Luck Probability and God
Over at Ad Imaginem Dei there is a response to Kate’s Valentine’s Day repost. And interestingly the writer begins to touch on how I finally rationalized my atheism. And I guess rationalizing atheism is sort of the wrong way to explain it. But it made me feel less bad about not believing in god. I will explain.
Growing up I was raised very religiously by my mother. My mother is an amazing woman who has been through a lot. When I was two months old she was bringing me home from getting my first pictures taken and her Camero was hit head on by a UPS truck. This was before seatbelts were a big thing, so you can imagine the damage. She was in a coma for weeks, and when she finally came to she didn’t remember me, or being married to my father.
The damage to her knees was so bad that doctors were sure she would never walk again. She lost sight in one of her eyes, and she has big scars, which I remember very vividly from my childhood. She did walk again though, through my father’s persistance she walked, and had another child. Though her brain damage prevented her from ever going back to work, and she did continue to have some problems with driving due to her sight issues. She had several operations on her knee because the kneecap was destroyed and it was wired back together rather haphazardly, she eventually had it replaced when she was 50.
The knee replacement really helped, and she was getting around really well. By my 21st birthday she was in the best shape and the best mental space anyone had seen her at in 20 years. We went to Vegas and had an amazing time. She looked great.
Two months later my father called me at college to tell me she had had a massive stroke. After 20 years of fighting and getting back to normal she lost all function to the left side of her body when her corrodid artery collapsed due to a seizure. Thankfully, she was in the doctors office at the time and they took great care of her. That was four years ago, she has recovered, again, she’s walking now, and getting more with it every time I see her.
All my life my mother has constantly thanked God for her survival. She goes to church every week saying that it is the least she can do. She prays and did volunteer work before the stroke. But, as greatful as I am that she is still with me, and I am deeply deeply greatful. The Miracle of her survival is not enough to convince me that there is a God.
I think some times this is hard for her to understand, and I worry that she thinks that I am not glad that she is still around. For her, her experiences cemented her faith in God, and I think it is hard for ehr to see her children reject her experiences as not enough proof that there is a god. But I am so greatful for her, she is an amazing woman who has been through so much but still manages to be cheerful and loving to everyone around her. Even when we are screaming at her because we need to leave the house in 15 minutes and she thinks she has time to take a shower (it takes her 15 minutes just to walk to the shower) she is always up beat, and has a sense of humor about life.
The thing is, while I am very greatful that I was so lucky as to be able to keep my Mom, the fact that I am lucky isn’t proof that there is a God. Eventually, with the thousands and thousands and thousands of events that happen every day what happend to my Mom had to happen to someone. If the probability of something is one in 10 billion, and you conduct 20 billion trials, it will happen to at least 2 people. And every day our earth is constantly conducting probability trials, by the billions. Every time someone does anything there are thousands of probable outcomes, so eventually we’re going to run across some we don’t expect. Eventually, when a billion people make grilled cheese, it could happen, by chance, that one of them looks like the virgin mary. Or that when a million people have cancer, that one of them will survive it. Or when a million people go to MacDonald’s, that you’ll eventually run in to someone you know. (Probably sooner rather than later.) So that we were lucky, that my mom was lucky is not proof.
There is no proof, and as much as I really want there to be a God, a Goddess, a something, I can’t say that something is true just because I want it to be. That is the foundation of irrational thinking.