In We Stand Awed at the Heights, PZ Myers over at Pharyngula really gives Stanley Fish a good verbal once over. There is just so much in this post which I agree with and PZ states much more eloquently than I ever could. Especially the following:
What we atheists are saying is that we need to turn away from those powerless rationalizations, no matter how poetic they might be, and recognize that their power and their appeal flows from their humanity, not their religiosity. Forget god, that empty hulk, that great vacuum that humanity has stocked with its fears and dreams, and look at what we have created and felt instead. When someone weeps over a dead child or creates a great poem, it should matter not at all what some priest imagines his pantheon is doing. Take your eyes off your hallucination of heaven—what’s real are that woman’s tears, that child’s triumph, that grain of sand, that bird on wing. The meaning is derived from the reality of what we see and feel, not some convoluted vapor and self-serving puffery about an abstract concept like “god”.
I’ve known a older, married woman who spent her life thinking that the Rapture would happen at any moment. She spent most of her life caught up in this warped dream, never really making much of her life. She let her house get run down and unlivable after her husband died. Why waste the money when Jesus is coming any day. When she died, her children could not even sell the house. The house was in such bad shape it was condemned by the city. She had no insurance or burial policies at all. Her children had to borrow money to bury her. She was a devote of the PTL club, who probably got most of her money.
Being caught up in the dream of heaven as she was, is as narcissistic as one could possibly get. It is all about the big reward for one’s self, screw everyone else. This is what I think in my most overly cynical moments. Most of these people are probably genuinely afraid of death and are desperately hoping to live in the afterlife. What is really sad is that they waste their only shot at life, dreaming for what is to come.