It seems as though this is a good book for defining the "purpose" of god/religion. For some people it may help to overcome what must be a "test of faith" when a terrible tragedy happens to them.
For others, like myself and perhaps some of those who have posted on the "Atheist Professor"
thread, it only confirms why some do not believe in an all-powerful CEO of the Cosmos.
One of my favorite quotes comes from Richard Dawkins,
a Professor of Zoology at Oxford University and acclaimed author on genetics/evolution:
"In a universe of blind physical forces and genetic replication, some people are going to get hurt, other people are going to get lucky, and you won't find any rhyme or reason in it, nor any justice. The universe we observe has precisely the properties we should expect if there is, at bottom, no design, no purpose, no evil and no good, nothing but blind pitiless indifference." (River Out of Eden, p.133)
Now I know that kind of definition probably doesn't sit well with those who hold religious beliefs, but doesn't that sound a bit similar to Rabbi Kushner's interpretation of why good / bad happens? I'm not trying to argue anything and I do respect your beliefs. I'm only presenting another view as to "why" things happen.
One of the hardest parts of being an Atheist is having to define "what" you believe in. I DON'T believe in a god, but I DO believe in morals. Morality has nothing to do with religion since one can certainly be described as being of "good moral character" without a religious belief. This fact is often lost on those with a religious belief and is why atheists are often mentioned with the same disdain as Satanists, if not actually described as such. I would no sooner worship Satan as I would any other god.
I'm glad you feel you're a better nurse because you have your "spiritual issues" settled. I feel that I too am a better nurse because I settled all my issues with religion a long time ago. I find that without a religious belief I have only myself to blame for my actions and would likewise hold others accountable for their actions, good or bad. I have no fear of heaven or hell, since I feel neither exists. What I do focus on is the "here and now" or the reality that I perceive with my evolution-given senses. I believe WE are the truly lucky ones since so many of our species never makes it to the point of being born - everyone alive has already won the "lotto of life" - and we should all be more grateful for being here.
I could go on and on, but I think the point is obvious. One does not need a belief, or lack of belief, to be a good nurse or a good person. If you find that religion gives you the ability to cope with the uncertainty of life, then by all means you should feel free to practice your beliefs and defend them it attacked. However, I and other atheists only ask for the same consideration, even if our current President's father (GB Sr.) did not feel we were worthy of such respect:
George Bush states that atheists are not citizens or patriots
When George Bush was campaigning for the presidency, as incumbent vice president, one of his stops was in Chicago, Illinois, on August 27, 1987. At O'Hare Airport he held a formal outdoor news conference. There Robert I. Sherman, a reporter for the American Atheist news journal, fully accredited by the state of Illinois and by invitation a participating member of the press corps covering the national candidates had the following exchange with then Vice President Bush.
Sherman: What will you do to win the votes of the Americans who are atheists?
Bush: I guess I'm pretty weak in the atheist community. Faith in god is important to me.
Sherman: Surely you recognize the equal citizenship and patriotism of Americans who are atheists?
Bush: No, I don't know that atheists should be considered as citizens, nor should they be considered patriots. This is one nation under God.
Sherman (somewhat taken aback): Do you support as a sound constitutional principle the separation of state and church?
Bush: Yes, I support the separation of church and state. I'm just not very high on atheists. (click on the link to read more)
I hope you can see why many atheists are critical of those with religious beliefs and are a little concerned since the "apple doesn't fall far from the tree" in the Bush family. Once again, I'm not attacking you and I will defend anyone's right to believe what they want, I only ask that others would give me the same right to not believe and understand that my lack of belief is as strong as someone elses belief.