Mark Shea: “god showed up in laboratory conditions”.

Mark Shea pompously posted this today:

After his folks say the Chaplet of the Divine Mercy.

Because God, under carefully controlled laboratory conditions, can do whatever the heck he feels like.

Go ahead and read the link.  A person was supposedly brain dead and recuperated when the family prayed.  God, we’re to believe, gets the credit.

First things first: I doubt this happened.  The only source available for this is the article is the story on Divine Mercy News to which Shea links (it has only been minimally shared, and all other links point back to this one).  We have no testimony from the doctors and no way to investigate this to see if it happened.  We have only the word of Divine Mercy *ahem* News.

Second, god doesn’t do shit under laboratory conditions.  He was not detected at all.  These parents prayed over their child like the parents of just about every other set of parents in the same situation.  Prayer didn’t do squat all those other times, but this time they prayed and a two hours later things changed.  This would be like praying every single day, multiple times each day, to find $20 on the ground and then, sixty some years into your life, finding $20 on the ground and thinking it must’ve been the prayer that caused it.

There were likely multiple things going on in the hospital room: the dad might’ve been wearing loafers (which never cured anybody of anything before and there’s no reasonable method by which it could), the mother might have been wearing jewelry (which never cured anybody of anything before and there’s no reasonable method by which it could), and somewhere else in the world I was charging my cell phone (which never cured anybody of anything before and there’s no reasonable method by which it could).  These things were happening at the same time as the guy was recovering, but no reasonable person would conclude that because they were being done at the same time that they must have shared the responsibility for the recovery (since these things also transpire when people die).  But some people mumbling to themselves in stark seriousness?  Hey, it was happening at the same time (which never cured anybody of anything before and there’s no reasonable method by which it could), so it must’ve been responsible!  For people who can’t see that the presence of something doesn’t mean it necessarily had an effect on something else is why the phrase “correlation does not equal causation” is one of the first things taught in every introductory science course.

Of course, it’s more likely this whole story never happened, or has been embellished upon and had details omitted (which is more likely, that a person actually recovered from full neuron failure or that a couple of pious people could lie?).  It could’ve been a bad reading by the machine, a glitch in the equipment, a misdiagnosis, etc.  And yet Shea, and the commenters on his blog, leap to the conclusion that the same god who regularly watches people just as devout die before their time showed up “in laboratory conditions” where the only thing detected was the patient’s parents whispering to nothing while the doctors scrambled to save his life.

Which brings me to my next point: experiments have been conceived to pursue supernatural influence.  You see, it’s not enough to have laboratory conditions: you must also be testing for something specific.  All such experiments have shown no supernatural influence.  So if god wanted to extend his hand into laboratory settings to prove himself, he missed his chance.  Instead he performed a bunch of miracles before we could document and spread them in a way that distinguished them in credibility from all the “We saw dem miracles!” claims of other religions, and then stopped doing such miracles when we developed “full laboratory conditions”.  Fancy that.

But we still have “I saw dem miracles” stories, and we always will as long as their are people like Mark Shea willing to accept them at face value, without any investigation, since those stories confirm what some people already think they know.

Don’t act like science confirms god’s existence or Catholicism.  It doesn’t.  And if you think it does, you are wrong – regardless of how much faith you have.

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