- Published on Wednesday, 06 February 2013 06:41
- Written by John Draper
- Hits: 5505
Why do Christians say grace before meals? Why thank god when you survive a plane crash? Why thank god that a loved one survived a medical emergency or an operation? First, we know why atheists don't - there's no one to thank. But assuming for the moment that there is an almighty all-powerful god who listens to what his "creations" say, it still does not make sense. Let's take these one at a time. When I was growing up, my parents would sometimes remember to say a prayer before a meal. Even today, I have adult friends who do the same thing. The prayer would thank god for "providing". But he didn't provide - someone earned money that paid for it; someone also cooked it and put it on the table. About all God did was not stop this happening. He didn't make it easy or hard to earn the money or do the cooking. He didn't help with shopping at the supermarket. I can see some thanks being needed when you grew your own food - maybe he managed the weather so helped the crop be good. Maybe he stopped a flood or fire that could have wiped you out. I think grace is a relic and now is just a way a Christian has of talking to their god regularly. A reminder to god that the Christian accepts that he's subservient and dependent.
Now if you are in a plane and it crashes yet you survive - some might say "it's a miracle". God saved me! If God saved you, he also caused the crash or at least failed to prevent it. Was he trying to impress his followers? It would have more impressive if he had carried the plane (presumably otherwise not able to fly) and gently put it down at an airport. Or spirited the passengers - or at least those he deemed worth saving - out of the plane to a safe place. Of if he doesn't like revealing his power, he could have just not let the plane crash in the first place. Yet people persist in calling lucky escapes miracles (just Google "plane crash miracle"). Of course in many cases, luck didn't come into it - it was the skill of the pilot. Did god make sure the pilot knew what to do? If I was the pilot and heard people thanking god after I'd save their butts, I'd be pissed. What about thanking him!
It's even worse when people thank god instead of a doctor. Some people realise that they think that way so they decide "I don't need a doctor, I can just pray to God. I've been good, I give to my Church, I don't sin, I worship, I've been told God listens to prayers so I'll just pray to get better. I don't need a doctor". When they die it's because of their own stupidity - they could have lived longer or even been cured if they had trusted a doctor instead of god.
But most people hedge their bets - they see a doctor and pray as well. I guess they are asking god to make sure they picked a good doctor? Or maybe that the doctor will not make any mistakes? But in the end, it's not god that got them through the operation or their heart attack, it was the doctor and the medical people. This is of course hard to prove - you'll never know if maybe failing to pray would have caused a worse result. (But there have been scientific tests that prove prayer does not work for health matters - Go here.) However, last I checked, atheists and agnostics, if anything, live longer than religious people. Before you say "what study proved that", just compare the more primitive countries in Africa, Asia and the Middle east - where most people believe in a god of some kind - to the people in countries like Canada, U.K., Australia, France, Sweden etc. These less religious places have longer life spans. It's no doubt really caused by poorer living styles and medical help but why doesn't God do something about it? Aren't they more loyal and more deserving to be helped? Or are they just getting to their heavenly reward quicker?
Anyway, why would god help you recover from a medical problem? Why would he want you to live longer? If you are a good person, wouldn't an early death mean getting to heaven earlier? Or does he need me here to inspire someone else to reform? (If God is paying attention, maybe he'd help me die quicker so fewer people can read these blasphemous articles!)
If you stop to think about it, if there is a God, he does not manage anything on earth. It just happens and asking for his intercession has no effect. So thanking God for food, safety or heath is meaningless. Sorry.
P.S. Or as Bart Simpson said when saying grace on 'The Simpsons': "Dear God, we paid for all this stuff ourselves, so thanks for nothing."
Originally published Dec 11, 2011