Unpublished Letter To The Editor Intended For Print In An Ultraconservative, Ultra-religious Newspaper
I wrote this letter and mailed it to "The Daily Oklahoman" not long after the devastating tornado in Oklahoma City and surrounding areas of May 3rd, 1999. Of course, it didn't make it. I was told it was too long, but it ain't hard to figger out the real reason it weren't published. All the editor had to do was condense it, which would have been against my request not to do so, but, oh well...
Dear "Your Views":
The best way we can cope with disasters like the tornadoes of May 3 is to keep our wits about us. So why are so many people making religious conclusions in the storm's aftermath?
Several interviewees on radio and television have mentioned divine intervention, and mistakenly concluded it was instrumental in their survival. "Someone was looking after me." "Jesus protected me. I thank him that I'm still alive." "It could have been so much worse. A lot more people could have been killed." And so on and so on. Everyone is familiar with the common babblings.
Let's see...Forty-three people killed, a billion dollars-plus in property loss and damage, and a decade or so to full recovery. Isn't it a little late to be talking about divine intervention?
If God exists, It is in control of everything, including Nature. But since God doesn't exist, and Nature does, the May Third tornadoes were entirely of Nature.
Tornadoes are sad, yes. Tragic, yes. Destructive, yes. But natural, not supernatural.
Moreover, anyone who credits divine intervention with changing the course of a tornado or anything else about the storm to save someone's life is implicitly insulting the victims whose lives were not "intervened" for. Human egocentrism comes to the surface, which isn't surprising since religion is nothing but psychology.
Belief in intervention is not surprising, but it is disappointing. Haven't we progressed beyond the point of worshiping wind gods, fire gods, gods of rain and harvest, ad nauseam?
Logical thinking produces at least a couple of observations from the viewpoint of the non-theist. One is, if God merely intervenes in the affairs of another force (Nature), isn't that a part-time, incomplete, nonchalant God? Another is, isn't divine intervention in a tornadic storm a matter of imposing consciousness upon a non-conscious object? And isnt' that also known as magic? And don't Christians decry magic? Yes they do. So why do they keep inferring alleged magical actions of their Magician In the Sky? Because they aren't thinking, that's why.
They also aren't paying attention to their own Bibles. In Jeremiah 51:1 BibleGod experiments with destructive wind - yet another weapon in an enormous arsenal in God's war against Man. So why be surprised if It sends a wicked wind upon Oklahoma?
How ironic that the Christian deity was originally a storm-god in Jewish polytheism, then was evolved into the one-and-only God of the universe. Those crediting divine intervention with sparing some in the path of the storm while killing others are surely unaware of this, but they give their StormGod all the glory and continue to pray to "Him."
This brings to mind the telecast of Pat Robertson praying a decade or so ago for a change of course in a hurricane headed for the state of Virginia, and more significantly, for the televangelist's studios. Robertson implored StormGod to veer the hurricane in the direction of a neighboring state!
We must remember that Nature is Everything. It is the totality of reality. As philosopher Ayn Rand observed, Nature is the Primary. It is the First Cause and still causing. It has always existed and was never created. One of its manifestations is the tornado. God has nothing to do with tornadoes. God has nothing to do with anything at all. Nature does not need God just as any God would not need Nature.
We must abandon irrationality and adhere to rationalism. Handling life in this way is saner, and more comforting, than cleaving to an imaginary deity evolved from paganism. We must accept Nature as it is and respect it, while of course modifying it when possible to make our lives easier and eluding it when necessary to save lives (as in going to the basement when a tornado is on the way).
But just for fun, I'll play devil's advocate and posit divine intervention: On May 3, 1999, God intervened in a calm, peaceful day and created a savage storm, then aimed it at Oklahoma.