Faith and Doubt at Ground Zero

I’m watching a very moving Frontline episode entitled Faith and Doubt at Ground Zero. This episode explores the emotions of the families of the victims and the survivors.

When I lost my daughter as an infant, I was handed a brochure about the stages of grief and how grief is resolved. I remember reading that about 75% of people resolve their grief by feeling that their is a god and there was a resolution for their loved one’s death. I recall that the rationalization was that God’s ways were mysterious or something along those lines. But 25% of people accepted that the universe is a chaotic place and shit happens, it’s no ones fault when these types of things happen. This was what I felt when I lost my daughter.

The images of the falling people shown are horrifying. The couple holding hands as they jump to their deaths is a haunting one. Did they know each other? Were they strangers? Were they comforted by each other as they faced a certain death?

Rabbi Herschfield discussed how it bothered him when survivors claimed that God saved them. “What about those who died, and died a horrible, painful death? Did God cause their deaths as well? It’s easy to say that God saved one, it’s the easy way out. It’s the easy way out for religion as well. But someone says that God saved them from death, then it’s hypocrisy to not say that God caused deaths as well. That is just not a god that I can worship.”

There was an interesting discussion on evil and its definition. Margot Adler defines evil as when you loose sight of others as people, they are as nothing to you. They are in the way of your goals.

There was general discussion that religion itself is responsible. Both the religious and the non-religious people interviewed recognized that religion can motivate both good and terrible things. Being absolutely sure that you are right and others are wrong can lead to terrible acts. Absolutism can blind someone to the consequences of their actions.