Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Let the Foam Wash Away This Horrid Taste

Just saw this on Pharyngula. Ugh. Stories of people surviving disasters where innocents perish, followed by attributing their survival to divine intervention are nothing new, but this one just sticks in my craw more than others for some reason I'm currently trying to parse.

These days, it seems like the word "miracle" is getting more and more devalued. Apparently, at one time, you had to perform mass hydrokinesis or summon Outsider-types with flaming swords to get stuff deemed a miracle. That'd be really cool, and much more convincing than what passes as a miracle these days. Apparently looking at a cheese danish at an odd angle to form a face qualifies. And with the linked example, merely being a lucky survivor with a big ego for rolling a 20 on your Reflex save apparently counts, too. I mean, gee, what do you think would be more beneficial? Some egotistical missionaries survive while several innocents are crushed, or some archangel flying in and safely setting the plane on the ground? If you're not one for theatrics, how about the miracle being planes everywhere never crashing, no matter the odds?

It seems to me that the god of these missionaries is overly fond of breaking eggs, instead of simply snapping his fingers to poof an omelette into existence. If you're omnipotent, you could just snap your fingers to create the greater good, rather than force unnecessary sacrifices from unwilling people. Instead of just doing the right thing and using his power for good, this sort of god has to do everything in a convoluted way that would put Light Yagami to shame. I'm so glad there's no evidence of this god's existence. It's bad enough that physics and probability can cause suffering without thinking about it, they have to posit an all-powerful being who deliberately causes unnecessary suffering.

I'm suddenly reminded of a mine disaster where the rescue was credited as a miracle. I was particularly irate when I read a declaration of that after I had watched a program detailing every step of the rescue and the human knowledge, effort, and heart that went into it, as well as the safety measures implemented in anticipation of a future disaster. I'll go with a saying I heard in Neon Genesis Evangelion: "Determined action is better than a miracle."

1 comment:

Laurie said...

It always really irritates me too, when these people are rescued by some major human effort (surgeon, firefighter, passerby, etc.) and thank a figment of their imagination rather than the person who really deserves it. What gets me is that these rescuers never stand up and say, "Hey! Wait a cotton picking minute here. Maybe I'll think twice about saving you next time, you ungrateful so-n-so!"