by David Sisler

The day after nine miners were rescued from a flooding Pennsylvania coal mine, The Wall Street Journal titled its editorial “Those Miraculous Miners.” Commenting that their rescue was being hailed as a “miracle” (their quotation marks), the paper went on to say, “We’re not about to deny the Deity his due, but this was also a story of human bravery and remarkable technical skill.”

For most of the editorial’s 279 words, the writers regaled the marvels of technology, the “technological advances” which “shows how modern miracles are made.” There was absolutely no hint that God might have, just might have, given man the ability to think and learn and discover. Not one single hint.

There was indeed technology galore on this rescue: water pumps, and drill bits, and communications gear. And don’t discount the expertise to use it all.

One piece of the miracle was a six inch pipe, assembled in 30 foot sections, which was drilled into the chamber where the miners were huddled, tied together (a decision they made so if they drowned all of their bodies would be located). Through this pipe rescue workers pumped compressed air, heated to 100 degrees to keep life-threatening hypothermia at bay.

The editorial concluded, “Working Americans in nearly all fields, like those mine-rescue teams, can and do master an astonishing amount of mechanical knowledge. This has made mining safer to practice, and this Sunday it also helped save lives after a tragic accident. And of course God no doubt put in a good word too.”

Contrast that, giving God a backhanded compliment if ever there was one, with the statement of Amy Louviere, of the U.S. Department of Labor's Mine Safety and Health Administration, after the final miner was rescued, “Hallelujah. Amen. Thank God. Thank God.”

One of life’s amazing stupidities is the way we deny God most of the time, and then call on him, or blame him, when it suits us.

Take insurance companies, for instance. Most policies have their exclusions (we-won’t-pay-if clauses). Universally there is the dreaded “Act of God” exclusion for disasters such as flood, hurricane, and tornado. We don’t believe in God, we don’t acknowledge God, but if you get wiped out by one of these, we’ll blame God and the insurance company does not have to pay.

But let nine men be pulled alive from their tomb and God only gets second billing, or in the case of The Wall Street Journal, a reluctantly inserted footnote.

Who would blame him if he just wiped his hands of the lot of us and allowed us to depend totally on our vaunted skill and technology? But then that would eliminate his mercy, and try as we will, we cannot over rule that – whether we acknowledge him or not.


Copyright 2002 by David Sisler. All Rights Reserved.

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