The Miracle Isn’t Going to Happen If You Just Sit There March 10, 2011

The Miracle Isn’t Going to Happen If You Just Sit There

David Hayward, as usual, summarizes in a cartoon something atheists understand all too well:

It brings to mind this old joke (I’m paraphrasing):

After a horrible flood, the waters rose so high that one man was forced to climb onto the roof of his house.

As the waters rose higher and higher, a man in a rowboat appeared, and told him to get in.

“No,” replied the man on the roof. “I have faith in the Lord; the Lord will save me.”

The waters rose higher and higher, and a speedboat appeared. “Climb in!” shouted a man in the boat. “No,” replied the man on the roof. “I have faith in the Lord; the Lord will save me.”

The waters continued to rise. A helicopter appeared and the pilot announced over the loudspeaker that he would lower a rope to the man on the roof.

“No,” replied the man on the roof. “I have faith in the Lord; the Lord will save me.”

Eventually, the waters rose so high that the man on the roof was washed away and soon drowned.

When he arrived in heaven, the man marched straight over to God.

“Heavenly Father,” he said, “I had faith in you, I prayed to you to save me, and yet you did nothing. Why?” God gave him a puzzled look, and replied “I sent you two boats and a helicopter, what more did you expect?”

The moral of the story: If you’re lying around (or kneeling), doing nothing, waiting for god to help you, you’ll get nowhere. Better to open your eyes, look around, and make the best of your situation.

Of course, most religious people are happy to take action when they need to… but they give all the credit to their god when things go well. It makes no sense. It’s one thing to be modest but another to be delusional.

We’re capable of overcoming just about any tough situation — it requires perseverance and loved ones. God is nowhere in the equation.

(via nakedpastor


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  • 2 hands working accomplish more than a million clasped in prayer.

  • Luther

    We have received many floods, hurricanes, tornadoes, eruptions, disease, wars, and other acts of violence.

    When will they catch on that there are either no god(s), god(s) that are helpless, or god(s) that are not very kind to us.

  • dauntless

    Post that joke on Pharyngula sometime. P.Z. loves it!

  • Jonas

    Hands that Help are better far, than lips that pray. – Ingersoll.

    Reminded of the saying: ‘Trust Him, but keep paddling!’ – seen in the Children’s RE Room at a local church.

  • Blacksheep

    Of course, most religious people are happy to take action when they need to… but they give all the credit to their god when things go well. It makes no sense. It’s one thing to be modest but another to be delusional.

    We’re capable of overcoming just about any tough situation — it requires perseverance and loved ones. God is nowhere in the equation.

    Wow – Insulting and cocksure. Hemants posts never fail to deliver a fresh, humanist take on “holier than thou.”

  • Cameron Brown

    ). A terrible suspension would happen if I didn’t close that link cite. In any case- yeah- hope is useless.

  • Douglas Kirk

    I love that joke so much. It implies that christians think their god is unnecessary, miracles are impossible, and that they personally have no responsibility for their actions. It’s definitely my favorite atheist joke; almost as good as the one about the marine and a professor!

  • Chas, PE SE

    Variation on that story…

    First, a Coast Guard Auxiliarist comes door to door, tells the man to leave…

    Then, a Coast Guard 25 footer comes, offers him a ride out…

    Then, a Coast Guard HH-65 hovers overhead, and the Rescue Swimmer comes down on the sling to help him…

    Then when he gets to wherever and complains, the diety says, “The Coast Guard was on the job, so I knew I didn’t have to handle it!”

    Semper Paratrus

  • Sarah2

    What would you rather have Hemant say, Blacksheep? What is it but delusion, if one believes in something that probably doesn’t exist? That’s delusion by definition. Where would God enter the equation to any atheist? He’s not being insulting. He’s stating what he believes; and, as much as anyone can do so, the truth.

  • Slider33

    I saw a post on a facebook page the other day. It said:
    “Faith can move mountains, but don’t be surprised if God hands you a shovel.”

    I had to laugh.

    God must be going with the “shovel” option 100% of the time.

  • Ben

    That joke that Hemant paraphrased was also done in an episode of “Boston Legal” when the gay judge was suing a “cure the gay” religious church because they didn’t help his cure his gayness. (I looked for a link but not successful).

  • CanadianNihilist

    Love it.

  • Margy

    This reminds me of a true story I heard about a deeply Christian project manager who was supervising an engineering team to release a new software update. One of the team members was an atheist, and he and the PM had had a friendly banter going for some time. The evening before their deadline, the atheist and a Christian engineer on the team offered to stay late and tie up any loose ends, so the PM and the remaining team members headed for home. The next morning, the two engineers told the PM that the software was ready to go. “Did you test it?,” asked the PM. According to a prearranged script, the Christian engineer said, “I prayed about it. It’s good to go.” “But did you test it?” asked the PM, his voice rising. “I prayed about it,” replied the engineer, as the PM became increasingly annoyed. Amused, the atheist stepped forward and said “I tested it. Thoroughly. It really is good to go.” Needless to say, the PM was a little put out. “I know what you’re trying to do,” he said. The atheist just smiled.

  • As usual Hemant, thanks so much for posting my cartoon!

  • Sarah,

    What is it but delusion, if one believes in something that probably doesn’t exist? That’s delusion by definition.

    I agree, but I can also see why theists are offended by atheists saying that what they believe is delusional. It took me a while to realize that there were lots of people who thought the mere title to The God Delusion was insulting, even though it’s clear that Dawkins is talking about a societal delusion, not a personal one. Even though I do believe that theists have deluded themselves about the existence of deities, I think that’s the result of cultural indoctrination, not any intellectual defect or moral failing on the part of individual believers.

  • jose

    – I sent you two boats and a helicopter, what more did you expect?
    – I expected to go to work as any other day. Instead, I died because you sent us a fucking flood.

  • jose

    Ever seen this picture? Do you know the story of Omayra Sánchez?

  • “God helps those who help themselves” – Benjamin Franklin

    To put it another way:
    1 + 1 + God = 2
    1 + 1 = 2

    God in this equation is not required. You can try it with any other equations. The results are the same.

  • Zuzkafuska

    Love it 🙂 This joke was quite popular here in the Czech Republic after the 1997 floods devastated a large part of a region that is traditionally more religious than the rest of the country (which, on average, is pretty religiously indifferent).

  • Blacksheep

    Sarah2,

    What would you rather have Hemant say, Blacksheep? What is it but delusion, if one believes in something that probably doesn’t exist? That’s delusion by definition. Where would God enter the equation to any atheist? He’s not being insulting. He’s stating what he believes; and, as much as anyone can do so, the truth.

    It’s simple: the word “delusional” has an insulting quality to it, because it implies a sort of mental disfunction. If someone says something to me that I totally think is wrong, it’s fine to say, “I think you’re wrong.” In fact, even saying “you’re wrong” is respectful.

    Look at this wiki definition:

    Delusions typically occur in the context of neurological or mental illness, although they are not tied to any particular disease and have been found to occur in the context of many pathological states (both physical and mental). However, they are of particular diagnostic importance in psychotic disorders and particularly in schizophrenia, paraphrenia, manic episodes of bipolar disorder, and psychotic depression.

    I have an idea – test it next time you’re in a debate with a friend or significant other. Try saying “you’re delusional” when you disagree about something.

    My larger point was that hemant regularly chooses words and phrases that are smug, insulting, and imply complete un-openess to disussion. Granted, that may be on purpose, as a response to the way he feels that believers treat him, but it ‘s still notable.

  • mike

    I remember a joke I heard from Russell Glasser on The Atheist Experience…

    When I was a little boy, I reaaaally wanted a new bike. I prayed and prayed and prayed, but it never came. Then one day I realised that god doesn’t work like that. So I stole a new bike and asked god for forgiveness.

  • NFQ

    David Hayward is so good at illustrating precisely the problems that so many of us have with religious faith. I’m still trying to figure out how he goes on believing. (David, if you see this, I’d love to hear your thoughts. This isn’t rhetorical; I’m genuinely confused about where you’re coming from. At any rate, keep up the good work.)