A favorite pastime of theists is to make claims about God’s intervention in their lives. Every positive thing, be it an unexpected parking space or cancer going into remission, is attributed by some believer, somewhere, to the guiding hand of God.

These claims always have perfectly reasonable natural explanations. Indeed, they always lack evidence of supernatural intervention. But the astounding thing about them is not this lack of evidence, but the lack of accountability applied to the believers who make them.

So many people seem unaware of just how difficult it is to determine causal links between events. People draw conclusions based on whatever anecdotes happen to cross their path. Someone’s friend gives her child a homeopathic remedy, and the child returns to health the same day: therefore, homeopathy works. People can’t really be blamed for this behavior if their consciousness has not been raised to the sort of hard work that goes into confirming cause and effect. But blame them or not, the effects are the same: a culture of hasty, extravagant claims, made with no sense of accountability.

And this gets me back to the claims of God intervening to provide a person with a parking space or to put cancer in remission. Why are believers not held accountable for these claims? Not only are they utterly preposterous, requiring us to believe in a supernatural (i.e., invisible) superman coming to people’s rescue, but there is not a shred of evidence to support them.

My hope is that our society can enter a new phase in which the unfounded claims of believers, just like those of homeopaths and acupuncturists before them, are no longer allowed to pass unchallenged. Believers should put their money where their mouths are.


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