Monday, September 03, 2007

Interesting day

Today I saved a life. A two year old boy fell into a river. No one saw him fall in and the river itself looks more like chocolate than water with the amount of silt in it. I noticed that the boy was there one minute and when I turned back he was nowhere to be seen. I jumped in the river and luckily I found him. He's fine =)

For all those that would add "thank god" to that just ask yourself why the boy fell in the river in the first place and who exactly we are supposed to thank for that?

Update 5th September 2007 (Original post continues after this update)

I wasn't expecting the number of visits I've got for this post. Neither was I expecting it to get any attention on other sites. I've been reading some of the comments and I'd like to clarify my intentions from the original post.

First off, at the time this didn't seem a like a big thing. The boy was there, then he was not, it seemed obvious what had happened and I just reacted. I didn't perform a philosophical analysis of the situation, I didn't ponder humanism over any other -ism, and I didn't once think about god. All I did was run to where I'd seen him last and then jump in the river. It was autopilot all the way and the fact that I got him was pure luck. It's that simple.

I didn't actually think much about it until later when I was on the train with my children and it came up in conversation that a life had been saved earlier that day. If I hadn't have reacted the way I did it is extremely unlikely the boy would have survived as there were only three other people in the area (excluding myself and the little boy) and none of them had noticed anything until they saw me running past. So, I'm pretty sure I saved his life.

Now, this is interesting to me personally but I do not feel some great awe at what occurred or some deep emotional joy about it. I just happened to be in the right place at the right time and that's it. I'm very pleased that resulted in the aversion of a tragedy but my role was really one of an automaton. I did exactly what I would have done if I'd thought one my own children had fallen in the river back when they were two years old – jump in and get them out.

Also, it's not like I risked my life or anything. I'm a good swimmer and where we were at the river is a point at which the current against the opposite bank is strong but against the bank we were on the current is gentle. I was at no risk.

I shared the story simply because it was part of an interesting day for me. It is always a very difficult time for me when my children return to their mothers. I think being able to recognise that a tragedy had been averted helped me to remain more positive. A good thing had happened in one respect – someone had been saved. But it's not all good and before the theistic vultures began taking their pickings of sustenance from the story I wanted to point that out. I was simply pre-empting the responses I knew I'd get from the few Christians that can stomach my blog.

"Thank god"!


Should we also thank god that the little boy fell into the river? I think not. If anyone goes around pushing 2 year olds in the river then I think thanking that person will be the last thing on our minds. In fact, we would certainly not excuse them. We wouldn't overlook the incident and wait for them to do something we can thank them for. Instead we would blame them, criticise them and ultimately prosecute them. So why, even though people are willing to thank their god for the independent actions of an atheist, must they give this god a get out of jail free card for all the awfulness it must also have it's fictional fingers in? It makes no sense and it's hypocritical in the extreme.

Let's imagine a man who goes around and pushes two year olds into rivers. He pushes in the first two year old and the two year old drowns. The public cries out for justice (of course really they mean revenge). Next the man pushes in another two year old and this time the two year old is saved. "Thank god" the public cry, but what of our criminal? Do we simply ignore the initial crime? Of course not. And yet for some reason it's absolutely fine to believe that god is responsible for the salvation and thank it and immediately dismiss the original crime which your god must also have at the very least shared responsibility for.

It's all absolute nonsense. Thank god for sunny days, puppies and fluffy bunnies and let's give him a free ride for the holocaust, malaria, small pox, AIDS, cancer, muscular dystrophy, Alzheimer's, etc, etc, etc – it's a list that fills encyclopaedias but that's all fine – let's just thank god for the tiny fraction of reality we choose to see through the blinkers of mindless faith.

And as to those that have called me an "asshole" for the few sentences I wrote before this update, keep it up. It's wonderful to see you showing your true colours by attacking me simply because I do not share your faith when all that was reported was that I had saved a life. I'm extremely pleased that more moderates will be witnessing how atheists are judged by those that claim to preach love. It may make them understand a little clearer that atheists may not be what they have been made out to be by people like you.

The truth is that most of the atheists that are writing in the blogsphere are jumping in the river themselves. They're not out to attack you but to pull you out of the dark river of ignorance, separation, and hate that you're trying to convince everyone else to drown themselves in.

End Update – original post continues below

Today I also had to say good bye to my own children. They are off back to their mothers after our fantastic holiday. It's a real mix of emotions - the joy of the great time we've had colliding with the vast empty sadness of not seeing them for a while. Thank science for the internet, skype and video calls!

My brother also took his first ever parachute jump today. He said there's no point telling me what it's like because you can't appreciate it until you've done it. It's on my list.

I'll be catching up with all the posts I'm over due in about a week or so as I am heading back to Ibiza for a few more days. I wish my kids were coming with me again.

If you enjoyed this article please feel free to digg it down below.


Chris Severn said...

Brilliant CD! Tell us more about the kid you saved when you have time..
That must feel great.

Rhology said...

Wow, thank God you two are OK!

Chris Severn said...

Rhology, you forgot to read the article and answer "why the boy fell in the river in the first place and who exactly we are supposed to thank for that?". Care to comment?

Personally, I thank CD, his eagle eyes, interest in other people, and selflessness.

As long as he's not bullshitting us or being metaphorical or something, in which case I'll set about him with rusted metaphorical hooks. :)

chooseDoubt said...

Hi Chris,

Not a lot more to tell really. I was playing with my kids and just noticed that the boy was there and then not there and that he wasn't anywhere else I could see either. His mother was trying to sort something out on his push chair and hadn't noticed yet. It just seemed obvious that he'd fallen in the river so I ran over to where I'd seen him last and jumped in at the nearest spot.

About two seconds later I had hold of him and was lifting his head above the surface and a few seconds after that I had him out of the river, laying across my lap coughing out water. His mother ran over and I observed his breathing, gave him a smile and a little hug and handed him to his mother. He seemed calm enough. His mother was saying thank you. I told her she was welcome and then me and my kids went home to get ready for them to head back to their Mother's. It all happened very fast and I was pretty much on autopilot and didn't really think about it until a few hours later when speaking with my children about it again.

Thinking about it, all that happened to me was I got wet. The boy was very lucky that he fell in at a point where the current was slow, otherwise I very much doubt I would have had the good fortune to find him in the very murky water. I hope he doesn't even remember the experience as it might put him off learning to swim.

Falling in was bad luck and getting rescued was good luck. I wasn't interested or selfless. I just reacted to the lucky realisation that he must have fallen in and was lucky enough that I picked the right spot and got hold of him quickly enough.

Cheers CD.

chooseDoubt said...

Hi Rhology,

If I'd not found the boy and he'd died what then? God move's in mysterious ways? The devil did it?

Thanks for appreciating that we're both ok, honestly. I don't mean to criticise your compassion. It's just that to me thanking god for us being ok is no different from fearing Thor when the lightning strikes except that it leaves with me the curiosity to know what you would have said if I'd been ok but the little boy had drowned. Would you be thanking god for my safety whilst over-looking the child killing with a defence of "mysterious ways"?



Tommy said...

Good work CD!

I don't recall ever doing anything directly that saved another person's life, though I liked to think that when I donate blood that someone somewhere out there was helped by me in a time of need.

In a hilarious example of being a good samaritan, one night I was driving home and I saw a woman hitchhiking. As I passed her by, she looked like she was dressed as a diner waitress. I made a snap judgment that maybe her car had broken down or she just didn't have a ride home from work, so I pulled over.

When she got into my car, I could see and smell that she was shit-faced drunk. She asked me if I could drive her to a bar that was just up the road. I said "yeah, okay." When I pulled into the parking lot of the shopping center where the bar was, she asked me if I wanted to come in with her and party with her.

I said to her, "Look, I can tell you have had a lot to drink. Why don't you let me drive you home instead?" I could almost see the gears turning in her head as she processed what I said. She nodded and said okay.

I asked her to start giving me directions to get her to where she lives. After driving about a mile, I was stopped at a red light at an intersection. The next thing I know, she is putting her head on my lap. SHE HAD FALLEN ASLEEP!

The only thing I could think to do was to pull into the parking lot of another shopping center and give her a few minutes to have a power nap and maybe she would wake up again and be more lucid. After a while, I did wake her up, but she still was not very coherent. After telling me turn right here, turn left there we ended up back where we were and that's when I started to lose my patience with her.

Then I saw a police car and I pulled up alongside it. The officer was a lady and I started to explain to her my situation. My inebriated passenger suddenly became animated and started saying to me "You're a fucking asshole!" I was like "scuse me?"

The officer said to the drunk lady "Are you going to tell this man where you live so he can get you home and get himself home?" She sobered up and then she started giving me instructions and finally we got to the corner of the block where she lived. She thanked me and said "I'm gonna put my ice in the head now, I mean my head in the ice."

Though she had inconvenienced me greatly, I was glad that I got her home safely. I put up with her for as long as I did because in her extremely intoxicated state she could have been raped or assaulted or gotten into an accident.

Rhology said...

Hi there,

CD, I didn't see anyone calling you nasty names in the combox. Did you delete those comments, or did they come in from some other medium?

I say "thank God" b/c that's one of the gifts God has given me - to be grateful about most everythg. I am extremely thankful that He changed my life and helped me to see that I have so much for which to be thankful. And I thank God that in His mercy you were not sucked underwater by an invisible ripcurrent or caught in an underwater tree or sthg like that. He allowed you and the boy to live and all you do is shake your fist in His face. I hope one day you'll look back and say, "I was so STUPID to act like that!" Which is what I do all the time. And then I thank God that He opened my eyes.

As for the boy falling in the river in the 1st place, a few comments.

1) His falling in allowed CD to save him.
2) This provided CD the opportunity to re-evaluate everythg in the light of death and eternity, and to un-scar his soul a little at the doing of a good deed.
3) This provided CD the opportunity to understand that saving a life is a Good Thing To Do, not just a personal preference, which he will, while behind his keyboard, insist on.
4) If I'd not found the boy and he'd died what then? God move's in mysterious ways? The devil did it?

Yes, God moves in mysterious ways. Are you going to put Him in the dock? "God, I find you guilty of violating my personal preference. Guilty!"
5) God may well have many, many other reasons for this, few of which we puny humans can see.
6) As Jesus said, "Repent, or you too will perish."
7) Could well be the devil interfering in the world. God allows that interference at times for His own purposes as well.

But, I can't stress enough that both Chris and CD are criticising God on the basis of their own personal preferences and that's it. This is why I wanted to have our blogalogue, and it is precisely on the basis of the admissions that CD made in the blogalogue that I can respond this way. Why should anyone care what you, CD, prefer or not as far as that little boy drowning or being rescued?


That was a very gentlemanly thing to do! I'm glad she didn't spew in your car.


angelsdepart said...

They're not out to attack you but to pull you out of the dark river of ignorance, separation, and hate that you're trying to convince everyone else to drown themselves in.

Christians are so quick to attribute good things to god and ignore bad things (or blame them on satan). I love your analogy of the atheist jumping into the river to save people. What is so difficult to accept about incidents being random.

After I was hit head on by a drunk driver a friend came to the hospital to visit me. He asked if I thought god was punishing me for my non-belief. What an interesting question.

Why do people need to believe that there is some heavenly inspired reason for a bad thing to happen to someone? Could it just be that the guy was a drunk idiot and I happened to be driving on the same road as him?

I told him that the only person to blame for my incident was the idiot drunk driver. Had I believed in god I would probably feel much worse, having to deal with the physical pain as well the emotional guilt over something that I might have done to piss the "good lord" off!

angelsdepart said...

Yes, God moves in mysterious ways. Are you going to put Him in the dock? "God, I find you guilty of violating my personal preference. Guilty!"


If god allowed the child to fall into the water and die then it has ceased to be about personal preference and it has become about murder. If god is real then he has some very serious shit to answer for. Death is not a gateway into the "next world," it is the end of conciousness!

Kelly Gorski said...

I, too, saved a kid's life once. He's still in the hospital having surgery on his skull. (Car crash. 6 years old. An identitcal twin who was with him that day. Looked like my younger brother when he was that age.)

It made me want to have a kid. Had I not had that experience, I can say with much certainty I'd probably never want to have kids.

That experience changed everything for me.

Chris Severn said...

Hi Kelly,

I'm surprised that experience would make you want to have a kid. It would make we NOT want to have a kid, after seeing how fragile they are, and the pain of seeing them hurt.

What about it made you want to have kids ? I haven't got one yet, but it looks like I'll end up having a couple. I like to hear reasons why it's a good thing to help get over my reluctance.

johnpdaigle said...

As a new parent, I can think of a few arguments in favor of having kids.

First, its the weirdest thing ever. Having a kid is just... weird. You don't feel that way about other things. You've never, ever, felt that way before. It's totally wild.

Second, existentially, children are your bid against mortality. I'll die. But he'll go on. And that's all there is, really. Which makes your feelings about your children about as complex as human feelings get about anything.

Rhology said...


If god allowed the child to fall into the water and die then it has ceased to be about personal preference and it has become about murder. If god is real then he has some very serious shit to answer for.

ChooseDoubt himself has repeatedly said that morality, whether it deals with whether to murder a child or whether to eat brussels sprouts, is based on nothing more than personal preference. Your beef is not with me.

Death is not a gateway into the "next world," it is the end of conciousness!

That's just an assumption, and it's not a logically sustainable one.


sacred slut said...

Ah yes, God, The Micromanager. He arranges every thing down to the last detail, including nearly 10 million children under the age of five who die of starvation every year, and a universe that's largely comprised of inhospitable vaccuum and black holes.

Good job, CD. Thank reason, chance and evolution.

sacred slut said...


Death as the end of consciousness is not just an assumption. All the concrete evidence we have about the nature of consciousness supports that conclusion.

I suggest you read Susan Blackmore's book, "Dying to Live" on the subject of NDEs and OBEs. They can best be explained as artifacts of the brain under (usually) extreme stress. Ebonmusings also has an excellent page called, "a ghost in the machine" about the likelihood of self being a brain-based phenomenon, but IIRC you dislike ebonmusings for some reason. (If that is not correct, I apologize.)

The hypothesis of the soul requires all kinds of ad hoc assumptions and explains nothing.

sacred slut said...

Can you really imagine your video supports your point? Habermas is a diehard theist who believes the Shroud of Turin is evidence of the resurrection.

Try presenting some actual evidence, rho.

Rhology said...

Hi SS,

God as micromanager, yes. that's what He said in Ephesians 1 and Romans 8:28.
You seem not to like the fact that people suffer and die. Is that based on anythg more than personal preference? Yes, the question that won't die. I'd stop asking it if you'd stop acting like your moral judgments have any more weight than that carried by personal preference. You're acting like a Christian.

I doubt that these explanations of NDEs are able to explain the normally extra-sensory perception (not "ESP" proper, but perception that is normally outside the senses) that has been documented in some of these NDEs.
The hypothesis of the soul explains nothing at all? Nothing? Not NDEs of all stripes? Not the tendency towards the religious that 99% of the world's population throughout human history has experienced? Not certain subjective and personal experiences? Not the fact that you, despite having no rational reason to do so, act like suffering children is a bad thing?