Thanks the Medical Experts, Not God June 23, 2011

Thanks the Medical Experts, Not God

6-year-old Cody Grundstrom nearly drowned on Monday:

“I tried to hang onto rocks, but the waterfall took me toward it,” recalls Cody, whose cries for help couldn’t be heard over the thundering cascade. “All I could see was green. I closed my eyes, was just lying in the water and waiting. I knew my dad would come get me.”

Scary stuff. The good news is that he’s ok, currently in a hospital, and expected to make a full recovery.

So how did he make it out alive? His dad has an explanation:

“It’s a God thing. I would never have said that four days ago,” said Cody’s father, Kevin Grundstrom, 40, on Wednesday. “But if you could have seen that water. …”

A “God thing”?!

The newspaper’s headline writers jumped on that, too:

And yet, if you read on to the very next paragraph, there’s a perfectly rational explanation as to why Cody was saved:

In Cody’s corner: the timely arrival of his parents, the alert sounded by his sister and the luck of having two trained emergency responders from Salt Lake City nearby. Talli Torgersen, an emergency-room nurse at Primary Children’s, and her husband, Jay, a fire captain with Unified Fire Authority and expert in swift-water rescues, were at the falls with their own children.

“Those two people saved Cody’s life,” Kevin Grundstrom said.

Talli Torgersen said it took 30 seconds of chest compressions before Cody vomited and two to three minutes more until he could breathe on his own.

He was still unconscious when they strapped him to a lawn chair and carried him to the Torgersens’ vehicle, in which they had an IV kit. Ten to 15 minutes later, a ranger arrived with oxygen.

With Cody so well-cared for, “By the time the ambulance arrived, there was almost nothing more they could do,” said Jenney Grundstrom, who flew with Cody to Primary Children’s in a helicopter.

“Those two people saved Cody’s life.” Yes! Those two, not a god! They’re the ones responsible for saving Cody! God had nothing to do with it! Doesn’t the dad see that he’s contradicting himself?! And why is the newspaper playing along?! And why is the girl from Twilight writing this article? (Oh. Different spelling. Got it.)

While we’re at it, if God is responsible for saving Cody, then God also deserves the blame for letting six other children drown in Utah over the past month, right?

How come that’s not mentioned in the piece?

The commenters on the Salt Lake Tribune‘s site are weighing in, too, and they’re rightfully harsh:

  • If god were going to intervene one way or the other, why wouldn’t he just keep the kid from falling in the river in the first place?
  • And, if the kid died, that would be “a God thing,” too, wouldn’t it? Or does God only get credit when someone pulls through?
  • But it was pure luck, that’s all. No need to praise gods for dumb or fortunate luck or even someone else’s selfless sacrifice. As others have said, the countless tragedies that occur around the country and the world rather point to gods that are pretty inept at keeping children safe.

I know: I’m being a jerk. This is a feel-good story about a boy who nearly lost his life but was saved… and I’m making it all about god. But someone needs to state the obvious and it’s clear the newspaper won’t do it.

(Thanks to Karen for the link.)

***Update***: It looks like the headline has changed since this posting went up…

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  • dj

    These people just never understand what they do.

  • Red

    No, the father and the newspaper are the ones making about god.

    Just once, I’d love to see the medical professionals who saved someone’s life like this release a statement voicing their displeasure over the slighting they’ve received when all the credit goes to god and not them.

  • Jennifer

    You’re not being a jerk Hemant. I feel the same way when I read these things. The credit for the countless deaths by accident that happen every day are never attributed to god and it’s ridiculous.

  • Brice Gilbert

    You do know that God plays chess with us right? God is the one who moved the emergency responders and everyone into position to save the kid. Why didn’t he just not have the kid fall in the first place? Well it’s not a fun game when there isn’t any drama and action!

  • mthrnite

    The “what are the chances?” arguments that a believer pulls out of their butt are the hardest ones to refute without me going bonkers in the process. My friend was helped out of a river when he got drunk and tangled up in some mooring rope. To him, no other human could have possibly been there to help him, but God sent someone to save him. He was lucky, and that’s it. It’s impossible to convince him though, that improbable doesn’t mean impossible. All they need is that little tiny bit of confirmation and they think they have irrefutable evidence of the awesome power of God.

  • People never seem to remember the times they weren’t saved when they were drowning 😉
    I can surely say this much though, if I pushed a kid down a waterfall and then went in to save him they would not be praising me that’s for damn sure.

  • Dennis

    It seems that the newspaper has changed the caption. It now says “Boy rescued from rushing Utah river”. I wonder if they changed it after the comments and/or Hemant’s having it posted here.
    In any case, it sounds more objective.

  • The religious answer would be that God put all those people in the proper place in order to save that boy. Therefore, God should be thanked and given the credit.

    Perhaps it was the devil who made that boy fall in the river. Damn devil!

  • Anonymous

    I know: I’m being a jerk.

    Not in the slightest. Disregarding the contributions of responders and medical personnel is the jerk move, imho.

  • Roxann

    god gets all the credit for everything good that happens in your life, screw the people around you that help you daily..thats what is wrong with these people..makes no sence to give a zombie credit for something a real live person did..

  • How dare you claim that it wasn’t a god who tried to drown this child. Poseidon will be angered and will surely sink Chicago beneath the waves in retribution. As for the two who thwarted Poseidon by bringing the child back to life with their magic, well, they must also be gods. Given their command over death I would say that it must have been Hades and Persephone, King and Queen of the Underworld.

    All praise the gods who live upon Mount Olympus.

    Seriously though, medicine, training and dedicated staff saved this boy. It is insulting to gloss over that and insert invisible deities as the ones responsible. The superstitious ingrates.

  • shirty

    LOL, they’ve changed the article headline to ‘Boy rescued from rushing Utah river’ now.

  • Ida Know

    Whenever I hear people thanking “God” for saving their child from drowning (or some other misfortune), I always think how awful that must sound to the people whose children weren’t so lucky. Were their children somehow less special or worthy than the one who was saved? Did “God” punish them through their child, for not praying right or something?

    Why do people say these things? Do they never even think of how cruel they are being?

  • Vanessa

    I think the parents are jerks for giving credit to god and not the emergency responders. The way it sounds, they were just there for fun; they didn’t have to save someone else’s kid. But they did, because that’s what a responsible human being does. God had nothing to do with it.

  • Doug Bancroft

    We all know what the believers (Mormons, here) would say had the boy drowned–“There are some things that we won’t understand in this life. In the next life, it will become clear why god allowed this to happen”. It’s such a weak have-it-both-ways argument, but that’s what the LDS would say.

  • Michael

    Maybe the devil saved the child so he could go forth and fornicate.

  • Val

    I want to know what the hell they were doing near the rivers. They’ve been at flood level or higher for two months in the northern half of the state, and the warnings to stay away are constant. (Not to mention that a mere glance at a river shows it’s running very fast and very high.) They’re lucky they had medical professionals nearby.

  • Just your average everyday atheist

    Wow! The “I know, I’m a jerk” comment spoke straight to me. I think skeptics are getting over not being able to point out inconsistencies, lies, exaggerations of truth, and outright ignorance because it might make us or our collective rationale seem cold or jerkish. I, however, do not help this cause much because I have probably alienated half of all my friends, acquaintances and family this way!
    I sometimes feel like a professional ballon-popper/ puppy kicker, but oh well! Someone has to point out the emperor’s hairy nutsack, right?
    Hemant, if you’re a jerk, we’re all a jerk, so let’s be jerks together 😉
    ….and maybe we should have support groups for the admittedly tactless who have a hard time expressing skepticism without coming across as the mean kid at the party trying to ruin everyone’s fun….

  • Michael

    I’m a photographer, and it really irks me when someone sees a photo of mine and says something like: “Thats so beautiful! You must have a really nice camera.”

    I wonder if doctors, emergency responders, and etc. feel the same way over people thanking god for their hard work.

  • Dark Jaguar

    Boy praises god for other people saving him because he can’t believe the odds that other people would be around a kid, those individuals that adults always have to be around to keep them from, say, drowning.

    In other news, dog bites man.

  • Demonhype

    “I know: I’m being a jerk…”

    Like Anonymous says, you are not being a jerk. Though I realize that this is one of the most valuable opportunities the religious have to force their views on people without criticism, because of all that emotionalism involved.

    Told this story before, though I don’t know if I told it here: My brother’s GF was in an accident, wherein she saw a drunk driver run a red light and come straight for her. She would have been struck right on the door and killed if she hadn’t gunned the motor immediately; as a result, the car struck just behind the driver seat, the crash was pretty bad and the car was semi-totaled, but she was home the same day.

    So shortly after that her brother graduates HS and we go to the party where everyone is gushing about the Glory of God intervening to save her. I privately (privately, mind you!!!) told my mom that was ridiculous on every level, where the fuck was God for all those people who get killed every day in those same kinds of accidents, why the hell is it that (to the best of my knowledge) the drunk driver tends to fare best in these crashes, and BTW, SHE SAW THE DAMNED CAR COMING AND THOUGHT FAST, OR ELSE SHE WOULD HAVE BEEN DEAD RIGHT NOW!!!! There was no mystery to her survival, it’s not like she was struck directly and without warning and somehow walked away like Launchpad McQuack from what should have been a fatal crash.

    My mother, who doesn’t do very well in these kinds of arguments in general much less with me, seemed to agree–then went straight to the GF’s mom to tell her what I said and the two of them tag-teamed me with every whiny wooist pro-magic bingo you can think of. In public. Knowing they had the emotional high-ground and any attempts to argue on my part or defend myself in any way would be seen as rude and evil and I would be accused of “ruining D’s big day”. They weren’t too concerned about ruining D’s party with a scene, but then we all know that, depsite the fact that those two harpies started it and pursued it, I would be seen as the Bad Atheist who ruined the party by contradicting the view that GF isn’t God’s Special Snowflake in her own parents’ house and inappropriately using D’s party to “force” my Evil Atheist Agenda on everyone. Because we all know that when an atheist speaks freely and shares their views, they are really proselytizing, and when a religious proselytizes they are really just engaging in free speech and sharing their views. Typical religious people, only able to face an unbeliever if they create a situation in which the unbeliever can’t realistically argue back in any way. She can’t get the upper hand on me when we have an even playing field, so she enlists an Emotionalism air-strike to disable me so all I’ll be able to do is stand there taking their religiously-backed abuse. Fucking cowards is what they are.

    Even worse, mom denies this ever happened. I brought it up one time when she was touting how much more moral and ethical she was, because she never ganged up on anyone or attacked anyone’s POV, and she said, “you are lying, I never did any such thing!” Again, typical religious believer–bully people, act like an ass after forcibly silencing your opponent, and then pretend it never happened when you get called on it later. Just like the Inquisition and such never happened, and slavery was upheld by Atheists and opposed by Good Christian People. Fucking lying cowards.

    I felt the same way about that “Seven in Heaven” sign. We have right on our side, we have the Constitution on our side, but the religious have emotionalism on theirs–wild, irrational, often violent emotionalism. Like me at D’s party, we can’t speak up or defend ourselves in any way, however gentle or polite, without being perceived as jerks by the over-emotional religious believers in this country. We often end up believing it ourselves. Seriously, you’re no more of a jerk than David Silverman is a jerk for opposing that sign–the only difference between the two situations is mindless uber-patriotic religious hero worship in one particular circumstance.

    I like to think they use this so much these days because it’s their last refuge, the only place they have where they can spout their bullshit without the flaws being critiqued and dishonesty laid bare. I hope that’s the case.

  • BoomerChick

    Hemant watches Twilight?
    Yeah, it was the EMTs and doctors that saved the boy… but all I got from this post is… Hemant watches Twilight?

    (Hemant says: I have not read/watched Twilight. I’m just aware of the actors…)

  • The physical newspaper for the SL Trib had the God headline. For Utah, that wasn’t surprising.

    As you updated, they did change the headline in the online version.

  • BoomerChick

    I was just teasing. You can admit it. My guilty pleasure on the dark side is the TV show Charmed.

  • Lindsey A. S.

    I actually just read this article in the Salt Lake Tribune this morning, and I had pretty much all the same thoughts mentioned here. The two trained medical professionals should be the ones being praised and thanked, not some god who already let 6 children drown and couldn’t even prevent a 7th from getting in the water.

  • Kat B

    This reminds me of the confusion I’ve noticed among Christians regarding atheists and Thanksgiving. They ask, “who do they have to give thanks if they don’t believe in God?”. I was taken aback by the realization that this was even a topic at all among Christians.

    How does it not occur to someone that anyone could be thankful for the men and women who have contributed to modern science which has provided us with antibiotics and life-saving surgeries? How about being thankful for the people who have bred and domesticated the many fruits and vegetables we now eat on a regular basis? Why is it that you can only be thankful to God?

  • Wally

    “It’s a God Thing” sounds like the title of a terrible rom-com, starring Kate Hudson and Matthew McConaughey.

  • Fundie Troll

    Why are so many of you bothered that a man is giving God credit for saving his son’s life? And is God forbidden from using human agency to save lives?

    Aren’t there better things you could be doing with your time and energy besides raging against a God that you don’t even believe exists in the first place?

  • Mike

    Definitely not a jerk. Just being rational and realistic about who should get the credit.

    A brief description of my similar story: A couple years ago I had a heart attack while playing soccer. A guy on a different field that didn’t know me saw me go down and came over to help. He ended up giving me CPR with the help of some of my friends. After quite a long time, the first responders that came told him to stop the CPR saying that the changes of making it through after that amount of time was almost zero. Luckily, he didn’t stop and after the paramedics showed up and administered shocks with an AED, my heart started pumping normally again.

    Of course, I hear all too often how great god is or that god must still have plans for me. I always make sure to say no, that the real heros are the people that were there and provided the life saving treatment. Not only them but credit goes to the Red Cross for all the training they provide, all the scientists and doctors that developed the techniques and equipment, and countless others that are too many to name here.

    I’ve offended a few people and debated others as a result, but it’s still important to share reality.

    Keep up the good work, Hemant.


  • Min

    Why are so many of you bothered that a man is giving God credit for saving his son’s life? And is God forbidden from using human agency to save lives?

    People are upset because the emergency responders deserve the credit, not “God”. “God” can’t use human agencies to save lives any more than Santa Claus can to deliver toys.

    Aren’t there better things you could be doing with your time and energy besides raging against a God that you don’t even believe exists in the first place?

    Maybe, but there are probably better things you could be doing than trolling a blog. Sometimes you just have to take a break from doing the best thing you can possibly do.

  • You have to remember Hemant, this is a newspaper in the middle of mormon central…of course they’re gonna quote it and make the attribute to “god”. Having lived in Salt Lake my whole life…its rather prevalent (though, the Tribune doesn’t do it as often as the Deseret News does).

    I saw this on one of the local newstations however, I don’t recall them including the “god thing” quote though.

  • doglovingirl

    I find that family incredibly ungrateful to the emergency responders who actually saved the boy’s life. They say “Thank god!” instead of, rightfully, “Thank you, Talli Torgersen and Jay!”

    And as others have pointed out: why are they thanking god when god apparently got the kid into trouble in the first place? Why aren’t they actually pissed off at god for allowing it to happen? It’s Talli and Jay who saved they day, despite god’s screw-up!

  • TRex

    I “de-friended” an old friend from high school on FB because of something similar. I should add I haven’t seen her since high school. But she would pop on every so often and state that she would pray for me because she knew of my atheism. I kept telling her to stop wasting her time and that I felt she was being condescending but she’s so far gone it didn’t matter to her. So I “hid” her for a long time. But being the “good Xian” she is, she just couldn’t leave my atheism alone.

    Well, apparently a few years back she was paralyzed in a car accident. After much treatment, therapy and prayers, she was “miraculously” healed…she states. So I asked her “what about all the doctors, nurses, therapists and drugs created by scientists?”. Her response, “I’m sure they helped some, but I know in my heart it was Gaaaaawwwwd that healed me.” And this is a woman that has a BA in physical/sports therapy. Thankfully, she’s a stay at home mom and doesn’t work in that field.

    My last message to her before I de-friended her was, “Sorry, but I can not, in good consciouness, be friends with someone so delusional. Have a nice life.” She’s tried to re-friend me a few times but I’ve blocked her permanently.

    I should also mention that she’s sterile and is unable to have children. But she uses that old stand by response, “It’s just part of gawwwwwd’s plan”. Unfortunately, she has now adopted 3 children and is indoctrinating them. I asked her why she is adopting if it’s gawwwd’s plan for her NOT to have children. But that one just rolled off her back because she said she just had so much love to give that she had to do something.
    *fuck me*

    Then she tried to get me to read a book about near death experiences, in hopes that that might “open my eyes”. It was right after that that I de-friended her.

    Some people are just too far gone to bring back to reality. Thanks for letting me rant. I think I’ll go mix up a drink now to calm me down.

  • @Fundie Troll

    Why are so many of you bothered that a man is giving God credit for saving his son’s life?

    I don’t know what you do for a living but imagine that you’ve spent time working on a difficult project, you’ve done a great job and you’ve made your company a fortune. One of your coworkers then announces that someone else is responsible for all the hard work and should get all the credit. Even if it wasn’t you who did the work but someone you knew it is still unfair, isn’t it?

    And is God forbidden from using human agency to save lives?

    I don’t believe that there are gods so this point is moot.

    Aren’t there better things you could be doing with your time and energy besides raging against a God that you don’t even believe exists in the first place?

    Nope. Not right now. This is kind of a fun hobby for me. Don’t you have anything better to do than come to an atheist blog and complain?

  • As usual, god gets all the credit for thinks that turn out well, and none of the blame when things go wrong

  • Togii

    I’m just getting around to reading this article.
    Halfway through the article, there are links to three other news stories.

    “Utah woman dies in Idaho rafting accident”
    “Consumers’ confidence down in June on job worries”
    “Toddler who fell in Virgin River last week dies”

    Damn, God, that’s harsh of you.

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