Chile mine rescue a ‘miracle’?

By Elizabeth Tenety Once feared dead, 33 trapped Chilean miners began to emerge Tuesday night after more than two months … Continued

By Elizabeth Tenety

Once feared dead, 33 trapped Chilean miners began to emerge Tuesday night after more than two months underground.

Among the necessities that sustained them 2000 feet down were food, vitamins, supplemental air and, according to many reports, their faith.

Prayers and well wishes from around the world reached the miners. Pope Benedict prayed for them after a mass in August, and the Vatican sent blessed rosaries “as a sign of the Pope’s closeness with them.” Priests and ministers visited the site in the predominantly Catholic country. The Baptist Press reported that two miners “accepted Christ” during their ordeal. The Seventh-day Adventists sent mini-bibles down to the crew, highlighting Psalm 40: “I waited patiently for the Lord; and he inclined to me, and heard my cry. He also brought me up out of a horrible pit … and set my feet upon a rock, and established my steps.”

Florencio Avalos was the first man taken up from the mine. His wife, Monica, said “This rescue was so difficult, it’s a grand miracle.”

The ninth man to emerge from the mine was Mario Gomez, a 63-year old who, CNN reported, “became the group’s spiritual leader and requested a crucifix and statuettes of saints so the men could construct a shrine.”

Gomez knelt in prayer after he safely escaped Wednesday, a graceful moment captured on film.

The Washington Post’s Juan Forero and Jonathan Franklin noted that Chile’s president, Sebastian Pinera, “prayed with relatives at Camp Hope, the makeshift settlement on the surface of the mine.”

Before the rescue began, Pinera reflected on the meaning of the moment:

“When the first miner emerges safe and sound, I hope all the bells of all the churches of Chile ring out forcefully, with joy and hope. Faith has moved mountains.”

Have you watched coverage of the miners’ rescue and reunions? Is their survival a religious miracle or a technological triumph? Have emergencies in your life moved you toward -or away from -faith?

Elizabeth Tenety
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  • Baccus0902

    Is their survival a religious miracle or a technological triumph? Well, I think the answer is Both. The drive to stay alive and have hope is a spiritual force. Thank God for the intelligence to develop the necessary technology and the wisdom to use it for good.

  • rexboys

    Miracle or technological triumph? You can’t have it as a miracle unless you submit that God trapped the miners there in the first place as well as accomplished their rescue with a miracle. If God can accomplish this miracle he/she can just avoid the situation in the first place without such a fuss. This was a cooperative effort by a large number of ordinary human beings. No supernatural powers involved.Don Boys

  • kenk3

    Why does the cruel Christian god allow children to die painful deaths from cancer?Only the moronic faithful believe in such an awful deity.

  • gladerunner

    A miracle? Only if we dumb down the definition of the word. Was it amazing? Inspiring? Better than we hoped? Certainly. But the miners were not transported through the rock in a metaphysical beam of science fiction energy. They were not dead, then made alive by a laying on of hands. They waited in the hole until machines bored through the half mile of rock, then were toted up slowly in the world’s skinniest elevator.

  • djmolter

    Faith in God sustained them? Or was it their faith that technology would free them? Was this part of God’s plan to prove that he cares? If so, why trap them in the first place? Did these freed miners believe more than the ones who died in the Upper Big Branch Mine earlier this year? Or is the Chilean version of God better than the US Brand?

  • Freethotlib

    Their survival was due to more than two factors but Faith and technology certainly helped. I believe their survival is also due to great leadership by the supervisor, maturity and decency on the part of the workers, national leadership as exhibited by the President of Chile and his wife and goivernment officials, and the company’s reaction to the disaster. All did themselves proud and I congratulate all on their performance.!

  • sfgirl

    I cannot say what lead the B team to decide to commit to assist but it was their efforts that lead to the early breakthrough and so very early (against previous predictions) rescue of the miners.

  • lufrank1

    Fundamentalist Religious Faith can be a REAL help for people who are under dire situations and who believe in Prayer, etc.On the other hand, it only helps those folks who say “the blessing” at the table before their meals – while not mentioning that the same God is allowing millions of children (who are just as deserving as themselves) to starve to death. Actual helpful Ignorance, but at a price to reason.

  • cubicledweller

    KENK3–do you know of another god who doesn’t allow those children to die? Suffering is a fact of the world whether God exists or not, why bother insulting a god that you don’t believe exists? And what harm are believers doing to those children, that you feel the need to insult them as well? Of course in many cases they are offering comfort, aid, and hope to those who are suffering.While some of us “up here” are quick to make angry or derisive comments about God in relation to this event or others like it (and that’s a totally understandable reaction), note that the people who actually endured it found God and their faith to be a source of strength and hope. Just something to think about….On the topic of this article, I think we should be slow to name any event a miracle. Of course I believe with other Christians that we should thank God in all things, but that doesn’t mean he made a special intervention in the regular operation of creation to save these miners. Just as when bad things happen, we shouldn’t jump to assume that God is specially punishing or singling out the victims. A miracle is by definition a supernatural event, and there’s no sign of that here.But this story has certainly led me to contemplate faith, mainly the role that it played in keeping the miners sane and hopeful of rescue. I admire their strength and I hope we have more opportunities to hear what they have to say about what kept them going down there.

  • Sajanas

    NASA sent scientists who studied people in long term isolation experiments to advise on how to keep the miners sane and properly fed. Geologists and engineers drilled several tunnels and sent an ingenious machine down 600m to get them back up.So, it seems a little bit petty for a bunch of religious leaders who only bent their knees to take credit for it. By all means, give your thanksgivings, but at least give some credit to the determined men and women who put together this rescue.

  • mamerica

    Their faith probably did sustain them but there probably isn’t a god. That pretty much eliminates miracle as a possibility.

  • lastword

    I believe in miracles, but I would not call the saving of the miners a miracle. I see it as evidence of the profound difference between mankind and every other living creature. The effort to preserve life on both sides of shaft gives us reason to consider the true dignity and destiny of humanity.

  • Secular

    KENK3–do you know of another god who doesn’t allow those children to die? Suffering is a fact of the world whether God exists or not, why bother insulting a god that you don’t believe exists? And what harm are believers doing to those children, that you feel the need to insult them as well? Of course in many cases they are offering comfort, aid, and hope to those who are suffering. A miracle is by definition a supernatural event, and there’s no sign of that here.Posted by: cubicledwellerIf suffering is fact of life, then some of them healing is also fact of life. Giving credit to non-existent being is superstitious and leads one to false hope and disappointment. The false prophets and priests make hay of others suffering with their homespun platitudes, just so that they can make their living. These priests are nothing but the parasites on the society, having failed to produce any economic goods, they sell their virtual wares, just so they come down crashing teh hopes they needlessly raise. Thet are the leeches that suck the blood out of the suffering for their own benefaction. that’s why we insults them, hoping they may be shamed into desisting their ploys.

  • impeachemall

    It was most certainly a miracle. The all mighty Flying Spaghetti Monster was with them through the whole ordeal.He touched them with his noodly appendage and rescued them with his saucy goodness.R’amen

  • Secular

    cubicledweller, read Sajanas’s comment. These parasites did nothing at all except may be uttered some totally useless incantations like any certified witch doctor would and now want to usurp the lime light. The street vendor who was selling snacks over there contributed lot more to the effort than that pedophile-hiding rascal Ratzinger.

  • jakeyrotten

    Give me a break; only thr pious would call this a “miracle”. They of us rational people call it luck.

  • oldabandonedbeachhouse

    Keeping with the attitude that led the On Faith people to permit Tony Perkins to answer Dan Savage on the importance of preventing gay teen suicide, can we expect a piece arguing that the miners should have been left to die?

  • FredfromPescadero

    A miracle is something that happens in violation of the laws of physics, so no, there are no miracles involved here – just a great deal of hard work. (And let’s not forget all the miners who have died all around the world despite a great deal of hard work to rescue them.) As for whether the miners’ faith sustained them – I’m sure it did. And that would be true no matter what faith they had. But so what?

  • qqbDEyZW

    This wasn’t a mircale it was God saw the Chilen Law Makers/President put human life ahead of greed. The Chilean President quickly ask all countries for help. He put the lives of the men first before mining Companies. The US has had many mine accidents but Law Makers put greed ahead of the men and the men died. Katrina caused thousands to lose their life as Bush turned away all the foreign help. Christian Americans talk religion but don’t act on those teachings. Our Law Makers sure God’s name for sin. A Witch name Christian O’Donnell now says God said she should be elected. We hard President Bush say God came to him and told him to be President. After seeing what happen in 8 years it clearly wasn’t God talking to Bush it was Satan.

  • areyousaying

    Technology and faith but not religion.

  • stanassc

    Could I suggest it was the miracle of centuries of technical progress, of the cooperation of the Community of Man and selflessness of ordinary people when given a chance.The cause was centuries of devotion to greed, selfish, self centered Capitalism and social Darwinism that set the stage for this mine that had had so many violations and prior mini accidents. Please, invoke God if you wish, in the end it was people who executed the careful, intelligent and cautious execution of a plan.

  • slowe111

    I began to be bothered when I was the word Miricle at the Mine on CBS and NBC last night. but not on ABC or Fox ! This was not a miracle! and need not be so called. All credit for this event goes first to the lax regulations and the poor safety practices of the mine operators – Shame on them. Past that, these men survivied because we are, by evolution, adapted to survive. Credit for the rescue goes to the engineers, mechanics, scientitists and hard working crews that applied very human skills and techniques to rescueing fellow humans from a human error. Give credit where credit is due. God? Pisssshhh.

  • zosodave

    Faith may have kept them going but intervention of a God is ridiculous. If there is a Wholly God it does not interact or direct our lives in any way. Prayer is just something people do with no direct influence on events or circumstances. The miners were trapped by a cave-in of Earths interior and saved by human intelligence and modern technology.

  • Neslgspen

    I don’t go to church although, think I should after this. We all read about the bad things that happen, the war, floods, famine, recession, global warming and this has made me believe more than ever that there is definitely someone watching over us. The fact that the men were discovered is remarkable and miraculous, the rescue operation, equally as extra-ordinary. This shows us all that with all our flaws we’re capable of doing great things. If people believe in the divine, let them believe, if this is what can happen. This is GOOD news. Enjoy it!!

  • lostein

    Why does it have to be an either/or choice? Why not faith AND science? Those who are cynical about a God who lets bad things happen in the first place are no doubt the same who would protest a God who controlled our every action. As long as there is free will bad things will happen. God said at Mt. Sinai “I have placed before you life and death, the blessing and the curse; choose life.” These miners chose life, as did their rescuers. I think their faith helped them work together and survive in remarkably good shape.

  • gershwin2009

    This is the direct result of the efforts and the work of engineers and rescuers and the tenacity and strength of the miners themselves. It is them and ONLY them who should be credited and praised for this.It’d be repugnant and vulgar of any spiritual leader to take advantage of this and make claims of the supernatural. Many miners in other places have died due to accidents, in the US no less! didn’t they deserve a miracle?If one of the miners thinks it was the work of supernatural deity, he is mistaken and he degrades himself and his fellow miners and everybody else who was involved in the rescue. I think it is time for human solidarity and ingenuity to take credit. It is also time to be grateful to our fellow humans who risk their lives so that we can get electricity in our houses.

  • Robert_B1

    “Is their survival a religious miracle or a technological triumph?”Both, especially since the world has come together to help these men.

  • gladerunner


  • cubicledweller

    Secular: If suffering is fact of life, then some of them healing is also fact of life.

  • kurtkolaja

    Had the rocks been rolled back that would have been a miracle.

  • AIPACiswar

    Miracle? The only miracle that has every occurred is the miracle of ignorance of the people who believe in such tripe as miracles.

  • bethwhi

    In answer to the question: faith or technology? Yes. After all just who do we think gave us the brain power to be capable of creating such technology, or of conceiving such a method of extraction that would actually work, or the foresight to take notes on previous disasters because another one just might come along. I see it as God behind it all. After all, wouldn’t a loving God give us the tools to participate in such a miracle? (Yes bad things happen to good people because of sin on earth, but sometimes God just shows Himself off and lets us know He is still in full and final control). It can be hard to trust in the simplest explanation, but sometimes it is just that easy. Press the button. Come on, you know you wanna…..

  • sarahabc

    This piece feels like it is shamefully trying to use the miner’s hardship to boost the writer’s causes. The miners very well could have felt faith helped them, but even Atheist miners could have faith in technology and fellow men. Further, if prayers and religious faith saved these miners, why didn’t it work for those in West Virginia and people in other tragedies?

  • tinyjab40

    The problem with calling what happened a miracle (as in something with a supernatural origin) is that often such rescues haven’t happened. What about the families in Virginia who prayed for a similar miracle and didn’t get it? I prefer to believe that God sustains us in the good times and the bad.

  • B2O2

    Oh, gosh, of course it was a Divine Miracle that they survived. Then again, the last dozen or so mine collapses that simply crushed miners to death, well, that was just “God” taking the day off.Oh, sorry. “God’s will” was just… well… different in those cases, ya know?You can learn a lot about the mental tricks and logical fallacies human beings employ to delude and sustain themselves just by watching a religious person for a day. It’s 2010 now people. Can we dispense with this childish stuff yet? Tick, tick, tick…

  • bob2davis

    There is no god. There was no miracle. If, in some strange fairyland, there were miracles, then the miners would have been rescued within a day or two. How long must we endure the idiocy of the “believers,” “people of faith?” This crazy belief and faith only serves to prevent needed social progress. If you can’t prove it, it doesn’t exist!!!!!!

  • bitterblogger

    Such a large majority of people have religion in their lives from an early age, it’s no wonder that at least vestiges of it remain in consciousness even when many cease religious practice.

  • abrahamhab1

    “Is their survival a religious miracle or a technological triumph?”If it is a miracle then the technology was the means. As to whether it was a miracle or not I definitely believe that the miners are the ones to decide. They know much more than us what went on down there in that would be mega tomb.

  • Secular

    cubicledweller, I do not have that word in my dictionary, at all. I don’t think that word has any use in the language as it represents a phenomenon tat has never happened at all in the entire history of the universe. So only use of this word is misuse of it.

  • thinker16

    God is Great.

  • csintala79

    Undoubtedly the miners’ faith kept them in a positive frame of mind. This is an objective fact; they bear witness to their hope never flagging because of their faith; however, whether a personal God intervened in this is not an objective fact. Belief that prayers are received by a personal God and answered is in the realm of faith. It is an objective fact that faith can have a psychological effect on morale, but the same is not true regarding whether or not the object of faith is real in itself. In the end, it was the community of man that made this miracle. Faith in the fundamental goodness of men should be promoted.

  • hadenuff1

    While the miners were sustained by their own personal belief, it was US technology that drilled the hole that got them out!

  • abrahamhab1

    People who do not believe in miracles are among those who did not experience a miracle in their lifetime. They pretend to be believers in the science that says “If it cannot be reproduced in the lab it could not exist”. Few years ago and before the advent of TV people did not believe that images could be transmitted over long distances by an electromagnetic wave because they could not demonstrate it in the lab. There are plenty of supernatural phenomena that were reported by different cultures over different time periods. Should we discount them because we could not reproduce them in the lab? I do admit that the scientific method of investigation was very successful in us gaining knowledge, but is it the only way to knowledge? I suggest if you are among those unfortunates who did not experience a miracle to ask some you trust who have witnessed a miracle to share it with you.

  • bobtich

    One of the most serious crimes in the name of religion is the Pope telling people to avoid contraception leading to too many babies for the world to feed and much suffering in the spreading of STD’s. I guess faith will be present in those who are brainwashed at an early age even though they have the intellectual capacity to see the reality of the ridiculousness of believing in a god who chooses to save some and not others.I wonder if the comfort that people take in thinking some higher power is protecting them turns to disbelief in the final moments before accidental or illness related demise. Reproducing something in the lab isn’t the final proof of everything; not ever seeing any evidence that a deity exists must at some time in some people lead to questioning of myths begun thousands of years ago and promulgated by priests, rabbi, monks, etc for whatever reason but mainly as a way of the powerful keeping the weak from rising up and finally claiming their share of the pie.

  • skeptik21

    It was a superb technological triumph, performed by people who worked hard and carefully to acheive success. You want a miracle? The miracle would have been if the cave-in hadn’t happened in the first place.

  • Larryman

    God was not pulling the strings on the rescue pod, some really sharp, focused engineers were. Why? Were the Chilean miners better children of God than, say, the crew of the Deepwater Horizon? Did God opt to save to miners and let the oilmen die? How about the miners in West Virginia, or every other mining accident? Did God really choose to kill them too?God, if he is there, is not some grand puppeteer in the sky pulling strings so that this one lives but that one dies. At most, he gave us the ability to make choices that put our own lives in our own hands, or in the hands of others. The miners, it seems, were kept alive more by good planning than any merciful act of the almighty.

  • Closer2theBorderlin

    Are you shifting me??? God did nothing to stop the cave in and now gets credit???It would have been a miracle if they materialized out of thin air safe on the surface Instead we had drill a shaft down to get them. ABSURD

  • jdadson

    Are you kidding? This has Flying Spaghetti Monster written all over it.

  • asizk

    Humanity held its breath and heart beats and came together until all miners were brought to life again.It was effective management of the ordeal and the grace of of God that saved them.It is a triumph for humanity at large.

  • Secular

    It was a triumph of human tenacity, love for fellow human being, human spirit, human technology and dog had nothing to do with it. PERIOD

  • onofrio_

    No holy hoodoo got them out, just good organisation. Such details are the Devil’s domain, yet the credit goes to that big picture sky-despot and his Man-lamb lad.Credit where credit’s due.

  • gladerunner

    abrahamhab1:“There are plenty of supernatural phenomena that were reported by different cultures over different time periods. Should we discount them because we could not reproduce them in the lab?”

  • gladerunner

    abrahamhab1: (CNTD)

  • ANetliner

    This remarkable rescue had both spiritual and technical elements, both of which should be celebrated. Let us remember: God works in numerous ways,through technology as well as through faith.I am genuinely thrilled by the miners’ rescue. God worked through so many to achieve this result, and I am tremendously grateful to have been an observer.

  • noslok

    If the miners had suddenly appeared on the surface — before the scientists and engineers had figured out how to rescue them — that would have been a miracle.If the rescue was a miracle, then what was it that got the miners trapped in the first place? Don’t credit God for one if you won’t blame Him for the other.It’s like saying the mining company executives are heroes for sparing no expense in the rescue effort while ignoring the fact that it was those same executives who, for decades, exercised cheap, criminally-ineffective safety procedures — resulting in the accident.

  • josefkhen

    68 days. 33 men of wildly differing personalities. A shift foreman who was intellectually, mentally, and emotionally equipped to be a shift foreman. But when more was needed, he was equipped with what was necessary to build a caring community where there could have been fighting, bloodshed, perhaps even death. Where did his strength and wisdom come from? That’s the miracle. And no, I can’t explain it. That also makes it a miracle.

  • amelia45

    The rescue of the miners is a technological triumph. The survival of the miners is a miracle.

  • eezmamata

    religious morons give their god all the credit when things go well, and blame the devil when things go wrong.I tell you what, christians forgive their god a lot more than it forgives them.

  • walter-in-fallschurch

    it’s preposterous to call this a “miracle”. was it an anti-miracle when those the miners in west virginia died? if we credit god here, we’ve got to blame god and hard work saved those people. mind you, theoretically the omniscient omnipotent omni-interested-in-us god could easily have rescued them. he could have just “poofed” them back to the surface – wuldn’t that have been great for his business?!?! but, since he’s imaginary, we could have sat there praying and praying and praying forever, and they would not have been miracle…nothing to see here…move along…

  • Rongoklunk

    This was a triumph of technology and gritty determination. God had nothing to do with it.If you are going to give the credit to god, then you have to blame this god for all the thousands of mine accidents where many died.Before we had technology men died. Now we have a little technology so these guys were saved. It’s that simple. And there are no gods anyway so grow up.

  • lepidopteryx

    Hermit, long time, no hear from! I was afraid that something had happened to you. Glad to know you’re still kicking.