A good summation of the evolution of religious faith lies in churches that take out insurance policies --
I would have to say, June, that the harm is that while physical crutches accelerate healing, psychological crutches impede it, retarding the development of self-reliance.
So anytime you accidently say "please Lord, don't let that ambulance be going to my house", or "thank God they found my son" or "please God let me find my cell phone" that is actually retarding progress of self-reliance? What about people who can't ever actually be self-reliant in the first place?
What is the actual danger?
Does it have any lasting effects? Do I suddenly start condemning my neighbors because a pray slipped out?
RE: "What about people who can't ever actually be self-reliant in the first place?"
Are there such people?
I have no answers for the rest of your questions, as I have always been self-reliant.
Sure, some people have conditions that render them reliant on those around them, whether physical or mental. I am happy to hear that you have always been though :)
I have known armed service personnel, returning from Iraq or Afghanistan with missing arms or legs, who, fitted with prosthetics, have participated in marathons, wheel-chair basketball games and hold down full-time jobs, determined to be as self-reliant as possible.
In my past work with Special Olympics, I watched a little, 9-year old Down's Syndrome boy in a race, continue to run his fastest after his opponents had crossed the finish line and he had no hope of winning, but he not come to win, he had come to do his best job, and he did that to the end.
I knew an phenomenal artist, paralyzed from the neck down, who painted incredible paintings, holding his brush in his teeth.
Physical and mental handicaps are not necessarily prohibitive to striving for self-reliance. And certainly, one without physical or mental handicaps, has no reason to search for a crutch.
But that is my point, does randomly calling upon a god whether you believe or not really constitute "looking"? Does it really harm either? What is the actual consequence? For each accidental prayer you lose two points of self-reliance?
I'm really curious
@June - RE: "I'm really curious" - I sense that you really are, we get theists on this board all of the time, and I, for one, welcome them, as belonging to a mutual admiration society, for me, is no fun. I like divergent opinions. Some of these blatantly proselytize, but others, more clever, more subtle, ask seemingly innocent questions designed to back us into a corner, which never happens, but still they try.
Let me tell you a story (I like stories). My first day in Speech 103, in my Freshman year of college, our professor asked how we'd like to skip class that day. No one said no. He said we were free to leave if we would meet one condition, and we, on our honor, had to be totally honest about it. Our class was on the second floor of the Fine Arts Building, and he said we could leave and not be counted absent, if we could get to the bottom of the stairs without thinking about monkeys. No one made it.
He was trying to illustrate the power that speech holds - no one was thinking about monkey's before he'd mentioned it, and afterward, none could get the word out of our minds.
If you don't believe in a god, yet continue to call on one, then you're really not through with religion - at least not with the conditioning part. To break that childhood conditioning, which many, if not most of us had, we need to quit calling on monkeys to help us, if in time, we're to ever get them out of our heads.
but what if one wasn't raised in organized religion in the first place how could they be "really not through with religion"? And I get the monkeys thing, but if you didn't believe in that "power" of the monkeys thought binding you to class, why not just ignore it? It was an arbitrary thing, just like atheism believes religion to be. Who cares if it is a monkey, gorilla, or even an elephant, if you don't believe in the arbitrary rule, then what is the real issue with breaking it? What's the real issue in following it? Is the punishment for following the direction just that persons apparent misery? Does saying "I'm so hungry I could eat a horse" mean you have to go find a horse because you feel convicted so you must now eat a horse? I said "thank God", so I must now believe in god?
I'm beginning to believe, June, that your inquiry involves something more than simple curiosity.
RE: "but what if one wasn't raised in organized religion in the first place how could they be 'really not through with religion'?"
Earlier, I said that the vast majority of members here were raised originally under some form of religion - we even have an entire section that has been started by ex-Muslims, so regarding those on this board, the percentage who were never raised in an organized religion would be very low, and of that small percentage, due to the lack of early religious exposure, the percentage of that small percentage who would even think to make even a quasi-religious supplication would, in my opinion, be very low indeed.
RE: "I get the monkeys thing, but if you didn't believe in that "power" of the monkeys thought binding you to class, why not just ignore it?"
Because it was about honor - by accepting the challenge, I also accepted the terms of that challenge, and that was to be honest.
RE: "Is the punishment for following the direction just that persons apparent misery?"
I'm not clear as to what you mean by this question.
RE: "Does saying "I'm so hungry I could eat a horse" mean you have to go find a horse...."
I really can't address that, as I've never used that expression.
RE: "I said "thank God", so I must now believe in god?"
No, but using the term just reinforced the image of that particular monkey in your mind.