I posted this in another place and I don't think I hit the right place.

After the devastating tornadoes in Oklahoma which killed many people including children, one of the statements made by someone being interviewed was that the lord giveth and the lord taketh away.

How could anyone want to believe in such a monster?  

What is the group's take on such statements as this?

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Just what exactly are you praying for?  Is it to reverse time and get all to safety?  Is it for the tornado to go away and not cause destruction.  If your prayers are for the survivors they have already received their reward by not being killed.

To repeat, exactly what are you praying for?

"My thoughts and prayers to those families" -Reverend Bob

Making a donation to the American Red Cross would accomplish so much more. The intangible nature of thoughts & prayers do little for those standing before a heap of rubble.

We should of course do good works.  I remember being down with the ARC medical relief teams after Katrina. People do need material support, most definitely.

Almost more than that, though, they need spiritual support.  Particularly for long-term recovery.

Psychological support? Absolutely! Spiritual support is like giving support hose to a double amputee.

Pithy, but a bit worn and trite, don't you think?

Have you ever been to a friend's wedding who wasn't an atheist?   A Jewish or Christian wedding, just because they were believers?  A funeral?  Was that support hose for a double amputee? 

Or was it instead an expression of human solidarity?  Psychological support for you, spiritual support for them, whatever.  Acts of kindness and empathy which strengthened your connection to others and thereby modified your likely behaviors in the future.

Yes, well, I'm just full of pith, but I still don't accept your "spiritual" premise, you can't support a nonexistent entity. I maintain it's psychological support when I attend a friend's wedding, regardless of religious affiliation or lack of it - mostly to keep him from running.

You've commented regularly on our thoughts and beliefs, but when I asked you what you believed (you've been relatively good at telling us what you DON'T believe), you seem to have side-stepped the question.

I think that there's a good possibility that you feel religion is a uniting force - whether valid or not - and as such, has social value. Otherwise, we are just a bunch of individuals out there, disunited, wandering around without a purpose, or at least without a purpose in common, and I suppose, to an extent, you would be right.

You would also be right to say that throughout history, religion, whichever one it was, has had a uniting influence on society in general. But we have outgrown religion now - if we're going to make it into the centuries ahead, we will have to find a new purpose, a new uniting force, and as much as a child may miss the days of blind faith in Santa at Christmas, we may well miss the bliss that was ignorance of how the world really works. Science kinda takes the magic away, but not necessarily the wonder.

I see Humankind entering it's teen-age years. We are a bit up in the air as to what we want to do for the next million years or so, but, like most teenagers, we'll figure it out. Or we won't, and we'll devastate the planet and destroy ourselves, but either way, we'll ultimately do it without religion.

Religion only tends to unite those who share the same beliefs, and who express them in the same way. It is at least equally divisive, and continues to be the cause of many of the most despicable acts of war, violence and cruelty. We see this on a daily basis, and it shows no sign of ever changing.

if we're going to make it into the centuries ahead, we will have to find a new purpose, a new uniting force

What would you suggest?

Civil/constitutional law?  Nationalism?  Hyper-adherence to political parties?  Baseball?  Celebrity worship?

It seems to me that you're willing to discard what to date has been the most successful theory, without having any better theory to replace it.  That would be remarkably poor science.

Dare I suggest that our common uniting force is hard-wired into our survival instinct? Just as wild animals will often unite when threatened by predators to protect their young and so guarantee the continuity of the species, humans will work together in adversity, or in a quest for a common purpose to do the same, or to improve our lot.

Granted, this isn't always true, politics, greed and stupidity notwithstanding, but it's true most of the time. Why would people strive to rescue victims of natural disasters, for example?

This has nothing to do with any external force, such as a deity. It's humanity. Let's take some credit for what's good about our species, rather than thanking a non-existent god.

The common uniting force wired into our survival instinct by virtue of natural selection is one for continuation of genetic material.  That's protection of family and perhaps of tribe, but not more than that.

What you are perceiving as good people working together, seeing other people with different genetic material as being worthy of help and protection, that is the result of thousands of years of cultural development driven largely by religious ideas. 

It's an open question whether that culture can be continued in the absence of those religious ideas.  That may or may not be possible.  As we see in the world, the pressures toward competing tribalism are really quite strong.


"seeing other people with different genetic material as being worthy of help and protection, that is the result of thousands of years of cultural development driven largely by religious ideas."

Would that include the thousand-year period known as the Dark Ages, during which time anyone with ideas different from those of the Church were killed - I can see how that outlook might foster the idea of "seeing other people with different genetic material as being worthy of help and protection" - as people help protect their fellow man from Mother Church.




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