A very good friend has posted a short answer to today’s entry on Christmas Day, 2012. The sonnet in question as well as its rather unusually long introduction can be found here:
I feel they are too long to include in-line here; However they both deal with the nature of the feelings of one who does not believe in God regarding ones friends and loved ones who do.
In these, I express my feelings regarding how one should consider behaving, and my own such choices as well; and, in response to the following comments by a dear friend, add some further thoughts which I deemed to be a bit long winded for a comment box. And for me, if one has seen the length of my comments, that really is saying something!
Reading the entry linked above will put my post in better context.
I do wish you and yours a blessed Christmas. You and the Gentle Lady are very much in my thoughts.
But it’s hard to [pray]. I don’t know if it’s guilt and shame or deadly pride, but the words choke in the throat. It is hard to look into that part of me and see. Maybe I am afraid to.
To which I answer:
And of course, all those sentiments are retuned with as much warmth as we both feel for you. I also think of you often.
Still, though I do not believe, I do wish the best for you and for all your loved ones. And, of course, my sweet wife will pray me, and for you, and everyone else she loves.
Happy Christmas, Gentle Mac.
After which I continue on:
I should also say the friend of which I write above, is quite wonderful in that way–just as I describe. And, you have heard much about him and his monumentally powerful brain from my sweetheart so you may easily guess which friend it is to whom I refer.
It is quite remarkable–and I think, not accidental–just how many great mathematicians are men of faith. Particularly those who have done fundamental work in the field, throughout the centuries, even when one includes the 20th and the 21st. One notable exception is Bertrand Russell. And our resident mathematician refers to Mr. Russell in such a way as to indicate that he considers him something of “the exception that proves the rule,” if you will.
Regarding our resident mathematician, one can clearly see that he holds quite a deep and abiding faith. And–as in the accompanying sonnet to this offering–I do feel a great deal of warmth when, at such times whereupon we together dine, we do indeed “say grace.” I should say that at such times, I remain silent, and allow him to speak the words. That seems more appropriate. In general, I would suggest that anyone who does not believe should take such a course unless there is some good reason to the contrary. It makes one feel as though one is not blaspheming–or simply lying, if you prefer.
However, regarding such silent times as I share with my friends or loved ones at grace, I will say an interesting feeling comes over me. I do feel thankful. And humbled in some way. I think upon all the myriad events that led up to the current, most enjoyable evening; and also, do I think upon all the myriad events that might have kept such an evening from happening.
(Regarding the following paragraphs: No, I am not citing here; this is not a Master’s thesis, nor a work intended for peer review; however such information as I will mention is truly a few clicks away on Google, if one cares to look for it.)
As I’m sure I have written, and you have read, before, I feel most certain that there is, deep within some part of our physical brains, a place reserved for such things–matters of faith. And I often warn my atheist friends (not anti-theists, one, by the way) that, in view of even more recent evidence, one must be vigilant if this part of ones brain–so very obviously designed or evolved (or to eschew both words, functions in such a state which enables it) to allow one to believe in such things as those for which there is no evidence–is not now being used for such things.
Things for which it is clearly optimised to do.
Imagine what we might by simple default–by not being vigilant in our thoughts–believe to be true. Such things are much more harmful than a belief in something which some non-believers feel (although I do not, due entirely to the empirical evidence of the difference between the two) to be congruent to a belief in Santa Claus. These, as you well know, as well as seen, from among your idealogical, philosophical, or epistemological opposites, are quite harmful; not merely to the one so afflicted but also to the world around him. Ask yourself what they believe without question as a result of not being vigilant. The answer, and the myriad ways in which it has been deleterious to your life are, one might say, “named legion, for they are many,” to paraphrase a biblical verse, I have oft heard expounded upon.
Yes indeed. When I take the time to contemplate such things, I most definitely prefer a man of faith to one such as I have described above. I will say that such friends as I have among the non-religious are much more like such a man than like such as I have described above. And, what is more important, the reverse is also true; that man of faith, yes, that very one who believes in a God, and a Saviour, the existence of which cannot be proven, is much more like you and I, for example than like the individual profiled in the paragraph above.
Continued here, wherein I stray even farther afield: http://wp.me/p2NgWa-5J