"Help me, help me, sweet Jesus, help. I'm going to die."

Natalie Lewis, 24, Ginny Doyle, 44, and a still-unidentified pilot died when a hot air balloon burst into flames shortly after takeoff on Friday night near the University of Richmond. Horrified onlookers heard the women screaming for help as they desperately jumped from the basket to escape the flames.

"Help me, help me, sweet Jesus, help. I'm going to die. Oh my God, I'm going to die," witnesses reported hearing one of them scream as the gondola and balloon separated.
(Source)

Jesus did not perform a miracle to rescue the woman as she cried out to him. Why not? Google search featured a blog entry where Google user and atheist Tessa Schlesinger asked this very question. She's been flooded with support, condemnation and (of course) explanations from religious who claim to know the answer.

A sample:

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"...I believe some people are more "God-obsessed" and angry - and so willing to be nasty about faith that they lose the compassion that even non believers have.  No offense to you sir.  It is a tasteless comment on a horrific death of 3 human beings.  It is also notable to me that this person who cried out in sheer terror as her life was ending is probably in the presence of the God she cried out to.  I feel badly for the families in mourning."

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God does not work in mysterious ways - he works EXACTLY as if he does not exist.  Keep up.  ;-)

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"Atheists often wonder why they are viewed negatively. For my part, it's because they can't resist saying "where's your Messiah now, eh?" when tragedy strikes."

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"I have had many a prayer unanswered in my life so far and I still believe that God exists and that he is good. Why? Because he always comes through in the end even if it's in a way I don't expect. God promises to hear prayers and he says that he will answer them, but you're missing the whole point! The point of "If you ask my father for a fish, will he give you a stone?" is not that God will give you exactly what you want every single time. If that were true, our lives would be a complete mess. What Jesus meant by that example is that God gives good gifts to his children when they ask, and sometimes we have to go through hard times in order to receive them and fully appreciate them. Indeed, God works in mysterious ways, but he promises to bring good to those who love him and he never leaves us without instruction."

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"Wow! I came to a different conclusion. I was thinking of all the people who die tragically and how few times I hear of them crying out to God or Jesus in that moment. Here is a victorious woman who probably loved God dearly. She was ushered in to Gods' presence because of Jesus death for her. It is much more tragic to be facing death and having no one to cry out to but yourself. We all die eventually. You should read "Foxes Book of Martyrs" and see the incredible miracles of people being burned alive and praising God until their body fell apart in the flames. God be with the friends, family and students as they say goodbye. I will remember this cry to Jesus, our only hope for forgiveness."

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Shoulda prayed to Joe Pesci.  Woulda been just as useful.

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"I must say that the "comment" smacks tasteless, unnecessary, and fundamentally inappropriate within the context of the dying moments of those individuals.  But then it is your prerogative to comment as you see fit.  That said, it would appear that your "comment" showed more desire for opportunistic expression and exploitation of a tragedy. Not enlightened humanism. It displayed a great unwillingness to consider that "sometimes" that which we cannot see or explain within our own selectively skewed purview (be that out of conviction, indoctrination, academic enrichment, ignorance or simple obstinance) can still ring true for some but not others. Human compassion and love were nowhere to be found.  An individual calls on the Lord and some earth bound observer always has to take issue with it from an "enlightened" "on high" perspective.  The death of an individual who cry's out for help does not disprove that the God of the Bible is "incapable" or "absent" or "insufficient." Nor does it technically prove anything "on face value." It is within the overarching intention and framework of scripture examined "within appropriate context," along with faith and belief as a result of personal experience that one comes to understand that there "just might be" something beyond the supposed self sufficiency of strict rationalism or blind denial.  Still others might come to an opposite conclusion.  And that's fine. Unfortunate, but fine.  I am a scientist, but from 'my experience' all is not "science," if you will, and science is not all."
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Obviously some other 'christian' either had a stronger faith or prayed more fervently that they wouldn't be save. Concluding, prayers are in fact answered. 

And so on...


Tessa Schlesinger claims she was simply asking a legitimate question. Even if taken at her word, was this done in poor taste? Do you think Schlesinger accomplished anything positive in starting a discussion this way?

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"morality. That's what can make or break the proceedings."  - obviously it couldn't have helped in this case - only in the aftermath. 

They fully understood the risk of what they were doing.  If we follow your argument, nobody would ever die. 

Arguments, however well crafted, cannot bestow eternal life on anyone.

If we followed YOUR argument insurance companies wouldn't ever have to pay out claims in the case of airplane crashes on the ground that everybody knows that plane crashes happen.

Basically, I don't fucking know.  The hypothesis, for the sake of argument, that I'm attempting to explore is that a creator God created the universe as it is, as we see it, and intervenes in moral matters.  People dying on their own from inanimate circumstances is not a moral matter.  To my mind, this hangs together logically. 

Any day of the week, whether you're a Pastafarian or a Presbyterian, nobody can compare God with an insurance company.  That will never wash. 

Now, what I'm proposing is pure theology.  But as I've read in a book recently, ordinary people are not theologians.  They have their own favourite folksy interpretation of what God means.  This is where the nice neat logic would appear to fall to pieces. 

This argument makes no sense as we all know, if someone in the hot air balloon put a gun to this womans head and told her to jump, that God still wouldn't have intervened.  

"normal human"  - a normal human didn't invent the universe. 

Correction: no one invented the universe.

Are we not supposedly built in His image? Does that make Him a role model, and isn't the supposed behavior being modeled to let people suffer?

Maybe having to choose between being roasted alive and jumping to one's death is some sort of last-ditch character-building exercise.

His human image was Jesus.  (is what I would say if I was a Christian.)  God the creator of the universe is a completely different type of being.  We're intended to follow the image of Jesus.  Wow, that makes perfect sense. 

Simon I'm sorry but I can't make any sense of your replies to this post. What exactly are you trying to say?

Davis - I'm just trying to do a thought experiment, thinking about "what if" this then what are the implications.  Getting my head round a point of view different from my own. 

What normal human would stand by and let three people roast in a burning gondola if they could do something easily within their power to intervene? What then of a god?

That doesn't follow Unseen. Normal humans go out of their way to inflict pain and suffering on non human animals for the casual reason of eating them. Why is it so difficult then to conceive of a god who would have a reason to allow such pain and suffering fall upon those poor people?

Leave it to vegetarians/vegans to shoehorn their obsession into an unrelated discussion.

Anyway, "normal" humans don't view other humans as food and certainly not as natural food. We call them cannibals.

I think the obsession is often with atheists. Asking crass questions about where is the Christian God at a time of three such awful deaths is a good indictor of compulsive Christian baiting. Leave them to their grief. We all know Christians have a perfectly cogent answer as to why their god allows suffering.

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