Wednesday, March 01, 2017

The problem with invisible agents..

As this little cartoon illustrates, the problem with miracles is how do religious people then square the circle of all the times (i.e. the vast majority) when miracles do not occur. We've all seen the words used in the media, "Miracle Girl/Boy/Woman/Man survives air-crash/Earthquake/Tsunami" etc.., OK, but what did all the other poor sods who died do wrong? The standard response from our believing brothers and sisters whenever I've discussed this with them is, "it's all part of God's plan" (see above) or "God works in mysterious ways", against which I would argue that "random chance works in mysterious ways too", so how are we to tell the difference? 

Most religious people seem to think this way to some degree, Karma, destiny, dominion, call it what they will, but the Catholic Church in particular seem to have made this kind of confirmation bias a way of life. Stories abound about so called "miraculous" cures (just by visiting a particular place) and saintly nominations for cancers that mysteriously go into remission. Of course cancer does go into remission from time to time (regardless of what the patient believes, or not), and there aren't always medical explanations. I suspect the last thing a person wants if their life threatening illness unexpectedly goes away is a bunch of invasive medical tests to find out why!

I guess this is the lot of Human beings with evolved pattern seeking brains, we can't help ourselves. We would rather have a spurious made-up answer than no answer at all. Just look at US politics currently on things like climate change and perceived terror threats, it's always good to have some agent or other working behind the scenes that your bad fortune can be blamed upon, at least that way you don't feel guilty for doing bugger-all about it yourself.

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