Skeptic Faces Possible Charges For Debunking Miracle Statue

Posted by Xavier Ortega | July 10, 2012 19

Indian rationalist Sanal Edamaruku set out to debunk Mumbai’s miracle statue. What he did not expect was to be accused of “deliberately hurting religious feelings and attempting malicious acts intended to outrage the religious sentiments of any class or community.”

Sanal Edamaruku is the founder and president of Rationalist International. Which according to the website is:

India’s largest rationalist organisation. Founded in 1949. Fights for scientific temper, secularism, freedom of thought and expression. Defends reason and science. Exposes superstition, blind belief, obscurantism, paranormal claims caste-based social divisions and guru-politics nexus. Strives for a post-religious society.

 

However when Sanal went to investigate a statue of Christ that is said to weep holy water, Sanal found that there was no miracle at work. Only the inferior workmanship of a careless plumber. The holy water turned out to be from a clogged drain. When Sanal disclosed his findings, he did not see the fierce backlash that the Catholic laity had in store.

 

What was the so-called miracle you recently investigated in Mumbai?
The priest and the very active Catholic laity organizations associated with the Our Lady of Velankanni Church in Mumbai were promoting the idea that water dripping from the feet of a statue of Jesus was a sign from God. Hundreds of believers flocked to the dripping cross, collecting and consuming “holy” drainage water that they believed would cure all ailments.

What prompted you to intervene?
I was invited to the Delhi studio of TV9, a Mumbai-based national channel, to comment. During the program, I rejected the possibility of a miracle but of course could not give scientific explanations without an investigation. The channel then invited me to come to Mumbai. The church authorities agreed.


What did you find?

I had a close look at a nearby washroom and the connected drainage system that passed underneath the concrete base of the cross. I removed some stones from the drain and found it was blocked. I touched the walls, the base, and the cross and took some photographs for documentation. It was very simple: Water from the washroom, which had been blocked in the clogged drainage system, had been transmitted via capillary action into the adjacent walls and the base of the cross as well as into the wooden cross itself. The water came out through a nail hole and ran down over the statue’s feet.

You now face possible arrest. Why?
Leaders of two Catholic laity organizations have launched charges against me under Section 295A of the Indian penal code. This charges a person with “deliberately hurting religious feelings and attempting malicious acts intended to outrage the religious sentiments of any class or community.” It is absurd to claim that I did anything of the sort.

Full source: Slate.com

Although I do agree with Mr. Edamaruku’s work, he does tend to generalize all unexplained phenomenon. Read this excerpt:

Do you have any regrets about intervening?
Why would one not intervene when somebody gives gullible people sewage to drink? But my reason is broader. The promotion of superstition and belief in paranormal phenomena dulls people’s minds and establishes dangerous misconceptions about reality in our society. Such efforts have to be countered.

Superstition and paranormal phenomena is not the same thing, therefore it should not be grouped in the same category. Paranormal means something that is outside the norm. Something not explained by science. Like the Hessdalen Lights phenomena. Several theories exist for a possible explanation to these lights, but none have been able to fully explain them. Making those lights a paranormal phenomena. The same applies to several high-profile psychokinetic cases like that of Kulagina and Bither.

Sometimes it seems like the skeptics and believers are both running around in circles.

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I'm a writer, a runner, and a hell of a coffee drinker residing in Los Angeles. I'm currently working on a book about Doris Bither and her terrifying account of a haunting in Culver City, California. The case was dubbed "The Entity" and it stands to be one of the most controversial cases ever to be studied by parapsychologists.

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  • Scott_McMan

    Here’s the thing though. clogged drain or not, it still caused a great deal of fellowshipping and worship. This guy doesn’t realize the possibility of the clog being purposeful.

    However, for anyone to be outraged, takes away from the focus. Of course, I’m not Catholic.

  • ophu

    “Why would one not intervene when somebody gives gullible people sewage to drink?”

    Weeelll, in all fairness, by the time it got out through Jesus’ nail hole the concrete had probably absorbed some of the germs coming out of the SINK, and maybe the TOILET (OMG hurgh), but still eeeewwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwww

    I think the church is trying to distract from what the main issue really is: That for the sake of religion, and without even checking the source, they were giving the faithful SEWAGE to drink! :O :p X(

    I am so disgusted with my former religion at this point that words simply aren’t…

  • ophu

    Still watching the video. It is potentially vomit-inducing.

  • ophu

    And I don’t mean just the water…

  • The Oshmar

    The guy scores a point for science and the church wants to throw him in jail for it. Well nothing new there.

  • ophu

    Also, it’s India. Why would people there drink water without checking the source? Even a child there knows better, or should. Did they really think that the water would be clean just for coming from a giant crucifix?

    Yes, I guess they might’ve at that. IDK why, considering all the other travesties in the news, but this story has really gotten my goat. 😐

  • The Oshmar

    They drank it because the church said it was holy water that could cure all ailments.

  • Ophu2

    Oh God.

  • The Oshmar

    Some people just cling to an authority ophu, doesn’t matter if what they say makes sense. Independent thought is usually quashed.

  • ophu

    CAUSE all ailments maybe. They were off by only one word.

  • The Oshmar

    lol very true =D

  • Henry

     Science does not even enter into it.
    Common Sense.

  • Iamneurosys

    Rationalist international was formed in 1995, not 1949.

  • ghosttheory

     lamneurosys,

    Their website says 1949:

    http://indianrationalists.blogspot.co.uk/

  • Skiroom

    It also says he founded it which from the looks of his picture woulda been about 20 years at least before he was born.

  • Jon

    i’m no fan of skeptics, especially when they lump paranormal phenomenon with superstition or religious belief. However in this case I feel very sorry for this bloke, he really was trying to do the right thing.

  • Valkyrie13

    Doesn’t the Vatican have to authorize such “miracles” in the Catholic church?  Did they in this case?  And if they didn’t, then do the Catholic leaders have much to stand on?   I have no understanding of Indian legal matters, obvs. 

  • Dung Particle

    This one is very simple: you do NOT mess with religion, because it’s a fundamental, intrinsic part of what about 90% of the world population believe about themselves, the world and God.

    They KILL over this. DO NOT mess with religion, people!

  • Rmon

    I just can never understand peoples stupidity. Like sheeple you know. I mean, where the hell is your own common sense if you believe that the water draining from a wooden statue is going to help you? Am i missing something?

    Ok, i will shut up about the stupidity of religion.. 😉