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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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.

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

I suppose Bob that is a reasonable question.  No, I would not find it acceptable. If, for example, it was deduced that Climate Change was the result of some god being angry with another part of his creation, i.e. us humans, (which some religious cults do “believe”) then I would find it unacceptable too. However there is so much evidence to suggest that this is not the case that the probability approaches “one” and not “zero”.

I am a bit confused with the child molestation analogy.  Each case does require, if not demand, to be investigated seriously. For example there have been thousands of claims of child abuse within the Catholic Church. The reason that none can be dismissed is that so many claims have been proven to have occurred that all new claims must be taken with seriously. I was not happy when some sections of the Church dismissed the evidence for paedophilia amongst its ranks and tried to blame Satan or homosexuality. Those statements were not acceptable either.

If the reported miracles over the centuries had any evidence to give them credence (even one of them) then it would be incumbent on us to look at each claim on an individual basis. The majority are based on hearsay and historical third hand testimony.

Religion is a natural phenomenon with the realms of the natural world. However it is based on assumptions that are supernatural. There is no evidence to suggest that any gods exist. There is even less to suggest that some group in the natural world have it right and are on a first name basis with one of these gods.

So when we cannot explain something or if it defies our best efforts I find it unhelpful to then say it is caused by a supernatural entity. So not only is there any evidence to suggest that a supernatural event even happened, there is also no evidence to suggest that the cause (God) of this miraculous event exists. The claims of the abuse of children have seldom been found to be wrong. Even if they ever are there are so many cases proven to have happened that each new case deserves our full attention. The evidence for Climate Change is also overwhelming and because of that it must be taken seriously.

If there was any evidence for the existence of the God the Pope believed in then we could give some consideration to each new claim for his supernatural intervention. These claims are nothing but appeals to ignorance. Therefore they can be dismissed. I would love to see the data to suggest that a god was behind any of these claims.

 Nothing supernatural happened with nothing supernatural being the cause of it never happening. So what are the odds that the Church will find another “miracle” to make another Pope a saint? I would bet on it being “1” and not “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.”

I agree and thankfully we have the “Scientific Method” which rules out bias. However if it assumed that God exists then it is quite likely that the cause of these “miracles” will confirm a bias for that God. Would you like to see an independent team of scientists investigate the case in Costa Rica and scrutinize the “evidence” the Church has found to claim that their god intervened and suspended the natural order of the universe to cure her. I would. That would help to rule out any errors.

I suppose we could look at it this way. To say that any event in the natural world that defies an immediate explanation is explained satisfactorily by claiming it is caused by a supernatural agency, whose existence in itself lacks any shred of subjective evidence, can only be deemed an appeal to ignorance. Therefore such claims can be dismissed.

I suppose Bob that is a reasonable question.  No, I would not find it acceptable....I am a bit confused with the child molestation analogy.  Each case does require, if not demand, to be investigated seriously.

That's what I thought.  So the question is why you would approach this one particular area in any other way than the more rigorous approach you would apply to any other phenomenon?

I'd suggest that is intellectual bias.  Perhaps even a form of anti-intellectualism, because it's really espousing a position that in this one area, intellectual rigor need not be applied because we already know it must be wrong, and because that is the opinion of my social group.   It's almost exactly the approach I hear from the Tea Party / Climate Change deniers in our state who oppose public university funding or K-12 science teaching standards on that basis.

Your little graphic above is perhaps the best illustration yet of that sort of bias.  You create a straw-man caricature of religion that no theist would agree with to contrast with a deified version of Scientific Method that any NOS scholar would take issue with.  As a comic it's funny, as an argument it's poor.

From a scientific perspective, I think the question is falsifiability.  Can we falsify the claim of miracle (or theory of God or whatever)?   I think it's worthwhile to try to falsify each individual claim of the miraculous, because, much like intellectual bias in reasoning, we think it's worthwhile to correct error.   The Church used to be better at sending good scientific teams, but we've gotten very sloppy with this whole canonization thing of late. 

At the same time, when we can't falsify such a claim, we have to be honest about just not knowing.  To be at once skeptical, but admitting that the theory of the witnesses is still in play.  It's perfectly possible to have theories around that we're just playing with out of curiosity.  String theory is a bit like that.

Now, to be fair, I understand and even mostly agree with the Bayesian argument you are making.  One should probably never start to believe in God because of claims of individual miracles by others, at least not without a whole heck of a lot of them sufficient to adjust the Bayesian probability.  It's really hard to imagine that happening.   Of course that's almost never why people believe in God in the first place, so the risk of that particular error is low.

Note, Reg, that he attempts to determine with which group you would least likely wish to be identified - "the Tea Party / Climate Change deniers" - then implies that disagreement with his contention, places you in a similar category.

@Prof Bob,
RE: So the question is why you would approach this one particular area in any other way than the more rigorous approach you would apply to any other phenomenon?

Child molestation is not a "phenomenon" it is a crime. The detection of criminal acts is in NO WAY relevant to the scientific method. Your apples to oranges comparison of child molestation up against climate change is laughable. The so-called "phenomenon" of child molestation is handled within the due process of law. The only aspect of science that plays a role is the forensics, and perhaps a psychological approach with witness testimony, and collection of data/evidence to be upheld in a court of law. This type of data analysis is VASTLY different than that which is necessary to contruct a scientific experiment of any kind!!!

I am curious if you can provide us ONE example of a miracle that has been documented according to your Church's long standing record, and please provide some form of objective evidence that it DOES NOT follow the straw-man's outline above in red that stated a "goddidit" approach. Then you can have the last laugh. Although you state no theist would agree with the cartoon's implication toward's the theist's analysis of miracles, if you cannot provide us with an example of which I am respectfully asking to review, you are falling into that category I'm afraid. And it will be YOUR arguement that is poor I'm afraid.

** Follow the Ponzi scheme into the Vatican's new counter-reformation

Or, the political importance of saint-making

"Well, you see it's quite clear," expounded the new Pope, "the 500th anniversary of Luther's unforgivable heresy will be commemorated in 2017."

"Right now We are the laughingstock of our enemies and erstwhile friends," he continued. "Of course, We don't have time to attend pointless cultural events alongside a self-indulgent Vatican gaggle of red-satin geese."

"As we raise John [XXIII] to glory, We will destroy Vatican II just as the venerable John-Paul [II] wanted, but managed only half-halfheartedly." "To quote that tortured anti-Lutheran, Kierkegaard, 'Objections against Christianity come from insubordination, unwillingness to obey, rebellion against all authority.'" "This is the great truth that women especially must learn."

“The self-indulgent fail; We are not self-indulgent."

Roman Catholicism, a this-worldly kingdom since 325CE...beware astute fanatics.

I sense, Rick, that you're a free-form poet, and a rather astute one as well.

This sounds like a tactic con trick to lure people into religious belief and faith, and often occurs more frequently with the charismatic bunch than the traditional roman catholic forms of Christianity.

It's a Miracle!

Cool video, Hope :)


Funny how miracles have digressed from waking the dead, parting seas, and walking on water to what could have been a bad diagnosis/prognosis. Certainly the good Pope can't hold a candle to these claims..

St. Isidore the Laborer (farmer) [1070-5/15/1130] - (1) posthumously appeared to King Alfonso VIII of Castile and showed him hidden path by which he surprised Moors and won in Battle of Las Navas de Tolosa on 7/16/1212; (2) Philip III of Spain cured of deadly disease when he touched Isidore's holy relics; (3) ploughed the field with angels; (4) resurrected his master's daughter; (5) made a freshwater fountain burst from the arid land to quench his master's thirst; (6) his son fell into a deep well and he prayed with his wife Maria Torribia and the well water miraculously rose bringing his son to the ground alive and well; (7) incorrupt body

St. Galgano of Italy (Galgano Guidotti: Monte Siepe hermit) [1148-12/5/1181] - (1) converted after vision of St. Michael the Archangel; (2) after saying that giving up his former lifestyle would be as easy as cutting rocks with a sword, he thrust his sword into a stone up to the hilt despite expecting sword to snap.

Bl. Ambrose Sansedoni of Siena (Dominican missionary) [1220-3/2/1287] - (1) levitation during preaching; (2) ecstasies; (3) visions; (4) circled in uncreated light with bright birds flying around; (5) an unknown pilgrim prophesied of him to his nurse in church, "Do not cover that child’s face. He will one day be the glory of this city;" (6) a few days after this the extremely deformed child stretched out his twisted limbs, said, "Jesus," and his deformities were all gone

Haha good catch, RobertPiano! 

I'm still rather fond of the old 'water into wine' trick, mind you.  I think we ought to promulgate that as an acceptable miracle.  What were those Jesus Christ Superstar lyrics from Pontius Pilate? 

Oh yes - "If you think that you're divine, Change my water into wine".  A nice Merlot would suffice...

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