Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Tick tock

On further reflection on my post about Daniel C Dennett's illness, I wonder why his religious friends felt they needed to tell him they were praying for him. It is not as though his atheism is any great secret, or any secret at all :D. Anyone who has ever heard of him would probably be fully aware of his views. I thought maybe he was being a bit ungracious about it, but then, on thinking about just how clear he has made his views, I could see where he was coming from more.

Perhaps they were expecting a complete u-turn in him on his almost death-bed, but even so, to bother him with it in his vulnerability, seems a bit rude. I wouldn't advance upon a believing friend's hospital bed trying to tell him/her about my views.

They could have prayed privately and limited themselves to wishing him well while with him, instead of informing him about their prayers.

I suppose they're after 'saving his soul', but it's not something I would want either, in his place. Would it offend me to be told someone is praying for me? Well, no, but I know I would prefer to be wished well and told I'm cared about and thought of.

"may I be of a sound mind, and do to others as I would that they should do to me"
Plato - The Laws - c. 360 b.c.e.

"I have something to say to the religionist who feels atheists never say anything positive: You are an intelligent human being. Your life is valuable for its own sake. You are not second-class in the universe, deriving meaning and purpose from some other mind. You are not inherently evil--you are inherently human, possessing the positive rational potential to help make this a world of morality, peace and joy. Trust yourself."
Dan Barker

"A man didn’t understand how televisions work, and was convinced that there must be lots of little men inside the box, manipulating images at high speed. An engineer explained to him about high frequency modulations of the electromagnetic spectrum, about transmitters and receivers, about amplifiers and cathode ray tubes, about scan lines moving across and down a phosphorescent screen. The man listened to the engineer with careful attention, nodding his head at every step of the argument. At the end he pronounced himself satisfied. He really did now understand how televisions work. "But I expect there are just a few little men in there, aren’t there?""
Douglas Adams

"I don't believe in ultimate things. I don't believe in the inextinguishable light of the other world. I don't believe that we will be lifted up and transfixed by radiance. One incandescent dusky world is all there is."
Edward Hirsch

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