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Old 07-29-2013, 06:44 PM
 
Location: Lakewood OH
21,697 posts, read 23,672,920 times
Reputation: 35449

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There is a line in the play "Inherit The Wind" which is about the John Scopes trial based on a true story in which a school teacher's attempts to introduce Darwinism in a small midwestern grammar school results in his being arrested for teaching blasphemy. A reporter covering the trial in speaking with his wife confesses to her that he supports Scopes and he does not believe in God not because he wishes to be irreligious but simply because it is a concept beyond his realm of thinking. He tells her he often wishes he could believe but he just can't and "He couldn't if he wanted to."

That line made a profound effect on me when we read this play in class when I was in high school.

I have a cousin who was diagnosed with terminal Cancer at the beginning of the month. It came on so rapidly no one was prepared and she did not respond to chemo, radiation or any other treatment. They have sent her home from the hospital to die in familiar surroundings amidst her love ones.

I live in another city over 2,000 miles away. I have been on the phone a great deal with her brother who is beside himself with greif and understandably so. She took him into her home about ten years ago when he was out of work and ill. They are very close.

Yesterday on the phone he was lamenting about how his sister was the best, most kind hearted, good natured loving person in the world. This is entirely true. All the best adjectives in the world cannot begin to describe her. She also has had a pretty difficult life with illness and financial setbacks but always had a smile on her face and always was there to lend a helping hand to anyone in need if she could.

Two years ago, she and her longtime love decided to get married. They were both 70. The day before the wedding, he died of a heart attack. It was horrible but he did leave here financially secure for the first time in her life. She could quit working and take it easy. She could help her kids. She went on a cruise.

Then, the Cancer.

So this gives you an idea of where my cousin, her brother was coming from when he told me that he didn't understand why god was doing this to her and he was trying to determine god's reason for it. I wanted to tell him there was no "god's reason" because there was no god. This was just something that was happening and it was unfair but it was happening because it just was.

Then my cousin came up with this answer, he said that there were simply reasons that god didn't want us to know. That was it, that was the justification. God was doing this and did things like this but it wasn't ours to question.

So what could I say to this? The guy was grieving out of his mind. He knew his sister would be dead in a couple of weeks. He was heartbroken. I wanted to say forget your god. How can you even believe there is some kind of power that is causing all of this? It's totally ridiculous. I just cannot wrap my head around it. There is no reason, no justification no one can possibly come up with one.

Just as all of this confirms his belief, it reconfirms my disbelief. I just don't understand how people can think like this. It seems to be a comfort to them but I don't see it. To me belief that it is something god has "willed" as a reason is a nebulous concept. An excuse, a justification to explain the unexplainable. My cousin believes that god has the explanation. Situations like these seem to strengthen, rather than weaken people's faith.

I guess maybe that makes me an "Obligate Atheist."

Like the reporter, I will never believe. I couldn't if I wanted to.
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Old 07-29-2013, 06:59 PM
 
Location: The Triad (NC)
28,502 posts, read 62,199,370 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Minervah View Post
Situations like these seem to strengthen rather than weaken people's faith.
For most... that sort of faith is more like an athletes "muscle memory".
They'll clench or extend because they've gotten that reaction imprinted...
and in large part because it gets them positive feedback from the similarly imprinted.
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Old 07-29-2013, 07:00 PM
 
Location: Southwestern, USA
15,395 posts, read 12,143,677 times
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In all of the above scenarios I see odd beliefs in what God is or does
or in what all think "He" is in control
of or whatever.
It is common to blame God for many things and think 'He' is something He is not.
Look at the whole Judeo- Christian religion...it was based on made up stories
from primitive, savage, immature, fearful minds.

I am the one creating all the scenarios of my life...
no one but me. ..not God.
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Old 07-30-2013, 08:54 AM
 
Location: Northeastern US
14,197 posts, read 9,087,623 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Miss Hepburn View Post
I am the one creating all the scenarios of my life...
no one but me. ..not God.
So this woman created the scenarios in her life? The chronic illness, financial problems, the death of her fiancee? Her and no one else?

How is this not "blame the victim"?
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Old 07-30-2013, 09:04 AM
 
Location: Northeastern US
14,197 posts, read 9,087,623 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Minervah View Post
So this gives you an idea of where my cousin, her brother was coming from when he told me that he didn't understand why god was doing this to her and he was trying to determine god's reason for it. I wanted to tell him there was no "god's reason" because there was no god. This was just something that was happening and it was unfair but it was happening because it just was.
This so reminds me of my (non smoking) brother's sudden death from bone cancer some years ago. What I ended up doing was gently deflecting his agony about why god was allowing this or doing this or what he had done wrong by simply saying, to him, "This is not your fault, it is just something that has happened. I love you, and I think the world of you. You are a good and decent man, a loyal husband, a hard worker, and if I can love you then you need have no concerns from a benevolent and caring god." I don't think he heard a word of it, though; he could not get around the sense of betrayal and disappointment. He had just retired and was so looking forward to growing old with his wife.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Minervah View Post
Then my cousin came up with this answer, he said that there were simply reasons that god didn't want us to know. That was it, that was the justification. God was doing this and did things like this but it wasn't ours to question.

So what could I say to this? The guy was grieving out of his mind. He knew his sister would be dead in a couple of weeks. He was heartbroken. I wanted to say forget your god. How can you even believe there is some kind of power that is causing all of this? It's totally ridiculous. I just cannot wrap my head around it. There is no reason, no justification no one can possibly come up with one.

Just as all of this confirms his belief, it reconfirms my disbelief. I just don't understand how people can think like this. It seems to be a comfort to them but I don't see it. To me belief that it is something god has "willed" as a reason is a nebulous concept. An excuse, a justification to explain the unexplainable. My cousin believes that god has the explanation. Situations like these seem to strengthen, rather than weaken people's faith.
Despite being a former theist, I can't get my arms around it, either. I can understand how faith can be a rationalization for the vicissitudes of life up to a point, but to take it this far is something I could not do, either. Some can. I suppose it's a case of deep and multilayered denial as a defense mechanism. Some people can live with that denial; I cannot. I can't convince myself to believe my own BS -- not that well or that endlessly.
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Old 07-30-2013, 01:09 PM
 
Location: Lakewood OH
21,697 posts, read 23,672,920 times
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One of the things I often hear is "how could god "allow" this? Allow what? What is to allow? That sounds to me as if god has a choice and if does how does he choose? How does he allow for things to happen? Is is random or by design. That's just too ridiculous to even imagine. I would sooner be able to believe in a toss of the cosmic dice.

My cousin died yesterday. They gave her two weeks. She didn't even make it out of the hospital to go home to spend those last two weeks with her loved ones all around her as she had wished.

I live 2000 miles away. Her brother called to tell me the news and he also told me not to worry about coming to the funeral both because of my own health problems and financial situation. He said he understood that I loved her and was thinking about her and my not being there to see her being buried wasn't going to matter to her.

I am relieved he said that. Not only because it was true but also because I will be spared everyone spouting all the god stuff and that part of it. My family is Jewish so there is no belief in heaven or hell. That means no one will say she is with god or the angels but just that now she finally is at peace and is no longer suffering. I could handle that because I know she was in a lot of physical pain, frightened, angry, bewildered and by no means ready to go. She "did not go gentle into that good night."

But if someone were to say it was god's plan or reason I would have probably wanted to punch them out. I cannot make myself feel better about all that suffering it by blaming some unseen deity.

My anger will subside so will the grief. People can take comfort in any way they choose. I'll pet my cat and cry. I'll think of the good times when we were kids. I am not going to question some grand plan. It is what it is as they say, no more no less. If things like this strengthens people's faith, so be it, I don't get it and I never will.
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Old 07-30-2013, 01:18 PM
 
35,108 posts, read 40,257,322 times
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Why are you wasting time trying to understand something you say you cannot understand, will not ever understand and it appears you don't want to understand it.

Move on with your life as you want but please refrain from telling those who have faith that God exist that God does not exist.
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Old 07-30-2013, 01:53 PM
 
Location: Somewhere out there.
6,862 posts, read 3,788,814 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by CSD610 View Post
Why are you wasting time trying to understand something you say you cannot understand, will not ever understand and it appears you don't want to understand it.

Move on with your life as you want but please refrain from telling those who have faith that God exist that God does not exist.
How very sensitive of you. Minervah is obviously here because she is going through a difficult time and is using the forum as a sounding board to share this time with us. That's what we are here for.
She is preaching to no-one. This is an atheist board. She is speaking with like minded people. Go do your preaching on one of the religious forums.

Minervah, so sorry for your loss. I for one have been there.. x
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Old 07-30-2013, 01:54 PM
 
3,404 posts, read 2,251,388 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by CSD610 View Post
Why are you wasting time trying to understand something you say you cannot understand, will not ever understand and it appears you don't want to understand it.

Move on with your life as you want but please refrain from telling those who have faith that God exist that God does not exist.
Why are you even here! This is supposed to be a place where are non-believers can discuss freely. The OP is having a rough time of it, is struggling with how to deal respectfully with others who are also hurting. There is no indication of any combative debate or any bashing except on your part.

-NoCapo
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Old 07-30-2013, 02:35 PM
 
3,509 posts, read 5,177,173 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by CSD610 View Post
Why are you wasting time trying to understand something you say you cannot understand, will not ever understand and it appears you don't want to understand it.

Move on with your life as you want but please refrain from telling those who have faith that God exist that God does not exist.
To put it more bluntly, please get the hell out of our forum and take your god with you.
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