Wednesday, March 05, 2008

Prayer for a dying atheist

I recently emailed an atheist blogger with whom I've had some interaction in the past. This was because he had asked me to read Dawkins' The Selfish Gene and agreed in exchange to read one of my choosing (I chose the New Testament). I notified him that I had finished and inquired after an update. He responded that he had not had time partly because his father is near death. I told him I would pray for him and his father, and he then asked me not to, asked me if I would be pleased if a Santeria were to sacrifice an animal in his religious ritual or a Muslim were to pray for me, were I in a similar situation. My response follows:


Hey _____,

I hope you'll be assured that I don't engage in this to rub any salt in a wound. I cannot empathise with the death of a parent (yet), though I have lost an unborn child which has caused me a great deal of grief. And my wife lost her father some time ago.
At any rate, this seems to be an instructive topic. You continue to act inconsistently with your stated worldview, where you have said explicitly and specifically that any moral stance you may have is nothing more than personal preference, yet you're trying to impose that on me.
That's indeed why it's important to flesh this out.

Now, in my case with the Santeria followers or the Muslim, I know that their religion is false and that such idolatry brings further condemnation on them. For THEIR sake I don't want them to do that for me or in my name, b/c that action is concretely, objectively wrong. So it makes sense to request such a thing not be done in my worldview.
It doesn't make sense in yours. In refusing to honor your request, I'm just acting consistently with your own worldview in my refusal to be constrained by what someone else thinks is right. What your father thinks should be respected makes no difference - it's neither right nor wrong to respect another person's views on any issue. I prefer to pray, so it's right for me. That's what you yourself have said. I point out that you apparently can't live out what you said you believe. That would give me pause. I hope and pray it does you as well.

Now, I'd urge you to consider just for a second why these 'vultures' are appealing to your father. I don't know what they're saying, but I know what I'd say. Sthg like this:
"Sir, the day when you will stand before Jesus to account for what you've done is close at hand, very probably; I think we're both being realistic to say that death is near. Please take this opportunity, now, to repent of your sins and ask Jesus to forgive you. He will forgive you now, but He will not when you have passed on. He is gracious, but seize the opportunity. Today is the day of salvation. Confess that you are a sinner, please. Be saved."

My concern is for HIS soul; I want to praise and worship the Lord Jesus forever and ever someday and I want him (and you) by my side while doing it. I don't want either of you to bear your own sin before the judgment of a holy God.
Given that my (hypothetical) concerns are wholly altruistic and that I'm spending my time communicating this message that I could be using to earn money or give my wife a foot massage, I don't know if calling me a 'vulture' is even remotely appropriate. Of course, I don't know all the details of what's happening with your father, but perhaps I guessed correctly.


Peace,
Rhology

7 comments:

NAL said...

rhoblogy:... I have lost an unborn child ...

That fact is too personal for a public blog. Did you get your wife's approval before publicizing this? You might want to consider deleting that portion and then delete this comment.

chooseDoubt said...

Hi Rhology,

Please feel free to post my replies. Atheists don't want your prayers and it is an error to insist upon mixing an atheist's intimate experiences with your superstition and think you are doing us some some sort of favour. You are not. You are simply using the suffering of others to promote your own absurd agenda to make you feel better about yourself and further subjugate yourself to your imaginary slave master by attempting to subjugate those by proxy that do not submit themselves to Bronze Age mythology.

Let it be known that your prayers are against the wishes of a dying man and the family that will miss him. I say again that I deny the Holy Spirit, as does my father, and so your prayers are useless by your own beliefs anyway. We have no more interest in being saved by your faith than we have in being saved by the faith of Osama Bin Laden. I cannot stop you from praying and it is your choice. But if you choose to pray at least have the intelligence to comprehend that it is simply an insult to myself and my father that you use his death as an excuse to promote your superstition which we both firmly oppose.

I wish I hadn't mentioned it to you and feel rather used by your insistence to latch on to this as yet another crusade to promote your ridiculous delusion. But do as you wish. It is meaningless except as an example of how the faithful place their baseless beliefs above the concerns of real people and their suffering.

CD

Rhology said...

NAL,

Yes, of course I got her approval. Feel free to let me worry about what is OK to publish on a public blog and what is not OK, OK? OK.

merkur said...

Wow, hot on the heels of your defense of torture comes this, an opportunity to use somebody else's grief to score theological points. Quite literally, Jesus wept.

John Morales said...

Rhology's justification:
Now, in my case with the Santeria followers or the Muslim, I know that their religion is false and that such idolatry brings further condemnation on them. For THEIR sake I don't want them to do that for me or in my name, b/c that action is concretely, objectively wrong.

Rhology's conclusion:
So it makes sense to request such a thing not be done in my worldview.
It doesn't make sense in yours.


Rhology's morality in action:
In refusing to honor your request, I'm just acting consistently with your own worldview in my refusal to be constrained by what someone else thinks is right.

Rhology is claiming he's "just acting consistently with [CD's]worldview", a worldview he also claims is contradictory to Rhology's own.

I cannot interpret this as other than sophistry leavened with hypocrisy and disingenuousness.

ChooseDoubt: I empathise with your desire to spend precious time with your father. I doubt Rhology "gets" that atheists experience emotions every bit as poignant as theists - though unmeliorated by wishful thinking.

Rhology said...

CD,

Several of my comments will be the same as my email to you.
For one thing, am I supposed to be impressed when someone apes the idiotic Irrational Response Squad's acontextual, unbiblical, and strawman Blasphemy Challenge?

it is simply an insult to myself and my father

Which are just your personal preference, and of course mine is different. And you have agreed that you have nothing to say on that.
The inconsistency between the way you act and the way you claim to believe is breathtaking.

I wish I hadn't mentioned it to you and feel rather used by your insistence t

You chose to reveal your identity. I did not refer to you in any way, so the responsibility is yours alone.


It is meaningless except as an example of how the faithful place their baseless beliefs above the concerns of real people and their suffering.

You seem to suggest that placing baseless beliefs above the concerns of real people and their suffering is morally objectionable, but I know that couldn't be what you really think b/c you've already made that clear.
You'll have to explain how this could possibly apply to me since there's no moral claim you could make.



Quite literally, Jesus wept.

And what is your argument for why Jesus would be displeased with such?



Rhology is claiming he's "just acting consistently with [CD's]worldview", a worldview he also claims is contradictory to Rhology's own.

I don't know if anyone would argue that atheism is NOT compatible with theism...

I doubt Rhology "gets" that atheists experience emotions every bit as poignant as theists - though unmeliorated by wishful thinking.

I don't know why you people get so riled up over what you agree is not morally wrong. It's just neutral. What, are you next going to get riled up like this over a little kid eating an ice cream sundae? That's just as morally neutral as this.
Hint: It's actually b/c you can't live consistently with your worldview. You talk big but then when death visits you, when injustice visits you, when God does you a bad turn, you complain about "it's wrong! Why me?!?!?" just like a weak-faith theist. Maybe we CAN all get along.


Peace,
Rhology

John Morales said...

I don't know why you people get so riled up over what you agree is not morally wrong. It's just neutral

You've been told "that your prayers are against the wishes of a dying man and the family that will miss him" and that "it is simply an insult to myself and my father.

Yet you persist and even justify your intransigence by saying the person who tells you this doesn't think your actions are wrong.

That's despicable.