It’s reassuring to think that God will protect us from tragedy or defeat. But that belief has two dangerous implications. One is that courage is unnecessary and unreal. The crews of Challenger and Columbia weren’t actually taking risks or showing bravery… because their fate was in God’s hands.

The other implication is that tragedies are God’s will…. “God wants to show that his might is greater than the Americans,” Abdul Jabbar al-Quraishi, an Iraqi government employee, told Reuters. That statement is certainly false and despicable. But on a day when six Americans and an Israeli have fallen from the heavens, if you think God is fighting for America against Iraq, Mr. al-Quraishi has a better case than you do….

In the skies over Baghdad, as in the skies over Texas, God’s non-neutrality is a guide, not a promise. If Iraq insists on building weapons of mass destruction, we must fight not because God will protect us, but because He won’t. [William Saletan,, 2/1/03]

In short, belief in God makes no sense. But belief in a lawful reality that can be understood and conformed to–that does make sense. Such a reality, in the long run, rewards those who conform to it and destroys those who rebel against it. That is the truth hidden behind the phrase “God’s non-neutrality.”

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