On March 10, 2012, an Indian skeptic named Sanal Edamaruku traveled to Mumbai to investigate a mysterious statue of Christ. The statue appeared to be “weeping” tears which proceeded to run over its feet. Was the statue the real deal? Or was it a hoax?
Sanal Edamaruku is a well-known rationalist. He has “exposed the man-made nature of the ‘divine flame’ at Sabarimala, and successfully challenged Hindu godmen on TV.” He is also the President of Rationalist International. This organization is intended to “argue for a rational approach to human problems, suggest reasoned alternatives to religious dogmas, defend freedom of thought and civil liberties and strive for the secularization of politics, society and educational system.”
On March 5, Sanal appeared on a television program in Delhi, India. At the time, the priest of the Our Lady of Velankanni church in Mumbai, India, along with several organizations, were “promoting the idea that water dripping from the feet of a statue of Jesus was a sign from God.” Hundreds of true believers had gathered at the Church to consume this “holy water.” Sanal proceeded to question the reports. So, the TV station flew him to visit the church and investigate the possible hoax on March 10.
Miracle or Hoax?
When he arrived, Sanal saw a priest leading a prayer near the cross. The “holy water” was being distributed to the participants. He also saw a photograph of the dripping water over which someone had written the world “miracle.” However, he wasn’t allowed to take a sample of the water for testing purposes.
So, Sanal investigated a nearby washroom. He pulled away some stones and discovered a blockage in the drainage system. This blocked water needed an outlet. And it found one in the statue.
“It was very simple: Water from the washroom, which had been blocked in the clogged drainage system, had been transmitted via capillary action into the adjacent walls and the base of the cross as well as into the wooden cross itself. The water came out through a nail hole and ran down over the statue’s feet.” ~ Sanal Edamaruku
In other words, the “holy water” was really just sewage run-off from a leaky drain. When Sanal returned to TV, he accused the Church of a hoax, describing it as “miracle mongering.” He specifically called out the PR campaign to support the “miracle” as well as the photographs they distributed of it. Church officials, who were present for the discussion, demanded he apologize and retract his statements. Sanal refused to do so.
On April 10, two separate individuals filed FIRs, or First Information Reports, against Sanal. The first was filed by Joseph Dias, general secretary of the Catholic Secular Forum (CSF). The second was filed by Agnelo Fernandes, president of Maharashtra Christian Youth Forum.
In India, an FIR is a document used to kickstart a police investigation. In the case of Sanal, both individuals accused him of a violation under Section 295 of the Indian Penal Code, which outlaws “deliberately hurting religious feelings and attempting malicious acts intended to outrage the religious sentiments of any class or community.”
“We never said it was a miracle, though devotees came to pray and atone for their sins. It was sad that it was claimed to be a money-making scam. Not a single penny was collected and even those who insisting on making donations, were told to feed the poor.” ~ Augustine Palett, Parish Priest, Velankanni Church, Irla.
Sanal, in turn, claims the FIRs are being used to silence his point of view on the “hoax.” He plans to use this opportunity to directly challenge the blasphemy law to India’s Supreme Court.
“I’m determined, I have a duty to develop scientific temper and promote inquiry so on these two grounds we will challenge the very veracity of this law in the Supreme Court.” ~ Sanal Edamaruku
Guerrilla Explorer’s Take
We wholeheartedly support Sanal Edamaruku in this endeavor. All too often, modern rationalists embrace a sort of relativism in which absolute truth is sacrificed for so-called individual truths. So, we find a lot to like about Sanal. He sought the truth and when he found a hoax, took it to the masses.
As many of you know, we here at Guerrilla Explorer have been the lead skeptics of the Baltic Anomaly. We’ve questioned the Ocean X Team’s vague and conspiratorial statements. We’ve pointed out that one of the co-founders of the Ocean X team, Mr. Dennis Åsberg has professional acting experience (albeit from several years ago). Thanks to an anonymous tipster, we’ve also learned that the Team created their website three months BEFORE they claim to have discovered the Anomaly.
And now, the Ocean X Team is attempting to turn their publicity into a major financial windfall, complete with a documentary produced by Titan Television, submarine rides, picture sales, sponsorships (it appears they’ve already used equipment from their sponsors to look for shipwrecks at a separate site), and most recently, a clothing line. All of these things don’t necessarily mean a hoax is at work, but it’s enough to raise a bunch of red flags in our mind.
We’ve received much grief for our position, especially from UFO enthusiasts. That’s not terribly surprising. Many people, especially true believers, find skepticism frustrating. However, we think it’s extremely important.
“Question: Why do people so readily believe in miracles?
Answer: For many, the regressive belief in superstitions and miracles is an escape from the hardships of life. Once trapped into irrationalism, they become more incapable of mastering reality. It is a vicious circle, like an addiction. They become vulnerable to exploitation by astrologers, godmen, dubious pseudo-psychologists, corrupt politicians, and the whole mega-industry of irrationalism.” ~ Jon White (Questioner) & Sanal Edamaruku (Answerer)
As we’ve stated before, skepticism isn’t about rejecting other people’s beliefs. It’s about suspending judgement until claims can be properly tested and verified. Just because we’re skeptical of the Baltic Anomaly being anything more than a natural formation doesn’t mean we reject it as a hoax out of hand. Indeed, we believe keeping an open mind is important.
“But while I’m extremely skeptical of Bigfoot, I certainly don’t reject the possibility of its existence. One of the things that frustrates me about modern science is the built-in disdain many researchers hold for fields like cryptozoology. Regardless of our opinions, we must continue to evaluate any and all scientific claims with an open mind…even if its about the legendary Sasquatch. After all, that’s what science is all about.” ~ David Meyer, Bigfoot Lives…!