2 Skeptic’s Reactions to Giving God Credit

It’s NOT a Miracle! 

by

Man, I get tired of this kind of stuff:

A car crash in Nebraska on Jan. 25 threw Malloy up against the vehicle’s dashboard. In the process, her skull became separated from her spine. The clinical term for her condition is called internal decapitation.

That’s the gist of the article: a woman survives a bad injury that in most cases would kill the victim. But the amount of bad thinking that continues from there is astonishing. Let’s look:

Miracles do happen. That’s what doctors said about 30-year-old Shannon Malloy.

Ah yes, a miracle. It has nothing to do with pure statistics and probability. Or the fact that medical science has advanced enough to save someone’s life.

Dr. Gary Ghiselli, a chiropractor at the Denver Spine Center, said Malloy’s will to survive is what saved her.

A chiropractor said it was her will. Right. I suppose someone involved with what is at the very best a borderline quack field would say it was her will, and not, say, probability and medical science.

“I had a fractured skull, swollen brain stem, bleeding in my brain, GI tube in my stomach, can’t swallow, and nerve damage in my eyes (because they cross),” said Malloy.

Doctors are working on that but she has been lucky enough to get the halo removed.

I know I shouldn’t get upset when people talk about luck, but it still irks me. Luck is probability taken personally, as the saying goes. She wasn’t lucky to get the halo removed, it’s just the way things worked out. I have actually specially worked on not using the word “luck” anymore. It’s just another accepted notion that’s incorrect, and I don’t want to promote it, even colloquially.

“Oh my God, it’s a miracle,” said Malloy.

I guess then it was also a miracle that God made the terrible, horrifying accident to happen in the first place, too. You can’t pick and choose which random events to ascribe to God, folks. If He throws the dice for one, He throws the dice for all.

“It’s a miracle that she was able to survive from the actual accident. It’s a miracle that she’s made the progress that she’s made,” said Ghiselli [the chiropractor].

See above. I suppose then it’s a miracle her skull was severed from her spine, she sustained nerve damage, and she cannot see well or swallow properly.

That’s some miracle. Tell you what: I’ll take my chances on probability.

Oh, God. Not again.

by, Rebecca (from Skepchick)

It happens every time.

Without fail, whenever some truly monumental event occurs in the world, God swoops in and takes all the credit for the good, slipping away before anyone has a chance to blame Him for the bad. Like everyone else in the country, I’ve been following the Virginia Tech shooting all day. This morning, a man shot and killed 32 students, faculty, and staff, and injured 29 more.

Pam Tickle is a housekeeper on campus who managed to escape the horrifying ordeal with her life intact. When she heard the gunshots, she ran to a lounge with several students, where they locked the door and waited for police. After two hours, the police had control of the situation and the gunman was dead. Tickle told reporters:

I thank God because he was watching me today.

Before I go on, let me get a few things straight. This woman went through a terrifying experience, and no one can blame her for falling back on her faith for some kind of comfort. We can, however, criticize the culture that allows this kind of magical thinking to manifest. This is a very common expression, uttered at the end of football games, at the Academy Awards, and at the scene of catastrophes such as this.

I think this quote encapsulates what many atheists find so repugnant about a particular brand of religious thinking: the idea that those who survive do so because of God, with no thought given to those who died. If this woman takes comfort in the idea that God spared her life because she is special, because he was watching over her, then I’m happy for her. But, at the same time, I can’t help but be very, very sad for the 60 people who were gunned down for no reason at all. What about their friends and family? It’s awful to lose someone you love, and that pain can only be compounded by hearing that God specifically chose to protect some while allowing your loved one to suffer and die needlessly. Did God choose for them to die? Did they not pray hard enough?

Or was God just not watching them today?

On this last story I liked what one of the commenters said on the post:

  1. DivaFFS said,

    To be fair, the indication is not that God was not watching over them… let me have a hypothetical conversation with a Christian on this one:

    DivaFFS: So if your god was watching over you, was he not watching over the ones that did get shot?

    ChristianFFS: He was looking after them as well.

    DFFS: But why did they get shot?

    CFFS: God has a plan.

    DFFS: A plan to have dozens of innocent people gunned down unexpectedly by a crazy guy?

    CFFS: It doesn’t make sense to us as humans. God works in mysterious ways.

    DFFS: So this tragedy happened for good, and it is part of god’s beautiful plan and something better is in store for the people who were injured or killed?

    CFFS: Yes.

    DFFS: But it’s still evil?

    CFFS: Well, yes.

    DFFS: How can it be evil and good? That makes no sense.

    CFFS: Oh ye of little faith……

    ChristianFFS smiles sympathetically at DivaFFS and leaves to find a place to pray for her soul.

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