Some days ago I received an email with a power point presentation about the “miraculous” staircase of a church in New Mexico. The text that comes in the presentation can be read in Snopes.com, actually the best place to debunk nonsense that predates our inbox. And, yes, the “miracle” this Power Point presentation talks about is (as usual) no miracle.
The text in the presentation talks about how the nuns needed a staircase, they prayed, a man came, built the staircase, disappeared.
Then it says that the staircase has no central support, which has amused “architects, engineers and scientists”. Well, that's not so: “the staircase does have a central support [...] the two wood stringers (or spiral structural members) the inner one is of such small radius that it functions as an almost solid pole.” Besides, the text mentions that the staircase had no nails. But that is only natural, since in the time it was built nails were not often used and carpenters had ways to build without them.
There goes a mystery down the tube.
The third mystery is about the wood, which is said that no one knows where it comes from. That's not totally true, since the piece given to be analyzed was smaller than the usual. The wood has been identified as spruce, which has 10 species in the US. The fact the the exact kind of wood from where it comes from has not yet been recognized does not mean that it's a mystery. If there had been a more adequate sample there would be a better chance to find what kind of wood that it. Of course, that would help debunk the miracle.
There goes down another mystery.
The only mystery remaining is the man who built the staircase. After he finished, he was nowhere to be found. But this does not mean, as the text says, that he was Saint Joseph, Jesus's father.
More information on Committee for Skeptical Inquiry.
It is so easy to find evidence that proof that this, once “unexplainable” events, are just as subject to physics laws as is anything in the world. Yet, the people who forward these emails (Christians, who else?) do not hesitate in believing any kind of nonsense if it is attributed to God. If it's for God, their capacity to question goes almost null, while ignorance and belief by “faith” take a privileged place over reason.
But that's not news. Religions have fed on ignorance to survive through the times. This story, spread via email is no more than spreading lies, in the name of god.
Where is the 8th commandment again?