Reading the paper this morning, I came across a morsel of local news that embodies one of the lesser contemplated ills of a god-driven society. In a nutsell, a commercial satellite dish van and a large pick up truck (hauling an empty horse trailer) collide on a blind curve in a very rural area of upstate South Carolina. The vehicles are engulfed in flames. A family of three round the curve and see smoke billowing from just out of sight. As the car draws closer, they realize the origin of the smoke is, in fact, the mangled, fiery wreckage. Its obvious the driver of the van is already dead but the driver of the truck is still alive. The driver of the car and his fiance rush to the door of the truck whilst their son dashes to the horse trailer to make sure theres no animal(s) inside. The couple, upon prying the door open, have fueled the fire with fresh oxygen and the fire intensifies, licking at the drivers torso and face. His legs are badly burned. The woman, later, recollects that the soles of his work boots have melted to the floor board. (Horrific!!!!!) The driver knows the engine is moments from explosion and implores the couple to, and I quote, "..just leave me alone; let me die". I immediately felt such deep, crushing empathy for this man who was in so much pain and who knew his body was so badly burned that he'd have no quality of life to speak of. The woman's response is as follows: "Todays not your day, honey. I'm a firm believer that when God's ready for you is when you're done". *BIG SIGH* It is my nature to be understanding to a fault.. so I have enough wisdom and compassion to see that the woman was acting in good faith and that she had no idea that actions were barbaric as hell. But therein lies my point.. No doubt, the followers of Islam, who orchestrate the flying of airplanes into buildings, feel they act in accordance with their flavor- -of-God's will. Such malignant acts, however, are reprehensible in every possible sense of the word; there is little room for argument there.. but what about the woman who saved the life of a badly burned, badly disfigured cowboy in rural south carolina? She did a good thing.. a beneficent thing.. but a truly awful thing nonetheless.. and she did so on the definitive authority of HER particular flavor-of-god. Thoughts?
Not knowing more about the circumstances, I don't know whether or not I would have acted the same. What if the guy was just trying to save her from possible maiming or death? Or, she could have just as easily stepped back and said "it's in God's hands now", and let the flames do what they would to the driver, and then criticism of her reasoning could have been that she shouldn't have let the man die.
People will never really know what God wants, but they'll decide it in group-think or according to the most charismatic, religious leaders. Only time will tell how the truck driver (and/or his friends/family) will feel about it, right? (Ha, or they might just say everything happens for a reason, so God wanted it this way.)
Meanwhile, you raise a good question. One big example of religionists group-thinking "what would God want" is abortion, even though God nor Bible really says anything about when a zygote or mass of brainless cells should gain the state's protection.
The bible actually does weigh in on this issue to an extent. I can't recall the verses, but it says something like if you beat a woman who then miscarries you have to pay a fine, or something like that. Anyway, it is made quite clear that an unborn child is not given equal status under law. The bible has never stopped Christians from deciding what their god wants, however.
@Heather - check Exodus 21:22-23. Paraphrase - couple o' fellas get in a fight and bump into pregnant lady. Lady miscarries. Punishment is civil (not criminal) fine ... unless there's actual harm (i.e., the mama-to-be is also hurt). Clearly the pre-baby doesn't count for a real person.
The real crock is that when presented with this passage, christians will actually try to argue that the fine was because of a premature birth, rather than a fetus that didn't survive. Crazy, but I've had to point out that we're talking Iron Age desert dwellers. A premature birth equals a miscarriage. There is no living baby. It's not pining for the fjords. It's dead.
Follow up with Leviticus 27:6 and Numbers 3:15 which both make it clear that there is no value for a baby until it reaches one month old.
Karen - thanks for doing my homework, :D
I'm a firm believer that it ISN'T the thought that counts - the thought, as a matter of fact, is just a narcissistic diversion of happy thoughts about one's own great deeds that obstructs any real concern for victims of charity. You aren't doing a good deed if you don't have permission to do it and especially not doing a good deed when you've been asked not to do it.
A blind friend of mine was whisked across the street once by a wanna-be good-Samaritan. Aside from guiding improperly, therefore thrusting my friend into traffic, the guide ignored my friend's protests and just kept bellowing how it wasn't a problem at all. My friend wasn't waiting to cross the street, however, he was waiting for a bus which he heard go past just as he was getting reoriented on the opposite side of the street.
The 'thought' not only doesn't count - it's inconsiderate. Throwing references to invisible friends into the mix just makes it a little chunkier to swallow.
Judith - the poor-guiding and guide dog distractions I've heard about never cease to amaze me. That being said, I really have to work to hold myself back sometimes when I see a blind person taking a misstep or being lead astray by a 'good' Samaritan. The trouble is that my accent is too thick for me to communicate very quickly and effectively so I'm better off saying nothing than jumping in to add another distraction.
Wow, that is a horrific story. I can't match that but on a milder note, I can think of lots of examples of good intentioned religious people doing harm. One which causes me much exasperation is when I see on the news an interview with someone who has narrowly escaped some awful accident or misfortune, while others did not, and they say "It's was God's grace that I'm okay" or "God was with me".
When I hear that, I always think, how is that going to make victims or victims' family members feel? I would be extremely upset if I lost a family member but someone who made it said something like that. It infers that God WAS NOT with the ones who lost their lives or God WITHHELD his grace from them. I find it utterly disgusting but you NEVER hear anyone complaining.
I believe the reason why you never hear complaints about this is because society is so influenced with the disease of religion, anyone who complained about such a thing would be subjected to much scorn.
I have always respected the feelings of someone considering suicide, and maybe that's because I am an atheist. Free thinkers have the freedom to know compassion and every other moral virtue. It is so true that many acts of saving others is more about the ego and less about the true needs of those they seek to save. That woman will go on to brag about the day she saved this man who wanted to be left alone to die...it's all about her...ego-based with religous rationale.
"When God's ready for you is when you're done" is a belief mentality that would suggest that we free every drunk driver from the responsibility of their actions because those apparent victims of drunk driving were at the right place at the right time to be taken out cuz god was ready for them.