Sunday, January 30, 2011

The Semantics of Miracles

Have any of you noticed the frequent references to "miracles" in our media? An example: I was shocked to hear Dr. Michael Lemole, congresswoman Gabrielle Gifford's neurosurgeon, state that it would be "wise to believe in miracles" when explaining Mrs. Giffords' remarkable rate of recovery. Are you serious? A man of science crediting divine intervention over his own intelligence, the skills of his team, the rapid response to the shooting, and at the very least, yet to be discovered scientific rationale. I mean, I can't say it was surprising to hear Oprah suggest that it was a miracle that her newly discovered half-sister bears the same name as her deceased sister (it was Patrica by the way). I equate that to another believer confusing miracle with coincidence. But for an esteemed member of the medical community to even consider including "god" as part of his medical team shocks me. I guess he could be playing to his geographic constituents (and by geographic I am referring to his entire country). It was evident to me while watching the ra-ra-sis-boom-ba "memorial service" that it is wise for any public figure speaking to the masses affected by this tragedy to include some god-references. Even Obama (who I still hold is a closeted Atheist) quoted scripture. I really hope this is what was behind Dr. Lemole's "miracle" statement.

Okay, so I wrote the previous paragraph about three weeks ago and then saved it as a draft with plans of revisiting it for a witty closing illustrating my frustration with people who liken the unexplained to divine intervention. However I thought it would be wise to visit Merriam and check out the definition of "miracle". To my delight, I discovered that the second definition is terrestrial, stating "an extremely outstanding or unusual event, thing, or accomplishment." So why is this a significant finding worthy of your discretionary time? Well, this means that believers don't have a monopoly over such a weighty word. While I don't think that disseminating  the semantic details of the word "miracle" is the best use of the atheist movement's time, it certainly wouldn't  hurt to stake some claim over it during our efforts to take over the world. Think of it as synonymous to the word "marriage" - another word that believers have to learn to share.

It also means that when asked "do you believe in miracles" I can respond "are you referring to definition one or two?"

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