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? 😉
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.
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?
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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 ishttp://www.DaveMuscato.com.