Friday, October 15, 2010

The Chilean Alternative Explanation

The entire world is cheering over the successful rescue of the Chilean miners.  I could not watch the rescue with a dry eye--it was quite emotional and uplifting. 

PZ Myers, over at the science blog Pharyngula, had an interesting post a couple days before the rescue:

We've all heard about the Chilean miners trapped in a cave-in, who have been sustained for over two months by supplies delivered through a narrow tunnel drilled down to them. Their rescue is imminent, with an escape tunnel being drilled and almost at their position — they should be out this week. Personally, I credit technology with saving them, but…three religious groups are squabbling over which version of god deserves thanks.

The three Christian denominations have each claimed credit for what they say is divine intervention in the survival - and expected imminent rescue - of the 33 men who have spent 67 days beneath the earth.

You know, the drill hasn't quite reached the miners. Maybe we should just shut down the machinery, withdraw all the tools and the laborers, and have Mr Diaz, Mr Quintana, and Mr Soto stand above the men and use their magic to complete the rescue. That would be impressive.

I'd also like to see the three frauds step forward and take the blame for all mining deaths, as well.

PZ doesn't pull any punches...that's probably why I like reading him so.  There's a place for spirituality and a place for technology, and the two should not be confused.

Kinda reminds me of an incident some years ago where our daughter was attending a Christian horseback camp in August.  We had had quite a drought here in southern Pennsylvania that summer, which had just been alleviated by soaking rains from the remnants of an east-coast hurricane. 

The leader of the camp offered an invocation in which she thanked God for sending the rains...oblivious to the fact that a couple days before, a dozen people had drowned in North Carolina from those very same rains.

I believe that spirituality has its place.  But I think the weather is just the weather, with no need for any divine steering of the rain clouds.  As for the miners, they were the victims of a cave-in that was triggered by simple physics.  I do believe that their spiritual beliefs comforted them and thereby probably aided their survival in the mine over those couple months of being trapped. 

But I agree with Dr. Myers--they were saved by technology.


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