How Do You Survive a Crisis Without Prayer?

I know, that’s an easy question for us to answer: You lean on friends, family, community, people who actually exist, etc. But it’s one of those questions religious people love to ask, anyway, as if there’s no way to grieve without God: What do atheists do in times of crisis?

After the Worst Week Ever, and just after the National Day of Prayer, NPR’s Michel Martin spoke with Harvard’s Humanist Chaplain Greg Epstein about what atheists do to get through rough times:

Greg did a fantastic job representing a position many of us hold:

… at a moment of crisis, what people are really traumatized by is that we feel so helpless and, for humanists, the number one way to overcome feeling helpless is to reach out and help other people. It’s part of what human beings need to do is we need to connect with one another and we need to work on behalf of something bigger than just ourselves or even our individual families.

Common humanity, helping each other, regardless of creed.

Some of the responses to Greg’s interview will inevitably be about how we’re trying to copy religion when we hold vigils or want to be included in “interfaith” services, but that gives religion too much credit. We’re relying on each other because that’s all we have in this world. We’re making sacrifices knowing there’s no eternal reward awaiting us for being good. If things are going to get better, it’s up to us to figure out the path there.

About Hemant Mehta

Hemant Mehta is the editor of Friendly Atheist, appears on the Atheist Voice channel on YouTube, and co-hosts the uniquely-named Friendly Atheist Podcast. You can read much more about him here.


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