So my friend's mother dies, not unexpectedly, at an advanced age. He sends us all an e-mail, asking us to pray for his father, if we can.

Must...not...reply..."So if we pray, your god will decide not to make a poor old man more miserable than he already is, or put happy thoughts in his head, or what?!"

Not a good time to bring it up. I couldn't resist the other day, however; same group of people, one of them said a doctor was discussing his mother's cancer, and he (the doctor) said, "There's only one (looks skyward) who can help her now." I told him I've known some surgeons and oncologists who cured cancer, but not too many cures coming out of the sky lately.

How can they not see the childishness of their ways? Oh, time for another bible verse:

"When I was a child, I spoke like a child, thought like a child, and reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I gave up my childish ways." Corinthians 13:11.

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Comment by Phil E. Drifter on July 11, 2009 at 3:09am
Would be a good time to remind people that it was god that gave her the cancer in the first place...
Comment by Malena on July 10, 2009 at 2:01pm
Tell that the only thing that they can do its pray its a death sentence. Hopely nobody will tell your friend´s mother. There´re actually experiments about how patients respond when they´re told people are praying for them. They respond badly, it looks like is something extremely stressful for them.
Comment by Lori Kincses on July 10, 2009 at 1:28pm
Whenever anyone where I work has a relative die, a card gets passed aound. "You are in my thoughts and prayers" is the most popular sentiment. I just sigh and sign my name.
Comment by Ted Nugent on July 10, 2009 at 4:53am
While I admire your... restraint, I have to say I'm appalled by the fact that you even considered starting an argument with a grieving friend about whether there's a heaven for his dead mother to go to or not. Have you no empathy at all?

And your second anecdote: Someone is apparently telling you that their mother received news that nothing could be done about her terminal cancer... and you decide to slip in a jab at his religious beliefs? How cold-hearted are you?

Don't get me wrong, I'm an Atheist too. But I try not to be such an ass about it.
Comment by Reality Activist on February 18, 2009 at 1:53pm
That is what beliefs do. They close the mind to reality.
Comment by Moonbeam on February 18, 2009 at 7:31am
Yes you guys are right, I don't bring it up at times like that; and sometimes I even feel guilty arguing when it's not a bad circumstance. Some people can get very upset and I start thinking I'm going to push them over the edge or something. You have to try and tell them, nothing at all will change if you don't believe in god anymore! Nothing! Just like nothing changes when you pray.

Lol @ Luke; no I don't think it was a specialist upstairs. I wouldn't have any respect for a doctor who actually said something like that, and I think I'd have to tell him/her to stick with science, not superstition, at work.
Comment by Luke on February 18, 2009 at 5:36am
"There's only one (looks skyward) who can help her now." Maybe there was a specialist on the next floor of the same building who could help... maybe.
Comment by Ann on February 18, 2009 at 5:15am
Grieving friends and family need comfort. They look to prayer for that comfort even though we know it is a falsehood. To them, it is like a warm, fuzzy blanket. You are right in not saying anything against prayer or religion to someone who is grieving. Your quote is very appropriate. It feels like taking a security blanket away from a sad child. It is best to be adult about it, no matter how much we have to grit our teeth. You can always say something like, "I will keep _____'s memory in my heart" or something like that to give comfort. Certainly in other settings we can express our opinions, though.
Comment by cj the cynic on February 18, 2009 at 12:08am
When my mother was dying from cancer, the lead doctor told us that "god would take her when it's time". I was thinking WTF you're a specialist doctor and you're still giving me this god shit? Why even bother being a doctor if you think god does everything?
Comment by Buffy on February 17, 2009 at 10:37pm
It's amazing how people use prayer to pretend they're doing something when they're not, and gods to deny reality.

Pray for him.
That means they know they can't do anything but they want to pretend they can actually do something. Sometimes you actually can do something for a grieving person, even if it's just sitting there and holding their hand. But usually you have to just let time do the real work. Prayer is beyond useless.

"There's only one (looks skyward) who can help her now." That's such a cop-out. Admitting you're fallible and did the best you could is great, but pretending there's some sky-daddy who can work miracles you can't is silly. It's yet another way humans devalue themselves for no good reason.


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