Anecdotal evidence is only evidence of anecdotes

“Thousands of miracles” reads part of the CBC headline:

Oleskiw opened a prayer centre in her home in 2007, but the origins of that effort date from many years before that.

In 1976, Oleskiw was a journeyman carpenter — the first woman in Saskatchewan to have her papers.

Oleskiw said for a decade, she and her husband enjoyed a busy life building houses.

Then, in 1987, she had an accident at the dump and broke her neck.

In pain for decades, she focused her energies on her Christianity and eventually learned of a Polish nun turned Saint Faustina, becoming one of those devoted Catholics who believe the saint can heal people. Oleskiw eventually visited Poland and prayed at the Divine Mercy Shrine dedicated to the saint. She now credits her lack of pain to this “miracle” experience that her doctor can’t explain, of course.

She’s since built a shrine and prayer room as part of her house and yard. Prayers and conversations with God and this saint led her to believe that she got the idea to do this directly from the saint herself.

Oleskiw said “she asked me to build this building, this centre where people come to pray, and I kind of was like, this is impossible. We have no money. We have nothing.”

But, given this has been made a human interest news story worth sharing on social media, they got the money somehow and happy endings and thousands of visitors from around the world have come to her house and yard to see the wonders and pray.

Which brings me to the miracles and the title of the post.

She recalls some in which people received help with addictions issues; others were given longer than expected to live.

There were so many miracles that Oleskiw said she decided to write a book, Miracles of EADM, (EADM standing for Eucharistic Apostles of Divine Mercy, the name of her chapel in Regina.) recounting about 1,500 of them.

I can’t comment directly on any anecdotes in the book because I don’t have it.

That said, addicts get helped and improve all the time – not all of them, sadly, but enough of them to be counted among the successes in the treatment world. Calling their recoveries “miracles” undoes all the hard work and trauma they have willingly gone through to get clean. Calling those events miracles takes away the power human beings have to force change and become better. A miracle doesn’t merit congratulations. Hard work and determination and dedication, on the other hand, do.

And in terms of “longer than expected” lifespans after an illness diagnosis, for example, that’s nothing miraculous either. Maybe the doctor jumped the gun on the death scenario. Maybe the treatments really worked better in this person for unknown genetic reasons so they lasted longer. Maybe the person was misdiagnosed because doctors can’t say everything is Lupus and be right about that. (Nod to old fans of the show House M.D. there.

The article also notes that Oleskiw has a couple relics.

In 2006, Oleskiw said she was gifted with two “first-class relics” of St. Faustina on two separate occasions. The rare, religious items are pieces of bone and skin from St. Faustina’s remains. These relics were distributed to Catholic leaders following St. Faustina’s canonization in 2000.

Bleurgh.

What is it with Catholics and relics? Catholics aren’t the only believers that want to imbue power and honour to a finger bone or whatever, but damn, it’s just weird and strange to the outsider. Mind you, I suppose it’s not much different from people spending a fortune to collect celebrity hair or saving the last breath of Thomas Edison. Have something to remember me by, because sometimes a photo just won’t do.. It’s assumed she got the real deal here, not some fake stuff foisted onto her by the less moral.

I dunno. Remember I’m a minion with an opinion and my opinion here is that I wouldn’t visit this place if it was next door or across town. I’d probably be annoyed at the traffic backups more than at the devotion. You do you, ma’am, and all your devotees can believe what they want so long as they don’t interfere with me and my complete and utter lack of belief in any of this.

You do you. (Maybe I’m more annoyed that CBC will never have a reason to interview me…)

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Canadian Atheist Basically ordinary Library employee Avid book lover Ditto for movies Wanna-be writer Procrastinator
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