Apparently 79% of Americans believe in miracles. This isn't anything new. In fact the number itself is staggeringly persistent. Be it 2010, or 1990 its usually around 80-90 percent.
I think there is something wrong here. I think the problem, isn't with the belief itself, because if you talked to the average American about this particular belief, you'll quickly find that miracles turn out to be rather mundane things. People surviving a hurricane or an earthquake is a miracle. Someone gets a kidney transplant, its a miracle. Someone wins the lottery, its a miracle. Someone finds a parking space in San Francisco, its a miracle.
The concept of the miraculous itself has degraded from something that circumvents the very laws of nature and logic (Jesus walking on water, resurrecting from the dead, pulling an infinite amount of food from a finite basket, etc.) to something that is improbable....
And sometimes not even to that degree. Its not improbable to die in an earthquake. The reverse is true. It's highly improbable that ANYONE will die in an earthquake. Move to California, the probability will no doubt increase. But the last big earthquake, Loma Prieta, caused 58 people to die, in an area where there was approx 2 million people (estimating here... San Jose has a pop of about a million now, and SF the same). 58 out 2 million isn't exactly highly probable.
So whats the point? The point is that when we adopt the use of a term, in a figurative sense, like miracle, to every day occurrences, we start changing the way we perceive the world. No longer is it figurative after a while. It really is a miracle when I find a parking space, God guided my steering wheel towards the area of the park where I would find a vacant parking space, which then reinforces my idea of God.
"Miracle" isn't the only term that this is happening to. "Hero," especially after 9/11 is being degraded into something below what was or is heroic. "Evil" is another term I think that is being thrown around without much attention. But both of these, I think don't have the same ramifications as miracle does, since it directly reinforces a questionable ontological belief.