This is the miraculous event that made Pope John Paul II a saint, as described in the article entitled 'Costa Rican woman who elevated the Pope to sainthood: "Praying to John Paul II saved me''':

Floribeth Mora Díaz was told there was no hope. Taken to hospital in Costa Rica, she was devastated to discover that her persistent headaches were the result of an aneurysm in the brain. The doctors said her days were numbered. [...] 

Alejandro Vargas Román, the neurosurgeon who treated Mrs Mora, is convinced that her recovery is the result of divine intervention.

"Of course it's true," he told Costa Rican newspaper La Nacion. "I am a Catholic, and as a doctor with many years of experience I do believe in miracles. No one has been able to provide a medical explanation for what happened."

Mr Román was questioned by Vatican authorities in San Jose, who concluded that she was saved by a miracle.

"I talked to the priests, but maybe they were specialised in something," he said. "They weren't doctors; they were theologians or lawyers, so my role was that of medical investigation."

But he is adamant that the science is sound.

"We have to remember that the arteriography [images of the blood vessels] was seen by various people within this hospital, and also shared at a symposium in Mexico. The images are stored here. Any person who needs to see the studies; they are here," he said. 

From another source:

"The neurosurgeon who admitted and diagnosed Mora, however, denies he gave her a month to live. Alejandro Vargas says he forecast only a 2 percent chance Mora could bleed into her brain again within a year of her diagnosis, possibly killing her. 

"She was sent home with medication that would reduce her blood pressure and was advised to improve her diet so as not to raise her cholesterol levels and thus decrease the chance of her having a second bleeding episode. She was sedated because the headaches were too sharp," he told Reuters. "We didn't send her home to be sedated and wait until she died in her sleep."

Thus, the God of the Gaps reigns supreme. Find a pocket of ignorance, add religion, some wild exaggeration, bake for 2 minutes, and God appears.

Crackpot: How do you explain X?
Me: I can't.
Crackpot: See? God did it. It's the ONLY explanation! The science is sound!

Tags: II, John, Paul, Pope, miracles, saints

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If it could be admitted that imagination is the true inspiration for the multitude of interpretations on what god is perceived to be we could move along the evolutionary chain must faster.

I believe the real reason for intermediaries is job security. The Church needs it's followers but not necessarily the other way around. If you get rid of the pomp and circumstance, the endless rituals, the gaudiness, the smug superiority of the Church elite and go to a much simpler direct approach there remains little for the Church to do.

Should education and the ability to think critically ever rise to become the standard used by all human beings in determining the possible existence of invisible beings the phenomena of religion will die a much quicker death. The vast majority of religious followers are uneducated and ignorant. There is a saying: Ignorance is bliss.

Imagine, Ed, the evolutionary process that operated on a physical scale, causing the transition from the original microscopic, single-celled organism to the enormous blue whale. That same evolutionary process took place on a religio/social scale from the simple sidewalk sermons of Yeshua (if he ever existed), who depended for his sustenance on the kindness of strangers, to the opulence of the Catholic Church we all know and love today.

(hack, cough, gag, choke)

If you get rid of the pomp and circumstance, the endless rituals, the gaudiness, the smug superiority of the Church elite and go to a much simpler direct approach there remains little for the Church to do.

Feed the hungry, support the poor, give refuge to the homeless, run social services, care for the sick and elderly, run hospitals and hospices, teach the young and old, run schools and camps and colleges and universities, visit the imprisoned, work for social justice, give solace to the grieving, counsel those in need, comfort the afflicted, work for social justice, pray for the living and the dead, on and on... 

Seems like quite a lot.

Ceremony and "pomp" and ritual are artistic expressions that are just a part of humanity.   There's plenty of ceremony and pomp in secular life as well, from graduation ceremonies to civil weddings to Memorial Day observances to Fourth of July parades to military drill to the Academy Awards to the high theater of election politics.

Just because the military wears funny clothing and marches about and does ceremonies doesn't mean that it has nothing else to do.  It means that at some level the coming together in common ceremony helps build a discipline and a community which helps the group achieve its primary mission as well.

"Feed the hungry, support the poor, give refuge to the homeless, run social services, care for the sick and elderly, run hospitals and hospices, teach the young and old, run schools and camps and colleges and universities, visit the imprisoned, work for social justice, give solace to the grieving, counsel those in need, comfort the afflicted, work for social justice, pray for the living and the dead, on and on..."

And still have time to launder money - they must go through a lot og 5-Hour Energy Drinks!

"Feed the hungry, support the poor,..."

This must include the missionary work in Africa where misguided policies tell the locals that the use of condoms and birth control is wrong and possibly evil. This despite the fact that the AIDS virus continues to spread as a result.

"run social services, care for the sick and elderly, run hospitals and hospices, teach the young and old, run schools and camps"

What great opportunities for priests to work one on one with naive children who have no clue about pedophilia.

Or to turn their back on someone with a nonviable fetus and insist the life of the mother is not nearly as precious as that unborn child. -Ireland 2012

Prof, I want to assume that you have a PhD in something and have written scholarly articles to the level that a university has awarded you a professorship. Having made this assumption, I would need help understanding why you would defend the catholic church. 

In your response to Ed, you write

Just sometimes helpful.  If you have an idea for the company you work for, you could go to the CEO directly.

With the CEO analogy, are you implying the people praying through popes, long dead, have no idea what god is? So what do they believe in or rather what have they been believing in all along? And why would be an intermediary be helpful? IS your god such that he chooses those he thinks are more important in his scheme of things?

If humans do indeed have free will, then of course our choices change us, and our neighbors, and the universe.  God must respond to the change.

First, it is obvious from this statement that humans many not have free will. But that aside, are you implying that an omniscient god, creator of all there is could not have anticipated such a change that he needs to respond to it?

 But they have free will.  They choose different things than we anticipated.

Let us for a moment agree they have free will, are your kids free from the cause-effect continuum that affects all things in nature? At what point are your children exempt from this law of sufficient reason?

 Their choices change our actions toward them and relationships with them; in some ways, their choices change us.

Are you omniscient? How does this have anything to do with a god, if one does exist?

Sometimes we say "yes", though, out of love, or because mom's on board, or because it opens up new possibilities - possibilities that could only be opened by that voluntary, free-will choice. 

No, it is not because we have free will. It is recognizing that the children may want something totally different from what we want. That they, as individuals, have unique desires, different from ours, unless you believe differently from the rest of the crowd.

There's a profound difference between dad saying "you have to play soccer" and a son coming to dad and saying "dad, I really want to play soccer."

Of course, the difference is profound and obvious. One is said by a dictator of a parent and the other is a desire expressed by the subject. In fact the second is a information.

All of that is anthropomorphizing a bit, of course.

Please, do tell, which aspect of your religion does not involve anthropomorhizing. Am patient.

God is deeper and more complex.

It would be good if you could even just tell us the basics of god, then maybe we could try and unpack the complex bits. So again, please indulge me and tell me the basics about god.

@onyango, yes, I do have a Ph.D. and teach and do research in the sciences (physics) at a Research I university in the U.S.

Having made this assumption, I would need help understanding why you would defend the catholic church.

Oh, I think there are all sorts of issues with the institutional Catholic Church, and there always have been.  The institution is a human organization much like any other.  I'm a member of the Roman version of that Church, so I expect I know its flaws better than most here.  I'm also aware of its virtues.   Just as an American I'm quite familiar with the flaws, and the virtues, of our system of government, or as a professor I'm aware of the flaws, and virtues, of the modern university establishment.

I'm not really participating to defend or in any way promote Catholicism; I'm participating only because as an educator I don't care for ignorance.  It's fine to criticize the Catholic Church; I certainly do, and as I mention I've been involved in some groups that have advocated for, and achieved some change.  I just think it should be done intelligently, from a position of understanding.  Here on TA a lot of the criticism resembles an Iranian mullah's criticism of American governance - it's the Great Satan, it's a violent, depraved place, yadda yadda.   That's good for whipping up ignorant followers and feeling self-righteous in a tribal sort of way, but not much else.

With the CEO analogy, are you implying the people praying through popes, long dead, have no idea what god is?

Do you think that people who work in a corporation have no idea what a CEO is or who the owner of the company is?   Of course they know!

The point of the analogy is that sometimes it's easier to approach someone other than the CEO.  Easier for the person doing the approaching, that is.

The problem with the way you're looking at it is that you're not looking at it with a sense for reaching out to people, who may be at very different stages in their own spiritual development.  The reality is, as a teacher or a Church, you need lots of different ways to reach students / people who are at different levels and places.

I'm afraid I couldn't quite follow the rest.  It seems like at times you're advocating for a form of physical determinism... and then at times you're not. 

The parent analogy for God is only an analogy, just as a wave analogy for light or a particle analogy for a lepton is only an analogy.  It's useful for building some important components of a mental model and ways of thinking, but it ultimately breaks down like all simple models and analogies.  Still useful though, as a starting place.

To claim that a natural explanation is not possible (or probable) is an appeal to ignorance. If science cannot give an immediate explanation then the Theists will immediately claim it must be the work of their God. It appeals to the desire to believe and not to rational thinking which is the cornerstone of what makes us human. It allows for “a sanctuary of ignorance” (Spinoza). It all harkens back to the idea that we are designed creatures and that the designer can intervene at any time. Really the appeal to miracles explains nothing at all except that a scientific or natural explanation has not been earnestly sought out.

Brain aneurysms are common but the survival rate is quite good. If it is under an inch in size there is a very good chance it will not rupture during a person’s lifetime.  This would suggest that the Church should investigate about another 300,000 cases of survival each year in the USA alone as there may be more miracles to be found!!

The problem with religious based explanations is that they are from revealed religions. Therefore as Christianity is an historical religion it means that it has added nothing new to the weight of human knowledge. Nothing more has been offered for the last 2000 years of human existence. Miracles were very commonplace back then, almost an everyday occurrence. That is because we as a species knew almost nothing about the world we lived in back then. With the knowledge we have now and the tools we have to investigate the unknown along with the huge leaps in our knowledge of the workings of the human body it makes such appeals to ignorance all the more pathetic. It just proves how embedded to an “age of endarkenment” religion really is. “A carbuncle entire, as big as thou art, were not so rich a jewel” (Shakespeare). It does a disservice to mankind.

To jump from “testimony to truth” should require evidence. To say that because there is not obvious explanation it must be a miracle is not good enough. It may satisfy the imaginations of those that cannot think critically as it gives them an injection of good old confirmation bias. It is wrong (a sin) of religions to treat their followers with such contempt. However it is also understandable because it (religion) can offer them nothing much else that is tangible or objective. It has to make these claims. It is part of its survival mechanism. It can do so without any reasonable proof because it is a self-proclaimed authority on matters of faith which of course miracles are. The theists will believe without question whatever the Church says because they already accept their core beliefs on faith in the first place.

To me there is no credibility to these miracle claims. Not because they are made by the Catholic hierarchy, but because there is no evidence to support them. They are so easy to shoot down in flames. We don’t need to call in doctors or professors to explain where the Church is wrong because it only takes a few minutes of rational thinking to see that the claim is hardly worthy of critical consideration. The fact that believers lap this up so easily only proves how gullible they are and how little respect the generals in Rome hold them in. A flock of sheep? Yes.

David Hume is the man to read up on when it comes to miracles. To paraphrase:

“Is it more likely that a supernatural being decided to intervene to save the life of one person, as a sign of his power, by suspending the physical laws of nature that are constant across the Universe, or that there may be another explanation instead?”

Where Hume got it spot on is when he said that rather than having to tackle each reported miracle one at a time and try to disprove each of them in turn, we should be able to dismiss all reports of all miracles on principle because the likelihood or probability of any of them being true is so slight as to approach zero. Miracles in the modern world have no credibility and the church is only appealing to ignorance, which is what it seems the religious world has plenty of for believing in them so easily.

Hear, hear.  The Farmer needs to remain on the floor, Mr. Speaker.

Where Hume got it spot on is when he said that rather than having to tackle each reported miracle one at a time and try to disprove each of them in turn, we should be able to dismiss all reports of all miracles on principle because the likelihood or probability of any of them being true is so slight as to approach zero.

I'm curious, @Reg.   If this statement were made by anybody about anything other than religion, would you find it acceptable? 

Rather than having to tackle each reported impact of climate change one at a time and try to disprove each of them in turn, we should be able to dismiss all reports of all climate change effects on principle because the likelihood or probability of any of them being true is so slight as to approach zero...

Rather than having to evaluate each reported case of child molestation one at a time and try to disprove each of them in turn, we should be able to dismiss all reports of child molestation on principle because the likelihood or probability of any of them being true is so slight as to approach zero...

If people begin by assuming that their personal bias must be true, and then dismiss all evidence to the contrary out of hand, then it seems to me they're likely to make some rather big errors.

Is that an approach you really want to suggest is "spot on" and worth emulating?

Reg - redo it, once you upload the image, click on it, you will get a pulldown that offers a choice, "Edit" or "Delete," click "Edit." then change the size to something like "460" - that should do it. OR, click on the HTML tab on the toolbar, where you'll be taken inside your comment - scroll to the bottom, and following, "That would help rule out any errors," you will see a set of brackets with HTML code inside: <blah, blah, blah> - inside that string of code, you will find a number in quotation marks, "???" - change the number to "460," and click again on the HTML tab to exit, that should take care of it.

RE: "“If people begin by assuming that their personal bias must be true, and then dismiss all evidence to the contrary out of hand, then it seems to me they're likely to make some rather big errors.” - don't they call that, religion?

Bad religion, perhaps.  Bad science, bad atheism too. 

Learning of any sort has to be grounded in some measure of humility, of willingness to question your own assumptions and direction.

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