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Here’s Your Answer, Heather MacDonald

Heather MacDonald got an awful lot of traffic around blogdom for her anti-religious rant [1]:

Will Bill O’Reilly or anyone else who saw the hand of God in the safe landing of US Airways Flight 1549 this January please explain why God chose not to save Continental Connection Flight 3407, which plunged into a house outside of Buffalo last night, killing all 49 people on board and a resident on the ground?

Among the explanations which will not be accepted: “humans cannot possibly fathom God’s mysterious ways.” Oh yes they can, apparently – when something good happens. Having found proof of God’s love in the safe conclusion of US Airways Flight 1549, believers cannot now turn around and claim that God’s ways are veiled just because something disastrous happens. If it’s legitimate to infer beneficence from a happy outcome, it is equally plausible to infer malice or at least indifference from a negative outcome. You can’t pick and choose the actions in which you find God’s will transparent.

As a believer, I have a great problem with this aspect of Ms MacDonald, but frankly given some projects I’m working on at the moment didn’t really ahve time to delve into her tirade too deeply. I found it interesting, however to note Dan Calabrese firing back [2]:

OK. First of all, Ms. MacDonald is welcome to try to make the rules by declaring the kinds of answers she will or will not accept, but just because she won’t accept an answer doesn’t mean it can’t be the correct one.

For starters, God’s involvement in the safe landing of Flight 1549 need not amount to a supernatural event that was the only thing preventing its demise. Obviously, Flight 1549 had an exceptional pilot who did his job extremely well. But we don’t have to make an all-God or no-God choice, as Ms. MacDonald seems to insist we do.


What we can say, however, is that Ms. MacDonald doesn’t get to make the consistency rules for God, however much she may want to. Christians understand this to be a fallen world in which, because of the power of sin, bad things happen to all kinds of people – good and bad people alike. When God spares us from harm, we are exceedingly grateful, particularly because we know he isn’t obligated to always do so, and we don’t know the reasons he chooses to intervene in some situations but not in others.

I’ll urge you to go and read the rest. It struck me, though in reading Dan’s response that MacDonald has never read, or at least never understood, Cardinal Newman’s writing… as he spoke on what constitutes a gentleman… or in this context, one presumes, gentlewoman:

If he be an unbeliever, he will be too profound and large-minded to ridicule religion or to act against it; he is too wise to be a dogmatist or fanatic in his infidelity. He respects piety and devotion; he even supports institutions as venerable, beautiful, or useful, to which he does not assent; he honors the ministers of religion, and it contents him to decline its mysteries without assailing or denouncing them. He is a friend of religious toleration, and that, not only because his philosophy has taught him to look on all forms of faith with an impartial eye, but also from the gentleness and effeminacy of feeling, which is the attendant on civilization.

Sad thing, that MacDonald, who is so spot on in many other aspects of her writing, can’t seem to get this one down.

Addendum:   (David L)

Disclosure,  I am agnostic.  

Two points.

One as to Heather McDonald, her point is not whether their was a divine act of providence in flight 1549 which was missing in flight 3407.   McDonald’s beef s the believers lack of consistency.    As to that point, I support McDonald.

Lack of consistency is my beef with  advocates of  Anthropogenic Global Warming, gender feminism, and Creation/Intelligent  Design.

Two as to Dan Calabrese’s point:

OK. First of all, Ms. MacDonald is welcome to try to make the rules by declaring the kinds of answers she will or will not accept, but just because she won’t accept an answer doesn’t mean it can’t be the correct one.

Closed minds are not limited to one particular group.    For example, Dan has summed the Creationist/Intelligent Design argument against Darwinian  Evolution.  As they can’t understand Darwin’s concept, they argue it can not be true.

Remember this, reality is not limited or tied to mere moral man’s limited ability to understand it.    For example, a television works without regard to my ability to explain how it works.