TOS Blog: Daily Commentary from an Objectivist Perspective

A Miraculous Pope?

The Catholic Church claims the late John Paul II enacted a miracle. As if that were not remarkable enough, the pope is alleged to have enacted his miracle posthumously!

Nick Squires reports for the Telegraph:

The Vatican has secretly attributed a mystery miracle to the late John Paul II, clearing the way for him to be declared a saint.

The Holy See has yet to reveal what the miracle was or where and when it took place but Vatican sources said it would “amaze the world.”

It concerns the “extraordinary healing” of a Costa Rican woman who was cured of a severe brain injury after her family began praying to the memory of the late Polish pope, according to reports in the Italian media.

To be clear, a miracle is not an unusual natural occurrence for which a rational explanation is possible, such as a snake being born with two heads. Rather, a miracle is an occurrence that violates natural law—an occurrence in which things act in contradiction to their nature—such as a wooden stick turning into a snake, or a bush speaking, or a prayer healing.

If we take the claim about the Costa Rican woman at face value—that she had a severe brain injury that healed following her family’s prayer—that hardly constitutes a miracle. It’s a classic logical fallacy to say “after this, therefore, because of this.” (For a funny skit dealing with this fallacy, see the video below.)

Some people pray in the name of the pope for healing that never comes. Others pray in the name of Jesus, Allah, Hathor, Zeus, Athena, or Wodan for healing—and still others take snake oil or the like. Following such prayers and “medicines,” sometimes healing occurs, sometimes not. To attribute healing to them is to engage in primitivism.

As for why the injury healed, that’s a question for science, observation, and logic to answer. The human body is incredibly complex, and, although doctors have made enormous progress in their understanding of the body, they still lack a great deal of information about it; consequently, they often cannot predict the course of injuries and diseases or explain precisely the causes of healing. But lack of knowledge is not evidence of a violation of natural law.

The Vatican is right about one thing: Its claim of a miraculous healing should “amaze the world.” People should be amazed that such irrationality persists in the modern world.

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Image: Wikimedia Commons

Posted in: Religion

Comments are welcome so long as they are civil.
  • Anonymous

    Some love supernatural causation. If they want to run their own lives that way, it’s ok by me. It’s the ones who want to run the gov by it that bother me.

    One such individual is U.S. Rep Paul Broun. Broun is a member of the House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology. He is also chairman of the subcommittee on oversight whose function is:

    The Subcommittee on Oversight has general and special investigative authority on all matters within the jurisdiction of the Committee on Science, Space, and Technology.

    In this video, he refers to himself as a scientist, but he’s a supernatural causation guy all the way.

    Rep. Broun: Evolution, Embryology, Big Bang Theory Are “Lies Straight From the Pit of Hell”