Did an Angel Save Her Daughter’s Life? December 24, 2008

Did an Angel Save Her Daughter’s Life?

No. It didn’t. Not an angel.

I’m glad Colleen Banton‘s daughter is ok, but the answer is no.

What is she talking about?

Well, take a look at the angel she’s referring to:


Really. That’s supposed to be an angel.

What’s that, you say? It’s the light at a particular angle? Light coming through a window?

Nope. It’s an angel. (Screw you and your skepticism.)

The Today show’s Ann Curry and NBC’s Ron Mott spent six minutes propagating that absurdity.

They even brought in “experts” on angels.

“I think angels really do exist,” the Rev. Suzan Johnson Cook told TODAY’s Ann Curry after watching the report on the Bantons’ experience. “They protect us. They walk amongst us.”

Cook was joined by Rabbi Irwin Kula, who looked at angels as more of a metaphor for the unexplained wonders that life brings.

Unfortunately, they had no one on the panel to kindly suggest the mother might be mistaken — That would’ve ruined the “miracle-y-ness” of the piece.

And what would’ve been wrong with that? What’s wrong with some blunt honesty this holiday season? Not everything is a miracle. (In the opinion of scientists and other rational thinkers, nothing is.)

Rev. Cook explained the main reason behind this pareidolia and probably didn’t even realize it:

Cook had to wipe away a tear of joy after watching Banton’s story. It is particularly appropriate, she said, coming at the Christmas season during a year in which many people are experiencing economic hardship.

People are looking for a miracle right now,” Cook said.

They’re looking for it, so they’ll use anything and everything to justify it — no matter how much they have to stretch to make it work.

(Thanks to Benjamin for the link!)

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  • mikespeir

    I’m very happy for the girl.

    But the angel? Look at it carefully. The fact that the light spot straddles the doorway is what gives it the appearance of wings. (And, by the way, angels aren’t really supposed to have wings, anyway.) In fact, it looks like a square blotch of light coming from across the hallway, through, perhaps, a window.

    As to the “miracle”? Well, if the story’s told at all accurately, it is an impressive recovery. What a wonderful thing! But in the first place, I don’t have much confidence that we’re getting it without pious adornment. Secondly, what have they done to rule out more prosaic causes? From what I’ve seen and read, natural possibilities are never even considered.

  • I saw this yesterday on the Today Show. It’s really not that far out there for them, since Meredith especially has a tendency to call any little coincidence or case of beating the odds “miraculous”. I think it stems from a fear of not giving credit where it might be due and thus incurring the wrath of someone or something who may or may not be extremely petty and jealous.

  • Kevin

    Yes, it’s sad that the mother is so deluded, some may say, “Whatever makes her happy”, but then when happens if she then dies? Was that Satan? or God’s will?

    I have an associate at work who preached to everyone that God saved his sister from cancer… last year she died – from cancer.

    He now believes that God let her live a little longer to fulfill some higher purpose and then called her to him.

    It really is mind boggling.

  • Of course it’s an angel. I know this because angels are almost, but not quite, powerful enough to avoid detection. Furthermore, in order to protect the “miracle” of faith, God designed them so that, on those rare occasions where they are detected, the evidence is always be equivocal. Praise God, angels and the baby Jesus!

  • mikespeir

    “Within an hour, the dying girl began a recovery that doctors are at a loss to explain.” (From the article.)

    This kind of statement always annoys me. The faithful somehow take that as an admission that something supernatural is going on.

    Well, in the first place, I’d like to hear it from the doctors themselves. In the second place, I don’t expect doctors to know everything. As well trained as they might be, there are cases that stump them for a long time, and maybe indefinitely. Basically, “I don’t know how it happened” isn’t the same as “God did it.”

  • Marissa

    Thank you. I hate angel stories. Bah humbug.

  • angle, angel, it’s just a typo

  • Erik

    So far, 82% of the nearly 24,000 respondents to the article voted that they believe in angels. Ugh. And the only other option only lets me vote that “most things can be explained more rationally.” Most? Where’s the ALL things can be explained rationally choice?

  • People like miracles at Christmas, and they love to drop all critical thought at this time of year and look for them. As long as they don’t teach Angelic Design in the science class, I’m not inclined to care.

  • *forehead smack*

  • GullWatcher

    The news is just out that Lance Armstrong and his girlfriend are expecting a child (the old fashioned way, without any kind of medical tinkering) despite his bout with testicular cancer and its treatment, which should have made that impossible. I LOVE how there is no mention of it being any kind of ‘miracle’. Go, reason!

  • Chelsea

    If you read the article, apparently the kid has come back from certain death more than once! Gee, god sure does work in mysterious ways… *eyeroll*

  • Dan

    I find the absurdity doubled simply by looking at the reflection in the floor beneath the “angel.” It clearly shows some reflecting lights, which were probably bright enough to make the surveillance camera go a bit buggy.

    I’m even more disturbed that they were treating it as if it was something seriously newsworthy.

  • Maybe I ought to make some shadow puppets in the light of the nativity scene across the street, then call CBS, ABC and FOX.

  • postsimian said:

    *forehead smack*


  • Curtis

    BTW, Lance Armstrong is an atheist. He said “If there was a god, I’d still have both nuts”. In regards to his cancer recovery, he said believes in doctors and scientists rather than god.

  • Melissa

    Honestly, what is it with the big belief in Miracles at this time of the year? On Jesus’ birthday no less! Don’t you think, if they really existed, God and his boy would have better things to do right now?

  • Art

    Every time I hear someone talk about miracles I always ask them about the “anti-miracles” that, for everyone miraculously saved from certain death by some strange occurrence, there are 1000-fold more incidents where the victim dies or suffers needlessly.

    It’s real convenient for them to just forget all the circumstances where a God could intervene and prevent death and destruction and just focus on the relatively few random times when someone’s luck saved them.

    Were the people that didn’t receive the miracle not pious or religious enough or were they just victims of some cosmic roulette wheel while the saved one had the ball fall in their slot?

    Yeah, they fall back on the mantra that we’re just too stupid to understand the ways of God. I’m going to try that the next time I get caught for speeding. “Officer, you’re just not worthy of understanding why I had to speed. Bless you anyway.”

  • Richard Wade

    This is how the rest of the story might go if it had been fully reported:

    “The hospital security personnel continued to watch the image on the security monitor but no one went to the camera’s location to investigate it. Over the course of two hours the angel seemed to miraculously slide down the wall onto the floor, and then to slide across the floor in a miraculously un-angel like way, distorting into what looked kinda like two hot dogs and a lopsided square thing. Then the weather got cloudy outside, and miraculously, just at that moment, the hot-dog-lopsided-square-thing/angel disappeared.”

  • llewelly

    What do people do with their eyes all day that they think sunbeams and reflections require extra-ordinary explanations? Do they spend their whole lives in windowless cubicles?

  • Eliza

    Apropos to Art’s comment above, this part of the story particularly stands out:

    Chelsea had been born five weeks prematurely with developmental disabilities and had battled serious health problems all her life. She is particularly susceptible to the types of pneumonia infections that had taken her to death’s door.

    So, these people believe that God let her (or, caused her) for his Great Unfathomable Purposes be born prematurely, have developmental disabilities, & battle health problems all of her 14 yrs so far. But then it’s a “miracle” when she pulls through a latest & worst-so-far of her recurrent bouts with pneumonia. (While on oxygen, a ventilator, and presumably high-potency antibiotics – to combat those evolving bacterial pathogens.)

    Then, from the commentary, there’s this unbelievable gem:

    Cook was joined by Rabbi Irwin Kula, who looked at angels as more of a metaphor for the unexplained wonders that life brings. “Albert Einstein said there are two ways to look at the world: as if everything is a miracle or nothing is a miracle,” he said.

    Did you just hear Einstein turn in his grave? This is not what he meant by “miracle” – he was talking about the entire frigging universe & the beauty of its physics.

  • bernarda

    Well, it is past time to start distributing “Dumber than a Stump” Awards.

  • Harknights

    I feel like this is a joke America is pulling on me. What the F?!? You can see the reflection in the floor that it’s another light source. Either a window or a set of lights.

    Why is it so hard to marvel in what the human body can do?

    Sure it might be from a movie but “Life finds a way” is such an important idea. I wish people would talk on the Today show for 6 minutes about that.

  • What you left out is that the picture they showed on Today and reproduced above was taken with the mother’s cell phone camera. That’s another source of light that could be causing the reflection, the light from the room in which the videotape of the was viewed and photographed.

    Have you ever tried to take a picture of a TV or of an aquatic animal in an aquarium? This glare is exactly what you’d expect.

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