Let us look at the probabilities of battlefield miracles, such as the previously mentioned mortally wounded soldier (from Pt.1) that was miraculously healed before an experienced war correspondent. It was reported by a professional observer who makes his living reporting nothing but the facts: though reports of battlefield miracles are nothing new. There have been reports of unusual or unexplainable events in every war that’s been recorded throughout history. For instance, reports of instant behavioral changes in the midst of war, when adrenaline-filled battle-hard troops engaged in firefights, and even hand-to-hand combat, cease all violent actions and befriend the enemy. And these seemingly miraculous conversions have occurred in small two-man encounters all the way up to entire battlefields of men. Probably the most famous non-biblical example of mass behavioral change on the battlefield took place in 1914, on the dreaded western front, during World War I. It is known as the Christmas Miracle of Flanders, or the Christmas Truce (Rees). There were Germans on one side, the French and British on the other, and “no man’s land” in-between. Trench warfare: they lived, fought, and died in horrific conditions. Their home was water-logged, muck, and blood-filled trenches in the dead of winter. And to make matters worse, they often lived and slept beside the corpses of their fallen comrades. But on the 24th, Christmas Eve, a few German soldiers had a change of heart, and they began communicating with the enemy. The leaders on both sides did not know what to do when their troops stopped fighting. The officers urged, cajoled, and threatened to no avail. So they finally agreed to a cease-fire over Christmas; a Christmas truce that quickly escalated with soldiers from both sides meeting in no man’s land to exchange gifts, frolic, and compete in sporting events. Of course, skeptics are quick to point out that the cease-fire ended, and the war continued for a few more years.
Yes, the war continued, but there are individuals, like myself, who believe that how we respond to miracles has something to do with their success and longevity. As individuals with free will, it is up to us whether we will accept the positive aspects of an apparent miraculous event or not. For instance, at Flanders, the cease-fire was ended by high ranking officers who were not even present on the battlefield. And those officers used whatever intimidating methods necessary to have their subordinate officers force their men to re-enter the war. And yet, many men on the front line continued their own personal cease-fire well into the new year. And many of the men who took up arms again fired them into the air, or into the ground (Weintraub). In other words, if the leaders would have followed the example set forth with the miraculous behavioral change of their men on the front line, the cease-fire presented a perfect opportunity to negotiate an early end to the war: especially since the event had already hit the news, and sparked conversations about extending the truce indefinitely. Therefore, you could say that free will and unbelief slammed the brakes on that miraculous event. Instead of accepting it as a positive, the naysayers refused to heed the alleged divine intervention, and in so doing, they paved the way for the continuation of what became the bloodiest war in history. It is far too easy for skeptics, who did not observe or participate in the event, to denounce it for their personal beliefs and agenda.
Unsurprisingly, skeptics, or non-believers who are present during unexplainable events act a bit differently. In fact, records show they predominantly corroborate the event at the risk of sounding bizarre. For instance, during the 1973 Yom Kippur war, an Israeli soldier single-handedly captured an Egyptian column, and when the Egyptian commander was asked why they surrendered to a lone soldier, he insisted that there had been “thousands of them” (Rabuka), but they began to vanish without a trace as they reached the Israeli lines. And yet, the Israeli soldier, who was never aware of this alleged divine assistance, swears he was alone when the Egyptians surrendered. Another situation, during the six-day war in 1967, involved Gershon Saloman, who was wounded and about to be finished off by a group of Syrian soldiers (Rabuka). The soldiers were systematically terminating the wounded, but when they approached Saloman they surprisingly dropped their weapons and fled. And, instead of remaining quiet, a report was made to UN officers by the Syrian soldiers claiming they ran away after seeing “thousands of angels” protecting the wounded soldier (Rabuka). In both incidents a superior force out-numbered a solitary soldier who was unaware of any divine assistance, yet the assistance was visible enough to scare the hell out of armed soldiers. And both groups of soldiers, knowing how ridiculous it would sound to anyone not present at the event, still reported the apparent sightings of angelic beings. It would appear that individual perspective, where a person is during the event, truly does play a role in how the person will respond to the miraculous nature of the occurrence: theists, atheists, and agnostics alike.
[*I will deal with how perspective plays a central role in accepting miraculous healings in Part 3.]