Tag Archives: prayer

Prayers for Me, You, and the People Who Need It

….Or, Asking the All-Knowing: You, God, and Your Prayers Part Two!

Prayer for red cross
Though there’s some hang-ups on the texting way… But don’t let that stop you from donating somehow!

Now, I don’t care much for following disasters when they hit and their aftermaths. I find it kind of pointless, or, really, I don’t get the point of reading article after article after article or watching reel after reel after reel about victim 11, 17, and 22 (because she lost TWO KIDS). Now, if so many of these forms of media weren’t so high on wringing sentimentality and your empathy dry, and focused more on, say, donating, I’ll be fine. But I find it superbly irritating that people get annoyed with those starving kids in Africa charity ads (“They’re just trying to make you feel guilty. How low!”) and yet don’t seem all that acidic towards multiple media coverage of all disasters in existence.

Of course, they most always end in lovely information on how to donate after running a story (with commercials, for goodness’ sake… I have no idea why that bothers me), but once you start really going after these victims… I mean, do you really need to know how the children died in the school, or who their parents were, or who were orphans to convince you that, hey, a tornado has ravaged Oklahoma and you need to donate? Maybe?

Now, more on topic, I shall now segue into something some are doing that I find pointless.

Mama had called me upstairs starting about Ricky Gervais and the Oklahoma disaster. At first, since Ma seemed irritated, I thought Gervais had said something awful in the name of atheism on disasters, like, “Where is your god, now, hahahaaha” type shit. Apparently, Gervais was admonishing from his Twitter account celebrities and other people who were spreading tweets about praying for Oklahoma, and telling them to instead donate money and do other things.

As you might of guessed, I found this totally right and didn’t consider the matter further, especially as Ma went on, as I recall, about Gervais shouldn’t be worrying about what other people do, and ‘freedom of religion and speech’ so these people can do what they want. I ended up leaving the room saying, “He just wants people to actually do something instead of thinking they are.”

And I felt pretty bad about that. I mean, she and the many others praying and those that have prayed and those that will pray often think they are making a difference, or, at the very least, that’s what their gods want. I felt that I was being pretty offensive.

Prayer for you're not right

 

And then I came across Jerry Coyne’s post on Ricky Gervais on his site Why Evolution is True. Now he slaps no wrists when he’s telling the facts of life. Honestly, he’s pretty refreshing because people who are softer tend to meld into other beliefs pretty easily. I’m still pretty soft on people who are against abortion and gay marriage for honest personal reasons. They hold no water whatsoever, but I don’t believe one really has a handle on those sorts of things, you know? Subsequently, I have some not-so-pro-choice beliefs while being, duh, mostly pro-choice. I’m all for gay marriage- but don’t force churches, or sue them, or whatever crosses your mind about them. I mean, they don’t want you and think you’re going to hell. Just let them stew on their own.

And this is my site and I can talk about whatever I want and if I want to talk about people wasting their time on a massive scale (collectively, not individually) on prayer, well, I’m not forcing anyone to read this, now am I?

Eeeh... Maybe not Epicurus, but you get it
Eeeh… Maybe not Epicurus, but you get it

Now consider that over there, as I am sure you’ve considered before. I would liketo just take on the second assertion. There are plenty of things that I’m able to do, but not willing- doesn’t necessarily mean I’m malevolent.

Like, I’m able to do hell of a lot more for those starving kids in Africa, but I don’t want to. I want to do other things. Does that mean I am malevolent letting them die?

Oh, wait. Yea, it does.

Well, I’m able to give blood, but I don’t like needles. Does that cowardice prove my malevolence towards those that desperately need my blood?

Eh… Yea, it does.

Oh! I’m able to give more money and food to homeless and the like but I’m not willing because I don’t trust that I will make a difference. And when I come back down the street and find that same hobo crying over a sandwich someone had so lovingly bought him, am I malevolent in my thinking that I had snubbed him for good reasons?

Yea. I am. At least, I think so.

So, nevermind. I think an all-knowing god of any kind would find better reason than none to help a drowning child underneath the rubble of his school. (That ol’ sentimentality wringing ya’ heart guts yet?)

I believe that if any god was real, it would have to be all-knowing and all-powerful, to make everything, and to make everything perfect. It would not need be all-benevolent. And whether or not I would worship it is another post in entirety. Maybe this post on an asshole god.

Well, whichever of maybe!Epicurus’ gods that the people of the world are praying to in order to help Oklahoma, some questions come up, some of which were turned over in my earlier post about prayers: 

One: What does one think is accomplished when a prayer is sent out? Like, physically, or magically, what happens? Does god go, “Oh? A tornado? Well, would you look at that! Better get to it!” or perhaps… “Oh, it seems a lot of people are getting pretty down about this. I better intervene!”

Two: Pretty much continuing from one, why does a collection of prayers make a difference? Does god only decide to act after he gets 12,000 hits of begging voices? Why is not one grieving mother enough? One traumatized child (and this goes for the media with the multiple covers of the homeless and bereft)? He wouldn’t forsake anyone. So if he sees the homes ravaged beyond belief, even if no one goes to him with supplications, could he not try to help? Does he really need an invitation?

Prayer for good Christians
I have no idea if he said this… But the idea I agree with… If you donate and pray (Red Cross), power to ya’

Three: This may be hard to reconcile with if you’re not an atheist, but, as I assume that you’re either Christian or atheist, perhaps ninety-percent of America, imagine if a bunch of Muslims were praying to Allah for Oklahoma’s relief. You probably think they aren’t doing anything. Matter-of-fact, especially if you’re Christian, you’re pretty damn sure they aren’t doing anything.

That’s how I feel about Christians who pray for anything. When they do that, they are doing nothing to help. But the worst of it is that they probably think they are, and any good that happens to Oklahoma, especially on a huge scale (Durant, for instance), they’ll blame god, and not, you know, thousands of people, or Durant. The only responsible beings.

And that leads to even more people praying for things, leads to people doing absolutely nothing and thinking they are. People who feel good with themselves without an ounce of action behind their words. Can you imagine the amount of people who pray to have donated a dollar every time they prayed? Maybe then miracles will truly happen.

What if God’s an Asshole? or That Other Catch-22

There comes a time (when we heed a certain call~) when we have to make some difficult choices. I don’t think I have had any of those yet, perhaps because I have experiences where I only have to make hard choices when I really, really want to. Getting out of a traditional high school to go to a reclusive private one on a college campus- nope, not that hard. Yet, my sister was asking people for weeks whether or not she should have done it. What college to go to? Once Johns Hopkins gave me the most money, easy pickings, and I think most can understand that. (Though I’ve just found this college in Japan that’s so perfect it hurts- leave Johns Hopkins and go there and get everything I need for the future I want, or stay with people who care about me but I’ll have to leave eventually- soon?)

But the title came by when I was having a conversation with Mama and how she viewed Christians that she believed weren’t really Christians- and I learned about her views on Catholics,Mormons, and Jehovah Witnesses, especially how they viewed the Bible. Of course, she thought they read parts wrong (like how Catholics have incorporated Hail Mary and Jehovah Witnesses don’t do blood transfusions) or that they extrapolated more than they needed to.I found myself telling her that the passages they viewed could be interpreted their way and that their nonsense could be true according to the same Bible.

“What makes them think God wants that?” She then started on a list of things that god really wanted Christians to do, and how things from the New Testament canceled out things in the Old Testament, and god doesn’t expect us to be perfect so “Live and let live!”

Godmean Wonka Idolatry Now, I find my mother’s views pretty progressive and liberal, if a complete lie right with the Catholics, Mormons, and Jehovah Witnesses. Her beliefs are pretty much this: Believe in the Christian god, believe Jesus was real and died for our sins and sits with Christian god right now, and get baptized to the best of your ability.

Of course, I find that utter bollocks. Why would the Christian god ordain the ginormous Bible, but all he wanted was for us humans to believe he was real, believe Jesus was real, and get baptized?

No, he wanted that other shit, too. In any case, my mom (and other Christians) are quite certain what he DIDN’T want, so why is she so standoffish when some people are particular on what he actually wants?

And why be angry at fundamentalist Christians or people at Westboro (and going so far as to say they are going to hell) when they cherry-pick the Bible, and she chooses, really, the easiest instructions to go by. Really, by her logic, all of them will be going to heaven anyway.

And that’s what gets a lot of atheists on Fundies Say the Darndest Things! If many gods were real, they would let in some real assholes. Some believers might say, “Well, they’re doing it wrong” and many say in return, such-and-such god isn’t being clear on what he or she wants, or he/she/it  has little power over who they’re represented by, so how can anyone put his trust in him? How could you believe god is a merciful forgiving creature and believe simultaneously that many good atheists and many good believers of other religions who turned their back on Allah or Yahweh or Jesus are going to hell, for fucking ever! For all eternity! (and here we get the believers who say that god will take them back eventually or some such nonsense) .

On FSTDT, many atheists call god/Allah/Yahweh etc. stupid or an asshole (hehehe) and that they would never bow down to such a scumbag.

Meangod Where is he

Before getting to that little tidbit, what if Insert God Here (IGH) is an asshole, seriously? What if IGH is a bit stupid? What if IGH just doesn’t care about us? What if IGH is not all-knowing? What if IGH is not all-seeing? What if IGH is not all-powerful?

I find the second most plausible. Believers are quick to say that IGH (ESPECIALLY CHRISTIANS!) is so complicated  that humans will never be able to understand them. Do they not realize that their constant bellowing of their beliefs dictate some sort of understanding of their god? In order to believe a religion to be true, you have to have some sort of understanding about it (and if you go the too-complicated route, why do you think others are wrong and/or get mad about it?)

In any case, many believers are even quicker to say that IGH wants humans to understand them. That’s what the Bible, Koran, Torah etc. etc. are for. That’s what pastors and missionaries are for. You guys ain’t foolin’ nobody!

I find IGH is stupid most plausible because this god wants people to understand it and does not know how to go about it. It goes about it by trial and error, like some human. We might be part of its eternal science lab. To me, it’s similar to the personalities of what we see with ancient gods of Greece or Egypt, or really any polytheistic religion. There are gods of jealousy and anger, lust and moon and grass.

What if the Christian god is single-minded like a lot of these gods? Take in mind that the strongest god of Greek mythology was Zeus- and he kept fucking random women, knowing his wife Hera would get hella mad and take it out on the girls. What if god was like that? This hypothetical would take for granted that god is not all-knowing:

Meangod is not all knowing

 

As cute  and silly as Philosoraptor is, he has a point. It’s pretty clear in the Bible that god decides to wipe out most of the Earth with a flood because he realized most of it was shit. His present-day believers see evidence that Rapture is coming any day now in Roe vs. Wade anniversaries, how come he didn’t do something when just a fourth of humanity was shit and he knew it was getting bigger all the time? Why didn’t he speak to many others like he did to Noah? Why didn’t he give them a taste of hell and told them to repent? He was going to kill them anyways and have them in hell for all eternity.

Does he see nonbelievers now and realize what utter fuckery that was? Does he see that killing all those people instead of easily, easily, easily converting them with his presence or some damn magic would have been super effective?

The Bible says god is wrathful and jealous. Those are characteristics that will lose a human person a lot of friends except those of like misery. These sorts of people are often pretty stupid and narrow-minded. They’ll destroy things in a fit of rage when things don’t go their way, often contradict themselves in order to make themselves feel better and feel superior. These sorts of people are often accused of ‘trying to be God’.

But what if god is a stupid asshole like these people that I’m sure you know a few of? If he was real, and could send you to hell for all eternity, would you still worship him? Would you kill in his name if he asked you to? Would demand flesh sacrifices and such?

I would.

I can easily turn my back on something in this temporary world. I wouldn’t bow to some Hitler because death would be coming eventually and I can live the rest of my miserable life knowing that I did the right thing.

But I can also easily say that I wouldn’t want to be tortured for all eternity.

Meangod Fry godWhat if god’s not stupid? What if he’s just an asshole? What if he wrote the Bible as an all-knowing, all-powerful being just to fuck with us humans over the centuries? What if he’s like Zeus and Shiva and Ra all in one with not a fuck to give?

Think about it- you’re an eternal being with all knowledge and all power. How much care would you truly have over some 7 billion creatures with lifespans less than a century?

What if you’re the nicest being no Earth, some innocent child, a desperate man- and god got a wild hair up his ass and decides to put you in hell for a few billion millinea? Seriously, what would stop him?

All in all, if, for example, the Christian god was a misogynistic, angry, jealous, primitive asshole, if he was the only thing keeping you from hell for all eternity, would you really turn your back on him?

Asking the All-Knowing: You, God, and Your Prayers

I love being inspired. Inspiration is… maybe quite literally what I live for. Nothing tickles my bits like that glorious moment where the chemicals in my brain shortcut and the mental phone calls with a scream: “YOU MUST DO THIS NOW!”

Now, I'm really inspired
Tried to find a cool ‘idea bulb’… I think this fits

And then  I must do it, before I forget, before my brain sets itself aright, and I’m left with reasoning and sensibility. Responsibilities. All with the overhang that in about a decade, I may have forgotten this moment, and several decades after, I will be dead.

At one time, nothing inspired me more than the word of my god saying this- THIS will be what gets you into heaven. This will lead to that which will lead to that and you will die and go to heaven and god will be pleased. God is pleased in heaven and will bring you rewards in this life and the next for all eternity. Someone, someone, the only ONE, was pleased in my work and all was good. 

I no longer believe in any god, of course, and so inspiration has come less, for I can no longer make the excuse that the god of my fabrication conveniently enjoys all the things I enjoy doing, and so I was always inspired to do things that I enjoyed doing.

What I used to enjoy was praying, which eventually ended up as me thanking god for all that he had done for me for that day and apologizing for all the wrong that I had done. I had stopped asking for things, though I knew I wanted them, I knew god knew as well, so why ask? My, what faith I had!

Years later, and I have become unwholesomely (teehee) strident about my disbelief in anything supernatural, perhaps because it is getting in the way of relationships, kink or otherwise, mental health help in my location, and familial help for what I want to do in life- not to mention the problems from society because of religion.

I regularly check Fundies Say the Darndest Things! to blow off steam and get my laughs on (speaking of which, I’m way behind on Colbert and Stewart). The comments on fstdt tear apart so many religious quotes, sometimes in obvious ways, and sometimes a comment just stands out to me… and I’m like…

I stole this... But we all love it, right?
I stole this… But we all love it, right?

 

#1509887 says,

Christians tell us that God knows all and everything is his will, then they pray to God to make him do stuff. Do they not see that this is a contradiction?
Either pray to God to do stuff, or believe that everything that happens is already his will. You can’t have both.

in regards to this woman’s prayer on the site. Besides the utter insanity that is the woman’s prayer, I had the inspiration to write this post (plus HarsH ReaLiTy‘s writings on religion herehere, and here, helped), and at the same time I recollected when I had stopped asking for things in prayer- for this exact reason. 

As I knelt one night, I thought, hey, god already knows what I want and when I want it, why make my prayer longer than it already is? Why be so greedy? Do I doubt he’ll answer? You know what, I will take out asking for stuff, it’ll make me a better person (yes, it will, [my name]) and I won’t feel much more disappointed over not getting something my way for which I prayed, and prayed, and prayed, and prayed, and prayed, and prayed.

At the time, I thought I was just being particular, like how there are priests in some forms of Christianity and pastors in others, and how women can be pastors here but not there- you know, stuff that doesn’t really matter when you’re a liberal-minded fourteen-year-old Christian.

Now that I’m a staunch atheist, I know all of that above is pretty important- if gods were real- and that 1509887 has a huge point- and I’ll take this a bit further. If prayer was how I used to do it in my later years of belief- thanking and apologizing- then this post wouldn’t exist. But as Pray America suggests, praying is about asking for things, with the ‘faith’ that god will do them.

Pray for God's help!

I find  ‘letting Him know’ to be in direct defiance of faith in an All-Knowing God, and yet believers do this all the time, as in every night before bed, and in the morning, and wanting it in school.

When I first started this post, I thought, I don’t remember/know everything about the Bible- maybe I’m missing something. I also looked for pictures of people praying and came across the perfect pic that displayed the right/ or some amount of doubt/irony/sarcasm/drama-for-laughs. I didn’t want to outright steal the damn thing and get in some trouble. Fortunately, this was also a WordPress page on clarifications about prayer (Praise Jesus, a coincidence!).

If the link works, here, Todd Pylant writes about practical prayer. He writes about how “Prayer Asks“, which I’m sure we’ve all got down. Then the next section is “Prayer is a Battlefield, But Make Sure It’s the Right One” as in “Prayer is hand to hand combat on the battlefield of doubt” and, I thought, Oh, so Christians have thought about this and Hand-to-hand combat, if he did that on purpose, he gets a gold star.

And Pylant goes on:  “It is the bouncing back and forth between the one side of my heart and soul that believes God is all powerful and will answer my prayers and the other side which fears that God is either not all powerful or doesn’t care enough about me to listen to my prayers.”

Fuck, yeah, that’s right! Basically because asking an all-powerful, all-knowing superbeing with its own mysterious plans for things is a huge contradiction.

Buuuuut, that quote, I don’t think it means quite what I thought it meant. First: “But all of that is different from doubt. Seeking to understand the will of God in a given situation is different than questioning whether God is present, powerful, or concerned about a given situation.”

Now, this threw me off because asking god for stuff- doing prayer correctly- doesn’t sound too much like “seeking to understand the will of God”. To me, it’s like, ‘Hey, God, I have no idea what you’re planning, but I really want this. Please let me have it and if I don’t I will try to understand why, but I really, really, really want this!’

I might not be reading it correctly (follow the link, or ask, to find out for yourself), but the first quote is surely doubt. And then this: “Prayer struggles with the divine timing of God. Prayer struggles with the divine plan of God. Prayer struggles against the spiritual forces of evil. But the prayer of faith does not doubt the sovereignty of God nor the goodness of God nor the love of God.”

Now that sounds like the first quote, with the added prayer of faith bit. I’m sort of getting that the meaning behind prayer, for Pylant, must be faith that god will do as you ask, without doubt that he would do it, and some people say prayer without that faith- which would then be a prayer with doubt, more like “Where are you, God? Can I have this? Come back to me when you can!”

confused

 

If I’m getting Pylant correctly, I’m back at square one. How can you have complete faith in god’s will, but still pray for things, physically pray, on your knees, in the closet or in a stadium? Why would you do that?

I read the article over and over to get some clarity, and then I realized something along my fourth or so read: the Bible says several times to pray. Well, not several- numerous, maybe even a hundred or so times to pray. Pylant has over a dozen references about prayer in his post. And so I now chalk it up to contradictions about what the Bible asks and what the Bible makes its god out to be.

But why all these standards for prayer, when and where and how, why ask your followers to pray, why not only ‘believe and it shall be given to you’. Why do people say, ‘I pray God will show you the way’, ‘I pray God will heal you’, ‘I pray this is successful’, ‘I pray God will keep the bullies away’?

You might think that these people don’t know god’s will, so they don’t want to be presumptuous. But I’ve heard people say, just as easily, ‘God will show you the way’, ‘God will heal you’, ‘God will make this successful’, ‘God will keep the bullies away’. Doesn’t that just, you know, sound familiar?

Looked up 'the answer anime' to see what I could get...
Looked up ‘the answer anime’ to see what I could get…

 

(Picture makes me laugh- I mean, all these anime pictures and there’s this thing being all perfect! Praise Jesus!)

And so I’m thinking, if the Bible had nothing on prayer (woo, that’s like a couple chapters’ worth of material) what would believers lose?

My mind is whirling in confusion, as if I was thrown into some terrible paradox. I am surprised on how unnatural it feels to think of religion without prayer, without asking for stuff, even after working these last few hours on this post, a post on the contradiction of letting an All-Knowing god know that you want your dad’s cancer to go away, despite how often a jackass he is. I mean, do I really have to ask or tell anyone such an obvious request?

And now I realize…

I DON’T PRAY!

And what do I feel? I feel as if  no god is out there listening to me, and none ever will.

Now, imagine a Christian in my place, one who doesn’t pray (not even pseudo-pray like I used to do. Really, it’s not prayer unless you ask for something right?). Just how deeply connected to god will she feel? Even with, ‘I don’t have to pray. God will do his thing, and I have nothing to worry about’, and with every trouble that comes by, ‘God will make this better’, and that was that- just how fast will her faith deteriorate?

Praying is religion covering its ass. With the added padding of ‘the mysterious unknowable ways of god(s)’ or ‘true faith is answered’ or ‘the correct followers are given what they ask for’, asking for something and thus putting flexibility on God’s willingness to answer it makes it more palatable to the believer as people die lost, people die sick, people die penniless, and people suicide.

Or when ‘prayers are answered’, one remembers how deeply she prayed for it and ‘realizes’ that, yes, GOD has ‘answered’ her prayer! And it barely crosses her mind the numerous times her prayers were denied for whatever reason, or others’ prayers that are going unheeded that are so much more important than acing the ACTs she has been studying all year for. And it doesn’t matter, because she’s gotten what she wants, and god is pleased.