Divine Intervention? Really?

390px-Plane_crash_into_Hudson_River_(crop)I worked for the Catholics when Captain Sully Sullenberger landed US Airways Flight 1549, an Airbus A320-214, in the middle of the Hudson River with such skill and aplomb and no loss of life. A few days later, a picture of the plane– the so-called Miracle on the Hudson–appeared in the staff lunch room, scotch-taped to the whiteboard. There was a drawing of the plane floating in the river and underneath and around the plane were a giant pair of hands. God’s hands as far as I could tell. gods_hands

I wondered that day as I stared at that picture on the whiteboard if Sully was angry that people were more willing (or at least as willing) to credit God and divine intervention than they were his skills as a pilot.

As I stood contemplating this bit of magical thinking, I couldn’t help but wonder about all of the other airplanes in the history of aeronautics that had crash landed with less fortunate outcomes. What pictures were we going to draw of these planes? I imagined the large God hands squeezing the planes and hurtling them like an angry Zeus and his lightning bolts, violently toward earth.

Is this what has happened to the missing Malaysian Airlines flight 370? Did God have some sort of score to settle with the 239 passengers? Where were His huge, cradling hands this time? Evidently God did want to save passenger Greg Candelaria (see this post on Patheos.com blog The Friendly Athiest). Mr. Candelaria credits the Big Guy with divinely intervening in his life, thereby saving him from whatever horrible fate the rest of the passengers succumbed to. This sort of thinking makes absolutely no sense. Somebody made an error and now the plane is gone. Period. Sully made a great save and no one died. Period. No magic.

What sort of arrogance is required to claim God singled you for salvation while condemning your colleague and 238 other people to death? The guy is still with us because he cancelled his trip. All of us who weren’t on that flight should also be able to claim divine intervention, yes?

We may never know what happened to Malaysian Airlines Flight 370. Maybe they got Raptured. Maybe God picked that plane right out of the sky and took it to heaven and we will never find it. Maybe, Mr. Candelaria missed out on that. Maybe god doesn’t want him right now. I wonder if he considered that possibility?

3 thoughts on “Divine Intervention? Really?

  1. Good post… something believers always seem to miss out is that when they claim there are no atheists in foxholes they also have to claim that their god makes people throw themselves on hand grenades and be blown apart because he doesn’t want those other people in heaven yet.

    If god gets credit for the Hudson river landing then he has to be blamed for everything leading up to it… and there is no free will.

  2. “CBC: Bad news is cyclical. There’s always gonna be bad news, and we get through it, right?
    Atwood: That’s what people always say.
    CBC: That’s what people always say?
    Atwood: Of course, the people who say that are the people who have gotten through it. Because the others aren’t there to say that.”
    (CBC interview with Margaret Atwood, 2007.)

    The insistence that God is white, speaks English, and favours you because your wish was granted (the plane landed safely, the cancer went into remission, their child got into ___________, this makes my nuts. It is a theology of God as Santa and you can find whole churches full of these folks (the most vocal in the piety pews, rows 1-5). They give believers like myself a bad name. What about the folks who lost the baby, the cancer came back, their child became addicted: are they somehow lacking in faith or favour? What would the dead have to say about God’s grace?

    Most of the folks who live by/espouse this sort of magical thinking, are followers of a theology based on the guy who didn’t make it. Ironic, huh?

    Meanwhile, God is WAAAY too busy finding me parking in downtown Seattle to look for a missing plane. 🙂

    1. I sure hope you got a parking space and that your team won 🙂 I don’t mind so much when god helps my friends with their personal stuff.

      It’s interesting, after I wrote this piece I had an encounter of the Divine kind. I’ll have to write about that now, I suppose. Funny how life works out.

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