The Most Telling Thing About Religion

I have some college educated relatives who are very religious. They recently got news that their child might have cancer but more tests were needed. They immediately called their pastor, presumably there was lots of praying. A few days later they found out that in fact the child does have cancer. Now they pray again for help and strength and so on. To me that is perfect proof that religion has nothing to do with a god. It’s purely emotional and psychological. But how is it that this isn’t obvious to religious people, especially highly educated ones?

It’s not understanding what hope is. A fundamentalist says it in the most obvious way, if you don’t have God, you don’t have hope.
There a few religious people who are honest about this. I just read this one today, by an atheist who is still a reverend:
“To be a person of faith, any faith, for me, is not so much to believe in a set of tenets or doctrine, ecclesial ruminations called orthodoxy, as it is to believe that we can struggle against the systems that threaten our world and hope that, in the end, we will overcome them." – Greta Vosper
We need people like her to translate these feelings that used to be the sole possession of religion, but we’ve now figured out they have natural explanations. Explaining them doesn’t make them disappear, that’s the fear of the fundamentalist. It only makes the job of the person who tells us how to feel disappear. If there was any “baby” in the “bathwater” of religion, it was our ability to comfort each other, to listen to each other’s fears. We delegated it to a select few for a few hours a week. We can simply un-delegate it.

I’ve been thinking about this tendency of people to reach out to and plead with their god through prayer when something bad is going on, as if the entity they believe to be all powerful, benevolent and omniscient didn’t know already about the tragic circumstances. Do they think they have to inform him and pray to him in order for him to do something? The omniscient god doesn’t already know what’s going on? He doesn’t already know that people are desperate for his help? I was thinking of this while watching the news about the tornadoes and floods in Texas. Do believers think their god had nothing to do with the horror people were and are experiencing? Now they plead for his help when an omniscient god must have known about it before it happened. It underscores people’s desperation and lack of rational thinking about what such a god is doing and what his powers are. On the one hand they believe their god is all powerul and can help them without ever realizing that he could have prevented the tragedy in the first place, if he was anywhere as benevolent as they claim. What do they think he is going to do now in answer to their prayers when he has already allowed the tragedy to unfold that he could have prevented. I would like to hear from any theists on this forum who think they have a rational explanation–other than that “god works in mysterious ways.” If they’re so mysterious their prayers are not going to move him. So what are they praying for?
Lois

“It’s part of God’s plan.”
“It will work out for the best.”
These are the types of responses I usually heard growing up in a Christian home.

If I absolutely had to have a religion, it would probably be Gnosticism.
Gnostics accept that bad things happen to good people, and that therefore the idea of an all-knowing, all-powerful, totally benevolent God is a logical impossibility. Thus they postulate that the world is flawed because it was created by a flawed god - Yahweh, the god of the Old Testament, who is described in the Bible as mean-spirited, small-minded, arrogant, conceited, and given to outbursts of irrational anger and arbitrary vengefulness. A god, incidentally, who seems unwilling to show his face to his followers, perhaps because if he did it woiuld be revealed that he wasn’t who he claimed to be - in fact, that he was probably the exact opposite of who he claimed to be. With such a barely competent creator, how can the world be otherwise than a screwed-up mess?
In this scenario, the Serpent of Genesis was actually the good guy, since he exposed god’s lie about the Fruit of the Tree of Knowledge - “in the day that thou eatest thereof, thou shalt surely die” - and revealed the truth - “thine eyes shall be opened.” And, of course, for telling the truth, the Serpent was punished, the first in a long line of both mythical and historical beings who communicated their vision of truth to Humanity in the full knowledge that they would be punished for it; Prometheus, Jesus, Simon Magus, Giordano Bruno, Galileo…
Incidentally, in the Hebrew alphabet every letter also stands for a number, and in the Jewish mystical system known as Quabala, words that have the same enumeration have the same or related meanings. The Hebrew word for Serpent - nephesh - has the same enumeration as messiah. Make of this what you will…
It’s important to realise that in Gnosticism, all this is accepted as metaphor, of course, and is not understood as literal history.
http://gnosis.org/gnintro.htm
TFS

If I absolutely had to have a religion, it would probably be Gnosticism.
It seems that I have to get sick to find the time to read. Been feeling pretty good lately, thus taking a long time to read The Lost Gospel. With your post, I would recommend this book. On page 36 it touches on the Christian Gnosticism. To me Gnostic teachings are the root of just about all religions. I think Jesus was a scholar Gnostic, thus an atheist by his beliefs and a brilliant politician by his teachings. I bet when our understanding of the history of religion is fully understood, we will find that the Gods created earth for mankind. And that the mid-wives of the Gods created domesticated man. And that the eruption of Mt. Toba or one of the major plagues wiped out the upper and lower Gods. Thus leaving domesticated man to repopulate the warming earth and to try and make sense of the Gnostic teachings that had been passed down.
I have some college educated relatives who are very religious. They recently got news that their child might have cancer but more tests were needed. They immediately called their pastor, presumably there was lots of praying. A few days later they found out that in fact the child does have cancer. Now they pray again for help and strength and so on. To me that is perfect proof that religion has nothing to do with a god. It's purely emotional and psychological. But how is it that this isn't obvious to religious people, especially highly educated ones?
You can't understand that? http://i0.kym-cdn.com/photos/images/original/000/890/121/4e9.gif

Prayer is a form of wish fulfillment and like George Carlin said, it works fifty percent of the time. If the child had been diagnosed as not having cancer then it would be because God heard the prayer, if not then he had “other” plans for the kid. Religion IMO gives the adherents much comfort in so many ways, e.g. instant friends who really care about you, at least your nonexistent soul, a sense of community, shelter from an abusive or nonexistent home life, a sense of direction, a moral compass, e.g. AA, food and clothes for some who desperately need them, and hope even if it is ultimately false. This can be replaced of course by secular institutions, and they’re many out there doing just that, kind of like the organ music without the preaching. And the only philosophy most Americans are exposed to is via the church, even if it is stilted anachronistic rubbish. Jesus had a very simple message before his subsequent followers muddied it up, but so did the other philosophers from the classical era. It was ok until they made him some divine, supernatural comic hero, a super Jesus if you will. And as an altruist I reflect the Quelle Jesus. He was an ok guy in my book.
Cap’t Jack

"It's part of God's plan." "It will work out for the best." These are the types of responses I usually heard growing up in a Christian home.
When I hear "It's God's plan" I like to ask the "believer" if all the millions of starving,diseased and dying are part ot it's plan? To me even the concept of a creator caring god is absurd and belief in such is at best, a cop out. Or maybe..........It's gods plane that I be one of it's critics.

I stumbled on a religion I hadn’t heard about before ReligiousScience
religiousscience.us/beliefs/whatwebelievebyEH. htm
Their articles of faith are somewhat revealing of the need of some for absolute certainty in the face of
an infinitely complex natural world and unfathomable mysteries.

#1 We believe in God, the Living Spirit Almighty; one indestructible, absolute, and self-existent Cause. #4 We believe that heaven is within us and that we experience it to the degree that we become conscious of it. #6 We believe in the unity of all life, and that the highest God and the innermost God is one God. #5 We believe the ultimate goal of life to be a complete emancipation from all discord of every nature, and that this goal is sure to be attained by all.
So God made Earth and everything, she is in us and permeates all existence, yet the world sucks and we need to emancipate ourselves from it. There are a lucky 13 such tenets of internal inconsistency, yes indeed the Lord of the Mind truly acts in mysterious ways.
I have some college educated relatives who are very religious. They recently got news that their child might have cancer but more tests were needed. They immediately called their pastor, presumably there was lots of praying. A few days later they found out that in fact the child does have cancer. Now they pray again for help and strength and so on. To me that is perfect proof that religion has nothing to do with a god. It's purely emotional and psychological. But how is it that this isn't obvious to religious people, especially highly educated ones?
I don't think any of us should be considered to be "educated" until we have learned enough to be skeptical of every thing ever taught us.
I have some college educated relatives who are very religious. They recently got news that their child might have cancer but more tests were needed. They immediately called their pastor, presumably there was lots of praying. A few days later they found out that in fact the child does have cancer. Now they pray again for help and strength and so on. To me that is perfect proof that religion has nothing to do with a god. It's purely emotional and psychological. But how is it that this isn't obvious to religious people, especially highly educated ones?
I don't think any of us should be considered to be "educated" until we have learned enough to be skeptical of every thing ever taught us. Especially things with no rational support. Lois