Atheists at Prayer

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A year ago I was in the hospital, following surgery for a life-threatening condition, and then complications, and after I got a few tubes taken out of me (out of a total of six) my wife's minister came to visit.

Knowing I am "not a regular attender" he said; "I don't know where you are spiritually but I'd like to pray with you."

"It's complicated," I said, not wanting to encourage such a thing or get into a discussion of any kind. This is the same clown who once buttonholed me with a question about his computer when I was three feet inside the door of the church for a friend's funeral.

"Oh well, that's not like you're an atheist or anything", he said.

Mind you, while the morphine is just barely taking the edge off the pain from the infection in my peritoneum, I am pretty much stoned off my ass. Any other time, I'd have never let it get that far. But I couldn't let that one go.

"All right, you got me - I'm an atheist. I just don't believe in god."

And then he said something else, I don't remember what, and damned if he didn't go ahead and pray in Jesus name and everything. I was in no condition to dignify the affront with an argument or even a loud stream of profanity. I just lay there in silence.

A while back my brother was assigned the task of giving the prayer at a Toastmasters Meeting. I don't know if he's religious or not. The theme of this meeting was humor. So he gave the shortest prayer I've ever heard:
For good food
For good meat
Good Lord
Let's Eat!

At large public prayers, I like to use the opportunity to look around the venue for other people who are also looking around the room. Make eye contact, smile, and give 'em a nod. You'd be surprised how many people in a group of say, 1000 people, are doing the same thing.

I go ahead and pray, and I can say a mean Grace. I've stopped confronting people with harsh reality; I never did convert anybody anyhow. I say "thank god", and I tell people I'll pray for them when what I really mean is I wish them well. Helps to keep social interactions flowing. I'm not closeted though, if anybody asks me for my opinion on any spiritual matter, I immediately tell them there is no such thing. And I love to prattle on about evolutionary biology and neuroscience and WHY I'm convinced there is no such thing.

But I'm one of those atheists that thinks that belief in an afterlife is pretty much innate for H. sapiens, so I have no hopes of ever living in a rational world.

I don't advocate for other atheists to do the same as me, I believe in freedom of speech, and many people (though luckily not me) are oppressed by religious intolerance, so I support those who fight the good fight. CFI gets my donations.

I guess my 2 cents is that it's ok for atheists to play along with the religious conventions of the society at large to which they belong. "I was in no condition to dignify the affront with an argument or even a loud stream of profanity", said @george w. I don't get that, the priest was (in his mind) praying for your salvation. That's kind of a nice thing to do, I don't see why you're offended.

By blueshifter (not verified) on 18 Jul 2010 #permalink

My favorite is Catholic mass. No body of Christ for me!

I don't get that, the priest was (in his mind) praying for your salvation. That's kind of a nice thing to do, I don't see why you're offended.

I guess you're the type of ass who sees no problem in offering a Hindu a hamburger.
Does being basically held hostage in a hospital bed and and enduring some prat prate on about some childish and irrational belief mean nothing to you? What if the guy had been pushing Scientology or his brand of racial supremacy? In his mind he's doing something nice. *headdesk*

I don't pray nor do I encourage their do the same. If I am in someones home (for dinner for instance) and they wish to pray over the food...I remain silent with my arms crossed waiting for the nonsense to stop. If someone is in my home and asks if I mind if they "say grace" at my table...I tell them if it turns em on...go for it. In the meantime...I'm filling my plate and eating. If I am ill and some moron wants to pray for my healing...I usually laugh and tell them to keep their voodoo witchdoctors BS to themselves.

By Perfectly Human (not verified) on 24 Jul 2010 #permalink