Did God Help the Patriots Beat the Broncos?

Christians offering prayers for a victory for Tim Tebow and the Broncos had exactly the same effect as witches holding a seance for Tom Brady and the Patriots: none. Football games are won or lost based on the skill and intensity of the players and the quality of the coaching. As I wrote previously, crediting a supernatural being for a team’s success is an injustice to the members of that team who put so much into a game.

Yet, oddly, some continue to suggest that God may influence the outcome of football games. For example, a letter to the Denver Post, referring specifically to the outcome of sporting matches, suggests, “God and Tim Tebow are working together in wonderful and mysterious ways.” (The letter was written without any apparent hint of sarcasm; whatever the author’s intention, some people embrace its sentiment.)

The most glaring problem with such claims is that there is no evidence that a “God” exists, much less that such a being plays a direct role in human affairs.

A secondary problem with claims of supernatural intervention is that they are senseless even on their own terms. A God who would get involved in sporting matches would be even more petty than those fans who pray for such divine intervention. Further, as another letter to the Denver Post asks, why would God choose “to intervene in trivial sports contests and not [prevent] famine and genocide in Africa, or the murder of protesters in Syria, etc.?” This raises the issue formally known as the “problem of evil”: Why would a God with unlimited power to stop human suffering decline to do so?

Those who claim divine intervention in sports and daily life ignore the actual and obvious causes of human events: the willed actions of people and the nature of the things on which they act. A football crosses a goal line because men run it, kick it, or throw it over the line, not because God wills it to cross the line.

Neither God, nor the stars, nor some magical incantation helped the Patriots destroy the Broncos. They did it on their own.

Image: Jeffrey Beall via Wikipedia


Comments submitted to TOS Blog are moderated. To be considered for posting, a comment must be civil, substantive, and fewer than 400 words in length. If approved, your comment will be posted soon.

  • http://www.facebook.com/shaw.eberhardt Shaw Eberhardt

    you were the kid that went around telling all the other kids that Santa Claus wasnt real?

  • Dr. Obvious

    you were the kid that went around telling all the other kids that Santa Claus wasnt real?

  • Anonymous

    No, Shaw.  More like the kid who went around teaching the facts of reality and complimenting and championing people and THEIR abilities and THEIR accomplishments and not attributing them to some unseen voodoo man.  To tell me that what I’ve accomplished is a result of that unseen force is a slap in the face.  

  • IloveReason

    No, Shaw.  More like the kid who went around teaching the facts of reality and complimenting and championing people and THEIR abilities and THEIR accomplishments and not attributing them to some unseen voodoo man.  To tell me that what I’ve accomplished is a result of that unseen force is a slap in the face.  

  • Anonymous

    Good article and I know many Christians will come back and say, “But they’re praying for their health and safety and not the outcome of the game.”   But ultimately, what’s the difference?  If God protects them and allows them to stay in the game and the team doesn’t have to substitute a lesser player, he’s essentially doing the same thing as diverting a pass into the hands of the receiver.    

  • IloveReason

    Good article and I know many Christians will come back and say, “But they’re praying for their health and safety and not the outcome of the game.”   But ultimately, what’s the difference?  If God protects them and allows them to stay in the game and the team doesn’t have to substitute a lesser player, he’s essentially doing the same thing as diverting a pass into the hands of the receiver.    

  • RussK

    Don’t you know? God is only putting Tebow through a ‘test’, like those Africans you reference. heh

  • RussK

    Don’t you know? God is only putting Tebow through a ‘test’, like those Africans you reference. heh

  • https://me.yahoo.com/a/ffXz3Fcmq.XFH_Yl__T2G9rL1aU3#8a634 Mike Kevitt

    Substitute the word nature for god and you can say one is naturally endowed, at conception, with ability ideal for football.  One must just develope and actualize that ability and tailor it to football, then run with it.  If one doesn’t have that ability, one won’t develope it no matter how hard one tries.  Nature is involved thru one’s identity, which includes whatever one’s abilities are, as per which gametes came together.

  • https://me.yahoo.com/a/ffXz3Fcmq.XFH_Yl__T2G9rL1aU3#8a634 Mike Kevitt

    Substitute the word nature for god and you can say one is naturally endowed, at conception, with ability ideal for football.  One must just develope and actualize that ability and tailor it to football, then run with it.  If one doesn’t have that ability, one won’t develope it no matter how hard one tries.  Nature is involved thru one’s identity, which includes whatever one’s abilities are, as per which gametes came together.