PZ points to yet another of those ubiquitous situations where there’s a massive disaster that kills a ton of people, but left a survivor or two — and they’re immediately convinced that God intentionally spared their life. He’s talking about the Indian air crash, where 158 died and 8 lived. And one of the 8 says this:
“I’ve been thinking, ‘Why me? Why me?’ And I can only think that God wanted to give me a second life,” he said from his hospital bed in Mangalore.
Really, that’s the only thing you can think of? No other possibilities come to mind? This is the kind of thing people say all the time, apparently oblivious to how utterly arrogant it is while masquerading as humility. They think it sounds humble to say that God is in control, but what they’re actually saying is that God thinks their life was worth saving and the other 158 people’s lives were not.
When I was 24 I was involved in a car accident. It was my fault, completely. I ran a red light. I wasn’t drinking, I was just daydreaming apparently and ran right through a red light and got t-boned. And I wasn’t wearing my seat belt. I was very lucky and only ended up with a concussion, a badly cut ear and bumps and bruises. The other guy was not so lucky, ending up with major broken bones.
The first person to reach the hospital was my sister, who immediately told me, “Boy, someone up there was sure looking out for you.” Really? Then I wish they had been looking out for the other guy instead of me. I wish they’d decided to intervene about 10 seconds earlier to prevent the accident. Why weren’t they looking out for that guy? He probably even believed in God.
For some reason, this idea that God is in control and decides that 158 people are going to die in a fiery crash but not these 8 people is actually comforting to people. I don’t understand why. I can’t conceive of a creepier, more repulsive idea than that. Take comfort from the notion that some supernatural being decides which little kid gets cancer or who gets to be hit by a bus? That’s not comforting, it’s absolutely creepy.