Sanal Edamaruku Proves, Once Again, No Miracle

So, there’s this statue of the Madonna that sits in a small grotto near Ballinspittle, County Cork, Ireland, that allegedly started breathing and gesturing when it was approached by some worshippers back in 1985. “It’s a miracle!” cried devout Irish Catholics, who flocked to observe the moving, floating statue by the thousands. Since then, more than a quarter of a million people have made pilgrimages to the little grotto. “Even skeptics go away converted!” enthused a BBC report, despite the on-camera skepticism of the local Catholic bishop. “Seven out of ten people really see it move!”

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As I reported last week, Indian skeptic Sanal Edamaruku is on the lam from the blasphemy charges leveled against him in India for exposing the bloody toes of the Jesus getting washed by physics instead of by miracles. He was in the neighborhood of Europe, so Atheist Ireland invited him to visit Ballinspittle to check out their local miracle. Not having anything more interesting to do, Edamaruku accepted. Geometry and magic laser beams ensued.

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I truly hope he continues going around debunking miracle silliness while he’s on vacation from India’s ridiculously medieval laws.



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About Anne

Civil rights activist Anne Orsi is one of the spokespeople for the Arkansas Society of Freethinkers and is the primary organizer of Reason in the Rock, a conference on science, secularism and skepticism. Got a question? Email her at She's a lawyer but may not be licensed in your state. Sending her an email or reading her blog posts does not create an attorney-client relationship. Find Anne on Twitter as @aramink, and read her regular blog at

  • Peter N

    “I can readily imagine the purpose of this kind of thing, and I’m very familiar with this kind of thing back in India, too. Wherever “miracles” appear, suddenly the first thing to appear would be an offering box.”

    Isn’t that the truth!

    • hades

      very true!!!

  • H.H.

    No, no, she’s like the stone angels in the Dr. Who episode “Blink.” She only moves when people aren’t looking. Being observed pins her to that location, but when unobserved she enters a quantum state of uncertainty that allows her to teleport at will.

    • Anne

      Surely the laser beam used by Sanal Edamaruku came from his sonic screwdriver, so he eliminated the possibility of alien interference. Surely.

      • RuQu

        You don’t understand. The Weeping Angels are “quantum locked” when observed. They cease to be alive, and are indistinguishable from normal statues. They don’t register as alien while being observed, because while being observed they *aren’t* alien.

        • Anne

          But surely Sanal Edamaruku would have heroically and cleverly adjusted for that.

          He would have noted the position of the laser, had everyone close their eyes and open them again, and noted the new position of the laser. Or the not-new position, because even the weeping angels wouldn’t consistently go back to the exact same position once eyes were again trained on them. It would defeat their goal of annihilation of the human race.

          • RuQu

            That depends on what is meant by “observed.” Does a monitoring device count? Were there birds watching the proceedings?

          • Anne

            There are too many variables! Where’s the Doctor when we need him? It’s almost Christmas. Someone needs to go to London for Christmas, because he’s sure to be there then for the annual alien invasion.

  • Avicenna

    They aren’t blasphemy laws so much as “You are causing religious upheaval and violence” laws. It’s so vaguely written that it can be used to censor people if they are sufficiently irritated and if politicians get involved.

    The best example of it’s use is to ban Salman Rushdie’s book and to generally dick around with Taslima Nasrin.

  • Artor

    I was hoping he’d go into issues of suggestibility, optical illusions, etc. A believer could just whine & say, “It didn’t move while he was watching it, but I saw it move myself!1!!”
    While I’m confident the statue isn’t moving either, Sanal’s video wasn’t convincing.

  • gratch

    Is it weird that the first thing I thought of was how great an 80′s detective TV show of this would be? Episode starts with Sanal in his office, feet up talking with his wise cracking sidekick. We hear the phone ring, a brief one sided conversation. Then his secretary leans in,
    “We got a new job boss. Some statue bleedin’ in Atlanta.” Sanal puts on his aviator sunglasses, looks at the camera,
    “Stigmata huh? Let’s roll!” Then cut to the intro.

    Sanal Edamaruku: Miracle Detective.

    Hell, I’d watch it.

    • Anne

      Where’s the upvote icon?
      Someone get me the number for the Discovery Channel. This is some serious stuff, here.
      Maybe the Learning Channel could replace Honey Boo-Boo with something like this, which actually rocks.

      • Artor

        I nominate Adam Savage as the wisecracking sidekick, (who likes to blow shit up), and thinly-veiled parodies of Ken Ham, Bryan Fischer, Pat Robertson et. al. as the villains.

  • Richard Wade

    “Of every ten who come, seven see something. Even the skeptics go away converted, and rare is the local person who would DARE ADMIT that the manifestation has passed them by.
    There’s your explanation. Social pressure is as powerful as it is subtle, and if you add to that the inner pressure of guilt for being the “sinner” who was denied the vision, a wishful thought quickly becomes a conviction of experience. “Oh the Emperor’s clothes are soooo magnificent! You see them too, don’t you?? Yes, we, (the morally superior ones) are so blessed to see this splendid sight!”

    I’ll “go away converted” when I see that statue do an Irish jig, high kicks like the Rockettes, turn handsprings down the hill while singing “Do Virgins Taste Better,” run into the local pub and down a pint of Guiness faster than Shamus O’Blarney, the local drunk, and then recite the Gaelic alphabet in one long, uninterrupted belch.

    Too much to ask? Well she’s supposed to be the Mother of God, after all. Sheesh.

  • tom rogers

    Just a heads up to IT; Chrome is not showing the videos. IE shows them, though.

    • Nate Frein

      Odd, I’m seeing them just fine on chrome…