“Miracle Detectives” on the hunt for answers
Randal Sullivan and Indre Viskontas on Oprah Winfrey Network (OWN) show
Date: January 29, 2011
By Ron Csillag
(RNS) Dirt at an ancient holy site in Chimayo, N.M. reputedly cures a woman’s rare bone cancer.
In North Carolina, a 14-year-old girl stricken with pneumonia is removed from life support but survives after an angelic image appears on a security monitor outside her hospital room.
A Texas man lives despite being cut in half after being run over by a train.
Were these acts of God, or is there a scientific explanation for events that seem to defy reason?
For an hour every Wednesday night (10 p.m. EST), that divisive question is the focus of “Miracle Detectives,” one of prime-time television’s first forays into exploring the miraculous.
The show features two investigators—one a believer, the other a scientist—who seek answers to “mysterious incidents that seem to transcend logic.” It’s one of 17 programs on the new Oprah Winfrey Network (OWN), which debuted New Year’s Day.
In a society less devout than the United States, and in an era of near daily scientific breakthroughs, such a show might seem a waste of valuable air time. But polls in the U.S. consistently show that 80 percent of Americans believe miracles occur, and slightly more than half believe in guardian angels.
“Miracle Detectives” may be preaching to the converted: An OWN online survey found that more than 92 percent of those watching the program said they believe in miracles; nearly 3 percent said they do not; and almost 5 percent said they “need proof.”
Each week, hosts Randall Sullivan, who says he experienced a miracle himself, and Indre Viskontas, a neuroscientist who sings in her church choir but approaches the supernatural with skepticism, visit the sites of reported miracles to hear first-hand accounts.
Interviewing experts and conducting experiments, the duo gathers information and attempts to answer the question: Miracle, or not?
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