Introduction


Helping hands are much better than praying lips.

Work is the only prayer Nature answers; is the only prayer that deserves an answer: a good, honest and noble job.

It may be that the ministers really think that their prayers do good and it may be that the frogs imagine that their croaking brings spring.

Work is the only prayer Nature answers.

Robert Green Ingersoll (1833-1899)

How did Ted Cruz decide on Carly Fiorina as his running mate, in the unlikely event that his campaign had a future, and thankfully it didn’t? He said: I have prayed for this decision for a long time. Not enough, it seems. Or, maybe there is another explanation.

Maybe there is a god with a sense of humor, who knows? Or something beyond knowledge (tooth fairies, vampires, demons, goblins) or even currently unknown gods, benevolent or malevolent apparitions of eternal omniscience, power and wonder, beings who become the focus of future worship and prayer? Perhaps such a god or gods just haven’t revealed themselves yet. Moses, Joseph Smith, et. paraca – Where are you? Who knows?

All these wonders are impossible to solve, to verify. After all, the gods are not subjects of science: they dwell in the realm of superstition, at least until verifiable evidence for one or more of them turns up. Not likely, but then who knows? That is why religion is about faith: just believing, hoping, wishing. Knowing that humans cannot establish such things, I am an agnostic. But, convinced that there is no rational basis for believing that there is something out there in the nebulous afterlife, that no one/nothing pays attention to Ted Cruz, or anyone else, now or ever, I am also an atheist. Of course, there is no real difference between the two: if you don’t believe in the supernatural, what are you but an agnostic and atheist? It also doesn’t say there can’t be a god, or a devil, or a Flying Spaghetti Monster or whatever. However, the one who says I don’t know and the one who says I don’t believe have the same position: they cannot reconcile the existence of the unknowable.

Prayer

Which brings us back to Ted Cruz’s sentence that led him to choose Carly. wow.

How many billions of words, thoughts, animal and human sacrifices, and other pleas to an imaginary friend have been sent into the ether, to no avail except, perhaps, in a calming and meditative sense (an effect available without belief in a sky god)? ? We’ll never know, but, whatever the tonnage, there seems to be strong skepticism that any prayer will be heard, let alone answered, favorably or at all.

Why, then, do so many persist in doing so, despite the lack of results? The explanations of the faithful are varied and diverse; one of my favorites comes from an evangelist named Ken Collins: If I did, you would stop praying! So He delays his answers to give you something better: fellowship with Him through persistent prayer.

Another comes from Superintendent Chalmers, a character from The Simpsons: Prayer has no place in public schools, just as deed has no place in organized religion.

Let me offer a rhetorical question: Has there ever been a greater waste of time than prayer in all of human history? In my opinion, nothing else comes close. No spectator sports, no stamp collecting, no bingo, not even chases or grooming to attract potential mates. The latter, after all, contributed to the fact that we are still here.

REAL Reason and Welfare

If you see reason as a key dimension of well-being and therefore place importance on rational thinking, you may also have reservations about prayer. This is most likely to be the case if you are unwilling to superstition and magical thinking. I don’t think you doubt that you can be okay if you don’t pray, but I’m not convinced that you can be really okay mentally if you sincerely believe that prayer would influence a god, IF there was one. It’s so strange, when you think about it, boundless by the continual conditioning of the rules and rituals of religious traditions.

Prayer, in my opinion, is more damaging to well-being than chain smoking, alcohol abuse, and sugary soda bingeing, combined. A person has to suspend his sense of reality to think or even hope that the sentence can affect a change beyond his own emotional state. (I am not questioning the possible value of prayer, or just whispering, singing, or thinking of words in a mumbo-jumbo way as a meditative chant or a form of relaxation, just as an attempt to change something in the world beyond one same). I’m with Ethan Winer: If prayer really worked, everyone would be a millionaire, no one would get sick and die, and both football teams would always win.

Christopher Hitchens pointed out the arrogance of praying when he wrote: A praying man is one who thinks that God has fixed all wrong, but who also thinks that he can instruct God how to fix it. In Improved Man, Robert Green Ingersoll noted that an improved man he will not endeavor, by prayers or supplications, by fasts or genuflections, to change the mind of the Almighty, or to alter the course of nature; nor will he employ others to do such things for him.

Many people believe, as is attributed to many, that nothing fails like prayer. Dan Barker wrote a song by that title, and it’s a delight.

Any pharmaceutical company that sold less effective pills would be prosecuted; anyone who ingested them would be considered a fool. Yet a Pew survey from a few years ago found that half of the American population prays daily. Politicians have created a national day of prayer; even the lawsuits haven’t stopped public officials from mixing city/county/state and other government business meetings with opening prayers. Our president cannot conclude a speech without chanting the ritual mantra, which is very much like a prayer, God bless you, Y God bless the United States of America. After every hurricane, tornado, tsunami, mass carnage, and tragedy of all kinds, people seem compelled to offer comfort or sympathy with these meaningless words: Our prayers are with the victims and their families.

Well, I guess it doesn’t hurt to let the sentences out, but it would be nice if something positive came back as a result. And that has never happened. Never. Not even once.

Summary

Take a step back and imagine for a moment that you are a visitor from space. Knowing, due to his hugely advanced great head containing multiple wondrous supercomputer-like brains, that no prayer anywhere, at any time and in any form has ever been answered by a deity or divine creature in the entire wide cosmos, what would he think? you of the inhabitants of Is this planet attached to such a strange convention?

I’m not sure, but I doubt that space man/woman will impress you favorably.

Besides eating, sleeping, and having sex, humans have prayed more than anything else since they came down from the trees to walk and jog on dry land. There are no verifiable results, ever, from a single sentence, and yet we keep doing it. Not everyone, of course, but most people, to say the least. Most likely almost everyone.

I don’t have a closed mind about prayer. Here’s a simple way, suggested by Sam Harris, to make prayers out of unbelievers like me:

You could prove to the satisfaction of all scientists that intercessory prayer works by performing a simple experiment. Get a billion Christians to pray for a single amputee. Ask them to pray for God to reattach that lost limb. This happens to salamanders every day, presumably without prayer; this is within God’s ability. I find it interesting that people of faith only tend to pray for conditions that are self-limiting.

As a little boy under the spell of Roman Catholic brainwashing, I had to pray a lot. I stopped doing it when I was 12 years old; I often wonder how many of my classmates from the graduating class of St. Barnabas in 1952 are still at it.

Be well as you look on the bright side of life and pray for me.

It’s a joke.

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