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"Faith is not a good reason to believe in any one thing. It's a bad reason to believe in everything. Faith is not synonymous with any one idea; it is synonymous with any strongly held idea, true or not. But one thing faith is not synonymous with is a logically justified idea."

April 6, 2010

The Problem with Prayer...

My major issue with prayer is that it doesn't work. That alone should be reason enough to do away with this ancient practice. But people always want to point out the concept of "prayers for the injured, sick and dying." So once again I have to go into detail on why something that doesn't work shouldn't be done... My issue with prayers for the injured, sick and dying is that it has the best of intentions while doing nothing to solve the problem.

For instance, if you get a Facebook message explaining a situation involving a little child who's in the hospital for a serious injury, and the post creator is asking for your prayers in this case. Why do we think the "power of prayer" will help this child when we could be doing something to actually fix the situation. What else could we do? Raise money for the child's treatment, donate blood, donate plasma, donate bone marrow, donate money to life saving research that promises to make such injuries a thing of the past, and you can even send nice cards and flowers to the family because at least that shows your good intentions in a physical way. Any of these things would be preferable to clasping your hands together and whispering to a God who isn't there.

Here's another point to think about. Why do we all the sudden jump to prayer when someone we know is injured, sick or dying? Or when someone we know knows of someone who is injured, sick or dying? There are people all over the world who need medical help for some ailment and if you look hard enough through your friends list you'll find that someone, or someone they know who needs help. Why do we not search these people out and pray for them? Could it be because deep down inside we know prayer is a useless waste of our time and we only do it when we're asked to? If you donate blood and plasma on a regular basis you will do more good for these injured, sick and dying people all over the world than you can with any amount of prayer. But you don't donate do you? You wait for someone to ask for your prayers and then you give them thinking it matters.

I know of someone who needs help right now. I hope I don't upset her by using her story in this post, but I feel it's necessary under the circumstances. I have a friend on Facebook who I have never met personally. She's extremely nice and we see eye to eye in most cases. Her 2 year old daughter has a serious heart complication that has required numerous surgeries. No child should be born in such a way that requires this sort of pain. The very fact that this happens should bear witness to a universe without a loving God. What would be better for this little girl? To know that I am praying for her? To know that a million people are praying for her?... Or to know that a million people in her city, who do not even know she exists, are giving donations of their blood and plasma and signing up for organ donor ID's for medical causes such as hers. And to know that the few people who do know of her and her condition are gathering their extra money to help her mother pay her medical bills. That the government is not going to listen to the religious lobbyists, and instead fully fund and legislate medical scientific research that could make her condition trivial or even non-existent. Wouldn't that be better? Not just for her little girl, but wouldn't that be better for everyone?

I donate blood and plasma as often as I can. Not simply to do good, but to make up for all the nights I spent on my knees as a child, praying for things I should be working for.


Shay said...

Thank you Alex.

Anonymous said...

"donate blood, donate plasma, donate bone marrow, donate money to life saving research that promises to make such injuries a thing of the past, and you can even send nice cards and flowers to the family because at least that shows your good intentions in a physical way."

What if a person is not financially able to donate money or flowers? What if, due to illness or something else a person can not donate blood or plasma? Sure, most can send a card, but isn't that a "thought" on a piece of paper? What if a simple prayer is all someone is able to do, give a thought of hope to the family? What harm is this? (wendy)

SgtHaile said...

You just equated "a thought of hope" with "prayer"... Remember, when I dissect the practice of prayer, I'm not talking about nice thoughts, kind ideas, and helpful day dreaming. I'm talking about the belief and/or practice of speaking the God and asking him for help, either for you or someone else. I can't, nor would I, stop you from thinking kind and hopeful thoughts for someone in need. I would discourage you from getting on your knees and asking an imaginary friend for help. All scientific studies on prayer have shown that in most cases, with adult patients, prayer has a negative affect on their recovery. If you could pray cancer away, we wouldn't need medicine. But you can't pray anything away, you can't pray to obtain anything, etc. Prayer simply doesn't work. And in the extreme case where someone is too sick, too poor, too busy, too whatever to donate anything. Then at least get off your knees and do something to support the system that allows others to donate money, time and blood. Support stem cell research, pro-choice movements, genetic research, etc. and do so openly! And do not support the ancient system that requires you to believe that getting on your knees and whispering to yourself will bring you anything. They are simply wrong. Prayer as defined by religion does not work! What you're arguing for is not religious prayer, simply kind thoughts. Do you know what the Bible says about prayer? It says that in order for a prayer to be answered by God, all that is needed is at least two sincere people praying for the same thing. That's it! Imagine all the children that laid in their hospital beds dying of cancer while their parents sat by their side praying to God for their recovery... Those kids has two sincere people praying for the same thing, and they still died. The Bible would have you believe that one of those parents wasn't sincere. The Bible's teachings would disrespect the parents of dead children! PRAYER DOESN'T WORK

Ma'ña Bräu Jedi Warrior said...

rational people know that prayer doesn't work, but when something tragic happens in a believer's life, even if they don't personally know the person involved, they often will say a prayer for them...

while that doesn't actually help the person they are praying for, it does help the person praying feel better about themselves, although the other person can also feel better to know that a someone cares... it's all about making people feel warm and fuzzy, prayer actually doing something to actually fix the problem is beside the point

eg. when someone is confronted with death, or some other unpleasantness, it triggers their "fight-or-flight" built-in evolutionary response.. so for the believer to be confronted with death, saying a prayer is an affirmation, it is their way of reaffirming their belief that they have a link with their god so that when *they* die there is someone waiting to take care of *them*...

the fight-or-flight also gets triggered when you insult someone's god, you are threatening their link to immortal life by saying their god isn't real, but because this god of theirs is actually in their mind, you are threatening their (immortal) life by insulting their god... (which is just their ego)

point is, people who are that fragile, *need* to believe in god, so i say let them have their prayers when they need them..

yes, it's pointless in a practical sense, but it often makes people feel better about themselves if they say a prayer or if they know someone is saying a prayer for them, and if that's what they need in times of hurt, let them have it

anyone who actually rationally believed in their god would not be threatened by anything stated about their god and certainly wouldn't need to say a prayer *after* some bad thing has happened, ie do they think that this god of theirs is going to change their mind just because they decided to pray? they think that they are that special they *they* can change the mind of god!

the only god whose mind you could possibly change is the god you have created in your mind

like people praying *after* a disaster! what's the point of that? they obviously should have prayed harder and maybe god would not have sent the disaster in the first place!

the funny thing I find about christians announcing that they will say a prayer for some one is that *Jesus* taught that you keep your prayers to yourself...

Mat 6:5 And when thou prayest, thou shalt not be as the hypocrites [are]: for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and in the corners of the streets, that they may be seen of men. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward.

Mat 6:6 But thou, when thou prayest, enter into thy closet, and when thou hast shut thy door, pray to thy Father which is in secret; and thy Father which seeth in secret shall reward thee openly.

Mat 6:7 But when ye pray, use not vain repetitions, as the heathen [do]: for they think that they shall be heard for their much speaking.

Mat 6:8 Be not ye therefore like unto them: for your Father knoweth what things ye have need of, before ye ask him.

so what makes a christian announce that they are praying for someone when they are (supposedly) taught that doing so makes you selfish?

they announce they are praying for personal selfish reasons, if it makes someone *else* feel better about themselves then that would be a bonus, so it doesn't matter if prayer actually does something for someone else, it's just to make themselves feel better ... i doubt many people would realise they are doing this, and they probably would be offended at the idea i just proposed

SgtHaile said...

Whether or not it does something to help the issue is not beside the point, it's exactly the point. And it's been shown that prayers for the sick and injured actually hinder their recovery.

Ma'ña Bräu Jedi Warrior said...

my personal experience is that when I know that people are thinking of me, I at least feel a little bit better, and if that's all people are willing to do, then I would count myself lucky that someone was thinking of me, if i was laying half dead in hospital.. who cares if they do that by prayer or not? i would find it annoying and I would probably be offended if someone prayed for me, but I would be grateful for the thought they had given me, because the other 99.99% of the world wouldn't have given even that much of a shit

if you were laying in a hospital bed with your life hanging in the balance, when somebody says that they are thinking of you via prayer, would you reject that notion of kindness? even if it's based on bullshit?

and didn't you just say that prayer doesn't do anything? how can prayer be a hindrance if it does nothing?

if prayer does nothing positive, how does it do anything negative unless you *let* it do something negative? how exactly would it hinder your recovery if prayer does nothing? the only way that would happen is if knowing someone was praying for you, caused you stress

that's called being ungrateful when someone wishes you well and you reject them. you may not agree with prayer, you may think it utterly stupid (i think prayer is utterly stupid), but they are showing you compassion when they say a prayer for you...

i say we take what little compassion people show and be grateful for that much

SgtHaile said...

No, when people are thinking of you, when they keep you in their thoughts, is completely separate from prayer. Keeping someone in your thoughts is just a nice mental exercise. I'm talking about prayer, do not mix up prayer with something else. You know what prayer is, it's asking for shit from the divine creator of the universe. Actual prayer. Not simple nice thoughts about someone, real fucking prayer.

Ma'ña Bräu Jedi Warrior said...

i've already said i agree with you

they are praying to their own egos to beef up their defences against their own fears of the universe but they are so deluded that rationality and reason and thrown out the window

i get what you mean, but i think you need to give better examples of the extreme situations where prayer actively becomes detrimental, perhaps a mention of those people who pray for their children instead of getting medical help would be a good example as to what you are actually talking about, and perhaps people will realise the context of what you are talking about

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