[LMB] Religion question

Beatrice Otter beatrice_otter at zoho.com
Tue Jul 13 05:23:51 BST 2021

---- On Mon, 12 Jul 2021 20:12:35 -0700 Elizabeth Holden <alzurite at gmail.com> wrote ----

I got lost in the attributions in the post, but someone said: 
>   Even atheists sometimes pray if someone is seriously ill or no one 
> can help them. 
I always thought that was a myth put about by religious people who thought 
atheists might pray in those circumstances because it's what they would do, 
somehow implying that religion is better or more natural than 
non-religion, or that atheists are inconsistent in their non-belief. In any 
case, it sounds unprovable and improbable to me. 

Beatrice Otter:

Mm, as a minister I can tell you that it does happen some of the time, because I've seen it. How much of the time I can't tell you, but my gut instinct is that "people for whom trauma sends them looking for religion/spirituality when they previously had no connection" and "people for whom trauma kills the spirituality they had pre-trauma" are about even?

Part of the issue with "there are no atheists in foxholes" is that it matters what the background-radiation religious culture is. It also matters whether they're truly atheists or just agnostic. And it also ignores the people who *lose* their faith in foxholes. If someone is from a very religious culture, even if they themselves are not active participants in the religion, times of stress will send them seeking comfort in those rituals and practices their family and friends practice. Sometimes out of actual belief, sometimes just out of finding the ritual comforting. If they're from a culture that is not very religious, they'll seek comfort in other places. Also, most people who get called atheists are actually agnostics: they aren't practicing any belief, but they're not 100% dyed-in-the-wool sure there's nothing out there, they just either don't care or think that there *probably* isn't. And if they are sure there's nothing out there, then it doesn't matter what happens, they're not going to develop a religious belief. If, however, they're not sure, then they may (may!) try prayer or something just in case they're wrong, a sort of hedging their bets. This doesn't mean it's any lasting spiritual change, however! Most of that type will go right back to their baseline state as soon as the crisis is over.

And then, of course, the people who comfort themselves by thinking that "oh, those atheists will see the light when they're at the end of their rope!" never like to acknowledge the fact that, while some will, there are also people of faith who will *lose* their faith when they're at the end of their rope.

Beatrice Otter

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