Friday, January 16, 2009

Uber-Competence In the Hudson

Thanks parlty to NY Governor David Paterson, people have started calling the landing and rescue of the US Airways jet yesterday a "miracle." This bugs me. The pilot and flight crew took heroic action to save the lives of the passengers. They deserve all the credit they are receiving. In fact, they deserve more. What I mean is that when we call their bravery and extreme ability a "miracle" we are taking some credit from them and giving it to God (or Allah or the Flying Spaghetti Monster). We do this a lot in this country. When a doctor takes heroic action to cure a cancer patient, some will call it a miracle. When a volunteer firefighter saves lives, some will call it a miracle. Not only does this take away from the accomplishments of the very human people who save lives, it also denigrates miracles. Parting the Red Sea is a miracle. If you choose a different religious tradition, bringing Lazarus back from the dead is a miracle. If God wanted a miraculous ending to the US Airways crisis yesterday, the plane would have floated down like a feather with no explanation. That would be a miracle. What we saw was not a miracle, but a spectacular act of expertise and steel nerves. Why isn't the amazing accomplisments of mere mortals enough for us.


commentater said...

Asserting that the event is a miracle implies that God intervened. That begs the question, Where is God when disasters do occur?

flyingpumpkin said...

Obviously he's out saving a flock of geese from being obliterated

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