Do we prevent somebody being hurt by superstition or faith by rejecting and challenging those things? 

Is it mistaken to support organised religion in membership or donations?

If people do good because they are human, not because God prompts them then is it right to risk giving God any credit when they alone own their good?

 


SUFFERING IS RANDOM THEREFORE COMFORT FROM GOD CANNOT BE REALLY COMFORT

SUFFERING BY DEFINITION CANNOT TRULY BE COMFORTED

If suffering really is random and left to its own devices then you are going to see it.  Suffering is personal and is about experience so it has to tell you that.  Trying to go into denial is self-abuse.  Suffering is changing and lessening which is why there is the illusion of being comforted.  There is no such thing.  Your suffering was not comforted before the comfort began so there is such a thing as uncomforted suffering.  A bit of comfort now hardly matters in the big picture when there was so much torment before.  Suffering is the experience of useless and worthless existence so it is God calling you worthless or letting you feel that way so how can you find comfort in him?

MORE THOUGHTS

God is regarded as all-loving and all-powerful. Yet the terrible suffering that engulfs the innocent of the earth shows every sign of being random and cruel. The doctrine of God urges us not to go by how it looks. It urges us to feel that despite how it looks, God is taking care of people and the suffering is allowed to happen for a good reason. It urges us to think that it is better to assume there is a divine plan and purpose behind all suffering than to think, "This suffering is totally inexcusable. When it happens, we will try to bring good out of it." It is obvious that the latter alone enables true compassion and healthy acceptance of the inevitability and uselessness of suffering. When you compare the two ideas, you see plainly which one is an insult to the suffering in the world. Those who try to make excuses for God in the face of the inexcusable are thereby silenced.
 
The Bible says suffering is a sign of loving chastisement from God. The book of Hebrews says that as fathers chastise their children so our chastisement from God proves we are God's children. That is illogical for God may chastise just because he is like a policeman. Does that Bible teaching that suffering is a divine gift of chastisement deny that good things and happy times are a sign of love then? Maybe it does. If we are suffering terribly and cruelly we will try very hard to feel that it proves we are loved and supported. Paradoxically Christians find it hard to feel loved when things are going good for the tendency to take things for granted arises easily. Trying to feel that every burst of agony is a gift will only leave you drained and cynical and worse off. It is actually better to see it for what it is - simply bad.

It is suspicious that God shows no consideration for making his plan look like a plan. A proper plan takes people's reaction into consideration. And if the plan is about our growth in wisdom it must look like a plan. We need to see evidence of a plan before we can be expected to take the huge risks that may be required in order to try and become part of it. And how are we supposed to learn from a majestic and noble plan that we cannot see?

The divine plan does not even look like a plan to us - it is just a guess that there is such a plan. People can call something a belief when it is a guess. The Christians are only guessing.

If there is no plan, and Christians are saying there is, then the plan is only in their heads. It is guessing that there is plan that gives comfort. But comfort got from a guess is weak and insecure and maybe more trouble than it is worth. Why not just guess that the bad things will lead to better things happening and leave it at that? An atheist can accept that. To say there is a plan when it is obvious that there is not is just condoning evil.

Why do religious people try to defend God and why do they want to? No matter how much you suffer, the fact remains that most suffering is not yours. You are one person against the billions who suffered. If you are defending God, it is because you feel he blesses you while others suffer. Even when you suffer you are often better off than most people. You are simply expressing pleasure that God lets other people suffer and be hurt while you are spared. Also, you may be afraid to suspect that the suffering that is allowed to happen is inexcusable but superstitiously you are afraid to say so in case God is offended and starts letting you get your fair share.

If faith in God's love is a crutch, it paradoxically is a malicious one!

The notion that there is an all-powerful all-good God implies that when he makes harmful viruses and bacteria he has a reason for it that justifies it. This is saying that God has a purpose for human suffering. But surely it is normal to doubt the existence of a good God any time you see somebody suffering unjustly and terribly? I am not saying disbelieve - I am talking about doubt. Decency would demand that you doubt. Doubt hurts especially in the face of such pain. It is not true that a believer in God should be happier than an atheist. The worse you suffer or another suffers the more grounds there are for doubt.

Telling yourself that certain things will be okay in the long run does not work at times. It can rub in how awful you feel. The pain will be worse if you think God should be supporting you and seems to have forsaken you. What about when you pray for others that they may get out of bother and strife? Why does telling yourself that Godís plan will help them help you feel better? It probably just does. You know fine well that you should not feel better about it just yet for even faith does not guarantee happiness and peace. A placebo is at work. Your good feelings about how you are praying for them is not down to God but to a placebo.

God alone matters. Jesus said you must love him with all your heart. He said you must love your neighbour as yourself but not with all your heart. If you are not to doubt the love or existence of God, then why not? Is it because it upsets you? Or is it because God does not deserve to be doubted? If God alone matters, then your upset is irrelevant. It is all about him. So believing in God to feel comforted would be a sin.

People who suffer may pray and think they have experienced the hand of God helping them. But their perception tells them that so it is more important for their comfort than God even if God did help. Your perception of God and what has happened is not God. It is what does the comforting. And how can you know if God helps? Religion says that God is going to do the right and best thing all the time so if you pray for something and get it you were going to get it anyway. Even if there is a God, answers to prayer are impossible. It would be arrogant idolatry to judge if God has done this or that. Only he can know what he has done. The comfort from answered prayer is really devotion to what God has done and not God himself. It is reification - confusing the abstract with God.

Even if it is true that some believers do not believe in God and religion in the absence of evidence, but because they are considering the evidence and really think it is all true, the fact remains that most believers have little or no regard for evidence. They want to be detached from reality. There can be no real comfort in such an attitude. If you take doctrine seriously and don't care about evidence then you simply don't care about truth. If that comforts you, it won't for long. There will be a savage wake-up call. And how could you trust people in your church if you think they are doing the same thing as you? And if there are believers in God who care about evidence, if they care, they will be open to evidence against God and that will take away their faith in God. They will then have to find faith in themselves.

Nature has built in the tendency to think and feel that terrible things happen to other people not me. We get a lot of comfort from that. People thank God for this stupid and awful and more or less callous attitude. That makes the alarm bells ring. When people thank God for how he protected them during the day, it is the tendency to think they are too special to be hurt badly and others are not, that is at work.

The tendency does have its advantages but the reality is that bad things can happen to anyone. We will cope terribly if we think we are somehow immune and when something happens. It is safer then to realise that life events are random and no magical power and no magician in Heaven is going to save you from accidents and misfortune. You are as vulnerable as the people whose lives are hell.

The tendency is based on magical thinking. We think some magic is protecting us and not others. Even atheists have the tendency. The rub is how to reduce it. It needs to be discouraged and reduced as much as possible because it is insulting to think that magic should save some and not others. It is not the kind of thing you should merely think - you need evidence. Religion makes it worse. Belief in God makes it worse. It is more evil to feel that others should suffer not you when you believe in an all-good God than it is if you are simply superstitious and think that magic randomly has its favourites for protecting from evil. Belief in God favouring you implies that others are dirt. At least with the magic you could be favoured for no reason - its random.

Another thing that encourages the tendency is being part of a religious group. If you feel the group is the one true Church you will get a sense not only that you are protected but you are protected as a part of the religion God protects and guards.

Suppose two loving parents lose their child in a horrible agonising death. They comfort themselves in thinking their child went to God. But does it make sense to be happy that you child has gone to a God who let her suffer and die so terribly? They must think that God had no choice. But then does it make sense to be happy that your child is in the arms of a God who like us has to do things against his will? Belief in God only gives superficial relief. The underlying problem is still there. The clergy and the nuns delude themselves and get a warm glow from giving non-help. And the notion that the child was taken for God had no choice is judgemental. It implies that God may have had to do this to the child for he sensed that the child would grow up to be a ruthless drug-pusher or something. It might be a may but it is still judgemental.

Belief in a creator God is not comforting. A God who tells something to come out of nothing is not creating or causing it to come into existence. Something coming from nothing means it was uncaused. It is another way of saying uncaused. To say that something cannot come from nothing means it cannot happen for there is nothing there for it to come from. Religion agrees but says God can do it. But that is to say God can do the impossible. Nothing by definition means that nothing at all can make it turn into something. The notion of a creator God is contradictory.

The notion of a creator God is a vicious circle. "Nothing comes from nothing. We are here so God must have made something come from nothing." It is assuming what you pretend to show as true.

Our talk and belief in the laws of nature does not imply these are laws in the sense that some intelligence set them up. Any kind of universe has to have some predictability. We see that it is probable that the sun will rise tomorrow. That if you have no immunity to antibiotics they should help. We cannot live without predicting and without believing that certain things have certain effects. We cannot prove it but we assume it on the basis of probability. So we assume that nature will not change and there will be no miracles. Nobody will die and rise again in a week. Religious people pounce on the fact that we are talking about probability. They argue, "If you say it is probable that dead people cannot rise, then you admit that they might". It is true that we do. But they say this argument entitles us to argue that miracles have happened and to believe in them. It does not. The point of the argument is not that miracles might happen but that we are justified in assuming they do not and that nature is predictable. This is not the same as dogmatically refusing to admit that miracles happen. Yet you will be accused of that by the believers who do not have the honesty to tell us, "We twist things therefore do not trust us when we give you evidence for miracles." Belief in miracles is about the desire to feel protected. There is less bias in assuming miracles haven't happened in a believable way than assuming that they have. You have to assume something so why not that nature is regular? You need that belief. You do not need to believe that Mary appeared at Lourdes the way you need to believe the sun will rise tomorrow. There is more bias in saying event x or y or z is a miracle than there is in saying miracles happen but you don't know what event is a miracle or isn't. Believers do not really want to believe in miracles - they want to believe that certain events are miracles. That is the rub.

You cannot know what caused a person to rise again after being dead for days. You cannot then have evidence that it was supernatural. Maybe some unknown natural law was behind it. Miracle believers are really only miracle guessers.

Religion is abuse. It is grotesque how religion encourages people to feel that God protects them from the bad things he lets happen to others to get their devotion and money. Religion grows in power as a result. The tendency to feel that terrible things visit others and not you is increased by belief in God. It nurtures it. It can lead to complete arrogance and coldness in the face of the suffering of others. It may lead to religious people doing lots of good works too. They do the good and venture out into dangerous territory because they feel invulnerable to do it. But it is not right to encourage this patronising love and goodness. It exposes the religious people to grave danger. If you want to be heroic and risk your life for others, then it is only fair that you do it while being aware of the risks. Those who let you think there is no risk because God is with you are simply using you as a means to get good done. They dehumanise you and treat you as a way to get things done and treat you as unimportant as a person.

The really good person goes out realising that anything can happen to them just as much as it can those who are in need of help.

Suppose Satan needed medicine to live. If Jesus cares about his wellbeing and not his sins or how dangerous he is he will give him the medicine. If Jesus is afraid to help him for he will recover and do terrible harm to others he might refrain for their sake. That would mean that anybody loving you and hating your sins is not necessarily going to help you or work for your wellbeing. So it is odd why people take consolation from the love the sinner and hate the sin doctrine. The love is not about the other person's wellbeing at all but about them.

Deism teaches that God loves us but does not do magic for us. It is not religion for it is based on freethinking.

Some claim that loving this God and believing in his love may not make life easier but harder but at least whatever happens we will know he loves us. That in a nutshell is what their spirituality ultimately offers. Those who believe that God does do miracles but will be doing none for them have a similar spirituality. This describes most Christians.

Deism says that the existence of an all-powerful and all-good God does not mean you will necessarily be okay ever again. If God cannot help for some reason despite being all-powerful, then the Deists tell you God loves you. But that though should make you feel worse because you need to be upset that God suffers for you. He wants to help but cannot. Is Godís love for you really much help if he cannot help you? When you suffer enough it is relief you will want not his love.

Believers in religion and God deny that evil, no matter how great, shows that Godís existence is improbable or unlikely. If nothing refutes the love of God then clearly you are assuming he loves. You are not believing. You are saying you will not process any evidence that shows that your "belief" should be scrapped. That is enough to show that you cannot be trusted if you claim to believe. Assuming is not going to help much. You are simply defying the evidence.  It is too serious of a matter to simply assume that evil is somehow justified as God is love.  If you cannot love God unless you love people it follows you should be as willing to condone what people do or seem to do.
 
Religion knows that if God made us to be happy and its not happening then God cannot exist or is useless. And faith in him is useless as well if we should be happier and he is not helping. So ireligion tells us we are not here to be happy and that is the reality. So it would say we are here to be moral. And that happiness is a side-effect of goodness that may or may not happen but all that matters is goodness. But why can't we assume that goodness is good for it is about trying to be happy in the right way? Morality can make us happy as much as possible and that is all we can ask for. Morality and unhappiness often going together does not mean that morality has nothing to do with happiness. It has to. A morality that advocated boredom or misery would be unintelligible.
 
Religion only tells us that life is not given to us by God for happiness so that it can make way for belief in God. If we are meant to be happy and life is so bad at making us happy then there is no God or he is bad. Simple! Maybe worshipping him makes him even viler than what he is.
 
So it all comes down to an assumption: God even if good is not about making us happy. If you are suffering you want to believe that God wants you to be relieved from it and happy. The doctrine that he does not will only add to your despair or plunge you into it a mile a minute.
 
Next did God confirm personally that he is not about making us happy? He needs to. Man has no right to say he is not about that. The issues are too serious for people are suffering.
 
Religion needs to encourage us to decide if God is about happiness or not and tell us it does not matter which one we assume. All that matters to it is getting us to assume God is not about happiness.

Believers must be deluded or inflicting fantasy on themselves for worship of God implies you assume he is about making you and him happy together. How could you want to enjoy praising an ice-cold God who is about principles not happiness?

Someone we love dies. Our grief is not about how much we value the person as a person but how we responded to them and caused ourselves to feel about them. It is caused by human factors rather than spiritual. Nobody suffers on the basis that God made and valued the person.
 
Bereavement is not complete until you find some happiness in the thought that the person does not exist any more and cannot be injured any more or brought back to be hurt etc. God and religion just harm people by saying and acting different.

The atheist and the Christian (you can substitute any religion of your choice here) have to face one question in life and that is the only question that matters. It is, "There is nothing I can do to guarantee that I will not suffer or die. In that sense, I have to succumb to despair. I am not saying, I have no hope. I am saying I hope for the best in all things except the one thing. So how do I be as happy as possible in the face of the suffering and death that can happen to me? I can try - others have managed it. Others have succeeded."

It is as important to know what the answer is not as it is to know what the answer is. It is prejudiced and unfair and silly to say that God's love is the antidote to sin and evil and the sense that life is useless and not want to hear any other answers.

Christians hold that those who die estranged from God will be barred from Heavenly Happiness forever and will suffer in Hell for all eternity. If somebody dies without having made any sign of sorrow to God for living in sin, the Church will tell the relatives and friends, ďDonít underestimate the grace and power of Almighty God. God may have reached him and found this lost sheep.Ē In other words, God is going to make a special effort to convert the sinner in danger of death! How could that console people who donít see much reason to be confident about God working to stop paedophile priests sinning? And the Church does not really believe its own answer for it says that we should never underestimate the power of the human heart to disparage the ways of God and says that hearts are good at deceiving and blinding their owners. Jesus said the Jews were confident in their hearts that they were holy but they were not (Luke 16).

We conclude that the comfort people report from faith in God comes not from God but from the way they distort their own perception and it comes from their ignorance. It is a placebo and a placebo by definition should be short-term.  Religious people need their faith challenged gently and kindly. Do not argue that it helps them therefore you must protect their faith by saying nothing that undermines it.