Looking Back: 25 Years Ago in Free Inquiry

“Even in a rural area, word about an airplane crash gets out fast and the media was soon present.

“‘Where are you from?’

“‘Tampa.’

“‘Tampa? What were you doing all the way up here?’

“‘Attending an atheist/humanist convention in Toronto.’

“‘R-e-a-l-l-y!’

“I told the whole story to three or four different reporters … .

“They all loved it. Here is a family of atheists who walked away from an airplane crash and none of them were ‘converted.’ That issue actually became more a focal point of the story than the crash itself. Both print and television completely dwelled on it.”

—Ed Golly, “On a Wing with No Prayer”
Free Inquiry, Volume 15, No. 1 (Winter 1994/95)

Editor’s Note: Ed Golly and his family—all from Tampa, Florida—attended Free Inquiry’s conference “The Good Life—a Humanist Perspective,” held July 7–10, 1994, in Toronto, Canada. Their Cessna aircraft crash-landed due to a mechanical failure shortly after departure from Toronto. Though the plane landed upside-down, no one aboard suffered significant injuries. And none among this family of atheists did what the media usually expect, namely give credit to God for surviving the crash. Later in the article, Golly commented: “… if God had caused our plane to crash and us to be killed, wouldn’t he be culpable for four counts of manslaughter?”


“Even in a rural area, word about an airplane crash gets out fast and the media was soon present. “‘Where are you from?’ “‘Tampa.’ “‘Tampa? What were you doing all the way up here?’ “‘Attending an atheist/humanist convention in Toronto.’ “‘R-e-a-l-l-y!’ “I told the whole story to three or four different reporters … . “They …

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