Divine Protection or Just Plain Lucky?

October 3, 2007 at 11:42 pm 23 comments

Robert Robinson after plane crashEarlier this week on The Today Show, Robert Robertson, a pilot who survived a plane crash by landing his plane a few feet away from I-95 in Florida said he was no longer an agnostic. His survival was truly a miracle since his plane literally disintegrated around him and he was left sitting in his seat dazed but ok.

In cases like this, it’s easy to conclude “divine intervention.”

Psalms 91 is a beautiful Psalm talking about the God’s protection for those who “dwell in the secret place of the Most High.”

You shall not be afraid of the terror by night,
Nor of the arrow that flies by day,
Nor of the pestilence that walks in darkness,
Nor of the destruction that lays waste at noonday.
A thousand may fall at your side,
And ten thousand at your right hand;
But it shall not come near you…
…No evil shall befall you,
Nor shall any plague come near your dwelling;
For He shall give His angels charge over you,
To keep you in all your ways.

On the same day as the crash mentioned earlier, another plane crashed into a restaurant in North Carolina. However, in this crash, the pilot was killed and several injured.

Did God divinely protect Robert Robertson and kill the pilot in North Carolina?

I recently read the novel “Just One Look” by Harlan Coben. In this novel, a father or a young man killed in a concert stampede had this conversation with a survivor:

“He [the son] was standing next to Ryan. They were body to body. But when the crush began, this Reed kid somehow got lifted up on someone’s shoulder. He got on the stage.

You remember what his parents said?

Jesus lifted up their son. It was God’s will. You see, Mr. and Mrs. Reed prayed and God responded. It was a miracle, they said. God looked out for their son- that’s what they kept repeating. As if God didn’t have the desire or inclination to save mine.”

As a Christian, I could never figure out what to say in the face of tragedy. It is so easy to “praise God” for miracles but what about all the cases where “God” does not provide the “miracle?” If God saved Mr. Robertson, where was he for the pilot in North Carolina?

– The de-Convert

Entry filed under: The de-Convert. Tags: , , , , , , , , , , .

I Know Why … The Historicity of Jesus

23 Comments Add your own

  • 1. HeIsSailing  |  October 4, 2007 at 6:45 am

    Jesus lifted up their son. It was God’s will. You see, Mr. and Mrs. Reed prayed and God responded. It was a miracle, they said. God looked out for their son- that’s what they kept repeating. As if God didn’t have the desire or inclination to save mine.”

    In other words, Jesus did *not* save anybody else in the stampede. I guess we cannot question the sovereignty, but it does make you wonder why are chosen to die and others are not.

    A devastating critique of this concept can be found here:

  • 2. Epiphanist  |  October 4, 2007 at 8:02 am

    This one will definitely do your head in, and it’s not just Christians. Luck and good fortune are common goals of many people’s religious observance and superstition. Chronic gamblers invest billions trying their luck. Without a bit of hope, life would be a real drudge. Divine providence is a nice idea, but as you point out, divine improvidence is normally left out of the belief system and replaced with a vague notion of evil. I wrote about our aspirations recently – http://epiphanist.wordpress.com/self-portrait/cargo/ – but I wouldn’t claim to have found any wonderful solutions. The concept of poverty is the only sound basis for consideration of these ideas that I know.

  • 3. LeoPardus  |  October 4, 2007 at 9:56 am

    You see this crap all the time. God saved this guy. Some years ago, everyone raved that God saved one little girl in a plane crash where around 400 died. And then folks try to follow this up with, “God is not arbitrary.” Cognitive dissonance at its finest.

  • 4. Slapdash  |  October 4, 2007 at 12:49 pm

    If I had been that little saved girl, in the plane crash LeoPardus mentions and everyone was saying God saved me, I would probably feel tremendous pressure then to do something big or important with my life. I mean, why else would God let so many other people die unless I was supposed to do something major and meaningful? Otherwise it would seem arbitrary that he saved me and nobody else.

  • 5. Heather  |  October 4, 2007 at 1:03 pm

    is so easy to “praise God” for miracles but what about all the cases where “God” does not provide the “miracle?”

    I had someone ask me on their blog if I were an atheist, and I answered that it really depends on the day of the week. I don’t know if this will make sense to anyone, but it’s easy to believe in God when the focus is on the “self.” I have a lot of blessings in my life, and so it’s easy to imagine a God working through it. Yet when I look at the world as a whole, and all of the evil … it’s a lot harder. Say I’m blessed with a raise, and so I’m happy, because Somebody likes me. And then I run across a father who has four kids and no job, and is about to lose his house and can’t feed his family. He’s been asking for help constantly, he’s more humble than I am and so forth … and nothing. Why do I get a raise when he can’t have a job? I don’t need the raise. How does that work? It’s very hard to believe in a God that might bless me with something I don’t need, when the father of four is desperate.

    It’s just difficult to see something like that as non-arbitrary.

  • 6. Thinking Ape  |  October 4, 2007 at 1:06 pm

    Why does Robertson rule out Satan as his saviour? I mean, if you want to attribute your good luck to a divine entity, why YHWH/Jesus/HS? Maybe Robertson had a Ben-Ange Caribbean spirit, or maybe Bes, the Egyptian deity of domestic protection can protect in a plane? Or if a divine being is in charge of “Everything,” why crash in the first place? Maybe Anansi the tricky African spider god crawled into the inner workings of the plane and chewed up some wires? Or maybe the Kerkopes Greek monkey children of Thea went berserk on some of the plane’s mechanics before liftoff (or maybe during the flight – they are gods after all).

  • 7. MLF  |  October 4, 2007 at 2:17 pm

    It’s impossible for human beings to fathom the mind of God. It’s easy to question “why”. For those of us who have had decades of experience in dealing with earthly life, and believing in faith that God is sovereign, we accept joy and sorrow both as gifts from God. “The LORD gives and the LORD takes away, blessed be the name of the LORD.”

    If God is not in charge, then who is? We can’t pick and choose anything that happens to us. But for believers, “we know that ALL things work together for good to those who love the LORD, and are the called (invited to participate in His plan) according to HIS purpose.”

    All humans die, believers and non-belivers, it’s just a fact. How and when we die is God’s decision. The difference is that believers are born twice (flesh & spirit) and die once. Non-believers are born once and die twice, and from the second death there is no resurrection. Which group would you rather in is the question?

  • 8. The de-Convert  |  October 4, 2007 at 2:24 pm


    It’s impossible for human beings to fathom the mind of God.

    … then you go on the explain the “mind of God” concerning joy/sorrow/purpose/believers/non-believers/death/afterlife/etc.

    Does it mean you’re not a “human being” since you’re obviously assured as to the “mind of God” on these issues?


  • 9. LeoPardus  |  October 4, 2007 at 2:51 pm

    You ask the question, “If God is not in charge, then who is?” And the answer is, “No one.”
    Which is easier to believe? That things just happen and that’s why one person out of 400 lives through a crash? Or to think that an arbitrary deity saved one person while leaving the others to die?
    And add to that arbitrary deity the attributes of ‘loving’, ‘good’, ‘personal’, and so on. Then try to explain those attributes in the face of the actions also attributed to that deity. Actions that we universally condemn in other deities (like Satan, Odin, etc) or in any human.
    To put the conundrum starkly, “If good things happen, God gets the credit. If bad things happen, God doesn’t get the blame. He can’t lose.”
    I cannot make myself to accept such a monstrous being, who kills at random and then sends apologists to explain away his actions.

  • 10. Thinking Ape  |  October 4, 2007 at 3:21 pm

    It’s impossible for human beings to fathom the mind of God.

    Yay! Another Discordian!

  • 11. Shirley  |  October 4, 2007 at 5:58 pm

    Hello, excellent post. All should consider the 11th chapter of Hebrews as an answer to this question:

    32 And what more shall I say? For time would fail me to tell of Gideon, Barak, Samson, Jephthah, of David and Samuel and the prophets— 33 who through faith conquered kingdoms, enforced justice, obtained promises, stopped the mouths of lions, 34 quenched the power of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, were made strong out of weakness, became mighty in war, put foreign armies to flight. 35 Women received back their dead by resurrection. Some were tortured, refusing to accept release, so that they might rise again to a better life. 36 Others suffered mocking and flogging, and even chains and imprisonment. 37 They were stoned, they were sawn in two, [1] they were killed with the sword. They went about in skins of sheep and goats, destitute, afflicted, mistreated— 38 of whom the world was not worthy—wandering about in deserts and mountains, and in dens and caves of the earth.

    39 And all these, though commended through their faith, did not receive what was promised, 40 since God had provided something better for us, that apart from us they should not be made perfect.

    I believe the Bible is clear on this subject: Some godly people are delivered–some are not. Note, though, they were all considered faithful. They are God’s people.

    If you have time at all, I would appreciate it if all of you would visit my devotional blog today. A few questions there for you…won’t take long. Thank you.

    Shirley Buxton

  • 12. kip  |  October 4, 2007 at 9:24 pm

    To be honest, to be fair, I might be persuaded to believe in your God, MLF, if you could prove anything without referring to a book written and re-written by so many guys so many years ago.

  • 13. marie  |  October 5, 2007 at 12:37 pm

    what if it was divine intervention and God KILLED the other guy? what if this whole time we have been making up the existence of a good God when really there exists only a totally Bad God. The world appears more that way. I mean, is there really more evidence for a GOOD god than a BAD one?

  • 14. Thinking Ape  |  October 5, 2007 at 2:30 pm

    marie asks,

    what if this whole time we have been making up the existence of a good God when really there exists only a totally Bad God

    aka The Demiurge/Yaldabaoth/Ptahil

  • 15. LeoPardus  |  October 5, 2007 at 4:56 pm

    I’d think that a totally bad deity in charge would make for a totally bad existence. But bouncing off your idea, one could easily think that there might be one or more good gods and one or more bad gods. Then, when someone survives a landing like the one in the article, they could be glad that a good god managed to be on hand at the time. And when someone dies in a plane crash, we could revile the bad god(s). Hmmmmmm,… I do believe I’ve just recreated something like the old Greek pantheon. 🙂

  • 16. samanthamj  |  October 7, 2007 at 9:30 am

    Way back when, many people were blamed for their own illnesses or fates. They “deserved” it somehow. Perhaps they “let” Satan in? Perhaps they weren’t being good enough Christians? These days, it seems most people have moved on from much of that kind of thinking, thanks to research and science. For example – they can say “no, that man isn’t “possessed by Satan, he has a mental illness called _____ that is not his fault, is caused by ____, and can be helped by _____.” Suddenly, the man isn’t a monster anymore… and, people can feel sorry for him… help him… see him as a human, rather than someone “possessed”… and probably “deserving” of their situation.

    However, when it comes to miracles and tragedies we still see people reaching for explanations, and answers to things that just don’t make sense. Many Christians seem to rationalize that these things were “of God” when someone was spared from death or harms way, and conveniently say it is not of God, but “of Satan” when tragedies occur.
    ? This never quite works for me. Isn’t God suppose to be more powerful than Satan? Couldn’t he have stopped him?

    I think, there are still some people who will think that people “deserved” whatever ill fate they had, for whatever reasons. Scary.

    Luckily, I don’t think that is as common these days. More commonly, I hear from Christians that we just can not possibly understand God’s plan… but, someday we will.
    ??? How do you argue with that one? I guess we shouldn’t. We should just accept it, right? But, where would humanity be today if we just “accepted everything” that didn’t make sense to us? I can’t believe any God that loves us would want us to do that either.

    My own father survived a near fatal fire when he was 12 yrs old. He was burnt on 70% of his body, and nearly died. Another boy did die in the fire. My Dad beat the odds, but he spent about 3 yrs in the hospital recovering – and many more outpatient surgeries after that. My dad was an atheist. He said it wasn’t because of his accident, though. They called him “miracle boy” in the local papers back then, and many thought he should thank God he survived. But, I suppose it’s hard to be thankful when you are laying in bed, almost dead, and in so much pain that you wished you were dead. Ironically, I DO think he was thankful to be alive… and he claims it wasn’t his own accident and suffering that made him loose his faith and question God’s existence – but, it was because of all the other tragedies he saw when he was in the hospital for those three years. ( I wrote more about it here: http://savemenot.wordpress.com/2007/06/17/my-dad/ if anyone’s interested.)

    When I was young… I use to plead with him to give God a chance… to just believe. I didn’t want him to go to hell and burn forever. Wasn’t he afraid to burn anymore – forever? But, now, I can see why he did not believe… why he COULD not… and I can’t see how anyone could blame him…

    Luck is all there is. Good things happen to bad people. Bad things can happen to good people. Sure, we can work towards improving our lives… as we should… but, who knows if some uncontrollable act of nature or accident will occur? It’s much easier for me to believe there is no divine intervention – than to believe there is one who picks and chooses whom he will help.


  • 17. curtis  |  October 27, 2007 at 3:05 pm

    What if there IS a God, and He does care about us all and doesn’t desire any harm to any of us…

    BUT, He’s decided to step back and relinquish some of His power to His creation (us, the animals, the Earth, etc.) and has put us in each other’s care?

    THUS, good things happen to “bad people” and bad things happen to “good people”… aka: stuff just happens.

    BUT, the flipside is that when people use their God-given intellect & ability to love each other, and invent things like medicine, seat belts, air bags, water purifiers for 3rd world countries, etc. Then, indirectly, God has performed a miracle and stepped into time and saved people. He just hasn’t done it in a flashy and overtly supernatural way…

    For the skeptics/agnostics/atheists here… what do you guys/gals think about this as a possibility? I might be alone on this one, but as someone who whole-heartedly believes in God/Jesus, this standpoint is starting to sound more and more feasible to me…

  • 18. karen  |  October 27, 2007 at 5:24 pm

    Curtis, it sounds like you’re describing “deism,” a belief in god but not in the personal god of most religions who intervenes in human affairs, answers prayers and performs miracles. Many of the U.S. founding fathers were deists, including Thomas Jefferson and Benjamin Franklin.

    From Wikipedia:
    Deists typically reject supernatural events (prophecy, miracles) and tend to assert that God does not interfere with human life and the laws of the universe. What organized religions see as divine revelation and holy books, most Deists see as interpretations made by other humans, rather than as authoritative sources.

    More here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Deism

    If I were to return to belief in god, I’m pretty sure it would be to deism, rather than to any particular theistic belief. At this point, I don’t see that happening but I’m never going to say “never.”

  • 19. kermittheagnostic  |  October 28, 2007 at 10:26 pm

    What is wrong with the answer “I don’t know?” Why do we always need to make believe we know why things happen when we obviously don’t?

    The problem with worrying about why bad things happen to good people and vice versa is that God, being defined as a “do-what ever-he-wants” God can do just that. The mind of God as most often defined is that of no mind at all rather one that is completely beyond our comprehension thus when a person converts to a religion because their life was miraculously saved it shows a complete misunderstanding of what religion is. Namely, faith or belief without reason or proof. God may have indeed saved their life to see if they convert only to later, at the pearly gates, tell them that was not the right reason to convert and off to Hell they go.

    I am fond of the theory that religion is just such a test and that when we all get to the pearly gates the agnostics and atheists will be accepted to heaven and all the religious believers will go to Hell. After all, did you think getting to heaven would be as simple as following a book? Like a recipe? Come on!!!! THINK!

    Curtis, what do think of that possibility?

  • 20. Wmaffa Pencalon  |  February 20, 2008 at 10:10 am

    What if Bobby, and all of us are creators of our own destiny? we choose when to go since we are spiritual beings having a human experience. Wmffa

  • 21. Bob Robertson  |  November 18, 2008 at 8:46 pm

    Hey all…..

    I am the I-95 survivor and I wanted to make some things a little clearer about what happened….theologically speaking, I mean.
    Some posts back someone asked “Why God?”…as my savior and not someone/thing else. My answer didnt come until a few days after the crash, in the hospital.
    I had been there four or five days and was reacting terribly to morphine, concussion, lack of sleep, etc. I was having pretty dark and bilical hallucinations from the mix. When things seemed at their darkest and the pressures on me were at their acme, I instinctively called for Jesus to help me; not Siddhartha, not Mohamud, not krishna…Jesus. To that point I hadn’t shed a tear in over 17 years, for anything. When I made the decision to accept Him I wept, profoundly and deeply wept. Thats why.
    Thanks for the posts and the good reading :). Bob-

  • 22. Josh  |  November 19, 2008 at 12:01 am

    Hey Bob, I am truly thankful you survived the crash 🙂 What, er, luck!

    I am deeply curious as to why you called out to Jesus. Did you grow up in the church, had you walked away from the Lord, etc.? What reason was there for your cry to him?

    Given the fact that we live in a country where people are thanking (or cursing) the name of Jesus regularly, it is no surprise to me at least that you called out to him. It is common for Catholics to call out to Mary for help, and during the middle ages it appears to have been common for people to cry out to saints or even apostles to save them during times of trouble.

    I guess here is the thing I really struggle with. How is it that this becomes evidence of anything for you – at all? I’m having a hard time seeing it as evidence myself, although I am truly grateful that you survived and are with us today. It may perhaps be personal, subjective evidence, but what would you say – for example – to the dream which I have in my post (From Tormented Soul to Freed Atheist – Part 1)? I saw that dream as evidence for quite some time but ended up changing my stance.

  • 23. Megmeg  |  February 8, 2013 at 8:46 pm

    Doug, if you think for a moment that the leteifs in the crowd will allow any of the conservatives to speak uninterrupted, then you are sadly mistaken.In a match between those who are civil and those who aren’t, the sad truth is the bottom denominator will always win out. We can not compete in a forum like this because we will not sink to the same denigration they do.

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Attention Christian Readers

Just in case you were wondering who we are and why we de-converted.

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Whether or not you believe in God, you should live your life with love, kindness, compassion, mercy and tolerance while trying to make the world a better place. If there is no God, you have lost nothing and will have made a positive impact on those around you. If there is a benevolent God reviewing your life, you will be judged on your actions and not just on your ability to blindly believe in creeds- when there is a significant lack of evidence on how to define God or if he/she even exists.



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