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Nature of prayer. October 14, 2010

Posted by thegodless in Atheism.
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For the sake of the argument, let’s stretch reality and pretend that atheists are completely wrong about their stance on the nonexistence of gods. Let’s also go a step further and say that one particular god is not only real, but this god also cares for us and chooses to dabble in our affairs. Now let’s pretend that we actually believe religionists that come forward with first hand proof of answered prayers. By taking these first hand accounts, we can ascertain what types of prayers god usually answers. We should also be able to determine what kinds of prayers god tends to ignore. Before I go any further, let me clarify what I mean by the answering of prayers. If I have to pretend that believers are telling the truth about their prayers being answered, I should get to at least require that an answered prayer must not come with any overt human involvement. A recent example of overt human involvement is the hole dug for the purpose of rescuing the Chilean miners. I’ve heard believer after believer claim that the miners were alive from the grace of god. They just throw all the credit to god on this and forget the massive human rescue effort, while it is clearly evident that without human intervention, the miners would have been dead long ago. Human assisted answers will not be counted in my non-scientific examination of prayers.

Examples of answered prayers that believers frequently attribute to god(s): disappearing afflictions and ailments, sudden freedom from stress and addiction, newfound financial stability and wealth, protection from a form of particular harm, safety of self and others, better physical and mental performance, pregnancy and child birth, finding a soul mate, getting a desired job, and accomplishing difficult goals.

Examples of the results of prayers that god has never been reported to have answered (surely someone at some point prayed for these): world peace, an end to all human suffering, resurrection of dead loved ones (Biblical accounts don’t count), immortality, prevention of the death of a crop, animal, or human, prevention of environmental disasters, restoration of a catastrophe or environmental disaster, restoration of ruined vehicles or homes, governmental progress and change (I know religionists praying that Obama will die or get kicked out of office), forcing belief in god or the “right” god (I can’t count how many times unprovoked prayers were said for me to change my heathen ways), and healing of disfigurement or dismemberment.

A person thinking clearly would look at these groups of examples and likely see a common theme, which I believe to be that god(s) only answer prayers that are impossible to account for. It is also evident with the examples of answered prayer that each of the first hand accounts all have natural alternative answers as to how they could have occurred, for instance, when it comes to the healing of internal ailments, it would be much more reasonable and likely that the ailment was imaginary, incorrectly diagnosed, or healed by natural means. Because the natural answers are more likely to be true, the believer has a high probability of putting their credit in the wrong place.

As a majority of the commonly reported answers to prayers are suspect and unverifiable, it is left to the believer to demonstrate a prayer that has been answered overtly and inexplicably by any other means. While it is quickly becoming an atheist cliche, I must maintain that it says volumes that visible answers to prayer do not happen. Believers with physical deformities and amputated appendages appear to be shit out of luck when praying for godly intervention, as do believers that have suffered house fires, child death, or voted Republican. It’s a good thing humanity has taken things into it’s own hands. If it was wasn’t for plastic surgery, prosthetics, house insurance, and grievance counselors, we would be in much worse shape. Now if only we would give proper credit where it was due. You never know how inspirational a simple word of appreciation can be.

For the sake of my sanity and my last point, I will quit with the pretending now. Because the probability of an all powerful god is so low and because nearly everyone has bouts of hypochondria, it is statistically likely that believers that believe their prayers have been answered are in actuality only going through a mental ritual all by themselves. Essentially, the believer starts by thinking in their head that they are in need of something, from there they begin looking for anything that can be perceived as an answer to their need. Once they have perceived that their need has been met, they automatically attribute the meeting of their need to a god, completely bypassing critical thinking and ignoring the possibility of natural answers.

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Comments»

1. SciPhile - October 18, 2010

Very true Godless. Most all prayer belief can be explained away with our psychological understanding of cognitive dissonance and the confirmation/selection biases.

2. mcoville - October 19, 2010

Atheists are an answer to prayer. See if you can figure that one out.

BTW, all thous “unanswered prayers” you listed may one day be answered, in fact we are told that they will be in the book of Revelation. Read it, you may find some understanding.

thegodless - October 20, 2010

If you write any book with enough cryptic nonsense, your bound to have some meaning to someone at some point in time. For proof look at all of the other holy books that seem to have had fulfilled prophecy. For further proof look at Nostradamus, he filled his books up with all kinds of crap and managed to go down in history as some sort of a visionary prophet. It’s too easy to become a prophet, meaning the title of prophet is really meaningless and worthless. In modern times, we have experienced a shift in popularity from prophets to conspiracy theorists. The conspiracy theorists are really just more of the same, just more people such as yourself reading shit into everything. These people are so absorbed into wishing things were as they believed that they are more than willing to forego critical thinking and evidence. To just throw out that you believe that atheists are an answer to a prayer really has no meaning in the world of reality. Answer this: If your worldview has been thoroughly debunked, how do you continue to justify praying to a god that is not there?

mcoville - October 20, 2010

“If your worldview has been thoroughly debunked, how do you continue to justify praying to a god that is not there?” First, my worldview has never been “thoroughly debunked” anymore than yours has. Second, the God I pray to is there. So your question is invalid.

Just because you have dismissed the option of a supernatural God does not mean that being does not exist.

3. Amos Keppler - December 23, 2010

Two armies stand against each other, both praying to God to destroy the opponent. God must be terribly confused most of the time.

There is no evidence that there is a God. That’s sufficient for me.

Added to that is the way he/she/it is described in the bible as a beyond wicked entity, and his followers constantly revealing same and similar traits.

4. Brisbane Dentist - April 29, 2012

Everyone had something that they believe in. Everyone wanted something for their own benefit and also for the benefit of others. But not all prayers are being answered. But it doesn’t mean that if your prayer is not answered, there is no God. They say that there really is no God. But I would say that do you only believe in the things that you only see? Let me ask you if you do believe that you have a brain? That is likewise to say about God. Prayer is the only way we could communicate to Him for we are only humans. Maybe we prayed for something and it was not answered directly and this maybe because that there are more things that you more deserve than on what you asked for. When you mentioned about the Chilean miners that are trapped, of course many have prayed and that when they are saved by the rescuers, a big thank to them and also to God. For we couldn’t say that I did not see that god helped on the rescue for the miners, and we doubted of His existence.

thegodless - April 30, 2012

I don’t need the failure of prayer to disprove the existence of gods. This is what theists are for. All this time and not a single verifiable piece of evidence. The reason I bring up the complete failure of prayer is only to say that, if a god exists, he/she doesn’t appear to be the god of the Bible and he/she certainly doesn’t follow any rule of ask and recieve.

5. Daisy Jane Maravillas Obnimaga - April 29, 2012

Prayer is also must be partnered with belief and great work. For when He sees that you are working for what you prayed, He will help you in attain the good results that we wanted. For example that you prayed that you will be a successful teacher one day, and you did not study, how will your prayer be answered? How will you become a teacher someday if you did not put an effort to attain it? Hope you get my point. 🙂


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