Joseph McCabe says the darndest things …

Today we know not only that there is a terrible amount of disorder in the heavens — great catastrophes or conflagrations occur frequently — but evolution gives us a perfectly natural explanation of such order as there is. No distinguished astronomer now traces “the finger of God” in the heavens; and astronomers ought to know best.

–– Joseph McCabe, The Story of Religious Controversy, p. 86,

Pokemon Healthcare

As a professional videographer and an observant member of society, I know this is true: people do not listen. Maybe I’m a little more attuned to it, because I spend a lot of time in earphones with a microphone, but people have a hard time hearing questions. People’s personal agendas are typically so forceful, that questions are typically unstructured and disconnect to questions asked.

With politicians, this agenda is stronger than say, a teenager. Perhaps the only humans that listen are children … and my wife Tina. She listens better than anyone I’ve ever met.

When an atheist encounters life … go with science

Recently 40-year Old Atheist (40YOA) wrote about attending a conference for families with children afflicted with type 1 Diabetes. There were seminars and keynotes about living with Type 1 Diabetes. And there were families attending searching for answers, seeking hope through science and hoping for comfort and eventually a cure. 40YOA’s descriptions of how he responded to his son’s diabetes is exactly how I would hope to respond to a similar experience should it to happen to my wife and me.

He talks about how people cope differently, and the overwhelming tendency is religious drift. 40YOA says he would have told one father wondering how to answer the tough questions from his kid such as, “Why me?”:

“The reason our sons have diabetes is that one in four hundred children get diabetes and, unfortunately, our children drew the short stick in the statistical lottery. Our sons becoming diabetic is no different from the fact that one in eight women get breast cancer, or that one in four men are bald by the time they are 30. There is no ‘why me?’ to these statistics – they simply describe the fact that shit happens in predictable frequencies within the population.”`

I agree with 40YOA. An answer in terms of statistics and science is more comforting than any answer I’ve ever heard from the religionista. Religious answers tend to be vague and disheartening. They say things like, “God is in control, and you’ve got to have faith that god’s got everything under control.” Or “God would never let you go through something you couldn’t handle.” Or “God will take all of this away when you get to heaven.”

The heaven response is the most inferior of the answers.

Thing is, no matter how many times a believer gives you that answer, you always have to ask yourself if he really believes it or not.

Unfortunate statistics were no stranger to my household. My mom grew up with Type 1 Diabetes and within the last several years has survived a glut of surgeries and hardships associated with Diabetes-induced issues. Mom will tell you that god has helped her through the health issues, but if you analyze it for what it really is, she has done much of the work. Her familial and extended families have buttressed her in major ways. She stays fit, exercises daily. She eats a careful diet of low carbs and low calories. She puts 99.9999% of the population to shame. And her tangible support from my Dad, brother, sister and all those who love her at her church and in her community have helped tremendously to get her through the hardships.

Mom never expected to live very long, but thanks to science, support and lots of hard work, she could probably beat up your mom … so watch your mouth.

My older sister was born with spina bifida. Forty years ago, the news put my parents through the wringer. My sister had 18 surgeries before her 18th birthday. These were no ordinary surgeries. The doctors were all up in her brain, neck and spinal cord.

Back left to right: My brother, Dad, and Me. Middle L to R: my sister in law, Mom, Tina and sister Kelly. In front, my niece

You can see why someone would look at my sister Kelly and think, “What a miracle!” Doctors thought she would never walk, talk, let alone accomplish feats like graduating high school or get post high school degrees. She’s done it all. She drives herself around and she has an active social life. Yet if it weren’t for modern medicine and science, she would have not made it.

If you want to call that a miracle, a miracle would be living with that affliction and through no human-made function suddenly become cured.

My parents searched for answers to all the hard questions regarding Kelly’s illness. They needed to know “Why them?” It’s difficult not to ask god if some kind of past sin caused such great psychological and physical stress.

“Why would god do this?”

Despite  having talked to them umpteen times about it, they’ve never explained the rationale that finally set their minds at ease.

One time, Tina and I were talking to them about it over lunch at a Chick-Fil-A near their home in North Carolina. They told us that one church they attended didn’t give them any answers. But another church gave them answers, so they started attending that church. But they never explained what the answers were … and believe me, I tried hard to get them to relay the answers. Tina and I wracked our brains the entire trip home trying to figure out what it was that finally made it better.

My point is, through the stories of my sister and my mom, I have seen first hand how awesome science is. For a long time, I thought god was the answer. That he was the comfort. But the more I sought his comfort, the more questions I had. “God has everything in control” is such an empty answer.

The comfort finally arrived through learning more about technology, human intuition and strength. It came through the science of psychology. Science and human creativity and strength are the reasons mom and Kelly are still alive. It would be great to think that a god or higher power had a hand in the whole process … but the opposite of not having a hand in so many other situations is what drove me to rethink where comfort comes from.

I know, I know … my family would say differently. They’d swear differently. They read this blog, and they likely have an opinion contrary to mine. Of course they’re going to disagree with me.

But if there are events and examples that point toward atheism for me … it’s my family’s stories. Yes, it’s fantastic that timing and technology were in place for my mom and sister to live long satisfactory lives. And if you’re religious, you’d say how wonderful timing is, too. But that means tons of people suffered, because timing wasn’t right for them. That’s awful.

It also means that tons of people all over the world still suffer, because they might not have had the money to afford treatment or they might not have access to the technology. Staring at my family’s case is the small picture. The small picture is dangerous. To me, it’s not Christian to look at the small picture … and it eventually drove me from thinking “Christian”. Humanism is far superior to the embarrassingly myopic vision of Christianity.

You have to look at the big picture. And the big picture shows how tangible things like science, infrastructure, humanism and economy — not supernatural things — all provide better lives for more people.

If you regard technology and science as a miracle, you’re setting your standards for miracles too low. Had these things have happened thousands of years ago … en lieu of the wild miracles in the bible … then we could sit down and talk.

Go with science.