Did God kill six young students and their teacher?
My first intention was not to blog about this tragedy. But I have changed my mind. The tragedy in question was the deaths of students and a teacher from the Elim Christian school in New Zealand.
The students and teacher were hiking through a canyon when they were trapped by a flash flood. Six high school aged students were killed along with the teacher.
One is tempted to point out that the fervent faith of these fundamentalist Christians didn’t save them from an “act of God”. But I thought it would be rather tasteless to make comments like that.
But of course our Christian friends are utterly tasteless and have no moral compulsion against using such tragedies for their own ends.
One student survived. And like most fundamentalists he immediately attributed his survival to God. Newspaper reports said he was “lying in a Taupo Hospital bed thanking the Lord after his ‘supernatural’ experience.” This poor, misguided boy said: “All I can say is this is my story and this is what happened to me and God saved me.” No doubt he will go around telling this story to others over and over again.
According to this boy he was “gasping for air” as the water took hold of him and he begged God to save him. “I just felt it was God tell me, ‘You have to get up and go, otherwise you’re going to die’, because water just kept coming and was getting higher.”
The principle of the school had to announce the deaths to the student body and told them: “If your faith means anything at all, it must mean everything now.” The father of a dead girl said she had gone to “a better place” and that this was a “test of his belief in God”
When I first heard of these tragic deaths I was saddened for the young lives that were snuffed out. I still am. But this sort of stupidity is sickening. Think about what is being said here.
The young boy who survived attributes his survival to prayer. Are we to believe that in the more than half hour that the students sat hung onto to a canyon wall that none of them prayed? Should we assume that these fundamentalist Christians were without faith and never once asked God to save them the same way this one boy did?
Yet the one boy lived and all the others died horrible deaths. God gets the credit for saving the life of the one but none of the blame for killing the other seven. If God consented to save the one boy then God had to have ignored the other seven. They call this merciful and loving. That is just sick.
The one boy lived because the water crashed him into a pile of logs and he was able to pull himself up onto them and hold on. The others weren’t so lucky. It was luck. It was the pure randomness of falling in the water at the right spot at the right time so that he was pushed in one direction while the deceased were pushed in another direction.
If this was God acting then we have to assume that God was responsible for killing six students and the teacher.
The headmaster of the school implores the students to have faith. Did not the students clinging to the canyon wall also have faith?
And the one parent, no doubt in mourning but still thinking irrationally, said this was a “test” of his faith. Think about that as well. Who is administering that test? Surely it would have to be God.
What he is saying, or seeming to say, is that God drowned his daughter for the sole purpose of seeing if this man would still have faith in God. What kind of monstrous deity would do that?
I truly wish that all these young people had survived the unexpected flood that they encountered. That did not happen. They died because of a natural occurrence. The boy who was saved was saved because of a natural occurrence. It was not a divine being planning. No god picked one boy to live and cruelly sent the other seven to their deaths. I doubt they are in a better place. I tend to think they exist no more. Their life and their consciousness was snuffed out. They lost everything.
I can almost understand the desire to what to make this tragedy make sense. Certainly claiming that God was involved would do that. But the God and his actions which they imagine is so irrational that it makes no sense whatsoever. But I know fundamentalists well and I know that logic and reason play little role in their life.
So the one boy who lived will tell his story about how God saved him and other believers will praise God over it. They will give little thought to how that same God, if he existed, would have had to fill the lungs of other young students with life-denying water. They will have to ignore the pain and horror that those students experienced in their last minutes of existence. They will pretend that this was loving and good and kind and that God was being merciful. They will exhibit the most pronounced trait that I find in the religious -- the ability to twist reality in horrible ways in order to justify an irrational faith in a non-existent deity.