God Cured My Athlete’s Foot

The moment a person says something like “God cured my [insert disease here]” or “God helped our team win”, that person assumes ownership of (at least some of) the things their God failed to do, such as his failure to prevent, every single day, 8,500 malnutrition-related deaths of children under 5.  And before that person is done reconciling that problem, I’d be interested in hearing about their thoughts on the wide-scale rape, murder, disease, plagues, and environmental catastrophes that are so permitted in this paradigm.

Of course, the reason I think these things happen is not because some celestial dictator makes it so, or turns a blind eye to it, or waits in the wings to comfort victims who have managed their ascent to heaven (if they were lucky enough to be born of the “right” religion).  Rather, I think these phenomena happen because the world is an extraordinarily hard place, and because its inhabitants, by nature of their cultural, geographic, and physical limitations, are unable, or sometimes unwilling, to prevent them.

This tunnel vision Christianity and other monotheisms encourage is facilitated by the notion of a personal god, while its logical weaknesses are glossed over by its practitioners, with the statements “God loves me” and “God works in mysterious ways.”  That’s a nice sentiment, until you give some thought to the injustice this mentality permits.  God might have helped to stop some of those 8500 babies from dying of malnutrition today, but instead, he helped you score a touchdown.  I guess you’re one of God’s “chosen people“, just like the bible says.

One of the characteristics of probability is that it can create illusions for a species already prone to hyperbole and pattern-seeking.  For instance, natural remission rate for some cancers might be as high as 20% [http://rationalwiki.org/wiki/Spontaneous_remission].  If you’re lucky enough to fall into that population, you might literally feel like you were selected by God to be cured, if you’ve already been conditioned to the notion that God cures the people he loves.

Similarly, there might be a day when only 7500 children worldwide die from malnutrition-related disease.  Was that a good day for God, or was it an artifact of statistical error [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Standard_error]?

My point is that maybe it’s time to put aside these childish superstitions and get to work on the real problems confronting humanity, such as how to stop 8,500 kids from dying of malnutrition every single day, rather than relying on some personal god to fix our problems, or provide a verbose apology for all the bad things that happen.

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Author: Tim...Stepping Out

Tim Stepping Out

2 thoughts on “God Cured My Athlete’s Foot”

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