“The American people will never knowingly adopt Socialism. But under the name of ‘liberalism’ they will adopt every fragment of the Socialist program, until one day America will be a Socialist nation, without knowing how it happened.”

Socialist Party presidential candidate Norman Thomas

Friday, February 13, 2009

Does God control literally every single thing?

Over at Secular Right, Heather Mac Donald has a very good point to make about the different outcomes and subsequent interpretations of two recent airline disasters....

Will Bill O’Reilly or anyone else who saw the hand of God in the safe landing of US Airways Flight 1549 this January please explain why God chose not to save Continental Connection Flight 3407, which plunged into a house outside of Buffalo last night, killing all 49 people on board and a resident on the ground?

Among the explanations which will not be accepted: “humans cannot possibly fathom God’s mysterious ways.” Oh yes they can, apparently—when something good happens. Having found proof of God’s love in the safe conclusion of US Airways Flight 1549, believers cannot now turn around and claim that God’s ways are veiled just because something disastrous happens. If it’s legitimate to infer beneficence from a happy outcome, it is equally plausible to infer malice or at least indifference from a negative outcome. You can’t pick and choose the actions in which you find God’s will transparent.

I don't know if Heather's an atheist or not and it doesn't matter. She's not arguing from an atheists perspective, she's arguing from a perspective of reason. I've made this point myself, everytime I hear some poor parent on the news who lost a child to a horrible disease or murder, explaining that it must have been God's will. I refuse to believe that God has a direct hand in every horrible, and for that matter every wonderful, thing that happens to us. How does that make any sense at all? What kind of a loving God would have somebody's 3 year old kidnapped, raped, and murdered? The answer, obvious to any thinking person, is God wouldn't do that to somebody. Since Adam and Eve were granted free will, we humans have manufactured all manner of ways, intentional or not, to bring harm to ourselves, either directly or through pure chance. God can use these disasters for the ones who're left but, I don't believe for an instant that he causes these disasters any more than I believe his hand guided flight 1549 gently and safely into the Hudson. That flight had a very experienced pilot, daylight, and a convenient body of water with boats all around to ditch into. Flight 3407 was over ground, in icy weather, at night. Did that arrangement of environments somehow fit into God's master plan to kill 50 people on one plane and rescue 150 from the other? Do you hear how preposterous that sounds?


reid said...

Ed: I agree, but I also know that God will use all the events described herein to further the kingdom. Many times things happen in our lives, and we are not privy to the good thing that results from the tragedy. If people die in a plane crash, maybe someone develops a better/safer plane. If people live as in the Hudson flight, then God's hand was obviously evident.

Ed said...

I don't think God chooses in any way, which planes crash and which ones land safely. Certainly the outcomes may be used by God to guide or inspire the lives of survivors or loved ones somehow but, the idea of God directing planes to crash, babies to die from SIDS, causing brain cancer in children, is preposterous to me. If that's the case, then somebody should explain the insane existence of Idi Amin or Hitler to the kids in the oncology clinic at Childrens' Hospital. There's no logic or reason in that. I don't know who said, "God works in mysterious ways" but, I don't buy it. If we are born, possibly being pre-ordained by God to die painfully and screaming in agony one day in a fiery plane crash, then what's the point in trying to live life if our path is already chosen? We have free will. God doesn't choose our path for us. It's comforting for some people to believe that God has a master plan and that all things good and bad somehow fit into it, but I think we humans are making it up as we go along..flat out.