Sunday, 24 January 2010

"Miraculous, Divine Intervention" or Sloppy Thinking?

Sent to "The Star", Johannesburg, on Sun 24/01/2010, published (to The Star’s credit).

The Editorial in The Star of Friday 22 January credits the survival of some of the survivors of the Haitian earthquake to "miraculous, divine intervention".

We are used to The Star, as Johannesburg's Newspaper of Record, giving us well-researched, factual reports and truthful editorial comment.  So:

Could the Editor please tell us what research was done to back up the claim of "miraculous, divine intervention"?  Were scientists –medical experts– consulted and did they agree that given the conditions, science could not explain the survival of these people?  Did The Star then consult religious experts (assuming there are such things) and did they agree that it was indeed "miraculous, divine intervention"?

More importantly, did they say which god or gods were responsible?  Were they also able to explain why said god or gods were able to save a few isolated survivors, but not prevent the earthquake itself?  Was the saving perhaps the work of an apprentice god who hadn't mastered whole earthquakes yet?

These questions are posed tongue-in-cheek (and without intending any disrespect towards the earthquake victims) because I strongly suspect that ***THE EDITOR*** (as James Clarke refers to you), put no thought into the phrase whatsoever, simply assuming that because he automatically credits unusual events to his particular gods, everyone else does too.

Sir, may I point out that this is an unwarranted assumption: If we have no explanation for some phenomenon at present, it is not justified to invoke the superstition of bygone ages and credit that to some god (if so, which ones and why?).  The correct scientific attitude is to say "we have no explanation for this at present" and then, perhaps "let us see what evidence there is and where it leads us".

I suggest that there is no evidence for "miraculous, divine intervention" whatsoever.  If you disagree, Mr Editor, please present your proof.

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