The first and only reasonable defense of prayer I’ve ever read

Really, if religious people made this kind of argument more often, I’d regard them far more charitably.

OK, but personally I regard Mr Rogers as a nice guy and all, but not someone who reflects my attitudes very well. I think I’d have to pray to an unfeeling void, or possibly an arbitrary lethal force that might kill me or allow me to live with no reason necessary.

It’s a valid choice. 🤷‍♂️


  1. davidnangle says

    I’m on board with this. I’m fully cognizant that my thoughts and plans are often more feelings than words I can record and follow later. Arranging them into words and ordered plans is a very good idea, to exploit the utility of memory. I don’t have a good simulation of Mr. Rogers in my head, but there are other choices. I can “pray” to Mr. Spock. I can debate with Delenn. I can try to explain my reasoning and understanding of my problems to Erwin Rommel… or perhaps Mr. Peabody. And, on my best days, I can try to get some good advice from Captain Picard.

  2. cartomancer says

    Well, it is International Masturbation Day today, so I guess prayer is an appropriate thing to discuss…

  3. The Evil Twin says

    I like to think that after Captain America went back it time, he got a job hosting a children’s show on PBS. Only had to change his first name.

  4. redwood says

    @1 simonhadley, yes, my first thought when I read this was “Joe Pesci.” You can’t beat Carlin for sticking it to religion.

  5. slithey tove (twas brillig (stevem)) says

    I would love to sit down and have a chat with Fred Rogers. He listens. He asks. Bounces questions back with a nice form of “what do YOU think” rather than monolauging his answer. You don’t talk to him for answers, instead, to unscramble your own thoughts andto organize them within yourself.
    That cartoon hit me right in the heart. Expresses exactly what I’ve been trying to unscramble in my thoughts about the value of prayer.
    What I just wrote is pretty much what I’ve been getting out of his Neighborhood

  6. blf says

    The mildly deranged penguin points out what really matters is the tithes of cheese.

  7. John Morales says

    Hm. Seems to me that’s basically the justification for the current instantiation of Wicca and Magick.

    Some people need such psychological crutches to limp along, I guess, and therefore some other people think they do, too, though they really don’t. IMO, obvs.

  8. Rob Grigjanis says

    John @12: Gosh, must be great to be free of psychological crutches. Do write a book, so you can tell us lesser mortals what that’s like.

  9. Edward Bosnar says

    The comic reminded of Octavia Butler’s novel The Parable of the Sower, in which the main character makes an argument for atheists praying. It’s been a while since I’ve read it, but as I recall she described it as a way of talking to yourself, to bring some order and focus to your thoughts and confront your emotions.

  10. John Morales says

    Rob, to say that I don’t need such types of crutch is not to say that I need no crutches whatsoever, so you’ve made a flawed inference.

    But I do note you don’t dispute the characterisation.

  11. KG says

    Some church or churches in the UK, or possibly just Scotland (I haven’t bothered to find out which) are currently running what must be quite an expensive advertising campaign using the slogan “Try praying”. Sometimes with the second line “It’s easier than you think.” The “Try praying” just begs to be followed up with “If there’s absolutely nothing useful you can do.” As for “It’s easier than you think”, well, how hard can it be to close your eyes and talk to yourself?

  12. blf says

    KG@17, Not sure if it’s only in Scotland in the UK, but — to the limited extent this source can be trusted — it’s also in the States and Australia, Try Praying campaign reaches US and Australia:

    A small charity in Scotland is running an advertising campaign in the UK, the United States, and Australia to encourage people to “try praying”, using the strapline “It’s easier than you think.”

    The try-praying initiative was set up eight years ago by David Hill, founder of the charity There is Hope, and has been running ever since, in churches and through bus advertising, to prompt people to pray. Last year, analysis for the charity by a market-research agency, suggested that 32 per cent of those who saw the adverts began to pray afterwards.

    This year, the charity is trying to raise £100,000 to expand bus advertising across the whole of Scotland in April. A $60,000 donation is paying for the campaign to be launched in parts of the US.


    Despite Ozland being mentioned in the title, it is not (other than in passing) mentioned in the actual article.

    I’m somewhat curious about that alleged analysis — if it even exists — as it seems quite bogus: 32% is both suspiciously precise and — given this is the UK (or at least some part of Scotland) — strikes me as implausible (outside of some (limited?) areas).

    Another source, which is even more dubious, Major trypraying campaign targets Scotland, claims (about that alleged analysis):

    In May 2017, an independent market research agency carried out extensive survey to see how much of an impact the campaigns were having. Some 500 people who live and work in and around Edinburgh were surveyed and the results were inspiring! One of the questions asked was whether people had prayed recently — of those who didn’t remember seeing the bus adverts only 13% had tried praying recently. However of those who had seen the ads 32% had tried praying recently.

    Scaled up for the city’s 500,000 population, this means that 31,640 people tried praying during the four-week campaign. […]

    This second, dubious, source identifies the alleged analysis as “Wild Heather Research for commissioned by Whitespace 2017”. There is indeed a Wild Heather Research in Glasgow who list a logo for Whitespace on their site; that logo appears to be for a Whitespace marketing / advertising agency in Edinburgh.

  13. Dunc says

    One of the questions asked was whether people had prayed recently — of those who didn’t remember seeing the bus adverts only 13% had tried praying recently. However of those who had seen the ads 32% had tried praying recently.

    Well, that’s a shoddy analysis, phrased in a way that seems deliberately deceptive. The assumption that you can tell whether someone has seen an ad by asking if they remember seeing it is false. Given how common these ads are, I can virtually guarantee you that every singe person surveyed had seen them, whether they remember them or not.

    All this tell us is that people who pray are more likely to remember seeing an ad about prayer.

  14. blf says

    Dunc@19, Yes. Actually, a suggested correction, if I may: “people who claim to pray are more likely to claim to remember seeing an ad about prayer.” This alleged analysis / research is so very probably so shoddy I doubt there was any attempt — or no robust attempt — to validate the “seeing an ad” claim, not to mention other claims. My own guess is it’s yet another in a long line of “cook / invent simplistic numbers until we get something the client likes…” marketing so-called research…

  15. Dunc says

    blf, @ #20: Like I say, given that the sample was “[s]ome 500 people who live and work in and around Edinburgh”, I can practically guarantee that they had all seen the ads (unless there were some blind people included in the sample). They’re very common.