The “Miracle of the Sun” that occurred in Fatima (Portugal) in October of 1917 comes under attack by those that do not wish to believe it. Such is the case with a blog post over at “Psychology Today”. Here is the link to the not-too-thoughtful comments regarding Fatima.
The author, Stephen Mason Ph D, starts out building credibility for his authority on the miracle at Fatima. He claims to be raised Catholic and even taught at a Catholic College. As a result, he has come into significant contact with information regarding Fatima. I do wonder what happened to all those facts on the way to his article which is a remarkably terrible distortion of the facts. For example, here is how he starts out the story of Fatima.
It seems that, in 1917, ten-year-old Lucia Santos was tending some sheep along with her two cousins (nine-year-old Francisco Marto and his seven-year-old sister Jacinta) when a dazzling apparition of a beautiful lady appeared. Supposedly the lady spoke with Lucia and told her to return in one month’s time. The kids came back on the appointed day with approximately fifty villagers in tow. Although the youngsters reported seeing the lady, she remained invisible to the adults. Despite this no doubt disappointing no-show, rumors grew and an even larger crowd returned the next month.
This first visit had only 50-ish visitors. The “even larger crowd” was about 3,000 to 4,000. One has to wonder, why would this be the case? Well, Dr. Mason seems to have missed a very well know, publicly available fact. Those in the crowd did in fact actually see something. And, hear something. Yes, they did not see Our Lady of the Rosary, but they were given supernatural signs. That is the reason that the crowd grew in size. The only people in the crowd of 50 were cautiously optimistic about seeing something – because many more people in the city knew about this report from the children.
Next, Dr. Mason goes on to discuss the larger miracle in October. Here is what he has to say about it.
Staring into the sky, perhaps directly at the sun, some of those in the assembled throng reported a variety of weird sightings. The sun danced, moved closer to earth, spun like a top and emitted glowing sparks. Mass hysteria and optical distortion alone would account for such reports but one might also offer local meteorological conditions as a possible (though hardly necessary) additional explanation. Needless to say, astronomical observatories saw nothing unusual in the sun’s behavior that day.
Dr. Mason doesn’t quite know what to make of the miracle. He’s taught at a Catholic College. But, he doesn’t quite know how to describe the miracle. You’ll notice that he doesn’t quote any witness saying that so-and-so was there and said it was a giant hoax. That’s a strange thing to leave out, isn’t it? Given that there were government troops there trying to block people from going to the Cova?
Dr. Mason thinks that “optical distortion” can explain the miracle. What does that mean? The Sun gets distorted and looks like a spinning firewheel? Wow. Then, we jump to a totally different argument – the dreaded “Mass Hysteria”. Isn’t weird that we don’t have this happen at least once a month at some large arena event? Yet, stadium crowds are not all that willing to jump into mass hysteria. Given that there were so many people that didn’t want to see a miracle, you’d wonder how they became hysterical at all!.
Then, there is the ever laughable meteorological explanation. That’s right, somehow, these kids were able to predict right down to the hour when a fantastically odd event was going to occur. A supposedly perfectly natural event where the sun spins around and crashed down to earth. These people must live underground, because you’d think that meteorological events occur all the time – and why is it that some natural event was understood to be so unique? These people swear that the end of the world was right upon them that instant. Weird how we don’t hear much about those kinds of events in our everyday lives.
Next, Dr. Mason tried to paint Sister Lucia as a Post-Dating Prophet. He does this with the following quote.
Years later, Lucia recorded her first prediction. In 1927 (ten years after her purported chats with the Virgin Mary) she wrote that her cousins would die at an early age. They did. Influenza took Francisco in 1919 and Jacinta in 1920. Then she predicted that WW 1 would end and WW 2 would follow. She did this in 1941. All in all, it would be like me going on record to predict that Barack Obama will serve as President of the USA.
The problem that Dr. Mason is going to run into is the fact that when Jacinta was terribly sick in the 1919 time period, the family doctor had to convince the parents that it was worth the effort to save her from the illness. The parents were very much aware that Jacinta was going to follow Francisco, and there wasn’t a point in fighting it. It would only add to the pain for Jacinta. And that it did. They actually removed two of her ribs because they thought that would help eliminate some of the infection. This caused terrible suffering for Jacinta.
Another problem for Dr. Mason is the very public aurora display – and Sister Lucia was able to say that this was the start of another (much worse) war. Right as Hitler was taking charge of the military in Germany, Sister Lucia was on record.
The strategy for most people fighting the reality of Fatima is to simply point and laugh. To some degree, it does seem to work. Why should someone believe something that isn’t happening to them right in their present moment? But the problem with the point-and-laugh method of argument is that any discussion of facts will dismantle their position rapidly. What might be their response to the plain facts? More pointing. More laughing.