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We argue that the use of publicly funded medical facilities for patients who are waiting for a miracle amounts to discrimination against atheists, agnostics and advocates, of faiths that do not accept miracle claims. The only exception is when this use can be justified by considerations that demonstrate that waiting makes it more likely that a miracle will occur and will aid the patient's recovery. Such justification can be grounded on considerations of faith or of reason. We consider both possibilities and suggest conditions of acceptability for both. In arguing this way, we steer a middle path between discrimination against atheists, agnostics, and advocates of faiths that do not accept miracle claims--miraclism--and a failure to respect religious belief.

Original publication




Journal article


South Med J

Publication Date





1259 - 1262


Humans, Knowledge, Prejudice, Religion and Medicine, Spirituality