The Un-Miracle of Flight 1549

flight-1549In an earlier post, I suggested that the safe evacuation of  US Airways flight 1549 was not a miracle. It was a demonstration that God uses prepared people.

I’d like to advance the argument, and suggest that it was the OPPOSITE of a miracle. A miracle is a divine, temporary suspension of the ordinary laws of nature for the accomplishment of a specific purpose through supernatural means.

In this case, the laws of nature saved the aircraft. Captain Sullenburger and his crew capitalized on those laws.

  • Albert EinsteinLaws of momentum kept the plane moving forward instead of dropping like a rock out of the sky.
  • Laws of gravity kept the plane from hurtling into outer space, and tugged it back to earth.
  • Laws of friction slowed the craft to make it manageable enough to land, and stopped the plane’s forward motion in the water.
  • Laws of fluid dynamics provided lift, as Bernoulli’s principle taught engineers how to shape an airplane wing, tugging the plane up as it moved forward.
  • Laws of electronics governed the equipment on the aircraft.

I’m sure our scientifically inclined readers could add more. Can anyone calclulate the “vectors?” Were it not for these laws, the passengers would have died.

moleculeThank God for an orderly universe. Thank God for his predictable laws of physics. Thank God for holding all things together, permitting the pilot to do his thing.

And He is before all things, and in Him all things consist. (Colossians 1:17, NKJV).

It was not a miracle; it was an un-miracle. Thank God!

The only true miracle will be if there are no lawsuits.


10 thoughts on “The Un-Miracle of Flight 1549

  1. Bill I agree. But I ask you, since a paper airplane flies and its wings are flat and consequently have the same length on the top and the bottom. The air (fluid) then travels at the same speed over both surfaces and the pressure is balanced equally on the top and bottom of the wing. Bernoulli’s principle does not account for any lift. When paper airplanes fly is it a miracle? hmmm

    My mom doesn’t think it is possible for commercial planes to fly. So to her it is always a miracle when they don’t fall to the ground.

    What if Bernoulli’s principle is a miracle. The all flight is a miracle. Just like to consider all sides.

    P.S. My mom is afraid to fly.

    • Jim, I’d suggest that a paper airplane has NO lift; it’s all downhill (except for a breeze) once you launch it. Bernoulli takes a vacation. If Bernoulli’s principle is a miracle, then so is gravity, and everything else. If everything’s a miracle, nothing’s a miracle.

  2. Isn’t your notion of the “laws” of nature a little bit of an anachronism, biblically speaking?

    Wouldn’t we need to amend that definition to fit what was a pretty immensely pre-Newtonian cosmology held by biblical authors?

    • Okay. I now see what you’re saying (it needed to soak in a while) and I have to agree with you. To biblical people, pretty much everything was a miracle, and they wouldn’t have resonated with my definition. Yet still they experienced “wonders.” These were events outside their norm. Events that broke the everyday rules, whatever those might be. Signs and Wonders. There were no such wonders in the landing of Flight 1549. It remains a wondrous Un-Miracle.

  3. It’s pretty much downhill for all gliders and having flown one I was pretty confident I was getting lift even when going downhill. Of course the wings were curved on top, yada yada. If you could ride a paper airplane I imagine it would feel similar if not a little scary. Your point is well taken though. If the laws of nature are miraculous then nothing is. But if not miraculous they are wonderful, just what we need, and often inexplicable. Explain gravity. I don’t like Einstein’s curved space theory. It just makes me ask why does space curve near massive objects. I guess I’m just glad we have these laws that God has set in place even though the more weight I gain the less I like gravity. Maybe that’s the real issue.

  4. I have a feeling more “laws” will soon be known.

    Last night I was watching the Science Channel. The program dealt with Stephen Hawking’s “Theory of Everything” and included a discussion on String Theory. For decades, Mr. Hawking had a problem explaining the weakness of gravity in comparison to other forces. When string theory came along, if it is proven true, that argument will be satisfied and explained by at least 9 dimensions and most likely 11. Although Mr. Hawking doesn’t believe in a creator, as I was watching that program I had a hard time understanding why not. “To be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord” takes on an entirely new perspective when one considers theories on other dimensions. And this discussion isn’t science fiction… physicists firmly believe it is true and that proof is likely to emerge from experiments to be conducted with the Large Hadron Collider at CERN that will soon enter full time service.

  5. You wrote:
    “the safe evacuation of US Airways flight 1549 was not a miracle. It was a demonstration that God uses prepared people.”

    Why is it that God always gets the credit for the good stuff (e.g., using prepared people, blessing someone with a People’s Choice Award or a Superbowl victory), but not the bad?

    If someone is not prepared in an emergency, does that mean He’s not using that person? What exactly is His role in preventable catastrophes? Or unpreventable ones, for that matter?

    Or is this just the time we just shake our heads sorrowfully and chalk it up to His “mysterious ways”? That has always seemed incredibly lame to me.

    I’m not asking this to be flip. I have just never understood why God is praised when someone survives a near-death experience or some other perceived blessed event occurs (“I knew He was watching over me and that I would be okay!” or “My cancer’s in remission!”) but isn’t blamed for the bad stuff (earthquakes, Hitler, getting cancer in the first place, etc.).

    Is he micro-managing some people’s lives so they stay home sick from work in the World Trade Center on 9/11 — but then He shrugs and does the whole laissez-faire bit for everyone who didn’t make it?

    What’s up with all that?

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