A friend of mine was sadly diagnosed with cancer just over a year ago. He’s in his mid 20’s, is married and he and his wife have a son. I have only met him once when he and his band toured the UK, from America, a few years ago and I played on the same night as them. We shared a few drinks after the show and chatted about cultural differences, namely that it’s socially acceptable to start drinking in the early afternoon in the UK. I kept in touch with the band via Facebook and kept up with their goings on.
It’s always a shock to hear that someone so young is hit with cancer. But after a year of treatments and therapies he has been given the all clear which is absolutely wonderful news. Not only has the disease been kicked squarely in the bollocks but he and his wife and son will enjoy many more happy years together. Which is the most important thing.
But there was something that rubbed me the wrong way, it’s only a minor niggle but it’s a niggle none the less. I’ve written the next sentence a dozen times and there is no way of writing it without me sounding like a sanctimonious arse hole, so here it is.
After the news that he was given the all clear his Facebook wall lit up with comments of well wishing and congratulations. The vast majority praising God for his ultimate wisdom, compassion and grace. “God is good” seemed to be the favourite. This is where the niggle comes in, and there is more that one I’m afraid to say.
From my understanding of the world I would have to say that our medical advancements over the last 100 years are our greatest achievements. Our adventures into space are truly amazing and our expeditions to bottom of the sea are staggering, but they were borne from curiosity rather than necessity. We have eradicated small pox, cornered polio and walked cancer to the edge of the plank. All this was achieved from countless medical professionals working diligently into the long good night. Before them human beings succumbed to diseases and viruses, rotting teeth and gangrene. Even a splinter or the common cold could turn deadly.
So it does upset me when an unproven, unverifiable celestial deity gets all the credit for one man’s victorious cancer battle. Not one mention to the hard working, diligent team of doctors, nurses and therapists. Because let’s face it, without them it could have been a very different outcome. But I must reiterate that the most important thing is one man is cancer free.
Every few months we hear stories of parents denying their children of medical care, opting instead for prayer and trusting the life of their child in the hands of the lord. More often that not, tragically the child dies, the parents are put on trial and subsequently go to jail. So my point is this. Maybe, just maybe, your prayers were answered. The lord provided you with a cure, a helping hand and a miraculous recovery. But instead of white light coming from the heavens or bearded man walking on water and doing tricks with wine you got a mid 30’s woman with a PhD from the university of wherever, armed with a vast knowledge of ‘whatever it is you are suffering from’. I admit that these kind of prophecies don’t look as good as your Jesus fellow, but maybe these people are the answers to your prayers and they deserve the recognition, they deserve the praise and they deserve all the thanks.
I said there was more than one niggle and here it is…if God cured you of your ailments then surely it stands to reason that God gave you those ailments in the first place. Why? To make you a stronger person? To make you thankful for the life you have? What about the people who spend their day getting high on PCP and thieving from good, honest, hard working people, why aren’t they struck down with cancer? What about the numerous people who molest, torture and rape children in every country on the planet and yet somehow manage to evade the wrath of god? What about the people who strive to be good and value life and yet still fall prey to Cancer? There are two answers.
1. God can intervene, but he decides not to. Which makes him some kind of misanthropist
2. God doesn’t have the power to intervene, which doesn’t make him omnipotent and therefore no more special than the turd that I just flushed down the toilet.
The power of prayer has also undergone scientific scrutiny with groups of hospital patients. Not surprisingly the tests conclude that people who were prayed for didn’t recover any quicker than the people that were not prayed for. To me it is painfully obvious why.
The truth is, is that there is no God. Never was, not one….ever. But I must reiterate that the most important fact is that a man is cancer free, a woman has her husband in good health and a son has a strong father.