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Meditation 1334
If science does not provide the answer --
then "I don't know" is still the appropriate response.

by: John Tyrrell

As I close out my regular contributions to this site, I thought I'd use my final few Meditations to return to some recurrent themes.

Your thoughts on this Meditation are welcome. Please sign in to the discussion forum below, or alternatively, use the contact page to provide your comments for publication.

NPR published a piece this Wednesday on how the Catholic Church documented the two miracles necessary for the declaration of Mother Teresa's sainthood.

In discussing the process, they referred to the process used for Marguerite d'Youville, an 18th century nun, who was credited with the 20th century cure of a woman suffering from incurable leukemia. The doctor who investigated the cure (a university professor who happened to be an atheist) could find no medical or scientific reason why the woman recovered.

Conclusion by the Catholic Church: A miracle!

It's simply a matter of applying the questionable rule of Sherlock Holmes: "When you have eliminated the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth?"

And apparently as far as the Catholic Church is concerned, if you assume that current science's inability to provide an answer means that science never will be able to provide an answer, then the Church can confidently assert that what really happened is someone directed a prayer to a dead person who then went on to have a little chat with God influencing God to issue a cure.

It seems to me that if you are coming to a conclusion on the basis that science cannot provide an answer today, you could just as confidently assert the cure was by space aliens, time travellers, or sasquatch using animal magnetism.

Essentially, declaring a miracle has occurred is nothing more than a God of the Gaps argument.

Perhaps Sherlock Holmes' rule is applicable in a multiple choice examination where you are limited to a limited and managable number of possibilities, but in the real world of incomplete, but ever expanding knowledge, we should not leap to improbable conclusions just because we have exhausted currenly known options.

"I don't know" remains the best answer and the honest answer.

And "I don't know" (provided you don't add the "and I don't care") is a call to action, to investigate further, to advance our knowledge of the world.


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