it's not a miracle

New York Governor David Paterson apparently referred to the perfectly performed emergency landing of US Airways Flight 1549 as “a miracle on the Hudson.”

It’s not a miracle.

Miracles, by definition, are impossible, violations of the laws of nature usually held to be achievable only through divine/supernatural intervention. So it did take some imaginary entity to pull off the feat of landing a plane safely and without any casualties? Nope; this is strictly human stuff. And that’s the whole thing; if it can be explained naturally, if it isn’t even remotely beyond the bounds of human achievement, it’s not a miracle no matter how unlikely.

Of course, there’s a bit of a problem, namely, that we don’t know the universe close to well enough to know what is truly possible and impossible. We’ve only scratched the surface. And without knowing that, how we can possibly judge whether something is a miracle or not? Oh, I know, this is just rhetoric on Governor Paterson’s part, something to say because it seems so awesome that the plane landed on the Hudson river and no one was killed or seriously injured. But at the risk of being cranky: safe landings are what pilots are trained and paid to do. Remarkable piloting? Sure. But are we so accustomed to incompetence and people screwing up that when it gets done right we invoke divine intervention, even if only rhetorically? Okay, after 8 years of the Bush Administration, I can understand that competence has become a novelty. But still. Let’s all breathe a sign of relief that everyone is safe, step away from the crazy miracle talk, and move on.

1 comment:

Nick said...

Yeah it's typical media and political rhetoric. It's a miracle! God saved them! Blah, blah, blah... How about God sent those two geese into the engines in the first place? Why do that?

The skill of the pilot should be highlighted not God. End of story.

This should be the headline: Pilot's skills helps save passengers in amazing landing. No God required.