Can an atheist provide comfort in times of tragedy? Response to Dennis Prager.

I used to greatly respect Dennis Prager, but having listened and read from far superior authors and thinkers, I can't say I do anymore (See the Hitchens vs. Prager debate on Youtube for instance). In the following article for instance, Prager states that Atheists can provide no comfort in times of grief such as to the Sandy Hook victim's parents. He's responding to an article from an atheist who's word of comfort in tragedy is a reminder that the deceased are no longer suffering. To Mr. Prager, this is a shallow consolation and far from the comfort that the religious response of the deceased living on in heaven is. While I acknowledge that the religious response is more comforting, I reject the validity of religion on the basis that it makes you feel better. Wishing something to be true doesn't make it so. And believing in something, simply because it makes you feel better is simply childish. Accepting a harsh truth, in the long run, brings about more growth than living in a delusion. I also reject the assertion that the dead no longer suffer, is not comforting. This fact comforted me when my aunt finally passed from a long bout with liver cancer. Further, I can tell you that my son were to be shot in a senseless shooting, then I would find it hard to separate my mind from what would be his final moments. But I would take some consolation knowing that, for him, the suffering would be over, that he is NOT perpetually in the moment of his death. Would it be easier to believe that he had gone on to a happier existence? Sure. But it's funny to me that Prager OFTEN accuses the left of acting on emotion, but follows his religion on the same basis. Who is the one that is truly being intellectually dishonest Mr. Prager?



http://townhall.com/columnists/dennisprager/2013/01/15/the-atheist-response-to-sandy-hook-n1489260

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Comment by James Yount on January 15, 2013 at 11:25pm

Well said Roland.

Comment by roland707 on January 15, 2013 at 11:23pm

I am not aware of Mr. Prager, but one way of comforting is to remind survivors of the person's life, and how lucky we are that we were with them. And offer real help instead of "we're praying for you". Sometimes preachers even add undue pressure to funerals by recruiting people to be saved "You know, you could end up just like Jim here, tomorrow." Another problem is that it's not bad enough that someone died. People actually worry about if the deceased was 'saved' and going to heaven or hell. It's a bunch of extra worrying that never ends. 

I think it's easier to just accept that we have a finite life. When someone dies grieve and be upset at the loss, then be glad they were in your life.

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