Friday, May 23, 2008

Where Are Your Prayers, Atheist?

I knew there was something I wasn't seeing behind GWK's comments! It's not just about good wishes, it's about prayer. As you noted, G, I am an atheist; and therefore please take my remarks here to represent an extremely small segment of the American population. We're under 5% the last time I checked; Mac users have a bigger market share.

Well, obviously from this angle, my praying won't help Sen Kennedy at all. Will yours? I'm not sure. Just because I don't believe in God doesn't mean I KNOW there is no God. After all, i can't offer any physical evidence. Sure I could be wrong - my non-belief is its own way an article of faith. So I hope you can believe me when I say I don't feel superior to you because of your beliefs. More power to ya. Besides, maybe you're part of a collective good vibe, a healing energy which works in ways we don't understand yet.

Getting past the vibe scenario though, I don't think praying for a public figure would help. Einstein famously said "God doesn't play at dice;" and I'd suggest that God is also not an American Idol judge. He isn't deciding who lives or dies (or who is saved or not) by how many "votes" that guy gets. Otherwise, Regan would be alive and Carter would be dead, yes? I don't believe in him, but even if I did that would just be a crazy system.

Onto other things! I've deactivated the CAPTCHA as an exeperiement. We'll see.


Skot said...

"Just because I don't believe in God doesn't mean I KNOW there is no God." I think this means you actually AREN'T an atheist. There aren't scorecards for this sort of thing, but rigorous atheism rejects the unseen and spiritual as completely non-existent. They KNOW there is no God. This certainty gap probably puts you in the category of Inactive Agnostic: Pretty sure there is no spiritual world, but not so sure that the door cannot be cracked open a little.

This isn't too far from where I stand, and maybe it's a bit braver. I consider myself a Catholic Believer, but every so often I feel like I'm just hedging my bets.

And as for the efficacy of prayer for the infirm: don't get me started. Catholic doctrine states that it is of benefit to all concerned, if only for the comfort it provides. Anything more invokes the question of divine intercession, and there is wide spectrum of beliefs in that area. John Calvin, that most Republican of theologists, believed in pre-determination: Every birth and death, every virtue and sin, was determined at the dawn of time by an omniscient Creator.

If this is true: even if you consider yourself religious, prayer as well as belief are pointless.

Danielk said...

I can't believe there isn't a category for Athiests who admit they can't prove the lack of God. Proving a negative is legendarily impossible. PROVE the KGB didn't have Kennedy killed! You can't, because it was all a big secret operation.

Similarly, when the answer to any troubling question is "he works in mysterious ways" or "yes, the inconsistancy is a test of your faith" then even if I had phone records and a map to God's never-inhabited fortress of solitude, it wouldn't be proof. Faith conquers all.

I DO know there isn't a God, but it's a kind of funhouse-mirror version of the same certainty that people who know there is one have. I have a solid belief that the guy isn't up there, and I don't find my lack of faith disturbing.

Sooner or later I knew I'd be able to use that phrase.

Skot said...

As far as I know, true Atheism is as certain and rigorous as true Belief. No spirit, no Creator, and religious institutions are considered slow poison to the collective potential of humanity.

Proof-- real hard quantifiable evidence-- of the non-existence of God is everywhere, in everything, from quantum mechanics to neurobiology to ethics. It is not the burden of atheism to prove the non-existence of God.

Any atheist who cannot prove the lack of a supernatural element to existence isn't trying very hard. Or they are trying to be nice. Or they are holding that door open a bit-- I'm assuming they're doing so in case the Rapture hits and they don't want to look too stupid when the world ends.

It is actually the burden of the faithful to maintain their faith in the face of overwhelming evidence to the contrary. That's why they call it faith.