|Bumper sticker from the Freedom From Religion Foundation
During my stay in Columbus for the Secular Student Alliance‘s 2012 annual convention, a local newspaper published a letter to the editor I had written concerning humanism and the (lack of) efficacy of prayer and supernatural pleas in regards to a pious pastor who attempted to address the problem of violence in Northeastern Pennsylvania. I have addressed this pastor, Rev. Michael Brewster, in previous posts on this website. Below is the letter.
Real solutions for real problems
Soon after Rev. Michael Brewster of Mount Zion Baptist Church commented about the shooting death of local youth Tyler Winstead – appealing to God to stop the violence in this community and talking about “employ(ing) the weapon of unconditional and radical love for humanity” – I called these comments vapid and a failure because they did not offer earthly solutions to earthly problems.
As an atheist, and more specifically a humanist, I view these comments as contributing nothing to combat very real problems that ought to be addressed by human action.
Humanists and atheists don’t look to “supernatural solutions” for earthly problems, but rather look to earthly solutions for earthly problems. Real action from people on their feet, rather than those in prayerful kneeling, is required for change. We find no good reason to believe that prayer solves any problems or that any gods – if they exist – intervene in human affairs.
It is wonderful that Rev. Brewster recently has taken action by holding community meetings in conjunction with the “Building Bridges” initiative. It seems that many people in this community have realized that prayer is not sufficient to deal with our earthly problems.
For those who believe that God only helps those who help themselves, it seems evident that people helping themselves can’t be distinguished from God helping people. And we all know which one is the more reasonable explanation.