Of Planes & Miracles
Fasten Your Seatbelts
First, note that I’m neither making fun of the death and destruction that any plane crash has caused, nor am I trying to negate the tragedy or its impact on the family and friends of the people who were killed. I’m just pointing to the typical response offered up by Christians in their selective and biased analysis of tragedy and their subsequent (ab)use of the word “miracle” when people survive such events. The fatal crash referenced below was a sad, unfortunate tragedy, and I’m fortunate to have not lost anyone close to me.
Let’s start by going back about one month prior to this crash.
On January 15, 2009, U.S. Airways pilot Chesley Sullenberger successfully landed a Boeing Airbus 320 in New York’s Hudson River saving the lives of everyone onboard (155 passengers and crew). Sullenberger was hailed a hero and the landing was declared a “miracle” by every media outlet and bible-punching nutcase.
People, it wasn’t a fucking miracle. Pilots train for water landings and everyone onboard was fortunate enough to have a skilled (and somewhat lucky) veteran pilot at the helm. Don’t forget, you’re reminded each and every time you board a commercial airline flight that “in the unlikely event of a water landing, your seat cushion may be used as a floatation device.” But guess what? Unlikely event doesn’t mean unexpected event. Water landings are rare, but they do happen. They are expected, planned for, and trained for.
But religious nutters do as religious nutters are; ultimate credit and glory went to god. It was [pause] a “miracle.” God directed the event through the good Captain Sullenberger. (God is your co-pilot. Isn’t that what they say?)
And so we had our “miracle.” No one died. Not a one…until four weeks later that is.
When Miracles Turn Selective
On February 12, Continental Connection Flight 3407 crashed in Buffalo, New York.
Well, it looks like god just took 49 of those “miracle” lives back in the exact same manner for some divine purpose that we’re not supposed to question. Everyone on the flight died including one person on the ground.
So where’s the “miracle” now? (Everyone relax. You can always count on Christians to conjure one up.)
These rationally weak, cowardly people can’t cope with the tragedies, failures, and other curveballs that life throws at them, and so they sanitize the unpleasantness with whatever rationalized morsel of god-given blessing they can find…or manufacture. They do this like it’s some sort of uncontrollable religious tic.
But before you launch into your predictable emotional knee-jerk response, let me be clear about this. It is perfectly human to be weak when tragedy strikes. All I’m doing is pointing out how Christians respond in those moments of weakness, and it couldn’t be more obvious.
I find the “god” sanitizer to be particularly convenient and pathetic. Even if you do believe in a supreme being of one name or another, I just don’t see the necessity of filing the event as being under his control and a product of his “master plan.” There are so many more positive, rational ways to cope. For as bad as things might get, I just can’t suspend rationality in favor of a silly fantasy. Bad shit happens, people. Must you really see some meaning in it?
Okie dokie. Here we go…
Why You Can’t Win When Dealing With the Christian Mentality
Friday, February 13, 2009 @ 12:26 EST
FOX News Live Broadcast
Commenting on the crash in Buffalo, Governor of New York, David Paterson, said:
“The last time I was at this kind of a gathering, [it] was a much different event. It was at the miracle on forty…thirty fourth str…miracle, uh, on…on the Hudson, where the plane was able to land safely. And, uh, we come here today and with all the gloom and all the peril that we feel on behalf on the families, we recognize that somewhere in the wake of this, it’s hard to make sense of it today, but God hasn’t left us. Two of three people that were in the home that the plane landed on miraculously escaped, a couple of people missed the flight, it saved their lives. So we just take what little we can and move forward and devote our energies and our efforts to those who are far less fortunate than us today, those who lost family members, to try to give them the peace and the safety that they would need at this time. Thank you.”
Everyone is dead, but great news people: GOD HASN’T LEFT US!
Okay, let’s see what we’ve got…
God made “a couple of people” miss their flight. (Well, that’s a little vague and unsubstantiated, don’t you think?) Was it due to a flat tire perhaps? Or maybe the dog crapped on the Bokhara rug again. I know! The damn snooze button malfunctioned! (Isn’t god clever with the way he orchestrates his miracles?)
And then there were the two people who “miraculously escaped” (whatever that means) from the house. Escaped? Or were they at the convenience store buying condoms and beer? But anyway, that’s two of three. God gave us 66.6% of a miracle there…um, hang on a second. That sounds a lot more like Satan’s work to me, but that’s another rant for another day.
Nutcase Christians make a point of bringing to everyone’s attention those people whose lives were spared by god’s good graces through accidental and planned scheduling changes. Basically, we’re talking about people who missed their flight or chose to take another one (earlier or later) instead.
You must have seen one of these lucky bastards on the evening news. They show them holding up their old ticket or boarding pass with the date and flight number circled. The camera zooms in to reveal this stunning proof, and then the reporter (or would-be doomed passenger) stakes claim to a miracle. This is delusion, through and through.
Okay, pay close attention you nimrod. Virtually EVERY commercial flight has SEVERAL passengers who miss their departure time or who choose to catch another. So it stands to reason that virtually EVERY flight that crashes will have SEVERAL potential passengers who dodged a bullet by virtue of dumb luck. That’s a miracle? Um, no. You can’t call it a “miracle” of a life saved when the original flight crashes and just a “regular scheduling change” when it doesn’t. Sorry, but it’s gotta work both ways big fella. Make up your damn mind.
But wait. You have even an even bigger problem to explain.
In my last example, those travel plan changes gave us the miracle of lives spared. But now let’s look at it in reverse. How about those people who ended up taking a different flight that crashed? Where’s the miracle in that? Was it that god put them on the doomed flight so that they could die and come home to Jesus? Or perhaps he was just being a cosmic buzzkill.
Again, it’s gotta work both ways.
Or how about this? Say some guy changed his departure to take Captain Sullenberger’s Hudson River landing flight instead. Where’s the miracle there? He left one flight that landed safely and took no lives to take another flight THAT LANDED SAFELY (albeit a little soggy) AND TOOK NO LIVES. Does that make it a miracle for everyone else on the flight except for him? See your little problem, Betty?
Just a little consistency in logic, please. That’s all I ask.
When Allah Fails at 30,000 Feet
Thoroughly consistent with Christians seeing what they want to see, we have yet another perfect example of god’s rationalized selectiveness when responding to the tragedy of a plane crash.
God helped Chesley Sullenberger land safely on the Hudson River without loss of life or limb, but just one short month later the big guy decided to let everyone onboard a flight from Buffalo to Newark die in a fiery crash just moments after takeoff. And now we have the criminal conviction of a godly pilot whose prayers clearly failed when he needed god’s help most.
I’m sure most of you will remember the news item from August 2005 when a Tunisian pilot resorted to prayer instead of engaging in proven textbook emergency measures causing his charter flight to crash into sea off the coast of Sicily taking the lives of 16 passengers.
Chefik Gharbi, the bible-punching moron at the helm, actually stopped piloting as he began to pray. (Yes, he actually STOPPED flying the fucking plane!)
The man actually gave up – and it was all confirmed by the plane’s black box recording. And as everyone knows, nothing illustrates “giving up” like prayer. Apparently sound piloting advice (shown left) isn’t in the aviator’s handbook.
Gharbi and his co-pilot (Ali Kebaier) were subsequently convicted of murder and sentenced to 10 years in prison. The only miracle here is that these idiots were held accountabe for relying on an imaginary god. Read the story here.
So let’s recap. Gharbi’s prayers fell upon deaf ears, the plane crashed, 16 people died, two people went to prison, and dozens of families (not just of the deceased but also of the pilot and co-pilot) were destroyed.
Final Score: Prayer 0, Action 1