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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.