Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Social Problems with Atheism

Two things I notice some trouble with.

First, a small one. Obviously, I don't say "bless you" when someone sneezes. Why do people do this? Are they afraid you will die when you sneeze? I sneeze all the time and am still here. Once I was in line somewhere (fast food, or such) with the wife. She sneezed, I was silent. The woman in front of us just couldn't take it, and after a few itchy seconds turned around to bless her. From now on I plan to do as the Unitarians do, and say "ew, germs!"

Second, is a bigger one. Obviously I don't believe in prayer. Also, I am not comfortable providing empty hope. A virtual friend has a sick relative, and as far as I can go is "good luck." My desires will in no way influence the illness. I wish I could get away with "I'll pray for him," or other such nonsense. It would be easier. I would try to comfort through science, but those involved are being a bit of a pain. I also know better than to say "the doctors know what they are doing."

Society has ingrained so much of this into us. I at times feel callous because I was taught that being as I am is callous. Problem is, many of those responsible for my upbringing were/are superstitious fools.

So, in the case of my friend now, and in future situations, I will say, "I desire an outcome that will not cause you grief." It doesn't sound good, but is accurate.


  1. I'm with you on that one. I get it all the time. It reminds me of George Carlin's bit about how people take the news of the death of an acquaintance: "But I just saw him yesterday!" "Well... didn't help."

    Obviously, I hope your friend/family member/pet doesn't die. But it's not like I have any influence over it.

  2. Yeah, I have run into these two issues, as well.

    I try to say "Gesundheit", cause at least that means "good health" or something, instead of the alternative. I do sometimes, from habit as a kid, automatically go to "bless you". Then I mentally kick myself.

    As for the other, I usually use "I hope for the best" or sometimes "You/he/she/it will be in my thoughts." cause basically, it is just the truth. I WILL be thinking of a friend or someone who is ill or has suffered some sad event.

    So, there you go. Just this atheist's two cents.

  3. i think people "say bless" because some believe your heart stops for less then a second every time you sneeze. Thinking back i think my mom told me that when i was a kid to shut me up.

    i always say "ghezuntight' not sure how you spell it or if the person sneezes more than 3 times in a row 'enough already."

    with really sick people, be it relatives or friend's relatives etc i always say or write in cards 'my thoughts are with you.' I figure it sounds just as good to them.

  4. Blessing is in order to keep the devil from grabbing your soul as you spit it off with the power of your sneeze.

    Hey, nobody is saying the bible-thumpers know anything - and about science they know a little less still.

    A little less than nothing.

  5. I am not religious and do not say anything when people sneeze. It also prompts some people to look at me as if I am being rude.

  6. Sometimes when I sneeze and someone says "bless you" I say "don't waste it." :-D