Atheist in a foxhole: coping with cancer

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DMB
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Atheist in a foxhole: coping with cancer

Post by DMB » Sun Jan 15, 2017 2:16 pm

Why me? Why not me? I haven't been diagnosed with cancer but this article rings many bells for me. I remember when I broke my neck feeling enraged by well-meaning Christians who said, "You didn't deserve this." And I do so agree about being prayed for.

http://www.atheistrepublic.com/blog/c-b ... meone-else
Apart from the physical trials of cancer treatment, I also had to endure Christians who in my weakened state informed me that despite knowing I didn’t believe in god, they would pray for me all the same. Even in my weakest, sickest moments these bastards insisted on rubbing my nose in their beliefs. As the weak sick guy, I just thanked them for their concern. I should not have done this.

If a religious person was sincerely praying for me, they wouldn’t have to tell me about it. Yet those people who were praying for me insisted on telling me about it. A good deed remains good whether committed privately or publicly. I suspect this pronouncement of prayer had a rather nefarious hidden agenda. In my physically weakened state, at a time when it was unclear whether treatment would work, these Christians were hoping to trigger some doubt in me regarding my personal conviction of Atheism. Imagine the reverse scenario: I contact a Christian friend enduring the gruelling chemotherapeutic treatment of cancer and tell him, “Hey, I hope that all is well, and while I’m pulling for you, I just want to remind you that there is no god, but all the best.” I am being flippant here, but I stand by my underlying premise. If people did not have a hidden religious agenda, then there would have been no grounds to bring it up when offering condolences to an Atheist. I seem to spend a great deal of time being sensitive to everyone else’s beliefs, yet rarely do I find those same people are sensitive to my own.

There’s this old wartime expression about there being ‘no Atheists in foxholes’. I wasn’t some guy cowering in a hole in the dirt hoping that an adversary wouldn’t find me. However, in a supremely tough and troubling time of my life, my Atheism didn’t come into question for a second. I was and continue to be singularly at peace with death, no matter what its cause. So-called Atheists who suddenly develop faith in moments of stress or duress are cowards and are likely to betray other values when those are put to the test. So I am proud that my Atheism stood up under supreme duress. The experience also taught me to stop being so accommodating of other people’s beliefs when those same people so blatantly disrespect your own.

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Post by dancer_rnb » Sun Jan 15, 2017 4:51 pm

So-called Atheists who suddenly develop faith in moments of stress or duress are cowards and are likely to betray other values when those are put to the test.
This ruined it.
Him and the horse he rode in on.

Losing my parents in a double suicide was quiet troubling, much more than the prospect of my own death.
Again, fuck him.
There is no such thing as "politically correct." It's code for liberalism. The whole idea of "political correctness" was a brief academic flash-in-the-pan in the early 1990's, but has been a good conservative bugaboo ever since.

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Post by subsymbolic » Sun Jan 15, 2017 7:50 pm

Dancer's right on the money.

If someone dying finds it helps to believe and that works for them, then good for them. It wouldn't help me, but that's no reason to deny them the morphine of their choice.

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Post by Arpie » Wed Jan 18, 2017 1:05 am

Love "the morphine of their choice" bit. If you think about it, that's really what religion breaks down to. :rolleyes:

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Post by Shaka » Sat Feb 04, 2017 12:31 pm

Hey listen the way I see it the best way is to be an atheist. It's so bad when I see family of someone that died out of cancer turn to Christianity, because who is the one that is preventing research on cure from cancer by stem cell research? Yeap, the Christians.
So if families of everybody that already died because of cancer turned to rationality and against Christians, we would already probably have a cure.

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Post by Pierrot » Sat Feb 04, 2017 1:37 pm

Been there, thank you (access for registered members of the forum)

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Post by Jackrabbit » Sat Feb 04, 2017 2:37 pm

[quote=""subsymbolic""]Dancer's right on the money.

If someone dying finds it helps to believe and that works for them, then good for them. It wouldn't help me, but that's no reason to deny them the morphine of their choice.[/quote]
But how much of it was their choice? A biblebanger on another forum was smugly saying that such events are the perfect time to try to convert someone. In other words, preying on someone in a vulnerable state, getting them to accept something under duress.

If you're going to delude someone to make them feel better, just totally fabricate something that has all the sweetness and light, but without all the horrors, judgmental tendencies, and asshole behavior of xianity. Such as convincing them My Little Pony is real and they would someday be with Twilight Sparkle and Rainbow Dash in Equestria.
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Post by Roo St. Gallus » Sat Feb 04, 2017 3:44 pm

[quote=""Pierrot""]Been there, thank you (access for registered members of the forum)[/quote]

Thanks. Me, too.
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Post by dancer_rnb » Sat Feb 04, 2017 5:33 pm

[quote=""Jackrabbit""]
subsymbolic;663270 wrote:Dancer's right on the money.

If someone dying finds it helps to believe and that works for them, then good for them. It wouldn't help me, but that's no reason to deny them the morphine of their choice.
But how much of it was their choice? A biblebanger on another forum was smugly saying that such events are the perfect time to try to convert someone. In other words, preying on someone in a vulnerable state, getting them to accept something under duress.

If you're going to delude someone to make them feel better, just totally fabricate something that has all the sweetness and light, but without all the horrors, judgmental tendencies, and asshole behavior of xianity. Such as convincing them My Little Pony is real and they would someday be with Twilight Sparkle and Rainbow Dash in Equestria.[/QUOTE]

It was completely my choice. Who are you to say it wasn't?
I went looking at the various Christian Universalist sites, having been raised a UU. I would not have paid any attention to any eternal tormentalist group of any religion.
I don't believe in any particular afterlife, but I wish one of the benevolent ones were true. If you think less of me for this, I have no more use for you than any hell spouter.
There is no such thing as "politically correct." It's code for liberalism. The whole idea of "political correctness" was a brief academic flash-in-the-pan in the early 1990's, but has been a good conservative bugaboo ever since.

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Post by Jackrabbit » Sat Feb 04, 2017 7:52 pm

Of course we wish one of the benevolent ones was true. But if I'm going to wish for something, I'd rather live in one of the worlds Heinlein created. They are a hundred times more appealing than anything an ancient moron pulled out of his ignorant ass. (Have you ever read a description of heaven that wasn't as vague as fuck?) Or instead of established SF, I can enter a fantasy world of my own making.

As mentioned here. Even though the technology doesn't exist, that doesn't prevent you from fantasizing the old fashioned way. The idea is to keep your mind off the shit you are in, right? Personally, I get the same benefits even though I know for a fact that it isn't real.

Escapism, like reading a book or going to a movie, but I create the plot myself, based on what I like, not on what a writer or alleged god thinks I would like.
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Post by Barefoot Bree » Thu Feb 09, 2017 11:19 pm

Except these last few posts just leave me confused. To me, belief - esp. belief in god - is something I'm convinced of, that comes from deep inside. I could no more choose to believe in god than I could make my hair change color by thinking real hard about it. It would only be pretend. And "believing" in a fantasy world of my choice lasts exactly as long as the book, and as deep as a daydream.

I don't get how someone can choose beliefs. Help me out?
There's no such thing as "political correctness". The phrase you're looking for is "Common Decency".
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Post by Jobar » Sat Feb 11, 2017 3:16 am

If a religious person was sincerely praying for me, they wouldn’t have to tell me about it. Yet those people who were praying for me insisted on telling me about it. A good deed remains good whether committed privately or publicly. I suspect this pronouncement of prayer had a rather nefarious hidden agenda. In my physically weakened state, at a time when it was unclear whether treatment would work, these Christians were hoping to trigger some doubt in me regarding my personal conviction of Atheism.
While such a thing is possible, I think it isn't a certainty. It may be only that "I'll pray for you" is such a standard response to many Christians that they simply don't know any other way of expressing their sympathy, when there is nothing practical they can do. Thinking it's a "nefarious hidden agenda" may be terribly unfair to someone who is trying to offer sincere well wishes.

Unless more blatant attempts to evangelize me were made, were I in that position, I would respond with thanks for the sympathy. But I'd be ready to respond with "nothing fails like prayer!" or some similar comeback if I thought that my condition was being used as leverage for an attempt at conversion.

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Post by Koyaanisqatsi » Sat Feb 11, 2017 4:01 pm

The problem I find with such things is that it instantly distances the two parties. Perhaps that was not the original intention, but I find it extremely rude and thoughtless and I don't really care what the person's "true" motives were; the statement itself is damaging. It says, "I will not engage directly with you but will instead make my imaginary magical being the focus of my attention and yours between us."

If you had said to someone, "The doctor told me I have cancer" and that person said in return, "I will speak with the doctor to see what I can do to help you with your treatment" that would be welcome. If, otoh, they said, "I will tell the Mayor" wouldn't you just stare at them and wonder what's wrong with them? And if they said, "I'll tell Santa Claus..."

It's not incumbent upon me to make allowances or be the understanding party when I tell someone I'm the one with cancer. They are the ones who are supposed to bend over backwards to make me feel better. That they think they are doing that but are not is likewise a burden on me and thus double the pain in the ass. It is an imposition no matter how pure of heart.
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Post by Jobar » Sat Feb 11, 2017 8:59 pm

[quote=""Koyaanisqatsi""]The problem I find with such things is that it instantly distances the two parties. Perhaps that was not the original intention, but I find it extremely rude and thoughtless and I don't really care what the person's "true" motives were; the statement itself is damaging. It says, "I will not engage directly with you but will instead make my imaginary magical being the focus of my attention and yours between us."[/quote]
Trouble is, there usually isn't anything real and practical that can be said in such a situation, is there? Unless the one offering sympathy is a doctor, or is willing to take on financial or legal responsibilities which might ease burdens on the sufferer, polite formulas are about all we ordinary folk can offer, whatever our beliefs (or lack thereof). However phrased, if such formulas are proffered sincerely, I think we should be willing to take account of the intent with which they are given, however awkward or inappropriate we may personally find them.
If you had said to someone, "The doctor told me I have cancer" and that person said in return, "I will speak with the doctor to see what I can do to help you with your treatment" that would be welcome. If, otoh, they said, "I will tell the Mayor" wouldn't you just stare at them and wonder what's wrong with them? And if they said, "I'll tell Santa Claus..."

It's not incumbent upon me to make allowances or be the understanding party when I tell someone I'm the one with cancer. They are the ones who are supposed to bend over backwards to make me feel better. That they think they are doing that but are not is likewise a burden on me and thus double the pain in the ass. It is an imposition no matter how pure of heart.
If a small child told you that they would ask Santa to bring you good health next Christmas, I trust you would respond to them with kindness and appreciation, despite knowing very well that such a wish is bootless. After all, the child doesn't realize that. So if a Christian says they'll ask Jesus to help you, how is the situation any different, if they mean it honestly? Though you and I know it's pointless superstition, it will do no one any good to point out that neither Santa nor Jesus is real. What harm if we respond with a smile and a nod, as we would to a child? (Again, this is presuming that we aren't being intentionally preached at!)

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Post by Jobar » Sat Feb 11, 2017 9:31 pm

Though of course my condition was far less dire, I had an experience relevant to this discussion recently; I described it in the thread Living in jeebusland. The same optometrist has brought up religion in subsequent sessions with him. When he mentioned praying for the success of my cataract surgery, I told him with a smile that I consider prayer no more effective than any other sort of well-wishing, but that I would appreciate kindly thoughts however they were phrased.

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Post by Siempre » Sat Feb 11, 2017 11:30 pm

[quote=""dancer_rnb""]
So-called Atheists who suddenly develop faith in moments of stress or duress are cowards and are likely to betray other values when those are put to the test.
This ruined it.
Him and the horse he rode in on.

Losing my parents in a double suicide was quiet troubling, much more than the prospect of my own death.
Again, fuck him.[/quote]

I think a huge problem with that quote is that he seems to be going with the old school definition of Atheist. Now days the word is usually a generic form of "agnostic atheist". Though the official term might just be plain "agnostic".

And while I think he would have a good argument that people shouldn't call themselves an atheist if they are actually agnostic, it is hardly justification to then come to the conclusion/judgement seen in that quote.

That said, from reading the quote it sounds to me like he is simply an idiot. I honestly think that he believes they are true atheists and probably doesn't even understand the concept of an agnostic. You see this a lot with religious people. It is why one of the first things they will ask in a debate is for you to prove there isn't a God... as though that is even being claimed by the agnostic.

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Post by Jobar » Sun Feb 12, 2017 3:24 am

[quote=""Siempre""]

I think a huge problem with that quote is that he seems to be going with the old school definition of Atheist. Now days the word is usually a generic form of "agnostic atheist". Though the official term might just be plain "agnostic".

And while I think he would have a good argument that people shouldn't call themselves an atheist if they are actually agnostic, it is hardly justification to then come to the conclusion/judgement seen in that quote.

That said, from reading the quote it sounds to me like he is simply an idiot. I honestly think that he believes they are true atheists and probably doesn't even understand the concept of an agnostic. You see this a lot with religious people. It is why one of the first things they will ask in a debate is for you to prove there isn't a God... as though that is even being claimed by the agnostic.[/quote]
An old and oft-repeated discussion there. I say that most atheists are technic'ly agnostic, and most agnostics are atheists. That is, we don't claim certain knowledge that there is no God, but we do lack belief in any such. And the great percentage of professed agnostics also lack belief, which is what makes an atheist.

Some of us have known a few agnostic believers, but there aren't many of those. At least, not many that will come out and admit to it.

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Post by Siempre » Sun Feb 12, 2017 11:12 pm

[quote=""Jobar""]
Siempre;664455 wrote:
I think a huge problem with that quote is that he seems to be going with the old school definition of Atheist. Now days the word is usually a generic form of "agnostic atheist". Though the official term might just be plain "agnostic".

And while I think he would have a good argument that people shouldn't call themselves an atheist if they are actually agnostic, it is hardly justification to then come to the conclusion/judgement seen in that quote.

That said, from reading the quote it sounds to me like he is simply an idiot. I honestly think that he believes they are true atheists and probably doesn't even understand the concept of an agnostic. You see this a lot with religious people. It is why one of the first things they will ask in a debate is for you to prove there isn't a God... as though that is even being claimed by the agnostic.
An old and oft-repeated discussion there. I say that most atheists are technic'ly agnostic, and most agnostics are atheists. That is, we don't claim certain knowledge that there is no God, but we do lack belief in any such. And the great percentage of professed agnostics also lack belief, which is what makes an atheist.

Some of us have known a few agnostic believers, but there aren't many of those. At least, not many that will come out and admit to it.[/QUOTE]

I still think there is a huge difference between believing something most likely is or isn't true and claiming you know it is or isn't. And I think that is where many religious people falter. They don't see a difference. One second they will say they have faith. They will even go as far as to say that faith is the corner stone of the church and stuff like that. However, the next second they will claim they know for fact that God exists. To them the two notions are synonymous.

And I think they apply this faulty logic to atheists/agnostics.

Now, I get that in many conversations this difference isn't vital. However, when he is talking about how atheists suddenly switching to theism during a crisis makes them cowards... yeah, it makes a huge fricking difference. Because most likely their position hasn't even changed. What is most likely actually taking place is they are going... yeah, I doubt he exists but at this point what do I have to lose by tossing a few prayers out there?

That is just human nature. Heck, the other day I actually went to a health store and bought some witch doctor stone breaker formula for my kidney stones. Yeah, I highly doubt it works but I'd had 2 outpatient procedures in the past 30 days to address the problem. And when I seen this "health" store stuff I said the same thing the doctor did when I told him about it... it won't do any harm to take it. He even recommended finishing the bottle since I've already paid for it. Maybe something in there might actually help a little.

Now, if I took this stuff every day for my entire life (like some people do religion)... yeah, that would be doing harm if it turns out to be worthless. First off, I would have to be drinking this horrible tasting stuff every day. It is also expensive.

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Post by DMB » Tue Feb 14, 2017 12:13 am

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Post by Copernicus » Tue Feb 14, 2017 4:57 am

[quote=""Barefoot Bree""]Except these last few posts just leave me confused. To me, belief - esp. belief in god - is something I'm convinced of, that comes from deep inside. I could no more choose to believe in god than I could make my hair change color by thinking real hard about it. It would only be pretend. And "believing" in a fantasy world of my choice lasts exactly as long as the book, and as deep as a daydream.

I don't get how someone can choose beliefs. Help me out?[/quote]
I think that we choose what we want to believe, and that means that we can try hard to suppress or change what we do believe. Fear and prejudice can drive people to believe all sorts of things that we might otherwise believe not to be true.

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Post by Jackrabbit » Tue Feb 14, 2017 5:20 am

Kinda depends on how ridiculous the belief is. How many adults would choose to believe Huckleberry Hound was real, even if Huck believers claimed he would burn you in hell for not believing? The only difference I see is that those who created him are known, while the creators of various gods are not.
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Post by Pierrot » Tue Feb 14, 2017 11:13 am

When my wife was terminally ill most of our religiously inclined friends and even internet forum contacts prayed for her, and indeed the coverage was impressive (all the way from California to New Zealand, so almost 24/7, and Christians, Muslims, Hindus, Buddhists). Objectively it did no good, she still died. The expression of care and concern that this showed did do some good to us psychologically, however.

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Post by Koyaanisqatsi » Tue Feb 14, 2017 1:05 pm

[quote=""Jobar""]If a small child...[/quote]

But these are not small children and the very notion that one would need to position themselves in such a consdesceng manner just to accommodate the other person is at the heart of the problem. You may as well have said, "Just think of them as congenital idiots helpless in their inability and pat them on their wet heads as they pass."

Again, it is not incumbent upon the injured party to make allowances. The very act of having to make allowances discounts the contribution.
...assuming we aren't being intentionally preached at
Is there any other? I don't know why I have to keep pointing this out, but it's a cult. There is no sincerity or "true" belief. It is implanted and cultivated and maintained. You are ALWAYS being "intentionally preached at" whether it's the puppet or the puppet master.

Worse, telling someone, "I will pray for you" distances them further from you and your suffering. That's its purpose; to distance people and keep the cult primary. You taking it upon yourself to forgive them father, they know not what they do is just contributing to their programming and enslavement.

I know it seems like no big deal, but it is in fact a very big deal, perhaps the biggest. By always placing their cult between them and the real world it perpetuates their cult programming especially in times of crisis. It is like giving alcohol to an alcoholic or candy to a diabetic because it will make them feel (temporarily) better. It enables a sickness and harms both you and the cult member. Again, just look at the way you justify it. You have to consider grown adults to be children.
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Post by DMB » Tue Feb 14, 2017 2:50 pm

When my father was dying of cancer his evangelical Christian neighbour buttonholed me to say that she was praying for him. She also urged me to tell him that Jesus loved him etc. I told her that I wouldn't do anything of the kind because it would simply annoy him. He would have blown a fuse.

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Post by Koyaanisqatsi » Tue Feb 14, 2017 3:16 pm

The last funeral I attended was for a coworker who got sick and then mysteriously died. She was 28 years old and newly married. She went home with a cold and then three days later, her husband (who also worked at the same company) found her dead in her bed.

The funeral was held at their church and instead of the service being at all about her, it was ALL about Jesus/God. Literally an advertisement. It started out, "We are all here to celebrate the life and mourn the passing of Sarah. For as Jesus said..." and then two hours of nothing but Jesus/God/Christianity. I clocked it. Sarah was mentioned once and only right at the beginning and then for two hours a sermon that had nothing to do with her at all or her life.

I couldn't believe it. Her husband was, of course, a mess and probably didn't know or care where he was or what was being said, but I was livid. And everyone else is just nodding their heads and agreeing with the advertisement and distancing themselves from any emotional investment or concern or just being present in the pain and suffering. "God is great and the world is amazing and...blah blah blah, ignore your feelings and keep on believing! Most importantly, don't stop believing, just because death!" All focus off of Sarah and her life and her husband's grieving. The asshole might have just as well turned on a TV and told everyone to look at the pretty pictures and just not think about anything at all.

It wasn't just the thoughtlessness of it; it was the urgency about making sure that the believers don't "lose faith." The importance was on maintaining adherence to the cult; not on the person dead or her family/friends.

I understand, of course, ALL sides to this but the fact is there is only one side; it's wrong. Objectively wrong. Not in regard to giving comfort or surcease of sorrow; that is obviously a good thing. But that's not what they are doing regardless of what they say or even believe in their heart of hearts. YOU (i.e., we, in the general sense) are the one apologizing for their behavior; YOU are the one adjusting your own tolerance in order to make their imposition ok.

And it's true of cult member to cult member, just as much as it is to us. It's not a secular or atheist thing; when one cult member triggers another cult member and places Jesus/God/Cult in between them, its sole purpose is not surcease of sorrow, it is to reinforce belief in the cult during times that otherwise would break it. That is the primary purpose and concern and reason for forcing people to distance themselves from being present and addressing real world problems/issues.

In short, if you have a problem and someone says, "I will pray for you" they are effectively saying, "I don't care about what you are actually going through and this ritual will ensure I never have to all while making me think I've done the utmost possible good toward you and on your behalf. I am elevating myself by not actually doing anything useful to you or for you."

It's insidious.
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