Wednesday, October 13, 2010



It's not.

It's science and technology, even some Rocket Science, and some brass-balled, Harry Stamper, Armegeddon, drilling motherfuckers that saved those 33 miners.

Don't get me wrong.

I have no doubt whatsoever that the religous faith of the miners and their families sustained them, gave them comfort and helped them survive this ordeal.

But all of the prayers in the world didn't penetrate a single centimeter of rock. It didn't supply them with air to breath. It didn't feed them. It didn't give them water. It didn't allow them to communicate with the outside world.

It was good, old fashioned, American high-tech drilling teams that got those miners out of that death trap.

There was nothing supernatural or miraculous about this.

It was GPS, drilling, air, water, food, cameras, psychology, technology and sheer human will power and determination that snatched 33 men from a cavity more than 2 Empire State Buildings deep in some of the hardest rock in the world after being trapped for over 2 months.

Humans, science and technology saved those men.

Their faith may have comforted and sustained them, but it was actual science and technology that saved their lives.

Left to the "The Will Of God", they would all have been dead a long time ago.


emawkc said...

I think you have a very limited view of spirituality.

Xavier Onassis said...

How so?

Without technology, left only to spirituality, how many of them would be above ground?

I Travel for JOOLS said...

I guess your basic tenant is that this was not a "miracle". I agree. It was a solvable problem and it was solved.

I happen to agree with this definition of miracle from the Free Dictionary.
"(Christianity / Ecclesiastical Terms) an event that is contrary to the established laws of nature and attributed to a supernatural cause"

That is not to say that this wasn't a wonderful outcome, of course.

Poodles said...

AMEN! It is one of my biggest pet peeves. People giving credit to some invisible asshole for the good shit. But always blaming something or someone else for the bad shit. It totally berates and belittles the hard work of the actual humans who did this.

Logtar said...

Maybe if you prayed a little more you would get more penetration... sorry I could not resist.

I thank God for the minds that have taken science as far as giving them HD TV down in that cave while they waited to be rescued... how does that sound.

Miracle? probably not the rescue itself, but it is a freaking miracle that it did not collapse further and they did not run out of air. I am amazed at the fact they survived when we've had so many mining incidents here at home that have resulted on people not making it out at all. I don't know enough but lucky for sure. I have no clue where mining standards are safer.

emawkc said...

"Without technology, left only to spirituality, how many of them would be above ground?"

This is what I mean. You seem to think that spirituality is useless. If it can't start a fire or keep out the rain, why bother with i?

But you're asking the wrong question here. A better question is, "Without spirituality, left only with technology, why would anyone bother to try to get the miners out of the hole in the first place?"

On a purely scientific balance sheet, this rescue was a huge waste of resources.

I'm a big fan of science and technology, but that kind of stuff is only part of what it means to be human. Another aspect of the human condition is that we are introspective, we question our own existence and the meaning of our existence in the larger scheme of Life, The Universe and Everything.

In that sense, whether this rescue of the miners was an miracle or not is really up to each person to decide for themselves. To quote the famous late 20th Century philosopher Jules Winnfield...

"Whether or not what we experienced was an According to Hoyle miracle is insignificant. What is significant is that I felt the touch of God. God got involved."

Personally, I see this incident as inspiring. And while I would bet many people more closely involved (like, maybe, those down at the bottom of the shaft) felt a divine power at work, the best I can say it that this was a miner miracle.

Xavier Onassis said...

JOOLS - I would agree with that definition of a "miracle" and this situation does not apply.

Poodles - Agreed!

Logtar - I understand where you are coming from my friend, and you know I don't agree. I don't think there is a god responsible for the minds of the problem solvers.

I also don't think it was "a miracle" that it didn't collapse further or that they didn't run out of air.

I have no doubt that the pattern of the debris fall in the mine actually served to reinforce the fault and prevented further collapse. Much like water seeking it's own level, structural weakness will find a way (via gravity) to patch itself (although this process does not take into account any puny humans who might be in the vicinity).

Furthermore, it was no miracle that they didn't run out of air. The mine had a refuge specifically designed to be a safe haven in the event of a collapse.

The men knew where it was, they made their way there, and rescers bored a shaft into the refuge to supply fresh air, foor, water, camera's, lights, etc.

There was no miracle. Just science and technology.

EMAW - While I give you props for going to such lengths to get to the "miner miracle" punchline, I don't think we agree on the definition of spirituality.

You said "Without spirituality, left only with technology, why would anyone bother to try to get the miners out of the hole in the first place?"

I think you are confusing spirituality with empathy.

Spirituality has at it's root, "spirit". This implies something supernatural.

Empathy does not require a supernatural origin. Empathy is "Wow. That guy just got buried underground. That sucks. If I were in his position I sure hope somebody would dig me out and save me. Let me try and dig him out and save him. Maybe he will do the same for me some day."

That's not spirituality. That's pragmatism.

But the end result is the same. Someone who's life is in danger gets rescued by someone who isn't in danger.

Kinda the same way chimpanzees groom each other. "Wow. Sucks to have lice. I'll pick yours off and eat them if you do the same for me. Deal? Deal!"

If the miners and their families want to give thanks and credit to God, The Virgin Mary, Galadriel of the Noldor, Thor or Cthulu, that's fine. Whatever floats their boat and get's them through the crises.

Doesn't mean it has any basis in reality.

Xavier Onassis said...
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Xavier Onassis said...
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I Travel for JOOLS said...

If you think about the brain from a scientific standpoint, it is the only organ scientists cannot fully explain. Its function is too complex. It powers everything in us. It cannot be replaced, rebuilt or regrown. In some cases, it can be repaired, but that is the limit of man's ability to recreate it.

The brain is God's invention and he holds the patent. It is the only thing that makes it possible for man to be the superior species on this planet, to invent, to love, to do everything. When someone can explain to me how this indeed miraculous organ was created if not by God, I will buy the argument that there is no God.

Xavier Onassis said...

JOOLS - Actually, we know a lot more about the origin and evolution of the human brain than you might imagine.

In fact, Carl Sagan wrote a fascinating book about that very subject in 1977. It's called "The Dragons of Eden: Speculations on the Evolution of Human Intelligence". It was on the New York Times Best Seller List for 33 weeks and won the Pulitzer Prize in 1978.

The New York Times review described it as "A history of the human brain from the Big Bang, 15 billion years ago, to the day before yesterday..."

You should read it. I think you would find it entertaining and elightening.

You can borrow my copy if you like.

Oh, and by the way, I watched a Discovery Channel program the other night in glorious HD about Army Ants. I'm not at all convinced that we are "...the superior species on this planet...". We're just the only species with hubris.

I Travel for JOOLS said...

I haven't read it, but of course I know of him. He is now a part of history. He speculated of the origin of the species... speculated.

You and I both know there is no proof that we can put our hands on as to the origin of man. I can no more believe that an explosion created what we are than you can believe in a divinity.

One thing we both know - Sagan is dead. In a moment, everything he was, was gone, except for a corpse which will eventually be dust and even that will be gone.

About that brain I was talking about earlier, I believe it has the knowledge of who created us. I believe that even the least of us will be given the knowledge and the choice even one last time at the moment of death. For me, that time is while I am alive, yes with doubts and trepidations, but it's in me, cause I let it be in me.

Xavier Onassis said...

JOOLS - Carl Sagan was a scientist's scientist. He always framed things in "speculations" and "theories" because he understood that science is a self-correcting framework for understanding the universe.

That should never be taken to indicate that said speculations and theories can't be proven to be factual. It just means they are based on the current body of knowledge and subject to revision by future experimentation and discovery.

This is the prime difference between science and religion.

Religions are based on dogma and faith that are not subjected to rational scrutiny or ammendable by facts later discovered. Religion is locked down, unchangeable and sacred.

Science is unapologetically maliable.

Something could be accepted as scientific "settled law" for thousands of years.

But if new, contradictory information comes to light that can be independently and repeatedly verifiable as true, that becomes the new truth and the old "truth" is cast aside.

It's a beautiful thing, science!

As far as Sagan's fate "...Sagan is dead. In a moment, everything he was, was gone, except for a corpse which will eventually be dust and even that will be gone."

You are absolutely correct. With one exception. The information and insights he left behind are eternal. As a temporal entity, he is gone forever. As I will be someday soon. But the legacy of his mind and his contributions to science will be with our descendants forever. That is a form of immortality that religion cannot grant.

All that having been said, you know I respect you and I would never try to change your mind or your beliefs.

That's not what this is about.

It's just a free and open exchange of ideas and viewpoints.

Poodles said...

Oh X one of these year's I'll have to journey out east so that we can bitch about god botherers and miracles over cocktails for a few hours!

Xavier Onassis said...

Poodles - That would be a delight! Even more so if we invited all of my friends who commented here.

I could easily see the evening starting with a serious, intellectual debate and ending in a drunken leg-rasslin' match to prove whether or not there's a god!

Good times!

Poodles said...

If I bring the Hulk, we'll win the leg wrassles!