The Lower Quote, As If You Didn't Know, Is By Richard Dawkins, Son.

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Sad Story - Religion Sucks Once Again

I don't have a lot to add to this discussion, but I wanted to make a point that I haven't seen in the other excellent entries about the sad story of Gloria Strauss. Read those first, then come on back here for the rest of this bit.

Religion does not lead to people getting better from illness, it comforts primarily those who are not afflicted. Think about this quote from Mary Caldwell, a friend of the Strauss family:
When we pray for Gloria, it's like we're the ones receiving the blessings...We're receiving the healing. It's very humbling...
Exactly, Gloria is left out of the whole equation and it becomes about the pray-ers, not the pray-ee.

When you read the article, keep in mind that Gloria is eleven. She can't vote, can't drink alcohol, can't get married, all because she is considered by society to be too young to make those sort of decisions while considering all pertinent options and consequences. She can, however, be considered Catholic. I find this silly.

Recent commentators, notably Richard Dawkins, have made the point that there are no Catholic children, no Muslim children, no Conservative or Liberal children. These are the ideals held by their parents and put upon the young ones. When religious ideas are hoisted on a child's shoulders, it is often too much - especially when the idea is telling the child that it is their fault if they are not "upbeat enough". Take for example what Gloria says in her prayer:
"Lord, I'm sorry. You know I've been down. You know me. Forgive me"
The girl is 11 and has cancer that will likely kill her and she's asking for forgiveness? I would hope that anyone with a heart could see that this is ludicrous and, honestly, abusive.

Tedd Caldwell illuminates the primary reason people jump to prayer and belief in sky-men:
"No matter what we do, it can't change the fact that watching your child suffer is unbearable,"
Undoubtedly it is unbearable. Religious thought, however, does not take the suffering or pain away, it actually adds to it by throwing unnecessary guilt on everyone involved. It implies that there is a reason that the child has cancer in the first place, then shows the way towards healing is through the irrational action of talking to an invisible man. The people in Gloria's life are talked about like this:
They pray for Gloria's pain to lessen. They pray for strength. They pray for the parents' leadership to remain strong. They pray for all the Strauss children. They pray for God's will.

They pray for the miracle.

"Oh my gosh, we've been filling up the heavens with prayer," Diane Strauss says.

Prayer nights are comforting, inspiring, but then reality mornings come. Every day, Gloria awakes in pain. Every day, she swallows pill after pill. Every day, she wanders deeper into a challenge as mental as it is physical.
Wouldn't you conclude that if you kept asking someone for something that is, ostensibly, well within their means to do, and they refused to do anything, that they were an asshole and not worth associating with? Particularly if this person was known for being good, charitable, and loving?

That sort of blind adherence to an idea is like the geeks at school assuming that the jocks will take care of them. It's unrealistic and dangerous to have that sort of faith, based as it is on no evidence whatsoever. Gloria's dad says:
"She'll bounce back. She always does."
It is so sad to see; imagine believing Deepak Chopra and the other "matter isn't reality" crowd who fatuously say that nothing is real, his bullshit confidence of "quantum theory" that tells "us" that until the wave function collapses there is every probability that the particles making up an object can be found anywhere in the universe - so you drive your car, with your daughter in the backseat, full speed at a brick wall, smiling all the time in the "knowledge" that it's very likely not there and humbly asking Lucy in the sky to make sure to pull that football away. In reality, Charlie Brown kicks that ball every time.

6 Barbaric Yawps:

At 15/7/07 12:28 pm, Blogger Paul said...

The disgusting part of all this is that if she recovers, god gets the credit. Not her doctors, not the pharmaceutical companies that invented the drugs nor the immune system that evolution provided for her. But if she dies, god gets a pass! None of these people who have been praying for her would dare blame the sky fairy for letting Gloria down. Nope, he was "calling her home". Well one would think that if that was the case, he could have called her BEFORE she suffered for four years. What kind of fucking pervert does that to a little girl?

I swear these fucking people are brain dead.

 
At 15/7/07 3:38 pm, Blogger StefRobrts said...

I have lost two close relatives to cancer, and it is one of the things that drove me away from religion. God doesn't protect you from anything, doesn't spare you anything, doesn't provide comfort beyond deluding yourself that 'he has a plan for all of us'. Sometimes that plan apparently includes the most horrific pain and suffering you can imagine.

The other thing that really burns me is when you hear someone who has recovered from cancer saying 'I refused to give up'. Yeah, my aunt refused to give up too, but she died anyway. You can't just cure cancer with happy thoughts.

Just this week I saw on the news where a young teenager broke his back while diving into a pond at church camp and was paralized from the neck down. The same pond he had been baptized in hours before. How many at church camp will be standing in their prayer circles and suddenly be struck by the irony in that? If there was a God, it's almost like he wants them to open their eyes.

 
At 15/7/07 5:23 pm, Blogger BigHeathenMike said...

It's shocking, eh? I'm continually blown away by the gullibility of religious folks to believe their own horse-shit in the face of irony like that (the baptism pond thing) and retardedness like both of you pointed out.

 
At 15/7/07 11:41 pm, Blogger Atheist in a mini van. said...

I hate reading stuff like this. Who the fuck places that sort of responsibility of an eleven year old kid with cancer? What responsibility, some may ask,... the responsibility of believing that, for whatever reason, she is responsible for her illness. Who lets a child believe that God may have singled them out, to be fatally ill, because of their behavior. If God has to make little children sick to prove a point, or deliver a message, then that deity is completely unworthy of worship. WHAT is so fucking hard for the faithful to understand about that? Why do they continue to not only believe in, but CELEBRATE, a deity that would cause such pain and illness on a child?

 
At 16/7/07 11:26 am, Blogger ordinarygirl said...

That's why the phrase, "Everything happens for a reason," is one of my biggest pet peeves. Yes, there are reasons that things happen in the purely literal sense, but not some big destiny. Children don't die so that some big man in the sky can show how powerful he is. Children die because of accidents or bad luck or illnesses that can't be cured.

If someone finds meaning in the death of another and is comforted, that's great, but that doesn't mean the death was destiny or anyone else will find that meaning. Argh, it makes me want to scream when I read articles like that.

 
At 16/7/07 1:12 pm, Blogger Sid Schwab said...

As I pointed out in my post, the whole thing is internally inconsistent (not to mention cruel to the child): the idea that god would change his mind implies he's imperfect, doesn't it? If not, then it must be that he's an egotistical prick. Either way, not someone in whose basket one would choose to lay one's eggs.

 

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