February 9, 2007

Hurricane Katrina Proved That I Don't Exist!

It is one thing to question the existence of supernatural entities for which there is no evidence, but it is an entirely different matter to question one's own existence. Since Descartes, most of us would agree that the fact that there is something which I call "I" asking the question suggests that this "I" exists. Unfortunately, I just ran across an old news story which suggests that I do not exist.

This story takes us all the way back to September 1, 2005, right after Hurricane Katrina devastated New Orleans and the Mississippi Gulf Coast. At the time the story was written, yours truly was...well, just read for yourself. Silly me. Clearly, I thought I existed at that time.
The popular adage, "there are no atheists in the trenches" sums up the truth that in times of disaster it is natural for people to turn to God, for help and also for an explanation.
At the time I was huddled in my closet listening to the roar of the hurricane overhead and hearing trees breaking in half all around me, a disturbing thought went through my mind. The thought was that people would use this storm to make the tired old no atheists in foxholes claim. Never mind that I felt no need to call on imaginary supernatural forces; clearly, I did not exist.

As I was dealing with trivial concerns such as whether I had enough food and water to hold out before the governmental help (it had to come eventually, didn't it?) would arrive, the governor of Louisiana was calling for a state-wide day of prayer.
"As we face the devastation wrought by Katrina, as we search for those in need, as we comfort those in pain and as we begin the long task of rebuilding, we turn to God for strength, hope and comfort."
Beg your pardon Ms. Blanco, but not all of us find it necessary to resort to ancient superstitions to calm our nerves. I see no need to turn to your god now or ever. Frankly, I know that many of us would prefer food and water to futile prayers. It is difficult for me to imagine that there was no better use for Governor Blanco's time and energy.

The real slap in the face - and yes, it still makes me mad even to this day - was the comment by the New Orleans City Council President (and echoed by many others) that the hurricane suggested that "Maybe God's going to cleanse us."
Michael Brown, creator of the immensely popular SpiritDaily.com website - popularly known as the Catholic DrudgeReport, has said that Katrina was "definitely" a purification for New Orleans. Brown points out that the name Katrina itself means "pure". And that, Brown told LifeSiteNews.com, is not a coincidence. "I don't believe in coincidences," said Brown, adding that God has everything in His control and "I think that everything is interwoven."
Oh, he sounded so confident - he must be right. He says he doesn't believe in coincidences, and it seems safe to infer that he probably doesn't believe in nature either. The truly sad thing is that Mr. Brown is probably not delusional (at least no more so that other theists). His perspective represents just world theory, a fairly well-understood phenomena. At least, that is what I must tell myself to calm my ire.

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