Tuesday, December 9, 2008

F18 crash reveals that God's hand is ... not there

Yesterday I made my lunch and sat down to enjoy the noon news. But when I flipped on the TV, I was greeted by the tragic videos of smoke billowing from a neighborhood just a few miles from me, where an USMC F-18 fighter jet had crashed just two minutes earlier. Sadly, four people were killed: A mother, two very young children, and their grandmother. Four wonderful lives, snuffed out in an instant, by utterly random chance.

Years ago, I remember reading about a couple on a canoe trip in Canada for their honeymoon. A beaver just happened to be gnawing a tree as they paddled by; the tree fell and killed the woman. Utterly and completely random.

I did a lot of camping at Yosemite National Park when my kids were young. One year, we heard that a monstrous branch from an ancient sequoia tree broke off and fell on the open upper deck of a tourist bus, killing a number people. When those people woke up that morning, would any of them have guessed they wouldn't live to see the end of the day?

If you believe, as millions do, that God is omnipotent and omniscient, then God knew these people were going to die, and in fact these deaths were somehow part of His plan. For some reason yesterday, God decided to kill a baby, a toddler, their mother, and their grandmother. God decided to leave behind a widowed grandfather, and a father who not only lost his wife, but also his two tiny children.

And you have to believe that, for some inscrutable reason, God had that beaver cut the tree down right when the happy couple were paddling by, leaving her husband a young widower. The same goes for all those people on the bus in Yosemite – God decided to kill them, too.

There are many far greater tragedies unfolding across the world every day, but these simple, small tragedies hit me much harder. Maybe it's because a million starving people are too much to grasp, but a dead family in my own neighborhood is something my brain can understand.

Jews, Christians and Muslims who believe that God is really in charge, and deliberately causes all of these random, horrible deaths, have resorted to some of the most inscrutable and indefensible logic in the history of humanity. The pinnacle of this "logic," the phrase that I find deeply offensive, is: "God works in mysterious ways." In other words, none of this makes any sense, but God is smarter than us, and uses a superior logic that is far beyond human comprehension. God has a plan, and God is good, so killing some babies, their mother, and their grandmother, must be a good thing. But we poor humans are too dumb to grasp the logic that helps God realize why this random killing was for the best.

As for me, I prefer a much more sensible explanation: Random stuff happens, and sometimes you're in the wrong place at the wrong time.


  1. It's easier to not believe than to believe. That is called faith. For those who don't have it, yeah, everything is a random mess.

  2. this event struck pretty close to home for me, since I live less than a mile away from the crash. I frequently run in the canyons below where the pilot landed, and I do speedwork at the high school track several hundred yards away from the crash site. My wife was home at the time it occurred.

    The actual victim of this incident is handling this much better than I am. http://www.10news.com/news/18240829/detail.html Because of what he believes, he is much better equipped to handle this kind of tragedy better than I could, because in his mind he has a source of support that I cannot draw from. I consider this phenonmenon nothing more than an extremely powerful placebo effect.

    As somebody who doesn't believe in a god who has lots of misgivings about religion, I don't think religion is completely bad - and the victim of this crash is a prime example. As a Catholic friend once told me, religion makes good people bad, and bad people good. As an individual, Mr. Yoon has accepted what has happened to him in an amazing way and forgiven the pilot. I am simply However, what really annoys me is when Christians act collectively using what they think is a god-given, higher form of morality to judge others, and to force nonbelievers by way of laws to abide by their beliefs.

    That said, while I know many extremely judgmental Christians, I also know many other Christians who really only use their faith to better themselves, and not for any other purpose. While I may believe that they are misguided, I don't see any wrong in them using their "placebo pill" for themselves without judging or forcing their beliefs on others. In fact, I see it as a good thing.

  3. As a Christ following person...a Christian who does believe God is good and loving this tragedy has hit me also...it has hit me hard...yet I cannot blame God. I once stood on the other side, blaming God for everything that went bad...everything, but then I came to know Him personally through His Son Jesus Christ...He changed my view of God of Himself really.

    God became Man and not only identified with us as Human, but suffered more than anyone can imagine, this is the ultimate sign of love, to humble yourself to such a state that you not only identify but suffer as well. This is what God himself did through Jesus Christ.

    I am sorry for what happened to the victim, I have lost much in my life as well and my faith in Christ is what is bringing me through...it doesn't take away the pain but it does allow God to meet me where I am and the victim are at…and God heals..and frees us from the pain…slowly..but he does.

    There is one thing you left out of your post..the word Sin..God hates sin…I am sure you have read the bible yourself, (sense it is just a ancient text and has no power what so ever, you don’t have to believe it to read it), you have seen that all evil in this world was a result of disobedience to God, sin...it is because of sin which God hates..yes God does hate..he hates evil (its in the bible), that tradedies like this happen...it is the reason a million people are dying of starvation, child wars in Dafur, the parent down the block from you beating his family, the man dealing with depression and medicating with Alcohol. God is not to blame here, we are..i.n fact God did something about it, He came to save us. God does not forgo the free will he gave us and this includes the free will that decided to disobey him through our first parents and the free will that continues to disobey him. It is through Christ, the savior, the messiah that sin and death are dealt with and we are then brought back into right relationship to God and with God.

    There is no other explanation for our existence, for evil, for the way the world is...none that makes sense....

    I am sorry that the Church has hurt you, I really am...I am sorry that you are angry with Christians and people of faith...I am sorry that as you read this post you are angry with me...give your anger to God through Christ and ask Him to begin to heal you...it is a heavy burden to walk around with so much hate and anger...I know I did it for 15 years myself.

    You may not believe in the God of the Bible, nor in Jesus Christ or the Holy Spirit...but this very God who created the world and everything in it, loves you more than you can imagine and believes in you and is waiting for you with arms wide open to return like the older son in the parable of the prodigal.


Dear readers -- I am no longer blogging and after leaving these blogs open for two years have finally stopped accepting comments due to spammers. Thanks for your interest. If you'd like to write to me, click on the "Contact" link at the top. Thanks! -- CJ.

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