Let’s start by saying that I’m an atheist, but sometimes my lack of faith is tested.
So: The Miracle of Fatima. For those unfamiliar with the topic, here’s a Cecil link that gives a good summary: www.straightdope.com/classics/al_037.html
(If you have trouble, just do a search for ‘fatima’; there’s only one column given as a response).
Now, let’s put aside for now the children’s visions and predictions. The ‘sun dance’ is what I’m concerned with. Apparently 100,000 people saw the sun ‘dance’ for 10 minutes.
Also difficult to dismiss. One hundred thousand people agreeing that they saw anything is what I’d call evidence. Not hard evidence, but as far as witnessing is concerned, hard to beat.
Now. I’ve tried to find out a few things, i.e., what the actual ‘dance’ was like (did it zoom from one point of the horizon to another? Did it vibrate in place? Sprout legs and do a soft-shoe?), does everyone who saw it actually agree that they saw it, are there some who were there who say it never happened, etc.
The most compelling skeptical claim is that, well, if the sun danced in the sky then everyone on earth would have seen it. Additionally, astronomers observed nothing unusual with the sun that day.
OK, fine. But an omnipotent being could localize such a phenomenon; choose your favorite Star-Trek-episode method, from creating a ‘pocket universe’, or maybe a ‘holodeck’ field around Fatima, to simply making everyone hallucinate the same thing. Even if it was all in their heads…yet it would take an incredibly powereful external force to make everyone see the same thing at the same time.
To summarize: by what I can tell, it didn’t simply “not happen.”
Now, combine this with the kids’ visions of Virgin Mary, hell, etc., and well, as I said, my atheism is shaken.
What do you all think? Atheists and believers?