"No let's not pray for Paris. Let's do something useful instead." Such as donating to the following aid agencies for example, which are on the ground helping the victims of these atrocities.
Of course saying this has resulting in choruses of me being called heartless, by let's face it, morons. What I'm advocating is a course of action that will result in people actually being helped. Praying can't be shown to help anyone... In fact the only person it actually helps is the person doing the praying. It helps them sate their conscious, to feel as if they've done something when in fact they've done the bare minimum.
Let's face it, if these people's god exists, then they are praying to an omnipotent being that had the ability to jam the terrorists guns, or turn them into tapioca, or make a "BANG!!!" sign drop out of the ends of them like a Loony Tunes cartoon... Their god, did nothing. If they believe in this god, they must believe he allowed this, rubber-stamped it, passed it through the planning stages...
AND I'M HEARTLESS!
Their fictional god is heartless....
If cognitive dissonance, the mechanism by which we all rationalise contradictory information and beliefs, was a metric, measurements would be off the scale right now as the religious try to justify their gods in action. "God gave us free will, it would be wrong of him to interfere!" They will squawk. But why does the free will of the gunmen to massacre these innocent people trump that of the victims? Why was their free will not to be massacred not taken into account?
This is part of a philosophical argument known as the problem of evil that the Abrahamic religions have struggled to overcome almost since inception. I won't discuss it further because it strays from the point, but you can read more about it here.
I'm not heartless, I would just prefer to see people actually doing something that genuinely helps these people.
There's another reason that I find the suggestion of prayer as a solution here as ironic.
It was blind belief in a stone-age barbaric religious system that led to this atrocity in the first place!
And if you are a Christian who thinks that Islam is a barbaric religion and your faith somehow isn't, sorry guys, Islam is just behind the curve. Christianity had the market cornered for religious brutality Centuries ago. The Crusades for example: The conquering of Jerusalem (1099) over 60,000 Jewish, Moslem women and children slaughtered, and that was one event in an almost 200 year campaign! And that is just one "Holy war".
Closer to home the torture and burning of hundreds of thousands of innocent woman as witches, based on one line in the King James Bible: "thou shall not suffer a witch to live"Exodus 22:18 based on a mistranslation from the original Hebrew. Know when the last "witch" was tried? Helen Duncan imprisoned for witchcraft in 1956.
As that shows Christian atrocities aren't limited to the distant past, Google Catholic Ustasha camps in such as Jasenovac (1941), between 300,000 -600, 000 Serbians murdered if they refused to convert to Catholicism. Jasenovac Memorial Area maintains a list of the names of 83,145 Jasenovac victims, including 47,627 Serbs, 16,173 Romanies (gypsies), 13,116 Jews, 4,255 Croats, 1,128 Bosnian Muslims, 266 Slovenes. Of the 83,145 named victims, 20,101 are children under the age of 14, and 23,474 are women, sure this was an extremist sect of Catholism, just like the Muslim extremists you are concerned about perhaps?
What about the actual Catholic church? The Pope's unwavering stance on contraception which is a major contributing factor in the deaths of hundreds of thousands of Africans from HIV? Sorry pal but if you are going to get on your high horse about brutal religions Islam hasn't got shit on Christianity yet.
Does this make all Christians blood thirsty barbarians? Of course not. Most Christians are thoroughly decent people, as are most Muslims. The problem here isn't one religion... its all of them. There isn't a religious ideology that isn't prone to fundamentalism, belief that whatever action you take is supported by a personal deity that thinks just like you and shares your prejudices and will actual reward violence against your perceived enemies is a dangerous idea.
Its an idea that will always lead to bloodshed.
“Religion is an insult to human dignity. Without it you would have good people doing good things and evil people doing evil things. But for good people to do evil things, that takes religion.”Steven Weinberg
I know there are many of you who will violently disagree with what I've wrote here. That's fine. And if you want to pray for the people of Paris, do so. But please make sure that's not all you do.
Here are those links for donations again:
I'll leave you with the words of Charlie Hebdo cartoonist Joann Safar