Pharyngula

Quote of the day

This is a real letter from Muskegon, Michigan.

On the Feb. 8 “60 Minutes” program, we were captivated while viewing the Katie Couric interview of the crew and passengers of Flight 1549.

However, we were struck there was not one mention of God, who directs pilots of planes and secures the safety of passengers.

We have written CBS and asked them for more realistic programming. Help protect our freedoms. Write CBS about this.

It was fine right up through “not one mention of God”, then swoooosh, it plummets off the cliff of insanity into the sucking sludge-pit of unreality. God keeps planes safe? More god = realistic programming? Fawning over a deity protects our freedoms? Nuts.

One reassuring note, though, is that most of the comments on the letter are scathing. Not everyone in Muskegon is quite so wacky, apparently.

Comments

  1. #1 SteveN
    February 19, 2009

    Apparently, the passengers of Flight 3407 in New York were not godly enough to merit the hand of god on the plane’s controls.

  2. #2 Janine, Ignorant Slut
    February 19, 2009

    It gets even worse. In the transcript of the communications between traffic control and the jetliner, not once was God invoked.

  3. #3 JD
    February 19, 2009

    God works for the air traffic control command center? Wow.

  4. #4 Holbach
    February 19, 2009

    A standing ovation to the flight crew! Well done!
    And to all you relgious morons who cannot comprehend why your imaginary god was not on board, a hearty screw you and your phony shit god. Suffer, morons.

  5. #5 Eamon Knight
    February 19, 2009

    @#1: What makes you think it was the people on 3407 God was pissed at? Actually, it was that guy in the house on the ground (but not his wife and kid, who were elsewhere). The plane just happened to be the nearest handy Instrument Of Holy Smiting. Yeah I know: Yahweh does have a tendency to overdo things for effect, and produce a fair bit of collateral damage. Poor impulse control, you know how it is.

  6. #6 NewEnglandBob
    February 19, 2009

    Ok, I’ll do it for them:

    Thank Dog! Happy Monkey!

  7. #7 Sven DiMilo
    February 19, 2009

    Sure, God directs pilots of planes (except sometimes when he forgets) and secures the safety of passangers (except when he doesn’t). He also whispers into the ears of air-traffic controllers and makes sure the inflight snacks are crisp. Plus he ensures a copy of SkyMall in each seat pocket, and causeth the mouths of flight attendants to move, instructing passengers on the exit locations. And yea, he turneth the waters of the lavatories blue!

  8. #8 Sastra
    February 19, 2009

    I don’t get it — surely she doesn’t think the crew and passengers should be chastized for failing to mention God? They were being interviewed. If your neighbors don’t credit God for their safety does that mean freedom is somehow infringed?

    She must mean that the 60 Minutes people should be obligated to bring up God, or at least lead the conversation in that direction, or the freedom of Christians to believe in God is in peril. Ok. That makes more sense.

  9. #9 Rev. BigDumbChimp
    February 19, 2009

    However, we were struck there was not one mention of God, who directs pilots of planes and secures the safety of passengers.

    The family of Buddy Holly and the Big Bopper are on line 2 for you.

  10. #10 DJ
    February 19, 2009

    What’s cool is that God also crashes planes, though they rarely mention that either.

  11. #11 Jafafa Hots
    February 19, 2009

    Just finished watching the movie “Enduring Love.”

    *SPOILER*

    Two men (among others) have a traumatic experience. One asks the other to pray. The other doesn’t want to, and doesn’t come out and say it but it’s clear that he’s an atheist and thinks the God guy is a bit nuts.

    Long story short, the atheist (or at least very skeptical) guy is the hero, and the God guy is not a bit nuts – he’s dangerously stark raving mad.

    Needless to say this is not an American film, it’s from the UK.

  12. #12 Doctorb
    February 19, 2009

    Yeah every once in a while God rescues a plane, just to keep His Name in the papers. Aside from the sports section, where it’s pretty much a given.

  13. #13 ennui
    February 19, 2009

    According to the theory of intelligent crashing, nothing even gets off the ground without the loving jack-boot of Jesus. Maybe if she prayed really, really hard, then CBS would magically have more godbotting tard.

  14. #14 James Mason
    February 19, 2009

    C’mon people — dont you recognize a Poe when its staring you in the face?
    What more do you need? A raven? (oops, mixing Poes– but you know what I mean.)

  15. #15 Ritchie Valens
    February 19, 2009

    What am I, BigDumbChimp, chopped liver?

    (answer: no. I am a creepy skeleton)

  16. #16 Jon H
    February 19, 2009

    Could Boeing create a plane so heavy God couldn’t lift it?

    Apparently, yes.

  17. #17 JD
    February 19, 2009

    All those fighter planes in WWI had God too. He jumped in and out of the ones that didn’t crash. Teh fast, teh God!!

  18. #18 RayB
    February 19, 2009

    Giving credit to god is an insult to hordes of real people. Credit goes to first the pilot and flight crew. But also due credit are those who trained them, everyone who designed the training, to the engineers and technicians who designed, installed, and maintained all the safety systems, and even to the regulators who mandate and certify the systems and training. And don’t forget all the boat pilots who immediately came to their aid.

    If god was looking after them, why do we even bother with all those other people? Would those who credit god fly on an airline that didn’t waste money on all that training and maintenance and just provided prayer books at every seat?

  19. #20 Larry
    February 19, 2009

    god is responsible for miraculous rescues from natural disasters (acts of god???), touchdowns in football, and home runs in baseball. don’t make me tell you again.

  20. #21 Chiroptera
    February 19, 2009

    Funny thing is: I’m an atheist and I would be mentioning God!

    “Well, Ms. Couric, when it all started to go wrong I was all, “Oh shit! Oh my f***ing god! Jesus Tap Dancing Christ, why didn’t I accept the free upgrade in return for giving my seat to a standby?”

    But maybe that isn’t what the letter writer meant.

  21. #22 Rev. BigDumbChimp
    February 19, 2009

    What am I, BigDumbChimp, chopped liver?

    (answer: no. I am a creepy skeleton)

    Yeah him too

  22. #23 JD
    February 19, 2009

    Every time an onboard flight snack is purchased an angel gets its wings.

  23. #24 AJ Milne
    February 19, 2009

    These pro-mentioning-god folk are just too demanding… Seems to me the shout-outs he gets during sex should be plenty, really.

  24. #25 daveau
    February 19, 2009

    I thought it was God who made the flock of geese fly into the engines? Clearly, someone needed some smiting. Therefore, it was Satan who saved the day!

    I didn’t see 60 Minutes, but the no god aspect makes me proud. The fact that everyone survived is owed to good training, human skill and the laws of physics.

  25. #26 SteveM
    February 19, 2009

    Obviously taking the bumper sticker, “God is my co-pilot” way too literally.

  26. #27 tripencrypt
    February 19, 2009

    @ #2 Hilarious!

  27. #28 Kyoseki
    February 19, 2009

    Katie Couric actually did specifically ask Capt. Sullenberger if he prayed, his response was “I’m pretty sure someone in the back was taking care of that”.

    I was quite refreshed to see the guy NOT thank God for it and instead just calmly related how he had confidence in himself and his abilities to get the plane down safely.

  28. #29 Greg
    February 19, 2009

    So if god helped them land the plane does that mean Satan controlled the geese that flew into the engines? Hitchcock was right! Birds are evil!!! Or perhaps engines are evil and victimised godīs poor creatures.

  29. #30 kamaka
    February 19, 2009

    Some other interview, the pilot was asked about godthoughts.

    *paraphrase* Um, no, I was busy flying the plane…

  30. #31 SteveM
    February 19, 2009

    Actually, it was that guy in the house on the ground (but not his wife and kid, who were elsewhere).

    That is the spooky thing about that crash. Airplane suddenly plummets straight down into one house killing one person (on the ground). If I were a theist, it sure would look like the finger of God to me.

  31. #32 Desert Son
    February 19, 2009

    Many comments in this thread = teh funny.

    Pure wins include ennui, “loving jack-boot of Jesus”
    Sven DiMilo, “turneth the waters of the lavatories blue”
    Doctorb, “aside from the sports section, where it’s a given.”
    and the Rev. BigDumbChimp/Ritchie Valens “Day the Music Died” exchange.

    Lucky I can type this, because I’m laughing too hard to speak coherently.

    Thanks for the smiles. I’m not feeling confident about how I did on my psychometric theory and methods test today, so I could use the laughs. Great stuff!

    No kings,

    Robert

  32. #33 Patricia, OM
    February 19, 2009

    I’d like to see gawd fly a plane. Load one up with believers, and let them pray it off the ground.

  33. #34 yoyo
    February 19, 2009

    hey why do we need pilots at all? god can just lift us up with his holy fingers, saves on staff fuel and global warming – whoops god must want the global warming bit.
    It is nice to know that this fundie is looking after our freedoms by forcing her delusions on us all.

  34. #35 kamaka
    February 19, 2009

    I’d like to see gawd fly a plane. Load one up with believers, and let them pray it off the ground.

    They need a plane?

  35. #36 spinetingler
    February 19, 2009

    SteveM FTW!

  36. #37 Glen Davidson
    February 19, 2009

    They should just be grateful that CBS doesn’t note that god is never in evidence.

    Wasn’t it bad enough that we had to hear how the safe landing was a “miracle” so many times? I really don’t mind if people want to call it that, yet there certainly was no reason to do so.

    Glen D
    http://tinyurl.com/6mb592

  37. #38 skyotter
    February 19, 2009

    “However, we were struck there was not one mention of God, who directs pilots of planes and secures the safety of passengers birds into jet engines with often catastrophic results.”

    ficksed

  38. #39 Rey Fox
    February 19, 2009

    Life is precious and God and the Bible. Help protect our fascisms.

  39. #40 Qwerty
    February 19, 2009

    I laughed when I read “mention God” and “more realistic programming.” As if the sky fairy is realistic.

  40. #41 kamaka
    February 19, 2009

    I’m not feeling confident about how I did on my psychometric theory and methods test today

    You’re over-thinking this.

  41. #42 SassyCanuck
    February 19, 2009

    Even worse then all the pro atheletes thanking God is all the celebrities saying how blessed they are every time they win an award. For some reason that one annoys me most of all.

  42. #43 Sophist FCD
    February 19, 2009

    It always amuses me how often the writers of this sort of letter make use of the royal ‘we’. ‘We’ are offended, ‘we’ demand action, ‘we’ will not be ignored. As though there were some huge group behind the letter, instead of some guy in his basement. Who do they think they’re fooling?

  43. #44 Desert Son
    February 19, 2009

    kamaka,

    Thanks – that was the laugh to cap off the laughs. Time for beer!

    No kings,

    Robert

  44. #45 Marcus J. Ranum
    February 19, 2009

    God make airplane fall out of sky.
    God save people on it.
    God indecisive fucking idiot.

  45. #46 Brownian
    February 19, 2009

    Is the letter writer completely nuts? She obviously thinks God is responsible for everything, so what kind of broadcast would that be?

    ??saving all those aboard, including a very lucky Dalmatian named ?Frank.? Of course, a letter-writing campaign by barely-literate morons requires us to remind you that God is ultimately responsible for guiding pilots, protecting passengers, and naming things ?Frank?.?

    ?That?s great, Rob. Now, let?s go to Jim for the weather. Remember: going to Jim for the weather is made possible by God.?

    ?Thanks Murina. A clear day tomorrow and a high of °F?I?ll have more for you at 11. Thank God for inventing tomorrow, the Fahrenheit scale, and 11 o?clock. Back to you, Laurie via God.?

    ?Thanks Jim and God. Up next: a local quilting bee that raises money for orphans? Ha! You wish. It was God. It?s always God. In fact, God also makes newscasts, so must be listening to Him right now. Oh, and you know what he?s saying? He?s saying you SHOULD GO LIE DOWN IN TRAFFIC, DENA MALDA. DON?T WORRY; ALL THE CARS AND TRUCKS ARE BEING DRIVEN BY GOD.?

    On second thought, I?d like to watch that news show.

  46. #47 Kevpod
    February 19, 2009

    I guess God felt unfulfilled and had to make some mischief four days later with Flight 3407.

    Why doesn’t the media report that, lady?

  47. #48 rickflick
    February 19, 2009

    I grew up right around Muskegon, MI. They were weird then too. Well, not all of them really.
    Muskegon is a factory town with few presumptions, but it has a nice community college, a Unitarian Church, and some very nice beaches. I hope everyone gets a chance to visit some summer.

  48. #49 articulett
    February 19, 2009

    Judging from the 9-11 hijacked planes, God answers to the name of Allah.

  49. #50 Quiet_Desperation
    February 19, 2009

    God is actually fully flight trained on a number of aircraft except, oddly, in how to land them. Hmmm.

  50. #51 www.10ch.org
    February 19, 2009

    If God keeps planes safe, then it is quite unfortunate that God is sometimes neglectful of his duty.

  51. #52 Quiet_Desperation
    February 19, 2009

    Oh, and I’m totally calling hoax on the letter.

  52. #53 Quiet_Desperation
    February 19, 2009

    If God keeps planes safe, then it is quite unfortunate that God is sometimes neglectful of his duty.

    My goodness, you should *see* the file the NTSB has on God!

  53. #54 ggab
    February 19, 2009

    If ever there was an example of why we should stop fighting among ourselves over petty shit, this is it.
    The sheer ignorance, and sense of entitlement of our common foe.
    How are these people not overcome with shame?

  54. #55 Sili
    February 19, 2009

    To be fair:

    MSM emotion-pron with absolutely no mention of Gawd? – That *is* rather unrealistic for the present-day US.

  55. #56 Marcus J. Ranum
    February 19, 2009

    Brownian furrows his brow and ponders:
    Is the letter writer completely nuts? She obviously thinks God is responsible for everything, so what kind of broadcast would that be?

    Yes, completely. After all, if god is responsible for everything, he apparently didn’t WANT better coverage of his involvement, or he’d have arranged it. By complaining that 60 Minutes didn’t properly mention god, tard-woman was thwarting the divine will!!!

    god-logic: the logic that’s not.

  56. #57 Kylyssa Shay
    February 19, 2009

    Thanks for posting this! I live in Grand Rapids, Michigan just a short distance from Muskegon, Michigan. I’m always looking for quotes from people representative of the West Michigan area to show people what it’s like to live here.

    I’m saving up to move to somewhere civilized.

  57. #58 Cuttlefish, OM
    February 19, 2009

    One does not have to be insane
    To see god flying every plane
    But it helps.
    Believing Satan helps release
    A godless flock of killer geese?
    Um, Pastor Phelps?

  58. #59 Gryphin
    February 19, 2009

    Damn… I spent all that time learning to fly, spending about 1200 hours doing CFI/I & MEI, moving on to commercial flying. I should have just grabbed a bible and jumped into the left seat of an American Airlines 747. I’m sure God would have told me how to go thru the checklist, start the engines, and prevent me from killing a crapload of people on takeoff.

  59. #60 Hepius
    February 19, 2009

    Couric specifically asked Sullenberger if he prayed during the event. He said, “I would imagine somebody in back was taking care of that for me while I was flying the airplane.” He went on to say that he was focused on nothing else but landing the plane.

    Hmmmm…. imagine that. He was focused on landing the plane and not on his deity. That’s the kind of pilot I want on every plane I get onto.

    By the way, Sullenberger is one cool cat. He must have ice in his veins.

  60. #61 slang
    February 19, 2009

    who’s that god fella that threw the birds in the engine anyway?

    gah.. dear cuttlefish already said it much better than I ever could

    (phelps and jumbo engine.. w00t)

  61. #62 MikeP
    February 19, 2009

    The comments (mostly because it was linked from Fark.com) became a little less funny when I realized the woman is ~90 years old.

  62. #63 DaveL
    February 19, 2009

    Commenter “signine” from the article makes an excellent point. How twisted do you have to be to not consider interviewing the principal players in an actual real-life event “realistic programming?”

  63. #64 Somero
    February 19, 2009

    I have a friend from Muskegon.
    Not sure what his exact religious beliefs are, but he’s definitely a skeptic.

    Although his skepticism seems to be based more on emotion and his feelings towards his (very religous) mother then it is evidence.

  64. #65 Christopher
    February 19, 2009

    On behalf of all freethinking Muskegonites I just want to say that this lady’s letter gave me the embarrassment shivers. I’m so glad I don’t live there any more.

  65. #66 kamaka
    February 19, 2009

    I’m saving up to move to somewhere civilized.

    Oh, do come to North Dakota. We’re working on this “life begins at conception” law as we speak.

    Sorry, you’ll have to copy and paste, not so good at html.

    http://www.grandforksherald.com/articles/index.cfm?id=106977&section=News

    Good stuff, this. Don’t have a tubal ligation if you can help it, though.

    Note the farsightedness… drinking alcohol or smoking while pregnant=reckless endangerment. Very enlightened policy.

    Proud to be a “Rough Rider”.

    Mild winters, too. 38 below only lasted a few days this year, unlike last winter.

    I look forward to meeting you.

  66. #67 RayB
    February 19, 2009

    As a flight attendant based out of New York told me, the only miracle is that the passengers didn’t get their pockets picked after they got on the ferries.

  67. #68 tacitus
    February 19, 2009

    Neither Sully nor his co-pilot has ever said that God had anything to do with their amazing feat, even when pressed quite hard about it by people like Larry King. They have always put it down to three things: professionalism, training and luck.

    In fact, I am so used to people “thanking God” at every opportunity, that their refusal to acknowledge that anything supernatural was going on was an extremely pleasant surprise. Whether or not they are atheists or agnostics, they deserve much kudos for not bowing to the pressure they must have felt to give at least give a nod to our Almighty Imaginary Friend.

    Bravo!!

  68. #69 FrodoSaves
    February 19, 2009

    “Write CBS?”

    Write CBS?”

    What ever happened to our much needed friend, the preposition? He alone can make sense of this sentence. Unless we are being asked to literally write the letters ‘CBS’…

    PZ, you may have lamented sentence diagramming, but grammar isn’t improving under its own steam!

  69. #70 Josh
    February 19, 2009

    Funny; I watched that whole interview painfully awaiting the expected God-moment, and was thrilled when, for fucking once, it didn’t appear.

  70. #71 recovering catholic
    February 19, 2009

    I watched the coverage by Jim Lehrer, and just about swore off his newshour when he made reference to the landing perhaps being a “miracle”. Very disappointing, that.

  71. #72 Wowbagger
    February 19, 2009

    FrodoSaves,

    Dropping the ‘to’ after ‘write’ is one of the more curious Americanisms. Much like saying one-hundred-fifty instead of one-hundred-and-fifty.

  72. #73 Circe of the Godless
    February 19, 2009

    People have a terminal case of thankGodness. What an insult to reality.

    And if you do, really , think you local Sky Fairy is responsible, he’s not listening, he’s still finishing off burning some innocent people to death by forest fire in Aus.

  73. #74 Jeff
    February 19, 2009

    I live in West Michigan (about 30 miles away from Muskegon) and I am not suprised by this comment. However, there is more and more resistance to the rationally challenged people of the area. I guess I will have to find all of the stories that CBS did not mention god and thank them.

  74. #75 DrNathaniel
    February 19, 2009

    Here’s a related blog post: use of the word “Miracle”…

    http://www.bobharris.com/content/view/1669/1/

  75. #76 charley
    February 19, 2009

    From the Pointless Trivia Dept: Rob Malda, founder of Slashdot is from nearby Holland. I know he has relatives in Muskegon; I worked for one. This lady might be a relative.

  76. #78 RayB
    February 19, 2009

    Wowbagger@72:
    Why do you want to turn a number into an addition problem? 150 is one hundred fifty. 100 + 50 is one hundred and fifty. For 1151 would you say one thousand and one hundred and fifty and one? Why put an unneeded “and” between the hundreds column and the tens column?

  77. #79 Tom
    February 19, 2009

    Totally off topic, but I thought you might enjoy this octopus from the gallery of the absurd:

    http://www.galleryoftheabsurd.com/2009/02/the-nadya-suleman-octomom.html

    On topic: If god is really keeping those planes up, then why bother training a crew? Just grab a couple of passengers and let them fly. God will take care of the rest.

  78. #80 Wowbagger
    February 19, 2009

    RayB,

    I’m describing, not prescribing. No-one’s right or wrong; I’m just pointing out where the differences lie.

  79. #81 The Atheist Missionary
    February 19, 2009

    Douglas Adams foresaw a very similar “miracle” in his The Long Dark Tea-Time of the Soul . The only thing I can’t figure out from the “Miracle on the Hudson” is whether it was the work of Thor or Odin.

  80. #82 Keanus
    February 19, 2009

    For Capt. Sullenberger to have prayed while trying to land the plane would have been ethically the same as a driver taking his/her hands off the wheel of a car and covering their eyes upon seeing an object on the highway in front of them. As he related to Couric, when she asked whether he had prayed, “There were a lot of people in the cabin doing that for me. I had to fly the airplane.”

    Would that everyone with responsibility, e.g., Dubya, did the same. If he had done so, maybe we wouldn’t be in the fix it is now.

  81. #83 mellowjohn
    February 19, 2009

    i’d be willing to bet that at least one person on that plane said, “jesus-fucking-christ, we’re all gonna die!!!”

  82. #84 Riktov
    February 19, 2009

    Just imagine if Sullenberger had answered Katie Couric, “No, I didn’t pray. I don’t believe prayer has any effect, nor do I believe in the existence of any God listening to prayers.”

    I see no reason to think or even wish that Sullenberger is an atheist – he seems like a good person whatever his beliefs – but if he were, he was in a perfect position to make such a statement. An undisputed hero with nothing to lose – his life and career are secure, and he seems to have no desire to exploit his fame. Would U.S. Airways dare to fire him for such a statement, a direct answer to a direct question?

    And multitudes of God-worshippers’ heads would explode with cognitive dissonance — hero who saved hundreds’ lives, good! But an athiest, evil! But saved lives, good! But atheist, evil!…

  83. #85 robotaholic
    February 19, 2009

    I’m upset that on that 60 minutes show, they didn’t once mention The Great Teapot

  84. #86 John Phillips, FCD
    February 19, 2009

    Well I must say, the comments section was very refreshing. In fact, with one exception, they could easily have been written by any of the Pharyngula ilk. Maybe there is hope for all you evil godless USAians stuck among all those godbotherers after all :)

  85. #87 melior
    February 19, 2009

    Gawd’s sure been busy with all his intervenin’ lately. He had lots of work to do keeping covetous, thieving, lying Earl Stanford safe from any harm after he swindled tens of thousands of people out of billions of their life’s savings. Thanks, Gawd!

    MEXIA, TEXAS, Feb 19 (Reuters) – When Billie Stanford heard that the Federal Bureau of Investigation had found her stepson Allen Stanford, the billionaire Texan facing a federal fraud charge, she and her husband thanked God.

    “That is one relief off of our minds. We’re so pleased and thankful to the Lord that he’s alive, and healthy, I’m sure,” Stanford, 73, told Reuters.

  86. #88 Mary Shafer
    February 19, 2009

    Makes you wonder why we bother to put ejection seats in military aircraft, doesn’t it?

    Oh, and don’t forget Richie Valens.

  87. #89 a lurker
    February 19, 2009

    Since it has been suggested that letter writer is a Poe. Dena Malda is quite real. Googling her name and city reveals her in this church bulletin of the First Christian Reformed Church of Muskegon, MI. She graduated in 1938.

  88. #90 Fred F.
    February 19, 2009

    If you going to write commentary on a crazy person’s letter, it should be a bit more than just repeating what the letter said in the form of a question.

  89. #91 Rev. BigDumbChimp
    February 19, 2009

    If you going to write commentary on a crazy person’s letter, it should be a bit more than just repeating what the letter said in the form of a question.

    Well thank you Fred for setting everyone straight.

  90. #92 ajcanfil@gmail.com
    February 19, 2009

    Thank you for letting us know about this entertaining moron, PZ! This is definitely one of those “No need to debate fine points, just point and laugh” situations.

  91. #93 Aaron
    February 20, 2009

    Didn’t these ignoramuses know that St. Joseph of Cupertino is the patron saint of pilots. It is he who intercedes in their behalf.

    Unless you’re flying in Buffalo, NY. God hates Buffalo.

  92. #94 Cameron
    February 20, 2009

    The glorious irony is that when US airways applies with their insurance carrier for compensation this will be deemed an “act of god” and will not be covered.

  93. #95 Liberal Atheist
    February 20, 2009

    What about all the plane crashes where people die, then? Did god make those happen as well or was he just bored and wanted to see something happen? What does that say about him and perhaps more importantly what does it say about those who love him?

  94. #96 islandchris
    February 20, 2009

    Jerry Falwell was right – God was flying those planes on 9/11!

  95. #97 DemonHype
    February 20, 2009

    The way I see it, if God can “work through” those real people, then God can accept his accoladed through those same people. Why is it that the Magic Sky-Daddy can use people like puppets to do his will, yet thanks should somehow be seperated from those individuals and directed only at God, who made no decisions and assumed no risk?

    Tell you what, when God shows up in person and catches the plane in mid-fall so we can all see, I’ll thank him personally. Until then, I’ll stick to thanking the actual people involved and not add some unevidenced magic genie who apparently plays favorites with who will live and who will die.

    It never ceases to amaze me how these hypocrites can maintain that atheists are the arrogant ones.

    I wish I had been able to see that news story. It does sound like refreshing and much-needed change!

  96. #98 DemonHype
    February 20, 2009

    The way I see it, if God can “work through” those real people, then God can accept his accolades through those same people. Why is it that the Magic Sky-Daddy can use people like puppets to do his will, yet thanks should somehow be seperated from those individuals and directed only at God, who made no decisions and assumed no risk?

    Tell you what, when God shows up in person and catches the plane in mid-fall so we can all see, I’ll thank him personally. Until then, I’ll stick to thanking the actual people involved and not some unevidenced magic genie who apparently plays favorites with who will live and who will die.

    It never ceases to amaze me how these hypocrites can maintain that atheists are the arrogant ones.

    I wish I had been able to see that news story. It does sound like refreshing and much-needed change!

  97. #99 FrodoSaves
    February 20, 2009

    Wowbagger,

    It is curious isn’t it? They also like taking out “that” when it begins a predicative phrase. Observe:

    While Britons prefer to keep words that serve a useful function, Americans happily dispose of words they think have no purpose.

  98. #100 DemonHype
    February 20, 2009

    Sorry, double post. My stupid browser has been acting weird lately.

  99. #101 Logicel
    February 20, 2009

    Sully did not do what is necessary to keep the dream alive. He had an opportunity, and he blew it. Just imagine if his behavior will be used as a role model? People who pull off extraordinary achievements take credit for themselves and give credit to others? The dream will wither–the dream that there is a sky daddy that cares for us. And to make it worst, the media allowed this to happen!!! This is not ‘realistic’ to allow reality to surface because then the ‘reality’ of many will become unreal.

  100. #102 Matt Heath, SRU
    February 20, 2009

    Never mind God, what about the Supreme Ruler of teh Universe?

    I agree with all those who mention the awesome of Captain Sully when asked if he prayed to or thought of God during the crash. It was clearly a struggle for him not to roll his eyes and shout “For fuck’s sake, I had a plane to land!”

  101. #103 Knockgoats
    February 20, 2009

    A helicopter travelling between Aberdeen and a North Sea oil rig ditched in the sea the other day, but all on board survived, without injury I think. Now the local coastguard, helicopter pilots, and even the passengers are all trained within an inch of their lives on what to do in such a case. But of course, according to the local newspaper headlines, their survival was a “miracle”.

  102. #104 Allen N
    February 20, 2009

    @24 LMAO!!

    Unfortunately, the word “miracle” has become a replacement for “against all odds” or some such. I find it annoying as hell. At the same time the work of the entire flight crew including 3 stewardesses who handled 150 or so frightened people was super and made this “miracle” possible.

  103. #105 BigZ
    February 20, 2009

    There are a lot of really religious people here in MI. Most fo them don’t talk to me anymore.

  104. #106 polomint38
    February 20, 2009

    If god directs pilots of planes and secures the safety of passengers, how do the planes from the heathen Muslim countries stay in the air?

  105. #107 Howay the Toon
    February 20, 2009

    Extract from the brilliant BBC show “Outnumbered”

    Mum and 6 year old Karen discussing terrorism whilst waiting in line at the airport.

    Mum: Well, they blow up aeroplanes because they think God has told them to.

    Karen: but that’s stupid

    Mum: I know.

    Karen: I mean God could have just zapped the plane cos he can do anything

  106. #108 GBM
    February 20, 2009

    A little off topic, but oh well. Looking at that excerpt, I think that I finally came to understand something about a certain kind of conservative–when they say ‘freedom’ they don’t actually mean freedom (the lack of external constraint preventing you from doing something or the positive power to do something.) They mean something more like “the leftover bits of Victorian culture that I happen to like.” That’s why they can make sense out of being ‘for freedom’ while simultaneously being anti-choice, anti-gay marriage, etc.

  107. #109 Steve LaBonne
    February 20, 2009

    The comments to that letter were every bit as encouraging as the the letter is stupid. Maybe there’s hope for this country after all.

  108. #110 George
    February 20, 2009

    god keeps people safe on airplanes, except when he doesn’t.

  109. #111 SteveM
    February 20, 2009

    When something like this happens I always think of the story “The Bridge of San Luis-Rey” (or “over”). We read it in High School english class. It concerned a monk’s investigation into the lives of 8 people who were killed when this bridge collapsed. The assumption was that God did it. In the end, the monk concluded that there was no reason for God to have done it and sometimes bad things happen to good people. [let me add a little disclaimer here: it has been many years since high school, and I don’t remember actually reading the story, this is mainly from what I remember of the classroom discussion about the story]
    Maybe more people should read this, even though I barely read it, this conclusion has stuck with me and was one of the key influences on my road to abandoning Catholicism and becoming an atheist.

  110. #112 SteveM
    February 20, 2009

    re 111:

    The assumption was that God did it.

    I mean, the assumption was that there was something about these people in particular that would cause God to kill them. And so after a series of stories about each of them, the monk comcludes that there was nothing extraordinary about any of them.

  111. #113 catgirl
    February 20, 2009

    Obviously, God is too busy helping people with their music and acting careers to worry about what happens to planes.

  112. #114 Gindy
    February 20, 2009

    This means that my commercial pilot husband doesn’t have to go to his annual 5 day training session next week. Neato! He can just wave a bible at the controls or speak some holy jingo and the plane will fly itself.

  113. #115 erasmus31
    February 20, 2009

    I’ve had this discussion with several people I know and my comment is always the same – so when god threw those geese into the plane’s engines he was having a little joke?
    WTH?

  114. #116 SLW13
    February 20, 2009

    @ #23: HAAAAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!! I just snorted coffee all over my computer screen.

  115. #117 Greg Peterson
    February 20, 2009

    As I wrote in a note to someone who asked if I thought the Hudson River landing was a “miracle”:

    A skilled and experienced (and calm and intelligent) HUMAN PILOT landed the plane in the Hudson, a HUMAN CREW helped direct the HUMANS, who remained relatively orderly, out of the plane where a bunch of highly trained HUMAN first responders took them to safety, or to receive medical care from dedicated HUMANS in a hospital. I literally don’t see where the miracle part enters into it. I suppose one can always just proclaim that God works through people, which no one could refute, but I fail to see how that would look or feel any different than humans just working through humans. I suppose if it gives people a nice little tingle to thank God for their lives, there’s no huge harm in that, but it does seem to denigrate the actual heroic work of the people who did all the heavy lifting. And one could always wonder why God, who keeps his eye on the sparrow, allowed two fat geese to choke the life out of jet engines on a plane carrying 155 people in the first place. But I’m not much of a theologian, I guess.

  116. #118 Aaron
    February 20, 2009

    In a surprising twist of events, the Vatican has reported that is has misinterpreted the intents of various Biblical passages for the last two thousand years, and that God really is not interested in testing our faith but is interested in testing our competence.

    “Turns out that faith is cheap and easy,” said Pope Benedict XVI, “any miracle can turn water into wine, but it takes real skill to grow a quality Pinot.” The Pope then stumbled out of the room after finishing off his third bottle of the day with a handful of crackers.

    Cardinal Giovanni Lajolo, after he had realized the implications of the news, began practicing the guitar. “Turns out I got nothing,” he said, “no skills at all. If I want to make it into heaven, I had better do something worthwhile before I die. I’m 74 years old, the clock’s ticking.”

    “The way I see it,” yelled the Pope from the next room, “that Sully guy is going to be having afternoon tea with Darwin and God every afternoon, while all of us priests are going to be working the food service line for the rest of eternity. Damn it.”

  117. #119 Gryphn
    February 20, 2009

    The thing I remember about her interview was her asking Sullenberger if he prayed. He answered something to the effect that some of the passengers may have but he was focused on the task at hand.

    I remember thinking “what a stupid question.” I’m sure that’s what I’d want the pilot of a distressed aircraft to focus on during a crisis. Maybe he could ask the flight attendants to lead the passengers in singing a hymn as they smacked into some NYC high rise.

  118. #120 darter22
    February 20, 2009

    I have noticed in the past that sometimes when gods get involved in aviation, they fly planes into skyscrapers.

  119. #121 Rey Fox
    February 20, 2009

    “A skilled and experienced (and calm and intelligent) HUMAN PILOT landed the plane in the Hudson, a HUMAN CREW helped direct the HUMANS, who remained relatively orderly, out of the plane where a bunch of highly trained HUMAN first responders took them to safety, or to receive medical care from dedicated HUMANS in a hospital.”

    Nope, it’s all God. Sure, back when commercial aviation was just getting started, in a similar situation, most likely everyone would have died. But that’s just because God was going through a bit of a miracle slump at the moment. And anyway, he’s a busy deity, you can’t expect him to keep up with all these technological advances. If people would just quit being so arrogant and creating things, they wouldn’t have all these problems.

  120. #122 dean
    February 20, 2009

    @wowbagger: “Dropping the ‘to’ after ‘write’ is one of the more curious Americanisms. Much like saying one-hundred-fifty instead of one-hundred-and-fifty.”

    I don’t know if this really addresses the issue, but in elementary school (1960s) I was taught that “and” is used only to append a decimal. So

    150 is spoken “one-hundred-fifty”

    but

    150.25 would be either “one-hundred-fifty point two five” or “one-hundred-fifty and one-quarter”

    If there was any more to the lesson than “do it this way or there will be hell to pay) (I went to a one-room school, and the old biddy who taught really was an old biddy) I don’t remember it. It stuck with me, through out college and graduate school to now.

  121. #123 SteveM
    February 20, 2009

    150 is spoken “one-hundred-fifty”

    Yes, the reason is, I was taught, is to be consistent with larger numbers such as 150,000; saying it as “one hundred and fifty thousand” could be misinterpreted as 100 plus 50,000.

  122. #124 Chris Tucker
    February 20, 2009

    MEMO
    From: David Attenborough
    To: CBS/60 Minutes
    Subject: Hate Mail from godbotherers.

    “Welcome to MY World!”

    Yours,
    David

  123. #125 Tulse
    February 20, 2009

    God really is not interested in testing our faith but is interested in testing our competence.

    That was a brilliant piece, Aaron — that goes in the keeper file.

  124. #126 Phil E. Drifter
    February 20, 2009

    Reminds me of a yellow school bus (I think in NY but I may be wrong) a year or 3 ago which went out of control and flipped onto it’s side and dozens of kids had broken bones and some news channel interviewed one kid who got away without any broken bones and he said something retarded like ‘god was looking after me,’ meanwhile god wasn’t looking after the dozen+ kids who had broken arms, elbows, legs…

  125. #127 Phil E. Drifter
    February 20, 2009

    You gotta give god credit, i mean, he *did* tell Bush to invade Iraq, ya know, against the ‘wars of agression’ clause of the Constitution, against the fact that even god new that iraq was no threat to the US…

  126. #128 hahahaha
    February 21, 2009

    Is this a place where all the people that are bitter against religion convene, or what? You people are miserable! Wow! I don’t even go to church and I find your anti-God attitude repulsive… Were you all raped as children, or what???

  127. #129 Sven DiMilo
    February 21, 2009

    Some people here were raped as children, yeah. Others were not (I wasn’t). Some people here are bitter against religion, yeah. They have excellent reason to be. I am not so much. But yes, a lot of us here have no religious beliefs whatsoever, i fthat’s what you meant.
    Your (rather hyperbolically expressed) concern is noted.

  128. #130 BlueIndependent
    February 21, 2009

    These idiots are extra-special insecure. They went from god to nationalistic freedom-banging in only two sentences. OK maybe it’s rather easy to go from god to guns, stars, and stripes even quicker than that, but talk about a revealing look at a closed mindset. People give a harrowing account of their nearly tragic accident, and these couch potatoes are pissed that god wasn’t mentioned. Pretty pathetic.

  129. #131 BlueIndependent
    February 21, 2009

    “Is this a place where all the people that are bitter against religion convene, or what? You people are miserable! Wow! I don’t even go to church and I find your anti-God attitude repulsive… Were you all raped as children, or what???

    Uh, gee, thanks for being yet another example of why religion gets scorn around here. If we don’t care for it, we must have been raped as children? What the hell kind of thinking is that? Maybe it has more to do with the fact that most of us grew up with one form or religion or another, and after becoming adults and getting exposure to the wider world and real life, we decided religion was not something of value in our lives, and complicated more things than it solved. Ever think of that before getting all bothered? And what allows you to quantify my life as being bitter? My atheist self and my agnostic wife are very fine, thank you very much. We don’t need a fairy being to wake up in the morning or protect in bed at night.

    I grew up in a large religious family, was most emphatically *never* abused, and attended church regularly until I was about 20. Since that time I’ve come to reject religion because it serves me no purpose, and does not add anything to my life (not even getting into all the myriad negative reasons for which to alleviate it from my life). We are against religion around here primarily for reasons based in reality and scientific research. We find exceedingly little, and just about nothing really, to justify belief in a god or gods, no matter how benign or confrontational that belief is. And make no mistake: we are universally atheist in reference to ALL religions, not just yours. If you don’t like the “anti-god” material here, you are entitled and empowered not to return. Just keep in mind any posts you put here that express the kind of ignorance you just did are going to earn you a lot of ire.

  130. #132 astrounit
    February 21, 2009

    No no no, I think we’ve got it all wrong. Obviously God hates birds, so He grabbed a handy Airbus 320 and smited a bunch.

    He is not at all fond of them. They’re impertinent and a nuisance. They are uppity to fly around like angels. Their gargoyle manner, talons and beaks remind Him of other vermin He has crossed.

    Their attempt to hide their scaly heritage with glamorous plumage doesn’t fool HIM, nosiree.

    He tried to smite all of them with a handy asteroid back about 64 million years ago, but they managed to survive, the crafty little devils.

    He’s tried everything, but vermin will be vermin. Lately He’s tried everything from thinning their egg shells to whacking them with wind farm blades. He even recruited Dick Cheney to off some, straight out of their cages. But they keep coming back.

    Perhaps He’s planned a real whopper in store for them for the Winter Solstice of 2012…It’s in the Mayan Prophecies, you know: “And the world shall be covered in feathers…”

  131. #133 Dog is my Co-pilot
    February 21, 2009

    > It was clearly a struggle for him not to roll his eyes and shout “For fuck’s sake, I had a plane to land!”

    Reading this, I can’t help but flash back to what my first flight instructor told me about 10 years ago when I was learning to fly (as a private pilot). It was something like this: “When an emergency occurs, it is not acceptable to give up — ever — or to assume responsibility for your fate lies in anyone else’s hands. Not ATC, not god. *You* are the pilot-in-command, *you* have the responsibility and authority for the safety of the flight and of every person on the plane. No matter what happens, your first priority at all times to is FLY THE FUCKING PLANE.”

    That said, I suspect that to an uninformed and scientifically-illiterate layperson, the fact that planes fly at all might seem so nearly miraculous itself that there’s simply no basis for comprehending just how much engineering effort, training, systems, and skill contributed to this outcome. Is it all that different than a four-year-old asking why the stork doesn’t get credit for delivering babies? As Arthur C. Clarke quipped, any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic — the reality is just so far beyond their frame of reference as to be incomprehensible. (Not that adults have an excuse for having such impoverished frames of reference, but that’s a bigger issue.)

  132. #134 B-Girl
    February 21, 2009

    uhhhh… #128, did you not read the heading at the top of the page? “Evolution, development, and random biological ejaculations from a godless liberal” Most of the regular readers of this site are also atheists or some other form of freethinkers.

    I find it “repulsive” that most of the time when something good happens religious people call it a “miracle” or the “hand of god”, but when something horrible happens to “good” people, you don’t hear that “god wants them to suffer”. Religion and “god” are shoved down our throats on an almost daily basis, so we come to sites like this to share our thoughts and read the writings of like-minded people, like Professor Myers.

    I personally am not at all bitter against religion, I just have no place or need for it in my life. I stopped trying to believe in a “god” before I stopped believing in Santa Claus and the Tooth Fairy.

    What I am bitter about is the arrogance of religious folks who insist on forcing others to listen to their nonsense and insist that we “respect” their beliefs and that we are not respecting their beliefs if we do anything that indicates we do not share their beliefs. I actually considered walking out on my high school (a public, town run school in Massachusetts) and college (a private, non-religious school) graduations because there was a “benediction” as part of the ceremony. The only reason I didn’t was because it was important to my family to see me graduate.

    I think most atheists lead happy lives, at least as happy as most religious folks (and we can sleep in on Sunday mornings and/or hit the clubs on Friday and Saturday nights, and don’t have to exclude certain foods from our diets because of some book written by primitive people). I can say for certain that I am not miserable. I am quite happy because I can make choices in my life without having to worry about whether I will be punished or rewarded for my actions.

  133. #135 ryan
    February 21, 2009

    Apparently this is related to the phenomena of sprots teams that thank god after a win, but never mention him/her/it after a loss.
    This inconsistency even from christians is proof they don’t really believe their own nonsense.

  134. #136 Menyambal
    February 21, 2009

    I thought God’s special aviation skill was flying airplanes into buildings.

    As another former Muskegonite, I am not a bit surprised by the letter, nor by the fact that no current residents of that town are readers of this blog. There are some really good things about the place, but the people seemed depressed, perpetually. I haven’t been there for 20 years, so things may have improved–I hope so.

  135. #137 Shran
    February 21, 2009

    It’s funny…

    I’ve seen no proof of a god yet. At the same time I’ve also seen no proof of the opposite yet.

    So I wonder, what’s the point of some atheists over here acting the way they do ? If I wouldn’t know better I’d almost think Atheism is just another religion with its own fanatics.

  136. #138 itsalljustaride
    February 21, 2009

    As other commenters familiar with the eccentricities of West Michigan have said, we have our hands full with people like this. West Michigan was the migratory epicenter of the Dutch Christian Reform strain of religiosity. They likes their religion, they likes it something fierce. It’s the bible belt of the Midwest.

  137. #139 ZigZag
    February 21, 2009

    I never believed in miracles until Lake Placid, 1980 when Al Michaels asked me if I believed in miracles. I said “Yes!”. (Honestly, I think that is where “miracles” became synonymous with rare or against all odds.)

    Doesn’t just the mere mention of the “Miracle on Ice” give you the goosebumps. It does for me. Such a time of raw and true patriotism. And no, god had nothing to do with that either.

    And god didn’t save those people on the plane, I think he was at a boxing match that day. That’s where the money is you know. Ten percent of a couple million for helping one guy win a fight is way more important than people flying on magical metal bird.

    With all that said….

    i love #45 #110 #120

    #15 in reference to #9, that was pretty effin funny. I don’t think alot of people caught that Ritchie. I mean you had La Bamba, how could they forget you?

  138. #140 God
    February 21, 2009

    It was me. I did do it.

  139. #141 Dave
    February 22, 2009

    If god was involved, then why didn’t he just move the geese out of the way, which caused the accident in the first place?

  140. #142 blufindr
    February 22, 2009

    Let me get this straight.
    When it’s an accident that could have gone wrong but didn’t, it was God’s will. But when it’s an accident that did go wrong, with horrible results, it was God’s will? Keep in mind that this is meant to be an omnibenevolent God, too.
    Contradictions build up the majority of the Christian faith, it seems.

  141. #143 piper
    February 22, 2009

    Funny….they didn’t mention MY imaginary friend lester, either. what assholes.

  142. #144 Pirate
    February 23, 2009

    God was driving the seagull.

  143. #145 Debbie
    February 23, 2009

    G-d must’ve been pissed at the Titanic, too. How does G-d figure out each year which teams he wants to win the big games? I mean, he clearly supported Detroit this year. Oh, it’s because it’s the only get stuff they get. He just evened it out. I answered my own question. Sorry. I don’t think they had to thank G-d. They did the work. Why did G-d cause them so much trouble? That wasn’t friendly. G-d isn’t blamed when a plane crashes. Congratulations to the pilot and crew for their excellent work in the face of what G-d challenged them with. How about that one?

  144. #146 Pirate
    February 23, 2009

    Geese. Maibad.

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