The Magic Bullet? July 17, 2008

The Magic Bullet?

Let’s find the flaw in this logic:

A gunfight takes place in Indianapolis.

A stray bullet flies into a random car.

It hits an innocent ten-year-old girl in the stomach. She’s bleeding.

The same bullet continues on its path and *almost* hits her sister, who is thirteen.

I say “almost” because between the younger girl and the older girl was a book and a watermelon (sitting on the older girl’s lap).

The bullet went through the book and was ultimately stopped by the watermelon.

Both girls are ok and the younger girl will be fine.

Now, how is the girls’ great-grandmother reacting to all this?

She now believes that path [of the bullet] was guided by God.

Oh… I should have mentioned: the book the bullet went through was The Bible…

“Came through the door, hit her, then it went to The Bible,” [the grandmother] said. The Bible was sitting on the seat between the two girls. “It went in here and come out here and it shredded my Sunday School book. The word of God slowed the bullet so that it didn’t kill anybody.”

A watermelon [great-granddaughter] Jaelyn was holding in her lap eventually stopped the bullet.

“Right in the watermelon. Didn’t come out of the watermelon,” Thompson said. “The word of God and the Lord’s power saved. He sent the bullet into the watermelon.”

So apparently, God doesn’t care much for her other granddaughter.

And God must have it out for the Bible because he made the bullet tear right through it.

(We all know if that book happened to be a dictionary rather than a Bible, He would’ve guided that bullet through it with no loss of velocity.)

Maybe if God cared, He would’ve let the bullet avoid the car and the girls altogether…

I’m not poking fun at the great-grandmother’s obvious grief. It’s awful what happened.

But let’s not give credit where none is due.

This was a horrible accident and (for better or for worse) God played no role in it.

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  • Wes

    Seems like a classic example of trying to cope with a traumatic event by seeing enormous significance in trivial coincidences. I don’t really blame the grandmother. She’s obviously going through a lot psychologically.

    But I do put some amount of blame on the willingly gullible people who will surely spread this story around without a drop of critical thinking. You just know that a zillion preachers are gonna use this anecdote in their sermons this coming Sunday to convince their fawning flock that the Ruler of the Entire Universe acts in a detectable way in the world. And no one will stop to think about all the discrepancies involved, like the fact that it seems that the watermelon did more to stop the bullet than the Bible did. Or the fact that it makes no sense that an all-powerful, all-loving being whose will is always done would allow a 10 year old to be shot in the stomach in the first place. Or the fact that for an all-powerful being, his methods for averting catastrophes bear a strange resemblance to flukes, rather than the clear teleological action you would expect from a thinking agent.

  • DJ

    I think god had it in for her. Here’s my take on it.

    Woman Claims God Shot Her and Her Great Granddaughter

    Charlotte Thompson was waiting at a stoplight in Indianapolis, when a gun fight broke out nearby. Stray bullets “guided by God” entered her car and struck her great granddaughter in the stomach. Another bullet “guided by God” was only stopped from hitting her other granddaughter by a watermelon sitting in the granddaughter’s lap. The police credited the watermelon for saving the girls life. “Thank Xenu,” one officer was overheard saying, “that we have cheap immigrant laborers that are able to grow such bullet resistant melons. If Americans grew these melons, that little girl would be dead.” The police are still looking for the shooter. He is believed to be a tall bearded man with flowing robes. It is also believed that the man somehow used a book on magic to somehow draw the bullets with more deadly accuracy toward the innocent bystanders.

  • I think too often Christians don’t realize that by saying “God purposefully saved the younger daughter” they can also be saying “God’s will was for the 10 year old to be shot.” Symbolism intended.

    And Wes, I’d agree…I think too many pastors will probably use this in a sermon, and probably confuse the heck out of attenders who had something terrible happen to them recently.

  • Yoo

    Why is she thanking God? He obviously failed to stop the bullet with the Bible (valiant attempt, though). She should be thanking the watermelon, which sacrificed itself to stop the bullet.

    Seriously, there shouldn’t have been a gunfight in the first place. I’m glad to hear no one was killed and that even the 10-year old girl who was shot will apparently make a full physical recovery.

  • Reminds me of news reports praising “guardian angels” for causing “only” broken bones and internal injuries when a base jumper’s parachute didn’t open when he jumped at an Australian waterfall last month… Hey, why didn’t they fix the parachute in the first place, then?

  • Daniel Hoffman

    People rarely take the providence of God far enough, or apply it thoroughly enough.

  • Could you imagine living in a world where the Grandmother’s reasoning was true?

    Horror, nature and physics being controlled by a being so petty and arbitrary; you couldn’t go outside for fear of being having to slow a bullet to save someone who did marginally better in Sunday school.

  • Jim

    What the hell do people use for brains? The flaw in her logic is so glaring that a blind man should be able to see it – and yet she is utterly convinced that God played a role in this incident. I just don’t get how people can be so deluded…

  • Yoo

    Could you imagine living in a world where the Grandmother’s reasoning was true?

    It might make for horrifying living, but it might actually make for great fiction …

    (The Bible is one gigantic attempt, but its entertainment value is sorely degraded by an incredible amount of tedium.)

  • Stephan

    You are all missing the clear implication of this story.

    God hates watermelon.

  • SarahH

    The last time I was at my parents’ church the pastor enthusiastically enumerated on how people who’ve been recently struck by tragedy or hard times are more “ripe” for “harvesting” and this is yet another example of that psychology in play.

  • Jonsi

    She says both her granddaughters are okay and knows eventually Shyann’s bullet wound will heal. However, she now worries about the emotional scars the girls will carry with them.

    “It took away her innocence,” she said. “You know, she trusted everybody. Now she trusts nothing and nobody.”

    Funny, that last quote was how I felt about religion. I don’t mean to demean this girls pain, but even 10 year olds can understand “why did God prevent her from getting shot, but allow me?” I only hope the answer is not “things happen for reasons we are not meant to understand.” Seriously, who among us, if we were all powerful and LOVED somebody, would guide a bullet to non-mortally wound them just to teach them appreciation for the world we give them. The classic apologists answer is usually “God’s rules are God’s rules, and we are not to judge.” What’s the bible verse, “does a clay pot question it’s maker?” No, but a clay pot is not conscious, and when I made an ashtray in the 2nd grade, I didn’t “love it.”

  • Richard Wade

    A few events come as a consequence from this incident:

    The ten year-old, whom God failed to protect but callously used in part to save a watermelon grows up to be an atheist while the fifteen year-old grows up to found a new religion worshipping watermelons, which is just as sensible as the religion her great grandmother practices.

    Meanwhile, Bible publishers alarmed by the growing number of bullet-through-the-Bible stories become afraid of lawsuits from gunshot victims who were hit after the bullet passed through the Bible, begin making the Bible covers out of Kevlar.

    The U.S military suspends its contracts for more body armor made entirely of Bibles sewn together until their efficacy in combat can be determined.

    Bullet manufacturers begin researching how to make bullets more efficient at piercing onion skin paper and Citrullus Lanatus.

    Watermelon growers, becoming rich from increased sales due to the new religion of Melonism use some of their profits to fund research into genetically altering their produce to have much tougher rinds.

    Eventually the Bible-bullet-armor-melon technological competition produces spin-off technologies that benefit mankind in many ways, led in great part by the ten year-old atheist girl who became a scientist.

  • cipher

    God hates watermelon.

    Now, if it had been a banana …

  • Grimalkin

    As far as I can see, it’s the watermelon that stopped the bullet and saved the older girl. Perhaps this is a sign that the One True God is, in fact, a watermelon!

  • I remember growing up that if, God forbid, I said anything, God forbid, irreverent, God forbid, and something happened to be later, like I, God forbid, hiccuped, or fell down the stairs, or bit my tongue, or coked on food, my mother would say, “God got you!” I didn’t think she was serious, she was.

  • Darryl

    Melon had despised Bible from the very first time they met. Melon couldn’t stand Bible’s air of superiority, and how people were always quoting him, as if he knew anything really important. Melons were delicious and attractive fruits, filled with the essence of life–a satisfying oasis of flavor on a hot summer’s day. Yet, no one paid much attention to Melon; it was “the Bible says this” and “the Bible says that,” all day long, every day. Melon came to hate everything about Bible: his blackness, his rectangularness, and especially the musty odor that hung over Bible’s yellowed, dog-eared pages. Finally, Melon had had enough of Bible–something had to be done.

    You meet a lot of unsavory types when you’ve spent any time in the fields of Henry county. That was where Melon met Pumpkin. Melon could see right away that Pumpkin was the kind of fella that could handle himself in a fight. He had heard rumors that Pumpkin had a gun and knew how to use it. He had never actually seen the gun, but it fit with everything else that he knew about Pumpkin. Melon hadn’t thought about Pumpkin much since he left the farm, but one day last month, as he was nursing his hatred of Bible, the image of Pumpkin came to his mind–and he remembered the gun.

    It’s funny how things turn out. Like they say about a war plan–that it doesn’t survive first contact with the enemy–plans have a way of going to hell. It was supposed to be easy, quick and dirty, nobody else gets hurt, and nobody would be the wiser. Well, just read the papers; things didn’t work out the way Melon had planned. The kid wasn’t supposed to be hurt, and Melon sure wasn’t supposed to take a bullet for somebody else. They say “What goes around comes around.” Melon got what he wanted, and paid a heavy price for it. Life ain’t fair; but life goes on.

    And Pumpkin? Well, let’s just say that he’s ‘cooling off,’ somewhere in Delaware county, on somebody’s window sill.

  • Richard Wade

    LOL! Darryl, that was really good, told in exactly the manner of the torrid, sleazy triangle stories. 😀

  • Polly

    NO NO NO! You are not allowed to overlook a bullet wound to a child and call it “the lord’s protection.”

    HOW the FUCK is the 10 year old girl supposed to feel about Gawd letting her get shot while sparing her sister any trouble?!? Can you imagine the emotional scars a little girl is going to come away with in addition to the physical scars?

    If they were both unhurt, I’d have more sympathy for the grandmother’s shocked relief.

  • Darryl

    Thanks Richard. You would’ve written it better, but thinking of implausible scenarios–like God did it–I couldn’t resist.

  • Polly

    ROTFLMAO!! That was great! Especially the window sill fate for pumpkin, stroke of genius.

  • Ron in Houston

    I don’t know if God hates watermelons. If they were created they are awful tough. I miss the show “Mail Call” where that ex-marine would machine gun watermelons.

  • Ubi Dubium

    God hates watermelon.

    No – if god really hated watermelons he wouldn’t have sent a bullet. He’d have sent a “Sledge-O-Matic”.

    So maybe it’s some other god out there who hates bibles, and the little girl just got in his way. The FSM is just too laid back and peaceful to do anything like that. The Invisible Pink Unicorn is only concerned with laundry, not books. I wonder, what god would both hate bibles and consider bullets an appropriate divine weapon?

  • Laundry! That’s it, Ubi! What were the girls wearing? Maybe it was the colors of their clothes, the injured one’s now turned red with blood… and needs to be cleaned → IPU!

  • ubi dubius

    After the shooting was over, did they eat the watermelon? I hate wasting food.

    Ubi Dubium: How long before we all just “get in the way”????

  • Aaaaahhhhh. *runs screaming from room, pulling hair*

  • wwyoud

    I had the same reaction to this recent story

    Salvation Army-owned home split in half
    Raleigh, N.C. — After years of helping storm victims, two Salvation Army majors found themselves in need of help after Friday’s storms damaged their home.

    Winds brought a tree, estimated to be 100 feet tall and 15 tons, through the roof of the Smith’s home at 1005 Winona Road.

    Maj. Bobbie Sue Smith, of the Wake County branch of the Salvation Army… and her husband, Maj. Al Smith, were away celebrating Al Smith’s birthday with their son in Rocky Mount when the tree fell.

    “We’re just so very thankful, we were not here and everybody’s safe,” Al Smith said.

    Together, the Smiths are the longest-serving Salvation Army officers in the Carolinas and oversee all operations, including social services, ministries and disaster relief.

    The Smiths have spent seven years in the north Raleigh home, provided by the Salvation Army. They had planned to stay in the house until they retire in May.

    …“You don’t understand these things when they happen, but when you realize there’s a lot more people who go through more than this, we’re very grateful,” Bobbie Sue Smith said.

    …”We certainly believe the Lord had his hand on us,” Bobbie Sue Smith said.

    If anyone deserved god’s favor, you’d think it be Bobbie Sue and Al, but even they aren’t good enough!

  • Miko

    This has totally destroyed my faith in a flying spaghetti monster. But luckily I now have absolute proof in the existence of a Flying Watermelon Monster, who protects all* who carry its holy symbol.

    * For “all” defined over a set of size n=1

  • Beowulff

    Follow the Gould Melon! The Holy Gould Melon of Jerusalem Indianapolis!

  • Steven

    I sure wish I could get the same kind of job as God – all the credit when things go well and none of the blame when they don’t.
    It seems we can place the responsibility for the shooting squarely in the hands of a human agent.
    As for the lack of a tragic outcome, all I see is some luck and a fortuitously-placed watermelon.
    There are far too many examples where these random shootings end tragically and there is no divine intervention to spare the victims.
    With so many scared people, so many guns, and superstition trumping science and common sense it is no surprise that violence is out of control in North America (and most of the rest of the world).
    I wonder if there is anything that those of us who don’t depend on an almighty being to set things right can do to help decrease the fear and paranoia a bit and highlight the value of this life – since it is the only one we can be sure that we have.

  • I though figs were the fruit that God hated.

  • Allytude

    God does not like watermelon.Proved.

    I feel sorry for the girls and I should not be facetious, but the “thanking god ” got me angry..
    Much like this story

    where this guys recoery is a “miracle” not the effort of te doctors who saved him.

  • Richard Wade

    Steven said,

    I wonder if there is anything that those of us who don’t depend on an almighty being to set things right can do to help decrease the fear and paranoia a bit and highlight the value of this life – since it is the only one we can be sure that we have.

    I think there are things we can do. We can live that way rather than just talk that way, we can encourage and praise clear thinking rather than only criticizing and ridiculing superstitious thinking, and we can address the roots of problems like this incident rather than just the outcome. The final resting place of the bullet inside a watermelon is not important. Let us trace its path back to the gun and the hand that fired it. We must proactively respond to the complex conditions that spawn violence such as this, instead of merely reactively disparaging those who invoke God after it’s all over for the just-barely-less-than-tragic course of the bullet. Praising the bullet-stopping power of Bibles is not going to make those girls’ neighborhood any safer, and putting down folks who do that won’t either. Only people supporting each other in positive, real-world action will do that. We can limit ourselves to one minute of venting our frustration at people like the great grandmother, and then dedicate several hours of effort working with believers and skeptics alike to actually make things better.

  • JohnB

    Maybe if God cared, He would’ve let the bullet avoid the car and the girls altogether…

    If he had interested himself in the matter at all, it would have happened that way. But then you never hear anyone say, “Well, I didn’t get shot today. God was really watching out for me!”

  • Darryl

    I wonder if there is anything that those of us who don’t depend on an almighty being to set things right can do to help decrease the fear and paranoia a bit and highlight the value of this life – since it is the only one we can be sure that we have.

    Keep your head down.

  • The Thinking Theist


    Much like this story where this guys recovery is a “miracle,” not the effort of the doctors who saved him.

    If you’ll look closer, there’s another article on the same story, that attributes the “miracle” to the hands of the doctors who operated on him.

    The doctors who performed the “miracle” of saving the life of Supratim Dutta had never seen such a case. […] But the surgeons were equal to the task — and Supratim lived to tell the tale.

    So, the term “miracle” can be construed to not only pertain to the supernatural, but to the natural working against the odds and winning. It’s kind of a twist the perceived definition of the word but, nonetheless the parents will still thank God for having some sort of unseen hand in it not killing him instantly…something which, I think, non-theists would attribute to the theory of probability. (Please correct me, if I’m using the “T of P” incorrectly there)

  • Christophe Thill

    The conclusion is clear :

    Now the watermelon must be put on sale on e-bay.

  • Allytude

    Thinking Theist- I missed out that story- was rather annoyed by the extreme Thanking God Reactions on the comments to the first story.

  • God hates watermelon.

    Hey, I hate watermelon. Therefore….

  • Stephan

    GDad, you must be Stevie Wonder!!!

  • The Thinking Theist

    Allytude, yeah, I can understand your anger about the “thanking God” comments…seems a bit crazy to thank God when the man was impaled in the first place..

    It just seems that man is capable of some “miracles” as well…oh, the potential of humanity…


  • Aw, this crap happens alla time. A while back some missionary family’s plane crashed smack dab into the middle of a market, killing people on the ground and dousing some with burning fuel.

    The missionaries survived. Guess who they credited?

    So presumably, the lesson is that gods loathe the brown. Because that seems to be what Ray Comfort’s saying over atChristian tinhat bug$#17 Crazy, I mean “Atheism Central.” I’d link to it, but teh weapons-grade steyupid emits radiation that can contaminate civil discourse.

    One day the ICC’s going to get done with those bastards in Sudan and finish the final prosecution of George Dumbya Bush, and then maybe they’ll hand down an indictment of the guy who killed all those folks in the Indonesian tsunami, the Chinese earthquake, the Myanmar typhoons …

    Alas, I’m sure he’ll have plenty of character witnesses.

  • Mike

    I know it is a little late, but things are going in Indy again. Here is the story
    Apparently “god” doesn’t even protect the children of his\her ministers.

  • A temple should be built for that selfless watermelon!

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