Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Religious foolishness at "end of life"

This article indicates that religiously inclined people are about 3 times as likely to seek out radical medical solutions to prolong their lives when faced with death.

Huh. Now I thought they were looking forward to the afterlife! Isn't this where they get to reunite with dead loved ones and await the joyous arrival of the next generation? Or is it yet another confirmation that the primary purpose of religion in the first place is an inability to cope with death?

For an interesting and more personal look at this subject, please don't miss the latest blog post from the Chaplain over at The Apostate's Chapel.

35 comments:

Pastor Mike said...

...or, they value life more.

John Evo said...

Honestly Mike - that's a terribly weak response to the post. Coming from someone who has given deeper thought to religion than most religionists, I would think you would have something stronger... if it were available.

Cephus said...

It makes no sense that they "value life more", after all they're supposed to be heading to paradise after they die. So are they just terrified at the prospect of death and have spent their lives lying to themselves about it, or do they think they're headed to hell after they die so don't want to go?

Enquiring minds want to know.

John Evo said...

Exactly Cephus. It make no sense to say relgiionists "value life more", when we are not talking about life in general, but ones own life. They constantly claim that atheists are amoral and self-centered, yet when it comes to OUR OWN LIVES, we care less about life than a religionist? Like I said - weak sauce.

Pastor Mike said...

I do have a deeper response…just letting you know that I still like to read your blog.

As to end of life issues and embracing religion, I think you have a valid point. Many out there are afraid of death and embrace religion as a means to cope. Personally though, I know many who embrace death. I’ve been with many who made the decision to forgo chemo or other life saving techniques.

And yes Cephus, it makes sense. We (Christians in general) argue against assisted suicide because we don’t believe that man has the right to take a life. If the life can be preserved, then it should be. the Apostle Paul said that every moment on this earth produces fruitful service for Him (and is rewardable). You may think that God is pie and the sky, but you cant deny that this teaching is clear in the scriptures.

Pastor Mike said...

If “Rewardable” was a word

John Evo said...

Personally though, I know many who embrace death. I’ve been with many who made the decision to forgo chemo or other life saving techniques.

The first word is the key to your failure here - "personally". This is known as anecdotal evidence, and is meaningless, especially in light of what is being discussed. YOU may have seen many such cases, but the statistics are clear - relgionists are about 3 times as likely as non-believers to use desperate means in order to cling to life.

In your second paragraph you go off on a tangent. We KNOW that you Christians think all kinds of life is of immense value, but we are talking about ones personal life - not the suicide of others or abortion. Of course you are also quick to support capital punishment and allowing our children to go off and die in the desert.

And you have to accept that others in your society don't care what Paul said. He has no authority. I'm sure he said some good things and some horrible things. We just don't force others to live their lives according to what some barely literate, tribal witch doctor from 2000 years ago said. And don't take that as a strictly religious bash. We don't live our lives according to Socrates or Plato either, though they said many good and horrible things.

Pastor Mike said...

I don’t doubt the statistics. Many are religious because they are scared to die. I believe I agreed with you. But, surely it would be fallacious to argue that all religious people are afraid to die (and I don’t think you’re making this argument). Many do embrace death. Many do have something to look forward to. That’d be my argument to why atheists embrace death: If life is nothing more the here and now and if the here and now is only going to be full of pain and suffering, why not just die. They die because life is ultimately meaningless. Your stats prove one thing. Those that have no faith are more true to their beliefs then those who claim to believe (stats show that only 3% of Americans actually have a biblical worldview).

I wont address my beliefs on capital punishment and war here.

As to what I said about Paul…I wasn’t saying you should care or live by what he said. I do. Which is my point. I value the life that God gave me. I will use it as long as I can to serve His purpose. If I have to live with pain and suffering and can still manage a productive life here, I will. My life has a purpose. Am I afraid to die? I wasn’t as an atheist in Iraq and I’m not now (that of course cant be proved either way).

John Evo said...

This is interesting:

(stats show that only 3% of Americans actually have a biblical worldview).

I hope that it's true (but remain unconvinced). Where do the statistics come from? And, perhaps more importantly, what did the researchers mean by "biblical worldview"?

Pastor Mike said...

Stats are reliable. They come a barna group. You can find them in "Un Christian" by David Kinnaman.

A biblical worldview sees the world as the bible states it (e.g, Jesus was sinless, there is a devil, hell, heaven, angels, and so on). I'll see if I can get an actual quote for you.

As to encouraging words, i dont think so...even from your perspective. Atheism is also on the decline. It requires analytical thinking and most Americans are emotional (therefore spiritual, but not necessarily Christian).

John Evo said...

I trust studies from the Barna Group. Try to link that one.

Atheism is also on the decline.

Really?

John Evo said...

Setting aside my snarky rebuttal link, I don't really care if atheism is growing or on the decline as long as absolutist religious dogma is on the decline, and all studies show it is - though, admittedly, not quickly enough for my liking. I'm hoping for a country of 60% who identify as either atheist, agnostic, or "don't know/don't care" - by the time I die. For that to happen, a lot of religion will bite the dust and that alone will make me happy, even if "Atheism" declines as well!

Pastor Mike said...

If you get a chance, check this article out:

http://www.religiondispatches.org/archive/mediaculture/1245/godless_america_say_hello_to_the_%E2%80%98apatheists%E2%80%99

I'll give you some "unchristian" quotes, or find some links.

John Evo said...

Fueled by the Christian Right’s political meddling, the Catholic sex abuse scandals, violent expressions of Islamic fundamentalism, and George W. Bush’s unpopular “faith-based” presidency, anti-religious sentiment is on the rise in America.

As I said, I'm all for "anti-religious sentiment" - much more than hoping for atheism. What's the difference, you may ask?

Well, if you are atheist or agnostic, you will probably be anti-religious, whereas if you are anti-religious, it doesn't necessarily follow that you are atheist or agnostic. And the real problems in our society, as I see it, are brought about much more by religion than simply the belief in a "higher power".

I will warn you though, that atheism is usually preceded by anti-religious sentiment. In other words, people don't usually make a jump from religious dogma straight over to atheism. A great many people have moved into the anti-religion camp in the past decade. For many of them, it' a first step onto the road of agnosticism or atheism. So the author of the post may be a little too optimistic. Time will tell...

Sarge said...

I'm starting to cirle the bowl with cancer, so I'm kind of close to the subject.

Many of those folks who are christian seem, well, ambibilant about walking the "streets of gold" and claiming the "mansion in their father's house" which they assure me has been prepared for them.

Saw pretty much the same thing in Viet Nam. Knew a-many who assured me that I was going to hell but they were going to "see god", but they did everything they could to defer the trip.

Sarge said...

Question, Mike, who says that atheists feel that life has no meaning?

Our meanings are as varied as the person whose life is lived, just not centered around a pound of smoke.

Pastor Mike said...

Question, Mike, who says that atheists feel that life has no meaning?

Try Jean-Paul Sartre for starts.

You can invent your own meaning, but ultimately, unless your meaning transcends you, it’s as hopeless and as meaningless as those who hope for pie in the sky (as you would say).

grumpylion said...

Anyone care to define 'meaning'? Otherwise you guys are blithering about nothing at all.

Pastor Mike said...

As Sartre defined it, meaning is purpose.

Purpose must be defined by the maker. For example, given by Sartre, a hammer cannot determine what its purpose is. Its maker must. We, again according to Sartre (and most of you), have no maker. We’re stardust that came about by a cosmic accident. We can say our purpose is to convert the masses to atheism and we can even be successful, but it wont mean anything. After death, we gain nothing. When humans are extinct, it will mean nothing. When this planet (or this universe) dies, we would have done just as well spending our life farting in the wind.

John Evo said...

You can invent your own meaning, but ultimately, unless your meaning transcends you, it’s as hopeless and as meaningless as those who hope for pie in the sky (as you would say).

Mike, the only difference between me and you is that you have accepted the invented meaning of another human, rather that making whatever meaning there is come forth naturally from your own personal existence. "God is the meaning" makes no more sense than "being here is the meaning". You have simply bought in to someone else explanation that god is greater than just being here. You have a book that confirms it and you have your inner feelings (faith) that it is so. These things are evidence of precisely nothing.

Cephus said...

Unfortunately, that makes no sense. For people who are supremely convinced that they are "saved", what difference does sitting around breathing, especially in pain and suffering, make?

The simple reality is, the more religious one is, the more likely they are to seek out extensive life-saving treatments. That demonstrates that, in general, people are using religion because they are afraid of death, not in spite of it.

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/03/090317162842.htm

There are some exceptions, of course, such as those who object to any medical treatment whatsoever, but those people are insane.

Sarge said...

Mike, who's Sarte or anyone else to define my life, or talk about it's 'meaning'? Your life, for that matter?

Were you ever an E-1 through E-4? You get a lot o that 'Greater Good', 'Transcendance'(implied in other ways) hooey that means shell out your money, do what you're told, and maybe even die for the 'greater than you'. Trick's been around for a long time.

Within three generations most of us will have been completely forgotten no matter what. Is it good or bad? It's niether, just is.

John Evo said...

Sarge - thanks for taking on the "Sarte issue". I was going point it out to Mike and got side-tracked.

Mike - our lives have meaning to us and to the people we come in contact with. And then with the people they will be in contact with after we are no more. If that's "farting in the wind", so be it. But coming up with a supernatural explanation for meaning, doesn't give meaning to anyone but he who accepts it. He's still farting.

PhillyChief said...

First, the article...
If you really do think your god will heal you, why on Earth are you going for more aggressive treatment? Hell, why are you getting treatment at all? You should lie back and wait for god to cure you. How amusing that believing your god will save you means putting more faith in science by opting for aggressive treatments. Or is that perhaps where god's hiding, in aggressive cancer treatments?

Also, the more religious were far less likely to understand a do-not-resuscitate order and less likely to have wills or power of attorney, resulting in more people plugged in being kept alive as the meter runs, costing Medicare more money than low or no religiosity, so religion is picking our pockets!

Next, Mike...
Sartre made a distinction between humanity and hammers, Mike. He argued that for humanity, existence precedes essence, whereas for the hammer, essence (or purpose) preceded its existence. He cited the hammer to show we're different, not that we're the same. If you're going to invoke a philosopher, get his arguments straight. Let me take a wild guess, you got this from D'Souza, right? He's notorious for misrepresenting philosophers, especially atheist philosophers.

Nothing will matter after everything is gone, Mike, but our actions can matter today, for ourselves and others, and may influence beyond our knowing, and frankly, this idea of mattering after everything dies is an amusing argument from someone claiming fear of death isn't that big a motivator for being religious. It sounds to me that's PRECISELY what you're arguing.

John Evo said...

Philly - Mike has admitted to me that many people cling to religion out of fear of death. However, he believes he is one of the "exceptions".

PhillyChief said...

Clearly he's not. He merely rephrased fear of death as fear of his actions not mattering after "this planet (or this universe) dies".

Gideon said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
PhillyChief said...

Gideon,

Please give an example of someone twisting Pastor Mike's words.

I'll give you proof your god doesn't exist if you do ANY of the following:
• prove any other god like Thor or Wakan Tanka doesn't exist
• prove Big Foot doesn't exist
• prove Nessie doesn't exist
• prove your god exists

Remember, any one of those will suffice.


Far from ridicule Pastor Mike's stats, Evo hoped they were true and admitted he trusted their source. Perhaps you'd like to reread the comments? Reading comprehension is an important skill son, and you would do well to sharpen yours. While you're at it, you might want to educate yourself on exactly what evolutionary theory entails, to avoid appearing grossly ignorant when voicing objections to it.

Well good luck to you, kiddo.

Sarge said...

Ain't it neat when someone like ol' Gid there comes along and shows us his xian love?

And of course, look at the sword wielding crusader, that tells a lot.

I have a feeling that "Pastor Mike" could probably sit down with any of us and we could have a discussion. Sure, disagree, but I could share a cup of coffee with Mike.

Tell us, Gid, what would you do to us if you had it in your power to compell us or not to embrace your religion? Just how WOULD you convince us? What would you do to us if you couldn't?

John Evo said...

Now, Sarge...

A good outdoorsperson like you knows about feeding the trolls.

The thing that's great about them is they defeat themselves with their own arguments. I mean, what do you REALLY need to say to someone who proposes that we "prove" there is no god?

Sarge said...

Yeah, I know...

Just gets up my nose to listen to the those folks.

When I was eight I met one of Gideon's ilk, who demonstrated the bottom line of his and others religious thinking, and who did, indeed, demonstrate what would happen to non-conformers to the prevailing religious view.

Vitamin R said...

Helluva post and response--especially that bit of comic relief by Gideon. I haven't laughed that hard in days :D

If only the religious would stick to their guns and refuse all medical treatments created after evolution was widely accepted. It sure beats the hell outta waiting for the Rapture, imho.

I, for one, can't wait to commandeer my share of the left-behind swag and loot once the fundies are gone.
::capers::

Gideon said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
John Evo said...

what do you REALLY need to say to someone who proposes that we "prove" there is no god?

And then doesn't recognize what a fool he has been and REPEATS the "challenge"!

DigitalSkyPilot said...

MY question to all is why does God allow children to suffer with pain and disease. If you can answer that without all the supernatural unrealistic and foolish crap I'll listen. Truth is if Gods there why does he allow this? If God doesn't love children enough to help them then I don't want to live in his kingdom. Just burn my butt and be over with it. Your stories and thoughts are foolish nonsense. Period. Why don't you just die and go to heaven. Why stay in this hell? Because your afraid of death. Thats why. And you really don't believe what you preach. I love kids so that puts me above your God. If he is there I hope he isn't what you say he is. I think your all retarded. As I look at my 10 year old granddaughter with her hair falling out from Chemo I am inclined to think your all full of crap. Most every Christian I have met are nothing like what they preach. Judgemental and common sense challenged. I am tired of listening to idiots and their fear of death and religious nonsense. I talked to God this morning and he said you make him furious. Thats right I can talk to him too, not just you. Ha Ha.