Saturday, August 27, 2011

Pray the ‘cane away

SilvermanI watched a clip this morning of Dave Silverman, the president of American Atheists, on a Fox business show. Supposedly, they asked him on there to talk about what atheists do to prepare for disasters such as Hurricane Irene, but it quickly turned into a full-frontal assault on his atheism.

I think Silverman is pretty cool. I’d say that he can be sort of in-your-face, but he’s fairly respectful about his opinions. What others see as mocking, he simply states as fact. He says, “There isn’t an invisible man in the sky,” and they yell, “You’re mocking us!” He says, “No, I’m not mocking you, I’m just telling you that you’re delusional.” haha Love him or hate him, he doesn’t get nasty. He just states his opinion and moves on from there.

Silverman memeI first became familiar with Silverman when he appeared on Bill O’Reilly’s show, and Bill made his famous statement about “the tide goes in...the tide goes can’t explain that.” I never tire of watching it, and you can see the pertinent part at around the 1:45 mark in that video (but the whole thing is worth a watch). That clip is notable for two reasons. First of all, Billo’s ignorance is astounding. We CAN explain the tides. It has to do with that little thing called gravity, to which we are all quite beholden. For him to use that as his proof of God’s existence made me howl with laughter.

Second, that one short clip spawned not one, but TWO Internet memes. Two...two...two memes in one! The first one was the shot of Dave Silverman reacting to Billo’s tide bullshit. His look of puzzlement became the “Are you kidding me?” face that is used often in Net cartoons. The other one was the O’Reilly tide bullshit itself, which resulted in a whole slew of “you can’t explain that” jokes. My own contribution was “Beer goes in, urine comes out. You can’t explain that.” There were dozens of them, and they were quite funny.

Anyway, back to the Silverman interview on the Fox business show. This was almost surreal to me. They get him on there because they’re curious about how atheists prepare, which is bizarre in itself. Do they think atheists are some sort of alien beings, or what? Any intelligent person preparing for such a thing will make sure that they have candles, water, canned food, and for a hurricane, they will batten down the hatches. They actually seemed to think it was strange that he wouldn’t pray about the thing. He tried to point out that such a thing does no good. He asked the shrill harpy woman if she thought God would stop the hurricane, and she actually said no. He was like, so if he’s not all-powerful, and you don’t think he can stop the hurricane, why waste the time praying instead of actually doing something? Her answer seemed to be something about how it provides comfort to people. His comeback was “So do drugs.” I couldn’t help but laugh.

O'Reilly socksI was also amazed by how they just totally went after him. The whole hurricane prep thing was thrown out the window right at the start, and they went all pit bull on why he doesn’t pray and why he’s mocking people who do and telling him that he lives in poverty because he has no spiritual life. I honestly am perplexed that they would think that Silverman somehow isn’t protecting his family enough because he’s not praying for them. The one guy brought up the example of a priest boarding up the windows on his church and praying for his parishioners. It seems to me that if the priest thought prayer really worked, he wouldn’t bother boarding up the windows, he’d just use all that time to pray really really hard. What a ludicrous argument! What do you think is going to protect the building and the parishioners more: the prayer or the boarded-up windows?

I genuinely have no problem with anyone who wants to pray; I understand that it is a great comfort to many people, and that it is a form of meditation. What I do have a problem with is people who pray without any action to back it up. If that priest had taken the route I mentioned and gathered everyone in the church without boarding up the windows and spent the time praying, we’d probably think he was putting his parishioners in harm’s way, wouldn’t we? All those stained glass windows, blown out because of hurricane-force winds, razor-sharp shards of glass flying through the air. Pretty dangerous, right? Board up the windows, actually DO something, and then go ahead and pray if that’s what you want to do.

I’ve told the story here before about once hearing a woman say “I’m glad I have God to make decisions for me so I don’t have to make them myself!” Not taking charge of your own life, not doing anything to protect yourself from natural weather phenomena, not getting treatment for your child’s leukemia because you’re counting on your god to heal them...that’s not being saintly and devout. That’s being stupid.


  1. Totally unrelated content-wise but it is of the same vein... one of my Facebook followers who is a person I know IRL, likes or whatever some thingy that goes "I'd rather walk with God in the dark than walk in the light alone.' Wha-- being the only non-believer in a house full of the faithful, I am like, but I thought He was the 'the way, the truth, and 'THE LIGHT'..?'

    ...ooh, my head hurt..!

    The thing about trying to discuss anything with the faithful is that they don't use logic at all to support their arguments and explain their faith. They have shut down their logic centers and react with their emotions.


  2. Hi Beth,
    Sounds like a typical Fox interview ... as slanted as can be. Everyone has a right to his or her views.

  3. I don't much care for organized religion. Too often it's used like a weapon. Ghandi sums it up for me: "I like your Christ, I do not like your Christians. Your Christians are so unlike your Christ."

    Asking atheists what they are going to do in face of an impending natural disaster is just plain stupid. As Beth points out, everyone needs to prepare with basic necessities and precautions.
    I agree that not making preparations is stupid. Simply praying for a positive outcome isn't rational. The Lord helps those who help themselves. If I fall on the railroad track and a train is coming, I may ask for divine assistance but I'm also going to scramble my own ass off that track.

    Big Mark, please don't generalize. I'm the first to admit that there are people who have a serious disconnect from logic when it comes to faith but not all of us do, nor do all of us want to convert anyone else. What I believe is private and I generally try to avoid discussing it with others because I respect that everyone is entitled to believe or not believe in his or her own way. Besides, I've seen the way that religions can perpetuate harm on people and be used to destroy and hurt others.

    However, asking me to defend why I believe in a higher power is illogical. Nothing that I say will make rational sense to someone who does not believe in a higher power. Why discuss it at all, unless I am indeed trying to tell you that you must believe what I believe in which case you have every right to attack my efforts to dictate how you must believe. I have no right to impose my belief on anyone else but neither does anyone have the right to subject me to interrogation as to the validity of my beliefs. Much of this atheists vs. believers animosity could be banished if we could all agree to live and let live.

    The only quibble I have with Silverman is that I'm not certain as what result he hopes to accomplish by denouncing all of us with some type of belief in some force beyond this corporeal existence as delusional. It's not the way to engage in respectful dialogue. He was attacked in the interview but perhaps he should choose with whom to have his discussions a bit more selectively. Reminds me of the saying about trying to teach a pig to sing. It only annoys you and frustrates the pig.

  4. ... yeah, I get that a lot... but it depends on the audience... many among the faithful are a lot like the folks on the Faux Business clip and refuse to consider anything that is contrary to what they believe... they treat things different as alien and treat contradictions as if they did not exist...

    ... sometimes parsing words is as bad as political correctness... I used to defend my broadness with the '51% rule'... might go back to using that ... but apologies (and they are sincere) if my characterization bothered you...

  5. I was snickering as I heard you playing the clips for this entry. The abandonment of logic and reason at times just floors me.

  6. Remember when Rick Perry prayed for an end to the drought and it got WORSE?

  7. As a perfect example of christian hypocrisy, when Rick Perry held the prayer for rain, how many brought umbrellas?Not puddenhead Perry, for sure.


I'm funny how, I mean funny like I'm a clown, I amuse you?