”It starts with my father — he was a pagan, intelligent, gifted, and an “alpha dog.” He was recruited at different times for the general manager position at three of Chicago’s largest automobile agencies. Finally, the US government sought him out to run one of the largest US Army motor pools in Germany. Unfortunately, before he could get to Germany, he became sick with pancreatic cancer and was sent home to die.

”Then later, from the lowest emotional state to the highest, a friend introduced him to the claims of Jesus in the Bible. He humbly believed that Jesus was the Son of God and died in his place so that he could live forever in paradise in the presence of the Son of God — to see his face, to walk and talk with Him.”

The key phrase here is “from the lowest emotional state to the highest”. People are Christians, Muslims, Mormons, Jehovah’s Witnesses, etc. for one of two reasons. Either they were indoctrinated into it from birth, or they converted at their lowest point.

People generally are not in good mental shape during the lowest points of their lives, and not in a position to make sound decisions. This is deliberately exploited by prison ministries, the religious element of Alcoholics Anonymous, third world mission trips, etc.

”My dad used to walk around our small town telling his friends that they were “looking at a dead man walking.”

A couple of years later I flew from California to the Chicago area because “the end” was near. As I walked into his room, he saw me, his face lit up and he said to me with the glee of a child on Christmas morning, “I’m ready. I’m ready!”

(A Wow Moment) This was antithetical to the experiences of most people around death. The Bible says, “death is the last great enemy.”

Makes sense that this would convince you of the emotional value of belief that death is not the end, but so far I don’t see how that bolsters the credibility of foundational Biblical claims in the factual sense.

In fact you do not offer such information anywhere in this post, just a series of personal anecdotes consisting of times when you had close calls but got lucky, then attributing these lucky breaks to divine providence while not listing the times you weren’t so lucky because they do not support that narrative.

As I laid there in and among the granite boulders, I noticed that I was in a comfortable position. I was laying on my back, my head resting on a rock. I started moving all of my extremities and everything worked. I looked at my left wrist and noticed that my watch with its leather band was missing but there were no scratches or cuts on my arm. The watch was just gone.

(A Wow Moment) “I will never leave you nor forsake you.” “Persons update their prior beliefs as new evidence becomes available….” “Angels…are sent to help those who will receive salvation.”

If I’m interpreting your intended meaning correctly, you believe Yahweh supernaturally prevented injury in this case. Intense relief following a lucky break can compromise reasoning for sure, but consider this: Eleven million people, most of them innocent, including wives, mothers, the elderly and children, were gassed, incinerated experimented upon, shot dead and buried in mass graves during the holocaust.

They doubtless prayed fervently for rescue but were massacred anyway. Am I to believe Yahweh looked the other way as children were gassed, but he made sure you didn’t get hurt from your fall?

”From there I began to hitchhike to Fairbanks. It was getting late. I strolled off the road a little, rolled out my sleeping bag, and pulled an army blanket over my head to protect me from the relentless mosquitoes. I was awoken early by the deep guttural sounds of growling animals. As I peeked out from under my blanket, I looked up the 20 foot embankment at a pack of wolves (or wolf-like). Their eyes were locked on me as the alpha-dog slowly descended with the whole pack in tow to where I was. Their heads were down, their hair was standing up on their necks and along their spines. While snarling, they slowly, completely encircled me.

”(A Wow Moment) “I will never leave you nor forsake you.” “Persons update their prior beliefs as new evidence becomes available….” “Angels…are sent to help those who will receive salvation.”

Once again you survived a close call and in your relief, were looking to thank someone/something and believe your survival was not down to chance. Every so often, an airliner crashes with one survivor.

They invariably attribute their survival to supernatural protection for the same psychological reasons you have. But do you see the problem with this? What about all the passengers who died? Aren’t they basically saying “thank you lord for letting all these people die except for me”?

”About halfway to Fairbanks I noticed that I had lost my wallet along with $200. I wasn’t that concerned. Later, as I walked along the boarded sidewalks of old Fairbanks, I noticed it was about 2:00 in the morning. Suddenly, I was knocked down into the muddy street by two guys who had just been thrown out of a bar. >The minute our heads cleared, they looked at me and said, “Give us your money.”

(A Wow Moment) “I will never leave you nor forsake you.” “Persons update their prior beliefs as new evidence becomes available….” “Angels…are sent to help those who will receive salvation.”

Another good example are people who are interviewed by the news when their house is the only one in the area to survive a hurricane or tornado. When they thank divine protection, what does that say to their neighbors? That they all deserved to have their homes destroyed? Thank you Yahweh for demolishing everybody’s house except for mine?

”Finding no job, I headed back to Anchorage and then remembered where the old woman lived along with her old Model A pickup who had given me a ride earlier. I left my ride and walked the several miles back into the mountain, crossed an abandoned railroad tressel over a river hundred feet below to her cabin where days earlier she had prepared me lunch and showed pictures of her family in the early years of her life.

I knocked on the door. She appeared and I asked if I could look in her truck for my lost wallet. We walked out together and there it was. It was on the running board of that old pickup — safe! The thought struck me that my wallet was safer on the running board of that truck as she drove around the mountain than it would have been with me in Fairbanks at two in the morning days before.

(A Wow Moment) “I will never leave you nor forsake you.” “Persons update their prior beliefs as new evidence becomes available….” “Angels…are sent to help those who will receive salvation.”

That’s great! Now, about the holocaust again. Is your wallet really more important to Yahweh than the lives of Jewish, Gypsy and disabled children? Why did Yahweh allow the Germans to gas disabled children and elderly people, but made sure your wallet didn’t get lost or stolen? Are you just that important, that your wallet’s value is greater than the value of the lives of everybody killed during the holocaust?

I am going to omit the remaining personal anecdotes because they are redundant. They all follow the same formula and boil down to “Scary bad thing happen to me. But I come out ok!! How you explain that unless magic grandpa??”

This is superstitious thinking. You have not only had lucky breaks in life. But you don’t attribute the unlucky breaks to supernatural causes. You are content that sometimes life is just harsh. But you certainly did notice and hold fast to your memories of the times when luck was on your side. If you consider only these good outcomes and ignore all the bad outcomes, you certainly do seem to have had suspiciously good luck.

But there are problems with this deeper than confirmation bias.

”Alex, Do you really think that your intellect, rational thinking, your “book learnin” void of experience, could possibly persuade me to give up one nano inch of my relationship with my Lord, my Protector, my Savior, my Companion. I don’t think so.”

No, of course not. But that’s nothing to boast about. It proves only that you are stubborn. For old men to be stubborn, their minds impossible to change, is hardly unusual.

Throughout Pakistan there are old men not very different from you to whom Allah has been a lifelong protector, savior and companion. Just like you, they have had lives full of hardships and windfalls, ups and downs, attributing the ups to Allah and the downs either to Satan or to chance.

Nearly dying is certainly an emotionally overwhelming experience which can make you take leave of your senses, and hold tightly to whatever source of comfort and safety is the norm in your culture. People living in many parts of the Middle East have close calls with death significantly more often than you have and are correspondingly just as devout, if not moreso.

I can no more change their minds than I can yours; there is no reasoning somebody out of a position they did not reason their way into, and there is no replacement belief I can offer which will serve the same purpose as a psychological teddy bear, so they will stick with what is familiar and comforting to them.

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