Another news story that caught my attention recently was the sad tale of an Orthodox Jewish couple driving from Canada to New York City recently. (The relevance of my mention of their religion will be made clear soon.) Somewhere up in the stretch of NY state highway that passes through the Adirondacks, their car slid off the road. Unfortunately, they were in a dead zone for cell phones, and could not call for help. What's more, they were both injured, and could not get out of the car.
Over a matter of hours, the wife watched helplessly as her husband frozee to death. A bit later, the woman was moaning, "God, I can't take another minute." Just then, she heard a voice (as it turns out, of a state trooper) asking, "Are you people OK in there?" She was saved!
The paper quoted her son as saying, "That shows you the hand of God at work."
Now, I don't want to get into an argument about the existence of God here. What I do want to note is that the sort of God posited by the son's comment is really odd. If there is a Supreme Being who really takes actions like sending a rescuer in response to some individuals plea, then clearly he could have sent a rescuer hours earlier and saved the woman's husband, as well. Was this God, perhaps, distracted, maybe contemplating whether he could create an object so heavy he could not lift it, and then he suddenly stirred from his reverie and said, "Holy Schmokes! Those folks are in deep doo-doo"?
I think there are at least a couple of reasonable views theists might take towards an episode like the above, such as:
1) God created and set the world in motion, but does not interfere in its operation;
2) The ways of God are opaque to man; or
3) For some reason, these people's past actions led to their fates.
But I think it is total nonsense to attribute every outcome you like to "the hand of God" while absoving Him of any responsibility for the ones you don't like. One more example of that silly sort of thinking: I recall the congregation of a church in Alabama(?) that was hit by a tornado claiming that it was "a miracle" that none of them were killed when a tornado destroyed their church. OK, but then don't they have to blame God for hitting it with the tornado in the first place?
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