For true believers in [insert a major religion here], miracles actually happen. You hear about them all the time.
Example: Bill gets drunk one evening and falls off the roof of a six-story building. He should be dead, right? Well, he’s not.
See, for some reason that can be attributed only to divine intervention, God arranged for a pile of discarded mattresses to be stacked in the alley precisely where Bill lands.
Yes, the mattresses had been there for the better part of a year. The building manager is a fat lazy slob who hadn’t hauled them away.
But let’s ask ourselves just who made the manager lazy enough to put off getting rid of them until Bill took his header. Eh?
So instead of being dead, Bill merely suffers a shattered pelvis, a fractured skull, six broken ribs, two broken legs and is partially run over by a garbage truck before his wallet is lifted by a passerby.
Oh, and a dog pees on him before his moaning attracts the attention of someone willing to call for help. The only reason Bill could still be alive is that God wanted him that way. Who can understand the mind of God?
Lots of people will see a miracle in this amazing story of survival. Others will see it as a coincidence or simply luck. It all depends on the angle from which the event is regarded.
Mormons and Muslims won’t see the miracle (unless they’re related to Bill) because he shouldn’t have been drunk in the first place. God doesn’t waste miracles on the besotted.
But wait. Suppose Bill hadn’t been baptized into the true religion yet. Maybe this is the wake-up call he needs to get his spiritual affairs in order.
Others will see only the hand of God. A miracle. The only explanation for why Bill is still alive (even though he’s in intensive care wishing he wasn’t) is because God must have a plan for him that requires him to keep breathing.
Skeptics like me struggle with the concept of miracles. I won’t say that miracles don’t happen. Only that except for staying married, none has ever happened to me.
My skepticism is based on the larger picture. Why is it that God came to the rescue of some drunk on a roof when there was a young girl being stabbed to death a few blocks away?
Did God need her so badly in heaven that he couldn’t wait a billionth of a second (his time) for her to die of old age? What was it about Bill that was worth divine intervention?
It’s a good question for the miracle shouters. Children around the world dying of neglect while God is saving a drunk? That doesn’t make for a valuable lesson to others.
Then again, maybe I’m looking at this all wrong. If God did spare Bill, perhaps it’s because he wants to exact the full measure of suffering from Bill before he’s carted off to hell via cirrhosis of the liver.
That was overly harsh. But then so is hollering that God must like you so much that he tipped things in your favor and didn’t for others.
If you believe in miracles, it’s OK. Just keep it to yourself. Nothing good can come from shouting hooray for yourself.
Robert Kirby is The Salt Lake Tribune’s humor columnist. Follow Kirby on Facebook.