Especially if it's something done by a person, or people?
And double especially if it's something done by, you know, you?
There was an amazing and heartbreaking story on This American Life this weekend. A longish, complicated-ish story, but the short version is this: Two babies were accidentally switched at birth. The parents of one of the babies figured it out almost immediately. And yet they didn't say anything about it, to anyone — not the kids, not the other parents, nobody — for over 40 years.
Their reason? Well, that's part of the longish, complicated-ish story. (The full story is available here if you want to hear it.) But the short version: The father — an evangelical minister, a fact that'll factor in soon — didn't want to embarrass the doctor by calling attention to his mistake. And the mother was very sick for months after the birth: she didn't have the strength to go against her husband (who was apparently a difficult man to go against), and by the time she recovered, she felt it was too late.
So. Here's where the atheist blogger gets her dudgeon on.
Forty plus years later, these parents finally decided to tell. A terrible, disruptive event, as you might imagine. The evangelical minister father wrote to the other mother, apologizing for essentially having stolen her daughter and raised her as his own…
…but at the same time, saying that it was God's will.
You know, I have come up with some truly shabby excuses for my bad behavior in my day. I'm human, and I am not immune to the siren song of deflecting blame and guilt onto other people. Or onto bad luck, and accidents of the universe at large. But this? This takes chutzpah of a Herculean scale. This one has got to go in the Rationalization Hall of Fame. I'm actually somewhat awe-struck. Or I would be, if I weren't so appalled.
I mean, by that logic, you could say that anything you did was God's will. Stealing someone's car. Sleeping with their spouse. Carving their liver out with a Sawzall. Shooting a man in Reno just to watch him die. Anything at all that you do — the most selfish, wicked, fucked-up shit imaginable — could be defended by saying that it's God's will.
Of course, this inevitably leads to questions of free will and God's omnipotence, how can any of us truly have free will if it's all part of God's plan, yada yada yada. But right now, I'm just focused on the astonishing abdication of personal morality and responsibility.
And this isn't from just any old hard-core evangelical Christian. This is a minister we're talking about.
In a way, it's a fascinating version of that classic half-assed excuse, "Well, it all turned out for the best." In this case, of course, it didn't turn out for the best. A lot of lives were pretty badly fucked up by these people's actions. But if it's God's will, then by definition it turned out for the best. If God willed it, and God is all-good, then it must be the best. Q.E.D.
Which, again, could be applied to anything at all that you do. Or anything that anybody does.
I've said it before, and I'll say it again:
It's a good thing this guy's not an atheist.
Because if he were an atheist, he'd have no sense of responsibility, no basis for morality, and would act as if he could just do whatever he wanted.