Monday, November 4, 2013

Inexplicable? Maybe. Miracle? Not so much.

Miracle. It's a word used far too often, and far too liberally in place of the correct words, such as remarkable or amazing. It's also fallaciously attached to perfectly explainable things, such as the human body healing itself or even feats in sporting events. (Al Michaels lost all credibility as a sports journalist when he screamed "Do you believe in miracles? YES!" after some inferior U.S. athletes beat superior U.S.S.R. athletes in a GAME of hockey. Remarkable? Sure. Miracle? Not so much. Perspective is often lost in sports.)

Every time something remarkable or odd happens that can't immediately be explained, the routine boilerplate response seems to always be "miracle." This is especially prevalent in the religious realm, where people spend millions of dollars on pilgrimages to look at sprinkler-stained glass that resembles an image that reminds them of some deity or spiritual leader, or they spend their money bidding on pieces of toast that look like some biblical figure.

It's sad, really, when people gravitate toward these poor attempts at capturing supernatural or magical existences because of their own shortcomings and fears. When a painting in Greece begins weeping, the religious sheep flock and claim it's a miracle without ever having a non-biased third-party scientist visit the site to investigate the obvious fraud. And why? Because it IS a fraud, and those perpetrating it don't want that known, lest they will lose the attention and obvious publicity (and money) they are reaping from it.

Does anyone really think if a miracle could be performed from some supernatural being, that they would choose some amateur oil painting on canvas as their vehicle, and merely make that painting weep from its painted eyes? Some miracle. Why not go to Grand Central Station and hold a news conference? And what exactly is this supernatural event conveying when it makes a painting weep or a tree-knot grow in the shape of Jesus' face? That they once existed? That they are sad? Why be so cryptic? Why not just come to Earth and tell us? Because there are no miracles, just coincidences and frauds.

A baby comes back to life in a third-world country hospital after being declared dead by a doctor who got his degree in a Wal*Mart and we are supposed to believe some deity lowered his hand and sparked life back into this baby, right? So, there's no chance this hospital was on hard times and could use an influx of cash and patients, which is the usual outcome from such a story? And there's never any cahoots going on, it's always on the level and perfectly legit, right? No one ever does anything for attention, like make up facts about something (like the guy who said his son floated away in his weather balloon).

What really burns my toast is even dictionaries fall for the hyperbole. A miracle is an event that defies natural law. That's it, and given that nothing defies natural law near as we can tell after centuries of scientific fact-finding experiments, then a miracle has never happened. But Merriam-Webster and even Oxford feel a need to insert divine intervention into their definitions. What's the problem with that? I'll tell you: Has anyone proved there is a god, an afterlife, a supernatural occurrence? Then how can you put that in a definition, that god intervenes on behalf of the inexplicable? It gets back to my God of the Gaps post. If the feeble-minded can't explain it, then god must have done it.

Wouldn't it be great to be a surgeon, to literally hold someone's heart in your hands, make it stop beating for a procedure, make it start again, stitch them up, cure them of their ailment, watch them come out of anesthesia, look you in the eyes as you tell them they are cured, and they say, "Praise the Lord, it's a miracle!" Really? Nine years of medical schooling and at least another year of residency and the doctor gets no credit? Good, next time let the doctor play another nine holes and you can just pray for your clogged aorta to clear itself. Let's see what happens then. 

Ever notice medical miracles are always things that can easily be explained by medicine and precedence? How come no limbs are growing back? I've touched on this in the past so no need to bludgeon this point.

But even if there were a god and supernatural beings, does that mean inexplicable events are miracles? Do these sheeple really believe that god is making a painting weep or bleed while nine million children die each year of starvation or poor living conditions? Are you so arrogant that you think burying a dime-store statue of some biblical figure upside down in your front yard is the reason your house sold? Pathetic.

Stop using the word miracle. It should only be used when describing the possibility of something that suspends natural law. Want an example? "It would be a miracle if the sun turned into a ball of cotton candy," or "If your dead grandfather dug his way out of the casket he was buried in two decades ago and rang your doorbell, that would be a miracle." It's not OK to say, "It's a miracle my eczema cleared up," or "It's a miracle the Vikings won the Super Bowl."

Grow up, improve your vocabulary, do some critical thinking.

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