Siobhán's Miracle

Eight years ago, Siobhán Kilfeather, who was suffering from a deadly cancer, went to Lourdes to pray to the Virgin Mary not for survival, but for more time to allow her young children to remember her.

When she returned to London, her doctors were amazed at her recovery:

Siobhán and Peter clung to each other as the radiologist continued. "Back in December we spotted a small lesion on the lungs. One month later the abnormality was the size of a walnut. By now we expected to be examining irregular cells the size of a grapefruit.

"Instead, there's nothing to be seen. The abnormalities have disappeared."

Siobhán's cancer returned seven years later, and this is her story as told by her mother-in-law Ellen Jameson in an upcoming book Siobhán's Miracle:

"I finally managed: 'How long do you think I've got?'He turned his face away from me and didn't answer. My head is so full of clutter I can't think straight.

"I should write to old friends I've lost touch with. Tell them I'm going to die. I can't seem to get things into proportion. The most important considerations are obviously my children and my husband, but also my work is important to me.

"My writing, my book, my students. Should I spend the last 12 hours of my life reading Jane Austen or writing an essay or singing nursery rhymes to my children?"

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I realize these comments were left a year ago, and this response likely won't be seen.

I wonder if those who commented here realize that the girl in this story is by now a teenager who has internet access, the ability to Google, and a profound curiosity about her MOTHER.

Think before you type.
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OH MY F***ING GOD WHO THE HELL CARES ABOUT WHETHER THE PRAYER DID IT OR NOT.

Are you people heartless? Can't you just put aside all this RELIGION IS BULLSH*T stuff and say that it was touching?
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'We don't know what causes cancer' is a very, very different statement to 'We don't know what causes cancer in many individual cases'. Diagnosing exact causes in individual situations from what we know what is responsible for cancer in a broader sense is not the same thing - of course there are a number of environmental effects which can trigger oncogenes into functioning as cancer genes, and in some individual cases this can be tricky to pin down. However, in the majority of cases the cause is fairly blatant.

I think you're confusing my frustration at poor understanding of science with hostility. Essentially you've suggested what is an argument from ignorance - a fallacy which says if we are less than certain in a mechanism explaining something, then an alternative explanation has more weight, especially if the alternative is a magical explanation over a mechanistic one. 'Miracles' are indeed magical thinking.

It also doesn't surprise me that you measure the intellectual weight of an argument not by its content, but by how civil you perceive it to be. While I've hardly pulled my punches, I've also not regressed into insults or ad hom attacks.

The bottom line is that while we can't state precisely why this lady's cancer regressed, we a) know it happens with significant frequency, and b) it has biological mechanisms to explain it. Even if it didn't it would still not require a 'God did it' explanation.
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@Alex Fear:

Although civility is nice, it has nothing to do with civility.

Anyway, for somebody who had earlier gone all ad hominem in accusing Athon of "lacking an education in the art of communication", you must admit that you rather compound the issue by either being unable, or simply refusing, to comprehend what he is saying. To wit: Athon clearly referred to smoking as a 'contributory risk factor', not the sole reason, nor even necessarily a reason at all, in any given case of cancer.

I think Athon is refusing to answer your questions because, and I don't wish to be unkind, but they're a little silly. But if it will help sort out your indignation, then I'm game. So let's see:

Q: "Hypothetically– what if God was to cure an amputee but that person lost their limb again years later?"
A: Then I guess we can draw two possible conclusions: either that person made God really angry, or they didn't learn their lesson about being careless around the industrial machinery the first time.

Q: "What causes cancer?"
A: IANAO (I Am Not An Oncologist), but I'm pretty sure people who *are* have a pretty good grasp on what's going on there, so I wouldn't worry about it. Oh, or, God does.

Oh dear! So, is it God, or is there something else at work here? Well, applying Occam's Razor and slicing away the bullshit, I think it should be fairly obvious that there's nothing miraculous going on here, viz. instead of an omnipotent, omnipresent spirit being both causing and taking away her cancer, it seems more likely that biological processes are responsible.

There we go, feathers unruffled now?
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@Athon,

All I've done is ask questions, you're responses have grown more and more spiteful and have yet contained barely any answers to my questions.

I measure intelligence by the level of civility employed in an argument.

By 'refuting' my *example* of smoking not causing cancer (to which I should have added "in every case" so as not to cause confusion for the simple-minded) are you actually implying that cancer, in every single case, is caused by either directly or passive smoking?

Are you also implying that in every case of a fat person, it's because they have eaten too much? So there's no case for genetics at all?

Your angry and superfluous arguments appear to me to be nothing more than setting up straw men out of my questions rather than attempting to answer them or pose questions back.
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