miracles!” is the boast of many a modern mind. Yet if you ask him to define a miracle the betting is a hundred to one that he gives the wrong answer—that a miracle is against Nature.
Now a miracle is certainly above what little we know of Nature, but is no more against Nature than is the fourth dimension against tri-dimensional space as understood by the average individual. Yet who, even if he had never thought in the fourth dimension, would be so hardy as to deny its existence? After reading Mr. Dunne’s books [An Experiment with Time; The Serial Universe] I found myself thinking for a few minutes in five dimensions, whereas a real mathematician can think in many more dimensions until he approaches Infinity, one of the attributes of God and beyond the comprehension of the finite mind.
The advanced thinkers of the Victorian era worked overtime to get rid of the supernatural, and to-day Dean Inge, last of the Victorians, writes, “There are few amongst our ecclesiastics and theologians who would spend five minutes in investigating one alleged supernatural occurrence in our own time. It would be assumed that if true it must be ascribed to some obscure natural cause.” [Outspoken Essays, page 169] Personally, as a rationalist who seeks conclusions by the use of reason, I think an “obscure natural cause” deserves more than five minutes of a theologian’s valuable time—for every cause must have a cause until we get back to the First Cause.
Yet in respect to St. Henry and with the fate of the scornful monk in mind, I see nothing very remarkable in the finding of his severed finger.
From: Lapland Journey by Dr Halliday Sutherland.
Photo credit: bertvthul at http://pixabay.com/en/users/bertvthul-1134851/