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Dec 27 2010

Pretty crappy for a miracle, I’d say

Following up on our earlier miracles post, a viewer emailed Tracie with some other examples of miracles and, while not entirely endorsing them, still seemed to think there might be something to them. One of these was the story of eight Catholic missionaries who supposedly survived the atomic bomb blast at Hiroshima without so much as a scratch, or any trace of radiation poisoning in their bodies. I responded to the effect that, if this story were true, it would paint a rather unpleasant picture of God.

First, I couldn’t find any source for this claim that was not from a Catholic site, or that didn’t simply copy-and-paste the exact text from said sites. So until I see something credible from a neutral, scientific source, I have to remain skeptical of the claim, since I am well aware of religion’s history of coming up with all kinds of miraculous claims.

But it’s known that some people survived the bomb, even those very close, if they were in structures that managed to absorb the worst of the explosion. In fact, this year marked the death of 93-year-old Tsutomu Yamaguchi, who survived both the Hiroshima and Nagasaki bombs. I just happened to know about him because he was featured in a Cracked.com article a few days ago.

But think again of what this miracle claim is really saying below the surface. The atomic bomb at Hiroshima killed an estimated 150,000-200,000 people instantly. Many of these people were women and children.

And we are supposed to be in awe of a “miracle” in which, out of all those people, God chose to save not any women, children, or little babies — but eight missionaries!? Uh, thanks a lot, asshole.

If this were actually a miracle, it would be the miracle of a god so completely morally reprehensible and evil that it would not be sufficient to disbelieve in him. The only morally appropriate act would be to angrily repudiate and reject him. Seems to me the Church really ought to rethink using this one as part of their sales pitch.

52 comments

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  1. 1
    jimspice

    Here in WI, we have been honored as the only location in the US with a "confirmed" Mary appearance: http://www.nytimes.com/2010/12/24/us/24mary.html?src=ISMR_AP_LO_MST_FB I have to admit I'm kind of excited about the economic impact this could have on the area.

  2. 2
    Martin

    You should come up with some quick cheap souvenir trinkets to sell, and set up a booth near the "appearance"!

  3. 3
    trj

    It's one thing that the "miracle" in itself is crappy, but to me it seems extremely disrespectful to all the dead and their living relatives to present this story as a miracle.

  4. 4
    Samuel_Clemons

    I have found that miracles occur every day. Now you might call them coincidence, or even happenstance, just the normal things that could happen to everyone, but not I. For instance, a miracle that someone lives while another dies. Or that we are even here to discuss your charming topic. Now, you say that I choose to call these things miracles, and yes, I do. The alternative is that things just happen, bad things terrible things and for no apparent reason, and if there were a God then how could they happen? This is always the crux of atheism or at least your brand of same, isn't it? Trying to disprove the existence of a higher power because bad things happen to good people. By that definition, then what about the good things that happen to bad people? For that matter the good that happens to any of us? More importantly, I like to examine things from a scientific standpoint. Take the origins of the Universe. Assuming we are not spiritual beings, assuming we evolved from the Universe, and that we are just "here" and we are not spirits, then we have science. It is interesting to note that the greatest scientific minds that humankind has ever evolved so far, all collectively agree: That to even consider for one second their notions of the origins of the Universe, String Theory, the Big Bang, whatever? Any or all of it? All requires " A Great Leap of Faith"…. Faith. The invisible force that allows man to accept that which he cannot see. A scientific force you cannot deny exists, even an Atheist has faith. Why is that? We can't see love, but we believe in it. We can't see gravity but we believe in it, indeed depend on it, and have faith in it. It is by Faith that we accept your notions that there is no God. We must have Faith to believe that we came from monkeys, ask any scientist. And if we are to believe there is no Higher Power out there in the Universe, than we must have come from monkeys, that takes faith in science, and they don't even agree on their own theories. We are all giving this measure of faith to believe in where we came from, and where we are going. A strong force to consider. It is possible to have enough faith to accept your own beliefs? Are you certain beyond doubt? Others have enough to accept theres.All the time I have for now, I tweet at @Samuel_Clemons.

  5. 5
    Martin

    Dude, before you launch into a load of sanctimonious, ignorant blathering on subjects like science and "faith," it helps to know what you're talking about. Otherwise you come across as smug and ill-educated, which is really not an admirable combination by any standards.Science does not say we "come from monkeys." Absolute certainty is not required to cast doubt on claims not backed by evidence. And science relies upon evidence, not faith, for its conclusions. It might take a degree of "faith," as you put it, to launch an initial hypothesis. But to pursue that hypothesis to the point where it gets to become a theory (a term which means something very different in science than it does in everyday speech), faith is sent packing, and it's only what can be confirmed that counts.This is the big difference between science and religion. Science cares about what can be confirmed as true. Religion does not, and holds faith in the absence of evidence to be some sort of virtue. As much as people like you wish to employ logical fallacies and false equivalencies to claim the two disciplines are one and the same, they could not in fact be more opposed.You seem to have this stupid idea that visual evidence alone is all that is valid, and that acceptance of other things we cannot see validates acceptance of any claimed concept we also cannot see. By that standard, you have no reason not to profess belief in the gods of every one of the world's religions at once. After all, you cannot see them either.In fact, gravity's effects can be seen, and physics understands how gravity works mathematically, which you ought to have learned in high school had you been paying attention. We also know that emotional states like love exist, because we see how people express those emotions in their behavior to one another. Now, you might try saying that belief in God can also be shown in how someone behaves towards another. But while true, that would only be evidence for the belief and its emotional effects, and not for an actual God. Unless you wish to argue God is nothing more than another emotion.Finally, that bad things happen to good people is not necessarily an argument against any god. But it does put a wet rag on arguments for a loving and omnibenevolent God who performs miracles for our benefit. Because it's simply insane to suggest that the latter kind of God would grant a miracle to a bunch of his missionaries to save their lives, while arbitrarily declining to grant the same miracle and save the lives of thousands of other innocent people, including children, at the same moment. And you have not offered an argument for why we should accept that such a God is real either. Smug platitudes, as satisfying as you may find them, are no substitute for sound arguments or actual evidence. As for faith, I have a different definition I consider more accurate: The permission people give themselves to believe things not justified by the evidence. It's the glorification of ignorance. And you should not expect us so willingly to be ready to put our ignorance on an altar and call it "God".

  6. 6
    uzza

    "This is always the crux of atheism or at least your brand of same, isn't it?"No. Try again.

  7. 7
    MxDem

    I consider the patience these people have as an exceptional miracle. And a shame that the same questions and ideas are being discussed over and over again, when there are tons of videos already explaining why people are confused about the scientific "leap of faith" and a lot of other dumb claimsI wish more people could actually stop for a second and analyze what they are listening or reading, try to understand how things work, what's the best way to come to a conclusion, at least in the real worldBut hey, they aren't called "Sheeps" for nothing, I guess

  8. 8
    MAtheist

    @uzza: you beat me to it, the second I read the stupid crux of atheism comment, I was screaming "Not even close!!" in my head.

  9. 9
    optifaster

    @Samuel_Clemons: You've never seen to show nor even read this blog before, have you?

  10. 10
    erauqssi

    @Sam: I do not choose to call coincidences miracles, because, news flash, they aren't.

  11. 11
    Andy

    Man, at first I thought Samuel was going to give an intelligent response to Martin's post but boy was I let down. He ended up using the same errors most christians use when trying to argue for their god. Makes me want to cry.

  12. 12
    Trash

    Was the bomb over Nagasaki also a miracle? It wiped out the largest chritian community in Japan, established in the 16th century.

  13. 13
    Samuel_Clemons

    . Because we do not believe in something, should we rationalize away it's existence? Faith is something you possess in large measure, because you are using it as a foundation for your own belief system. As you point out above, you cannot "blindly ignore" the effects of electricity. That would be foolish, since to do so would kill you, correct? And when you blindly deny the existence of faith, then you are just ignoring your own intelligence for the sake of your arguments. Every person has been given a measure of faith, and it defies reason, and is sometimes unreasonable, but nonetheless real. You blindly accept that a chair will hold you up, you do not "test" it or research the internet for tables and measures, and the physics of wood and metal, you accept blindly that the chair will hold, as you lower your weight thereupon. This unseen acceptance is a faith in your own belief system, and your own acceptance of gravity, and physics, science and experience. But it is still faith. For if I were to cut a leg, and make it untenable, and you lowered your weight, you would indeed experience that your blind faith in gravity and physics was misplaced. But you still have the faith to deal with, and your arguing otherwise leaves you nothing but name calling and holding onto arguments that go against your better judgement. For it is by faith that you accept your brand of Atheism, and your definition of what a miracle is. According to your articles, you judge, evaluate, and process what is or is not a miracle. The simple fact that u question the existence of miracles proves that you have the faith to believe in them, but only if you "see" or experience them firsthand. And even then, you do realize that does not prove or disprove the existence of faith. It is a fact of science, life, love, the Universe, and our existence that faith exists, because you cannot rationalize it with your fellow bloggers does not mean it does not exist. It is not something that even needs to be rationalized, or understood. It is a spiritual force, and not one that we have to understand to take advantage of. Its as easy as sitting on a chair. I apologize for any offending tone you think you might be seeing, as I do not intend to offend your opinions, and there is no need to call anyone sanctimonious, I have not even stepped foot in a church, in my life, and your use of terms like "God" and so forth were made up of complete cloth…. And have no bearing whatsoever on this conversation.

  14. 14
    Samuel_Clemons

    Nobody mentioned any so called "GOD" but you, Martin. Faith is all around you, when you sit on a chair, you are accepting with faith that physics and gravity work to hold up your weight upon the seat. Now denying faith exists, also contradicts the purpose of your blog, and all the posts, since you obviously have faith in your own belief system, even if that belief system is based upon no belief system… You have a sure fire deep in your gut assurance that no matter what, you are correct, and nothing is going to change that, correct? That is your faith in your belief system, and you use it daily to function, and order your mind. Now when you turn your back upon the chair, and you lower your weight, you are accepting blindly I might add upon faith, that the chair will hold. If I cut one leg, and prop the chair up, I will prove both the existence of your faith, and you can prove that it was blind faith, but you will sit upon the proffered chair, and it will fail you. This is the way of faith. It's not always rational, and it can't be seen anymore than electricity can be seen, but it is used daily by humans constantly, every moment, and I think we differ only upon the semantics of the word. Again, I am sorry you were offended, you seemed to have gone off Martin, on some tangent about "God" and I don't recall bringing God into the discussion. I said the Universe likely holds more intelligent creatures than us, and quite probably does. But I don't recall my use of the expression to contain any notions of the word "God" and I don't wish to discuss that subject in the future, so if you are angry about "God" then I'll look for other forums where same is not discussed.

  15. 15
    Samuel_Clemons

    And my name is not Dude. And my attention span is quite in tuned. As a matter of fact, you say that science has explained gravity, but really, modern science still doesn't understand gravity at all, does it? Was that for the other commenters approval? Science is searching for particles in the gravity of space that comprise gravity. Scienctists are speculating that gravity itself is matter so mircroscopic that it cannot be seen, or detected, and that space is comprised of small particles and it these particles that make up gravity, otherwise how do we explain "attraction" simply by math, and why do pieces of matter tend to collide if not by some substance that they are glued together by? So you say that mathematics explains gravity so purely and simply, Martin, but the more science is used to explain itself, the more questions arise than are answered. This is why our est scientists use the expression, "It requires a great leap of faith to believe in our definition or Einsteins definition of gravity and the origins of the Universe" as MexDem alludes to…. those scientists are not "misunderstood" nor are their words taken out of context. Simply stated, there is no measurable science about what gravity is, nor any other science that can explain faith. Faith is not explainable, and we miss the point by trying to explain it, it simply IS, and that is about as good a definition as we can give to gravity. As to this blogs example of miracles to prove they do not exist: A. You are using a sample from a Religious Group ( Catholics ) B. You are using an example of something highly improbable to bolster your own belief system that miracles do not exist. C. Proving the 8 survivors of Nagasaki ever existed does or does not prove or disprove miracles exist or don't exist. I might also add, that just because none of the readers of this blog have never seen a miracle, does not believe that there are forces at work in their lives that they cannot explain. Or that events have occurred in their lives that defy rationality or definition. And in the absence of a rational explanation or definition, does not mean there are miracles or not. In a court of law, eyewitness testimony is the strongest evidence. But in science, we want physical proof. So seek examples of physical proof of miracles, do not seek them where you know they are not to be found, or where the evidence has died, or deteriorated. I suggest more modern evidence of miracles, interview the subjects, and ask them for physical proof. Anything short of these criteria, and y'all just appear to be venting. I trust these remarks were more to your liking.

  16. 16
    Samuel_Clemons

    Didn't even realize you had resorted to words like: "Stupid" belief or "God".. Martin. I never even used that word.

  17. 17
    Martin

    Then what was your intention in trying to draw an equivalency between religious faith and the scientific method? Excuse me if I presumed too much, but historically, it tends to be theists exclusively who present such points of view to us. (And who misrepresent scientific positions, like "we all came from monkeys.") If you're coming from another place entirely, perhaps you could have made that clear from the outset, so as not to cause any confusion about what your position is.An earlier comment, which you deleted before posting this one, makes the case that "when you turn your back upon the chair, and you lower your weight, you are accepting blindly I might add upon faith, that the chair will hold. If I cut one leg, and prop the chair up, I will prove both the existence of your faith, and you can prove that it was blind faith, but you will sit upon the proffered chair, and it will fail you."But you're making the same mistake here that theists make when they try to compare "faith" in God with faith in everyday things like the sun coming up, or sitting in chairs. To draw an accurate analogy to religious faith using your chair example, you'd instead have to posit a situation in which I have no idea whether a chair is in the room or not, but I still proceed to sit down in empty space, in the "faith" that there is in fact a chair there that I cannot see, that will support me when I put the weight of my butt on it. In any event, going "Hey! I never said anything about God!" is, I think, just a tiny bit dishonest. But it's also irrelevant. Because what you were doing was trying to draw an equivalency between religious faith and the scientific method, which was wrong all the way through.I have no doubt that there are things about our universe that we do not and may never know. But that doesn't mean we must fill gaps in our knowledge with faith. When we reach the point of what we do not know or understand, the honest thing for us to do is say "I don't know this answer." And then, we keep learning as best we can.

  18. 18
    PhilosophukkⒶ

    @ Samuel_Clemons it doesn't take the application of 'faith' to believe in the origins of the universe or evolution, it takes the application of scientific enquiry, empirical evidence gathering, logic and reason. Furthermore, if what you say that "More importantly, I like to examine things from a scientific standpoint" is true then answer me this. If God is omnipotent then why did he torture and murder his son to absolve mankind of their sins? If he was omnipotent he could have absolved them just with a thought. Why torture and kill your own son? And if he isn't omnipotent then why call him so?As Epicurus once said "Is God willing to prevent evil, but not able? Then he is not omnipotent. Is he able, but not willing? Then he is malevolent. Is he both able and willing? Then whence cometh evil? Is he neither able nor willing? Then why call him God?"And why is it that across the planet, there are around different 10,000 deities worshipped, and that all believers reject 9,999 of them as being ridiculous fairy tales and yet are UNABLE to see the same about their own? Why not accept that to just go 'one god further' as Dawkins puts it and accept the fact that not 9,999 but the full 10,000 deities are myths invented to control you and get your money?

  19. 19
    Guillaume

    Ah! Good old catholic miracles! I have been served with those over and over again during childhood and well into teenage. Alcoholic wife beaters who saw hell in dreams and changed their life, that lady who suffers a lot so some souls can go to Heaven, that obviously gay dude who said that he changed his life when his guardian angel came to visit him (he was invited in a religion class), the Virgin Mary who appeared in Medjugorje, etc. They are always so inconsequential in the great scheme of things it is a wonder why God bothers with such petty matters.

  20. 20
    JT

    "Faith" is an annoying word to have a conversation about. It goes by several definitions, and theists have a tendency to switch between them almost mid-sentence, almost as though they are interchangeable.Some definitions are:1) Being loyal to2) Confidence in3) Accepting claims as true without evidenceIt's #3 we object to.

  21. 21
    Samuel_Clemons

    I replied twice at length but the monitor or someone keeps deleting the posts.I never mentioned God,and don't even know how all that came up, people can believe in miracles, you choose not to, doesn't mean they do not exist. To Wit. A. You've chosen to use a religious example of miracles IE: Catholic. B. You've chosen to use a most improbable and impossible example of a miracle to prove by reason that they do not exist C. Neither the example nor your arguments that they do not exist prove they do not D. My reasoning or yours, or the Catholic church's examples or arguing for or against the Nagasaki 8 prove or disprove anything since the evidence is shall we say unavailable I would suggest that in the future you use modern examples of a miracle. Eyewitness testimony is considered "the best proof" in legal terms or a court of law. However, in science, physical proof is considered best proof, and yet, science has very little physical proof that miracles work, although many scientists believe in miracles, and have attempted to show or define their existence, some having devoted their lives to proving or disproving them. Thus, you should use modern day examples, and interview the supposed person who experienced the miracle. Also, examples or criteria based upon the flawed that samples to disprove their existence would be wasting oour time and the readers. Attacking people who attempt to have open dialogue with you, by use of words like "stupid" when that person is only trying to discuss things seem counterproductive to open dialogue, and I may in fact have quite a great depth of material on a subject and be willing to discuss at length, but not in a forum where the readers just seem to want to name call, and insult when the above scientific criteria are not even being used to prove or disprove a scientific fact. Miracles are indeed faith based, and faith is NOT some "excuse" or substitute for reality, but a real, driving force in peoples lives, and you have faith, I have faith, we all do, and doctors and scientists realize this, and they don't understand it, but they accept this. They cannot explain faith or miracles, and yet, they do not resort to calling their patients or samples "stupid" or question peoples education. If this one get's deleted, I will not return, I spent quite a deal of time giving you better logical criteria last night, only to see my work deleted. Best Regards.

  22. 22
    Samuel_Clemons

    Second Post. I am not Catholic, nor do I go to Church, nor is this about "God" and proving miracles or faith to prove or disprove the existence of an old man with a beard up in the sky dispensing justice or who is alternately loving, then unkind, or some being we resort to blaming all the ill in the world upon seems to be most people's interpretation of "GOD"… however, we can believe in miracles and we don't have to think of their source as coming from this old man in a beard. Secondly, we all have faith, and it doesn't mean we believe in this same mean spirited God as seems to be the case in some of this thread. Faith in the unseen is a reality, and the selectively "having a problem" with certain aspects of faith does not make it go away, nor does it mean all of us use it everday whether to sit upon a chair, believe in Black Holes, or believe in miracles. We have faith, that much is certain, and if people experience miracles because of their faith, then that is not proof of a miracle. Miracles occur to ppl who have no faith at all, that is the point. But miracles also prove a spiritual realm exists. It seems that there is a bit of anger here toward the notion of a God, when in fact it would seem your only question should be the evidence or existence that we are all spiritual beings. The fact that faith exists and man is capable of it, and that some possess so much of it is undeniable. This doesn't make them "stupid" … we need to guard against dismissing it's existence, for we will fall into the trap of not studying it properly. Just because we cannot grapple the topic with our minds doesn't mean it's stupid. Faith demonstrates a level of sentience greater than a common bird or animal. It is some spiritual force that man possesses probably from a force outside in the greater Universe. It comes from somewhere, is composed of something, and me understanding it doesn't mean it does or doesn't exist. NOT understand proves nothing either, because is doesn't have to be understood, it exists, and there's not much we can do about it. Won't try to type more, I don't want to see the work not get posted. Let's continue at another time, shall we? Great discussion, glad to see it.

  23. 23
    JT

    Miracles are indeed faith based, and faith is NOT some "excuse" or substitute for reality, but a real, driving force in peoples lives, and you have faith, I have faith, we all do, and doctors and scientists realize this, and they don't understand it, but they accept this. They cannot explain faith or miracles, and yet, they do not resort to calling their patients or samples "stupid" or question peoples education. I really do wonder what you mean by "faith" because you use it oddly. Miracles wouldn't be "faith" based – they'd be god-based. Star Trek is a driving force in some people's lives. That doesn't mean it's real. You can be driven by a delusion.I do not have faith. If I do, I'll quickly hunt it down and eliminate it (if I'm made aware of it). If a claim is supported by evidence, it's not faith to accept it.You need to establish that miracles have actually happened before they can be explained. It's like trying to have science explain how Jesus turned water into wine, before establishing that he actually did so. A good place to start would be a good solid definition of "miracle" that's useful. If that definition doesn't include supernatural stuff, the it's not very useful. A definition that is indistinguishable from coincidence or happenstance, as you put it, is utterly useless.As my late CS professor put it, "There are SO MANY coincidences that CAN happen on a DAILY basis, that it becomes inevitable that some will." – no supernatural force needed.Faith isn't hard to explain. It's people accepting things as true for no good reason, or even in the face of contrary evidence.

  24. 24
    JT

    The problem with coincidence is that our perception of it is so biased.Consider the Hiroshima/Nagasaki guy. We're cognitively aware of this one occurring, but unaware of the millions of potential coincidences that didn't come true. It'd be more impressive if more those coincidences came true at the same time.Your view on coincidence->miracle isn't just suffering confirmation bias, it's confirmation bias on steroids, because now essentially ANYTHING can support the premise, even perfectly natural things.

  25. 25
    BatDaddy

    In regards to the OP:This is the same kind of bullshit I see on facebook all the time between some of my theist acquaintances (or one of them and one of their friends). Not quite as comparable to an atomic bombing but, for example, here is a paraphrase of a short convo I just recently saw around Christmas:Person A: Oh no, the snow has canceled our travel plans to spend Christmas with Family X. They have rescheduled but I won't be able to make it. I was really hoping to spend time with Family X!Person B: Oh I'm so sorry honey! The weather almost canceled our plans as well, but thank the Lord that we made it through to Family Y! I'm so sorry for you though, I know that is awful.—–Oh yes, THANK THE LORD that he gave me what I wanted, but decided to shit on you. Sorry.And the sad part is, Person A most likely doesn't even realize that it's a backhanded insult. God obviously cares more about Person B than Person A, but Person A probably believes that it's somehow all for the best that he didn't get to spend the holiday with his family. He works in mysterious ways, from what I understand.

  26. 26
    Chris

    "Eyewitness testimony is considered "the best proof" in legal terms or a court of law."Not in this country, Bub. Eyewitness testimony is the MOST UNRELIABLE in the setting of a court of law.

  27. 27
    Samuel_Clemons

    JT so you accept only things you can see? Then why is this forum even discussing this crazy Nagazaki 8? They are all dead? Why not pursue more modern examples of miracles that have supposedly occured recently? This is an honest question, since I have typed it, now this is the third time, we'll see if it shows up or get's deleted. The example herein is based upon some flawed research by this group: A. Upon purely religious substantiated miracle, IE the Catholic Church B. Physical and Eyewitness evidence has deteriorated if it ever existed at all, and therefore is entirely myth, and subject to recollection past the point of usefulness C. Establishing the veracity of the Nagasaki 8 story at all or in part does neither: 1. prove miracles exist or 2. disprove miracles exist D. The use of spurious facts to prove scientifically that miracles do not occur is no more convincing than people accepting that miracles occur out of superstition or faith What is needed is not a weak case so this forum can have a self righteous laugh at others, but real convincing attempt at investigation, and not put forth such weak criteria as " a search of the internet only uncovered rewritten cut/paste jobs from the original" which is no investigation at all. Go out and do some real work, and then prove your case beyond a doubt, do not put forth a weak case that probably never even occurred to prove your points. For all you folks know, I am on your side of this argument, if you'd stop your old methods of venting, and start looking at other's perspectives, maybe you could enrich your position, and have hard basis to convince others of your position. Gotta go.

  28. 28
    JT

    @SamJT so you accept only things you can see?Of course not. That'd be silly.I accept things that have enough repeated empirical evidence to demonstrate their truth.The big problem here isn't the evidence of miracles, as much as the question "What is a miracle?" I don't even know the answer to that question, but I must think there's more to it than mere coincidence.You could say that a miracle is an even that has less than a 1:10,000,000 chance of occurring, for instance, and that'd be fine, except, it really has nothing to do with god, religion, faith, or anything. It just means "unlikely event".Why not pursue more modern examples of miracles that have supposedly occured recently?Well, the modern "miracles" are either mundane occurrences (thing that can happen just by pure statistics), or haven't been demonstrated to actually have happened.This is an honest question, since I have typed it, now this is the third time, we'll see if it shows up or get's deleted.Blogger has a quirk that it seems to remove posts that are too long, even if they were initially posted. Or something like that. Smaller, additional, posts I think can help with this.

  29. 29
    JT

    C. Establishing the veracity of the Nagasaki 8 story at all or in part does neither: 1. prove miracles exist or 2. disprove miracles exist D. The use of spurious facts to prove scientifically that miracles do not occur is no more convincing than people accepting that miracles occur out of superstition or faithYou can't prove a negative, and we fully understand that. If someone makes a claim, and we can find refuting evidence for that claim, then the individual claim is refuted.You seem to have some confusion as to the burden of proof. It's always on the person making the claim. You, for instance, are claiming that miracles exist.The burden on you is to:1) Define what a miracle is, and why it's important.2) Define some tests to substantiate the claim.3) Present that evidenceIf the person making the claim cannot meet this burden, no one is required to accept it, nor are we required to refute it.The majority of the problem here is #1, so far.

  30. 30
    JT

    From Me: Well, the modern "miracles" are either mundane occurrences (thing that can happen just by pure statistics), or haven't been demonstrated to actually have happened.On an additional note, in regards to the burden of proof, the evidence must be easily accessible as well. Sure, I hate to say it, but the majority of us are probably lazy investigators, and that's normal for humans.The requirement for accessibility, however, helps eliminate the possibility that the claimant could simply keep asserting that the reviewers are just "unwilling to investigate", no matter how hard they actually are trying.It's similar to Ray Comfort's "drop to your knees and genuinely ask God to reveal himself to you, and he will!". No matter how genuinely you try to do this, if it fails, he can just move the goalposts to "Well, you weren't genuine enough." – therefore, you can never refute his claim.Falsifiability is incredibly important in science, because, often, it's much easier to falsify something than proving it – especially when you have 999 crackpots making crackpot claims per 1 person with a genuinely real claim.Sorry, rambling a bit. I just think the process is important. You wouldn't want a sloppy surgical process, either.

  31. 31
    Ignacio

    I hear the noise of goalposts being moved every time Samuel_Clemons makes a post.Even if Mr Clemens is trying to be honest, he keeps evading the key of the problem, maybe unconsciously… or perhaps we are misreading the point he is trying to make.I believe the question can be easily broken down in a few steps, all based on the statements made previously:Mr Clemens apparently claims miracles exist. Thus, he needs to provide the working and specific definition of "miracle" that he is making the statement about, so we can begin to evaluate the claim.Mr Clemens seems to indicate we should pursue more modern miracles. He should, thus, provide one or more examples of the aforementioned modern miracles. As the one making the claim for their existence, he is the one who has to state his case and provide the events he labels as "miraculous" for others to examine them.Mr Clemens states we should "Go out and do some real work, and then prove your case beyond a doubt". We are not proving a case. We are stating a specific presented case does not meet the burden of proof. Case closed unless better evidence is available or a new case is presented.However, If Mr Clemens' only point is that this specific case is a weak one… I agree with him. The Hirosima anecdote is indeed a weak candidate as proof for the existence of miracles. It is so weak, in fact, that it becomes the topic of a blog post that points out specifically how weak a case it is.Maybe Mr Clemens has a further point, and affirms there are better events that qualify as miracles, and that would make a better case than the Hiroshima anecdote… If this is the case, we are avidly waiting to hear of such cases from Mr. Clemens, to evaluate them as valid or invalid evidence for the existence of miracles.Before Mr. Clemens tries to put the burden of seeking the evidence in me, I must state I am not making any claims and thus I am not interested in looking for any evidence of miracles, even if I had the specific definition of "miracle" he has failed to provide thus far. I consider it a waste of time to look for something still undefined, and invariably poorly supported when defined, when there is so much real solid knowledge to spend my time acquiring.I don't run seeking the end of the rainbow every time it rains, unless someone presents solid evidence that there may be a pot of gold there, worth running for.Is there any evidence of the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow? Is there even a definition of where the end of the rainbow is? So far, I don't see either.

  32. 32
    Ignacio

    I hear the noise of goalposts being moved every time Samuel_Clemons makes a post.Even if Mr Clemens is trying to be honest, he keeps evading the key of the problem, maybe unconsciously… or perhaps we are misreading the point he is trying to make.I believe the question can be easily broken down in a few steps, all based on the statements made previously:Mr Clemens apparently claims miracles exist. Thus, he needs to provide the working and specific definition of "miracle" that he is making the statement about, so we can begin to evaluate the claim.Mr Clemens seems to indicate we should pursue more modern miracles. He should, thus, provide one or more examples of the aforementioned modern miracles. As the one making the claim for their existence, he is the one who has to state his case and provide the events he labels as "miraculous" for others to examine them.(continues in next post)

  33. 33
    Ignacio

    (continued from previous post)Mr Clemens states we should "Go out and do some real work, and then prove your case beyond a doubt". We are not proving a case. We are stating a specific presented case does not meet the burden of proof. Case closed unless better evidence is available or a new case is presented.However, If Mr Clemens' only point is that this specific case is a weak one… I agree with him. The Hirosima anecdote is indeed a weak candidate as proof for the existence of miracles. It is so weak, in fact, that it becomes the topic of a blog post that points out specifically how weak a case it is.Maybe Mr Clemens has a further point, and affirms there are better events that qualify as miracles, and that would make a better case than the Hiroshima anecdote… If this is the case, we are avidly waiting to hear of such cases from Mr. Clemens, to evaluate them as valid or invalid evidence for the existence of miracles.Before Mr. Clemens tries to put the burden of seeking the evidence in me, I must state I am not making any claims and thus I am not interested in looking for any evidence of miracles, even if I had the specific definition of "miracle" he has failed to provide thus far. I consider it a waste of time to look for something still undefined, and invariably poorly supported when defined, when there is so much real solid knowledge to spend my time acquiring.I don't run seeking the end of the rainbow every time it rains, unless someone presents solid evidence that there may be a pot of gold there, worth running for.Is there any evidence of the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow? Is there even a definition of where the end of the rainbow is? So far, I don't see either.

  34. 34
    Rational Jen

    @Samuel_Clemons wrote:"Then why is this forum even discussing this crazy Nagazaki 8?"You seem to have missed the part in the first paragraph where Martin explained that. A reader sent us this as an example. We don't have time to go hunting for the worst examples of "miracles" to refute on the blog.If you have some modern day events that you think qualify as "miracles," feel free to present them for examination. Please adhere to the three criteria JT outlined above. Otherwise, we'll likely just dismiss your claims as unsubstantiated nonsense.

  35. 35
    Ignacio

    (after post revision)I apologize to Mr. Clemons for the accidental misspelling of his name. I hope wrongly referring to him as "Mr. Clemens" does not deviate anyone's attention from the content of my previous posts.

  36. 36
    trj

    Samuel, I think you're missing the point by a wide margin. We're not discussing the credibility of this supposed miracle. After all, it's similar to so many other reported miracles based on unverifyable first- or second-hand accounts.It doesn't really matter how weak or strong the case is for this event to have occured. The issue at hand is the implications that a miracle of this nature has, as it shows a callous and indifferent god that would choose to spare eight people but let a hundred thousand die, many of them in undescribable suffering over a long time.Not to mention that someone presenting this as a miracle is practically pissing on the graves of all the dead. I don't think the Catholic church would win many converts in Japan with this miracle.All in all: it's a crappy miracle.

  37. 37
    JS

    A few months ago i did some research of this Hiroshima miracle – just to reply some believer. Besides, what you've already pointed out in the post, there are some interesting facts about this story.First of all, I found a lot of versions of it, which differed in details. Often important details. For example, how many missionaries actually survived? Some say 8, some say 4. They differ in the number of buildings still standing after the blast (2, 3, 4?). They differ in number of people that died directly in the blast, from 80K to 500K. Next thing. We have a claim that 8 Jesuits miraculously survived and they were thoroughly examined many times by the doctors who couldnt believe that they did not die of radiation poisoning. Yet somehow, we know only 4 out of those 8 names – Schiffer, Cieslik, LaSalle and Kleinsorge.But the best thing for the finish. There is a written eyewitness account of what actually happened to those missionaries. Another Jesuit – Siemes – who were staying outside of Hiroshima when the bomb exploded went to rescue his wounded friends (he got word that they survived it). He found 4 Jesuits, 2 of them seriously wounded – LaSalle and Schiffer. All four made it to the park but were too tired to go on. LaSalle was bleeding badly and Schiffer had a serious head wound after a wall fell on him. While they were making their way thru the city, with the assistance of Siems – they were helping other people burried under the rubble – they clearly weren't the only survivors. In his diary, Siemes also describes that other two Jesuits (Cieslik and Kleinsorge) got symptoms of radiation poisoning. Other sources describe in detail death of Kleinsorge as a consequence of that.So in summary: – this story is not entirely made up – the miracle part IS made upNow for the sources: – diary entry of Seimes: http://avalon.law.yale.edu/20th_century/mp25.asp – long article by a believer (!), debunking this story: http://www.lazyboysreststop.com/mary25.htm

  38. 38
    Jeremiah

    Why not pursue more modern examples of miracles that have supposedly occured recently? Such as? Give us the miracle and I am sure we would be happy to consider it. You've chosen to use a religious example of miraclesWhat other kind of miracles are there? My Merriam-Webster gives the definition of a miracle as:1: an extraordinary event manifesting divine intervention in human affairs 2: an extremely outstanding or unusual event, thing, or accomplishmentI don’t see how definition #1 could be anything but religious and that is the type of miracle clearly addressed in the post. I don’t think anyone here would argue with miracles of #2 definition occurring but that is clearly not the definition in question here.

  39. 39
    Jeremiah

    The reason that ‘faith’ is such an objectional and useless word is because it is so often abused as a moving target. It is easy to equivocate (is that even a verb?) the word ‘faith’ a hundred different ways to get around objections to it. You tried to do this yourself when you tried to compare it to the confidence a person has that a chair won’t fall to pieces when they sit on it. That confidence is not blind faith, it is a judgment based on countless experiences of successfully sitting in chairs and our knowledge of how solid surfaces and support a bodies weight. Faith. The invisible force that allows man to accept that which he cannot see. A scientific force you cannot deny exists, even an Atheist has faith. Why is that? We can't see love, but we believe in it. We can't see gravity but we believe in it, indeed depend on it, and have faith in it.This is just poetic gobbly-gook. Faith isn’t a scientific force in any sense of the word. That entire second sentence reads like one of those phrases only constructed to create a false sense of equivalency between the two. As Martin explained we believe in those unseen forces because we can observe and measure their effects but just willy-nilly for no-reason at all faith. I can guarantee you that if you took away the lust and affection our brains experience, the endorphins and brain states and so on that the entire concept of love would be unknown. Without those real world effects what we call love would cease to exist, that should be your first clue that it isn’t something that is taken on faith.

  40. 40
    Lukas

    You've chosen to use a religious example of miracles…you have faith, I have faith, we all doDefine 'miracle'Define 'faith'Until you do, I don't see any way to have a productive discussion.

  41. 41
    sans_Dieu

    I'm waiting for Mr. Clemons to bring the miracles and definitions.

  42. 42
    Tommykey

    This reminds me of an incident I blogged about several years ago.A town in Peru was hit by an earthquake while church services were being held. About 30 people inside the church were killed but it was a miracle because the Jesus statue was unharmed.I was like "For f–k's sake! I would rather the Jesus statue be destroyed and the 30 people live!"

  43. 43
    ydgmdlu

    Is this "Samuel_Clemons" for real? Please note that his handle evokes satirist and atheist Mark Twain.

  44. 44
    Martin

    I suspect he is not the real Mark Twain, no.

  45. 45
    Andy

    Thanks for the clarification Martin.

  46. 46
    Lone Primate

    Nagasaki was centre of Roman Catholic culture in Japan. There were THOUSANDS of Japanese Catholics living there at the time the atomic bomb was dropped there. Kokura was the prime target that day, but clouds obscured it, so the plane flew on to the secondardy target, Nagasaki. If there's a God, and a Christian God, and a CATHOLIC Christian God, why did he see to it Kokura was spared, but the one city in Japan where his most devout believers dwelt was incinerated? Eight missionaries. Martin's right; if this guy exists, he's an asshole.

  47. 47
    JT

    It's too bad the ghost of Mr. Twain couldn't continue the conversation. We could have had a clear and constructive investigation of a well defined concept of miracles as they adhere to standards of epistemological procedure.It would have been nice to depart the forest of conceptual obfuscation.

  48. 48
    rrpostal

    [We can't see gravity but we believe in it]Honestly, when I read this I think of the ICP song that hurts my ears. Someone who does not understand why we believe in gravity, who does not understand how gravity can be scientific because "we can not see it", will not be able to bridge the philosophical gap we are hoping for in a fortnight (I love using that word). Although I think we are all capable with sufficient effort.I don't mean the following about Sam, necessarily. But some people are so far removed and so baffled by what the scientific process is and does, that it is indistinguishable from their religious faith. It's like the concept that a being so advanced would be indistinguishable from a god, except that it's not a hypothetical and the gap is about the process, not the technology. Some people simply don't get it. It's why Jen's jar of marbles concept seems so obvious to many of us, but others don't get it at all. It's why it's even more important we separate science from religion at the earliest level possible and keep religion out of science classes always.

  49. 49
    Raymond

    The thing about miracles is that they just seem to be the 'argument from ignorance' writ large.Something that I can't explain happens therefore any old shit explanation will suffice.When you see a magician cut a woman in half and restore her back to life, you do not leave the theatre convinced that a miraculous event has occurred. You have seen a skilful artist deceive you in a mutually agreed situation.

  50. 50
    Daemon6

    @rrpostalI agree with what you said in your last post but have one nit-pick…It was Tracie, and the jar was full of dice :P.(My personal favorite episode)

  51. 51
    rrpostal

    @Daemon6Oops. Need to give credit where it's due. Thanks for the correction.

  52. 52
    MidnightPariah

    Hello!I lived in Hiroshima for about a year and went to the Hiroshima Memorial Museum on more than one occasion. No where in the museum does it tell a story of a group of Catholic missionaries that survived without a scratch.

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