Last week, on Facebook, I posted a link to a Fox News video clip about an ex-atheist who is now a believer because he prayed for his mother to win the lottery and she did. While the problems with this are obvious (why is an atheist praying, etc), the ensuing discussion in the comments, as expected, became interesting rather quickly. In the ‘news’ story, the interviewer had the gall to bring up the tornadoes down south and how we are getting ‘signs’ of God all over. Like the fact that an entire town was destroyed, but a cross from a church was left standing. I brought up this fact and my mother commented:
“Hmmnnn, God/lottery…. Doesn’t really fit. God does permit people to die. His word says “it is appointed for man, once to die” though.”
And another, more distant, relative later responded:
“Sorry, disagree honey – we plan and God laughs…He’s the one in control….”
My reply was this:
And I would never, in a million years, do anything to take away your right to believe that. That said, I find myself in a very small minority whose voice is often lost in the throngs of the believing majority. Especially here on Facebook. So, because of that, I will never stop voicing what I believe to be a sound worldview based on logic & reason. What I find most interesting and has been very enlightening to me can be explained with what I was talking about earlier. Tragedies like the tornadoes, the earthquakes in japan and Haiti, etc make a lot more sense when you take god out of the picture. You no longer have to do massive mental gymnastics to reason why an all-powerful, all-knowing, all-good god would allow these things to happen. When you take him out of the picture, the random functions of our natural world make a lot more sense, though, it does not lessen the tragic nature of those events. Nothing can!
I don’t often blog more than once a day. Hell! I don’t often blog more than once a week or month anymore. But today, I feel it’s necessary.
The religious folks I have on my Facebook page are blowing it up with posts calling for prayers regarding the Tsunami/Earthquake which happened near Japan overnight. One of the more recent ones was from a friend sending out his prayers for families he knows in Japan and California. He ended his post with “God is with you”.
It took a lot of my will-power to let it go, but inside my head I’m screaming “WHY THE FUCK WASN’T GOD WITH THE ONES THAT DIED?!?!? THAT MAKES NO FUCKING SENSE AT ALL!!!”. I just do NOT get that mentality. If you believe that God is sparing the ones you know/love from being effected or killed by such a tragedy, what about your plea to him works for those folks, but not for the ones that ARE effected? The answer really IS quite simple: There is no god answering or even listening to those prayers. And, as sad and tragic as it is, this is the result of natural forces and those forces have NO opinions on what their effect is going to be on human society. I really have a hard time getting what is so hard to understand about that? Isn’t it so much harder to rationalize in your head that a mystical being in the sky is picking and choosing who gets to live and who gets to die than it is to acknowledge that nature is a powerful, blind, non-biased force and sometimes human kind gets in the way of it?
That said, my heart and thoughts go out to the folks effected by this tragedy. I wish there was more that I could do. It’s incredibly sad!
As most know, Christopher Hitchens finds himself currently in the fight of his life. Or maybe it would be better said the fight FOR his life. He was recently diagnosed with esophageal cancer, and is undergoing aggressive treatment as we speak. He recently did an interview with Anderson Cooper and discussed all things related:
I found a recent blog posting about the topic and found the last paragraph particularly entertaining:
As for the few of you who wrote to Goldblog to say they were praying for Hitch’s death, I can say that he does not care one way or another what you do or think or pray, but on behalf of myself and the entire team here at The Atlantic, let me just say, Go fuck yourselves.
for myself, I’d just like to add this…
I’ve only in the last few years found you. You’ve shed light into areas of my life that I didn’t know were so resoundingly hidden in deep darkness. You are blunt, forceful, confident, well spoken, and hilarious. And I appreciate you sharing those attributes with the rest of the world.
You will be in my thoughts. I will be pulling for you to make a speedy and full recovery so that you have more opportunities to shine the light of reason into the dark corners of this world that so desperately need it. I will follow your progress and celebrate the victories as they come. But I will not, under any circumstances, pray for you!
Get well soon, Hitch!
There’s a website (and book) called: Why Won’t God Heal Amputees?
I’ve been considering this question for quite a while now. And, while I know this has been hashed out over the internet for a long time, I’m going to give my 2.5 cents worth on the topic now.
I don’t think that admitting or believing that God does not heal amputees will ultimately disprove God. (Although, I can add this to my arsenal of reasons for believing that there is no God for myself.) There are plenty of other arguments out there for that – The Ontological Argument, the Cosmological Argument, and others. What it does for me, instead, is argue against the fundamentalist viewpoint that the Christian God does, indeed, intervene when prayed to and miraculous healings can take place. And if the argument DOES indeed prove that, how do these folks justify the selectiveness of God in their own minds?
I’ve been reading a lot of the counter opinions on this topic and there seem to be a few standard responses from believers. I’ll list some of them now:
1) Free Will – Apparently some believers think that if God were to intervene and cause someone’s limb to grow back that that will, in some way, take away our ‘free will’ to believe in him. I find this rather surprising considering these folks are the ones that swear by the Bible as the inerrant word of God. In the Bible Jesus does MANY amazing miracles that go FAR outside of the normal laws of the universe (healed the blind, raised the dead, walked on water, etc etc). Wouldn’t the folks witnessing these events have had their free will compromised?
2) The ‘Hiddeness’ of God – Kind of goes hand-in-hand with the free will argument. But in the book, the author addresses this rather well. In today’s world, people claim all the time to have been miraculously healed from Cancer. Tumors are just gone after prayer (and usually also after Chemotherapy!). Isn’t that the same thing as having a limb grow back? Doctors can SEE and document a Tumor before and after, thus revealing God (if that were really the cause). So, just because the tumor isn’t immediately visible to the rest of the world, it isn’t truly hidden either. So, God wouldn’t really be hidden at all in that scenario.
3) God’s Plan is Mysterious – Well, this one is a classic of course. It seems the usual take that ‘we can’t know what God’s will is, so we just have to accept it’. I’m NOT ok with this take at all. In ANY of the arguments where this is used. It just feels like such a cop-out to me. Like throwing your hands up and saying ‘We just don’t know, so we’re gonna make up a reason.’
All these argument, just seem to me like more rationalization for the massive paradoxes that result in this question. Like it says in this book (and the way I’ve felt about the world for a while now), if you remove God from the equation, and look at the world as just natural process, and things just happen (both good things to bad people and bad things to good people), then everything just makes a lot more sense. There’s no longer any paradox.
As I’ve said many times, I’m open-minded. I really am (contrary to what most people think about atheists). If someone had a limb grow back, and there was a documented case, I’d believe it. I mean, people don’t regenerate limbs. It’s as simple as that. So, if someone was to be prayed for and they were to regrow a limb, I’d believe. I’m also assuming that if it happened once, it could happen many times. In a world with 6 billion people (and a large number of limbless ones I’m assuming), you’d have to think that the odds are in favor of many people with missing limbs being healed.