Prayer in reality.

This pretty much sums up half of what I think when people say they’ll pray for me.

The other half is “Good arguments would work better.”

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.

  • Jeremy Forbing

    Wow. For a new blogger on a site encouraging respectful dialogue between faiths and belief systems, you’re really pissing the bed.

    • Courtney C.

      Offering some sort of reason as to why you don’t like JT’s ideas would work better than a meaningless ad hominem attack.

    • Joe

      JT’s writing really hasn’t changed that much from when he was at FTB. If Patheos didn’t like it, they wouldn’t have brought him aboard.

    • http://yetanotheratheist.com TerranRich

      If you had some sort of intelligent rebuttal that would prove JT wrong, that would really show him. Otherwise, all you’ve got is the equivalent of tone-trolling.

    • Gordon

      You want JT to lie to you?

      • Irreverend Bastard

        It would be the Christian thing to do.

    • Piegasm

      Whenever you’re ready to demonstrate that prayer works, we’ll be right here, k?

    • http://anthrozine.com Cubist

      Well, Forbing, some people think that if you respect a person, you should be honest and upfront with them, and generally treat them as if they were grownups, as opposed to… say… treating them like fragile little flowers in a hermetically-sealed greenhouse, or perhaps treating them like little children who must needs be *protected* from any discourse which might hurt their little feelings. Some people think that the “treat ‘em like fragile flowers” option is anything but respectful to the person on the receiving end; some people even think that the “treat ‘em like fragile flowers” option is is condescending and infantilizing.
      I think it’s pretty clear that JT is one of those people who believe that real respect involves treating adults like adults, not like children. But I gotta tell you, Forbing, I’m not so sure about you Christians. Looking at all the invective that you Christians fling at athiests on a regular basis, one could get the idea that Christians are firmly on board with the “treat ‘em like grownups” school of respect; but looking at how you Christians respond to that sort of thing when *Christians* are on the receiving end, it seems more like Christians are *actually* in the “treat ‘em like fragile flowers” school of respect—or even that Christians don’t *really* give a shit about this ‘respect’ stuff, and they just bring it up as a silencing tactic when atheists rub Christian noses in unpleasant facts.
      We atheists think that you Christians are deluded to believe in your invisible friend. You Christians think that we atheists are going to be tortured forever because we don’t buy the memeplex you’re selling. We think you’re wrong; you think we’re going to *burn* *forever*. You want to talk about unpleasantness, Forbing? Fine—but let’s talk about *all* the unpleasantness from *both* sides of this particular disagreement, as opposed to focusing *solely and entirely* on putative unpleasantness from the atheist side of the disagreement. Because that sort of one-sidedness is bullshit, and if you want to go there, you can fuck right off and die in a fire. Yeah, that’s an unpleasant concept, but I’m an atheist; any fire I might suggest someone die in is a *limited and finite* fire, as compared to the *infinite and eternal* fires which you Christians have a habit of threatening people with when those people disagree with you.

    • Parse

      Religions, like all other ideas, are not protected from criticism or owed unearned respect simply because they are belief systems. Or would you respect Angry Turtle Creationism simply because it’s my religion?

    • ah58

      Mr. Forbing,
      Faiths and belief systems don’t have dialogs. People do. Belief systems can’t have their feelings hurt and they shouldn’t get automatic respect. They should be judged by how sensible they are and what good they do. So why not have a dialog about your belief system? It appears you want to use this unearned respect to shield your beliefs from valid discussion and criticism. I’m pretty sure that’s not going to fly on this blog. So, I would suggest that you either conduct a real dialog or flee before you’re forced to actually confront how irrational your beliefs are.

  • Lyfa

    Ah yes, prayer. The way to be useless and still feel like you’re contributing.

  • Pingback: Comment round-up.

  • Lurker111

    The best sound-bite response to “I’ll pray for you” that I’ve heard is, “Very good. And I’ll _think_ for you.”

  • Baal

    If praying folks actually could make their hands glow (as well as sport a beard and pointy hat (regardless of gender or sex) I’d be down with them in an instant.

    JF, hang around for a while. JT’s style is unapologetic but he doesn’t cross the line between pointing out silly beliefs (praying, wishful thinking, magical thinking, and a lot more) and meanly or gratuitously insulting Christians.

  • Art Vandelay

    Just once I’d like someone to offer to sacrifice a swordfish for me…and leave me the carcass.

  • MathMike

    Funny, what I usually hear is, “Your science and thinking frighten me. So I’m getting in the last word before running away.”

  • pagansister

    Though I don’t think it does any good, if someone tells me they will pray for me, why not? If it makes them feel like they might be doing something special, they can go for it. Doesn’t hurt anyone.

    • RuQu

      What’s the harm?

      http://whatstheharm.net/faithhealing.html

      Irrational thinking causes substantial harm. “The Secret” sold how many copies? That’s money stolen from far better uses. How much money do churches and televangelists take in that could go to better uses and disproportionately come from the poor?

      Or try this post by JT about prayer killing people in England of all places:
      http://www.patheos.com/blogs/wwjtd/2012/09/prayer-killing-people-across-the-pond/

      The harm in casual prayer is that it supports the belief that prayer does something, which undermines evidence based thinking and can even lead to unnecessary suffering and death.


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