28
Apr
09

Miracles

We’ve all seen it on the news: man healed miraculously!Miracle Survival! More Survival Miracles!

Yea, yea, yea, I’ve heard all this before. I’m going to tell you something about miracles, ever notice how miracles are always the GOOD things? You never hear about “city bus overturns going 20 mph, killing all on board, authorities puzzled, IT’S A MIRACLE!” or “two cars miraculously have head-on collision on separate sides of the street.” The good things are “miracles;” the bad things are “tragic” or “horrible.” Even though the odds against some of the “tragic” and “horrible” things are equally-sometimes more-impressive. How about “plane crashes, miracle baby survives”–the child’s parents are both dead and the child will have to be raised in foster care, but that baby, yea, s/he is LUUUUCKY!

Can we quit pretending when an unlikely event happens, it is unexplainable? HUNDREDS of hypothetical explanations abound, just because we may never know which ONE caused it doesn’t make it that puzzling. There are plausible explanations, let’s try to use explanations that don’t go against every single tested and verified piece of evidence we have.

We humans have really good imaginations, I mean really good. We can think up some crazy shit to explain things, then we convince ourselves that is what REALLY happens/ed! Let’s look, for example, at the “evolution controversy” going on in public discourse (not scientific). Aside from being completely based upon public opinion, we see it presented in narrative format, taking away from the reality which has been observed and documented. This narrative is not what has actually happened, many details are left out. A good example of this is human evolution. What you get are narratives such as “fish->amphibian->reptile->mammal->primate->ape->hominid->human” rather than sharing common ancestry with these modern organisms, many people tend to think these modern organisms WERE OUR ANCESTORS. It also ignores a number of things such as what type of fish we are more closely related to, what type of amphibian, reptile, etc. Our paleontological ancestry is incomplete, as it will probably be for a very long time. We will probably never know which organisms (specifically) are our ancestors because these organisms survived to adulthood, reproduced, and probably died in a manner not very conducive to fossilization. This doesn’t mean that the fossils we find are miracles, but that not all organisms become fossils. Even so, we imagine modern amphibians, modern fish, modern primates, and so forth when we think of our ancient ancestry.

Proponents of science (person A) frequently, in discussions or debates, come up against a straw man narrative of the theory being defended by their opponent (person B). What might be a miracle would be for straw men would be immediately recognized by the audience. Why don’t they recognize them? This is because they are convinced of the same or similar narrative version of the argument person B is saying person A is using and cannot see a discrepancy.

Similarly, with “miracles,” we see something which is unlikely, thus must have some other causation (pick a god, any god). People are convinced something else must be going on, and they believe some supernatural entity helps out occasionally, so why not have this supernatural entity step in and help the little bouncing (along a runway) baby.

Let’s stop pretending our personal narratives are reality and understand these narratives are our understanding of reality. After that, we can begin learning and revising our narratives to fit with observational data. Describing something as a miracle doesn’t make it any less improbable, it just makes it so we think it is explained when it is not.

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