You Know the Door-Close Button in the Elevator? Prayer Is Like That.

Door close

Pressing the elevator button that says “Door Close” should close the doors. Unless there’s something in the way, the doors should immediately begin to close, but that rarely happens. Why do you still press it?

The door-close button is a placebo button. We like to feel in control, and this button supports that illusion. The illusion works because the door closes eventually.

Prayer works like this. Sometimes you pray and get what you wanted. Most of the time, though, your prayer isn’t answered. Christians are good at finding rationalizations—it was your fault for asking for something selfish or foolish, God has a better plan, God isn’t your genie, God did answer it (just not the way you wanted), and so on.

Why have a button that doesn’t work?

A few door-close buttons do work, though most don’t. In the US, the 1990 Americans with Disabilities Act required that elevators stay open long enough for someone with a disability to get on. In response, some buttons were given a delay, and some were disabled. The button can still reliably close the doors, but that capability is only accessible by maintenance or emergency workers.

This isn’t the only placebo button in daily life. New York City has thousands of crosswalk buttons with instructions that tell you to push and wait for the crosswalk indicator, but most of these buttons are disabled. The crosswalks are now controlled by software, not you, and to remove the misleading buttons would be expensive. This is true in many cities.

Some workplace thermostats are decoys. You can change the setting on these devices, but that won’t change the temperature. Why have them inactive? Because employees fighting to change the temperature wastes energy. Why have them at all? Because employees are happier with an illusion of control.

Humans in a Skinner box

B. F. Skinner’s famous pigeon experiment illustrates how placebos like fake buttons and prayer work. Skinner placed pigeons in individual boxes where food pellets were dispensed randomly. Whatever the pigeon was doing when a pellet appeared—preening, stretching, walking, or whatever—was eventually interpreted to have caused the pellet. When they were hungry, they would perform the incantation that seemed to have brought about the food in the past, over and over. More performances of the action led to more apparent instances where the action caused the food, which reinforced the behavior. Eventually, each pigeon would repeat one action, and each had their own actions. Oddly, not only were the pigeons’ initial actions not causative, they weren’t even correlated with the food (except randomly).

Other feeding schedules in the experiment—one pellet at regular intervals, for example—didn’t produce as strong an effect. It was partial reinforcement that worked best.

In humans, we’d call this a superstition. Or a religion.

Prayer “works” in a similar way. It doesn’t work like a light switch works—that is, reliably. It works intermittently, in a way that’s indistinguishable from chance. If it were reliable, there would be scientific studies confirming this.

 

If the door-close button didn’t work, how would you know for sure? The doors close eventually.

If sacrificing an enemy to the Mayan god Chaac or sacrificing a child to the Aztec god Tlaloc didn’t bring rain, how would you know for sure that the ritual didn’t work? The rain comes eventually. Maybe the god is just angry at us, and that explains the delay.

And if prayer doesn’t work, how would you know there’s no god listening? How do you know that prayer isn’t just a placebo button? That little pellet of reinforcement from heaven drops down eventually. Christians can find a dozen rationalizations to support their god belief.

See also: Divine Hiddenness: the Most Powerful Argument Against Christianity

Give a man a fish,
and you’ll feed him for a day;
give him a religion,
and he’ll starve to death while praying for a fish.
— Anonymous

Image credit: walknboston, flickr, CC

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  • Clancy

    “If the door-close button didn’t work, how would you know for sure?”
    I timed the elevator doors 40 years ago. But prayer isn’t as easy to dismiss.

    • Joe

      Prayer is still pretty easy to dismiss though.

      • Clancy

        Oh, yeah, but that’s different kind of critical thinking.

    • Raging Bee

      For me, prayer is much easier to dismiss.

  • AJ

    I think a lot of the issue stems from not knowing what “prayer” even is. Personally, as a life-long Christian I’ve always felt it was a waste of time. God isn’t some wish-granting genie, and if you want something done you have to do it yourself

    • Greg G.

      If you want a bicycle, praying won’t get it. If you steal a bicycle and pray for forgiveness, you have a bike and you can pretend you are forgiven. That’s how God works.

      • al kimeea

        thanks Emo 😉

    • Joe

      I think a lot of the issue stems from not knowing what “prayer” even is.

      How would we ever find out what it is?

      God isn’t some wish-granting genie,

      Some Christians claim he is. Even if not, there’s nothing stopping him becoming one. It would cost him precisely nothing to grant every logical and non-contradictory wish instantly.

    • koseighty

      God isn’t some wish-granting genie, and if you want something done you have to do it yourself

      Sad, isn’t it, that Jesus didn’t understand prayer as well as you do?

      13 And whatsoever ye shall ask in my name, that will I do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son.
      14 If ye shall ask any thing in my name, I will do it.

      John 14:13-14

    • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

      Doesn’t Jesus make clear that God is a wish-granting genie?

      The problem with prayer (aside from not working) IMO is that God already knows your concern and whether you’re going to ask about it. What’s the point? You’re not informing him, and he’s not going to change his plan based on your uninformed input. So why is prayer in the Bible?

    • al kimeea

      large numbers of lifelong xians disagree and believe if you rub Jebus the right way you’ll get what’s coming to you

    • Greg G.

      God isn’t some wish-granting genie, and if you want something done you have to do it yourself

      That explains why Jesus is the greatest prayer failure of all time.

      John 17:20-23 (NRSV)20 “I ask not only on behalf of these, but also on behalf of those who will believe in me through their word, 21 that they may all be one. As you, Father, are in me and I am in you, may they also be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me. 22 The glory that you have given me I have given them, so that they may be one, as we are one, 23 I in them and you in me, that they may become completely one, so that the world may know that you have sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me.

      Jesus prayed that Christians would agree with one another, that the unity would impress the rest of the world, and everybody would come to believe. If Jesus can’t get a prayer answered, why pray in his name, or pray at all?

      • Kevin K

        And in the “Lord’s Prayer™”, there are two very, very specific items being requested that demand that the god being prayed to actually-and-really answers that prayer.

        “Give us this day our daily bread” and “Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.”

        So…if Yahweh isn’t a prayer-answering god, why ask it to provide you with bread and an evil-free life?

        • Bob Jase

          Because otherwise he’ll let you starve like he does all those kids in Africa.

        • adam
        • Kevin K

          Well, they don’t pray that specific prayer, now do they? Or maybe they do, and Yahweh is busy helping Aunt Helen find her car keys. Only so many prayers get answered affirmatively, you know. And Aunt Helen has a dentist appointment!

        • TheNuszAbides

          well, if you don’t ask for bread or deliverance, maybe you don’t actually want either of them! /s

      • http://www.ScriptureSearch.info ScriptureSearch.info

        1 Corinthians 12:20
        But now are they many members, yet but one body.

        • adam
        • http://www.ScriptureSearch.info ScriptureSearch.info

          Scripture dictates, not you adam, not any man. How many faiths?

          Ephesians 4:5
          One Lord, one faith, one baptism,

        • adam

          “One Lord, one faith, one baptism,”

          https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/130fd73d4d1fb8d44561582f5da3d25a01a3ce6610d72d62008d60c7e7067449.jpg

          And actually since every ‘believer’ creates God in there own minds there are as many faiths as their are ‘believers’

          https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/c4e3bbea2d1e4d81dbd3798980be2ee8b39f893fee5d1d2b81b76b5e7ba184e1.jpg

        • http://www.ScriptureSearch.info ScriptureSearch.info

          only in your mind… not the scriptures.

        • adam
        • RichardSRussell

          A continuing theme:

          1937: Ein Volk, Ein Reich, Ein Führer (Adolf Hitler)

          1998: One World, One Web, One Program (Microsoft promotional ad)

        • Greg G.

          Scripture was written by many men. Every writer and every reader has a different faith.

        • Bob Jase

          Ein Reich, Ein Volk, Ein Fuhrer.

          Same personalities too.

        • boneheadaudio

          “One Ring to rule them all.”

        • Greg G.

          For the prayer to be answered, the whole world has to become believers because of the unity being so impressive. None of those pieces of the prayer have been fulfilled. You can pretend all of the 47000 denominations are one body, but that is just a definition thing – they barely agree enough to be called “Christians” and then their differences become apparent, so the prayer fails.

        • http://www.ScriptureSearch.info ScriptureSearch.info

          47000 are not one, some are false some are real.
          Among the real, regardless of name, have an identical statement of faith in issues that determine a Christian…wow. regardless, denomination is man’s creation.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          So you’re agreeing that the Bible is ambiguous and that “true Christianity” is just an opinion. You can think that you’ve found it, but someone else can simply disagree.

        • adam

          ” have an identical statement of faith in issues ”

          AGAIN, no two have identical views of what God is.

          Your dishonesty is showing, AGAIN.

          https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/8313efa128f4b69f835c9e1249ec7e0a3c6f4ac39bee5f86101f2692e380791d.png

        • Lark62

          After 2000 years, the one true christian is in perfect unity with himself, proving that Jesus’ prayer has finally been fulfilled. snark

        • Greg G.

          But the agreement among Christians, no matter how you define it, has not impressed the rest of the world to become Christians.John quotes Jesus saying it twice. Did you actually read it? Try other translations. Read it in the Greek manuscripts. The prayer is a failure. The whole world has never believed which means Christians haven’t agreed with each other enough to make the world believe. If you are trying to say that Christians are in agreement, then why isn’t the rest of the world now Christian?

          You shouldn’t blame man for thousands of different denominations if Jesus prayed against it. The problem must be that prayer doesn’t work. It’s why Christians have to assure one another with “God works in mysterious ways.” It is just a way to pretend that God works at all.

        • Kodie

          How are they false? The believers are sincere, and the message convinced them. How do you account for the bible being interpreted differently, plausibly, and convincingly to so many people, but is not correct? How do any of you believers skip that? You understand corruption, you understand a little bit about human nature, but you seem to think that so many Christians are not true Christians (except when you want to point to how many Christians there are!), as if it’s their own fault, and then without any irony at all, that your version, your interpretation is the only correct one, and that you are immune to being fooled.

          This is the clusterfuck that atheists are looking at, that no Christians seem able to account for rationally. You wave your hands and say you are the right kind of Christian and you know it in your “heart” and we’re supposed to take you seriously because you care so much about the truth. It looks like you don’t give a single shit about the truth. You all start at the point where you’re the lunatic on the street corner, and never mind about why we’re supposed to listen to you at all. You believe sincerely, and you were convinced, the same way as every single other Christian and every other theist who is not Christian, and you all start in the same place – that you are the only correct one, and everyone else is “false”. That only tells us that you’re the fool because you can’t account for your interpretation of the bible over anyone else’s. Their beliefs are validated by their own “heart”, their own sincerity, their prayer, their proof to themselves that whatever they believe bears out in reality and YOU ARE WRONG. They believe you are as wrong as I believe you’re wrong, with as much sincerity and as little evidence as you have. Why don’t any of you Christians seem to argue amongst yourselves? All I see is 15 different loud, arrogant, ridiculous kinds of Christian believers on this blog at the same time and none of y’all seem to run into each other except the occasional morale boost, fist-bump. If you think they’re all wrong, tell them exactly why. Tell Ed Senter, tell Ameribear, tell Robert Lockett, preach to all 3 that they’re fucking it up and doing it wrong and have been misled. They won’t believe you. There are others, but I give you 3 to start with.

          Why should I believe any of you?

    • Kevin K

      Well, you raise an interesting question. What, exactly and precisely, is prayer? How does it work at the most-basic level of physics/meta-physics.

      I mean, we know that prayers (ie, thoughts) are electrical signals generated by chemical reactions in the brain. That’s how we can detect them via EEG machines and the like. It would seem to me that prayer is the sending of an electric signal from the natural world to the supernatural world. How does that work? What kind of receiving mechanism does the supernatural world have? It would have to be a pretty powerful antenna, given the inverse square law.

      Of course, that presents the opposite problem as well. If the majority of the Christian world is right and Yahweh does answer prayers, then how is that accomplished. What sort of power source does Yahweh use and how does it connect from the supernatural to the natural world? And why haven’t we been able to detect it? In fact, why isn’t it even proposed in physics. Surely, the Christian physicists out there have a working description of its mass-energy…right?

    • adam
    • http://www.ScriptureSearch.info ScriptureSearch.info

      What kind of life long “Christian” are you?

      • Greg G.

        Probably one of those “One Lord, one faith, one baptism” you keep saying all Christians are that proves Jesus was a failure at prayer.

  • Michael Neville

    Give a man a fish, and you’ll feed him for a day; give him a religion, and he’ll starve to death while praying for a fish.

    There’s also Terry Pratchett’s: “Build a man a fire and he’s warm for a day. Set a man on fire and he’s warm for the rest of his life.”

    • http://www.ScriptureSearch.info ScriptureSearch.info

      Luke 5:4-6
      Now when he had left speaking, he said unto Simon, Launch out into the deep, and let down your nets for a catch.
      And Simon answering said unto him, Master, we have toiled all the night, and have caught nothing: nevertheless at your word I will let down the net.
      And when they had this done, they inclosed a great multitude of fishes: and their net broke.

      • adam

        And Superman saved the world by flying backwards around the earth so fast that time was reversed and total devastation averted.

        https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/8a1d48c6ea9ae94abc4986173c1c9496602e6dc86fef2062e9417b9a7f4f213b.jpg

      • Michael Neville

        I’ll take that story as being as honest as any other fisherman’s story.

        • Greg G.

          Those believers who say the gospel writers were eyewitnesses should be honest enough to admit that the eyewitnesses were fishermen.

        • Bob Jase

          That would especially explain the Gospel of Peter.

        • Greg G.

          Only a fisherman could tell a tale about resurrecting a smoked fish.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker
        • Lark62

          Now I gotta replace my keyboard….

        • Greg G.

          I once caught a keyboard this big.

      • Greg G.

        I once caught a four foot minnow and just as I got him near the boat, he broke the line.

      • Lark62

        Numbers 31 17 Now kill all the boys. And kill every woman who has slept with a man, 18 but save for yourselves every girl who has never slept with a man.

        Now lets hear a “God said it. I believe it. That settles it.” Or maybe just let’s all just vomit.

        • adam
        • Greg G.

          That Elijah was said to be hairy and Elisha was said to be bald is an indication that their stories are recycled sun god and moon god mythologies, sanitized for monotheism.

        • Lark62

          Yes. Jesus had 12 disciples mirroring the Zodiac including Gemini Thomas the twin.

          The book is nothing but recycled myths.

        • Greg G.

          I think there are some invented myths, too. I think Thomas might be from the Zodiac. I tried to see if Mark’s other disciples matched up but didn’t get anywhere. I think Jesus’ main sidekicks come from Galatians 2:7-9.

          I have seen some speculation that Thaddeus might be an alternate spelling or transliteration of Jude, Juda, or Judas to Greek. The “th” comes from the Greek letter “theta” and has sound as in “thin” and unlike “then”. It may be similar to a soft “J”.

          From Josephus’ Jewish Wars 2-7 are about the war between the Romans and the Jews in the mid-first century. Mark has the Jesus story set a generation earlier. I noticed that many names in Mark are the father of the active participants in Jewish Wars. Jairus, whose daughter is healed by Jesus, is a ruler of the temple in Mark 5:22 and is mentioned several times in Jewish Wars as the father of Eleazar, Simon, and Judas. Levi (Mark 2:14) is the father of John of Gischala. Simon is the father of a Joseph, Judas has a son named Judas, Philip is the father of two daughters that are said to have escaped.

          Acts 1:23 has a Matthias, who was beheaded in Jewish Wars, and he had four sons and Acts 9:36 has Dorcas whose son was executed in JW. Both Josephus and Acts give the meaning of “Dorcas”. John 3:1 introduces Nicodemas who is the father of Gorion in JW.

          Jewish Wars 1 is about the first century war with Rome that resulted in Herod coming into power. It has Pompey and Marc Antony in it. The Jews are rebelling against their Egyptian overlords. The Egyptians send generals that are very nasty. Matthias and his sons kill one of the generals and set up their own government. One of Matthias’ sons was killed by his own son-in-law, Ptolemy.

          Perhaps Mark made “son-in-law Ptolemy” into “Bartholemew” the way he came up with “Bartimaeus”. I’m not sure where the suffix “-ew” comes from but it could be how Matthias becomes Matthew. Then maybe the name Andrew was invented the same way but I have no candidate for the original.

        • TheNuszAbides

          Matthias is a variant of a Greek derivation of Hebrew; the English is derived from OF -thieu which is from LL which is from the unvaried Greek.

          https://www.etymonline.com/word/Matthew

          same source is useless for Bart-Ptolemy, but ‘y’ has had a “Ü” characteristic in German and presumably other languages, which of course influenced English. not much of a stretch to get ‘ew’ from ‘Ü’.

        • Greg G.

          Thanks for that information.

          I notice that Matthew does not have a “tau”. It has a “theta theta” so it seems like it should be “Maththew”,

  • Halbe

    According to this site: https://www.wikihow.com/Pray-Effectively-(Christianity) effective prayer requires:
    – Copious amounts of groveling, praise, faith and gratitude
    – Obedience and a life without sin
    – Forgiveness of others, love thy enemy
    – Keeping a prayer journal to be inspired by prayers’ results
    – Praying for things that are God’s will, praying for good things
    – Persistence, pray all the time, be a living prayer
    – Opening yourself up towards God, even though He knows everything about you anyhow

    Yes, does not make sense to me either.

    • https://www.jonmorgan.info Jon Morgan

      Quite so.

      When family were trying to restore me to my faith, it became my fault that I hadn’t properly maintained a prayer journal (which I would have seen coincidences in), and that I wasn’t sufficiently open-minded to just assume God existed and then pray for him to reveal himself to me.

      For me, it was quite powerful to observe that my life was similar to others whether I prayed or not, and that fellow believers weren’t suddenly seeing “Everything’s gone wrong! He must have abandoned prayer.”

    • http://www.ScriptureSearch.info ScriptureSearch.info

      Why go to wikihow, when you can just go to the scriptures, which reveal the faith once delivered to the saints?

      • Doubting Thomas

        Because the scriptures are bullshit. That’s why.

        • http://www.ScriptureSearch.info ScriptureSearch.info

          written by over 30 people, on 3 continents, in 3 languages, over 1,500 years: there cohesiveness doesn’t intrigue you?

        • RichardSRussell

          The Bible’s cohesiveness intrigues me in much the same way as unicorns and leprechauns, by the fact that some people actually believe it exists.

        • http://www.ScriptureSearch.info ScriptureSearch.info

          Nazareth is a real place, the resurrection actually happened… time and world history testify to the truth of both.

        • Sandpirate

          England and London are real places, Harry Potter and the Chronicles of Narnia must be real too then. How exciting!

        • adam
        • Philmonomer

          Nazareth is a real place, the resurrection actually happened… time and world history testify to the truth of both.

          I’m pretty sure the resurrection didn’t happen. I base this on two things 1) the stories we do have and 2) the stories we don’t have.

          With regard to 1), odd, secretive appearances to your own followers are not impressive (it makes them seem made up and/or the product of their minds/urban legends/myths) With regard to 2), there aren’t any stories of the resurrected Jesus showing himself to thousands at the temple, showing himself to the very people who condemned him to death, showing himself to a large group of people who were blown away to see him again (and maybe even converted on the spot!). In simple, we don’t have amazing stories of the resurrected Jesus that would make it seem like it really happened.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          How about this for an ending to the Jesus story? He appears to all of Jerusalem and says, “Told ya, bitches!” and then Judaism changed at that point to accept the true, revealed God.

          I wonder why it ends instead with a whimper, not a bang, so that even believers are left wondering.

        • TheNuszAbides

          I wonder why it ends instead with a whimper, not a bang, so that even believers are left wondering.

          you didn’t get the memo? bangs preclude faith.

        • RichardSRussell

          “The resurrection actually happened”, you claim. Really? What really happened? The “inerrant” and “divinely inspired” Bible gives 4 different, conflicting accounts, as Bob laid out for your inspection a couple of years ago. To see why it’s significant that they couldn’t get their story straight, read about the comparison to the flat tire story.

        • http://www.ScriptureSearch.info ScriptureSearch.info

          not one contradiction… If you and 3 friends were sitting watching a sport game and I asked you to describe what you were looking at in some detail, your stories would be different… they are “eyewitness” accounts… according to the authors.

          2 Peter 1:16 For we have not followed cunningly devised fables, when we made known unto you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but were eyewitnesses of his majesty.

          I destroyed Bob’s frivolous arguments…

          1 Corinthians 15:14 And if Christ be not risen, then is our preaching vain, and your faith is also vain.

          According to the authors who left the written testimony, the resurrection happened… making you a false witness for claiming otherwise.

        • RichardSRussell

          “Not one contradiction”!? Did you actually read the side-by-side comparison? It’s absolutely riddled with contradictions. How can you say with a straight face that you couldn’t find a single one? There’s a false witness here, all right.

          As to the “authors who left the written testimony”, why do you choose to believe them? Why not recognize their fantastic tales for the fiction they so obviously are?

        • adam

          ” If you and 3 friends were sitting watching a sport game and I asked you to describe what you were looking at in some detail,”

          Me – he struck out
          Paul – Grand Slam and he didnt even hit the ball
          Matthew – fly ball stuck on first
          Mark – fly ball called out

          https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/fb4704343876725a21851b3d98421cb54aacc77e7dd6dd0e20c6ac3d7b38de3a.jpg

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          Ah, but the four people all agreed that there was a ball game happening! Gotcha!

          Therefore, Jesus rose from the dead.

          Stupid atheists …

        • Bob Jase

          Indeed, there was a ball game happening and the four scores given were:

          2 runs to 4 runs

          88 points to 94 points

          1 goal to nothing

          and

          231 to 229 but there’s a possibility for a spare.

        • Lark62

          Ha! No contradictions? Was Jesus crucified on Passover or the day before passover?

          Choose only one.

          Or maybe he was crucified twice, just to be thorough.

        • Greg G.

          not one contradiction… If you and 3 friends were sitting watching a sport game and I asked you to describe what you were looking at in some detail, your stories would be different… they are “eyewitness” accounts… according to the authors.

          A contradiction is a difference. You admit the differences, now admit the differences are contradictions.

          Lark62 posted after I started my reply but before I finished and he stole my thunder. Did Jesus eat the passover meal, as in the Synoptics or not, as in John. Answer correctly. Your soul may depend on the answer.

        • Lark62

          Sorry for sneaking in there.

        • Greg G.

          I bet you are.

        • Lark62

          Trruuuussstt me

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          Yep–Christians can’t even agree when the crucifixion happened.

        • adam
        • adam

          “the resurrection actually happened.”

          And Spiderman has spidey senses

          https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/b5b25761e502c632aaed6d0c167af42157463e47206725f5887b24fe7150d8c1.jpg

        • Lark62

          Nazareth was a real place when the gospels were written. Nazareth did not exist when jesus was supposedly alive. Awkward.

        • http://www.ScriptureSearch.info ScriptureSearch.info

          I guess your more into aliens like Stephen Hawking perhaps?

        • adam
        • RichardSRussell

          At this point, there’s no evidence for the existence of non-terrestrial (alien) life, either, but there’s nothing about such possible beings that would utterly contradict the laws of nature, like the far-fetched whoppers promulgated by pretty much every religion on the planet.

        • Lark62

          Every Unicorn had one horn. Consistency. Every leprechaun is short, green and plays tricks if disrespected. Consistency

          Of course they are real. What other explanation for all that consistency could there possibly be?

        • Bob Jase

          Technically leprechauns aren’t green, they wear green.

          And everyone is after their lucky charms.

        • Lark62

          Heretic!

        • adam

          What cohesiveness?

          https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/89d230f179881be8275da4101e50e5e24d2a0bb95addba201026fbc36fa9a751.jpg

          Even YOU are willing to ignore Jesus and worship the writings of Paul who never met Jesus.

        • Doubting Thomas

          You mean there[sic] cohesiveness of the OT “Kill thy neighbor” and the NT “Love thy neighbor?”

          I think you have a misunderstanding of what it means for a text to be cohesive.

        • http://www.ScriptureSearch.info ScriptureSearch.info

          Leviticus 19:18 is Old last time i checked…
          Thou shalt not avenge, nor bear any grudge against the children of thy people, but thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself: I am the LORD.

        • adam
        • adam
        • adam
        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          Leviticus 19:18 is Old last time i checked…

          So is Numbers 14:18 last time I checked:
          “[God] does not leave the guilty unpunished; he punishes the children for the sin of the parents to the third and fourth generation.”

        • adam
        • aikidaves

          In what way are ‘the scriptures’ more ‘cohesive’ than Bulfinch’s Mythology?

        • http://www.ScriptureSearch.info ScriptureSearch.info

          they were written by real people, who claimed their testimony was true and that they were eyewitnesses. They gained nothing in this world, not money, but instead were persecuted by the most powerful government in the world at the time unto the death… have you never heard the gospel?

        • adam
        • Greg G.

          Either the gospels are completely fiction with Paul’s opponents, Cephas, James, and John, who were very literate in Paul’s writings but were written as illiterate fishermen who became Jesus’ main sidekicks OR the gospels are tales told by fishermen, which cannot be believed on that account.

        • aikidaves

          I’ve read the Bible cover to cover. I’ve also read from a number of other mythologies. The Bible appears no more plausible than they do.

          A Princess of Mars also claims within the text to have been written by an eyewitness who received no benefit from it in this world. We know that one isn’t true. Why should we believe that all the claims in the Bible are?

        • adam
        • Bob Jase

          https://catalog.loc.gov/

          Contains 17 million catalog records for books, serials, manuscripts, maps, music, recordings, images, and electronic resources in the Library of Congress collections.

          Their cohesiveness doesn’t intrigue you?

        • TheNuszAbides

          I’m sold! We must live our lives according to the Core Message of The Library of Congress as a Whole!

      • adam
      • Halbe

        Why write a meaningful comment, when you can just spam the thread to push your shitty website? Flagged. And blocked.

  • Bob Jase

    “New York City has thousands of crosswalk buttons with instructions that tell you to push and wait for the crosswalk indicator, but most of these buttons are disabled”

    I like the crosswalk buttons down the hill from me, they have the typical instructions as above but there are no crosswalk lights – just the buttons for them.

    • Kevin K

      I was in Los Angeles a while back, and there was an intersection where the light would not change unless you pushed the crosswalk button, because the cross street signal for cars was based on a magnetic signal. I stood there for quite some time until I figured it out. Pushed the button — voila!

      • Kodie

        It used to work that way in my neighborhood – either you had to push the button, or a car could trigger it from a side street. Otherwise the main street stayed green. Now it is on a timer. I think it should be that way to keep traffic moving, and I think pushing the button still works… different roadways have different needs. For example, if you have a 4-way intersection with timing for left turns and also right turns, that takes about 1 minute and 45 seconds to cycle back, some intersections give pedestrians their walk signal at the same time as a green light going in the same direction (and messes up people turning right and the people behind them), but some of them only give the walk signal if someone actually needs it, and all the cars have a red light. I live near a lot of different kinds of roads – the ones I mentioned first now go on timers because of the orthodox Jews who can’t press the button on Saturdays (I know this because I made a suggestion and these two teen girls said they weren’t allowed), and there are also a lot of older people, so between the large families with lots of little kids, and older people who move more slowly, those lights can stay red for 45 seconds, even if nobody is crossing, and even if it’s not Saturday. Before, they just waited for an opening and risked it, or waited for someone to wave them over. Unlike a car in the cross street triggering the light, it wouldn’t work if foot traffic triggered it, or have it only work on Saturdays.

        Over by a more commercial area that actually doesn’t have an auto intersection, I think the only way to get a red light is if a pedestrian pushes the button to cross at the crosswalk. At that other big intersection I mentioned, the light pattern seems to allow for pedestrians automatically, but not so that it takes up its own segment of the cycle, and at some corners, they can press it. I think most places I go, it will not give the pedestrian a walk sign if the button doesn’t get pressed and stops all the cars, but the bullshit is because a lot of the day, it’s safe enough to cross without explicit permission. What I hate is when the pedestrian presses the buttons and then crosses so they are gone when we all have to wait for their light.

        • Kevin K

          LA does seem to be its own special little animal. Very different from anywhere else I’ve been, and I’ve been a LOT of places.

  • http://www.njpaleorunner.wordpress.com/ ObstacleChick

    Prayer always seemed too complicated to me when I was a Christian. You had to do it right AND it had to be God’s will AND you had to be right with God and honestly, there was no way to know if all those things coincided.

    • http://www.ScriptureSearch.info ScriptureSearch.info

      what kind of Christian were you ?

      • http://www.njpaleorunner.wordpress.com/ ObstacleChick

        My family were Southern Baptist, and the school I went to was Independent Baptist with Bob Jones University curriculum. After college, I tried several different Christian sects before settling on Congregational United Church of Christ, and the particular one we attended was open and affirming. About a decade ago I “took a break” from religion before finally accepting that I had become atheist.

        • Doubting Thomas

          Well there’s your problem right there!! You weren’t the right kind of Christian.

          Instead of Southern Baptist, you should have been Reformed Southern Baptist. Then everything would have made perfect sense.

        • adam

          “The Heretic” joke

          Walking across a bridge one day, one man saw another man standing on the edge, about to jump off.

          So the first man ran over and said, “Stop! Don’t do it!”
          “Why shouldn’t I?” the second man said.

          The first man said, “Well, there’s so much to live for!”
          “Like what?” the suicidal man said said.
          “Well, are you religious or atheist?”

          “Religious.”

          “Me too! Are your Christian or Buddhist?” “Christian.”
          “Me too! Are you Catholic or Protestant?” “Protestant.”

          “Me too! Are your Episcopalian or Baptist?” “Baptist!”

          “Wow! Me too! Are your Baptist Church of God or Baptist Church of the Lord?

          “Baptist Church of God!”

          “Me too! Are your Original Baptist Church of God or are you Reformed Baptist Church of God?”
          “Reformed Baptist Church of God!”

          “Me too! Are you Reformed Baptist Church of God, Reformation of 1879, or Reformed Baptist Church of God, Reformation of 1915?”
          “Reformed Baptist Church of God, Reformation of 1915!”

          The first man said “Die, heretic scum!” and pushed him off.

          source: http://www.jokebuddha.com/joke/The_Heretic#ixzz4wXTErKXW

        • Michael Neville

          That is Emo Philips’ most famous joke. I also like another one of his jokes: “When I was a kid I used to pray every night for a new bicycle. Then I realized that the Lord doesn’t work that way so I stole one and asked Him to forgive me.”

        • Lark62

          Okay. This is off topic. But that long story made me think of this. And this one is actually true.

          FBI agents conducted a “search and seizure” at the Southwood Psychiatric Hospital in San Diego, which was under investigation for medical insurance fraud. After hours of pouring over many rooms of financial records, some sixty FBI agents worked up quite an appetite. The case agent in charge of the investigation called a local pizza parlor with delivery service to order a quick dinner for his colleagues.
          The following telephone conversation took place:

          Agent: Hello. I would like to order nineteen large pizzas and sixty-seven cans of soda.

          Pizza man: And where would you like them delivered?

          Agent: To the Southwood Psychiatric Hospital.

          Pizza man: To the psychiatric hospital?

          Agent: That’s right. I’m an FBI agent.

          Pizza man: You’re an FBI agent?

          Agent: That’s correct. Just about everybody here is.

          Pizza man: And you’re at the psychiatric hospital?

          Agent: That’s correct. And make sure you don’t go through the front doors. We have them locked. You’ll have to go around to the back to the service entrance to deliver the pizzas.

          Pizza man: And you say you’re all FBI agents?

          Agent: That’s right. How soon can you have them here?

          Pizza man: And you’re over at Southwood?

          Agent: That’s right. How soon can you have them here?

          Pizza man: And everyone at Southwood is an FBI agent?

          Agent: That’s right. We’ve been here all day and we’re starving.

          Pizza man: How are you going to pay for this?

          Agent: I have my check book right here.

          Pizza man: And you are all FBI agents?

          Agent: That’s right, everyone here is an FBI agent. Can you remember to bring the pizzas and sodas to the service entrance in the rear? We have the front doors locked.

          Pizza man: I don’t think so.
          Click.

          (Quoted from Snopes, but it’s available from several places.)

        • Michael Neville

          I can see that happening very readily.

        • Guy Fawkes

          Emo did it first…

        • RichardSRussell

          Great comedy routine from Emo Phillips:

          I was walking across a bridge one day, and I saw a man standing on the edge, about to jump off. So I ran over and said “Stop! Don’t do it!”

          “Why shouldn’t I?” he said.

          I said, “Well, there’s so much to live for!”

          He said, “Like what?”

          I said, “Well…are you religious or atheist?”

          He said, “Religious.”

          I said, “Me too! Are you Christian or Buddhist?”

          He said, “Christian.”

          I said, “Me too! Are you Catholic or Protestant?”

          He said, “Protestant.”

          I said, “Me too! Are you Episcopalian or Baptist?”

          He said, “Baptist!”

          I said, “Wow! Me too! Are you Baptist Church of God or Baptist Church of the Lord?”

          He said, “Baptist Church of God!”

          I said, “Me too! Are you Original Baptist Church of God, or are you Reformed Baptist Church of God?”

          He said, “Reformed Baptist Church of God!”

          I said, “Me too! Are you Reformed Baptist Church of God, Reformation of 1879, or Reformed Baptist Church of God, Reformation of 1915?”

          He said, “Reformed Baptist Church of God, Reformation of 1915!”

          I said, “Die, heretic scum!” and pushed him off.

        • http://www.njpaleorunner.wordpress.com/ ObstacleChick

          Well, then, I should blame my family for that!

        • http://www.ScriptureSearch.info ScriptureSearch.info

          It isnt denomination your after, its conversion… scripture says “be converted so your sins can be blotted out”… no name tags.

        • adam
        • http://www.ScriptureSearch.info ScriptureSearch.info

          thanks for your story…
          Can you share your testimony?

        • http://www.njpaleorunner.wordpress.com/ ObstacleChick

          You can check it out here, actually. I post anonymously as I have not yet “come out” to certain family members – I feel that it needs to be the right time and place for this type of discussion as I do not want to hurt them unnecessarily.

          http://new.exchristian.net/2017/09/from-fundamentalism-to-atheism-40-year.html

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          That does make it difficult.

        • http://www.ScriptureSearch.info ScriptureSearch.info

          Its to bad your supposed Christian family can’t love and accept you even if you are an atheist… You have had a religious experience and denomination experience, but not a conversion experience…

          Christianity is “Christ in you the hope of glory”
          NOT
          show up Sunday in a dress, sing hymns, and throw some money in the pot…

          Sorry for your baptist experience, but Christ saves forever.

        • http://www.ScriptureSearch.info ScriptureSearch.info

          I read your story, I never read where you received the Spirit of God, as proof that you were adopted by Him according to the scriptures.

          When I was 12 years old, my family started pestering me to “get saved”, “make a profession of faith”, and “be baptized”. – Obstacle Chick

          Here is a story in the bible of people who were NOT saved that did the same thing… Acts 19:1 – 6

          Religion will give you a damning experience, Christ saves.

          Scripture warned you to “examine” yourself to see if you were in the faith, evidenced only by the Spirit. 2 Corinthians 13:5

          You missed out on Christ all those years in exchange for a religion that isnt even taught in the scriptures…

        • Greg G.

          You missed out on Christ all those years in exchange for a religion that isnt even taught in the scriptures…

          Are you sure? There are lots of religions taught in the Bible Josephus tells us of the three main sects of Judaism in Jerusalem. James didn’t agree with Paul. Luke is different that John which is different than Matthew and none agree with Mark because they changed major portions for theological reasons. The Pastorals don’t agree with Paul. The epistles don’t even mentions Jesus as a teacher or a preacher on earth.

      • adam
        • Joe

          True Scotsman or no true Scotsman?

        • adam

          Exactly

      • Joe

        What’s the correct answer to that question?

        • http://www.ScriptureSearch.info ScriptureSearch.info

          In whom you also trusted, after that you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation: in whom also after that you believed, you were sealed with that holy Spirit of promise, Which is the earnest of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, unto the praise of his glory.

          That is what happens when you become a Christian… you don’t sign up, you don’t go to some random building that is not listed in the scriptures, you don’t ask a priest, you don’t need money, you sincerely ask Christ Jesus and he gives you eternal life by sealing you with His Spirit…

          Try it…

          Philippians 4:6
          Be anxious for nothing; but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God.

          Hebrews 11:6
          But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that comes to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.

          James 1:6-8
          But let him ask in faith, nothing wavering. For he that wavers is like a wave of the sea driven with the wind and tossed. For let not that man think that he shall receive any thing of the Lord. A double minded man is unstable in all his ways.

          Prayer; do not just say it, mouth it, mumble it, think it; but humble yourself, believe it, and pray it.

          Lord Jesus Christ,

          Your witness says I am blind, but you give sight. Your witness said I was evil, even though I say I am good. My conscience bears witness, my sin damns me, I am a slave to my sin, but Christ sets free. How can the def hear Lord Jesus, unless you open my ears. I believe deception, reveal in me your Truth. Because you were resurrected, I can only have faith that saves if you give it to me, quicken me. I am without strength against death, death is certain for me, I ask you for eternal life and to be sealed by your promised Holy Spirit, now. Adopt me from the devil’s family, into an eternal inheritance with you, now, before my vapor of a life expires from earth. Because you hear from Heaven, because you shall judge sin and the secrets of man, hear me, and answer this call by Grace. I am alienated from life in you through my wicked mind, help my unbelief, turn my heart of stone into a heart of flesh.

          In the name of Jesus of Nazareth, I pray.
          In Jesus Christ the Son of the one true and living God’s name, I pray.
          Amen.

        • Joe

          What a load of old bollocks.

        • adam

          https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/fb4831e1694c2ba934736efcb24fc7f67501a3f169ecaeac7e1a8fd31de3d3f6.png “In whom you also trusted, after that you heard the word of truth,”

          Truth is bible God condones the ownership of people AS PROPERTY

          “But without faith”

          https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/98d6f0128b8af0c7099d981d0028fdce9cf890c7b4e1a4e7b8c1d16db7e1572d.jpg

        • adam
      • Lark62

        I’m sure she was a true christian, unlike all the godless heretics who only think they are christians.

    • http://www.ScriptureSearch.info ScriptureSearch.info

      This is it…
      Philippians 4:6
      Be anxious for nothing; but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God.

      • Doubting Thomas

        Ric Flair 7:22
        WOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

      • adam
      • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

        And that works?

        Prove it. Pray that a Twinkie appears on my desk.

        I’ll let you know if it happens.

        • Bob Jase

          Make it a ring-ding, if you aren’t going to actually get anything at least not get anything good.

        • http://www.ScriptureSearch.info ScriptureSearch.info

          With biceps that big, I know you don’t eat twinkies, how about a protein bar or something?

        • adam

          Coming on to Bob, too I see.

          Good luck with that Ted Wannabe

        • http://www.ScriptureSearch.info ScriptureSearch.info

          LOL… adam, your so copious with comments… not with truth

        • adam

          You wouldnt know the truth if you were snorting meth off it’s sweaty bare ass.

          https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/62da10177de8c12d9feedf1a0ff3d448ed929feef887a1192640edb3a8a15953.jpg

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker
        • Tommy

          Me: “Dear God, please ignore this prayer.”

          Did God answer my prayer or did he ignored it? How would I know the difference?

        • Greg G.

          Both! You’ve invented the only prayer that God answers.

      • Lark62

        You don’t need prayer to be happy. God said so.

        Happy is the one who seizes your infants and dashes them against the rocks.

        Ps 137:9

        • adam
        • http://www.ScriptureSearch.info ScriptureSearch.info

          Another atheist Old Testament buff… yawn… here is where I fit into the mix…

          Galatians 5:18 But if you be led of the Spirit, you are not under the law.

          Galatians 2:19 For I through the law am dead to the law, that I might live unto God.

          2 Corinthians 3:6 Who also hath made us able ministers of the new testament; not of the letter, but of the spirit: for the letter kills, but the spirit giveth life.

        • adam
        • adam
        • Greg G.

          Galatians 5:14 (NRSV)14 For the whole law is summed up in a single commandment, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”

          James 2:8-10 (NRSV)8 You do well if you really fulfill the royal law according to the scripture, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” 9 But if you show partiality, you commit sin and are convicted by the law as transgressors. 10 For whoever keeps the whole law but fails in one point has become accountable for all of it.

          Both quote the Septuagint version of Leviticus 19:18 verbatim.

        • Ignorant Amos

          Yep….a follower of Pauline Christianity….and a cherry picker for Jesus.

          Paul was a false prophet who made shite up too.

          https://www.vanguardngr.com/2016/07/s-paul-a-false-christ/

        • Greg G.

          That site makes some good points about Paul but it works against itself by citing fiction about Paul from Acts and attributing forged documents to Paul from 2 Thessalonians, 2 Timothy, and maybe Colossians. But comparing Jesus quotes from the gospels as actual quotes isn’t really fair, either.

        • Ignorant Amos

          Yeah, agreed. It was more of an exercise in showing how some people think about the whole charade.

          As for citing the fiction and forgeries, we must remember that most Christians…or anybody for that matter, won’t be that well read on the background of the NT contents, let alone read the nonsense. As far as that is concerned, they take all the woo woo as it is, fact and authoritative. And Jesus as having been a real geezer who said the things put into the characters mouth by those authors, whoever they were. I doubt ScriptureSearch.info will concede what experts, or even well read enough read lay folk, have known for centuries.

          Christians won’t even consider that if Jesus was a real person who the trappings in the NT has been draped upon, he was a false prophet too.

    • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

      Yeah–why bother?

    • http://www.ScriptureSearch.info ScriptureSearch.info

      all you have to have is “Christ in you”, at which point you are unblameable and unreprovable in his sight and can cast all your cares on Him, knowing He cares for you… If you ever felt like you weren’t good enough, its because you had religion, not Christ.

      • Greg G.

        You are the reason that Jesus is a prayer failure. Nobody is a good Christian but you.

      • Doubting Thomas

        If all I need is ‘Christ in me’ and Christ is god and god is omnipresent then, by definition, Christ is everywhere including in me and, according to you, I am “unblameable and unreprovable in his sight.”

        Christianity is easy.

      • Otto

        You wouldn’t know squat about Jesus without the Christian religion…that is just ridiculous

      • Kodie

        You have a religion, it’s Christ-selling.

        • http://www.ScriptureSearch.info ScriptureSearch.info

          On my site, my “donate” page proves you a hypocrie.

        • Kodie

          You have a religion, it’s Christ-selling. You are here selling your website, and telling me to look at your website because you want to sell Jesus. You make a daily habit of bothering people who think you’re nuts and don’t give a shit, you make it your whole life business, apparently, to make sure you bother people about Jesus. That’s your religion. You hate gay people and you try to hug the gay out of them because you want them to love Jesus enough to stop being gay. All you thumpers think you have a relationship with Jesus, well, that’s a fucking religion. Idolizing a book from a guy about fictional crap and trying to share it with other people as though it’s real is a religion.

          Go fuck yourself now, ok! I don’t think it’s gay if you do it to yourself (in case you’re worried about it).

        • Greg G.

          Do you think Jesus need you to put that thought into people’s heads or are you seeking the praise of men?

  • Halbe

    The real benefits of prayer:
    – It’s an in-group marker vs. the heathens that don’t pray or pray wrong
    – It’s an investment in a ritual and thus keeps sheep in the flock.
    – It provides a feeling of control (I am doing something!)
    – It provides comfort (someone listens to me!)
    – It is a great virtue signalling tool
    – it is a great territorial pissing and coercion tool

    • Gary Whittenberger

      Good list! I agree with them all, except maybe the next to last. I would substitute “apparent virtue” for “virtue.” I think it is a great gullibility signalling tool.

  • http://www.ScriptureSearch.info ScriptureSearch.info

    Hebrews 11:6
    But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that comes to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.

    James 1:6-8
    But let him ask in faith, nothing wavering. For he that wavers is like a wave of the sea driven with the wind and tossed. For let not that man think that he shall receive any thing of the Lord. A double minded man is unstable in all his ways.

    Prayer; do not just say it, mouth it, mumble it, think it; but humble yourself, believe it, and pray it.

    Lord Jesus Christ,

    Your witness says I am blind, but you give sight. Your witness said I was evil, even though I say I am good. My conscience bears witness, my sin damns me, I am a slave to my sin, but Christ sets free. How can the def hear Lord Jesus, unless you open my ears. I believe deception, reveal in me your Truth. Because you were resurrected, I can only have faith that saves if you give it to me, quicken me. I am without strength against death, death is certain for me, I ask you for eternal life and to be sealed by your promised Holy Spirit, now. Adopt me from the devil’s family, into an eternal inheritance with you, now, before my vapor of a life expires from earth. Because you hear from Heaven, because you shall judge sin and the secrets of man, hear me, and answer this call by Grace. I am alienated from life in you through my wicked mind, help my unbelief, turn my heart of stone into a heart of flesh.

    In the name of Jesus of Nazareth, I pray.
    In Jesus Christ the Son of the one true and living God’s name, I pray.
    Amen.

    • RichardSRussell

      Yes, excellent example of the exact sort of bullshit Bob was describing. Thanks!

    • adam
    • Chuck Johnson

      A whole lot of emotion without much understanding.
      You have been duped.

    • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

      I’ve found “abracadabra” to be just as effective.

    • Gary Whittenberger

      There are no sound scientific studies which have shown that intercessory petitionary prayer works and many that have shown it doesn’t work. Why do you think that is the case?

      • http://www.ScriptureSearch.info ScriptureSearch.info

        Stephen Hawking has “faith” in aliens… Richard Dawkins said your great great grandfather was a “fish”… are you looking at their studies or something?

        • adam

          “Stephen Hawking has “faith” in aliens…”
          Not biblical faith
          https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/b12fa1635e121ebbb3409640826d721ba93278771f0064bd133804faa3f01397.png

          “Richard Dawkins said your great great grandfather was a “fish””
          He certainly did not, but you have no trouble bearing false witness.

        • http://www.ScriptureSearch.info ScriptureSearch.info

          Of course not biblical faith… aliens are not real, the bible is true… its sci-fi, i told you already.

        • adam
        • RichardSRussell

          the bible is … sci-fi, i told you already

          Getting warmer.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          “the bible is true…”

          Dang! You did destroy my arguments! Sorry–I missed this one.

        • Lark62

          “… your great great grandfather was a “fish” …”

          If you cannot properly communicate the substance of the Theory of Evolution, you have no basis for critiquing it.

          When you mistate an opponent’s argument, you are merely admitting that you know you are unable to defeat the actual argument.

        • Greg G.

          Hawking does not have religious faith in aliens. We have solid evidence of one technological species. If one species can exist, so can others. We have zero evidence for any gods and lots of evidence of gods being made up. Hawking’s fear is based on probability. Your faith is based on fear of death.

        • Ignorant Amos

          Richard Dawkins said your great great grandfather was a “fish”.

          Lying for Jesus just trips of the tongue naturally, doesn’t it?

          Do yourself a favour and learn something.

          You could start with something from Dawkins himself…”The Magic of Reality”….it might be a wee bit over your head mind you…it is directed at a target audience of 12 year old and up.

          Dawkins declares that there was no first person, to make the point that evolutionary biologists use the term species to demark differences in gene composition — over often thousands of generations of separation — rather than from any one generation to the next. To illustrate this he undertakes a thought-experiment involving family photographs. If, hypothetically, there existed a complete set of photographs of all one’s direct male ancestors arranged in order of birth date (or hatch date) from youngest to oldest stretching back millions of generations, from one generation to the next one would not perceive much difference between any two adjacent pictures—looking at a picture of one’s grandfather or great-grandfather one is looking at a picture of a human—but if one looked at a picture from 185 million generations back one would see an image of some kind of fish-like animal. Dawkins stresses this point by saying the offspring of any sexually reproducing life form belongs in almost all cases to the same species as do its parents, with the exception of unviable hybrids such as mules.

          https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Magic_of_Reality

        • epeeist

          Lying for Jesus just trips of the tongue naturally, doesn’t it?

          Quite a number of the theists we have had lately seem to live in their own little bubble, you have to wonder whether they they shun contact with anything outside of fundamentalist disinformation about science.

          It rather reminds me of the Muslim convert Joe Morrealle on the Richard Dawkins website, he was an acolyte of Harun Yahya.

        • AuldLochinvar

          My great great great grandfather was not a fish, but like me all sixteen of them were apes, of the Naked Ape species identified by Desmond Morris. Like you, they and I and all my recent female ancestors were vertebrates, perhaps not fish, but we all have a vertebrate ancestor that is also an ancestor of every fish in the sea or in fresh water. Richard Dawkins can prove it with the commonalty of the genetic code that binds DeoxyRiboNucleic Acid.

    • MNb

      If someone claims it works, praise the Lord!
      If someone claims it doesn’t work, blame that person!

    • Kevin K

      Bullshit.

    • AuldLochinvar

      Laddie, listen more attentively to your “wicked” mind. If you are doing bad things, just STOP THAT. Your mind is the manifestation of your sentient brain. Faith is merely imagination, and probably other people’s delusions.
      I am trying to help you. I shall die, and so will you, and we’ll both mercifully be GONE. The great mathematician who also wrote as Lewis Carroll reported a nightmare in which, facing Eternity in Heaven, he realised that there wasn’t enough mathematics to prevent the most crushing boredom with it.

  • Darrell Cadieux
  • Gary Whittenberger

    Another excellent essay, Bob!

    Of course the best way to study the efficacy of prayer is through the scientific method.

    • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

      And test God?? I wouldn’t dream of it.

  • Lerk!

    The preacher in the church I go to recently did a sermon saying almost exactly this. When something bad happens to you, there’s no way to tell whether Satan did it to tempt you, or God did it to discipline you, or maybe it was random chance. (“The rain falls on the just and the unjust,” after all.) Prayer seems to work sometimes and not others… there’s no way to tell what God is doing.

    He actually got up and preached “there’s no way to tell whether God is doing anything or not!” How anyone left the building that day still believing in their god, I have no idea.

    • http://www.ScriptureSearch.info ScriptureSearch.info

      Me either… what church? Seems like one you would attend though.

      Just go to the scriptures, finding God is so much easier in the New Testament… read John’s Gospel…

      • Greg G.

        You are disagreeing with other Christian churches. That is the opposite of Jesus’ prayer. You must be working for Satan to keep the rest of the world from becoming believers.

    • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

      With faith all things are possible, my brother.

    • AuldLochinvar

      I cannot resist:
      The rain it falleth on the just,
      And also on the unjust fellah,
      But chiefly on the just, because
      The unjust taketh the just’s umbrella.

  • Donna Swindells

    I believe prayer, spoken with intention, is received by the Divine.
    Prayer with good intention, are received & repaid with kindness. Prayer with bad intention, are received
    and repaid with what bad intention would be for you, but 3×3.
    They have science to back the good intention. Ten patients were divided into 2 groups.
    Five were prayed for with out their knowledge. The other five were not. The five which prayer was
    offered for their recovery improved in some way. The other five were not so fortunate.
    Words are energy spoken. The intention is put into motion.
    Faith is a gift. If it works for you & your spiritual path, why wouldn’t you use it?

    • adam

      “They have science to back the good intention”

      You are lying.

      “Faith is a gift. ”

      https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/4c7795336a2f3648c20693fd615ca36d67490293ddcff9e024299acfaf4b24f9.jpg

      • http://www.ScriptureSearch.info ScriptureSearch.info

        Christ Jesus was “crucified”, and its a mystery why bad things happen to good people?

        • adam

          “Christ Jesus was “crucified”,”

          Superman can fly and bullets bounce off his chest, there are even videos on line.

          “and its a mystery why bad things happen to good people?”
          by ‘mystery’ you mean a ‘loving God’?

        • Lark62

          The mystery is how people can follow a religion whose central theme from beginning to end is:

          “Deity Angry. Something Gotta Die.”

        • AuldLochinvar

          How splendidly succinct.

        • Greg G.

          They have science to back the good intention.

          That sounds like the kind of study that does everything, let me repeat, everything wrong regarding scientific methods. Ten patients are not enough to draw a scientific conclusion. I bet they didn’t even use double blind methodology.

          The Templeton Foundation did a study that was meant to eliminate all the failures and valid criticisms of earlier prayer studies. Over 4500 patients were randomly assigned to one of three groups. One group was informed that they were being prayed for, one group was prayed for but no informed, and one group was not prayed for. The outcomes were evaluated by doctors who had no idea which group a patient was in. The result showed no significant differences as defined before the study was done but the group that was informed that they were being prayed for was very close to a significant difference for doing the worst of the three groups. The study theorized that the group relied more on prayer than proper follow-up care.

          So the only prayer study done following scientific procedures showed that prayer was not effective.

        • Lark62

          Jesus supposedly had a lousy weekend for our sins. So What?

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          Christ Jesus was “crucified”

          I agree with your scare quotes. If you or I were crucified, we’d be dead and gone. But this guy pops back into existence in a day and a half as if nothing happened! Some sacrifice, eh?

        • adam
        • Khanada

          I question this. Was he really temporarily inconvenienced for our sins, or was he actually just away starring in a very early production of “Weekend At Bernie’s”?

        • adam
        • Greg G.

          I bet he had a stiff drink in his hand.

        • AuldLochinvar

          Isn’t that called catalepsy?

        • Kevin K

          Ah, but that was part of God’s Plan™. Yahweh could not think of any other way to forgive mankind for the sin of eating the IQ-raising sin-fruit perpetrated by the mud man and rib woman at the behest of the talking snake with legs other than to send himself down to Earth and sacrifice himself to himself. Temporarily, of course.

          Makes perfect sense.

    • Joe

      *Citation needed

      The only studies I’ve seen on intercessory prayer returned neutral to slightly negative outcomes.

      • Lark62

        Yes. It was cardiac patients. The control group and those being prayed for anonymously had identical outcomes. Those who were told that were being prayed for had slightly worse outcomes. Oops.

        • RichardSRussell

          Oh, dear. Facts. You’re introducing facts into Donna’s completely undocumented, non-specific religious fables. What are you, some kind of rationalist fiend?

        • Greg G.

          I want to be a rationalist fiend when I grow up.

        • AuldLochinvar

          Greg G, I applaud your ambition.
          I’m so old, if I were rational enough, I’d be a Hell of a Fiend.

        • sandy

          performance anxiety

    • adam
    • Chuck Johnson

      The test was a fraud.
      Pray for me to change my mind on this question and see what happens.

      The way that prayer really works is explained by psychology, sociology, neurology, etc.
      Prayer can change hearts and minds, but no magical God is involved.

    • Lark62

      Isn’t “3 x 3” part of magic spells.

      “….come to you 3 times 3
      As I will, so mote it be.”

      At least that is what the witches always said in the Three Sisters trilogy by Nora Roberts.

    • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

      Sounds like the threefold law. Are you Wicca?

      If faith gets you through life and you’re not hurting anyone (including yourself), that’s fine. I prefer believing only true things, but if anyone needs a little extra help getting through a difficult life, I won’t complain.

      As for prayer working, have you read about the Templeton (STEP) study? It was very elaborate, cost millions of dollars, and showed no efficacy for prayer.
      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Studies_on_intercessory_prayer#The_STEP_project

    • AuldLochinvar

      Too small a sample.

  • Lark62

    My dog barks at the mail carrier. The mail carrier goes away. My dog barks at the UPS delivery guy. The UPS delivery guy goes away. Neither has ever broken in and swiped the dog biscuits.

    My dog is convinced he’s a hero.

    Proof of the power of prayer works the same way.

    • http://www.ScriptureSearch.info ScriptureSearch.info

      when you’re praying to your sci-fi idols I agree…

      • Lark62

        I was a christian for over 3 decades. Did a lot of praying. Then I realized it was bunk.
        Now I’ve found it is more effective to chat with my cat. He at least will purr or cough up a hair ball or something.

        • Greg G.

          If you pray to your cat for a purr or a hair ball, it proves that prayer works, too. God never purrs or coughs up hair balls.

      • Greg G.

        People pray to Allah and think prayer works. People practice feng shui and are convinced that works.Christians of all denominations make the same claims about prayer. It works the same way for all – confirmation bias – you remember the occasional coincidence more strongly than all the misses.

      • adam
  • sandy

    Just imagine how many prayers the Jews sent out to God during wwII. What a sic POS to not help them out. Almost as if he was’t there.

    • Greg G.

      But-but-but it was Christians praying against one another. God couldn’t decide which one to answer.

      • sandy

        Or…god still holding a 2000 year old grudge over who did him in.

    • Lark62

      A man visiting Jerusalem saw the same man walk to the wailing wall every day to pray.

      “What are you praying for?” he asked him.

      “World peace.”

      “How’s it going?”

      “It’s like talking to an f’ing wall.”

      • sandy

        That’s a keeper Lark!

    • Otto

      If you haven’t watched ‘God on Trial’ it is well worth it.

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5caAug5n8Zk

      • Greg G.

        Thanks for posting that. I had seen an excerpt several times but never felt like investing an hour and a half. I got caught up and couldn’t stop this time.

        • Otto

          Same happened to me, I had seen clips but not the whole thing. I haven’t seen it for a few years now but Sandy’s post made me think of it. I am going to watch it again tonight.

      • sandy

        Apparently it’s blocked in Canada on You tube.

        • Otto

          Look around, you won’t be disappointed in my opinion…;)

        • Greg G.

          Looks like Trump has built a firewall on the Canadian border.

        • sandy

          Don’t they blame Obama for that!? Anyway, hard to understand why Canada can’t see it. Perhaps I can find it on google.

        • Chuck Johnson

          The error message that I got was that it contains copyrighted material from the BBC, so it is not available in Canada.

        • sandy

          Trump probably doesn’t know where Canada is.

        • Michael Neville

          Trump knows that Canadian border isn’t where he wants to build a wall.

        • sandy

          longest international border in the world…and undefended.

        • AuldLochinvar

          Whereas there are Canadians who think they might need one.

        • Greg G.

          I promise to not tell him.

        • Chuck Johnson

          A Virtual Private Network will get it for you.
          I use Hotspot Shield.

      • sandy

        Thanks Otto. I just watched it. Was not disappointed. Powerful stuff. From what I have read, the holocaust caused an unprecedented loss of faith among jews. God…guilty!

        • AuldLochinvar

          The history of “Flavius Josephus” is interesting, and much better documented than that of Jesus of Galilee. He was a Jewish zealot leader, and the only one to survive the orderly, sequential suicide of the battle group he was in when the Romans had them defeated, and they preferred suicide to surrender. Each killed the man next-to-him-but-one.

          Josephus went over to the Romans, logically I presume because he concluded that JHVH was not on the side of the Jews. He was a great success, because the House of Flavius wanted to know everything about this weird Jewish religion.

    • MNb

      They prayed to the wrong god – like all believers.

  • RichardSRussell

    Re: the illo that accompanies this essay. I’ve occasionally mused that one symbol that should be commonly understood even by intelligent alien species is the arrowhead.

    • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

      Because they would have the same weapon? Or simply because using it to indicate direction should be universal?

      • RichardSRussell

        The latter. I doubt that 90% of the people who use an arrow symbol as a pointer have even seen a real arrow in real life.

      • AuldLochinvar

        I was told a story of a man who brought his Kevlar protecting jacket to an outdoor party, set it against a rigid straw backing, and showed that the bullets from the pistol he produced could not penetrate it. Quite possibly .308 or even 0.45 calibre. There was another fellow there, with a hunting bow:
        “D’you think it would stop a boradhead arrow?”
        “Yes, try it” So he did.
        The broadhead has two knife edges at about 30 or 45 degrees to the shaft.
        From a fair distance, it went right through the Kevlar.

  • Otto

    Prayer: Because I already know what you want…I just want to hear you beg for it.

    (text from my wife today…lol)

  • Ignorant Amos
  • hisxmark

    So, the buttons are like elections.

  • AuldLochinvar

    I think it was a character in a book by Horace Walpole who had and aunt: “Older than God, just as wise, and _almost_ as deaf”.

  • https://www.facebook.com/WillfullyRandom Random

    .
    Seidensticker: “The door-close button is a placebo button. We like to feel in control, and this button supports that illusion. . . . . . In the US, the 1990 Americans with Disabilities Act required that elevators stay open long enough for someone with a disability to get on.”

    Bullshit.

    In my experience, elevator “Close Door” buttons nearly always work. (In fact, I cannot remember the last time one didn’t.)

    My most recent experiences come from a 7-story assisted living facility, so I think that defenestrates your ADA hypothesis.

    Whatcha gotta do is press and hold the “Close Door” button. This will result in the doors beginning to close significantly sooner than otherwise. (What do I mean by “significantly”? I mean it doesn’t take a stopwatch to tell the difference.)

    This harks back to the time before elevators had “Close Door” buttons. The “Close Door” function was there — to trigger it, you had to press and hold the “Floor” button. Voila!

    There are still a few old elevators around that have this feature.
    .