Special: Photo of fallen hero’s dog

posted at 9:05 am on November 25, 2011 by Jazz Shaw

Something nice for the holiday weekend which might bring some hope and joy to everyone. ABC News’ Kimberly Launier was in New Hampshire doing a photo shoot as part of an interview with the Rollin family. Their son Justin lost his life in Iraq, but his dog made it out and back home to Justin’s family. That’s when something special happened.

I was filming soldier Justin Rollin’s parents Skip and Rhonda playing with their dog Hero, whose rescue from the Iraq War zone where Justin died was nothing short of a miracle.

Sometimes when Rhonda hugged Hero she would softly pet her face and coo, “Justin, are you in there?” It was Rhonda’s gentle way of remembering their son and his last living connection to Hero. At one point, Hero wandered off and took a stroll in the backyard. All of a sudden, the clouds broke and a light began to solidify in a beam directly down on Hero — a kind of vertical halo.

The photo she took, not retouched or photoshopped, is nothing short of breathtaking.

Hero Dog

(Kimberly Launier/ABC News)

Watch the full story Friday on “20/20″ at 10 p.m. ET and read more about Hero and Justin here.

Who is to say how the spirit moves and what brings grace, comfort and solace to the families of the fallen? Dogs are special, as I can well attest, and they form a bond with their families which often stretches beyond the bounds of “normal.” Is Justin’s spirit here with this dog, Hero, giving comfort to his parents in their grief?

I’m not going to argue against it.

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Sniff.

Another thing to be thankful for — there are men and women volunteering to risk their lives to keep me safe.

rbj on November 25, 2011 at 9:10 AM

Must be a little dusty in here.

wheelgun on November 25, 2011 at 9:15 AM

I would only believe it was divinely inspired if it was on a tortilla.
I know how this sh!t works.

esnap on November 25, 2011 at 9:16 AM

Lovely tribute, Jazz. This is so unlike a hardened cynic like you, but very much appreciated. Thanks buddy.

simkeith on November 25, 2011 at 9:23 AM

Coincidences are sometimes just miracles that we don’t give God credit for.
Thanks for posting this.

JellyToast on November 25, 2011 at 9:25 AM

grabbed my tissue box, misty eyed. Thanks Jazz for posting this. Prayers to our men and woman in uniform that keep us free!

pabo on November 25, 2011 at 9:25 AM

Amazing Grace, how sweet it is. Thanks Jazz!

tinkerthinker on November 25, 2011 at 9:28 AM

Wow, what a great story! Then there’s the other story about a soldier who came home from A-stan and was greeted at the door by the dog he adpoted while he was over there! Somehow his family arranged to get the dog shipped home without his knowledge!

Tony737 on November 25, 2011 at 9:31 AM

Doggies are such wonderful creatures.

petefrt on November 25, 2011 at 9:32 AM

Since there is an animal involved, it seems appropriate to note that Aristotle–who is sometimes called the father of zoology–wrote that a friend is one soul dwelling in two bodies. I see no reason one of the bodies can’t be four-footed.

radjah shelduck on November 25, 2011 at 9:33 AM

JellyToast on November 25, 2011 at 9:25 AM

Amen brother. Little miracles that are easily ignored if you don’t want them to be.

hawkdriver on November 25, 2011 at 9:38 AM

The night my bf died, I know for a fact his soul visited me, once I was finally alone for a moment. No question. So I can firmly believe this serviceman’s soul shone on his best friend. Some people may claim it’s simply something with the lens, or the lighting…but those of us who know better, know what it really is.

JetBoy on November 25, 2011 at 9:40 AM

Thanks for the wonderful story. It is really nice to have a good heartwarming story. We get so many stories of the horrible things happening in our country numerous times a day. God bless and keep our military and families.
L

letget on November 25, 2011 at 9:42 AM

Amazing Grace, how sweet it is. Thanks Jazz!
tinkerthinker on November 25, 2011 at 9:28 AM

St. Jackie Gleason.

Akzed on November 25, 2011 at 9:44 AM

Several thousand more families feeling the loss of loved ones in Iraq and Afghanistan. Some days I wonder if all that loss and heartbreak is justified. The grandson of one of my singing buddies burned to death in Iraq and the Marine son of a top notch equine practitioner here in town was killed in Afghanistan. Just about destroyed the father. Sold his practice and left town. At times, it seems we ask for too much sacrifice. Sorry about being a downer on the thread. It just bothers me a lot.

a capella on November 25, 2011 at 9:50 AM

a capella on November 25, 2011 at 9:50 AM

People have wondered all through our recorded history about whether the sacrifices soldiers on the field of battle have made are justified. The results are sometimes only apparent much later in history. This generation I think will still be regarded as having served and sacrificed for quite a dire purpose.

hawkdriver on November 25, 2011 at 10:00 AM

Y’all might want to set one more place on your tables this season as a reminder of those who have kept us free for some 235 years.

Col.John Wm. Reed on November 25, 2011 at 10:08 AM

I love dogs and support all of our defenders in the military, but –

“Is Justin’s spirit here with this dog…?” I am wary of thinking that the dead try to communicate with the living in any way. For some people, the next step would be to try to communicate with what they believe is their loved one’s spirit. From Ouija boards to “Ghost Hunters,” that kind of thing is increasing in popularity, but the Bible warns very strongly against necromancy.

Jesus Himself said, in the parable of the rich man and Lazarus (Luke 16) that there is a gulf (or chasm) fixed between the living and the dead, and neither can cross to the other’s side.

The dangers of necromancy include being deceived by fallen angels who convince us that they are our dead loved ones; and trusting in those evil spirits for comfort and guidance, instead of trusting in God.

KyMouse on November 25, 2011 at 10:15 AM

KyMouse on November 25, 2011 at 10:15 AM

Yeah, thanks, but I’ll grab a leenex and enjoy the moment.
Thank you for your concern.

katy the mean old lady on November 25, 2011 at 10:25 AM

Go to the orignal story and read some of the comments. You won’t believe your eyes. There are some sick, pathetic sad people out there. Unbelievable.

Winebabe on November 25, 2011 at 10:37 AM

KyMouse on November 25, 2011 at 10:15 AM

Or maybe God just wanted to bless them with a reminder that He cares about our personal aches and sorrows and sent them this ray of sunlight at the perfect time in their grief. I believe in a God who cares about the little things. While I agree with your premise of anti-necromancy, I’m of the mind that their connection with their son can live on with the presence of an animal he loved and that loved him. You don’t have to be a hard-noser on this one and be unfaithful to your beliefs to see a story of what many see as a hug from God.

hoosiermama on November 25, 2011 at 10:39 AM

The sentiment is sweet.

But did anyone else notice that the puppy that the soldier is holding is not the same dog as the adult dog in the halo picture? The adult dog has half a brown face. The puppy’s brown marking is much smaller. It starts just to the right of his left eye. These are not the same dog.

Is the halo dog the puppy’s littermate?

marybel on November 25, 2011 at 11:04 AM

This stuff always gets me. Last night on out local news there was a story about a bunch of people in southern New Jersey throwing a surprise Thanksgiving dinner/party for some troops stationed there. It was organized by a woman whose son was killed last year in Afghanistan. I cried like a baby watching this report.

rockmom on November 25, 2011 at 11:09 AM

marybel on November 25, 2011 at 11:04 AM

I can’t really see the face well enough to draw that conclusion. Are you this cynical of everything you see in the media?

You didn’t even leave open the slight possibility that it’s the same dog. Interesting.

mike_NC9 on November 25, 2011 at 11:14 AM

Amen

cmsinaz on November 25, 2011 at 11:23 AM

Doggies are such wonderful creatures.

petefrt on November 25, 2011 at 9:32 AM

Yes, they are. Thanks Jazz for posting this.

dogsoldier on November 25, 2011 at 11:27 AM

ronsfi on November 25, 2011 at 11:28 AM

That is awesome!

Mini-14 on November 25, 2011 at 11:44 AM

Tears.

Zorro on November 25, 2011 at 11:45 AM

Dog spelled backwards is… God.

It’s a miracle, Jazz!

 

No, actually, it’s light refracting in a camera lens which may even have some dust or other material on it. It is even more common with camera’s that have plastic lenses. I see sunlight through parted thick clouds all the time. Especially in the fall, winter, and early spring months when the weather tends to be more cloudy and rainy. As does anyone and everyone, with sight, who goes outdoors once in awhile can attest to. Sometimes there’s just one little gap in the thick clouds letting a solitary intense beam of sunlight through which subsequently, oh my gosh, touches the ground somewhere. Once in a very great while I even get to enjoy standing in a single beam of sunlight in my backyard, or in the adjacent park, or when I’m just out and about.

The whole story of the man and his dog is sweet, quaint, sad and potentially even a tear jerker for many people but c’mon… grow up.

FlatFoot on November 25, 2011 at 11:46 AM

My goodness, is this post for real?

Tzetzes on November 25, 2011 at 11:47 AM

I’m a big dog-lover, but this is a bit like that silly photo of the cross of light coming through the American flag. (“Thank the Lord for Confirmation Bias!”)

It’s also a bit reminiscent of the to-do made over a cross found lying in the rubble after the gods allowed the Muslim fanatics a victory.

As Hitchens points out in his excellent book, Allah ≠ Akbar, it would be surprising if 220 floors of cross-beams didn’t produce a few crosses. Impressive might be a Star of David or Moon & Crescent. But a surviving piece of X out of two enormous buildings made from thousands of X is only noteworthy for its reception.

As a cynophile I find the picture a charming one, but “Justin’s spirit here with this dog, Hero, giving comfort to his parents in their grief”? Come on, Jazz, April first is still a long way off.

Tzetzes on November 25, 2011 at 12:17 PM

Dog spelled backwards is… God.

It’s a miracle, Jazz!

FlatFoot on November 25, 2011 at 11:46 AM

It’s an old joke, but for those who haven’t heard it:

Q: What’s a dyslexic agnostic insomniac?

A: Someone who stays up all night, wondering if there’s a dog. :)

Tzetzes on November 25, 2011 at 12:23 PM

Last night on out local news there was a story about a bunch of people in southern New Jersey throwing a surprise Thanksgiving dinner/party for some troops stationed there. It was organized by a woman whose son was killed last year in Afghanistan. – RockMom

Yeah, that was quite the tear jerker.

Tony737 on November 25, 2011 at 12:32 PM

Tzetzes on November 25, 2011 at 12:17 PM

Your contempt for humanity’s capacity for grace, comfort, and compassion is noted.

Have a nice day.

MaggiePoo on November 25, 2011 at 12:37 PM

FlatFoot on November 25, 2011 at 11:46 AM

FU

bernzright777 on November 25, 2011 at 12:39 PM

The whole story of the man and his dog is sweet, quaint, sad and potentially even a tear jerker for many people but c’mon… grow up.

FlatFoot on November 25, 2011 at 11:46 AM

Thankfully I’ve reached 62 without ever having “grown up” as much as you.

Question: When you posted your little pragmatic lecture, did you pat yourself on the back and then say, with a little smirk, “Well done, Mr. FlatFoot.”? Do you feel better about yourself now? Is your ego just a little bit bigger?

Seriously – I’m curious. What compels someone like you to quash others feelings? Is it jealousy? Do you lack any sense of joy and wonder in your own life? Or do you just see yourself as a superior member of the species?

What amazes me most about this post is not that people can be moved to tears by a beam of sunlight striking a dog. (In fact, I think it wonderful that they can.) No, what amazes me is that other people will go out of their way to ridicule them for their emotional response.

I have no idea what’s up with that. It seems so self-centered, heartless, cruel.

Rod on November 25, 2011 at 12:50 PM

I can believe it. My mother was a big fan of Tom Jones. Two songs had a special bond between us when I was growing up, “She’s A Lady” and “My Way”. A co-worker routinely played a music dvd late afternoons. It was often ABBA but some other artists I didn’t know as well. It was never Tom Jones. Not a few days after my mother passed, my co-worker played Tom Jones’ “She’s A Lady”. Going home that same day, a street musician played “My Way” on the bongo drums.

hadsil on November 25, 2011 at 12:54 PM

Not to belittel the merited oohs and ahhhs, but, once upon a time we all had such reverence for a little innocent baby but now we just dispose of them as inconvenience.

Don L on November 25, 2011 at 1:05 PM

“I was watching when your kid died but I did nothing to save him since I wanted him to die because it’s part of my plan that you’ll never understand, but I made a ray of sunshine hit his dog so you would think I did that purposely so you would remember your son, as if you aren’t already torn by grief every single day since he died, so anyways, I hope you like the ray of sunshine thing I did to your dead son’s dog.”

Dave Rywall on November 25, 2011 at 1:13 PM

Tzetzes on November 25, 2011 at 12:17 PM

For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. 1 Cor 1:18

Why waste time dismissing something so seemingly insignificant as “silly”? Me thinks someone protest too much….

quiz1 on November 25, 2011 at 1:15 PM

Dave Rywall on November 25, 2011 at 1:13 PM

Remind me not to ever comfort your loved ones should you pass, that is if you have any. :-/

quiz1 on November 25, 2011 at 1:20 PM

Remind me not to ever comfort your loved ones should you pass, that is if you have any. :-/

quiz1 on November 25, 2011 at 1:20 PM
——
People starving to death every day, people dying in natural disasters, 3rd world dying from diseases, bunch of wars, lots of murder, rape, child molestation, poor children suffering, etc etc etc

The big guy takes time out to make a ray of sunshine appear on a dog.

If that sounds like awesome/judicious use of supreme being resources, then I would hate to see what you consider poor.

Dave Rywall on November 25, 2011 at 1:38 PM

Your contempt for humanity’s capacity for grace, comfort, and compassion is noted.

MaggiePoo on November 25, 2011 at 12:37 PM

It is because I value our capacity for grace, comfort and compassion that I want to dismiss false sources of it. We find those things in the way we treat each other, not in tricks of light.

Why waste time dismissing something so seemingly insignificant as “silly”? Me thinks someone protest too much….

quiz1 on November 25, 2011 at 1:15 PM

Hitchens answered that one too.

BTW, when you allude to Gertrude, I think you misunderstand what she says. Protest here – as makes sense for the context – means “to promise”.)

Tzetzes on November 25, 2011 at 1:39 PM

Rod on November 25, 2011 at 12:50 PM

Totally fearful of science, and perfectly rational explanations of fantastical things such as photographs involving light playing across the scene in the camera lens, huh? Especially where easily manipulated digital photography and the quite old bane of every photographer’s existence -light refracting camera lenses- are concerned too, I see. Maybe it’s just something new for you to consider in your ancient 62-years. Kind of like horseless carriages or man walking on the moon? Oh wait, horseless carriages predate you. Sorry. My bad. But I know you’ve accepted man on the moon. Right? I mean, we were both there and saw it happen with our own eyes. On television. So it must be true. Of course it is true.

I’ve heard there are those like you among us. People fearful of science, and common sense. I thought it might be just fantasy though. I guess not. Believe what you want to, Rod. The earth is only 6,000 years old, humans and dinosaurs coexisted, a little bit of sunlight on a dog playing in the lens of a camera otherwise undetectable by the naked eye is the hand of God touching the canine. Whatever floats your boat, buddy. Have at it.

FlatFoot on November 25, 2011 at 2:24 PM

Dave Rywall on November 25, 2011 at 1:38 PM

Stuff it up your sanctimonious tookus, Dave……and rotate.

Solaratov on November 25, 2011 at 2:30 PM

FU

bernzright777 on November 25, 2011 at 12:39 PM

That’s all you’ve got? That’s the best you can do? Are you just lazy or just angry because the fantasy means that much to you? Sorry if I struck a nerve. I forget sometimes that children can be so easily upset. I didn’t have to deal with anything like that with my own children as they grew up so, as you can see, I was completely unaware.

FlatFoot on November 25, 2011 at 2:31 PM

FlatFoot on November 25, 2011 at 2:24 PM

Had you actually read the story, ff, you might have noted that the people there saw the beam of sunlight before the picture was taken.
Why can’t clowns like you allow people to enjoy the beauty of a moment without trying to destroy it for them? Are you really so insecure in your own faith of non-belief?
My advice to dave rywall applies to you, as well.

Oh, and FU, too.

Solaratov on November 25, 2011 at 2:38 PM

Stuff it up your sanctimonious tookus, Dave……and rotate.

Solaratov on November 25, 2011 at 2:30 PM
——-
You are an excellent Christian! Keep it up! Ray of sunshine for you!

Dave Rywall on November 25, 2011 at 2:41 PM

Had you actually read the story, ff, you might have noted that the people there saw the beam of sunlight before the picture was taken.
Why can’t clowns like you allow people to enjoy the beauty of a moment without trying to destroy it for them? Are you really so insecure in your own faith of non-belief?
My advice to dave rywall applies to you, as well.

Oh, and FU, too.

Solaratov on November 25, 2011 at 2:38 PM

Yes. I read the story and I noted that people saw the beam of sunlight that came through between the clouds. Sunlight tends to do that with many objects that allow sunlight through under the right conditions. Like… more clouds. Or, uncovered windows on a building, and open doorways, and portholes (which is a round window thingy on ships), sunroofs on cars, etc ad nauseam. You can even make your own with nothing more than a sharpened pencil and a piece of stiff paper or cardboard. Poke a hole and observe an eclipse of the sun! Amazing! Put on a pair of glasses that are untreated for glare and hold your hands up over your face covering your eyes. Look directly at the sun. Now, part you fingers just slightly. Oh my gosh! A beam of sunlight hit your eyes! And that beam of light was even refracted to some extent by the lenses! But you can’t see that refraction with the naked eye sans the untreated glasses. Miracle!

People seeing rays of sunlight through clouds is an highly uncommon event, to you apparently, and far be it from me having personally experienced a singular ray of sunshine through thick dark clouds more than once over my current lifetime up close and from afar to dispute the fact that rays of light from any source be it the sun or artificial light refracted through opaque glass or plastic is anything but God sending a divine sign to us all. I wouldn’t want to upset anyone and cause them to act all UnChristian or anything.

We’ll just skip the part about water in the atmosphere and rainbows. I wouldn’t want to cause you to have an aneurysm or anything.

FlatFoot on November 25, 2011 at 3:07 PM

marybel on November 25, 2011 at 11:04 AM

I can’t really see the face well enough to draw that conclusion. Are you this cynical of everything you see in the media?

You didn’t even leave open the slight possibility that it’s the same dog. Interesting.

mike_NC9 on November 25, 2011 at 11:14 AM

Actually, MIke, it isn’t the first time I have seen that particular shot of the puppy and adult dog in clearer pictures. Call it cynicism if you like, but these are two different dogs. A litter mate is close enough for me.

It’s still a sweet story, and I honor this slain man’s patriotism and his family’s love for him.

marybel on November 25, 2011 at 3:08 PM

The atheists around here sure are a nasty bunch.

/ What a surprise.

Thanks, Jazz.

When we departed the northern California coast to spread my stepmother’s ashes at sea, the sky was black and threatening rain.
About a quarter mile off shore, the captain turned off the engine while we shared a brief tribute to Bev, released her ashes and gently tossed fresh flowers onto the water, where they floated for quite some time. The skies parted and a strong, beautiful beam of light shone down directly over the boat – the rest of the heavens remained dark.

A year after my mother died at age 73, I had a dream in which I was trying to scale a vertical wall with nothing to hang onto. I looked down and an arched doorway appeared filled with light. My mother was standing there. She was ‘in her prime’, about 33. She was beaming a huge smile at me and was filled with such radiance and joy! She reached up and gently boosted me over that wall.

Shall I tell you about my beloved dog who visited my boyfriend in a dream after she died (he had never met her or even seen photographs of her)? She walked up to him and sat there until he knew who she was. Then she said, “Tell (Opinionator) I love her.”

I could go on.

I used to be agnostic. I know I missed so many ‘ordinary miracles’ (thank you, Sarah McLachlan) before I finally opened up my heart and embraced the Divine. All the miracles at critical moments didn’t hurt. Countless coincidences are actually synchronicities for those who are willing to see. But don’t worry, atheists, you’ll be ‘safe’ as long as you don’t ask to see. The Divine would never impose upon you – it’s always a matter of choice.

I’ll say a little prayer for the atheists and agnostics today.

Opinionator on November 25, 2011 at 3:43 PM

The atheists around here sure are a nasty bunch.

/ What a surprise.

Opinionator on November 25, 2011 at 3:43 PM

People who posit that a ray of sunshine through a space in the clouds refracting through a camera lens and the subsequent image created by the act of snapping a photo is not an act of God … must be atheists?

 

Pompous twerp.

FlatFoot on November 25, 2011 at 3:55 PM

Pompous twerp.

FlatFoot on November 25, 2011 at 3:55 PM

Here is your mirror. Make sure you don’t ask to see, though.

Opinionator on November 25, 2011 at 4:01 PM

“There are only two ways to live your life. One is as though nothing is a miracle. The other is as though everything is a miracle.” – Albert Einstein

It’s only one way or the other folks – a cosmic coincidence or something else.

The mountain of evidence leads one to the inescapable conclusion that it’s the unbelievers who need their own version of blind faith to ignore the obvious.

Galt2009 on November 25, 2011 at 4:02 PM

Here is your mirror. Make sure you don’t ask to see, though.

Opinionator on November 25, 2011 at 4:01 PM

*sigh*    No talking dog delivering messages to be found in there.

I guess you’re right. I must be an atheist.

FlatFoot on November 25, 2011 at 4:05 PM

Oh, and FU, too.

Solaratov on November 25, 2011 at 2:38 PM

Fordham University? A good Jesuit school with respected departments of Classics and of Mediaeval Studies. Nice to see you give them a shout-out.

I’ll say a little prayer for the atheists and agnostics today.

Opinionator on November 25, 2011 at 3:43 PM

I can feel it! I can feeel the photons! (They may have taken 8.3 minutes to get here, but they were worth the wait.)

Call it cynicism if you like, but these are two different dogs.

marybel on November 25, 2011 at 3:08 PM

In matters concerning man’s best friend (think of Truman’s bon mot that “if you want a friend in Washington, get a dog”), I think cynicism is certainly the most appropriate stance! :)

It’s still a sweet story, and I honor this slain man’s patriotism and his family’s love for him.

marybel on November 25, 2011 at 3:08 PM

Hear, hear.

Tzetzes on November 25, 2011 at 4:28 PM

“There are only two ways to live your life. One is as though nothing is a miracle. The other is as though everything is a miracle.” – Albert Einstein

Surely no one here thinks that Einstein believed in any gods that intervened in human affairs…

Tzetzes on November 25, 2011 at 4:30 PM

“There are only two ways to live your life. One is as though nothing is a miracle. The other is as though everything is a miracle.” – Albert Einstein

Surely no one here thinks that Einstein believed in any gods that intervened in human affairs…

Tzetzes on November 25, 2011 at 4:30 PM

That doesn’t matter to the subject outlined in the quote – that particular concept is not even mentioned in the quotation.

It doesn’t matter that much who said that even – the point is that the universe is either a cosmic accident or it isn’t.

As such, the evidence at hand should lead to believe one way rather than the other.

Galt2009 on November 25, 2011 at 5:07 PM

FlatFoot on November 25, 2011 at 2:24 PM

Like all people enamored with themselves, you have proven that you lack the ability to even simply read something without injecting your own ego and bias into the words before you.

At no time did I say that I believed that the ray of light cast upon the dog was anything more than just that – sunlight filtered through the clouds. Hence, your entire response falls flat and is exposed as nothing more than the ramblings of a self-obsessed jerk.

The point that you missed, and which was clear throughout, is that I don’t understand people like you who have this twisted need to ridicule others for their beliefs or for the wonder that they find in simple things.

What is it that you and other like you get out of it? Why do you seemly feel so threatened that you need to go on the attack?

With regards to this gem:

I’ve heard there are those like you among us. People fearful of science, and common sense. I thought it might be just fantasy though. I guess not. Believe what you want to, Rod.

In a post about respecting others viewpoint and your inability to do so, what prompted you to write this nonsense? I’m “fearful of science” and “lack common sense”? Science and technology has passed me by?

Well, this is what’s called sticking your FlatFoot into your fat mouth: For the past twenty years I’ve been an independent producer for still, video, and corporate film shoots for major healthcare and manufacturing companies across the globe. And I’m an expert in all industry-standard editing and effects software.

I offer this not because I care what you think of my experience as I could give a rats ass – but so that you know that I’m well aware, probably much more so than you, about the effects of light and what can be done with any form of media in post.

Rod on November 25, 2011 at 5:17 PM

Wow,the Light from Heaven,just beautiful.

canopfor on November 25, 2011 at 5:20 PM

Galt2009 on November 25, 2011 at 5:07 PM

It’s only one way or the other folks – a cosmic coincidence or something else.

Galt2009 on November 25, 2011 at 4:02 PM

You’re right: it’s absurd to think that a violent and expanding universe that (even if it weren’t expanding) would take light – the same photons that the gods can pour onto a dog – some 46 billion years to get across, could come into existence without the will of the gods (since, ex nihilo nihil fit) or that the entire enormous thing might just be part of something far, far bigger than all the gods combined could even dream of.

Tzetzes on November 25, 2011 at 5:39 PM

Tzetzes on November 25, 2011 at 5:39 PM

Try looking at the big picture – it’ll expand your mind.

Galt2009 on November 25, 2011 at 5:46 PM

Try looking at the big picture – it’ll expand your mind.

Galt2009 on November 25, 2011 at 5:46 PM

Is a 64-billion-lightyear universe, possibly part of something infinitely larger, not the big picture?

Tzetzes on November 25, 2011 at 5:51 PM

My heart weeps not only for the family of the fallen soldier who must bear the loss of their son, but also for the atheists who can never see through the blindness of their own intellect to behold the wonder and majesty of God, who can make the clouds part at the exact opportune moment to remind us that not only does He reign supreme, but that He loves and cares for us especially in our time of grief.

If your heart was not touched by this story, then shame on you, for you have no heart, only cold, sterile logic and reason. In your rush to skepticism, you have missed out on the simple joy of knowing God. Like the Grinch who couldn’t comprehend why the Whos down in Whoville were singing, even when their Christmas presents were stolen, so the atheists are perplexed when men and women of faith see the hand of God in countless small miracles.

My thanksgiving prayer is for us all to come to the full knowledge of God, so that we too may bask in His effulgent glory.

ariel on November 25, 2011 at 6:16 PM

Tzetzes on November 25, 2011 at 12:17 PM

My son turns 18 on April 1st-and unlike you…he knows that God works in wonderfully mysterious ways.

annoyinglittletwerp on November 25, 2011 at 6:18 PM

Is a 64-billion-lightyear universe, possibly part of something infinitely larger, not the big picture?

Tzetzes on November 25, 2011 at 5:51 PM

Was it, or was it not all an accident?

That is the question.

IMHO, it takes a monumental amount of faith to believe it was ALL an accident.

Galt2009 on November 25, 2011 at 6:47 PM

…people like you who have this twisted need to ridicule others for their beliefs

blahblahblah etcetcetc

Rod on November 25, 2011 at 5:17 PM

Too long. Didn’t read (all of it)

Still, that part’s funny… because it is what you’ve been doing.

Hypocrisy isn’t exactly a rare gem these days, but you seem to be one of the better polished ones.

FlatFoot on November 25, 2011 at 6:59 PM

FlatFoot on November 25, 2011 at 3:07 PM

Yeah. You’re a pompous twit. No need to prove it further.

Now, as I said – stuff it…and rotate.

And, FU, again.

Solaratov on November 25, 2011 at 7:19 PM

FlatFoot on November 25, 2011 at 6:59 PM

Completely ignored the thrust of my first post; didn’t read the second; never answered any of the questions in either as to what motivates you to ridicule others rather than just stating your opinion (which you did with your very first post to this thread) and then accuse me of being a hypocrite for calling you out on your insensitivity.

You are a real work of art. But I’ll accept your judgement: if finding you to be a small minded, self-centered, mean-spirited bully makes me out to be a hypocrite then so be it.

You win.

Rod on November 25, 2011 at 7:30 PM

My son turns 18 on April 1st-and unlike you…he knows that God works in wonderfully mysterious ways.

annoyinglittletwerp on November 25, 2011 at 6:18 PM

Νὰ σοῦ ζήσῃ, as the Greeks say (basically, “may you have joy in your child’s life”), a wish I mean sincerely. At eighteen, I also thought we could posit an invisible but conscious being as an unaccountable “explanation” for the as yet inexplicable. “But when I became a man…”, as a certain preacher once put it. Now that I’m twice eighteen, and though I wouldn’t mind having some of that physical youth back, I’m glad to have sloughed off cognitive dissonance and no longer to feel bound to defend what a small but unquiet part of me found too dubious all along. (I only wish I could speak more openly with my father. Perhaps your son will come to wish the same.)

Is a 64-billion-lightyear universe, possibly part of something infinitely larger, not the big picture?

Tzetzes on November 25, 2011 at 5:51 PM

Was it, or was it not all an accident?

That is the question.

IMHO, it takes a monumental amount of faith to believe

it was ALL an accident.

Galt2009 on November 25, 2011 at 6:47 PM

I’m not sure how meaningful or tractable your question is. Does this literally inconceivably large universe, with its complicated properties, simply exist inexplicably? At least one mathematician says quite possibly. Is it knocked into existence (perhaps with laws uniquely its own) from something else? Other mathematicians think that makes sense. I understand far less than any of them does, but I don’t see a need to posit any sort of separate or eternal first cause or unmoved mover for it, let alone a conscious one (and certainly not one who tells men to kill “witches”, to kill people who work on Saturday, or to put whole cities – except, of course, the virgins – to the sword).

“Extraordinary claims” as Carl Sagan elegantly put it, “require extraordinary evidence.” Hitchens rounded it off with “and what can be asserted without evidence can be dismissed without evidence.” I see no evidence from observation, nor necessity of presupposing, any conscious beings as necessary to all the wonders that man can scope out. “The heavens declare the glory of God” says the Bronze Age warlord-cum-singer centuries before the Hubble, “and the firmament sheweth his handywork.” But such interpretations of the auguries are generally made by men who have already made up their minds.

Fere libenter homines id quod volunt credunt.

Tzetzes on November 25, 2011 at 7:57 PM

“Extraordinary claims” as Carl Sagan elegantly put it, “require extraordinary evidence.”

Tzetzes on November 25, 2011 at 7:57 PM

So shouldn’t the Extraordinary claim of everything being a cosmic accident require extraordinary evidence that it be so?

It’s a two-way street.

Galt2009 on November 25, 2011 at 8:36 PM

Some of you make me very sad. Not for me. For you.

I’m going to go pet my dog now and remember those who came before.

Jazz Shaw on November 25, 2011 at 8:41 PM

No, actually, it’s light refracting in a camera lens which may even have some dust or other material on it. It is even more common with camera’s that have plastic lenses. I see sunlight through parted thick clouds all the time. Especially in the fall, winter, and early spring months when the weather tends to be more cloudy and rainy. As does anyone and everyone, with sight, who goes outdoors once in awhile can attest to. Sometimes there’s just one little gap in the thick clouds letting a solitary intense beam of sunlight through which subsequently, oh my gosh, touches the ground somewhere. Once in a very great while I even get to enjoy standing in a single beam of sunlight in my backyard, or in the adjacent park, or when I’m just out and about.

The whole story of the man and his dog is sweet, quaint, sad and potentially even a tear jerker for many people but c’mon… grow up.

FlatFoot on November 25, 2011 at 11:46 AM

I’m glad someone said it. I was thinking “hello, camera lense!” This story, while the intentions are sweet, is kinda ridiculous. I love soldiers and dogs just as much as everyone here, but come on.

NoStoppingUs on November 25, 2011 at 8:53 PM

The truly wise man understands that there occur those situations where it is best to hold one’s beliefs close. There are those times when nothing of import is to be gained by dispelling the comfort of another.

Then there are those who will always make sure that everyone is aware of their presence, and their important thoughts, no matter what.

Yoop on November 25, 2011 at 9:00 PM


I’m glad someone said it. I was thinking “hello, camera lense!” This story, while the intentions are sweet, is kinda ridiculous. I love soldiers and dogs just as much as everyone here, but come on.

NoStoppingUs on November 25, 2011 at 8:53 PM

And I thought about your post, “eVer party has a pooper, that’s why we invited you…” you get the drift. Or far better to the point, learn to take Thumper’s mother advice- “if you can’t say anyting nice, then don’t say anything at all.”

Noelie on November 25, 2011 at 9:03 PM

So shouldn’t the Extraordinary claim of everything being a cosmic accident require extraordinary evidence that it [is] so?

It’s a two-way street.

Galt2009 on November 25, 2011 at 8:36 PM

No, it isn’t. The extraordinary claim is that everything that exists, and all the wonders within and without our ken, must have been (presumably intentionally) summoned into being or into shape by one or more conscious beings. That is extraordinary indeed.

And what is the argument for such a proposition? The idea that one thing can exist only by coming out of something greater than itself. The idea is then applied to the whole universe; the supposedly bigger thing is called “god” or “the gods” and assumed to have done this on purpose; and the matter is considered settled. (We can clap the dust from our hands and stop looking.) But the clever child immediately asks what greater thing created the greater thing. It’s such an old objection that it’s almost embarrassing to make, but it’s never been answered except with appeals to the gods’ supposedly inscrutable ways. Not only is that no answer, but the idea that we can stop there and say “the gods, who are wondrous, simply exist and always have because they exist and always have” suggests that we can save a step and say “the universe, which is wondrous, simply exists” (and may or may not always have, that being a question one can only really discuss with mathematics, which I’m afraid leaves me out of it. As far as the universe itself being conscious, well at least one part of it is: you and me!).

But more importantly, the very idea that something needs to come from something greater is mistaken. Characteristics accrue. In any framework containing motion, matter and principles (laws of physics), that matter will change shape, and fluctuate in complexity, according to how it bumps up against those principles, going through what we call development and decay. (“And so from hour to hour we ripe and ripe, and then from hour to hour we rot and rot; and thereby hangs a tale.”) We see this in the slow, chance successes or failures of species to adapt, and we see this in the “life”-cycles of stars. Things are; things move; things are grand. Matter even piles up into beings, first sentient and then aware, like us, who come to marvel at how big everything is and how little we know, then come to learn more, and then marvel again.

And where does a primus motor have to fit in all this? Sire, je n’avais pas besoin de cette hypothèse-là.

Tzetzes on November 25, 2011 at 9:54 PM

Coincidences are sometimes just miracles that we don’t give God credit for.
Thanks for posting this.

JellyToast on November 25, 2011 at 9:25 AM

And miracles are sometimes just coincidences that we don’t give mathematics credit for.

elfman on November 25, 2011 at 9:56 PM

Tzetzes on November 25, 2011 at 9:54 PM

Those are some pretty Extraordinary claims, do you have extraordinary evidence to back them up?

Do you have the faith to back up those beliefs without such evidence?

Galt2009 on November 25, 2011 at 10:18 PM

Galt2009 on November 25, 2011 at 10:18 PM

What claims do you think are extraordinary?

Tzetzes on November 25, 2011 at 10:27 PM

It is because I value our capacity for grace, comfort and compassion that I want to dismiss false sources of it. We find those things in the way we treat each other, not in tricks of light.

I’m sure the irony in this statement is lost on you. No grace, comfort, nor compassion is inherent in your arrogant and authoritarian dismissal of others’ beliefs.

MaggiePoo on November 26, 2011 at 12:37 AM

Tzetzes on November 25, 2011 at 1:39 PM

Well looky here if it isn’t Bill Shakespere! It seems youre pretty impressed with yourself bless your heart. Have a great holiday season. :-)

quiz1 on November 26, 2011 at 12:44 AM

I’m sure the irony in this statement is lost on you. No grace, comfort, nor compassion is inherent in your arrogant and authoritarian dismissal of others’ beliefs.
MaggiePoo on November 26, 2011 at 12:37 AM

I want you to know that I derive great comfort from my conviction that Osiris is my personal guide. When I see something like children born deformed, I don’t know how that fits into Osiris’s great plans, but then the clouds part and the light of Ra beams down, and I just somehow feel that Osiris will keep and protect me. I may not understand why Osiris has (not now, of course, but in the past) told his followers that there were witches and commanded them to kill them, but that doesn’t matter, because when I hear the sweet songs of his servant Brother Presley, I feel sure that Osiris in his love for me has sent a kindly guardian angel.

You wouldn’t try to take that from me, would you?

… authoritarian dismissal of others’ beliefs.
MaggiePoo on November 26, 2011 at 12:37 AM

Appealing to evidence and argument is the very opposite of appealing to authority.

Tzetzes on November 26, 2011 at 1:06 AM

Tzetzes on November 25, 2011 at 1:39 PM

Atheists quote Hitchens because they can’t express their beliefs in their own words?

hawkdriver on November 26, 2011 at 8:52 AM

Rod on November 25, 2011 at 7:30 PM

Oh no- au contraire. You have me completely figured out. You know me inside and out. You really know me. You know me better than anyone. Even better than me dear ol’ mudda. It is like you are a mind reader. The Amazing Carnac… that’s who you are. Plus, heck, you’re a Saint! You can totally see into my very soul. The saintly Amazing Carnac. It’s all you.

I concede defeat. You win.

FlatFoot on November 26, 2011 at 11:07 AM

Atheists quote Hitchens because they can’t express their beliefs in their own words?

hawkdriver on November 26, 2011 at 8:52 AM

Atheists quote Hitchens because he says so many things so well and makes so many good points. I also quoted above Carl Sagan, Julius Caesar, Empedocles, Shakespeare, Pierre-Simon Laplace, Harry Truman, and even King David and Saint Paul. And I addressed others’ misuses of quotations of Shakespeare and Einstein.

Besides the fact that quoting others allows one to avail oneself of ideas already well expressed, it’s also a matter of honesty and of giving credit to those who’ve helped shaped one’s own ideas.

And a point is not good or bad according to whether it’s been made before.

Tzetzes on November 26, 2011 at 11:34 AM

Tzetzes on November 26, 2011 at 11:34 AM

You just seem so guided by someone else’s beliefs.

hawkdriver on November 26, 2011 at 1:44 PM

You just seem so guided by someone else’s beliefs.

hawkdriver on November 26, 2011 at 1:44 PM

Which are no more valid than those of Justin Rollin’s parents and the dog. I’ll still go with Justin’s soul and Justin’s dog.

Yoop on November 26, 2011 at 2:09 PM

Wonderful, Jazz. Thank you.

J.E. Dyer on November 26, 2011 at 2:46 PM

My favorite part (or at least the favorite part of the residual science-geek in me)? A shaft of sunlight like this one is an atmospheric optical phenomenon called a crepuscular ray, but is more commonly known as “Jacob’s Ladder”.

In the Bible, Jacob’s Ladder was the means by which angels shuttled back and forth between heaven and earth.

In that context, how fitting it is that Jacob’s Ladder should provide such a route for Justin between heaven and Hero in this photo.

GooberMax on November 26, 2011 at 3:28 PM

Weird how while the dog casts an even shadow, the ground itself doesn’t seem to get any additional illumination from the God Beam. Perhaps some sort of miraculous lens flare?

DarkCurrent on November 26, 2011 at 3:47 PM

You just seem so guided by someone else’s beliefs.

hawkdriver on November 26, 2011 at 1:44 PM

Terrible, isn’t it!

Tzetzes on November 26, 2011 at 4:57 PM

Terrible, isn’t it!

Tzetzes on November 26, 2011 at 4:57 PM

Well, it must be. It’s the biggest condemnation I hear about Christians I hear from Atheists.

hawkdriver on November 26, 2011 at 7:55 PM

Well, it must be. It’s the biggest condemnation I hear about Christians I hear from Atheists.

hawkdriver on November 26, 2011 at 7:55 PM

I suppose that, whatever the ideas, we’ll have to weigh them carefully and ask ourselves honestly if they accord with evidence and reason.

Tzetzes on November 26, 2011 at 9:38 PM

I suppose that, whatever the ideas, we’ll have to weigh them carefully and ask ourselves honestly if they accord with evidence and reason.

Tzetzes on November 26, 2011 at 9:38 PM

I’m not sure how a person might weigh them carefully by simply rolling quotes from famous men through their head and trying to decide what might or might not apply.

I find prayer much more productive. It provides both evidence and reason.

hawkdriver on November 27, 2011 at 7:30 AM

I’m not sure how a person might weigh them carefully by simply rolling quotes from famous men through their head and trying to decide what might or might not apply.

I find prayer much more productive. It provides both evidence and reason.

hawkdriver on November 27, 2011 at 7:30 AM

I don’t think it provides either (and in fact works in the context of that vice known as “faith”, which is not just belief but belief in the absence of, or even in opposition to, evidence). If prayer is meant as a petition for revelation, then it’s an appeal for something besides reason; and if it’s for an intervention in action (that the gods should interrupt the natural flow of physics and consequence, whose consistency is the presupposition for all science and knowledge), then it is again a request that one’s understanding be undermined. Either way, and in all cases, one must take careful note of what follows the petition. And here is where confirmation bias is important (and can be observed!):

— I got what I want. Praise Jah!
— I didn’t get what I want. Jah works in mysterious ways.

This is where the quotation above by Caesar comes in:

Men generally believe what they want to believe. (Fere libenter homines id quod volunt credunt.)

I like the fact that it was Caesar who said this (and in fact he mentions it in the context of being able to use that insight to trick, and then defeat, a certain Gaulish army), but it’s important no matter who says it and it underlines the importance of arguing against interest (the opposite being a tendentious argument). When another person argues or judges against his own interest, inclination or desire, that lends his argument or judgment credence (think of recusal in a law court). And in weighing arguments in one’s own mind, one should be aware of the same principle, and ask oneself carefully and honestly, “am I missing or ignoring any evidence? Is my reasoning being led by a conflict of interest? How would I understand this from a different point of view?”

Indulge me in one more quotation…

Sure he that made us with such large discourse,
looking before and after, gave us not
that capability and godlike reason
to fust in us unused.

The only thing to be emended is to point out that “[she] that made us”, Nature, did so blindly, in a process that conscious and reasoning beings can understand but without herself being conscious or having a goal. But, finding ourselves so made up, we can question her, and ourselves, and all things. Whether we do so, and whether we accept inquiry’s fruits, is up to us.

Tzetzes on November 27, 2011 at 2:13 PM

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