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Discussion 1 to Q&A 195
You were a bit harsh

by: Will Petillo

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With respect, I think you were a bit harsh, JT. While I believe you were absolutely right not to give Emmanuel any money, there is little to be gained by going to such great lengths to criticize the sender. First of all, if the request truly was a message spammed to every church to be found on Google, then the best course is to simply ignore it. Furthermore, anyone on the "sucker list" who chooses to do some research before offering assistance has already put some thought into the matter (by thinking to research at all), so finding your critique would provide them no new information. I take that back, pointing out that the IP address is probably from a Nigerian internet cafe is relevant, but that can be done if a few sentences.

And I see no reason not to offer Emmanuel spiritual assistance...even if you don't want to call it "spiritual" because of the connotations that word may carry. But to help people in “truth seeking”…well, that’s what we are all about, isn’t it?

This paragraph is directed at Emmanuel. If your request is fake, you probably haven’t bothered to read this far since there is no chance of you getting any money out of this correspondence. Thus, I will assume for now that your request is genuine. Your situation sounds very rough, and I am very sorry to hear about your predicament? What kind of advice are you seeking? If it is mechanical, medical, or legal advice you seek, I doubt anyone here can be of much help. If it is advice on how to cope psychologically with misfortune, there are some of us who could give it a shot, but don’t expect professional opinions from a licensed psychiatrist. This is an Agnostic web site, not a grief management support group.

This last paragraph is to everyone reading this article. Religion, Apathetic Agnosticism included, is what people make it. Most of the articles on this site are focused on discussing the question, “does God exist?” in one way or another. But the reason such philosophical explorations are significant beyond being purely academic exercises, is because they have implications about how we should live. Hard times, like the kind Emmanuel describes and regardless of whether they actually apply to him or not, are a part of life. Part of the appeal of religions like Christianity is that they offer (what they believe are) ways to deal with hard times: turn to God for help. But if the UCTAA faith is that if God even exists at all (which seems unlikely), then that God is apathetic to event in our universe, what do we have to offer in place of the promise of divine assistance? Of course I cannot give an official answer, but my belief and the belief I have seen repeatedly in the Reflections on Ethics section is: personal responsibility. This does not mean that we should blame ourselves for our misfortunes, for sometimes the cause of our hardships is primarily or even entirely external. It may not be Emmanuel’s fault, for example, that his kids are sick, that his car broke down, or his apartment caught on fire (though it could be, he may have exposed his kids to the cold or not given them needed inoculations, he may have ignored warning lights on his car, and he might have started the fire for all I know), but that is not important. What is important is answering the question: what should he do about it? I don’t have the information or the expertise to answer that question, but I can state a few wrong answers.

  1. Turn to drugs…that makes things worse.
  2. Hope for a Supreme Being to come down from the sky and magically fix everything if one passively waits long enough.
  3. Ask the UCTAA for money.