Saturday, November 14, 2015

Don't Pray For Paris, Become An Advocate Against Regressive Beliefs

The recent news out of Paris is horrible. At least 129 are dead in 6 orchestrated terrorist attacks, less than a year after the Charlie Hebdo massacre. The hastag #PrayForParis started trending on Twitter as a result. This is very common when there is a tragedy somewhere. Praying for someone means thinking about them in a nice way. It involves asking some higher being, power, or spirit to show love, compassion, help, and mercy towards the person or persons you're praying for. As atheists, we know such prayers are useless. Your prayers do not affect the universe in any way. At most, we can say that when we know we're being prayed for, we feel good. It's little different from finding out someone likes you and is thinking positively about you. It makes us feel good. But prayer has no metaphysical effect.

When dealing with these kinds of tragedies, rather than praying, we should resist that urge however powerful and instinctive it may feel, and instead apply a more rational and practical response. We should donate money, food, and supplies, whenever possible. And when dealing with terrorism based on perverted and false ideology, like that of Islam, our response should be to become advocates against their regressive beliefs. We should refute them and their ideology at every chance we get, within reasonableness. And we should become advocates for the modern, secular, progressive way of life that we live and stand for. Let's make #TerrorismSociallyUnacceptable as Bill Maher recently tweeted. Let's stand for liberal principles! But let's also not become racist xenophobes in the process. Of course, it goes without saying that not all Muslims are terrorists, and not all terrorists are Muslims. It is bad ideology that we need to be advocates against, regardless of whether it is religious or secular.

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