Here’s a very quick example of one gigantic leap in logic:
It is amazingly unpredictable how some old patients survive when everyone has given up hope and some young patients succumb to disease. Makes me believe in God.
This was posted in the comments of a blog post about US healthcare reform, and not in a theological discussion, and so I intend to use it merely as an example of a strange kind of thinking. Broken down into parts:
“It is amazingly unpredictable how some old patients survive…” – is it? You can suggest that a patient only has a 10% chance of survival based on overall survival rates, and thus predict that they will die with fairly good odds behind you. Still, they might not. Is that amazing, or simply how percentages work? If I flip a fair coin I have absolutely no way of predicting whether it will come up heads or tails at all… isn’t that more ‘amazingly unpredictable’?
“…when everyone has given up hope…” – and in the cases where everybody hasn’t given up hope, is a patient’s survival consquently less amazing? I suppose you could justifably say it was less amazing to the people doing the hoping themseles, but why so for you?
“…and some young patients succumb to disease.” – yes. Does amazingness really extend to the fact that young people can die?
“Makes me believe in God.” – woah. You can now invoke God to explain the concept of ‘surprises’? Although perhaps it has to be a good surprise. Consider this:
It is amazingly unpredictable how some young patients succumb to disease when everyone expects them to pull through and some old patients survive. Makes me believe in God.
It is truly extraordinary when people invoke the idea that a wonderous event should make one believe in God whilst in the very same sentence highlighting a tragic event as a counterexample that then isn’t counted against the idea of a God.
Pre-emptive theist response
“Young people dying unexpectedly is all part of God’s plan which fulfils an ultimately good end.”
This invalidates the entire argument we began with. If you presume that everything belongs to an ultimately good ‘plan’ then an elderly patient unexpectedly surviving is no different from, say, an elderly patient dying as expected. We only got to God in the first place by deciding the the former event was in some way ‘especially good’ and contrasting it with other, less good things.