Pharyngula

So that’s why they do it…

Comments

  1. #1 Holbach
    April 16, 2008

    There is the picture of absolute insanity without doing anything. Can any illustration portray it definitively?

  2. #2 MME
    April 16, 2008

    Seriously. “I’ll pray for you!” What, you think I can’t pray for myself if I wanted to? Or does your god think your prayers are more important than mine?

    I’ll do a little rain dance, and if it rains eventually that will mean that god liked it.

  3. #3 Sioux Laris
    April 16, 2008

    I pray, if reciting sutras and doing occasional spells counts as praying. Heck, I even have tarot cards and an I Ching book, and occasionally consult them! I just don’t pretend they are anything but traditional mental (ha! a funny!) reflectors that stimulate a particular sort of lateral thinking and creativity.

    Please, please note that I understand it has not the slightest effect upon others in any way (otherise I’d have voodoo dolls of Bush and Rice, like in some episode of “Hammer House of Horrors”), save through my own real-world actions and interactions.

    So, do I still get to be an atheist? What level? Is there a secret decoder ring?

  4. #4 ferfuracious
    April 16, 2008

    “Is there a secret decoder ring?”

    Cliches are more effective at making their users look silly than their targets.

  5. #5 Ray S.
    April 16, 2008

    Is that Jesus i see in that guys bald spot? Or maybe an angel with a halo? I know it can’t be a turban, can it?

  6. #6 Sioux Laris
    April 16, 2008

    Then, mission accomplished!

  7. #7 Ted D
    April 16, 2008

    Is there a secret decoder ring?

    No, but there is a lightsaber. If you don’t know that, you don’t qualify.

  8. #8 Kseniya
    April 16, 2008

    Is that Jesus i see in that guy’s bald spot? Or maybe an angel with a halo? I know it can’t be a turban, can it?

    No. It’s an omen. Evacuate the Gulf coast and alert FEMA – now!

  9. #9 dr.filbert
    April 16, 2008

    dear geezus:

    Gimme a head with hair, long beautiful hair
    Shining, gleaming, steaming, flaxen, waxen
    Give me down to there, hair!
    Shoulder length, longer (hair!)
    Here baby, there mama, Everywhere daddy daddy

    CHORUS:
    Hair! (hair, hair, hair, hair, hair, hair)
    Flow it, Show it;
    Long as God can grow it, My Hair!

  10. #10 Holbach
    April 16, 2008

    # 3 You are definitely not an atheist, and if you do get a decoder ring, you can pray to that and still maintain your state of mind, whatever your mind states.

  11. #11 Jason Failes
    April 16, 2008

    “So, do I still get to be an atheist? What level? Is there a secret decoder ring?”

    Level 10.

    You can use the symbols of woo purely symbolically/psychologically, and can actually maintain some pleasurable effect without having to trick yourself into thinking there’s something more to them than there is.

    In short, you have reached the much-coveted Richard-Dawkins-singing-Christmas-carols level of atheism.

    The good news is that there is a secret decoder ring.

    The bad news is, like all atheists (and anyone else in the reality-based community), you have to build it yourself.

  12. #12 Confused
    April 16, 2008

    Gotta love the create-your-own-motivational-poster gadget at demotivators.

    My current desktop…

  13. #13 Steve_C
    April 16, 2008

    Wow. I love it.

  14. #14 Daniel
    April 16, 2008

    My mom takes it one step further. She says, “I’ll put your name in the temple.”

    Yep, Mormons think that if you phone the nearest temple (or go there yourself), and tell them the names of people who need extra-special prayers, it’ll somehow make things better because they pray for those people with extra-super-duper intensity. It’s probably the most para-Catholic thing in the LDS church.

    Of course, god’s such a dunce that he’d never know you needed help unless someone put your name in the temple.

    And I know it’s Mom’s special way of saying that she loves me, so I try to appreciate it on that level, but honestly.

  15. #15 Dennis
    April 16, 2008

    While working as a supervisor for a security firm I caught a guard sleeping at his desk. I cleared my throat to get his attention and without missing a beat he opened his eyes and said “amen”. I let him off, best use of prayer ever.

  16. #16 mkuriluk
    April 16, 2008

    @ daniel: I hear you, every time something is missing my Italian grandma gets after St. Anthony with this little diddy:
    St. Anthony St. Anthony please come around, I’ve lost my _____. And it cannot be found.
    -and then proceeds to send money to “the church” if said thing turns up.

    Like you said, I appreciate the sentiment, but I’d rather learn to be less absent minded than have my grandma (living on a gm pension) sending cash to detroit’s parrish of St. Anthony.

  17. #17 Shygetz
    April 16, 2008

    “Is there a secret decoder ring?”

    If I told you about it, it wouldn’t be a secret anymore, now would it?

  18. #18 dubiquiabs
    April 16, 2008

    I wonder how many might pray as a means of hedging their bets. When asked if he thought his horseshoe brought luck, Niels Bohr’s neighbor said that “they say it helps even if you don’t believe it.” (As recounted by W. Heisenberg)

  19. #19 Kitty
    April 16, 2008

    On the 31st March 2000 a talented, kind, gentle and very popular young friend suffered a brain haemorrhage.
    Many people wanted him to survive.

    The Reiki masters did whatever they do to heal him from their conference 200 miles away.

    The Mormons posted his name at the local temple.

    The local Catholics prayed for him at mass.

    At least 3 local protestant churches mentioned him in despatches.

    Pagans burnt candles and chanted. Tarot cards were consulted.

    So much prayer!

    He died.

    They then said he HAD to die young as he was TOO GOOD for this earth – all of them!

    Each of them claimed him as their own.

    Those of us who were his friends and knew him well meet on the anniversary of his death, get pissed and laugh a lot about our time together.

    We also raise a glass to Robert de Niro – the only thing he ever worshipped – ‘You lookin’ at me?’

  20. #20 Kerlyssa
    April 16, 2008

    Anyone else see a pieta in that guy’s bald spot?

  21. #21 Cuttlefish, OM
    April 16, 2008

    Let’s fold our hands and bow our heads
    And mumble something low,
    Or pray to tens of millions on
    Some television show.
    Let’s take a silent moment, and
    Have others do the same,
    So those remaining talking can
    Be sure to feel their shame.
    Let’s know that we are better, cos
    We spent our time in prayer,
    Than atheists and heathens who
    Are working over there.

    Let’s say a prayer for Washington,
    For Darfur; for Tibet;
    Let’s say a prayer for hunger, and
    To fix the nation’s debt.
    Let’s say a prayer for miners, trapped
    In tunnels underground;
    Let’s say a prayer for missing kids
    In hopes that they are found.
    Let’s say a prayer for polar ice
    And students gone berserk;
    Let’s say a prayer for everything–
    It sure beats doing work.

    http://digitalcuttlefish.blogspot.com/2008/04/join-me-in-moment-of-silent-prayer-or.html

  22. #22 woody, tokin librul
    April 16, 2008

    Usta be a saying in the war:
    Pray in one hand and poop in the other, and compare which one got stinky…

  23. #23 Peter Ashby
    April 16, 2008

    Confused, thankyou as a DevBio I love it to bits. Worthy of Gary Larson himself that is.

  24. #24 Brownian, OM
    April 16, 2008

    The good news is that there is a secret decoder ring.

    The bad news is, like all atheists (and anyone else in the reality-based community), you have to build it yourself.

    What a great line! You’re really bucking for a Molly this month, Jason.

  25. #25 Nemo
    April 16, 2008

    Sometimes there’s nothing people can do, and they want so badly to help… so, they pray. I can’t fault them for that. It’s ineffective, but well-meant.

    It’s only a problem if they think of prayer first, and stop there, when they actually could have done something real to help instead.

  26. #26 shpx.ohfu
    April 16, 2008

    This version made the rounds last year. “Lookit how earnest I am, Jeebus. Kin ah pleese have another war now?”

  27. #27 Pocket Nerd
    April 16, 2008

    @ #15: See, and you liberalist humanist secularist progressivist Darwinist atheistists still claim prayer doesn’t work!

  28. #28 mikespeir
    April 16, 2008

    Worse, if you won’t pray with them, they think you don’t care.

  29. #29 Jason Failes
    April 16, 2008

    Neat. Thank you, Brownian, OM.

    I was confused at first, kept getting this kind of result:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Honorable_Order_of_Molly_Pitcher

    …but then I searched within ScienceBlogs and, well, that makes much more sense, as my contribution to U.S. Field Artillery is minimal at best.

    But honestly, I just vent what’s on my mind.

    Nominate Cuttlefish: A lot of work must go into busting those rhymes.

  30. #30 MikeM
    April 16, 2008

    Well, I prayed for the Warriors to make the NBA playoffs.

    That went well.

  31. #31 Chief
    April 16, 2008

    Thank you for this! I saw this as the avatar on somebody’s post – maybe in the comments at richarddawkins.net – and immediately went looking for it. Perfect. I am appropriating it for my own use now.

  32. #32 Stubl
    April 16, 2008

    How to do nothing and still think you’re helping

    Haha, yeah, it’s all rather like buying Fair Trade, recycling your plastic bags, and wearing coloured wrist-bands.

  33. #33 David Marjanovi?, OM
    April 16, 2008

    Anyone else see a piet[ā] in that guy’s bald spot?

    No, a hammerhead shark… :-°

  34. #34 David Marjanovi?, OM
    April 16, 2008

    Anyone else see a piet[ā] in that guy’s bald spot?

    No, a hammerhead shark… :-°

  35. #35 David Marjanovi?, OM
    April 16, 2008

    BTW, Cuttlefish, do you really pronounce “prayer” as a single syllable? I find that outright difficult… ~:-|

  36. #36 David Marjanovi?, OM
    April 16, 2008

    BTW, Cuttlefish, do you really pronounce “prayer” as a single syllable? I find that outright difficult… ~:-|

  37. #37 MikeM
    April 16, 2008

    Wow, Stubl… People wear colored wristbands mostly because they’ve donated money to cancer research.

    You think people should stop doing that?

    Say that to Lance Armstrong in person, and I bet he’d introduce you personally to his fist.

  38. #38 Nemo
    April 16, 2008

    I would deem “prayer” as a single syllable, though a long one.

  39. #39 Louise Van Court
    April 16, 2008

    To pray for someone is a way of expressing your love and concern. Sometimes others can pray for you better than you can for yourself when you are going through a hard time. I am deeply grateful to those who have prayed me through some of life’s trials in the past, nothing humorous about it. Since I have started reading this post I have been stopped twice (interestingly) with calls/requests from the prayer chain at my church, I will pray and call the request on to the next one on the list who prays and calls etc. We pray not only for healing if it is about an illness or surgery but also for strength and courage to be provided to those who need it most. We pray that they might be comforted and know a sense of peace in the midst of turmoil. We pray for the physicians and nurses who might be caring for the person. We pray for the family of the one in need. The prayer takes only a minute or two and can be done silently at work or at home.
    Many times we will get a praise report days or weeks later that things did go well or that the person was comforted and felt unafraid. No not all are healed, but does that mean the prayer was ineffective or did nothing?
    Sometimes because of distance or not knowing the ones in need prayer is all you can do. Other times you can demonstrate your love and caring by sitting with someone in a waiting room, providing childcare or meals to a family, or crying with them as they grieve.

  40. #40 Heather
    April 16, 2008

    Will it still work if you say a nursery rhyme instead?

    I think the part that works best is when you say “the cheese stands alone” 14 times in a row. Then people really take you seriously. But if it doesn’t work, it’s probably because God doesn’t want the cheese to stand alone. He has plans for that cheese, and standing alone is not part of the plan. Even if you don’t understand it, it doesn’t mean it’s not a good plan.

  41. #41 stubl
    April 16, 2008

    Say that to Lance Armstrong in person, and I bet he’d introduce you personally to his fist.

    Why? Is he incapable of considered argument, too?

    Actually, I was a tad too generous towards Fair Trade, wrist-bands, and recycling plastic bags above. At least with prayer, you’re only fooling yourself that you care. All this conspicuous compassion is much more insidious – trying to fool others that you care.

  42. #42 Steve_C
    April 16, 2008

    Praying does nothing.

  43. #43 MyaR
    April 16, 2008

    Prayer is definitely one syllable. Two syllables would make it it a person who prays, which would be weird and nonstandard.

  44. #44 Kadath
    April 16, 2008

    Actually, I was a tad too generous towards Fair Trade, wrist-bands, and recycling plastic bags above. At least with prayer, you’re only fooling yourself that you care. All this conspicuous compassion is much more insidious – trying to fool others that you care.
    Posted by: stubl | April 16, 2008 2:22 PM

    Are you really proposing a false dilemma, or do you just enjoy being a misanthrope on the Internet?

    If the latter, don’t let me interrupt.

  45. #45 noncarborundum
    April 16, 2008

    BTW, Cuttlefish, do you really pronounce “prayer” as a single syllable? I find that outright difficult… ~:-|

    This is the standard U.S. pronunciation. See Encarta, for example.

  46. #46 MikeM
    April 16, 2008

    Why? Is he incapable of considered argument, too?

    No, you bumbling moron, he’s a cancer survivor. He basically started the wristband movement.

    That, my friend, was a stupid question.

  47. #47 Stubl
    April 16, 2008

    Are you really proposing a false dilemma, or do you just enjoy being a misanthrope on the Internet?

    I’m suggesting that the joke about prayer extends to many other pointless activities. Perhaps I’ve come to the wrong place? I thought this was where you go to laugh at religious people.

  48. #48 craig
    April 16, 2008

    When I was a kid in the 70s our class went for a field trip to the Buffalo Jewish Center, there was some Israel Expo thing going on there. While there we saw in one display a big replica of the wailing wall, painted blocks of styrofoam or papier mache or something.

    It was explained that Jews would visit the real wall and insert prayers into cracks between the blocks… and visitors to the display had put their own prayer slips into the cracks of the model. One of my teachers impishly took one out and sneaked a peak at it when nobody was looking.

    If a prayer stuck in a thousands of years old, archaeologically significant wall is useless, how much is one stuck into a crappy styrofoam replica worth?

  49. #49 craig
    April 16, 2008

    “Praying does nothing.”

    Not true. It does many things. It burns a small number of calories, it reinforces delusional thought, it wastes time and annoys passers-by…

  50. #50 hexatron
    April 16, 2008

    Maybe prayer is kind of like sleep.
    No one really knows what it’s good for.
    It seems necessary to those who practice it.
    It’s main dicernable effect is to keep one immobile when moving around (food- or mate- gathering) is more dangerous (being noticed moving & being eaten) than immobility.

  51. #51 stogoe
    April 16, 2008

    Are you really proposing a false dilemma, or do you just enjoy being a misanthrope on the Internet?

    He’s a climate denialist, judging by the url he attached to his name. Make of that what you will.

  52. #52 Stubl
    April 16, 2008

    No, you bumbling moron, he’s a cancer survivor. He basically started the wristband movement.

    Aye, so why should he want to hit me? Or did you mean it in a God-smiting-the-unfaithful sort of way?

  53. #53 Flamethorn
    April 16, 2008

    Prayer as one syllable is pronounced “prare”, and rhymes with square, except the a is a little bit longer.

  54. #54 Kseniya
    April 16, 2008

    David, the simplest way to approach the one-syllable prayer (!) is to start with “rare”… then prepend the “p”.

    “Prayer”. Rhymes with “air”.

    :-)

  55. #55 MikeM
    April 16, 2008

    I’m suggesting that the joke about prayer extends to many other pointless activities. Perhaps I’ve come to the wrong place? I thought this was where you go to laugh at religious people.

    I’ll apolgize if I’m wrong (that happens with me), but I checked out your website, and it looks like a global-warming skeptics website. Which is fine. To each his own.

    But I question your veracity when you say “I’m suggesting that the joke about prayer extends to many other pointless activities.” From your comments, and maybe this is just your sense of humor, it doesn’t seem like that was your point.

    I mean, the wristbands… Do you know what those mean? People buy those as cancer fundraisers. As far as I know, people don’t buy those to cure cancer; they buy them as a way of making a donation. The wristbands themselves have no affect on human health, but people have benefitted from the money raised through the sale of those wristbands.

    Maybe Lance wouldn’t punch you, but I think if you said it to him the way you did, in person, you’d be pretty lucky if he only gave you a cold shoulder. It looks to me as though you’re deriding a perfectly good way to raise money for a worthy cause, which does rub me the wrong way.

    No more one-liners from me. Your comment demonstrates clearly that you don’t understand the point of those wristbands. At all.

    If you had said “Chi Channels” or “Pyramids” or “Crystals” or “Layers of Light”, that’d be different. Honestly, though, a global-warming skeptics website doesn’t help.

    So there you go. Do you understand where I’m coming from?

    No more SIWOTI rants from me today. This is probably my last comment on the topic.

  56. #56 Kseniya
    April 16, 2008

    Ooops. Me be slower than a Flamethorn today. (Why should today be any different?)

    :-)

    Other times you can demonstrate your love and caring by sitting with someone in a waiting room, providing childcare or meals to a family, or crying with them as they grieve.

    Now you’re talking.

  57. #57 Sastra
    April 16, 2008

    Louise Van Court #37 wrote:

    To pray for someone is a way of expressing your love and concern.

    If this is what prayer really is — another way of saying “I hope you get better,” another way calming oneself enough to have the strength to prepare for and accept whatever happens — then nobody, here or elsewhere, would quarrel with its value.

    But that’s not what you’re really saying, is it? No. Though I could be wrong, I think you’re also claiming that prayer will effect the outcome magically. God will answer the prayer and change the situation in ways that go beyond the psychological benefits. Prayer is not just seen as a sort of ritualized poetry or metaphor for caring, concern, and inner strength; you’re tapping into a Force which acts, a Power which transforms transcendently.

    It is very common for religious, spiritual, and pseudoscientific advocates to try to blur distinctions between their supernatural faith claims and something which sounds very similar, but is natural and reasonable. The magical belief gains credibility by riding along on the back of the natural belief. If one is true, then isn’t the other just as likely, a different form of the same thing? Bait and switch.

    One recent example is in the book The Secret. The author sometimes talks about the Power of Positive Thinking as the ability of our Minds to manifest reality and attract results through the direct power of Conscious Intention. Think of a bicycle, and presto! the universe will make sure you get one. The universe cares – isn’t it great?

    Other times, the author seems to suggest that the Power of Positive Thinking is really the same as “when you feel good about yourself, others see this confidence and react to you in a positive way.” Or “when you make your mind up, focus, and work hard for something, you’re more likely to get it.” Think about a bicycle, get a paper route, save your money, and wow! a bicycle. Isn’t the universe great?

    Please don’t kid yourself that nobody sees this trick. And don’t kid yourself that it isn’t a trick.

  58. #58 Kadath
    April 16, 2008

    Are you really proposing a false dilemma, or do you just enjoy being a misanthrope on the Internet?

    He’s a climate denialist, judging by the url he attached to his name. Make of that what you will.
    Posted by: stogoe | April 16, 2008 3:19 PM

    I see. How delightful!

    I’m suggesting that the joke about prayer extends to many other pointless activities. Perhaps I’ve come to the wrong place? I thought this was where you go to laugh at religious people.
    Posted by: Stubl | April 16, 2008 2:54 PM

    I shall clarify, though you be arguing in bad faith:

    There is a vast field of possibilities besides your implied alternatives of “doesn’t care, yet wants people to think otherwise, and therefore engages in useless displays” and “proudly doesn’t care.”

    For example, the purchase of Fair Trade products actually does benefit the farmers from whom the crops are purchased. Ethical consumption of luxuries, where such an alternative exists, is a better method of exerting market pressure than merely boycotting the unethically-produced equivalents.

  59. #59 Holbach
    April 16, 2008

    Louise Van Court @ 37
    Just to pick one incredible description of your prayers, you mentioned that you pray for the physicians and nurses caring for the person. Why in the name of reason and sanity would you have the need of physicians and nurses to heal the person when you are sure that your prayers alone will suffice? Are you willing to remove all medical equipment, drugs, doctors and nurses, and just pray over the sick and terminaly ill and know that they will be cured? Are you serious or just delirious with the insane and ludicrous and absolutely useless delirium of mumbo-jumbo? You are not even being disingenuous with such claptrap as this and expect most of us on this site to bow and accept this insanity! Direct your prayers to the morons at the Deranged Institute and the equally insane morons of that dreck movie,Expelled. It will do neither any good whatever, no mater how hard you supplicate your imaginary and fictitous god.

  60. #60 Emmet Caulfield
    April 16, 2008

    Will it still work if you say a nursery rhyme instead?

    That gives me an idea… I challenge you to bow your head and say the following solemnly without laughing or smiling:

    Dear Jeebus,

    Hey diddle diddle,

    The cat and the fiddle,

    The cow jumped over the moon.

    The little dog laughed

    To see such fun,

    And the dish ran away with the spoon.

    Amen.

    No, I can’t tell much difference either, except nursery rhymes, y’know, rhyme, but it is undoubtedly every bit as effective as “real” prayer.

  61. #61 karen
    April 16, 2008

    MikeM #53, here in Ontario those wristbands are being sold not just to raise funds for cancer research, but for just about every cause you can imagine, just like lapel ribbons. I’ve seen bins of them for causes ranging from cancer research through public elementary school fund-raising to Lebanese solidarity, as well as ones simply expressing various sentiments such as “peace” or “happiness”, etc.

  62. #62 Chief
    April 16, 2008

    Craig @46 —

    I have a photo of the wailing wall in my bathroom right above my toilet. Why? Well, because all the men lined up at the wall are visually reminiscent of the men lined up at a trough at a sports stadium. So, whenever I’m in there, I look up and I’ve got company.

    I heart blasphemy

  63. #63 Alex
    April 16, 2008

    That is perhaps the least clever or funny thing I’ve seen all day.

  64. #64 Sastra
    April 16, 2008

    Craig #46 & Cheif #60:

    That reminds me of an old joke.

    A tourist went to Jerusalem, and visited the Wailing Wall. His guide pointed out a very elderly man at prayer, and explained that this man had been coming there every day for over 50 years. Intrigued, the tourist approached the man when he had finished, and asked “Please, may I ask a question. What do you pray for?”

    The old man replied “I pray, every day since I was a boy, for peace. Peace in the Mid East.”

    “And how does it feel, to be so close to God, and pray every day so fervently?”

    The old man leaned forward and whispered “How does it feel? Frankly, it’s been like talking to a wall.”

  65. #65 MikeM
    April 16, 2008

    Karen,

    Fair enough. But are they ever sold to cure cancer, make peace, or improve education? If they were, then I’d say stubl has a point.

    If they’re used to raise money for those causes, great. If you buy one for $100 to cure your own cancer, though, that’s woo-woo, 100%.

    Might as well pray instead. At least that’d be free.

  66. #66 Louise Van Court
    April 16, 2008

    Sastra @ #55. “Please don’t kid yourself that nobody sees this trick. And don’t kid yourself that it isn’t a trick.”

    I am not trying to “trick” anyone. I was just relating some of my personal experience with prayer for anyone (atheists/agnostics) wondering what people actually do pray about. Beyond the human benefits of thinking about others and on the receiving end knowing that others are thinking about you (although the person may never know they were prayed for) yes, I do believe God is listening and responding. Sorry if I was unclear about that.

  67. #67 Sastra
    April 16, 2008

    Louise Van Court #64 wrote:

    … yes, I do believe God is listening and responding.

    Just out of curiosity, what would it look like if God didn’t listen and respond?

  68. #68 Emmet Caulfield
    April 16, 2008

    I do believe God is listening and responding.

    He isn’t.

  69. #69 Holbach
    April 16, 2008

    Louise Van Court” All you simply have to do is prove that your imaginary god exists. If I am behind a door and you are praying to me, all I have to do is show myself and there I am, your solid proof. You may wish and want it to be true because you were indoctrinated when young and take comfort in fairy tales, but this is worse than any fairy tale because it just will not happen. You believed in fairy tales as a child; you are not a child anymore so just mature and get rid of the childish nonsense and grow up for your own good.

  70. #70 Louise Van Court
    April 16, 2008

    Sastra “Just out of curiosity, what would it look like if God didn’t listen and respond?”

    Probably exactly like the world you see with your eyes Sastra.

  71. #71 H.H.
    April 16, 2008

    Probably exactly like the world you see with your eyes Sastra.

    So you admit, then, that for an objective observer, all evidence for you god disappears? I’d say that’s a pretty strong indication that you’re making it all up.

  72. #72 Kseniya
    April 16, 2008

    “I am not trying to ‘trick’ anyone.”

    I honestly and completely believe you.

    “Probably exactly like the world you see with your eyes Sastra.”

    This is surely more true than you intended…

    Evidence suggests that gods are, at best, indifferent. There is no evidence that gods listen and respond, though itt is comforting to believe so. However, there’s a downside. How do you reconcile a belief in the divine power of prayer with:

    1. Millionaire athletes and performing artists attributing their success to the power of prayer and the favorable gaze of God, and

    2. The death of a 43-year-old clinical psychologist, who’d devoted her adult life to helping those who cannot help themselves, of ovarian cancer; a woman left behind a husband, three children, and a community of friends and neighbors who prayed their souls out for her.

    Surely she and her loved ones didn’t deserve such a fate?

    Wait, wait, don’t tell me: God works in mysterious ways. Am I right?

  73. #73 Sioux Laris
    April 16, 2008

    “…you have to build it yourself.” Very, very nice one, Jason!

    Actually, I’d come to the same conclusion some time ago.

  74. #74 Daniel
    April 16, 2008

    I was just relating some of my personal experience with prayer for anyone (atheists/agnostics) wondering what people actually do pray about.

    Many of us have been religious at one time or another, so I think we have some idea.

    I dare say that some of us have deconverted from faith because we noticed the failure of prayer to have any real effect without shoehorning events into a faith-based template.

    Or we became annoyed by the superstitious silliness one had to go through to get an omniscient god to take notice and help you. Prayer chain, indeed.

    Your intentions are good, I am sure. But may I suggest that you do the concrete helping stuff first, and save the praying until after that’s done? Or leave it off entirely.

  75. #75 Graculus
    April 16, 2008

    Aye, so why should he want to hit me? Or did you mean it in a God-smiting-the-unfaithful sort of way?

    No, more like the sentiment behind Buzz Aldrin punching out Bart Sibrel.

  76. #76 Malcolm
    April 16, 2008

    I’ve never understood the whole prayer thing. When bad things happen, Christians say that God has a plan. Then surely praying is like saying that you have a better idea. Isn’t that blasphemous?

  77. #77 Sastra
    April 16, 2008

    Faith is making a personal commitment to “spin.”

    This is fine when it has to do with spinning one’s attitude — being hopeful, positive, persistent, and innovative, when dealing with the facts.

    It’s not so fine when it involves spinning the facts themselves.

    And even less fine, I think, when the two are confused with each other.

    Maybe I’m just too hopeful, positive, persistent, and innovative to believe in the Power of Prayer. It takes a certain amount of optimism I think to meet the facts head on, and not end up spinning.

  78. #78 AC
    April 17, 2008

    Probably exactly like the world you see with your eyes Sastra.

    Congratulations, you have just made a caricature of yourself.

  79. #79 karen
    April 17, 2008

    “Karen,

    Fair enough. But are they ever sold to cure cancer, make peace, or improve education? If they were, then I’d say stubl has a point.

    If they’re used to raise money for those causes, great. If you buy one for $100 to cure your own cancer, though, that’s woo-woo, 100%.

    Might as well pray instead. At least that’d be free.”

    I agree with all you’ve said; I was simply pointing out (in retrospect, probably unnecessarily ;) ) that those rubber bracelets have become almost as ubiquitous as lapel ribbons.

  80. #80 kcrady
    April 17, 2008

    Louis van Court, no matter what mental gymnastics you employ to sustain belief in ‘the power of prayer,’ it’s an inescapable fact: you live in the same godless universe we do.

  81. #81 red rabbit
    April 17, 2008

    Catholics where I come from post an ad in the newspaper for three weeks and THEN pray to get a miracle.

    I believed it when I was eight. But it didn’t work. Shocking.

    I’m a little disappointed actually, because if it had worked I might have all this warm fuzzy faith instead of… you know… reality.

  82. #82 gaypaganunitarianagnostic
    July 16, 2008

    Prayer may be a useful mental exercise for the person doing it, like meditation

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