This blog intends to provide some balance in the religious debate by providing a counterpoint to Billy Graham's religious advice. On his website http://www.billygraham.org/ he responds to readers' questions by quoting from the bible. I am attempting to respond to those same queries by resorting to reason and rationality.

I must acknowledge a debt here to Jeff Hope who started in this vein but who has unfortunately taken a hiatus. His blog is http://atheistsanswer.wordpress.com/. Jeff has inspired me to continue.

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Unanswered Prayers

QUESTION: Today's comes from CDF...
"If God sometimes says 'no' to our prayers, then why bother to pray? I admit I have a hard time trying to figure out when to pray and when to just keep quiet -- although if something looks hopeless, I really don't see any reason to pray about it."

From time to time throughout our lives we are faced with challenges and hurdles. Sometimes these obstacles appear to be insurmountable by ourselves and it is natural to seek help wherever we can. However, praying to a god has never been proven to have any effect. Religious people don't have better health, don't have more good fortune, and don't avoid death and injury any more than the rest of the population.
Consider the concept of praying for the weather. A religious person will pray for rain and when it rains two days later they thank their god. However, weather happens every day anyway and so it may just be coincidence. Also how many other people live in your city? What were they praying for? It is very ego-centric to credit the whole city's weather to your prayers. Furthermore, your next door neighbour may be praying to Allah for rain - so whose god gets the credit? Perhaps your neighbour may be praying for sunshine, in which case you can imagine the heavenly tog-of-war as one god pushes the clouds above your place and the other god pulls them away again!
Your last sentence inadvertently touched upon the essence of this issue "....I don't see any reason....". The total disengagement of prayer from reason should be enough to show us that prayer is futile. Whilst there is nothing we can do about the weather, there is a well-known saying that applies here: One pair of hands doing something about a problem is more valuable than one thousand clasped in prayer.


Monday, August 16, 2010

QUESTION: today's comes from SK...
"The kindest, most thoughtful person I know says she is an atheist and doesn't even believe in God. I always thought we needed to believe in God before we'd behave like she does, but I guess this isn't necessarily tue, is it?".

It's not hard to find plenty of people who don't believe in god and yet who are decent human beings. It is one of the great deceptions of Christianity that people need to believe in a god to have a fulfilling life. There has never been any correlation proven between law-breaking and religiosity. You will find the full gamut of people in both the religious and non-religious camps. This concept, peddled by Christians, that if someone changes to worship the Christian god their life will improve, is unsubstantiable and arrogant. It is a direct insult to those of other faiths and those with no supernatural faith.
Furthermore it's not hard to find religious people who are wracked with guilt and beset by doubts. They certainly do not have any inner peace - some such as a recent pope will self-flagellate because they have been brainwashed to believe that they are unworthy sinners. Churches even coerce their flock into coming once per week to shore up their flagging faith. Atheists do not need this regular cheer-leading session: what's logical and rational one day will be logical and rational the next.


Sunday, August 8, 2010

QUESTION: Today's comes from P.McD...
"How did the men who wrote the Bible know what happened thousands of years before they were born - things like the creation of the world, for example? I'd like to believe the Bible, but I guess I have too many unanswered questions."

The men who wrote the bible claim to know what happened because they were inspired by some god. Their tales of creation, Noah's ark, people being swallowed and regurgitated by whales, burning bushes, etc have been proven to be false or impossible. The only conclusion is that these stories are made up. The creation myth has been debunked by evolution and geology. The flooding of the world at the time of Noah has no correlation with the experience of any culture outside the Middle East. You need to ask yourself why these impossible events occurred so much back then but never now.
If you are tempted to believe the bible's creation story because you want to have faith then it would be a worthwhile exercise to check out other versions of creation in wikipedia. Just type in "creation myth" and see if you can believe any of the preposterous nonsense listed there.
Furthermore you say you'd like to believe the bible. From the prevalence of belief systems over the centuries it appears that you are not the only one ready to believe something. It seems to be a human trait to want there to be something more - some higher plane of life. It is natural to search for this, but don't let a flawed publication such as the bible hinder your quest for the truth.