Real miracles of secularism vs fake miracles of religion.

mmghosh's picture

Finally we can say we've done it.

The World Health Organization plans to say on Monday that India has gone exactly three years since recording its last polio case, one of the biggest public-health achievements of recent times, and one that could set the stage for stamping out the ancient scourge globally.

Public-health officials now hope to officially certify India as polio free in coming weeks.

Many long doubted that India could pull it off, given the country's size, poor sanitation and the enormous challenge of vaccinating millions of children, often in far-flung places and in the face of societal and religious resistance.

"India was by far the hardest place in the world to get rid of polio," said Bill Gates, chairman of Microsoft Corp.

How? - by bloody-mindedness, a lot of money and hard work. 

The Indian government's campaign to eliminate polio began in 1995, and has cost it nearly $1.6 billion so far; private sources have contributed millions more. It was a mammoth operation, involving health workers, local officials, religious leaders and some two million vaccinators who often went door to door. Over the past three years alone, 480 million vaccinations were given each year to about 174 million children under the age of 5.

Religious leaders were persuaded to join the effort. "The calls that went out to the Muslim faithful every Friday contained reminders to take children to the immunization booths," said Mr. Kapur of Rotary International. "These were the people initially most skeptical of the vaccines but, once convinced, they became our biggest agents of change."

Will this amazing example of co-operation between the public, public health services, do-gooders, international busybodies, motley philanthropists out to burnish their reputations managing to get one of God's creations out of lives confer legitimacy on the power of secular human cooperation, and the power of humanity in general?  Will we finally be able to believe in the power of a collective humanity?  Will we heck.  Not a mention in any media headlines.  Instead, this.

The priest told him that when he would return home from Srivilliputhur, he would get an important message from his head office which would open a window of opportunities for him, besides bringing about a change in his place of work. The priest also said that the coin, which was from a yagna or fire ritual conducted at the Meenakshi Temple the previous day, should be kept in the puja or prayer altar at home and worshipped daily. The priest identified himself as the chief priest of the Meenakshi Temple.


I had no clue of what happened during my husband's bus ride to Srivilliputhur. When he returned home that evening, he was stunned to find a telegram waiting for him; he was instructed to report to the company head office immediately. My husband was being promoted as manager and was also being transferred to a new station. He narrated to me what happened during his bus journey that day. As the priest had said, the telegram was the beginning of his successful career and which changed our life forever.

Till date, I have the coin in our sacred altar. I am convinced that Goddess Meenakshi had personally blessed him and sent this message.

Embarrassingly, I find we have exported our crank beliefs in miracles to advanced and educated societies, in spite of the existence of valid, logical demonstrable secular miracles - the eradication of smallpox and polio within my lifetime.

And that is "completely consistent with what Christians believe and exactly said by the ancient Hebrews thousands of years ago without doing a single experiment but solely on the basis of 'God told us.'"


"And the astounding fact is that 2,000 years later, modern science after climbing round and round the mountain has arrived at the top only to find a bunch of theologians who have been sitting there for centuries," said D'Souza.


But D'Souza countered, "No. Miracles simply say that the laws of physics are incomplete. The laws of physics are generalizations that reflect the limits of human knowledge. These aren't nature's laws; they're Newton's laws and it took an Einstein to modify them."


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Across the pond and more

brutusettu's picture

"A couple days ago, a UKIP local councillor in cosmopolitan Henley-on-Thames, David Silvester, wrote to his local paper arguing that God is punishing Britain through a series of storms in late December and early January because of the Government’s policy of allowing same sex marriage:"

‘The scriptures make it abundantly clear that a Christian nation that abandons its faith and acts contrary to the Gospel (and in naked breach of a coronation oath) will be beset by natural disasters such as storms, disease, pestilence and war.

‘I wrote to David Cameron in April 2012 to warn him that disasters would accompany the passage of his same-sex marriage bill.

‘But he went ahead despite a 600,000-signature petition by concerned Christians and more than half of his own parliamentary party saying that he should not do so.’

Blaming the Prime Minister for the bad weather, he added: ‘It is his fault that large swathes of the nation have been afflicted by storms and floods.

teh gays cause floods damnit, the more you know.


A private charter school system in the US that attempts to walk the line between brazenly peddling and stealthily peddling YEC. (hiding what they're doing, they're doing it wrong).  Texas* is paying a charter school $82 million a year to promote the canon of a fraction of denominations. 


*the great states of Arkansas and Indiana will join Texas is in misinforming their students.


Dinesh D'Souza found a community of fellow

brutusettu's picture

fantasy believers/followers/charlatans.  


In the beginning they're was only Chaos.  Then out of the void appeared sheep and con men, the unknowable place where grifting takes place.  All else was empty, silent, endless, darkness. Then somehow Love (Eros) was born bringing a start of order. From Love came Light and Day. Once there was Light and Day, Gaea, the earth appeared.



"God" told the Greeks something different than the Hebrews.

*Scott Raises An Eyebrow*

M Scott Eiland's picture

While I am aware of the rich history of the various historical incarnations of your nation and respect it, I'm fairly certain that Western civilization was able to engage in mass superstitious belief of its very own for thousands of years before importing it from elsewhere. It's not like you're inflicting some sort of ideological polio on us to rival the ideological Ebola that Marx and Lenin unleashed on the Third World over the last century and a half.

. . .and Don Mattingly must be fired (bye Ned--don't let the door hit you in the @$$ on the way out!).

Marx and Lenin are not the only ideological Ebolas

mmghosh's picture

fake scientism is equally worrying.  Pankaj Mehta thus


We live in an era in which corporations make unprecedented profits, an elite few accumulate enormous wealth, and inequality is reaching levels approaching those of the Gilded Age. The contradictions between neoliberal capitalism and democratic impulses are continually exposed. The claims of equal opportunity underlying much of liberal thinking are becoming farce. The incongruity between what capitalism professes to be and the reality of capitalism is becoming increasingly apparent.


The appeal of biological determinism is that it offers plausible, scientific explanations for societal contradictions engendered by capitalism. If Type II diabetes is reduced to the problem of genetics (which it surely is to some degree), then we don’t have to think about the rise of obesity and its underlying causes: the agro-business monopoly, income inequality, and class-based disparities in food quality. Combine this with the prevalence of drug-based solutions to disease pushed by the pharmaceutical industry and it is no surprise that we are left with the impression that complex social phenomena are reducible to simple scientific fact.

freedom is a fundamental value that does not need to be justified in terms of some other value like efficiency

Not only that

HankP's picture

but the anti-vaccine hysteria of the last several years shows that we're far from immune from superstitious beliefs - not to mention constant struggles about creationism vs. evolution and climate change vs. denialism. I'm afraid progress wiil always be a struggle until there's a wiser class of human beings available.


I blame it all on the Internet

I wouldn't be do pessimistic about he vacine thing.


The opposition was  largely built on a Scientific basis - Timersol, interactions with the immune system and other vaccines, whatever the theory of the day was. In short it was an argument between the Scientific establishment and Scientific lay heretics. 


Some scepticism of the Scientific establishment  is warranted, most especially in cases of complex biological system. Look at the damage Scientific concensus on what constitutes a healthy diet has done, or the salad that the psychiatry proffesion has made of mental illness (especially in children).


Unfortunately it causes harm. Some harm in the case of the vaccines. More harm in the case of global warming. But at least we are having arguments of fact, not superstition.