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Almost died today.

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Hello all,

This afternoon, I pulled out onto Paris Road and another car came barreling through the red light, without even slowing down. If I had been going 2 miles per hour faster, it would have T-boned me right in the driver’s side door. I estimate the other car was going around 50 mph.

I did honk at him (her?) by reflex, but strangely, immediately afterward, I wasn’t scared or freaked out so much as that I felt annoyed. And whereas some people might be tempted to pray or thank a deity, my first instinct was to think, “I should blog about this.”

That’s as close as I can figure as a “true test of atheism.” At no point during that entire episode, until quite a bit after it was over, did I think anything about gods (and even then, it was only because I noticed that I didn’t have an urge to pray or thank one).

It’s interesting to me how far I’ve come in the past few years. If this had happened 3 or 4 years ago, I’d be praising Jesus for saving my life.

What’s interesting to me is that, when people’s lives are “spared” in such a manner as this, why aren’t people ever pissed at Jesus for letting them get so close to death in the first place?

I mean, if you’re going to give credit to Jesus for saving you from getting hit by a car, doesn’t it make sense that he would have the power not to let you get into the situation in the first place?

Some people might say that it’s just human actions and the natural universe that gets us into these situations, but when we get out of them, that’s Jesus or [insert deity here]. But that doesn’t make any sense. If you’re saying human actions and the natural universe gets us into these situations, why invoke a deity to explain the tail end of it? Why not just say that human actions – my honking the horn, my noticing there was a car coming and slamming on my breaks, etc – and the natural universe was responsible not only for getting me into that situation, but getting me out of it as well?

I see no evidence that any deity had anything to do with what happened this afternoon, either the situation in the first place or getting me out of it once it was in motion. The simplest, most “elegant” explanation, and the explanation that fits all the evidence the best, is simply that the other car wasn’t paying attention and ran a red light, and I happened to notice in enough time to prevent myself from getting hit. Why do some people insist on making it more complicated than that, especially without ANY evidence that that’s the case? I just don’t get it.

Actually, that’s not true. I do get it. I get it because I used to do exactly the same thing. It’s comforting, in a way, to have an imaginary friend who watches out for you. Interestingly, we only give credit when things go well. We pretty much never get pissed at Jesus when things don’t go well – we tend to credit nature or human action for that.

I posted about this whole thing on my Facebook status:

I almost died today. I was pulling out onto Paris Road and another car came barreling through the red light, without even slowing down. If I had been going 2 miles per hour faster, it would have T-boned me right in the driver’s side door. I estimate the other car was going around 50 mph.

I did honk at him (her?) by reflex, but strangely, immediately afterward, I wasn’t scared or freaked out so much as that I felt annoyed. And whereas some people might be tempted to pray or thank a deity, my first instinct was to think, “I should blog about this.” I wonder what that says about me…

A friend of mine who believes Jesus is a god, “R,” responded:

Thanking the Deity!

A few other friends posted various things, and in good spirit, I responded to her:

which one? 😉

R responded:

The God of the Universe, Lord of Lords, Prince of Peace, Everlasting Father, the Great I Am (does that answer your question?)

I said that I was going to blog about this after all, and respond to the comments here.

So, as far as asking if that answers my question: Honestly, it doesn’t really. Those titles can and have been applied to dozens of deities throughout the history of mythology. Of course, I know that she meant Jesus (or did she mean Yahweh? Or El?). But the more-important question is, I think, why credit Jesus, Yahweh, or El? Why not credit Saint Christopher, who is the Catholic patron saint of travelers and transportation? Why not credit Hermes, the Greek god of travelers? Why not credit the Flying Spaghetti Monster?

There is absolutely no reason to assign credit to any of the preceding above and beyond any of the others. As far as we can tell, it’s equally unlikely that any of them had a hand in it. And frankly, rather than piss one of them off for crediting the wrong one – Yahweh makes it pretty clear in Exodus 20:4-5 that he doesn’t take too kindly to people worshipping anyone else, and a lot of the Greek gods were pretty petty creatures when it came to being spurned, too – it seems to be the best thing to simply look at the evidence and try to decide what really happened.

In this case, the entire episode can be explained without any kind of supernatural appeal. It’s not like something miraculous happened here, something that doesn’t seem to be explicable with natural reasoning. I noticed the guy was running the light, slammed on my breaks, honked, and so avoided colliding with him. Is there any good reason I myself shouldn’t “get” the credit for preventing this accident? That’s the explanation that seems to fit the available evidence better than anything else.

Interested in your thoughts.

– Dave

P.S. Thought you’d be interested in this… If Christians REALLY believed in a heaven as they claim, why don’t they act like this?

mail@davemuscato.com

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Dave Muscato is Vice President of MU SASHA. He is a vegetarian, LGBTQ ally, and human- & animal-welfare activist. A junior at Mizzou majoring in economics & anthropology and minoring in philosophy & Latin, Dave posts updates to the SASHA blog every Monday, Thursday, and Saturday. His website is http://www.DaveMuscato.com.

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Helpful resources:

Godisimaginary.com
Iron Chariots Wiki
Skeptics’ Annotated Bible / Skeptics’ Annotated Qur’an
AtheismResource.com
TalkOrigins.org

YouTubers: Evid3nc3Thunderf00tTheAmazingAtheistThe Atheist ExperienceEdward Current,NonStampCollectorMr. DeityRichard DawkinsQualiaSoup

Blogs: Greta ChristinaPZ MyersThe Friendly AtheistWWJTD?Debunking ChristianitySkepChick

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University of Missouri SASHA (Skeptics, Atheists, Secular Humanists, & Agnostics) University of Missouri-Columbia http://www.muSASHA.org

3 comments on “Almost died today.

  1. Christian Huls
    November 5, 2011

    First, Yahushua (Jesus) IS YHWH Elohim. No difference.

    Second, there is a degree of understanding that He is sovereign over all things so we should trust His will no matter what happens, even tragedy. With that said, it doesn’t mean that we should necessarily seek out death. Death is foreign to the universe according to the biblical worldview. It came as a result of the curse. There is a natural desire in all humans to avoid death for this very reason. Death is revolting, even in animals. If you were on a date and came across a large bear carcass in the woods, you wouldn’t want to sit on it and chat. But you might if you saw a dead tree… Paul exemplified the ideal attitude. If he lived, he would continue to live for Christ. But if he died, it was his gain. I have been to many Christian funerals where it was indeed a celebration of a homecoming. Mainly the grief is over the TEMPORARY separation of the relationship.

    You ask why not Hermes, etc. Because there is no logical reason for believing in Hermes. Whereas there is much in favor of believing the Bible, and the Mighty One revealed in it.

  2. MU SASHA Administrator
    November 6, 2011

    Thanks for your comments, Christian. I’m going to respond to a few of the things you wrote:

    “First, Yahushua (Jesus) IS YHWH Elohim. No difference.”

    El and Yahweh were originally two different gods in the Babylonian pantheon. During the development of the Old Testament canon, they were merged into a single god (see the video below). The first generation of Christians, similarly, did not see Jesus as the same entity as El/Yahweh. In fact this was a point of major contention among several of the votes for different credos during the development of the NT canon. Not all the different representatives of different early churches agreed with the concept of the trinity. The idea that Jesus was himself the Father, or even divine at all, is not part of the earliest writings that we have. The Gospel of John seems to develop this theology, but the undisputed Pauline epistles don’t seem to indicate their author is aware of it, and neither does Mark. In fact, in several places in the NT, Jesus makes it explicitly clear that he and the Father are not the same entity. This video might help:

    You wrote:

    “Second, there is a degree of understanding that He is sovereign over all things so we should trust His will no matter what happens, even tragedy.”

    According to whom? Why should I believe this?

    “You ask why not Hermes, etc. Because there is no logical reason for believing in Hermes. Whereas there is much in favor of believing the Bible, and the Mighty One revealed in it.”

    I really don’t see any better logical reasons to believe in the Babylonian/Hebrew god(s) than there are reasons to believe in the Greek gods. They’re all syncretic and based on zero real-world evidence as far as I can tell. You say there is much in favor of believing in the Bible. Could I ask, what is there that’s so in favor of it? Please be as specific & thorough as you’d like. The more thorough you are, the better I can understand where you’re coming from.

    Unlike most Christians I talk to, I appreciate that you are actually willing to give reasons for what you believe, a la 1 Peter 3:15. Most are happy to just rest on the idea that “you just have to have faith,” which is of course nonsense – if faith is your measuring stick, you might as well conclude that the Greek gods are real. At least they’re more entertaining 😉

    Looking forward to your reasons!

    – Dave

  3. Kayden
    November 7, 2011

    It’s my understanding from my faith’s point of view (Jewish) that there is no difference between YHWH/El-him because there was no reason not to combine the two, because in the Jewish tradition there is only one G-d, so they just used them all as different names for the same one. (Though, the fact that people still worshipped various gods in secrecy or what-have-you is obvious or they wouldn’t have kept saying not to do it in the Tanakh). Anyway, but I had no idea until readying Christian’s comment that facets of the One were considered to be Jesus. WOAH. What? I missed something when I was a Christian apparently. Maybe it was all of those absences 8th grade year in Catholic school, I don’t know. I had no idea Christian re-appropriated the already pretty re-appropriated names. In Judaism the names denote different characteristics, in the Babylonian, different gods entirely, in Christianity…. Jesus? What? I guess I just have to hunker down and respect it but I’m still weirded out.

    Anyway. I’ve been reading through the blog lately, and it’s probably because most of your encounters are with Christians or maybe it’s because my faith structure is a little odd, but I’m just not finding any real arguments against what I believe in. I’m not saying you don’t have any, though. However, the most this blog is doing is making me say “Damn, glad I got out when I did.”

    As to the content of this post: I believe we all have free will and as such we are in each others’ hands, despite the existence of a deity. So does the existence of a deity mean that someone we pray for isn’t going to die when they get sick? No. Does it mean that some people are going to die irrationally in car accidents and others will be “miraculously” saved? Yes. The world has built in chaos due to the human component. I find myself believing G-d is mostly concerned with the content of our souls. My religion is more concerned about making the most of this life and living it ethically than finding a place in some mysterious and unknown world to come. It is more relevant to my religion to welcome a poor person into my house than to welcome G-d himself into my house. So maybe I just don’t get the Christian slant this whole world has to offer so the normal atheist rhetoric doesn’t really crack my shell.

    I derailed again so I should probably end this “comment,” eh?

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This entry was posted on November 5, 2011 by in Author: Dave Muscato, Web Links & Videos.
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