Have you seen it yet? Or again (since it first aired in December 2011)?
A heroin addict suddenly believes in god when a Secret Santa passes him a little cash. Just what a substance abuser needs, right? Cash.
CBS News did a disservice to those of us who believe and who don’t believe when they attached god to a good deed. This would have been a perfectly good example of humanism. I’ve seen this video in emails and posted on FB several times, and everyone praises god or quotes scripture.
I like people. I really do, no matter their beliefs. I don’t think these folks mean harm by pointing to god as the reason, but I do find it sad that they cannot be grateful for the good deeds of their neighbors. Instead they praise a god that, if he is responsible for the kindness of Secret Santa, is also responsible for the death of 10,000 innocent men, women and children in the Philippines.
Can we blame believers for their reaction? Like Pavlov’s dogs they learned early and often that, if you pray, you will receive some sort of response. Eventually. Maybe not the day you pray, but god will send you a sign at some point because humans are meaning-seeking creatures, and they have a propensity to find meaning when and where and as often as they can. And if god doesn’t answer prayers, they’ve learned that god’s absence is a sign, too.
God always wins. Always.
It’s also frustrating to hear people say, “I was once an atheist, but then god blessed me with ________.” And it is always some sort of perceived good fortune that recently happened. However, it seems that these folks weren’t really atheists to begin with. How do you suddenly talk yourself into believing there’s a higher power simply because you silently prayed and a stranger gave you cash the next day? This fails any test of formal logic. The two events, in reality, have no correlation.
Even worse, while Mr. Coates never explicitly identifies himself as an atheist, CBS makes his “conversion” seem like a miracle: from lowly, heroin addicted atheist to thankful, hopeful and repentant believer. They’ve portrayed nonbelievers as capricious and self-centered, ready to abandon reason and our sinful nature with the scent of money. No rationale necessary. They made us seem like one of them, like one of Pavlov’s dogs.
It would be nice if the media would not pander to believers and would just stick to the facts (like they’re supposed to do); then actions could speak for themselves. Maybe more people would just be thankful for the kindness of strangers–real people.
On a more important note, if you can help with relief efforts in the Philippines, please give what you can to the humanist relief drive. All donations are tax-deductible and will go directly toward helping.