God and Natural Disaster

Heather Mac Donald asks,

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?

She credibly disposes of the “mysterious ways” fallback, by the way.

FILED UNDER: General,
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.

Comments

  1. sam says:

    I recall watching Siskel and Ebert one night, and they reviewed a movie in which someone was clinically dead for about a minute and half on the table. He was revived and this was treated as a “miracle”. I remember Siskel saying, “Yeah, right. I wanna see them bring somebody back after a year.”

  2. Hoodlumman says:

    The current record is three days.

  3. Bithead says:

    Two atheists having sex:

    “Oh, chance!”
    ” Oh, Evolution that was good!!”
    [/snark]

  4. Jay C. says:

    There is a reason why in personal discourse (not worth blogging, really) did I never refer to the Hudson landing (river-ing?) as “miraculous.”

    Miracles, in this Catholic-educated mind of mine, consist of events that can not be explained by any of the physical sciences or faculties of Man. The Hudson landing was the result of a quick-witted pilot who made a good decision. The Buffalo crash will be explained by physical means, as well. No “negative” miracle here.

    Now, if I may speculate on the intent of the Divine, perhaps their deaths may be an act of Mercy? This is the problem I have with atheists who try to bait Believers. They seem to do it for no other reason that to take a chance to scream “Killer God!” or “Where’s your God now?” If I wanted to read that kind of trope, there’s the book of Job.

  5. Alex Knapp says:

    Jay,

    This is the problem I have with atheists who try to bait Believers. They seem to do it for no other reason that to take a chance to scream “Killer God!” or “Where’s your God now?” If I wanted to read that kind of trope, there’s the book of Job.

    There were a LOT of believers who claimed that Flight 1549 was the “work of God” even if you yourself did not.

    I’d also point out that in the Book of Job, God’s answer to the question of “why do bad things happen to good people?” essentially consists of “Because I’m God and you’re not, so suck it!” That’s not exactly satisfactory.

  6. Alex Knapp says:

    Bithead,

    Let me assure that that atheist dirty talk is considerably more inventive than that.

    But then, I’ve never understood why believers violated the Ten Commandments during sex like that…

    [/snark]

  7. […] HT: Outside the Beltway […]

  8. tom p says:

    As a committed aetheist, I have always respected anothers right to believe. Still, some years back, a buddy of mine had the idea for the “Church of God the Almighty and the Utterly Indifferent”; that he “so created the world in six days, and on the seventh he said, “It’s your problem now.”

    Now that was a religion I could get behind.

  9. Jay C. says:

    Alex, I’m actually not a Believer, been a Catholic-educated agnostic since the end of High School. I agree, there are a LOT of believers who claimed that F1549 was the “work of God,” and I find it shameful that they would attribute to the Divine what is clearly the work of Man. This was the great Problem that I faced as I grew up.

    The Believers who credit God with F1549 are now faced with the age old question of why bad things happen to good people, like you say. In Star Wars lore, the only response to that situation is to scream, “It’s a TRAP!”

  10. tom p says:

    The current record is three days.

    Hoodlumman: HUH???? You got a link? Seriously, I would like to read about this case.

  11. Michael says:

    “Oh, chance!”
    ” Oh, Evolution that was good!!”

    Snark aside,there are likely more Christians who believe in evolution that atheists.

  12. Bithead says:

    Count me among them.
    See, I look at is this way; That man has evolved since he was created was never a question for me. follow?

  13. Michael says:

    Count me among them.
    See, I look at is this way; That man has evolved since he was created was never a question for me. follow?

    Ah yes, but if that is true then the way we are now isn’t necessarily how we were when we were created. So then, Bithead, how did man look when he was created?

  14. Jamie says:

    The Lord giveth and the Lord taketh away. Blessed be the name of the Lord.

  15. John425 says:

    As an old sergeant told me long ago: “Sarge, if you’re born to hang, you’ll never drown.”

    Coincided with my education at a Marianist college. They were big on pre-destination inside a circle of free will.

  16. Eneils Bailey says:

    I remember long ago and far away in some exotic foreign land, I watched people die, no more than two to three feet from me. After it was over, I wondered why certain people lived and the unfortunate died.
    My younger brother went there a few years later, he came back, rejoicing in the fact so many of his men survived.
    How do you rejoice the fact that ten of thousands died while a few you knew survived?
    Reminds me of one of the last scenes in in the movie, “Schindler’s List.” He has great remorse over not saving more Jews. He leaves with a gold ring the Jews made for him inscribed “He who saves the life of one man, saves the world entire.”

    If I was a religious person, I would probably figure God to think of me as saving one, maybe two people, after that, I am out of gas.

    I don’t figure God to take care of everyone here, but have a few to take care of however many they can.

  17. Steve Plunk says:

    As a back sliding Baptist let me offer this explanation from the theology I know.

    A world without God’s influence is place with neither good nor evil just things. If a plane crashes and a hundred die it is not an evil thing. If a pilot miraculously saves a plane from crashing it’s not a good thing.

    Believers understand that evil exists and that Satan is just as omnipresent as God. God will choose to step in and counter that evil but not in all cases. If God chooses to intervene is can be considered a miracle or a blessing. If God chooses not to it is essentially the natural state of things.

    Now that’s not the most eloquent way of putting things but it may help. By understanding how Christians think we may be able to get along with them better and learn to live alongside them in peace and harmony.

    For those atheist out there I wonder why they would even be concerned with this? Or is it the old your religion is illogical so you must be an idiot?

  18. tom p says:

    If I was a religious person, I would probably figure God to think of me as saving one, maybe two people, after that, I am out of gas.

    I don’t figure God to take care of everyone here, but have a few to take care of however many they can.

    Eneils, you and I never agree, but sometimes you reach pure poetry. Keep it up,

    a Fan

  19. steve s says:

    It’s pretty clear that the difference in outcomes has to do with the circumstances, and not the whims of an invisible sky fairy.

  20. William d'Inger says:

    I remember long ago and far away in some exotic foreign land, I watched people die, no more than two to three feet from me. After it was over, I wondered why certain people lived and the unfortunate died.

    I had somewhat similar experiences in that place. Came home without a scratch on me. Felt cheated that I didn’t get a purple heart. Anyways, I have always chalked it up to statistics (which drives my religious friends to have conniption fits).

    Anyway, I consider questioning the God myth to be a logically valid pursuit whenever someone claims His hand in everything.

  21. anjin-san says:

    Something bit has never heard during sex:
    “Oh _______ that was good!”
    </snark>

  22. Joe R. says:

    Snark aside,there are likely more Christians who believe in evolution that atheists.

    Given that Christians worldwide outnumber atheists worldwide by 8:1, that’s not much of a claim. If you open it up to include all “non-religious” the number drops to around 2:1, which is still not a great claim.

  23. All O’Reilly does is ridicule my state for not passing Jessica’s Law. In God, we should seek deeper meaning for disasters. And horrible crimes.

  24. Eneils Bailey says:

    Eneils, you and I never agree,

    And that is OK.
    The World would be a dreadfully boring place if everyone agreed with one another.

    The world world would stop spinning without opposing forces, and so would our brains.

  25. Bill H says:

    If God chooses to intervene…

    That begs the question, really. By “choosing not to intervene” God is actively allowing the event to happen. Why allow one plane to crash and not another? You are answering that with, “If God chooses to intervene…” That makes no sense.

  26. Tertius says:

    Here’s the Christian explanation: God has no obligation to save anyone but in His mercy can intervene in miraculous instances to show the depths of His love and grace.

    Ultimately a reprieve from death is just another occasion to recall that one day we will stand before a holy God who demands holiness in us. That holiness of character is impossible to fulfill apart from our union with Jesus Christ, having faith in His sacrifice for our sins on the cross.

    You never know when your time is up, so now is a good a time as any to repent of your sins, trust in Jesus to save you, and start living your life with Him as your Lord.

  27. Eneils Bailey says:

    Ultimately a reprieve from death is just another occasion to recall that one day we will stand before a holy God who demands holiness in us. That holiness of character is impossible to fulfill apart from our union with Jesus Christ, having faith in His sacrifice for our sins on the cross.

    And that will serve people well, to have to have that belief. Because we know not from where it will come or when it will come.

    You never know when your time is up, so now is a good a time as any to repent of your sins, trust in Jesus to save you, and start living your life with Him as your Lord.

    What, if now, ten seconds before the plane crashes is a good time to repent your sins, pray for forgiveness; are you afforded the same destiny as life-long believers?

    I have seem life-long believers, who unbeknown to them, have violated almost every tenant of their religion. I have seem life-long dis-believers who drop to their knees and pray when the “Tiger looks them in the Eye.”

    As far as this is concerned; I stay firmly planted in the middle. I don’t get offended by the beliefs of either side.
    People on both sides have often asked me,”Why do you believe in nothing, that no belief at all?’

    My “belief” is that I “believe” I am just not smart enough to figure it all out.

    Who’s right, who’s wrong, damn if I can say so

  28. Eneils Bailey says:

    Sorry for the couple of grammatical errors in the above comment.
    It’s a dyslexic error.

  29. Bithead says:

    Ah yes, but if that is true then the way we are now isn’t necessarily how we were when we were created. So then, Bithead, how did man look when he was created?

    Refer back to the earliest fossil records we have, and note that the missing link is still… well… missing.

    On the other hand, there IS Anjin…

    Something bit has never heard during sex:
    “Oh _______ that was good!”

    … so perhaps the reason the link has been missing is it’s still with us.

    No, Anjin.. the word generally used is not ‘good’, but ‘fabulous’. It’s a method of staying married for the 20 years I’ve been so.

  30. Michael says:

    Refer back to the earliest fossil records we have, and note that the missing link is still… well… missing.

    You do realize that the very concept of a “missing link” is foreign to evolution theory, right? I mean, it makes for good anti-science fodder, and second rate sci-fi movies, but it’s not a scientific concept in any respect.

  31. anjin-san says:

    No, Anjin.. the word generally used is not ‘good’, but ‘fabulous’. It’s a method of staying married for the 20 years I’ve been so.

    Ya know bit, a guy who really had confidence in his ability to take care of business would have probably have just let this one slide 🙂

  32. Bithead says:

    Ya know bit, a guy who really had confidence in his ability to take care of business would have probably have just let this one slide 🙂

    Someone so confident would never have braoched the subject in the first place.

    To the rest; I’d urge reading Dan Calabrese’s response.

    I’d also wonder if MacDonald, or for that matter, any of the rest of you, have ever read Cardinal Newman’s 1852 Irish lectures on what constitutes a gentleman… or in this context, one presumes, gentlewoman:

    If he be an unbeliever, he will be too profound and large-minded to ridicule religion or to act against it; he is too wise to be a dogmatist or fanatic in his infidelity. He respects piety and devotion; he even supports institutions as venerable, beautiful, or useful, to which he does not assent; he honors the ministers of religion, and it contents him to decline its mysteries without assailing or denouncing them. He is a friend of religious toleration, and that, not only because his philosophy has taught him to look on all forms of faith with an impartial eye, but also from the gentleness and effeminacy of feeling, which is the attendant on civilization.

  33. Bithead says:

    You do realize that the very concept of a “missing link” is foreign to evolution theory, right?

    Of course it is… Because the thery cannot account for the huge hole in the fossil records. Making such a part of the theory would be counter-productive in terms of getting the theory adopted.

  34. Michael says:

    Of course it is… Because the thery cannot account for the huge hole in the fossil records.

    Okay, you do realize that there is no gaping hole in the fossil record of human ancestry, right?

  35. Bithead says:

    Ummm… No….

  36. Michael says:

    By transitional forms, we mean intermediate forms of life appearing in the fossil record that are “in-between” existing types of organisms found today or in the past.

    Please explain to me how an “in-between” form of life is different from an existing organism found today or in the past. It sounds like they’ve defined a “transitional form” as some kind of non-organism, that would necessarily exist in the middle of a lineage of actual organisms.

    If you find that to be a logical argument, then I submit to you that numbers aren’t sequential, as evidence by the fact that there are no “transitional numbers”, by which I mean intermediate forms of numbers that appear “in-between” existing numbers.

  37. Bithead says:

    then logically, what you’re suggesting is that they just magically went from one form to another in a fairly small number of generations. (One?)
    That doesn’t seem overly logical either.

  38. Michael says:

    then logically, what you’re suggesting is that they just magically went from one form to another in a fairly small number of generations. (One?)

    Essentially yes, that is exactly what I am suggesting. Just as one actual number leads directly to another actual number, without the need of any transitional non-number, one organism leads directly to another organism without any transitional non-organism.