Tuesday, February 10, 2009

definitions of a miracle

I was reading about the pilot of the "Miracle on the Hudson" plane being interviewed on Larry King. You know the story? The U.S. Air flight that was taking off in New York, hit a bunch of birds, and crashed into the Hudson River? Amazingly, everyone on the flight survived, and the pilot and crew were great in time of crisis.

But I keep thinking about how this event keeps being called the "Miracle on the Hudson". What is a "miracle", anyway? According to Wikopedia, "A miracle is a sensibly perceptible interruption of the laws of nature, such that can only be explained by divine intervention..." So what was the divine intervention in this case? It seems to me that a better divine intervention would be to not have those birds there at all. In other words, maybe the miracle is all the thousands of flights that don't hit birds in the first place. Maybe this wasn't a "miracle" at all, maybe it was more of an "oops".

And who was watching out for the birds? (Apparently they weren't sparrows!)

Continuing with Wikopedia, though, I also see a more watered-down definition: "In casual usage, 'miracle' may also refer to any statistically unlikely but beneficial event", a description which I guess sort of applies when a plane crashes and all the people on board survive -- certainly more of a "miracle" than the 1980 U.S. Olympic hockey team winning the gold medal, for instance. And for the news media to start reporting the news using less dramatic terminology? -- well, I guess that would be a miracle.

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