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"miracles"


Guest Rabidtreeweasel
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Guest Rabidtreeweasel

I've been hearing the word "miracle" a lot in the news lately. In the wake of the plane crash in the Hudson River, many news commentators are attributing the survival of the passengers to miraculous intervention. I'm willing to give them the benefit of the doubt. I think the word has somewhat lost it's religious ramifications over the years, and that it is now generally used to describe an event that goes against the odds. It is not always intended to reflect a belief in divine intervention.

 

However, I have to assume that the religious people who used the word miracle mean it in the strictest sense of the word. I almost feel the need to write the pilot of the aircraft a letter of apology on behalf of the American people. The pilot was trained in the US Air Force. He spent his life serving his country, and this was another fine example of his work. Christians would say that calling it a miracle doesn't take away from the pilots ability to save the day, because the pilot had to be open to the "promptings of the Holy Specter." To support their theory, they well argue the odds of everyone surviving the plane crash, completely disregarding the people who die in plane crashes everyday, or the fact that it would have been more of a miracle if the plane hadn't crashed in the first place. It would have been undeniable if, when the engines failed, god fixed them. Or if god prompted that flock of birds to wait a little while longer.

 

It's not just the whole miracle thing that annoys me, but this reliance on prayer, and on the "promptings of the spirit." Sure, some people do good things based on that emotional experience known as prayer. The might open a school in a third world country, or start up a soup kitchen in their neighborhood. But what about the children who missed out on an education, went intro prostitution, and died of AIDs complications? What of the man who starved to death the day before the adherent received their "prompting?" Is it a miracle if god intervenes, but nap time when he doesn't?

 

All of these people who support their belief in a god through answer to prayer need to question whether or not they may be fooling themselves. The only difference between the mother who prays and gets her child a counselor, and the mother who prays and drowns that same child in the bathtub, is their perceived answer to prayer, brought about by the state of mind they were already in. Prayer is simply an affirmation of what they either already wanted, or their hidden desire to sacrifice their needs for the well being of others. It is not diving intervention, but simple psychology.

 

So to Captain Chesley "Sully" Sullenberger, thank you, sir, for your dedication and for your vigilance. Your work was amazing, and it was all you. You are the hero, and you deserve better from the public you've served.

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Yep, they use the word miracle to help convince themselves that it is all true, in a sort of self-talk. The evidence continually screams reality at the believer, but the believer reinterprets it to support the comforting story. It is similar to the cultists I used to talk to who would end up saying "Well thank you for strengthening my faith!" after I had just shown their scriptures to be a pile of shit. One guy told me that the fact that his scriptures were obviously wrong strengthened his faith because it meant that his prophet would one day be proven right , because he would have had to be nuts to write something like that otherwise... This is a prime example of cognitive dissonance. By the force of will and emotional investment, he could not face the concept of his religion being make-believe. His companion was a different story (yea!). He saw his beliefs decimated and saw the first guy's reply as stupid. So there is hope.

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I've told this before, but it seems appropriate. It is the most telling story I have (out of many such stories) about the mindset of my fundy father.

 

One day he told me God had performed a miracle for him. He said he was driving the freeway and had a tire blowout. God safely guided the car to the side of the road so there would be no crash or injury.

 

Of course I asked Dad if he wasn't steering the car himself, and why God just didn't prevent the blowout in the first place, or make it go flat in the driveway so it could be changed before leaving. I got the usual disgusted stare from him as he shook his head.

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