Dear Mrs RR
I know there is a long dialog in progress with Dr Renu and do not want to intrude because if I did I would end up challenging most statements and no one including me have time for that .. Of course some may lead to many Mannangatti threads which could be fun but I am using the power of my 'free will' to not go there LoL
Almost everyone including atheists have some beliefs which guide their actions. Some of the beliefs may be originating by the preaching of religious traditions.
Some religious theologies are more dangerous because they mandate spreading and conversion which can lead to wars over time.
In Hindu umbrella we can accommodate almost any idea (except conversion) because we are beyond tolerance and we are about full acceptance of however way someone wants to pray (or not pray).
The part that requires thinking is :
1. What is this Almighty who seemingly is defined as controlling everything - it that a belief based entity only? (Remember 'God Exists' thread
2. What does praying means - is that about asking for better life, better security now and in the future and asking for even more desires to be fulfilled?
3. Why should that Almighty listen to prayer and act?
The easier 'feel good approach' may be - let us have faith and let us devote ourselves fully and then life will be good.
Will it be good?
If someone is living as a refugee from Darfur where genocide (and rape) ignored by rest of humanity has happened to almost million people lasting over a decade, it will be hard to think of a merciful Almighty who allowed this to happen (and continuing to happen). I am sure there are many who are praying even today if they survived the genocide.
Religion that is founded on proper answers for some of such questions, even if those answers are not fully understood by its followers are likely to feel sense of order in their life. Some of our traditions under the umbrella term of Hinduism is based on such an understanding without contradictions. Many others are not.
Blind devotion to an Almighty cannot stand the test of time when truly bad things happen. We have had discussions on this in other threads. It is possible to provide a circular argument that can say that one's devotion was not true to begin with if it did not sustain 'bad things happening to good people'.
My point is that if the mental model and understanding is incorrect there will be serious issues when one follows what they think is their religion. It is not the person following the tradition has to understand it all but there must be qualified teachers to provide right guidance when seeming contradictions emerge.
Many of the mental models in this thread can be shown to be wrong. But you cannot tell that the person because they do not want to hear it. One cannot go and talk to a devout Muslim that his cherished beliefs about conversion and violence against women are wrong.
All I will suggest is for those that are blessed with thinking ability to ensure what they are following is rooted in sound understanding. It is not enough to be truthful. One can be truthful and completely wrong if they have a wrong mental model
In a set of Mantras called Shanti Mantras there are two lines
In the above Rrutam and Satyam both refer to the truth. If so why there are two words for the same meaning and why repeat them?
One says - I speak what I know to be the truth and the other is that what I know has been (validated) as the absolute truth.
In other words it is not only that I speak what I have as my mental model and follow it but that I have ensured (either directly or indirectly through others who I respect) that my actions are validated and consistent with absolute truth
Many of the mental models expressed in this thread are truth as believed but not validated...
Let me stop here