I’m sure by now you’ve seen the trending article by Brad Strait,Â A Miracle Inside the Aurora Shooting,Â on Facebook or twitter.
The story truly is amazing. Petra was shot in the head during the Aurora theater shooting last Friday. Her surgery went surprisingly well and (according to the linked post) everyone is hopeful. The surprise is that surgeons discovered Petra had a type of birth defect in her brain that worked as a channel for the piece of shot that entered her head.The shot moved through the channel, bypassing most of her brain, and the hope is that this dramatically increases her chances at recovery. Wow.
Mr. Strait does express his gratitude for the doctors and nurses involved, though does ultimately attribute the news as a miracle. This is classic fodder for atheists, and some go for it, which, frankly is fine. What frustrates me is his next claim: that God had somehow prepared Petra’s brain from before birth to pass this bullet:
In Christianity we call it prevenient grace: God working ahead of time for a particular event in the future. Itâ€™s just like the God I follow to plan the route of a bullet through a brain long before Batman ever rises. Twenty-two years before.
This is a nice, comforting thought, as long as you’re willing to be uncritical. But there certainly is another important strain of thought to consider: Why would this (presumably) all-knowing, all-loving, all-powerful god decide to architect Petra’s brain to pass a bullet, rather than the shooter’s brain to be normal, and you know, not murderously crazy? Is it because he works in mysterious ways? Because he’s a sadist? Or–perhaps–is it that he doesn’t work in any way because he’s not real and terrible things happen sometimes and sometimes people are really, really fortunate in those tragedies?
I can think of at least twelve others who could have used some prevenient grace. So before you share Mr. Straits’ story on your Facebook wall and post praises to god for his grace, it might be best to take a moment and reflect on the miracles that didn’t happen that day.