The Miracle that Wasn’t April 15, 2010

The Miracle that Wasn’t

This post is courtesy of Ron Gold.

Did you hear about little Nadia Bloom, an 11-year-old Florida girl with Asperger’s syndrome who was rescued yesterday after spending four days lost in a swamp? It’s definitely a feel good story, but I don’t see why the guy who found her has to call it a miracle:

While Nadia’s parents spoke with reporters in Florida, her rescuer, James King, was in New York making the rounds of television shows. He clutched a leather-and-gold Bible as he spoke with The Associated Press outside the Manhattan studios of “Inside Edition.”

“God led me to her,” King said before describing what he encountered as he searched the swamp. “You can slip and fall, there’s a lot of mud, and you can’t always see where you’re walking.”

. . .

King said that as he got deeper into the wilderness looking for Nadia, he kept repeating verses from the Bible for guidance, including one from Proverbs that says, “Trust in Yahweh with all your heart, and don’t lean on your own understanding … And He will direct your paths.”

I’d say Mr. King is a hero, but not a miracle worker. If you know a girl has wandered into a swamp, and then find her in said swamp, is it really that unexpected? No, Yahweh did not save the day, it was simply the result of Mr. King’s hard work and perhaps some luck.

Furthermore, if little Nadia didn’t have to be hospitalized for dehydration and a bacterial infection, it would have been amazing, but still not a miracle. To be a miracle, something mind-blowing should have to occur.  She was saved by angels who descended from Heaven and flew her to safety?  Now that would be a miracle.

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  • cypressgreen


  • Miracles just aren’t what they used to be.

  • Not surprising. People who believe that this sort of thing is a miracle basically believe that because they have no sense of self-worth. To them, all things happen through some god, and god acts through them. This is partially because they find themselves unworthy of praise, and partially because they believe themselves to be incapable of making good decisions.

    You typically see this sort of behavior in somebody with a tragic or checkered past, and who then received assistance from the church or similar. In the process of rebuilding their lives, they were more or less conditioned in the belief system and taught they were incapable of making correct decisions.

    The whole 12-step recovery program for alcoholics is entirely based on this concept, in fact. Subjects are conditioned to think that they lack even the capability of self-control. Their self-worth is systematically destroyed, and they submit their own will to that of a “higher power”. At the end, they tend to believe that they can’t do anything right and when they do something good, that it happened through another agency, not through themselves.

  • Blitzgal

    What always irritates me about people who say this kind of thing is the implicit message that anyone who does *not* survive a calamity has somehow deserved it, because God did not step in to protect him or her.

    You gotta figure that any god who would randomly let thousands of people die but save this one person for whatever reason must be kind of an ass.

  • gski

    “God led me to her,” King said

    I could almost ignore that if they would just admit that god led the girl into the swamp.

  • Know what’s even worse?

    Yesterday morning, I saw a clip of her dad, who credited the rescue to the power of the human spirit and teamwork. I saw that only once.

    Last night, I saw the bit about this guy chanting scripture and calling it a miracle several times.

  • bigjohn756

    For some simple folk everything is a miracle.

    “Oh, look, I found a nickle on the sidewalk!”
    “It’s a miracle!”

    “Oh, look, A skilled pilot with decades of training landed his disabled plane on the river and no one was killed!”
    “It’s a miracle!”

    “We had a picnic yesterday and it didn’t rain!”
    “It’s a miracle!”

  • Michael

    For a human to put so much effort and time into finding the girl would be impressive, and I have respect for that man for doing so.

    On the other hand, if I am to believe (as he claims) that his time and effort were pointless and “God did it,” the same job done by a god seems pretty disappointing. Like you said, a god should have been able to get her home much more quickly and safely. That man seems to portray his god as a little slow and apathetic.

    This is interesting. He says that he basically called for guidance, and then supposedly received it, and declares it a miracle. I may be confused about the definition of “performing” a miracle but isn’t he claiming to have performed a miracle? If so, someone should really nominate him for the Canonization process.

  • Ubi Dubium

    You know, you never see a news story about a parent of an autistic child exclaiming “God prevented my child from wandering into the swamp today! It’s a miracle! And she didn’t wander into the swamp yesterday either! Another miracle!”

    Yet when their god apparently slips up and lets the child wander into the swamp, and does not send a rescuer for four days, this is proclaimed as evidence of divine mercy. Go figure.

  • mikespeir

    Dang. And here I thought God had finally done something good.

  • Killer Bee

    God did intervene.
    It turns out that the famished, swamp-dwelling alligators were, just at that moment, blaspheming against the Lord so he took away the food he had arranged as provision for them.
    I shudder for their fate should they persist in their stiff-necked rebellion.

  • Karen

    Thank you for pointing up the absurdity here. I too saw the “miracle” coverage yesterday.

    Really sick of the feckless, naive media types who fall all over this stupid stuff and never ask themselves the question, “What are we implicitly saying to all the other parents whose kids were NOT found by rescuers led by god.”

    One ounce of common sense and compassion is all I ask from the people who give this nonsense tons of publicity. Apparently that’s too much to ask.

  • Jonas

    Look a place to quote Star Trek — It’s a miracle.
    “Wondrous yes, but not miraculous.” – Picard.

    Yes we should look to King as a hero, for putting the girl’s needs above his own. Yes it’s beyond fortunate that Bloom was rescued. But we shouldn’t read into King’s motives selfishness, “I only did it so God would give me a merit badge.” That when down he reinvigorated himself with a bible passage, let’s not fault him for that. Sure we might not look to the same source for motivation.

    No the supernatural did not play a role in the rescue. No the credit is not due to God, as we understand him.Quoting Star Trek again:

    “Do not kneel to me.” – Picard
    “you do not wish it?”
    “I do not deserve it!” – Picard

    King, like so many others is a hero, but not a Superhero. Superheros are the stuff of comics, and fiction.

    (Quotes: ST:TNG-Who Watches The Watchers)

  • Edmond

    Oh MAN this one had me going last night when it came on the news. So, even though there were searchers ALL OVER THE PLACE and one person HAPPENED to find her, god was responsible for leading him there? God was just toying with all the other people looking? They couldn’t have ALL been “led” to the girl simultaneously? Wouldn’t THAT have been a much more spectacular display of god’s power?

    God ALSO might have just kept the girl from getting lost in the first place. While he was at it, maybe he could’ve spared her from her Autism, too?

  • Krista

    Yeah, Xtians are always to quick to discount the efforts of all involved in order to credit God.

    A woman go to school with had to take her kid to the emergency room for a respiratory infection a few weeks ago. Kid was really sick. They put him on some serious antibiotics and did some breathing treatments, and he got over it. Of course, the next day in class, all anyone could say was “We prayed for you, thank the Lord for healing him!” Yeah, because all those antibiotics, and doctors, they didn’t do a darn thing. Right.

  • Jonas

    Warning – Atheist Humor, maybe –NSFW–

    “Yet when their god [cut] lets the child wander into the swamp, and does not send a rescuer for four days, this is proclaimed as evidence of divine mercy.”

    For I am a shallow and vain God, demanding praise and worship.
    I create the evil, and I create the error.
    I create the opportunity to fix the error, and fight the evil.

    To the parents whose children have not been found alive, pray to me that I have forgiven them their sins, and let them into heaven. And pray that I allow you the strength to move on.

  • JT

    You found something you were looking for. I’d hardly qualify that as miraculous.

    Now on the other hand, had you no idea a girl was missing and on a whim drove into a swamp and discovered the lost child you may have more claim to a divine GPS. Though it’d still likely just be a coincidence. And what the hell are you doing driving into a swamp for no good reason?

  • Mike

    What I understand is that dozens of searchers went off looking. One of them found the girl which was then considered to be a miracle. This is a great example of confirmation bias where someone had to find the girl. Of course, no one pays any attention to the others.

  • Linda

    Unfortunately, the word ‘miracle’ is thrown around too much now-a-days and has lost a lot of its true meaning.

    I was more offended with how much Mr. King and the interviewers in other interviews I’ve seen have pushed religion rather then celebrating the fact that they found this child alive.

  • muggle

    I think Mr. King’s parents did him irreparable harm when they named him James.

  • JB Tait

    Anyone else wonder, when they read “God led me to her,” if it might have been a cover up? Sounds like what you would say if you already knew where she was.

  • I recently saw the TV show “Brace for Impact”, which is about the landing of an Airbus in the Hudson river, with no casualties.

    It struck me that no-one actually attributed the outcome here to divine intervention. Some people did speak of praying, as many are wont to do in a situation like that, but everyone on the show recognized that the good result here was due to good luck and excellent pilots.

    It was quite refreshing.

  • Dubious

    I fully expect that we will learn in a few days that the fellow who “found” the girl in the middle of a densely thicketed swamp had previously put her there. Much of his story simply doesn’t add up. He says that when he found her, she told him, “I’m the girl who’s missing,” as if she had been following the story on her plasma TV out there in the swamp. Riiiight. ALL of the other rescuers were looking in an area miles away from where she was found… this was the only guy who was even remotely “looking” in the right place. I wonder how that could have happened?

    And it just seems all too coincidental that the guy knew the little girl well enough that she recognized him (they went to the same church), but nobody else in her family knew him.

    I only hope the ONLY thing this guy did to the girl was leave her in the woods so that he could go back and “find” her later.

  • Kamaka

    Hmmm…had I been looking for the child, perhaps tracking skills might have been more useful than recitation of woo…

    Miracle? Oh, yes, this guy has a direct pipeline to gawd. I can see his halo.

  • Tony

    Has anyone actually asked this guy “So… how come God let her wander off into the swamp then?

  • DShell

    I’m often reminded of the story of a man who is driving around a parking lot. He says to god, “God, if you can find a parking spot for me, I’ll give up alcohol, sex, and junk food.” Immediately after that he finds one and says, “Nevermind, I found one myself.” Purely anecdotal, but I find it amusing.

  • Dubious:

    He says that when he found her, she told him, “I’m the girl who’s missing,” as if she had been following the story on her plasma TV out there in the swamp.

    That… is an interesting point, and I’m surprised I hadn’t already thought of it.

  • Kevin Benko

    I lost my car keys the other day, and had spent minutes looking for them. Then I prayed to my gods…. I mean cats, and then I found my car keys on the kitchen counter.

    It *was* a miracle, and my cats are gods!
    All Hail Mister Fluffy!!!

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