Book excerpt: on prayer

Here’s an excerpt from the book:

You may respond with an anecdote that you prayed for something and it happened. A popular one is to claim that someone prayed for their relative with cancer and that the cancer went into remission. But surely you don’t believe this happens every time. Lots of people pray for relatives with cancer. Sometimes it goes into remission; most of the time it doesn’t.

Cancer goes into remission for atheists, Muslims, and members of all other faiths alike. It also afflicts and kills Christians, atheists, Muslims, and members of all other faiths alike. It sometimes goes into remission when people pray, and it sometimes endures when people pray. Cancer sometimes goes into remission when nobody prays.

Sometimes things just happen in life. That you were praying when your relative’s cancer went into remission says as much about god’s existence as the cancer patients who died while the family prayed their hearts out.

About JT Eberhard

When not defending the planet from inevitable apocalypse at the rotting hands of the undead, JT is a writer and public speaker about atheism, gay rights, and more. He spent two and a half years with the Secular Student Alliance as their first high school organizer. During that time he built the SSA’s high school program and oversaw the development of groups nationwide. JT is also the co-founder of the popular Skepticon conference and served as the events lead organizer during its first three years.

  • Randomfactor

    Random, unlikely events occur every day in life. Most aren’t even noticed. Lots are negative–a flat tire, the breakfast milk spoiling. A small, small percentage of these will be genuinely positive.

    Those are called “miracles.”

  • Bruce Shapiro

    I was crippled for 4.5 years by a medical drug error. Two years ago the error was resolved & I began to recover. My wife is a Rabbi’s Assistant one day a week and just as my recovery started she broke her ankle, fortunatly by then I was fit enough to drive a bit and was able to take her to and from work.

    One afternoon I was picking her up from work and when I arrived she wasn’t quite ready to leave, so I went in and sat in the reception area. As I was sitting and waiting the Rabbi (who is a nice guy & a modern man) strolled by, knowing that I was a gimp, he was surprised to see me out and about. He asked be how I was feeling, and when I told him I had started to recover he raise his arms up ans said “Baruch Hashem” (Praise be to God). To which I blurted out “No!’.

    He was stunned & I, feeling more than a little rude for my outburst, explained that if I praised God for my recovery I would be obliged to curse him for causing my illness and that I didn’t believe either to be true. It was a epiphanous moment – long an Agnostic I realized at that moment that I was a Atheist at last.

    • Rebecca Hensler

      Fantastic story.