Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Miracle of miracles..

There's been another shaky old day in Christchurch. fresh earthquakes, some more damage, and at least one more "miracle" claimed.
A restaurant in a shapping mall suffered some destruction - a part of the ceiling fell in, a few bricks scattered about.
"Oh," gasped the owner. (I'm paraphrasing, but only a lot.) "If this had happened when people had of been sitting there at those there tables, they would have been killed. Thank God no-one was there to killed! It was a miracle that no-one was killed!".
Well, actually, no. While Australia may have a saint - some woman deified by a bunch of frock-wearing men who were happy to take hearsay as proof of a "miracle" - we here in good old shaky EnZed don't need one. And we certainly don't want god being dragged in to quite ordinary happenings.
Yes, I'm afraid earthquakes are rather ordinary here. Ones that dmaage property aren't so common, but they happen.
And ones that damaged a restaurant that was closed for business, and that therefore couldn't have harmed anyone in said restaurant, is not a miracle.
It was most certainly not, as the headline claimed "Another miracle". For it to have been another miracle, two things need to have been true:
1: It had to have been proved to be a miracle - ie, it had to be demonstrated beyond reasonable doubt that what happened was due entirely to God's divine intervention. There could be no other possible explanation. (Even the Catholic Church claims to rely on this definition, although they do play a tad loosey-goosey with their own rules).
2: For it to have been "another miracle", there had to have been a prior proven miracle. See details re God etc above.
And there hasn't been a prior miracle. Just happenstance. Happy happenstance, to be sure - but not a miracle. A surprise, perhaps, but no miracle. Amazing stories of survival, certainly. But no miracles.
Let's say these things happened: the seismologist's instruments go crazy, indicating that a Force 7+ earthquake is in progress, say on Haiti, but - while thousands of homes are sent tumbling down hills, and million-tonne mudslides sweep tens of thousands of people away - absolutely no-one is hurt. Grade "A" Miracle there. Or a tornado picks up a church filled with pious worshippers in Kansas, and shreds the building while setting everyone down completely unharmed... well, that would be a miracle. Or, let's say, every time an attempt was made to kill an inmate at Auschwitz during WWII, he or she was protected, and the tormentor suffered the death intended for the inmate... well, hell, that would have been child's play for an omnipotent, all-knowing, all-loving god. Genuine miracles.
They didn't happen, because, well, miracles need god. That's the nature of miracles. A piece of masonry falling down and not hitting a person who isn't there is not a miracle. It's just a piece of masonry obeying the laws of gravity. If anything comes close to being miraculous in that small story it's Newton's brain - and his near-contemporary, Darwin, had a few things to say about that.
Reading: T Jefferson Parker, "The Renegades".
Listening to: Ray davies, "Working Men's Cafe".

1 comment:

  1. Hyperbole - the press thrives on it of course. I do agree that its ever so irritating, mind you - it gets the punters excited - even you - though perhaps not in the manner intended :)