Thursday, June 2, 2011

God, Prayer and Atheists

The Beer:  I have 6 beers in bottles, 2 in kegs plus one awaiting bottling and a mead that should be ready in a few months.


The Bicycle:  Weather permitting this year, I plan to bicycle to work (about 40 miles) for my 55th Birthday.


The VRWC:  If there is no God, why are atheists so intent on pushing Him out of public life?


This type of suit comes up multiple times a year, whether graduation prayer, a prayer prior to a sporting event or some type of Christian prayer to commemorate a holiday.  Invoking God is a longstanding tradition in a largely Christian-oriented country.  It harms no one.  Then "wall between church and state" whether it even exists was never intended to bar Christianity from public life.  And it is only Christianity which is barred.  The atheists and fellow travelers have no problem with public displays of Islam or various minor religions.  But bring up Christianity and they become apoplectic.  I have yet to understand it.


But, as a born-again Christian, I have to pose this:


If I am wrong about God, Jesus and heaven, when I die, I lose nothing.  I will not know the difference and will not care.  But if I am right, those who do not believe will have a very long and unpleasant time to think about it.

13 comments:

Dad29 said...

That, IIRC, was Descartes' take, as well. And he was pretty good at logic.

Brian Westley said...

No, it's Pascal's Wager, and it's worthless.

For example:

Many Jewish scholars agree that non-Jews are supposed to follow the 7 laws given to Noah (as binding on all humanity, not just Jews).

These 7 Noachide laws are similar to the 10 commandments, including the first one against idolatry.

So...

Let's say both atheists AND Christians are wrong.

Let's say the Jews are right.

Atheists aren't necessarily breaking any of the 7 Noachide laws (they might be, of course, but being an atheist doesn't violate any of them).

Christians, however, are violating the law against idolatry, because they worship Jesus as God.

So in that case, atheists are better off.


In fact, what leaves you "better off" depends entirely on what kind of god you make up.

If god prefers atheists and dislikes Christians, then clearly it's better to be an atheist.

If god prefers left-handed Albanians, clearly it's better to be a left-handed Albanian.

Etc. etc. It's a worthless exercise, because it pretends to create information on what is preferred for an afterlife, when you can make up absolutely anything.

Now, on to lawsuits.

That Texas school has been breaking the law for years by having prayers at their school graduation ceremonies. Public schools are for everyone, not just the local religious majority.

Your comparison between Christianity and other religions like Islam is apples & oranges; public schools in the US don't have Islamic prayers (and they shouldn't); public schools also can't, legally, have Christian prayers, or "non-denominational" prayers either, but dishonest school administrators often ignore the law.

Deekaman said...

As I said, Brian...a Christian (or other) prayer harms no one. What's the big deal?

Government and law should serve one purpose and one only - prevent people from harming each other.

Show me who is harmed by a prayer.

Brian Westley said...

Under the US constitution, the government only has powers granted to it.

The government does NOT have the power to conduct religious ceremonies, and the first amendment prohibits the government from doing so.

Your opinion that the government "should" only prevent harm is not what US law currently is.

Deekaman said...

It is true that the government only has those enumerated powers - at least we agree there. One of the enumerated powers is not the prevention of people exercising their right to expression of their religious views, regardless of who they are and their occupation. An citizen praying at any function is none of the government's business. What part of the "free expression thereof" is this not part of?

Brian Westley said...

An citizen praying at any function is none of the government's business. What part of the "free expression thereof" is this not part of?

Here are the types of prayers you mentioned in your initial post:
1) graduation prayer
2) a prayer prior to a sporting event
3) some type of Christian prayer to commemorate a holiday

1) A graduation prayer is a ceremony put on by a school, not a prayer done by a private individual.

2) A sporting event is put on by an organization, which can be a private organization or (in the case of a public school sporting event) a governmental organization like a public school. A private organization can do whatever it likes, but again, a sporting event put on by a public school is not a prayer being performed by a private person.

3) Similar to 2), private organizations can have ceremonies with prayers, but something put on by a public school or a city government is a ceremony put on by the government.

You can pray at a graduation, but a prayer can't be part of the graduation ceremony if it's a public school (Lee v. Weisman, 1992). You can pray at a football game, but a prayer can't be said over the PA system if it's a public school football game (Santa Fe Ind. Sch. Dist. v. Doe, 2000).

Plus, your initial posting said this:
And it is only Christianity which is barred. The atheists and fellow travelers have no problem with public displays of Islam or various minor religions.

Wrong.

You'll notice no other prayers are allowed as part of the official ceremonies named above.

But you'll ALSO notice that in EVERY case where YOU can pray, everyone else can pray, even if they aren't Christian, and atheists can refuse to pray or even state that gods are myths.

That's what REAL religious freedom is.

You don't get an official, Christian prayer at graduation. Nobody gets an official prayer at graduation. Nobody gets a watered-down "non-denominational" prayer, either. Prayer simply isn't something a school ceremony plans.

You CAN pray your own prayer at graduation. So can a Muslim. So can anyone else. Atheists can declare their atheism, too. But none of these are an official part of the graduation.

Deekaman said...

You are flat wrong here. Yes, I know what SCOTUS said. But consider the absurdity of a branch of the Federal Government having the final say on FEDERAL statutes or, for that matter the Constitution. There is a conflict of interest there large enough to block out the sun.

What is wrong with an individual who is not an official of a governmental body giving a public prayer at a government-sponsored event? As you said, atheists and others need not pray. No one requires them to become Christians.
Atheists have their religion and are as "fundamental" about it as any "fundamentalist" Christian or Muslim or any ultra-orthodox Jew. The goal clearly being to remove any sign of any religion from any public place, and convert everyone to the religion of Atheism.

Deekaman said...

And why do atheists not protest the practice of environmentalism which, it can be argued is no less a religion these days than any of the others we have discussed?

Brian Westley said...

You are flat wrong here. Yes, I know what SCOTUS said.

Well, I deal with reality. You can rant against SC opinions, but they remain the law of the land.

What is wrong with an individual who is not an official of a governmental body giving a public prayer at a government-sponsored event?

If absolutely EVERYONE gets to make whatever kinds of remarks they like, fine (but it would probably make official ceremonies terribly long).

However, at a graduation, it isn't typical for every graduate to make speeches.

As you said, atheists and others need not pray. No one requires them to become Christians.

Wait -- who said it would be a Christian prayer? If it's some random individual, maybe you'll get a Muslim or even a Satanic prayer. Would that be OK with you?

And why do atheists not protest the practice of environmentalism which, it can be argued is no less a religion these days than any of the others we have discussed?

Go ahead and argue that; I doubt any court would agree.

Deekaman said...

So you are ok with limiting speech as long as SCOTUS agrees?

Brian Westley said...

I'm OK with limiting government speech, particularly when it comes to the topic of religion.

Now could you answer the question I asked you previously?

Wait -- who said it would be a Christian prayer? If it's some random individual, maybe you'll get a Muslim or even a Satanic prayer. Would that be OK with you?

Deekaman said...

No, I don't necessarily have a problem with any random prayer. Even Satanic.

I'm not asking about limitations on government speech, but rather individual speech and free exercise of religion. Guaranteed by the Constitution. So answer MY question.

Brian Westley said...

I'm not asking about limitations on government speech, but rather individual speech and free exercise of religion. Guaranteed by the Constitution. So answer MY question.

I did. If everyone gets to make a speech at graduation, fine. But if only people selected by the school get to make speeches, that isn't individual speech, since not everyone gets to speak.