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Rev. Peter Baldwin Panagore Headshot

By-the-Numbers God

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Apparently, God is a numbers guy. It's evident, according to some, that over these past few days there just weren't enough people praying desperately for their lives with anywhere near enough sincerity in the states of Florida, Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi, Tennessee, Kentucky, South Carolina, Ohio, Indiana and Illinois, to satisfy the minimum number of prayer petitions required (business is business, after all) to satisfy The Numbers Guy, God. What minimum number of people praying is needed to stop a single tornado? Does it matter what rating the tornado has? Does the number of people needed to pray per tornado increase with the destructive voracity of the funnel? If we had those figures to calculate, we could arrive at the exact number of terrified people in prayer required to stop all the tornadoes that destroyed so much in recent days. Why stop there? If we had the correct number of petitioners, we might pray away tsunamis too, or famine, or hunger, or poverty, or war.

At least that is what we'd think if we believed Rev. Pat Robertson of the 700 Club. As Americans face the devastation and loss of life and the grief caused by the horrific tornadoes of the last few days, Rev. Robertson actually said on his show, "If enough people were praying [God] would've intervened, you could pray, Jesus stilled the storm, you can still storms." According to the headline of the HuffPost article, Rev. Robertson believes, "Tornadoes Could Have Been Stopped If People Had Prayed." I'm guessing people were praying. Lots and lots of people were praying.

Please stop, Reverend. When you say such things, I feel you give all believers a reputation as nut jobs to the non-believers. Worse, it is my belief that you lead the true believers into wrong thinking. Next you'll say that the tornadoes were punishment, like you said Hurricane Katrina was for New Orleans, and make similar statements about other natural disasters. Or maybe you learned that lesson, and will not say such claptrap again.

Just so I can get this straight -- as that two-hundred-yard tornado, and the dozens of other killer tornadoes like it, ripped through homes, lives, families and towns across 11 states, killing 40 people at this count, and taken all together, there just were not enough thousands, tens of thousands, terrified and sincerely praying people, for God to listen, and to act? Really, Rev. Robertson?

Isn't it actually that nature is as nature does, and that we puny little humans might want to stop its destructive forces, but we can't, because nature -- including earthquakes, floods, hurricanes, tsunamis and tornadoes -- are terribly, terrifyingly natural? And reinforce for us, instead of not responding because the numbers are just shy of what is needed (So sorry everybody! Numbers are numbers), that God is with us in our suffering. Further, at our deaths, when we leave this world, we will find that God loves each of us, personally, fully and wholly. That is when each of us will learn that all is well, all has always been well, and that all will be well, because God loves us in ways we cannot imagine.

Personally, I'd rather eat that heavenly cream puff pie in the sky, than the mud pie Rev. Robertson is serving.