Real Miracles, Part 2

by David Bloomberg

Those of you who have been REALL members for awhile may remember the first article I did on this topic, back in the March/April 1996 issue (Vol. 4, #3/4). At that time, I discussed the miracle I’d witnessed, and how it was keeping me up at night.

I clarified that I was not talking about a miracle as one would be defined by Hume — an event that cannot be explained by the laws of nature. Instead, I described this miracle as a miracle of nature — an example of how wondrous the real world can be.

From there I discussed the way some people seek out the extraordinary claims of pseudoscience but often ignore the wonder of science itself. Finally, at the end of the article, I revealed the miracle I’d witnessed as the birth of my son. This time, I won’t make you wait until the end of the article; my second son was born a few weeks ago.

Indeed, his birth was a momentous event for many reasons. He was born on 2/22/99 at 11:33 am. Certainly there must be numerological meaning there! If that weren’t enough, 2/22 is also REALL’s birthday. If only I believed that any of these coincidences were important....

But instead of focusing on these meaningless parallels, his birth led me again to philosophize about the importance of science as compared to pseudoscience. In particular, my thoughts went to the area of medicine.

During the birth, my wife’s pain was numbed not by the needles of acupuncture, but by the single needle of an epidural. To prevent infection, they didn’t use homeopathy, but antibiotics. The nurse kept a close watch on the baby’s heartbeat through advanced monitors, not by feeling its "energy field" using therapeutic touch. Modern science and medicine has made the previously-risky birth process into an almost routine procedure.

Before the birth, scientific tests showed that my wife had minor gestational diabetes, and she was put on a special diet. How would practitioners of alternative medicine have found this out? They wouldn’t have.

And what about after the birth? My first son was born three weeks premature. He was not properly nursing or digesting his food and had to be put on special formula. Where did this formula come from? Certainly not alternative medicine! Modern science made it possible for him to eat – to survive until his own body could catch up.

As my first son grew, he received a number of vaccinations. Again, all of these were contributed by scientific medicine, not by phrenologists and mesmerists or their modern ilk.

In last month’s "REALLity Check" column, I mentioned that St. John’s Hospital had given their "Employee of the Year" award to Linda Boston, the program director for the Center for Mind-Body Medicine. I further noted that I thought there certainly had to be somebody better suited for the award than one who promotes pseudoscience in her job. Well, my son was born at St. John’s, and I can tell you that every single nurse and doctor who worked with us deserved that recognition a lot more than Boston did! I have only the highest praise for the work they all performed.

So, after all is said and done, we have a number of "miracles." We have the miracle of birth — a wonder of the evolutionary process. And we have the miracles of modern medicine. Other claims of miracles pale next to these, and the miracle-mongers have contributed little or nothing while the scientific process has brought us to where we are now and will keep marching forward whether or not some people would rather believe in magic.

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