Recipes to Cook up Your own Real Life Miracles
Recently, a staunch Roman Catholic friend presented me with the story of the Miracle of Fatima, challenging me to satisfactorily explain the event. This is an event at which somewhere between 30,000 and 100,000 people claimed to have witnessed a miracle… an event that has been accepted by the Roman Catholic Church as a bona fide miracle.
Events like this, are supposed to represent the proof of the divine required by those pesky skeptics… proving beyond a reasonable doubt the magic powers of Yahweh… and thereby subsequently also then give legitimacy to the miracle stories of Jesus. One conclusion simply follows the other… right?
This event, the Miracle of Fatima, or the Miracle of the Sun, or the “O Milagre do Sol” if one would like to be suave and say it in Portuguese, took place in 1917 over the Cova da Iria fields near Fatima, Portugal. The primary investigator was a Catholic priest, Father John De Marchi, who went to Fatima and conducted research into the alleged miracle… from 1943 to 1950. In 1952, he eventually produced a book on the subject (currently still available at all tourist hot spots in Fatima with many of the proceeds going to the church no doubt), entitled, “The Immaculate Heart”.
Excerpts and details from Di Marchi’s book are quoted and referenced nicely on Wikipedia at: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Miracle_of_the_Sun .
One thing to note while reading through the information is that the numerous discrepancies within the reports get downplayed in a big way. One can easily see a constant theme by De Marchi to “harmonize” the reports as best as he can by saying things like, “Reports do vary; impressions are in minor details confused, but none to our knowledge has directly denied the visible prodigy of the sun”.
At first glance, the O Milagre do Sol is impressive, but only at first glance.
A fact that De Marchi buries deep within his book, is that many witnesses who were present at the event, believers and non-believers, didn’t see anything except the haze covered sun and the multitudes of enraptured believers around them ranting, praying, and prostrating themselves.
But this is an important fact.
Furthermore, three children claiming to have received visitations by the Virgin Mary herself, and who said that a miracle would occur that particular day, were the source of the entire tumult.
There is another conveniently buried fact. Joe Nickell reports in his “Examining Miracle Claims”, published in the March 1996 issue of Deolog, that the mother of the main child involved, 10 year old Lucia Santos, said that Lucia was, “Nothing but a fake who is leading half the world astray”.
And more, a Friar Mario de Oliveira who reputedly knew the young Lucia well said that she was living in a “delirious world of infantile fantasies”, and suffering from, “religious hallucinations”.
I should note here that the mother and Friar completely recanted these earlier statements. But I do not find this strange at all. Given how the events played out eventually, I might recant too if my town and child suddenly became the focus of attention with international tourist leaving hefty donations around the clock.
So, one should already ask the question of whether or not divine visions are involved here or simply bored kids?
But what about the Miracle of the Sun itself; even if the kids were basically telling stories of fantasy, somewhere between 30,000 and 100,000 people reported the sun doing many strange things, like spinning and zigzagging. Furthermore, the whole reason people were there at Fatima was because the children had already predicted that a great miracle was going to happen. The case for a miracle sounds interesting. It is well know and documented that the prediction of a miracle was published days in advance by all the local papers. So how is the miracle explained?
Let’s look at this.
What exactly were the strange happenings that became, “The Miracle”?
Well, it depends on who you read and who is talking. We’ll look at witness reports in a moment but for now it should be noted that the 1917 newspaper O Sếculo recorded and published the reports of many witnesses but by the time De Marchi showed up to collect data for his book… it was 1950. This is 33 years later. Sure, many of the original people were still around but the fact is that the stories had plenty of time to grow in the re-telling of the tales.
The fact that such tales DO start to grow in an oral tradition is a phenomenon so well documented that I won’t even go into it in detail here. However, I will say to remember and keep in mind the fact that folk stories do evolve as they are told and the same folk stories evolve in different directions in different communities so that we often end up with regional variations of the same folk story.
Now, it is often pointed out by believers that natural explanations for the miracle at Fatima end up being too complex to work.
First, a very rare weather phenomenon that “just happens” to occur on exactly the day of the predicted miracle seems too unlikely to the believer. Also, the sun seeming to dance and spin in the sky isn’t well explained by any weather phenomenon we know of. So I need to address this issue.
Second, the explanation of a Collective Hallucination, which is rejected in Di Marchi’s book of course, does seem on the face of it, too fantastic… for how could so many people “see” the same Hallucination? So I need to address this issue too.
I have seen numerous explanations by skeptics that attempt to reduce the Fatima Miracle to a simple weather phenomenon and/or a Collective Hallucination and personally, if this is all there was to it, I wouldn’t be very satisfied either.
What is needed is a simpler way to understand what happened at Fatima in 1917… an explanation that can be tested against empirical evidence and is easy to understand at its core.
Here is, in my humble opinion, what most likely happened at Fatima in 1917.
1. I posit that no ultra rare weather phenomenon is needed at all.
In fact, while driving to work this morning (23 Jul 2009), my 8 year old boy mentioned that the sun looked just like the moon. He was right. It was a foggy morning, and as the sun just began to attack the haze, it sharply appeared as a moon sized silver/grey bright disc and we could actually gaze directly at it, for several seconds anyway, without even squinting much.
Guess what my son said after only about 10 seconds of looking at it and returning his gaze to the road? He told me, “All the colors are messed up”.
He saw dancing spots, random changing colors on various objects, and noted that things he knew were certain colors were the wrong colors, like signs and traffic lights. For myself, when I looked away, the image stuck with me for a short while, somewhat seeming to move. But don’t take my word for it, because this is a common phenomenon well described by many weather sites, look it up yourself.
How does this relatively common occurrence of the sun being filtered through fog and clouds, resulting in a sun that looks like a bright full moon, relate to the Miracle of the Sun and how in the world would something so mundane convince people of a miracle?
Let’s take a look at what people saw… according to newspaper reports at the time and then afterwards in De Marchi’s book.
Here are the most common reports of the miracle from 1917 (in addition to the sun oddities, the 3 children who were also present at the event claimed that they also saw Jesus, the Virgin Mary, and Saint Joseph… though only the 3 children saw them). The newspaper reports can be boiled down to 5 basic descriptions:
A) Lots of reports that the sun appeared as an opaque disc.
B) Lots of reports that the sun appeared as an opaque disc and spun around like a disc.
C) Lots of reports that the sun appeared as an opaque disc and spun around like a disc and there were multi-colored lights.
D) Lots of reports that the sun appeared as an opaque disc and spun around like a disc and there were multi-colored lights and it eventually seemed to zigzag, falling to the earth.
E) Lots of reports from several people who reported that their previously wet clothing became dry.
Here are some of the reports from De Marchis’ 1952 book as quoted at Wikipedia (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Miracle_of_the_Sun):
1. "Before the astonished eyes of the crowd, whose aspect was biblical as they stood bare-headed, eagerly searching the sky, the sun trembled, made sudden incredible movements outside all cosmic laws — the sun 'danced' according to the typical expression of the people."
2. "Before the astonished eyes of the crowd, whose aspect was biblical as they stood bare-headed, eagerly searching the sky, the sun trembled, made sudden incredible movements outside all cosmic laws — the sun 'danced' according to the typical expression of the people."
3. "…The silver sun, enveloped in the same gauzy grey light, was seen to whirl and turn in the circle of broken clouds… The light turned a beautiful blue, as if it had come through the stained-glass windows of a cathedral, and spread itself over the people who knelt with outstretched hands… people wept and prayed with uncovered heads, in the presence of a miracle they had awaited. The seconds seemed like hours, so vivid were they."
4. "The sun's disc did not remain immobile. This was not the sparkling of a heavenly body, for it spun round on itself in a mad whirl, when suddenly a clamor was heard from all the people. The sun, whirling, seemed to loosen itself from the firmament and advance threateningly upon the earth as if to crush us with its huge fiery weight. The sensation during those moments was terrible."
5. "As if like a bolt from the blue, the clouds were wrenched apart, and the sun at its zenith appeared in all its splendor. It began to revolve vertiginously on its axis, like the most magnificent firewheel that could be imagined, taking on all the colors of the rainbow and sending forth multi-colored flashes of light, producing the most astounding effect. This sublime and incomparable spectacle, which was repeated three distinct times, lasted for about ten minutes. The immense multitude, overcome by the evidence of such a tremendous prodigy, threw themselves on their knees."
6. "I feel incapable of describing what I saw. I looked fixedly at the sun, which seemed pale and did not hurt my eyes. Looking like a ball of snow, revolving on itself, it suddenly seemed to come down in a zigzag, menacing the earth. Terrified, I ran and hid myself among the people, who were weeping and expecting the end of the world at any moment."
7. "On that day of October 13, 1917, without remembering the predictions of the children, I was enchanted by a remarkable spectacle in the sky of a kind I had never seen before. I saw it from this veranda…”
Does anyone see a pattern developing here?
First off, the earlier reports are much more basic, although there are intense descriptions of powerful emotions running through the crowd. The later reports described by De Marchi are much more flowery and a lot more “drama” has been interpolated into the descriptions.
It is good that the stories were eventually compiled by De Marchi and written down, even if he was a highly biased recorder. One can already see the rich details being added to the stories by the time De Marchi is writing, and I have no doubt whatsoever that if the stories were still being passed along today through oral tradition… the sun would be described as having actually landed on earth and bounced up and down.
I see two things going on here. The first is that the tendency to spice up tales as time passes has already started by the time De Marchi arrives. What were once descriptions of an opaque, silverish sun, sometimes reported as seeming to be spinning, sometimes reported as seeming to be combined with colors, sometimes reported as seeming to be moving, has become a “dancing sun” by 1950. There is nothing outrageous or out of the ordinary with this, it is what one expects to happen. It would be weird if it didn’t happen.
So, no real freak weather phenomenon needed, and the stories PERFECTLY fit the pattern of a growing oral tradition.
2. I posit that the question now is how mundane visual irregularities produced by looking at the sun, even in its dimmed cloud filtered form, evoke reports of a miracle?
Easy, combine it with a crowd full of religious devotees. Once someone sees something and shouts out something like, “The sun is spinning”, and bingo, it starts a chain reaction with a sort of ripple effect going through the crowd. It’s all downhill from that point. This isn’t a Collective Hallucination at all; it is simple crowd psychology, Mass Hysteria. This is quite a different thing from hallucinating.
I mentioned earlier that I would present empirical evidence. So let’s get to that. The nice thing about what I’m describing is that it can and has been witnessed in action! One doesn’t have to just sit and hypothesize; one can actually observe the wonderful combination of weather, emotional crowds, and religion in action.
In 1983, the fun began again as the Virgin Mary began to make an annual appearance at the farm of Nancy Fowler outside of Conyers, Georgia.
The resulting crowds at one time reached more than 80,000 people. Now, Nancy Fowler was the only one who could see or hear the Holy Virgin, but guess what others did experience? While the Virgin was allegedly in magical communication with only Nancy Fowler, many of those attending claimed to witness remarkable things, such as the sun spinning and dancing in the sky (gee does this sound like some other big miracle claim, i.e. Fatima??).
This time however, Rebecca Long who was the President of the Georgia Skeptics was present. She set up a telescope that featured a solar filter and let people actually observe the sun… seeing that it actually wasn’t spinning or dancing. Not many of the folks took her up on the offer and hundreds of people all around her continued to claim they were witnessing a miracle, completely ignoring her.
Optical nerve illusions caused by staring at or near the sun are boringly normal, dancing spots, color abnormalities, the sun appearing to vibrate sometimes appearing as spinning or moving back and forth in the peripheral vision… typical. What is atypical is people attributing such things to a miracle. But clearly, when the crowds want to believe, nothing will dissuade them as Rebecca Long discovered to both her chagrin and amusement.
You will be glad to know that Mary no longer visits the Fowler Farm, but a well is still there that had holy curative powers ascribed to it… supposedly blessed by Jesus himself. Ironically, the well is now marked with a sign that warns drinkers of health risks, as it has tested positive for harmful levels of bacteria (hey Jesus never claimed to have a degree in Laboratory Science).
The annual visits by Mary no longer occur as she announced in 1991 that attendance was too low… apparently the Union of the Saints works on strict quotas.
So, remember that incident at Fatima in 1917… it’s not really so impressive under the light of day, so to speak.
As for the non-believers who made reports of the spinning, moving disc, it is difficult to know what their actual belief status was. Were they simply non-Catholics and therefore called non-believers; were they agnostics but still steeped in Catholicism and overly impressed by the crowds? I don’t know.
What I do know is that I myself, an atheist, have seen the sun “appear” to move around. The ingredient lacking for myself is a motivation to fervently attribute it to a god or goddess. And I fully realize, that if I see the phenomenon again, which I will sometime, I’ll get the same result… maybe I can even add shifting colors and the illusion of spin if I stare a little longer.
Finally, what about people clothes drying suddenly?
According to the reports at the time, it has just finished raining. Shortly thereafter the sun began to break through the clouds and the subsequent event and commotion (so-called miracle) lasted for about 10 minutes.
With all the commotion, it isn’t surprising that somebody somewhere suddenly “realized”, after praying or staring up at the sun for 10 minutes, that their clothing was no longer damp. The fact that such a person would attribute the drying of their damp clothing to miraculous causes… is hardly surprising. The idea that the person might spread the gossip of the “dried clothes miracle” is also less than surprising.
Time to Cook:
With everything in mind, here are two delicious recipes for cooking up miracles. They have been documented by numerous religions and cultures throughout the world, try one for yourself!
The Two Recipes:
Recipe #1 (for dudes like Benny Hinn, Jerry Falwell, and Paul of Tarsus):
1. Start by adding the ingredient of any person who sees a miracle story as furthering their cause… whatever cause that may be, good or ill.
2. Add into the mix true believers who want nothing more than to have their faith verified.
3. Take your first ingredient (the person with a motif) and combine it with your second ingredient mixing well by adding in an appropriate miracle story.
4. Finally, for prep and proper rising of your dough (i.e. cash… I love puns), quickly add in the idea that questioning the beliefs laid out equate to something negative and should therefore be ignored, like the idea that doubt itself is the enemy of your faith, or that the influence of an evil deity making you doubt is present and needs to be expunged!
Recipe #2 (for events like Fatima):
1. Start with a strong dose of powerful belief.
2. Mix it with a heavy dose of religious anticipation and a trance like state of your choosing (here you can substitute a trance like state from any religion you wish… i.e. a Pentecostal in ecstasy in a tent in Alabama, or a Haitian dancing in a rite of voodoun in the Caribbean, a Yanomamo Indian Shaman of the Amazon Basin in the Reahu ritual, or a fervent Catholic obsessing over the mystery of the Virgin in a trance like prayer state… prayer beads optional).
3. In preparation, solitary confinement works (see the Apache Indian recipe for this alternative), but it is even more tasty and pungent in large crowds (i.e. whereas one person may interpret the feeling of a bead of sweat rolling down their back as a bead of sweat rolling down their back, that same person when surrounded by a hundred people shouting, “I can feel the touch of the Virgin upon me”, may then be at ease and feel free to suddenly yell, “Yes I feel the Virgin caressing my back with her holy finger”… never mind that the holy finger eventually travels down the persons butt crack…)
4. Next, add in staring at the sun, or at least up into the sky for long periods of time which is of benefit and helps increase the taste of the visual incongruities.
5. Finally, after combining all the ingredients, add long hours in the heat, directly under the sun is good, and lack of food and water for a few hours helps add more flavor by the way.
6. Mix thoroughly and then sit back and enjoy the spectacle (not of any miracles, but of the deluded people).
Cook’s Special Note:
For the best tasting recipe of all, use Recipe #1 first, then combine it later with Recipe #2… the result will be SUPER TASTY and you can have an epic level miracle!!
Wednesday, August 12, 2009
The Case for Perseus
(Todd M. Pence gave me the idea and so I developed by myself as a Sermon)
Zeus be Praised, the story of Perseus with his heroic slaying of the Gorgon Medusa, the reclamation of his kingdom is true, and we need no other evidence other than the ancient Greek texts (you call them legends but we know they are Truth with a capital “T”) which are words divinely inspired by Zeus himself via his Muses.
To address the case of historical and logical evidence, there is one question that we must ask ourselves, “Did Perseus truly slay the Gorgon”?
Now why this question?
Because if we can show that he did truly slay the Gorgon Medusa, then it follows that it’s all probably true…
… There is no way he could have turned someone to stone without the head of Medusa and if that part is true, then his virgin birth and other amazing facts of his life are most likely also true. As a result of my studies, I came to see that a remarkably good case can be made for Perseus’ slaying of Medusa historically, and I hope to show that the Perseus’ slaying of that Gorgon is the best explanation of certain well-established facts about Perseus.
I will give irrefutable evidence by providing 6 proofs/facts/evidences:
FACT #1: It is a fact that many early pagans believed in the Gods of ancient Greece well up into the time when Christianity had gained power in Europe. Many of these good people were martyred for their beliefs at the hands of Christians. This proves that the ancient Greek stories are probably true, for who would willingly die for a lie?
FACT #2: There is also a record of Perseus turning his enemy Phineas to stone at a wedding before hundreds, possibly thousands, of eye witnesses. Not just a couple of witnesses, but hundreds! It stands to reason that a natural explanation of this event is unlikely given the number of witnesses and so it therefore happened historically.
FACT #3: Perseus' virgin birth and life were all in amazing fulfillment of dozens of prophecies given by the oracles of Delphi and Ammon. Not just a few wishy washy prophecies from an Old Testament, but dozens! Do you know what the odds are against any individual accurately fulfilling EVERY SINGLE ONE of those prophecies, as Perseus did? About one in seventy gazillion to the gamillionth power! This fact attests to the divine birth and life of Perseus.
FACT #4: Famous Greek historians such as Pausanias and Apollodorus make multiple independent references to Perseus as a historical figure, the founder of the kingdom of Mycenae, showing beyond doubt that the saga of Perseus, including his divine birth and all his heroic exploits are genuine historical records.
FACT #5: Furthermore, there is the amazing historical and geographical accuracy in the ancient Greek texts. The story of Perseus contains references to many lands and islands in the country of Greece that consultation of an atlas shows actually exist!
In fact, there is also fantastic Archaeological evidence showing that the Kingdom of Mycenae was real, and that many of the actual land marks mentioned by the historian Pausanias regarding the existence of certain shrines to Perseus, the Royal Treasury of Atreus, the Fortified Walls, and the Sacred Fountain of Persea actually existed as he claimed!
Also, it is well known that the Persian Empire was founded by Perseus or his immediate descendants and of course we all KNOW that the Persians, who are even mentioned in the Bible and were eventually, defeated by Alexander the Great, really existed!
In fact, it is even attested by historians that the Persian King Xerxes used this fact to try and bribe the Argives during his historical invasion of Greece!
Hardly the stuff of myth!
PROOF #6… from Personal Revelation!
In my own life, my wanderings along the path of faith have led me from Christianity, to Atheism and now back to following the truly divine.
This is my story:
Several months ago, after reading the above 5 facts regarding Perseus, I found myself losing five games in a row of Uno to my wife and 8 year old boy.
I was getting desperate.
I suddenly thought that perhaps I was losing because I was an atheist — what if there really was a deity out there, and he was teaching me a lesson?
But which god was thwarting me? I realized that I had denied the existence of thousands of gods as a Christian and as an Atheist.
As I thought about some of the ancient gods, I decided it might be Zeus… I mean I already had discovered 5 almost irrefutable evidences of His workings, and I had blasphemed old Zeus throughout my whole life, making fun of him and the other gods and goddesses.
This could very well be payback.
I didn’t want to lose again. So I bowed my head, raised my hands to heaven, and prayed aloud, “O Great Zeus, smile upon this game with your great grace and bounty.”
My son laughed and my wife looked at me a little strangely, but I didn’t really care; this was about winning.
We played again. It was a miracle — I won! I had prayed to Zeus and won! But I thought (as a skeptic), maybe this was just a fluke. It’s probable that after losing five times I could win one.
So before the next game I prayed again:
“O Great Zeus, thank you for your blessing. But if you are truly real and are God above all other gods and idols, let me win this game as well. Then I will worship you as a true and kingly god, the true son of Cronus.”
The stakes were high.
Then I thought, “If Zeus exists then there might be a more powerful deity than Zeus, and that deity could stop Zeus from getting the glory and cause me to lose. But then I reconsidered because, if Zeus was a more powerful god, I would still win!
I won again!
Now I don’t know but I think it might have been an actual miracle!
I present this as more irrefutable evidence that Zeus is the One True King God and that he works mighty miracles… not just in reports from thousands of years ago, but here among us today.
If you do not worship Zeus, it’s possible his anger will burn against you so that he might levy his brother to send you to a lower level of Hades for all eternity. So I implore you, believe!
Now come to think of it I just remembered that a friend called me earlier in regards to some of my emails evangelizing the glory of Zeus and he asked me the question, “I wonder if you will be so happy about Zeus when you end up standing before the great Egyptian god Thoth on the day of your judgment?”
Now I really respect my friend’s beliefs. But my thoughts on this at the moment are that so far Zeus is working pretty good for me right now... my car insurance got lowered, I avoided a head on collision last week while driving home, and it turned out the lump on my back is just an aggravated mole and not cancer like my doctor was initially worried about.
But ya’ know, I have a strong feeling that the mole on my back actually was cancer, but that a miracle happened!
If the blessings and endless miracles don’t continue into the future I might try Baal, or his father El or some of his other Elohim, or maybe Osiris or even Thoth.
But right now Zeus is my main man, and I feel I have a good personal relationship with him.
Skeptics, the burden of proof is on you to prove Zeus doesn’t exist, that Perseus isn't his son, and that Perseus failed to kill the Gorgon Medusa.
People today and millions of people in the past have accepted the grace of Zeus and his divine host; have YOU accepted them as your personal saviors and Perseus as an example of how to live your life?
Have you learned to ask, “WWPD – What would Perseus Do?”
Have YOU been bathed in the blood of the Minotaur?
As soon as you read this, immediately forward it to all of your friends or The Fates will not be kind… people have had terrible things happen who break this HOLY chain…
"I contend we are both atheists, I just believe in one less god than you do. When you understand why you dismiss all the other possible gods, you will understand why I dismiss yours." – Stephan Roberts