A recent event really tested my ability to avoid seeking supernatural assistance. My eight-year old broke her arm on the playground. And as she lay in the hospital with a morphine drip to manage her pain before surgery, I felt nearly helpless. Nothing I could do physically could help her and while I'm sure she was happy I was with her and supporting her as a parent should, I felt totally useless.

This, of course, led me nearly down the path of praying to god that maybe he could pitch in a hand and get us out of this mess. Having been raised a Christian and being taught that asking god for guidance and assistance was perfectly natural in times of crisis, I felt this overwhelming urge to cry out "please, just let everything be ok."
I soon realized this was a fleeting, momentary lapse and came to my senses. But I'll admit, that in that moment of helplessness, with seemingly no where to turn, I nearly did what I had been raised to do and what countless others had also been taught to do--invoke, plead, beg, pray and implore to the Almighty to just fix it. I began to marvel at my own near-miss with the superstitious.
It amazes me that when we can't think of anything else, when we've exhausted all that intellect seems to provide, we go one more step, reach into the mystical and fantastic and ask god to step in. We hit bottom and with nowhere else to go, instead of stopping, we leap--a desperate leap of faith into the abyss of religion.

For my part, though, logic, soon reared its ugly, but ultimately necessarily clear head.  It dictated that if there is a god, it could have stepped in to stop the entire episode and prevented my daughter from falling on the playground. But that didn't happen. Therefore, such a god either let it happen (perhaps to punish a sinner like me or for some other unknown cosmic purpose), in which case such a god is a sadistic tyrant, or it couldn't stop it from happening, in which case such as god is useless so far as deities go.
The internal debate quickly subsided as I came to my senses, noted that there is no purpose behind these unfortunate events and that nature or whatever the stuff of the universe is made of isn't out to get me; it isn't even aware of me. This is not because I am insignificant or unworthy of note; it's because there is no such thing as cosmic awareness. 
Then I spoke to the doctor to better understand her injuries and got a good prognosis. In getting control of the situation I soon realized I didn't need the crutch of a cross.

As she has started that remarkable recovery only available to resilient eight-year-olds, I look back on those first couple of days as a test of my lack of faith.  And I've learned that in times of crisis, hopelessness breeds superstition. And that leads to all sorts of dangers, not the least of which are the religious predators waiting in the apses to take advantage of that moment of weakness.
As I've reflected on this, it has filled me with new resolve--hence this blog. I've also resolved that when the next crisis arises (as I'm sure one inevitably will), I'll take a breath, bow my head, clasps my hands together, and call on ... my lawyer. At least then, I'll know I'm being preyed upon.


Views: 176

Comment by Ed on November 27, 2011 at 1:48am

You've studied your situation and come to a correct conclusion. Old habits die hard.

Were you implying a wrongdoing occurred that resulted in your daughter's injury on the playground?

Hiring a lawyer can be a slippery slope in our litigious society.....


“Is God willing to prevent evil, but not able?
Then he is not omnipotent.
Is he able, but not willing?
Then he is malevolent.
Is he both able and willing?
Then whence cometh evil?
Is he neither able nor willing?
Then why call him God?”          -Epicurus


Comment by Boatman on November 27, 2011 at 6:36am

I think Skepticlese called upon his lawyer simply so he could make that "preyed upon" pun.


BTW- I LOVE puns.

Comment by Ed on November 27, 2011 at 9:58am

@ Gordon


I can be really dense at times......   :^ )


Comment by Skepticlese on November 27, 2011 at 10:10am
Thanks Ed. The lawyer comment was just a pun-I happen to be one myself(hope that doesn't change your view of me--many can deal with an atheist, fewer still a lawyer, but it takes a mighty open-minded person to tolerate the combination).
Comment by Robert Karp on November 27, 2011 at 10:36am
Skepticlese I'm sure most people have desperate times when they simply have no one to turn to. I have found that during these times, inward "prayer" can be just as soothing. I use prapyer but it is more like meditation. You can close your eyes and focus on calming your mind in an effort to focus on what really matters. Whether that is someone who is sick, or if it is your own pain, just becoming aware of yourself and your feelings can alleviate much of the desperation that makes us feel like there is other outlet other than prayer. You say you sat there and felt helpless but by being there you were doing everything your child needed you to do. I also have children and have also been with one of them in the hospital. But your strength is your own. Look inward next time you are feeling desperate. You can be your own source of both insiration and solice.
Comment by Jason on November 27, 2011 at 10:42am

You advised you were raised Christian… you were taught to ask god for help in crisis. In other words – you were trained to do this.
For most people - In an emergency situation – logic and analysis fly out the window. A person will fall back on their training. Like a first responder (police, fire or EMT) – they fall back on their training in an emergency. After it’s all over with -they may tell you they didn’t even realize what they were doing. Their training just took over. Like a gut reaction.
I too was raised (trained) Christian. When the mortar fire was falling all around me in Iraq – for a split second – I was asking god for help. Then I quickly came to my senses and took cover. It was just a gut reaction.
If another emergency occurs - we will probably do the same thing again.
I hope your daughter fully recovers.

Comment by Skepticlese on November 27, 2011 at 12:14pm

Jason, first, thank you for your service. I know how hard it can be to hold different views while in the military (I'm a vet from the old Ops Desert Shield/Desert Storm days). The cliched adage "there's no such thing as an atheist in a foxhole" has been propounded by the same folks who can't understand why you don't need to chat with the chaplain or attend services with the rest of the platoon. You're right about our training and it takes even more training (mental training, that is) to kick those old habits. Keeping focused and, as my old sergeant used to say "Do Not Panic," will help to see one through. 

Comment by Skepticlese on November 27, 2011 at 12:21pm

Robert, great advice. I think we sometimes forget that we are often outwardly focused, trying to make logical sense of the world around us and shun the inner, psychological effects and how to deal with them as somehow mystical or too New-Agey for serious consideration. We need to realize that "inward payer" as you call it is really mental focus and the calming effects of concentration and relaxation. This isn't New Age drivel, it's biofeedback. Appreciate you pointing it out.


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