[ExI] apple mothership

Adrian Tymes atymes at gmail.com
Wed Sep 14 17:22:48 UTC 2011

2011/9/14 Dave Sill <sparge at gmail.com>:
> 2011/9/14 spike <spike66 at att.net>
>> I am against this problem a lot.  I am in a motorcycle internet group.
>> Sunday one of our best guys had a pickup truck turn left in front of him,
>> hit the grill at about 60 mph.  So far he’s lost a leg, a kidney, a spleen,
>> broken both arms, plenty of other internal injuries including bleeding
>> inside his brain, but he is still breathing.  His daughter set up a website,
>> in which scores of people have posted well-wishes.  Of course most of them
>> say they are praying for him.  This I flatly refuse to do.  I am fairly good
>> with language, and I am very fluent in the language and thought patterns of
>> the believers, but there just isn’t a very good way to write around the
>> central issue of prayer.  In those circumstances, any atheist-generated note
>> of encouragement is conspicuous.
>> Someone somewhere must have solved this problem, for it must be common.
> "I'm keeping you and your family in my thoughts. If there's anything I can
> do to help: cooking, chores, bedside vigil, etc., please don't hesitate to
> ask."

That actually states the problem really well.

The religious can pray.  We can argue that it accomplishes nothing, and all
but the most ignorant prayers know it.  What is not up for serious debate is
the amount of effort that prayer involves: trivial to none.  So, the
religious are
saying they are willing to undertake no real effort to assist you in your

Even a bedside vigil - just sitting there for hours (while free to multitask any
other hospital-appropriate and interruptable activity, such as catching up on
reading) - takes more effort than prayer.

What does an atheist offer, by comparison?  The honest equivalent would
be hope and well wishes: same amount of effort, no illusion that the atheist
is actually doing much to help.  (Which is not inherently a bad thing:
everyone has limited resources, and any given person literally does not have
the time to help everyone in need.  If this really is all that can be spared
without causing other problems, then it is.)

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