Governor Andrew Cuomo recently asserted the following about how the Covid-19 curve was flattened in his beleaguered state: “God did not do that. Faith did not do that. Destiny did not do that. A lot of pain and suffering did that … That’s how it works. It’s math.”
History is often changed by small, seemingly insignificant statements or barely noticed moments. A relatively obscure German philosopher named Friedrich Nietsche wrote “God is dead” in one of his books, and 60 years later the Nazi regime, who explicitly embraced Nietschean thinking, was attempting to exterminate the Jewish race in the Holocaust.
In 1989 an East German bureaucrat casually mentioned on a radio broadcast that people traveling to West Germany would not be stopped, and within a few short months the Cold War ended and the Berlin War was torn down.
Sometimes these seemingly innocuous statements can lead to good things, but sometimes they portend a very grim outcome indeed. I’m only hoping that Governor Cuomo’s casual dismissal of God fades quickly into the past, but I fear it may not.
I fear it could become a major catalyst for not only the rejection of God and religion by individuals, but more consequentially a significant step towards the complete secularization of the public square, and the apotheosis of the state as the new god.
Any society that has sought to eliminate the presence of God in its polity has ended up being totalitarian and murderous, as well as oppressive and soul-killing along the way.
I have no doubt Cuomo didn’t intend to expunge God from New York when he made his remark, and he doesn’t have the power to do so in any case. But his attitude is still instructive and perhaps a harbinger of harsher things to come.
If nothing else, it’s both very sad and very stupid. Sad because so many of his constituents have relied on God and their faith to sustain them through this tragedy. Think how they must feel to have their governor so openly mock and even disparage their spiritual comfort and effort.
Stupid because unless you know everything, like God does, you simply cannot know how much of a role prayers and faith played in curbing the pandemic. And, on the other hand, one could make a solid theological argument that any ability we have as humans to do good things comes from God. Denying his providence or assistance is like an unappreciative, petulant, arrogant adult who has achieved some success denying any credit to his parents or teachers.
But what is both most stupid and sad about his remark is that he sets himself up as God by assuming he can dismiss divine assistance while claiming, in so many words, that his own efforts have been the only possible direct cause of any beneficial outcome.
And once politicians begin assuming such power and authority, watch out. Only bad things can come from this and this is why Western culture has always sought to check the power of the state with that power of transcendent, moral truths, for without such a check, the state runs amok.
So, hopefully Cuomo’s asinine statement serves only to remind people what an arrogant jerk he can be and has no real effect on our culture. But if not, Covid-19 will be the least of our worries. I’m far more afraid of a state that assumes it can dismiss God, than a disease which God can help us endure.
Peachtree City, Ga.