Opinion: The first stone

POSTED: 01/16/13 1:05 PM

Is it hypocritical to pray, as Gerard Bijnsdorp claims elsewhere on this page? That is a matter of perception. For those who believe in God it is probably a useful activity. For those of us who don’t – well, that needs no further explanation.

We just checked in at the Atheist Alliance International for the atheist-score: it stood at 168,283 – still a fraction of the 183 million that are out there. In the whole of the Netherlands Antilles (the internet has not discovered St. Maarten as an autonomous country yet) there are now 12 of them registered. So apart from Bijnsdorp, there are eleven others who at least took the trouble to register. Being an atheist seems like a lonely existence in our paradise under the sun.

The numbers immediately give an indication about what most people will think about a national day of prayer. No harm is done, even though there are obviously no practical results to be expected from this joint effort.

For instance, we do not expect that praying will lead to fewer hurricanes, fewer corrupt politicians, more generosity from the Netherlands, a forever balanced budget, higher tax compliance or the abolition of sexual abuse in the Catholic Church. None of that.

In that sense, Bijnsdorp has of course a point. But aren’t we all hypocritical at times? We remember the day we met our driftwood artist leaving Le Grand Marché with his shopping, shortly after he had assisted his daughter with the production of a short environmental film. His shopping was stuffed in a truckload of plastic grocery bags. Of course, Bijnsdorp is not the only one to slip up in the plastic bag department. Hell, we’ve been guilty of it ourselves at times as well, though we stick mostly to the reusable bags Gebe and the supermarket itself made available a couple of years ago.

Hypocrisy comes in many forms, and – atheists would argue – praying is just one of them. When it comes to walking the talk, all bets are off, as the encounter with Bijnsdorp and his plastic bags proves.

We’re not the expert on biblical quotes, but we seem to remember something about throwing the first stone. Always good to keep that one in mind, we thought. At the same time, Bijnsdorp ought to continue throwing his curve balls. We’re attached to them.

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