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A Course In Something Other Than Miracles
Such as, evidence that life is random, and there is no god. Greg Saunders writes:

...I can’t let the Boston Herald’s awful (and in retrospect, horribly inappropriate) headline go without comment. Now that we know the twelve miners were killed, does this mean America’s prayers weren’t answered? Just like gambling addicts remember their big wins but not their losses, the fate of the twelve miners has transformed from a faith-inspiring act of God to another horrible tragedy in which it’s impolite to mention religion at all. Cute little sayings like “the Lord works in mysterious ways” are cop-outs for the logical conclusions that many of us draw from experiences like this. If something fantastic and improbable can be used as proof that there’s a benevolent god, doesn’t the reverse point toward the conclusion that a higher power is indifferent at best? If you believe in a god that could have saved these men’s lives (which I don’t, btw), why didn’t he? People are quick to throw around the word “miracle” when something wonderful happens, so what the hell do we call this?

Posted by aalkon at January 5, 2006 7:27 AM

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At the risk of provoking a shitstorm, I have to point out that "No" is an answer. If you don't believe in God, cool, but let's be precise about this "not answered" line.

Posted by: Jackie at January 5, 2006 11:07 AM

In the Bible, people die all the time. God never guarantees miracles.

Posted by: maria at January 5, 2006 11:30 AM

I can accept the viewpoint that says "God has a reason for allowing those men to die, and their deaths have nothing to do with whether he exists." To which my response is that while that might be true, those deaths (and other senseless deaths) has a lot to do with why I personally believe that 1) he doesn't exist and 2) I wouldn't care much for him if he did. Really, why should I (or anyone else) be slavishly devoted to someone who could have saved those men (and the tsunami victims, and the Katrina victims) but chose not to?

Posted by: jenl1625 at January 5, 2006 12:10 PM

God did not create the bad choices that humans made to create global warming and the climactic decisions that made both of those disasters happen. Remember, we have free will and are not automatons. New Orleans had many many warnings about the levees. That's human irresponsiblity in action.

God did give us a set of laws on how to live as a society. A clean planet to live on... free will to live our lives...and an occasional miracle to remind us of something larger... and the rest of the crap is our own damned fault!!!

New Orleans especially reminds me of that story they always tell in church.

THE SMALL TOWN FLOOD

Once there was a small town which was ravaged by a flood. As the water levels rose higher, the local fire department drove through the streets telling all residents to evacuate their homes.

One man named Jones refused to leave. "I'm waiting for God to save me," he said.

An hour later, with the flood worsening, Jones was forced up to the second floor of his house. At which point a boat rowed by: "Get in Jones, we're here to rescue you!"

"Oh, no," he said, "I'm waiting for God to save me."

An hour later, Jones was up on the roof of his house, with little time to spare. A helicopter flew by and lowered its ladder. "No, thanks," said Jones, "I'm waiting for God to save me."

The waters continued to rise and soon Jones was swept away and drowned. When he got to heaven, he was furious and wanted to speak with God. "I trusted in You, but why didn't you save me?!" he asked the Lord.

"What do you mean?" said God, "First I sent you a fire truck, then a boat, then a helicopter!"

Posted by: maria at January 5, 2006 12:53 PM

Lame....
"God did not create the bad choices that humans made to create global warming and the climactic decisions that made both of those disasters happen. Remember, we have free will and are not automatons. New Orleans had many many warnings about the levees. That's human irresponsiblity in action. "

I will agree with you there. But what in the world makes you think/believe that god gave you laws, planets and miracles? What some old fictional book? Maria - IQ = lame.

Posted by: alex the sea turtle at January 5, 2006 1:34 PM

Dude/dudette
what's lame is that I addressed both Greg Saunder's and Jen's posts using a theological perspective and you resort to insults.

Grow up.

Posted by: maria at January 5, 2006 3:40 PM

Maybe you - the person that believes in fairytales - needs to grow up.

Posted by: alex the sea turtle at January 5, 2006 3:50 PM

The civil rights movement in this country was deeply rooted in faith and religious belief, not fairytales.

Posted by: maria at January 5, 2006 3:55 PM

Maria, it's true that people in general have made bad choices. Those choices definitely contributed to the levee failure and maybe even to the tsunami. But the people who died weren't the ones who made the bad choices. That's where I have a problem.

Your story is cute, but it would work a lot better (at least for me) if the victims of the levee failure had declined rescue, or if the tsunami victims had failed to do something to save themselves.

But I can no longer swallow the reasoning I was given as a child - that god has some greater reason, and that we can't understand those reasons. As far as I can tell, the only reason we're ever given is that god (who created *everything* and therefore created evil - he certainly created the beings who are associated with evil) created us so that he had pawns to use in a big chess game that is supposed to show that he is better than his creations.

I'm supposed to worship an overgrown, all-powerful 5-year-old brat? Who thinks its okay to kill all of Job's kids, because after all (once Job proved god's point) he replaced the kids and gave Job even more? Kinda rough on the first set of kids, isn't it? I don't believe he exists, but if I did believe in him, I wouldn't like him.

Posted by: jenl1625 at January 6, 2006 3:38 AM


In the Bible, people die all the time. God never guarantees miracles. -- maria


Amen, amen I say to you: if you ask the Father any thing in my name, he will give it you. -- John, 16, 23.


Perhaps the people were not True Believers. Perhaps Maria should tell them that to their faces.

Posted by: Norman at January 6, 2006 4:02 AM

Maria:

If it is all a part of a larger plan, then what is the use in praying? It seems to me that praying to a god who has it all planned out is arrogance. In fact, knowing the god of which you speak, he would probably be insulted that you questioned his decisions. After all, he is all-powerful and all-knowing, so what nerve one would have to petition for something else. I think that might call for a smiting.

And as far as fairy tales, maybe you should consider that today's religion is tomorrow's myth.

Posted by: Silver_Fox at January 6, 2006 5:33 AM

Humans. Sigh.

It's all about you, isn't it? Sorry - no, it's not. You are part of my (project), which is operating under a fixed set of rules. That you do not choose to recognize these rules at times is your lookout.

Ego, and ego alone, has caused you to attempt to distance yourself from the rest of the world. You spare not a moment to consider the plight of animals caught in the inexorable march of My processes - you are too self-important. You invent words like "supernatural" and "miracle" when you cannot understand cause and effect and yet wish to retain the appearance of wisdom- salve your ego.

Pray if you wish. By discharging fear in that manner, you will regain some abilities impeded by fear, and that may enable you to carry the day, but I will not alter physical laws for any pleading. If you could beg your way out of a jam, you would be the worse for it, for then no learning about cause and effect could occur, and the weak and stupid would survive beyond their present fraction. (Cause and effect) is one of the key factors of existence, affecting all life. You will ignore it when you can, and cry when your "luck" runs out, whether that is signalled by the arrival of a speeding bus or a shadow on an X-ray image - but it will remain. Be wary. That's all you can really do.

Some will cry that the universe is not fair. They are wrong. It is universally harsh.

Posted by: God at January 6, 2006 7:22 AM

If there is a god, who created god?

Posted by: Amy Alkon at January 6, 2006 7:44 AM

Maria -

You wrote - "The civil rights movement in this country was deeply rooted in faith and religious belief, not fairytales."

I respond those that fought against civil rights and that still fight against civil rights (equal rights for LGBT Americans) also claim deeply rooted beliefs in faith, religion, fairytales or whatever it is.

Posted by: alex the sea turtle at January 6, 2006 7:47 AM

Don't know if you saw this, but here's an interesting case to follow:

http://www.cnn.com/2006/WORLD/europe/01/04/italy.jesus.reut/index.html?section=cnn_topstories

Posted by: bev at January 8, 2006 7:10 AM

I did see it, and I think the guy's chances of winning in Italy compare highly unfavorably to the old snowball's chances in hell.

Posted by: Amy Alkon at January 8, 2006 7:49 AM

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