Sunday, July 27, 2008

God says, “I sent a helicopter…”

You have probably heard this story. I found the following version of it on the web related by Dr. Robert A. Schuller during an interview:

…It's like the joke about the man who has been notified that his house is going to be flooded and he needs to get out of the house. He says no I don't have to, God is going to take care of me. Then the flood starts to rise and a sheriff comes along and tells him to get out. The man says no, God is going to save me. So, the floods continue to rise, and he climbs on top of the house. A boat comes along and he's told to climb into the boat. He says, no, no , God is going to save me. Finally, a helicopter comes along and they lower the net to rescue him. The man says, no, no, God is going to save me! Well, the man drowns and goes to heaven. When he gets to heaven he says to God, "why didn't you save me?" God says, "I sent the sheriff, I sent a boat, I sent a helicopter, what more did you want me to do?"

I thought of this story when I recently saw a television program about medical researchers who had dedicated themselves to curing paralyzing spinal cord injuries. One of the researchers had a daughter who was in a wheel chair, paralyzed from the chest down after breaking her neck in a diving accident. They thought therapies involving stem cells were the most promising line of research, but were forced to spend a great deal of time away from the laboratory doing education and public relations, trying to overcome religious objections that impeded their work.

If the first version of the story is valid theology surely the following is equally valid :

A vigorous, intelligent and attractive young man breaks his neck in a horse-riding accident and becomes a paraplegic. During the following 10 years many medical researchers work on promising therapies for healing spinal cord injuries but their work is hampered and delayed by religious-based objections to the use of embryonic stem cells. Finally the man dies of complications from his paralysis. When he gets to heaven he says to God, "why didn't you cure me?" God says, "I sent medical researchers to devise therapies for healing injuries like yours using stem cells. What more did you want me to do?"

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