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Oct 11 2011

Gospel Disproof #8: Prayer

Believers will often tell you that prayer works, and in a way they’re right. Prayer does work, but the interesting thing is that it works equally well no matter who or what you pray to. One day not too long after I realized Christianity was not The Truth, my wife lost her car keys. It was getting late, she needed to get to work, and we were tearing the house apart looking for those keys. On a whim, I raised my left little finger in the air and prayed to it. “Oh left little finger, if you are truly the only unique, mighty and omniscient God, please grant that my wife would find her car keys now. Amen.” No sooner had I said the amen, than I heard my wife downstairs triumphantly call out, “Found ‘em!”

Prayer does work, but what it works on is the mind of the believer. You soon learn, as a believer, not to pray for certain types of things (which coincidentally turn out to be the sort of things that would require God to actually exist). Prayer must ask only for the kind of things that experience shows are reasonably possible to turn out anyway—like finding your car keys when you’re actively looking for them. If you’re careful to limit yourself to such prayers, then it does not matter who or what you pray to, you will always get an answer, and sometimes that answer will be “Yes.”

Prayer works as an exercise in training yourself to believe, and as an encouragement to superstitiously attribute the occasional success to a Higher Power (whether there’s one there or not). But if God really did exist, this should not be the case. If there were a God (in the Christian sense), then prayers to that God ought to have a noticeably different result than prayers to just any old thing you want to pray to. You’d be able to do a double-blind study almost, comparing results of praying to the real God with the results of praying to the Placebo God. The fact that God performs no better than the Holy Placebo is evidence that men are mistaken when they tell us their God intervenes in human events.

5 comments

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  1. 1
    sumdum

    Some people prayed to Joe Pesci.. :)

  2. 2
    Tige Gibson

    Prayer is a psychological self-reinforcement of mind-control. Prayer is the goto for those feeling weak in the faith.

  3. 3
    mikespeir

    When you prayed to your finger and your wife found the keys it was really Satan stepping in to deceive you. And you probably thought I’d long since forgotten how to think that way!

  4. 4
    sunsangnim

    Christians even seem to realize this on some level, and they rationalize it with the saying “God answers all prayers, but sometimes the answer is no.” I remember struggling with this when I was a believer. After all, what is the real difference between God answering and not answering?

    Now that I’m not a believer, I just can’t see how prayer can be psychologically satisfying. You’re turning over control to all aspects of your life, from where the car keys are to who to marry. It’s quite disturbing to imagine a god or anyone micromanaging your life to that degree.

    @sumdum…you beat me to it!

  5. 5
    Gregory in Seattle

    Prayer: – To ask the laws of the universe to be annulled on behalf of a single petitioner confessedly unworthy. Ambrose Bierce

    Betty Bowers, America’s Best Christian, Explains Prayer

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