October 30th, 2007
Why one particular atheist is angry.
I agree with pretty much everything she had to say.
So I'll just add, "amen."
Current Location: work
|Date:||October 30th, 2007 05:43 pm (UTC)|| |
My impression was that she said that because many people *do* take the shopping list approach seriously. That's certainly been my experience. I'm not sure how that's a truth about atheism-- that it's absurd to criticize prayer, and we should accept that as (pardon the pun) gospel? Perhaps I'm misunderstanding what you mean here.
I have known many people (not to generalize/stereotype, but as specific cases) who assumed that their prayers would take care of all their needs (much like a shopping list-- it will cure my scoliosis, get my daughter back the job she was fired from, make the next-door neighbor's dog shut up). Am I absurd for questioning the merits of this? Am I not allowed? Of course there is deep, serious prayer as well. Can I not question the truth of that institution either, simply because it is heartfelt and a personal truth to someone else?
I have and always will uphold that people can believe whatever they want. That doesn't mean I (or this blog writer) can't be upset about what I see people doing in the name of their faith, and most importantly imposing on others in the name of their faith. Many of the points I agree most strongly with in the article come from this basis: someone's belief in God only causes problems for me when it justifies behavior that harms someone else, or makes the basis of that action irrefutable and sanctified.
Again, you've got it backwards.
I have no problem with the blog writer questioning the merit of prayer for herself. My problem is with her problem with other people praying.
She's the one imposing beliefs or lack thereof.
And for the record, I've known a lot of people who prayed in a lot of different ways. My great-grandfather was a Presbyterian minister, my ex-husband was Jewish, yadda yadda.
I've never known anyone, including born-again Christians, to claim that prayer was a shopping list...except for atheists. And I've known quite a few of those.
Just my own personal experience.
And even if that's their misconception, why does it make them angry? They think prayer doesn't work, I think it does, so let me go on my merry deluded way. I'm not hurting anyone by praying.
|Date:||October 30th, 2007 06:36 pm (UTC)|| |
I can't convince you that this has been my experience. Certainly the people in question never said they were creating a "shopping list"-- I doubt anyone who was religious would like to think of themselves that way. And it's not due to lack of knowing people from many faiths, that's for sure.
Just so, she's not hurting anyone by being angry about it. How is she imposing herself on you by listing all the ways in which religion-centered occurrences have angered her over the years? If she dislikes how prayer is used and justified, that doesn't materially impact your ability to keep praying-- and it's not your right to do it that she takes issue with.
It reads like it is my right to do it that she takes issue with. But she has no control over what goes on in my head - my prayer life is between God and me.
I think you're forgetting the great caveat in most prayer. For Wiccans, it's "an it harm none" and for Christians it's "Thy will be done, not mine."
Letting God (or gods) know what you feel your needs are is not making a shopping list. Because at the end there's always the acknowledgement that it's not up to you.
It seems so sad and unrealistic not to believe in a higher power, to me. We're not even capable of realizing the vastness of space or seeing all of the color spectrum. It makes no sense to think that we're the most sophisticated intelligences ever and that we're all alone. If other people want to think that, that's up to them...but don't knock religion as a whole. Do your thing and don't diss the choices of those who may choose differently than you so.
|Date:||October 30th, 2007 07:38 pm (UTC)|| |
It seems so sad and unrealistic not to believe in a higher power
Do your thing and don't diss the choices of those who may choose differently than you so.
Way to misquote.
Here's what I said:
It seems so sad and unrealistic not to believe in a higher power, to me.
My opinion, applicable only to me.
Get the difference?
|Date:||November 2nd, 2007 11:26 am (UTC)|| |
So in other words, for you, it's ok to judge someone as sad and unrealistic for not sharing this belief, but you take issue with the idea that anyone would think you to be sad and unrealistic for holding it.
Double double your standards!
Double standards are twice as good!
But seriously: no, it seems sad and unrealistic TO ME, but I don't judge other people's private beliefs.
They are free to think what they like, but when they start scapegoating my private religious beliefs for all the evils in the world...I think that's ridiculous.
|Date:||November 2nd, 2007 02:44 pm (UTC)|| |
Saying that having a lack of belief in a higher power is "sad and unrealistic" is a judgment, even if you tack "TO ME" in all caps at the end of it. "TO ME" simply adds an "I think" or "I believe" to the statement. It does nothing to mitigate the fact that you are saying that you think that such a lack of belief is "sad" and "unrealistic," and by extension that the holder is "sad" and "unrealistic."
I'd be more convinced that it wasn't a judgment if you hadn't tacked the second qualifier on it. With just "sad," you could say you meant, "It makes me sad when I learn that someone doesn't believe in a higher power." With "unrealistic," however, you suggest that the unbeliever is out of touch with reality. That's a whole different story.
Here's what I think:
First, I think that precision is important.
Second, I think it's best to understand what is actually written rather than a presumed subtext before reacting to something.
Third, I think that unless you assume that faith is a perfectly good substitute for modern medicine, think that atheists shouldn't be considered citizens, believe that same sex marriage is an abomination unto God that needs to be politicized, or use prayer as a shopping list of wants, it appears that you're not amongst the people with whom she is angry.
You're still not getting it...when I say "to me" it means that is how it feels to me. I am not saying that people who think that way are sad and unrealistic. I am saying that the idea of an empty universe strikes me, personally, as sad and unrealistic.
I'm not presuming any subtext, though you seem to be consistently presuming subtext in my replies. I don't care whether she's angry with me or not; I think her essay is a batch of cobbled-together foolish overgeneralizations.
If you like precision, then you probably have a bone to pick with the OP yourself.
Precision, like anything, has its limits. Take physics to a high enough level and you end up with something approaching philosophy. (I'm quoting my dad the astrophysicist, here; that's not mine. But I like it.)
|Date:||November 2nd, 2007 03:25 pm (UTC)|| |
Once again: "It seems so sad and unrealistic not to believe..." [emphasis mine] This is a fundamentally different statement than "I believe that an empty universe is sad and unrealistic."
As to your use of subtext, the OP has listed specific grievances that are at least in some way attributable to religion or religious belief. Your response has been generalized, reactive and personal. You have not identified the instances where the OP is wrong or has somehow implicated you directly. Though the screed may overstate the case, she is not factually incorrect. Do you disagree that gay marriage has been politicized in the US by the Christian right? Or that the attacks on 9/11 were carried out by Jihadists? Is there a specific point that you can say that she's wrong, or is it just that you insist on personalizing this simply because she implicates religious belief generally in all of the issues she identifies.
Written communication on the internets is hardly theoretical physics. We don't need magical thinking or proof of your intellectual pedigree to discuss the merits of a blog post.
|Date:||October 30th, 2007 07:40 pm (UTC)|| |
I think you're persistently misunderstanding me-- your last sentence is exactly what I said in my other comment. It's not religion as an idea that bothers me, or that bothers the author of the original post. People can be religious, and that's just fine and dandy. Again, it's when religious ideas and morality are imposed in ways where it harms someone or robs them of their ability to choose for themselves. Examples of this are all through her post-- indeed it's the main thrust of it, besides feeling marginalized (which everyone seems to, for one reason or another).
Lastly, that's not what I'm talking about in terms of the shopping list. These are people who slough off any responsibility for their life or their actions, assuming that God has directed them, and will not only clean up after them but also provide them with everything they want. I'm familiar with the idea of giving up the reins in prayer-- this is not it.
But it's not "religious" ideas and morality.
It's any ideas imposed on others without their consent, the way she is arguing should be done.
Again, I know far more irresponsible atheists than Christians or pagans or Jews. "This is all there is, so why bother trying?"
But I'm not going to make a post connecting the lack of religion with asshattish behavior, because that is an individual choice. It doesn't have anything to do with whether or not you believe in a higher power.
|Date:||October 30th, 2007 09:22 pm (UTC)|| |
Okay... I've come to the point where our differences of opinion are so massive that I think we're at an impasse. I've followed the twisting path to the point where I realize I'm not ever going to understand how you're seeing this, and clearly I'm not able to convey my points so that you understand them. I'm leaving this on agree to disagree, because otherwise I'm just going to start rehashing thoughts and quotes I've already said in here.
Remind me to frown thrice daily in the direction of Richard Dawkins for continually setting the bar for research in popular nonfiction to new lows.