For better or worse, many people from my high school found and friended me. For the most part, getting updates about people I used to know has been good, but it’s amazing how much people change. People who were really worldly back in the day have become really religious. I guess the reverse is true of me—I grew up Church of Christ (twitch), whereas now I’m an agnostic gay science nerd. Good times. And there are others who were, relatively speaking, liberal and who, having married and reproduced, have become uberconservative. Maybe that change is a normal part of getting older.
A woman I was friends with in high school posted on Facebook today about how her son, who just started kindergarten, was nearly run over in a crosswalk zone by the driver of a daycare bus. The child was leading a line of kids when this nearly happened. She’s posted about her relief, and she made comments about how God was watching over her son. My inner skeptic kicks in the second I read stuff like that, but I can let it go and understand that this belief makes the event easier for her to endure.
Then, however, people from the hometown start chiming in about “God and His protection,” and my friend responded that she realizes that “God pulled [her son] back” out of harm’s way. Okay, still. Maybe she needs to believe this to make herself feel better. I get it. And, for all I know, God might well have intervened. I can’t prove that he did or that he didn’t. (This is why I like labeling myself “agnostic”: I’m comfortable saying “I don’t know.”)
Here’s what bugs. During the presidential election, this friend announced to everyone that God told her to vote for McCain. And she cites God in her reasons against health care reform. When she pulls this kind of stuff, that’s when (to me) she’s lost credibility. She uses God to justify anything: whom to vote for, whether to support a proposed law. Where does one draw the line? Is every near accident supposed to be attributable to God’s watching over us? I don’t understand—I truly don’t—this need to ascribe all good things to God and all bad things to bad human behavior or to God’s retribution.
Part of me wanted to join in her comment thread on Facebook to propose the idea that maybe her son was just lucky, but I know that would come off as hurtful. Just because someone else doesn’t share my views doesn’t mean that I have to debunk or propose alternative explanations. Nothing I said would possibly change anyone’s mind. But I wonder if any of you have had similar situations and, if so, how you deal with it.