I remember one of my many steps towards atheism was taken when I was at school. It was in history, when we leant about Custer's last stand and the events leading up to it - and finally we arrived at something called the ghost dance - a ritual steeped in cultish logic (and unsurprisingly toxic Christian Missionaries ) seeking divine intervention from a messianic figure , the ressurection of the dead to restore the nation, sweep aside all enemies and specifically to prevent them being slaughtered at what became known as the massacre at wounded knee.

It didn't work, obviously.

And I think it was the first time, without taking the subsequent step of questioning the existence of the spiritual realm and the capriciousness of gods, it nevertheless perturbed me enough that I can recall it now quite clearly and my teenage self was wondering why that was. Was the situation not quite desperate enough?  Did their gods have something better to be doing?

It struck me as rather sad and not just a little pathetic that the miracle they'd begged for, danced for, had so singularly failed to arrive and their hopes had been so utterly dashed.

Of course I'd subsequently learn about the poverty of the miraculous, but this was an early lesson.

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Comment by Richard Healy on January 9, 2011 at 11:56pm

Ever heard the rehab saying? "Coicidences are god's way of keeping his anonymity".


I had not.  How thoroughly asinine.


Poverty in miracles. How appropriate


Thanks  - also I just realised it's a kind of has a double meaning.


The poverty of miracles - literally their absence; the lack of them.  The opposite would I suppose be 'a wealth' - and the sense in which I had meant the phrase




The poverty of believing in the miraculous - which the majority of comments thus far have picked up on - that it is a preserve of credulity to find the concept of miracles comforting.



Comment by Gary Cobb on January 9, 2011 at 11:39pm

I was also praying for miracles way back when I practiced religion. I found that action on my part with natural coincidences (they do happen) made changes in my life. Ever heard the rehab saying? "Coicidences are god's way of keeping his anonymity". Make me puke.


I'm a former Vietnam Marine veteran. And there are atheist in foxholes. Their the ones that get up off their asses and make a charge and have faith in how clean they have kept their weapon.

Poverty in miracles. How appropriate. If the so-called faithful only knew the freedom we have in knowing that sh*T happens and there needs to be no blame or needless suffering on their part for prayers not being answered.

Comment by Richard Healy on January 9, 2011 at 11:16pm
I always was a precocious little upstart. ;-)
Comment by Frankie Dapper on January 9, 2011 at 9:13pm

Richard, four stars on your nascent atheism. You thought about the greater world rather than your own little world. As much as I enjoyed reading Marc Twain and as sharp as he was,  he needed personal tragedy to precipitate his apostasy.

An examination of history and the world around us should lead any nondiseased mind to atheism, not to mention the excrement that religion produces.

My two and a half worthless cents.



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