Carol vs. Paul (With a Hint of MisterE)
Now, I’m not sure if you read Carol’s pseudo-article in regard to a comment Paul left on her 9/11 piece, but if you did you may have some questions or comments of your own; I know I do. This is not being written to criticize Carol. Rather, I am penning this in order to clarify Paul’s comment and to greatly expound on the issues presented:
“That’s quite a story. God was watching over you in a special way that day.” – Paul
What was intended to be a nice comment, quickly turned – well, not all that nice. Carol wrote this in response:
“Close to 4,000 people died that day at the hands of terrorists, but Paul says, ‘God was watching over me.’ No, Paul, I just didn’t happen to be in any of those buildings or on any of those planes on 9/11. With this thinking, apparently, God wasn’t watching the ones who were killed.”
Now, the debate that presents itself here is interesting. And before I continue, allow me to clarify that while I respect Carol as a writer, I didn’t think her brief article was necessary. Paul was simply trying to say, “Hey, I’m glad you were safe. Luckily you weren’t in those buildings or on those planes!” But, I do understand both sides – to a degree.
Anyway, what was truly mind-boggling were MisterE’s comments, which once again overlook a great deal of philosophical/theological thought and experience:
“Carol, I share your frustration. Christians count the hits, and never the misses. 650,000 INNOCENT people die in the Iraq invasion and nobody said, ‘Hi. You’ve reached God’s answering machine, I’m not home right now, but since I’m the only one true God it is odd that I would not be paying attention…especially since I’m omnipotent…anyway, leave a message after the sound of the harp.”
Now, upon hearing such a statement, one may experience an instant brain freeze. Where do I even begin to address this smorgasbord of inaccuracy? Well, let’s start by presenting it in order from least important to most (and this is not to devalue lives lost to any degree, rather it is a schema designed to show increasing weight on inaccurate facts and assertions).
The 650,000 number has not been accepted universally (I tend to think it’s a little high). Other estimates are much lower. What is bothersome about MisterE’s rant, is the ease at which he presents the number. Now, allow me to remind you (or you can search his past articles for corroboration) that MisterE is a man who relies heavily on science and reason. With this in mind, why would he utilize this number so freely without taking note that it was part of a report that was released just two weeks prior to the 2006 elections (it’s been ruled by many as a political tool to help the Democrats), that the report has come under heavy fire from researchers across the board and that it is the highest number that has been mentioned by mainstream media?
If I rattled off numbers that were present in a conservatively-oriented report about abstinence-only education (not that I would bind to such an ideology; this is simply an example), MisterE would go on about how my numbers had a conservative bias, yet here he uses the 650,000 without utilizing his reason we’ve all come to know and love (I’m teasing here a bit, MisterE; while I disagree with 99.9% of what you say, you always state your case with your own personal viewpoints penned to a perfection your political party would truly enjoy).
And as far as Christians go, we do count the misses – atheists and agnostics simply fail to understand our methodology. The central tenant that is missing from his quote – and from his argument – is that of free will. Christians believe that God gives every individual free will. In the end, humans make an immeasurable number of choices every day.
We choose to turn the lights on or off, who we hang out with, what we eat – and inevitably we make a heart-felt choice as to whether we’ll allow Christ to take the helm – whether or not we’ll accept the sacrifice He’s made for us. And it’s up each and every individual.
I don’t believe that God interferes with our free will. I do believe, however, that he provides us with choices and scenarios; to be good or to do good, we must seek it – we must want it. When MisterE speaks of 650,000 innocent persons, he not only makes it sound as though the U.S. murdered these lives (while, in fact, we all know that the majority of the deaths – at least 70% — have been caused by radical Islamists/insurgents), he ignores free will and asks why Christians aren’t questioning God (or counting the “misses” as he calls it).
What he fails to realize is that the terrorists responsible for the death and destruction in Iraq, in Darfur, in Africa – around the globe (oh yes, and on 9/11) were not seeking to make their lives right. Not only were they not seeking right, but they had/have their hearts set on doing wrong.
God doesn’t intervene to change our decisions before we make them; He provides us with opportunities. While He is omnipotent, it would not be in His character to make us into robotic creatures who acted as a result of His own impulses. While He wants good for our lives, He doesn’t make us do good – He affords us the opportunity to do good. See the difference? The terrorists chose evil, thus affecting and murdering thousands (and in Iraq — hundreds of thousands). God didn’t not look out for those people — He didn’t let them die; the terrorists chose to kill them.
It’s simple logic. Even if you don’t accept free will as a reality or you think the terms in which I’ve set it are ludicrous, at least ponder what I’ve said. If you look at the world with a true investigative lens, you’ll quickly realize that most of the bad (unless you count natural disasters, which are now considered a result of human choice) that we see is a direct result of the choices of individuals and groups bent on satisfying their own desires be they religious, political or personal.
Carol, thank you for your post. I meant no ill harm in writing this; I found it a good opportunity to share my ideologies regarding this topic.
In true MisterE fashion, “Enjoy.”