It’s a common atheist trope to call out those people who, after a tragedy, say that those who survived were spared by God, or that such survivals were “miraculous”.
In fact, such criticism has become so common that it’s almost a cheap shot, and yet it’s still worth pointing out the hypocrisy implicit in asserting loudly that survivors were spared by God while not mentioning that, by the same token, those who died must have been killed by God. The reason to mention such things is that they reveal not only how common faith is, but how inconsistently it’s applied. I say this not to cheapen the horrible pain experienced by the friends and family of the missing, but to suggest that perhaps it’s palliative to know that these deaths were not God’s decision, but the inevitable vagaries of a natural world. The answer to “why me?” is simply “shit happens.”
So two items about the missing Malaysia flight 370, which almost certainly has crashed without survivors.
First, according to WBRC News in Birmingham, Alabama (I also heard this on NBC News last night), a man who almost boarded the doomed flight is attributing his survival to God:
A man with a ticket for the lost plane to Malaysia called a last-minute decision not to board an act of God.
Greg Candelaria works in global technology services, which requires him to frequently fly around the world.
He planned to board Flight 370 for business and then meet his daughter, who is in China wrapping up the adoption process for her child.
“I think this is a God thing,” Candelaria said. “I don’t think it’s coincidence. Part of my motivation was to fly over there on business and meet my daughter and my new granddaughter.”
Company policy mandated Candelaria fly back to Houston for the flight to Asia instead of his original plan to fly from Spain.
If all had gone as planned, he would have been on the Beijing-bound Flight 370 that vanished this past weekend.
Has anybody ever asked one of these exultant survivors if they think that the deaths were also “a God thing”? I’d be curious how they’d answer.
Finally, reader Chris sent me a link to the MSN News “picture of the day” about the missing Malaysia Airlines flight. The caption is this:
A sand sculpture in a beach in Puri, India, wishes for the well-being of the passengers of a missing Malaysian Airlines flight.
I find that ineffably sad in two ways.