How Does Prayer Work? And What Does that Say About God?

How Does Prayer Work? And What Does that Say About God? August 1, 2016

What’s the point of prayer? Why bother if God knows everything?

Christian apologist Greg Koukl recently responded to skeptics’ questions on the Unbelievable? podcast (audio here; go to 13:02). Take a look at his response.

The question could be interpreted several different ways.

  • What I think the caller was asking: What difference could asking make when the future is fixed? It doesn’t seem fixed to us, but there are no forks in the path of time since God knows every future future event. To God, events unfold as if he’s watching a play that he wrote. He knows every line. So what’s the point?
  • What I want to ask: Why bother praying since God already knows what you need? You’re obviously not informing him of anything. Shouldn’t he just do the right thing for you, regardless of whether you pray or not?
  • And then the question Koukl wanted to answer: Is there a constraint on human free will if God knows everything in advance?

Christian response to the puzzle of prayer

Koukl began by imagining a boss who has already decided that if a particular person asks for a raise, he’ll grant it. But if a raise makes business sense, why not just grant it without being asked? Koukl says that the asking requirement comes from the Bible: “You do not have because you do not ask God” (James 4:2). In response to pushback from the caller, Koukl called the asking-for-a-raise example “a perfectly human illustration that matched every item exactly” and which makes perfect sense to us.

No, this is actually a poor parallel. In the first place, can Koukl possibly be saying that you don’t get things from God if you don’t ask, but you will get them if you do ask?

Lots of biblical claims about prayer’s efficacy have no caveats—for example, “Ask and you will receive” from John 16:24—but this one cited by Koukl does. The next verse says, “When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures.” But surely someone has asked for world peace or a dramatic healing with good motives.

How about this for a good motive? I will ask for a something mundane to appear (a candy bar or a glass of water) and do this demonstration repeatedly, in public, simply because this will shock millions of non-Christians to consider afresh the Christian claims. But everyone knows that this won’t work. What does this tell us about the Bible’s claims about prayer?

A second reason this isn’t a good example is because a good boss should grant the raise if it’s the right thing to do and not put capricious obstacles (like asking) in the way of any employee getting what they deserve.

Third, money is in short supply in the typical company. It must be spent wisely. Not so with God—he can grant anything at no cost or effort.

Let’s fix these problems. Map God into the employer’s role, but now the employer adjusts everyone’s pay from his unlimited supply of money and perks to maximize productivity. If the janitor would be maximally productive with a salary of a million dollars per year, that just happens. There’s no haggling or negotiation, just motivated and hard-working employees.

Back in the real world, prayer is reinforced intermittently. Once in a great while it seems to deliver, which is that little push to convince the believer that it works (though it certainly doesn’t work in any way like that word is normally used, like with a typical home appliance or car—y’know, reliably). We find this in pigeons who had behaviors reinforced intermittently in B. F. Skinner’s famous experiment. Prayer becomes nothing more than a slot machine.

But what has God become?

This is a tangent, but I think it’s an interesting one. Consider what Koukl’s god has become. God knows the future perfectly, including every request or need that he will respond to and what each response will be. If we look at God’s actions, we could reduce each one to a conditional cause-and-effect statement like this: “If person P requests R then grant it (or not), but if he doesn’t request it then grant it (or not).”

But the conditional part is unnecessary since God already knows whether P will make the request or not. So it becomes: “When person P requests R (or doesn’t), then give it (or not).” That is, God knows whether or not P will make the request, and he knows whether or not he will grant it.

But even this can be simplified to a simple timeline: “At time T1, do action A1; at time T2, do A2,” and so on. Give these instructions to a universal wish-granting machine, and that’s God. This God doesn’t react in real time to anything. Is this mindless God what Christians want? What does it say that God could be replaced with a machine? What have love or worry or anger become without the time component?

Like the poor parallel between God and the boss, God has become a poor parallel to a loving creator, father, or caregiver.

More on Greg Koukl’s answers to skeptics’ questions:

More on how prayer works (or not):

In response to:
Beyoncé, Rihanna & Katy Perry
send prayers to #Oklahoma #PrayForOklahoma,
Ricky Gervais tweeted:
I feel like an idiot now …
I only sent money.

Image credit: University of Washington Neurobotics Lab, flickr, CC

"What, you marry your wedding gifts and expect MORE wedding gifts?!"

Same-Sex Marriage Is the Law of ..."
"So you're saying that the Codex Sinaiticus is the/an original? What about the fragments dated ..."

Top 10 Most Common Atheist Arguments—Do ..."
"Do you have one in the oven yet?You have my best wishes, your toaster has ..."

Same-Sex Marriage Is the Law of ..."

Browse Our Archives

Follow Us!


TRENDING AT PATHEOS Nonreligious
What Are Your Thoughts?leave a comment
  • Akira625

    When you pray to God for something, you’re asking an omniscient being to alter his plan in your favor. Or perhaps his plan included granting your prayer and the prayers of some other people, while the prayers of the rest he decided in advance that he would not grant.

    • You’re asking God to change his perfect plan for you. God says, “Well, it would actually work out better if you didn’t get the promotion, but since you asked so nicely, OK.”

    • Pofarmer

      You kind of hit on a big deal. Think of,the movie “miracles from Heaven.”. A little girl falls down a tree and she’s cured of a rare nerve disease, Praise Jesus! But what about the literally millions of other kids praying for miracles that don’t get them? Even if that God is real, he’s an asshole not worthy of praise.

  • RichardSRussell

    … a good boss should grant the raise if it’s the right thing to do and not put capricious obstacles (like asking) in the way of any employee getting what they deserve.

    Ample evidence shows that women are much less likely to be assertive in asking for raises than men are.

    Come to think of it, that appears to be exactly the way God wants it to work — women don’t get what they deserve, balanced out by men getting more than they deserve, so on average it’s all good, right?

    • wtfwjtd

      God works in truly mysterious ways, brother.

    • Ol’ Hippy

      The reason women are worth less than men? They came from a rib which of course is a cheaper cut. (couldn’t resist!)

      • Greg G.

        Then there’s the story of Adam checking out all the animals and not finding a suitable helpmate. So God told him he would create a partner who would do everything he wanted the way he wanted and never complain. It was only going to cost him an arm and a leg.

        Adam replied, “Ooooh, what can I get for, say, a rib?”

  • wtfwjtd

    So, according to Koukl, God’s “perfect plan” for our lives is subject to alteration for a more desirable outcome from our view point, merely by someone asking (or not).

    Hmm. That doesn’t sound like much of a “perfect plan” to me. More like a “do random stuff to people and see what happens” kind of plan. Almost like there’s…no “plan” at all.

    • We live in a Skinner box.

    • Kodie

      They’re always telling us “god is not a vending machine”, like atheists waste all their wishes on candy and soda, not serious things like winning football games and jobs we really need. Then again, they accuse the “no atheists in foxholes” bullshit too. So (to them), we’re all really prone to begging not to die in a dangerous situation.

      Really, someone has to win that game, it’s not like one team has people on it who pray and the other not, especially all over the bible/high school football belt. If god were the decider of game outcomes, why bother to practice? Just in case prayer doesn’t work, just in case the other team prayed harder, we need to have some other strategy to overcome them. These people don’t understand anything! For people who accuse atheists of having the ego to decide we’re god, or stronger/smarter/cooler than god, they do an awful lot of pretending god looks down on them especially, and gives them what they wish for, and has a very special plan for them if he doesn’t give them what they wish for. I don’t think I’m god, I don’t think anything like that. How can these people feel so alone on a planet filled with other people? They seem to recognize that god does nothing, he needs the people to do things he would do for him.

      • wtfwjtd

        And yet, if God isn’t like a vending machine, at least sometimes, what’s the point? Why bother having an all-powerful deity at your beck and call if you don’t ask him for stuff occasionally? It sorta reminds me of that old show I Dream of Jeannie, where Major Nelson always tries to fix stuff the hard way, when all he has to do is have Jeannie *blink* and fix it for him. I guess a lot of Christians are afraid if they ask their magical friend for too much at once, they might piss him off…or something.

        “Really, someone has to win that game, it’s not like one team has people on it who pray and the other not…”

        I’ve always wondered about that, how does “God” decide who is going to win The Big Game this week? Flip of the coin? Best end zone dance? In this case, Christians treat prayer like a lottery ticket–“you have to play (which means pray, I guess) in order to win.” Maybe this will be the week when God pulls their name out of the hat, and picks their team to win! Wow, I’m God’s special snowflake! Yay, God!

        Yes, God treats them special…just like everyone else. You’d think they’d figure this out after a while, but sadly… no.

      • Greg G.

        They’re always telling us “god is not a vending machine”, like atheists waste all their wishes on candy and soda, not serious things like winning football games and jobs we really need.

        Yet, we hear Christians brag about finding their car keys after praying for God’s help in the search and when they get a prime parking spot.

      • So (to them), we’re all really prone to begging not to die in a dangerous situation.

        As opposed to begging for a football win or a parking space.

        If god were the decider of game outcomes, why bother to practice?

        What you should practice is praying.

        • Ignorant Amos

          As opposed to begging for a football win or a parking space.

          Yeah, it’s not as if there is a limit to praying or anything. I’m currently having a Barney with an old comrade on FB on the subject of there being no atheists in foxholes. He’s an RC and he won’t accept any evidence to the contrary. He cites the anecdotal “evidence” of fellow atheist servicemen that made requests to him that he gave prayer in their stead prior to going into hostilities. No matter how I try to explain the absurdity of such scenarios, it’s to no avail.

          What you should practice is praying.

          Which is a big bone of contention when it’s sports teams in US education establishments doing this prayer practising. Especially as praying is apparently not a team sport according to Jesus.

          Matthew 6:5-6: “And when thou prayest, thou shalt not be as the hypocrites are: for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and in the corners of the streets, that they may be seen of men….when thou prayest, enter into thy closet and when thou has shut thy door, pray to thy Father which is in secret….”

          The reference to go into thy closet has been translated in other versions of the Bible as “go into your inner room.” “go away by yourself,” “all alone,” “your [most] private room,” “enter into thy chamber,” and “go into your room.”

          http://www.religioustolerance.org/prayer.htm

          So, most Christians are doing it wrong, it’s no bloody wonder most of their prayers go unanswered. //S

        • when thou prayest, enter into thy closet

          Ah, wouldn’t that be nice–Christians going back in the closet.

        • Ignorant Amos

          Haa!…nah, I prefer the way you get them out into the spotlight, where the transparency of the Emperor’s new apparel can be examined in close proximity and the details highlighted. They really don’t like it out in the open where their skeletons are as naked as a jaybird for all and sundry to see.

        • Kingasaurus

          The slippery excuse they usually give for ignoring this verse is a real howler:

          “Yeah, I pray in public, but since I’m not doing it with the very specific, selfish and hypocritical motive of being seen by others, then it’s ok! I pray in private, too, because I’m praying all the time, dontchaknow.”

          Then they throw out that other verse about not hiding your light under a bushel basket, or some such.

          The Big Book of Multiple Choice strikes again.

  • Sastra

    I think the analogy is also complicated by a confusing chain-of-command. Imagine a company where nobody can be really sure who the boss is. There are all sorts of people sitting behind desks claiming that “the buck stops here.” Or, rather, there are many rooms with closed doors — and secretaries who always convey messages back and forth. You never actually see a “boss.” The secretaries communicate to them only by their intuition. They’re proud of that.

    Worse, there’s also a reasonable possibility that there is no reigning authority at all. Everything has to be decided by committee; individuals strike out on their own. Nothing is ever directly done by the hypothetical invisible authorities who may or may not lurk behind closed doors.

    A boss who demanded that an employee must ASK for a raise before they get it — but sets the company up so that making the correct request to the correct person is essentially a matter of luck — is not a very good executive.

    • Lucy

      There’s something oddly creepy about that setup, when you put it in those terms.

      • Kodie

        Infinity cubicles.

    • raylampert

      That actually sounds like a good setup for a darkly humorous series about a workplace. Think “Office Space” but written by Kafka.

  • Kevin K

    The latest apology I’ve heard from theists on why prayer seems so embarrassingly ineffective is that people are praying for the wrong things. Instead of asking for a glass of water or a candy bar, they should be asking for god’s will to be done.

    Which turns intercessory prayer into a perfectly meaningless exercise. Because whatever happens … grandma dying from cancer, getting the promotion, little Jimmy Billy Bob getting that 12-year-old girl pregnant … that was all god’s will in the first place. Good, bad or otherwise.

    • Greg G.

      they should be asking for god’s will to be done.

      So, if I want a candy bar and it is God’s will that I get a candy bar, I will get a candy bar whether I pray or not. But if I want a candy bar and I do not pray for it and it is not God’s will, then I will get the candy bar because I didn’t pray according to God’s will.

      • Kevin K

        Precisely. It matters not one bit either way.

        “Grandma died of cancer.” It was god’s will.
        “I got the promotion!” Praise god!!
        “Jimmy Billy Bob knocked up his 12-year-old cousin.” Well, god must want the world to have more morons in it.

    • Joe

      So this god could have willed everything he wanted to happen in advance, then gone away on holiday until the end of time. So much for a personal relationship.

      • Kodie

        Well, they like to think he is still there to reassure them that he has his shitty reasons life isn’t going their way.

    • An even more obsequious version: you pray that God adapts you to his will (make you like whatever he’s going to make happen). But even then: you’ve got to ask for God to do what’s right for you?

    • Philmonomer

      Greg Koukl answered this question recently on an Unbelievable podcast.
      To him, he had a perfectly reasonable answer, and the questioner (an
      atheist) ended up looking obstinate (as the atheist simply repeated his
      objections).

      Greg said it was like a boss who has foreknowledge of whether an employee will ask for a raise. If the employee asks, he grants it. If the employee doesn’t ask, he doesn’t grant it.

      The asker (the athiest) either wasn’t 1) quick (smart?) enough to explain succinctly why the analogy fails (if it does fail) or 2) the analogy doesn’t fail, and it is a valid way to understand it.

      • Kevin K

        So, the analogy is flawed because if that were the case, we’d see prayers answered in the affirmative all the time.

        In fact, I count this as one of the ways a religion could prove to me that it is the one true religion. If prayer to that specific flavor of deity — aka, Northern Conservative Baptist Great Lakes Region Council of 1879 — resulted in miracle cures aplenty while all the other prayers went unanswered, you’d see converts rushing in for their own miracle cures. Hospitals would empty; as well as the houses of worship of every other denomination of religion.

        • Philmonomer

          I’m not a Christian, and definitely find little joy in defending Koukl’s position (indeed, I find it ridiculous), but it seems to me that

          So, the analogy is flawed because if that were the case, we’d see prayers answered in the affirmative all the time.

          doesn’t do it. Why would we see prayers answered all the time?

          It seems like Koukl could just say “some times.” (How about even just 1 time?)

        • Kevin K

          Because, according to Koukl, god is merely waiting to be asked “for the raise” and he will grant it. Except that’s not what happens at all. In fact, most of the time, god answers prayers with a “no, you can’t have that raise.”

          Granny dies of cancer. Little Jimmy Billy Bob actually did knock up his 12-year-old cousin. Donald Trump hasn’t melted into a pile of bile and Cheeto dust…you get the picture. Prayers are almost never granted in the affirmative.

          Of course, the classic theist dodge is to declare that god answers all prayers, but the answer can be “yes”, “no”, or “wait.” Which means god has fewer options available to him than my Magic 8 Ball.

        • Philmonomer

          Because, according to Koukl, god is merely waiting to be asked “for the raise” and he will grant it.

          You are still assuming that God would be granting the prayer every time. But there is no need to think that. Maybe just some times. Or 1 time.

          His point is that we cannot know God’s will (just like, I suppose, the employee cannot know the employer’s will). And it is entirely possible that, if there is an asking (a prayer), there may be a granting, while if there is no asking there would be no granting.

        • Kevin K

          But Koukl’s analogy fails on those grounds. He’s saying that god wants to grant prayer requests, but has to be asked in order to do so.

          There is zero evidence that this is the case. Quite the opposite. God is the boss who demands that you ask for a raise before you get it, and then refuses to give it to you, and demotes you for asking.

          There’s really no other way around it. The analogy is flawed on the basis of the evidence available to us.

        • Philmonomer

          But Koukl’s analogy fails on those grounds.

          I’m not following you here.

          He’s saying that god wants to grant prayer requests, but has to be asked in order to do so.

          Yes. But God doesn’t grant all requests. Just like a parent doesn’t grant all the requests of a child.

          There is zero evidence that this is the case.

          (I agree.) But you yourself said “Prayers are almost never granted in the affirmative.” Sometimes they are.

          Quite the opposite. God is the boss who demands that you ask for a raise before you get it, and then refuses to give it to you, and demotes you for asking.

          It sounds like you think God should answer prayers more often. Why do you think that? How do you know he isn’t already answering (some) prayers? (Indeed, some prayers do get answered!)

          There’s really no other way around it. The analogy is flawed on the basis of the evidence available to us.

          I think Koukl would simply disagree with you. His evidence would tell him that prayers are answered all the time. He’s (probably) seen amazing, miraculous prayers answered (I suspect).

        • Kevin K

          So, we’re at an impasse because you refuse to take Koukl at his word. He SAID that god was waiting to be asked before GRANTING prayer requests. GRANTING means GIVING the raise, not DENYING the raise.

          You have a great day.

        • Philmonomer

          So, we’re at an impasse because you refuse to take Koukl at his word

          I think you’ve answered Koukl by imputing to him a response that he didn’t actually give. (That is, Koukl didn’t say that all prayers would be answered by God, or even that any given prayer would be answered. Rather, Koukl was (to my mind) asserting that God’s foreknowledge is compatible with prayer because there are situations where a prayer is answered in the affirmative by God only when the Christian has asked for such a thing in prayer. And if there is no asking in prayer, then no prayer is granted.)

          He SAID that god was waiting to be asked before GRANTING prayer requests.

          Sure. God is waiting to be asked, and then God will grant some prayer requests. Not all.

          You have a great day.

          You too.

        • Kevin K

          God is waiting to be asked, and then God will grant some prayer requests.

          That’s NOT what he said!!!

        • Philmonomer

          Ok. What do you think he said?

        • Kevin K

          He SAID that god is WAITING to be ASKED before he GRANTS a prayer request.

          It’s quite simple. Transactional.

          1. I want a raise.
          2. God wants to give me a raise.
          3. God will not give me a raise unless and until I ask
          4. I ask.
          5. God GIVES ME THE RAISE.

          That’s what he said. Yes, it doesn’t make any fucking sense at all. Take it up with him.

          You are MOVING THE FUCKING GOALPOSTS. Stop it.

        • Philmonomer

          Thanks for the responses. I’m done.

        • Pofarmer

          I think you mean his missunderstanding of the evidence.

        • Jack Baynes

          And sometimes there will be a granting to the person who didn’t ask.

          If prayer worked, we could test whether the person who prayed was more likely to get the raise than the person who did not.

        • Philmonomer

          I agree with you that large scale tests of whether prayer works are interesting. I think they don’t ultimately tell us that much because, if the experiment shows prayer useless, then Christians would just disagree with the testing methodology (I literally had a Christian quote to me Mathew 4:7, or wherever it says don’t put God to the test–as God will make sure your results are negative–or something like that.)

          If there were repeated, controlled, statistically significant experiments showing prayer had some sort of positive effect, I’d find that very, very interesting.

        • Pofarmer

          Oh, prayer can have positive effects, but they are indistinguishable from the effects of things like quiet meditation.

        • Pofarmer

          If only a very small percentage of prayers were answered, we would, indeed, see prayers answered “all the time” and it should show up in statistically signifigant ways.

        • Philmonomer

          Well, I agree with you. I don’t think Koukl would though. I think he’d say there’s no way to measure such things (He’s probably answered this question somewhere–on his website or on his radio program.)

        • Pofarmer

          If there’s no way to measure them, then what’s the point? Once again you are indistinguishable from no God.

    • Ignorant Amos
      • Kevin K

        The lord helps those who help themselves…

        I think this is Donald Trump’s motto.

        • Yeah, Trump helps himself. Like he’s a buffet table.

        • Kevin K

          Of course, he’s helping himself to someone else’s food…

          The horror stories of people who worked with Drumpf only to be stiffed by him to the point of their own bankruptcies is really frightening. People want THAT to lead this nation? Into what? Thunderdome?

        • Good point. The Trumpster might be a good candidate in a Mad Max world. Not ours.

    • Pofarmer

      Praying that “Gods will be done” was one of my last gasps as a theist, when O realized the things I was praying for weren’t happening anyway.

  • Ol’ Hippy

    Some of these analogies are a bit like R.D. Laing’s ‘Knots’, the way peoples stories of internal dialogues are carried out in the ‘real’ world. Many arguments start in this same way. The result is somewhat predictable, as in some prayers, or not.

  • SparklingMoon,

    The subject of the acceptance of prayer is a branch of the subject of prayer. A person who does not comprehend the principle encounters difficulty in comprehending a branch. The principle of prayer is that there is a mutually attractive relationship between a pious servant and his Lord. To begin with, the mercy (Rahmaniyyat) of God Almighty draws a servant to itself. Then through his sincerity the servant approaches close to God Almighty and in prayer that relationship, when it arrives at a certain stage, manifests its wonderful qualities.

    When a servant being confronted with a great difficulty leans towards God Almighty with perfect certainty, perfect hope, perfect love, perfect fidelity and perfect resolve, and becoming extremely alert and tearing aside the veils of heedlessness advances far into the fields of the discarding of self, he beholds in front of him the court of the Divine and that He has no associate. Then his soul prostrates itself at that threshold and the power of attraction that is invested in him draws the bounty of God Almighty towards itself. Then God, the Glorious, addresses Himself towards fulfilling the purpose of the supplication and casts the effect of prayer on all those preliminary means which give rise to the means that are necessary for the achievement of the purpose of the prayer. For instance, if the prayer is for rain then on its acceptance the natural means that are needed for rain are created by the effect of the prayer. If the prayer is for famine the All-Powerful One creates the contrary means. (Ruhanikhazain)

    • Greg G.

      A few years ago, Texas was having a severe drought. They had state prayer days for rain and filled a stadium with the faithful who prayed for rain. Still there was no rain until the summer was over and then they got so much rain, they had floods. Thanks, All-Powerful Jerk.

      Reality doesn’t work the way religious people think it does.

      • Akira625

        I remember that. It didn’t start raining until the atheists showed up for a conference, go figure.

      • SparklingMoon,

        The following post ( I had written somewhere else) may help you to understand the factors working behind these severe droughts and so much rains.

        ”It states in the Genesis: (9: 8) Then God spoke to Noah and to his sons with him, saying, (9:9) “Now behold, I Myself do establish My covenant with you, and with your descendants after you (9:10) And with every living creature that is with you, the birds, the cattle, and every beast of the earth with you; of all that comes out of the ark, even every beast of the earth. (9:11)”I establish My covenant with you; and all flesh shall never again be cut off by the water of the flood, neither shall there again be a flood to destroy the earth.” (9:12) God said, “This is the sign of the covenant which I am making between Me and you and every living creature that is with you, for all successive generations; I set My bow in the cloud, and it shall be for a sign of a covenant between Me and the earth. (9:14)”It shall come about, when I bring a cloud over the earth, that the bow will be seen in the cloud, (9:15) and I will remember My covenant, which is between Me and you and every living creature of all flesh; and never again shall the water become a flood to destroy all flesh (9:16) “When the bow is in the cloud, then I will look upon it, to remember the everlasting covenant between God and every living creature of all flesh that is on the earth.” (9:17And God said to Noah, “This is the sign of the covenant which I have established between Me and all flesh that is on the earth.”

        In this revelation of prophet Moses (as) God Almighty had told that whenever there would be such a change in climate on earth that rainbow would stop to appear then a global flood would be on earth. The story of Noah helps its readers to understand the result of the climate change of recent time and has a message for the people of this time to be careful about global warming. There are two major effects of global warming: (1) Increase of temperature on the earth by about 3° to 5° C (5.4° to 9° Fahrenheit) by the year 2100. (2) Rise of sea levels by at least 25 meters (82 feet) by the year 2100.

        This rise of sea levels at this time is a warning for global flood as people had six thousand years ago in the time of Noah. (The progeny of Adam has a life cycle of seven thousand years. God has ordained the age of the world to be seven thousand years. Only God knows how many Adams have passed away and how many have yet to come. We learn from the Holy Books that other worlds have existed before us. An era of the world lasts for seven thousand years — as a symbol of which the days have been fixed at seven, each standing for a thousand years. By now six thousand years of this era have gone and a thousand years remain.)”

        People of this time need to take some practical steps to avoid this kind of situations. If a person has sight and does not avoid a hole to fall in, that’s mean he has not use the gift of God He has given him (because of His being Gracious). This action deprives him of God’s Mercy that is reserve only for those who use their abilities.

        • MNb

          “the factors working behind these severe droughts and so much rains.”
          I think I rather rely on weather forecasts.

        • Greg G.

          The point is that prayer failed tremendously. Yet those people still believe in prayer. That’s gullibility and confirmation bias. Confirmation bias is when you remember the few times a prayer seemed to have been answered very strongly while forgetting all the prayers that were never answered. Even a slight correspondence to what was prayed for counts as a success and reinforces belief. So belief in prayer is maintained no matter what the religion and no matter how much prayer fails. Stop bending over backwards to credit a successful prayer, stop counting things that are certain, like a sunrise, as an answered prayer, include all the people who died while receiving prayers with the occasional survivor, and prayer is an empty belief.

        • SparklingMoon,

          The point is that prayer failed tremendously. Yet those people still believe in prayer. prayer is an empty belief.
          ——————————————–
          If a question is raised that some prayers are not heard and no effect of theirs becomes visible, I would say that the same is the case with medical remedies. Have medicines shut the door of death, or is it not possible for them to fail of their purpose? Yet, despite this, can anyone deny their effect? It is true that determination comprehends everything, but determination has not wasted or disgraced knowledge, nor has it rendered means unreliable. Careful consideration would show that physical and spiritual means are not outside determination. For instance, if the fate of a patient should be good, the means of a proper remedy become available and the body becomes ready to take advantage of them. In such a case, the remedy becomes most effective. The same is the case with prayer. All means and conditions for the acceptance of prayer come together where the Divine design is of acceptance. God Almighty has tied together His physical and spiritual systems in the same chain of causes and effects.(Ruhanikhazain)

        • smrnda

          “If a question is raised that some prayers are not heard and no effect of theirs becomes visible, I would say that the same is the case with medical remedies.”

          Yes, and medical remedies are recommended by doctors based on their rate of success and failure. Typically a medicine has to show that it has a statistically significant effect on the condition it is supposed to treat. In fact, particular treatments will come with a % success rate attached to them. However, we are able to empirically test medication, and what works works regardless of whether the patient believes in it.

        • Ignorant Amos

          If a question is raised that some prayers are not heard and no effect of theirs becomes visible, I would say that the same is the case with medical remedies. Have medicines shut the door of death, or is it not possible for them to fail of their purpose?

          Bullshit…the holy texts youse eejits follow make no such caveats as “sometimes”, that’s later apologetic’s because “all times” prayer is ineffective and statistically, like the broken clock being correct twice a day, at least some requests will come to realisation.

          Your man makes a very poor analogy. No one has ever claimed that medicine is a remedy for death. No one even claims that all medicines work all the times. You are pinned to the coattails of an ignorant moron talking shite and are gulping down his Kool-Aid like there will be no tomorrow.

          Now you and your Christian counterparts can troop out all the apologetic’s of the day in an attempt to reason away why prayers don’t work, or those prayers that you are daft enough to believe do, are not working at the same rate as pure chance. Knock yerself out, those of us that can think for ourselves are not buying what you are selling.

          But your problem is, that is not what the Old Testament, Quran or New Testament declares. Yahweh, Jesus and Allah via Mo make definitive claims.

          An example from the Old Testament…

          “call upon me in the day of trouble; I will deliver you, and you will honor me.” ~ Psalm 50:15

          A couple of examples from the New Testament…

          “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; he who seeks finds; and to him who knocks, the door will be opened. Which of you, if his son asks for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a snake? If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!” ~Matthew 7:7-11)

          “I tell you the truth, anyone who has faith in me will do what I have been doing. He will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father. And I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Son may bring glory to the Father. You may ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it.” ~John 14:12-14

          A couple of Sura’s…

          “And when My servants ask you concerning Me, then surely I am very near; I answer the prayer of the suppliant when he calls on Me, so they should answer My call and believe in Me that they MAY walk in the right way.” Q. Sura 2:186

          “And your Lord says: Call upon Me, I will answer you; surely those who are too proud for My service shall soon enter hell abased” ~ Q. Sura 40:60

          Now the all the excuses about translations, interpretations and true meanings in the world isn’t going to cut it and I’ll tell you why, billions of adherents to all sorts of religious fairy tales are praying like buggery because they firmly believe they will be answered.

          BTW, I have some magic beans for sale at a reasonable price if your interested.

        • Greg G.

          So Mirzā Ghulām Ahmad is comparing prayer with 19th century medicine. Medicine was improving then and is still improving. Prayer has never improved. It still requires lame analogies to explain why it doesn’t work unless you count the law of averages as success in prayer.

          If God is subject to determination, then the adjective “Almighty” is meaningless. Whenever you read “God Almighty” in MGA’s writing, you should think, “What an idiot.”

        • SparklingMoon,

          If God is subject to determination, then the adjective “Almighty” is meaningless. Whenever you read “God Almighty” in MGA’s writing, you should think, “What an idiot.”
          ———————————————-
          The God Almighty who has power to invest in medicines powerful effects that their full dose should immediately brings a change in a body, and in certain poisons have such powerful effect that a full dose of them dispatches the consumer from this world within a matter of minutes,. Do you mean that He leaves as dead and without effect the supplications of His elect which are full of resolve and attention and earnestness? Is it possible that there should be a contradiction in the Divine system and that the Divine design which works for the welfare of His servants through medicines should not operate in the case of prayer?

          Secondly, for the acceptance of prayer; it is necessary that there should be eagerness in it for the prayer that lacks eagerness is mere words and is not true prayer. It is obvious, however, that it is not the choice of a person that his prayer should be inspired by eagerness at all times. It is necessary that at the time of prayer the matters that inspire eagerness should be present in the mind of the supplicant. Every sensible person knows that the heart is inspired with eagerness in consequence of two feelings.

          First, that the worshiper should contemplate God as Perfect and Powerful and possessing all perfect attributes, and to consider His mercies and His benevolence as essential from the beginning to the end for his own existence and preservation, and to consider Him as the Fountainhead of all grace.

          Secondly, to consider himself and all his fellow beings helpless and poor and dependent upon God’s help. These are two matters that inspire eagerness in prayer. Eagerness is inspired when the supplicant finds himself altogether weak and without strength and dependent upon Divine help, and believes firmly that God is All-Powerful and Lord of the worlds and Gracious and Merciful and Master of Judgement and that the fulfillment of all human needs lies in His hands.

          Thus those who have some experience of prayer know that without the presence of these two inspires of prayers there can be no prayer, and that without these the fire of the love of God does not raise its flames in prayer. It is obvious that a person who does not keep in mind the greatness and mercy and perfect power of God cannot turn to God, and that the soul of a person who does not acknowledge his own helplessness and poverty cannot incline towards the Benevolent Master. This is a verity which needs no deep philosophy for its appreciation. When the greatness of God and one’s own humility and helplessness are truly reflected in the heart, that condition itself instructs the worshiper that that is the means of offering true prayer. (Ruhanikhazain)

        • Jack Baynes

          You claimed that if people pray properly, “the natural means that are needed for rain are created by the effect of the prayer.”

          Explain, then, why the “natural means needed for rain” were NOT created.

        • SparklingMoon,

          Explain, then, why the “natural means needed for rain” were NOT created.
          ——————————–
          It is true that most of the prayers of those who are accepted of God are accepted. Indeed, their great miracle is the acceptance of their prayers. When their hearts are sorely distressed at a time of misfortune and in their distress they turn to God, at that time their hand becomes,as it were, the hand of God.God is a hidden treasure. Through His perfect favorites He displays His countenance. God’s signs are displayed when His favorites are persecuted. When they are persecuted to the extreme that is an indication that the sign of God is near and indeed it is at the door. No one loves his son so much as God loves those who become wholly His. He displays His wonders for them and manifests such power on their behalf as if a sleeping tiger wakes up. God is hidden and these are the people who make Him manifest. He is behind a thousand veils and these are the people who display His countenance.

          But it needs to be remembered that it is a wrong notion that every prayer of those who are God’s favorites is accepted. The truth is that the dealing of God Almighty with them is like that of a friend; sometimes He accepts their prayers and sometimes He imposes His will upon them. That is what happens in friendship. At one time, a friend accepts what his friend proposes and acts accordingly, and at another time makes him accept what he himself wishes. At one place in the Holy Quran God promises acceptance of the prayers of believers saying: That is, Pray to Me, I shall accept your prayer. (Quran 40:61)

          And at another place instructs them to accept His determination with pleasure. It is said: (Quran 2:156–157) ‘And We will test you with something of fear and hunger, and loss of wealth and lives, and fruits; but give glad tidings to the patient,who,when a misfortune overtakes them, say:Surely,to Allah we belong and to Him shall we return.(Ruhanikhazain)

        • katiehippie

          You didn’t write any of that, all you do is cut and paste.

        • SparklingMoon,

          Yes, mostly have been taken from the books of Mirza Ghulam Ahmad that are called ”Ruhanikhazain” .

    • Joe

      That sounds like gibberish.

      • tubi11

        There’s a reason for that.

    • Jack Baynes

      How do you pray for famine with “perfect love”?

      Glad that most of the time God finds something imperfect about those prayers.

      • SparklingMoon,

        God finds something imperfect about those prayers
        —————————————————

        Humility alone is not enough for prayer, but righteousness, purity, truthfulness, perfect certainty, perfect love and perfect attention are all needed. It is also necessary that the object prayed for should not be opposed to the Divine design for the welfare in this world and in the hereafter of the supplicant, or of the one on whose behalf supplication is made. Very often, despite all other conditions being fulfilled, the object for which supplication is made is opposed to the Divine design and there is no good in its fulfillment. For instance, if a child should cry that his mother should hand over to him a burning brand, or a serpent, or should feed him a poison, which appears agreeable, the mother would not comply with his wish. Were she to do so, and though the child might escape with his life some limb of his should become useless, then arriving at years of discretion the child would have a grievance against his foolish mother. (Ruhanikhazain)

        • Jack Baynes

          So you exaggerated when you said if the prayer is perfect God will grant it, ok. We should still be able to see that prayer gets results statistically more often than not praying.

          Now explain that prayer for famine with perfect love.

        • Kevin K

          If the prayer is perfect, god will grant it…too bad no one’s every prayed a perfect prayer.

          And how do you know it’s not perfect? Because it wasn’t granted!! Res ipso loquitur.

        • SparklingMoon,

          And how do you know it’s not perfect?
          —————————————–
          Sometimes it happens that a person supplicates for something, but his supplication is the result of his ignorance and stupidity. He desires something from God Almighty which under no circumstances can be useful or beneficial for him. In such a case, God Almighty does not reject his prayer, but fulfills it in some other form. For instance, a cultivator who needs a bullock for his plough goes to a ruler and asks him for a camel. The ruler knows that a bullock would be useful for him and he directs that he should be given a bullock. If that person should say that his request has not been granted, it would be foolish on his part, for if he were to reflect, that which happened was the best for him. In the same way, if a child beholding red burning brands should ask its mother for them, would a kind and compassionate mother hand them over to it? Thus, sometimes, circumstances arise in connection with the acceptance of prayer that people who are impatient and lack goodwill become the cause of the rejection of their prayer. (Ruhanikhazain)

        • Kevin K

          It’s not perfect because it doesn’t exist. God, I mean. It’s a non-existent thing.

          What’s more perfect than god? God with a pizza.
          What’s more perfect than god with a pizza? God with a pizza and a 6-pack at my front door right now.

          Since there is no one or no thing at my front door right now with a pizza and a 6-pack, therefore the “perfect” god does not exist.

        • Kevin does a slam dunk of the Ontological Argument–in yo face, Christians!

        • Kevin K

          It’s always been my favorite refutation. All these years, and still no god showing up with pizza and a 6-pack.

        • SparklingMoon,

          it doesn’t exist. God, I mean. It’s a non-existent thing.
          ———————————————–
          A person thinks that prayer is a vain and useless thing, but he does not know that it is prayer in consequence of which God,the Glorious, manifests Himself to His seekers and conveys to their hearts the revelation:“I am the All-Powerful One.”Everyone who is hungry and thirsty for certainty should remember that for the seeker of spiritual light in this world, prayer is the only means which bestows certainty with regard to the existence of God Almighty and removes all doubts and suspicions.

          The best means of the recognition of God is prayer and that it is only through prayer that the complete and perfect understanding of the existence of God and His perfect attributes is obtained and that it cannot be obtained in any other way. It is prayer which, like a flash of lightning, pulls a person out of the pit of darkness and brings him into the open atmosphere of light and makes him stand before God Almighty. Through prayer thousands of the wicked are reformed and thousands of the corrupt are purified. (Ruhanikhazain)

        • MNb

          “The best means of the recognition of God is prayer”
          Sure.
          Any means of your god recognizing me is imaginary.

        • Kevin K

          More seriously…although honestly, you’re so full of shit it’s hard not to mock you…

          If someone prays “please don’t let grandma die from cancer”, and grandma dies from cancer … as happens several thousands of times a day throughout the world…what is the deity providing instead? A bullock?

          That’s bullocks.

    • MNb

      “The principle of prayer is that there is a mutually attractive relationship between a pious servant and his Lord.”
      How do you mean “mutual”? A lord of flesh and blood talks back. That “Lord” of you never does.

      • Len

        That’s always my reply when believers say that God always answers their prayers – even if the answer is “no”.
        He never actually answers, he just remains silent – which is pretty rude. Even if he appears to grant a prayer, there’s never a loving “Here you are, this is what you asked for” – it’s just silence.
        Almost as if he doesn’t exist.

        • SparklingMoon,

          Prayer is a wonderful thing. It is a pity that those who pray are not aware of the true manner of prayer, nor are they acquainted with the ways of the acceptance of prayer. The truth is that the very reality of prayer has become strange. There are some who deny the effectiveness of prayer altogether. There are others who do not deny it, but as their prayers are not accepted on account of their lack of knowledge of the manner of prayer and are not prayers in the true sense, their condition is worse than that of those who deny the effectiveness of prayer. Their practical condition has pushed many others to the verge of atheism.

          The first condition for prayer is that a supplicant should not get tired and become a prey to despair that nothing will happen. Sometimes it is seen that a prayer is carried on till it is about to be accepted and then the supplicant gets tired and the result is failure and frustration. Frustration results in the denial and effectiveness of prayer and gradually culminates in the denial of God. It is said if there is God Who accepts prayer why have not those prayers been accepted which were offered over a long period? If those who think thus and stumble were to reflect upon their lack of perseverance, they would come to know that all their frustration is the result of their own haste and impatience which generated an ill concept of the powers of God and resulted in despair. So one should never get tired.

          Praying is like the sowing of a seed by a farmer. Apparently he buries the good seed in the soil and who can expect at that time that the grain of seed will grow up in the form of a good tree and bear fruit? Outsiders and even the cultivator himself cannot see that the grain is assuming the form of a plant inside the earth. But the reality is that within a few days the grain undergoes a change and begins to assume the shape of a plant till its shoot emerges from the earth and becomes visible to everyone. From the moment when the grain was placed in the earth it had started its preparation to become a plant, but an eye that can only perceive the visible was not aware of it till its shoot emerged from the earth and became visible. (Ruhanikhazain)

        • MNb

          And how does that show that mutual relationship of yours? Your “Lord” still never answers.

        • Kevin K

          That is some sadistic god you’ve got there.

        • SparklingMoon,

          There is progression in the works of the God Almighty. A grain from the moment it is placed in the earth started its preparation to become a plant, but an eye that can only perceive the visible was not aware of it. An ignorant child cannot understand at that stage that it will bear fruit only at its due time. He desires to see it bearing fruit immediately, but an intelligent cultivator will know what is the time of its bearing fruit. He looks after it steadfastly and nurtures it till the time comes when it bears fruit and which also ripens. It never happens that a man marries today and a child is born to him next morning. Though God is All-Powerful and can do whatever He wills, yet compliance with the law and the system that He has appointed is necessary. In the first stages of childbearing nothing is known, like the nurture of vegetation. For four months there is no certainty. Then a movement begins to be felt and after the expiry of the full period the child is born after great travail. In the same way, it is necessary for a supplicant that he should discard haste and endure all troubles and should never imagine that prayer is not accepted. At last the time arrives for the result of the prayer to be manifested; the child which is the objective is born. (Ruhanikhazain)

        • Kevin K

          There is no such thing as a deity. Not even yours. So “progression” is as meaningless as everything else you’ve spouted.

        • Kevin K

          Please prove to me that you’re a human being. I think you’re a bot.

        • Len

          Sparkles, so far you’ve quoted Hadhrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad of Qadian several times when asked for anything that could provide evidence about prayer. It’s pretty obvious that you have nothing of the sort. Maybe you believe in the waffly gibberish you quoted but (if I may speak for others here) we don’t.

          Please provide some actual evidence, backed up by real observations by real people in the real world. Even better if they filmed it on their smartphones. Even better if it’s backed by science – but any actual answers would be nice. Not stories that god did things long ago and far away to people who we can’t question.

        • Prayer is a waste of time. Show me that God answers prayers. (Using science and statistics, not anecdotes.)

        • SparklingMoon,

          Prayer is a waste of time. Show me that God answers prayers. (Using science and statistics, not anecdotes.)
          ———————————————-
          When our soul in search for something, extends its hand with great earnestness and grieving towards the Fountainhead of grace, and, finding itself helpless, seeks light from somewhere through its reflection, this condition too is like a condition of prayer. All wisdom have been manifested through such prayer and the key of every house of knowledge is prayer. No knowledge or insight is manifested without it. Our thinking, our reflection and our search for the hidden objective are all parts of prayer.

          The only difference is that the prayer of those who possess insight depends upon the manners of insight, and their soul recognizing the Fountainhead of grace extends its hand towards it with insight. The prayer of veiled ones is an effort which is manifested in reflection and thinking and the search for means.

          Those people who have not a connection of insight with God Almighty, nor do they believe in it, they too seek through reflection and thinking that some way of success might be indicated to their heart from the unseen, and a supplicant possessing insight also desires that God may open the way of success to him, but the veiled one who has no relationship with God Almighty does not know the Fountainhead of grace. He too, like one possessing insight, seeks help from another quarter and reflects on the means of obtaining such help, but a person possessing insight has an eye on the Fountainhead. The other one walks in darkness and does not know that whatever strikes the heart after reflection and cogitation is also from God Almighty, Who, treating the anxiety of the anxious one as a supplication, casts the necessary knowledge into the heart of one who cogitates.

          The point of wisdom and understanding that enters the heart through reflection also comes from God and, though the person himself may not realize it, yet God Almighty knows that he is supplicating Him. In the end he is bestowed his object by God. This method of seeing light, if it is pursued with insight and with the recognition of the true Guide, is the prayer of a person of understanding; but if light is sought from an unknown source, only through reflection and cogitation without fixing one’s gaze on the True Illuminer, it is only veiled prayer.

          As the relationship between planning and prayer is proved by the law of nature, it is also proved by the testimony of the book of nature. It is often observed that as human temperaments at a time of distress incline towards planning and remedies, in the same way they incline by natural eagerness towards prayer and alms giving and charity.

          This is a spiritual argument that the inner law of man has, from the beginning, directed all peoples that they should not separate prayer from means and planning, but should search for plans with prayer. In short, prayer and planning are two natural demands of human nature which ever since the creation of man, have been the servants of human nature like two real brothers. Planning is the necessary consequence of prayer and prayer incites towards planning.(Ruhanikhazain)

        • Otto

          God is a reflection of visible human observation.

      • SparklingMoon,

        How do you mean “mutual”? A lord of flesh and blood talks back. That “Lord” of you never does.
        ——————————————-

        The word ‘ Lord’ has been used for One God Almighty. Secondly, the source of thousands of miracles that were manifested by the Prophets and the wonders that have been exhibited throughout by the saints was prayer, and it is through the effect of prayer that extraordinary events display the power of the All-Powerful. Are you aware what was the wonderful event that happened in the deserts of Arabia, that hundreds of thousands of the dead came alive within a few days, and those who had been corrupted through generations took on Divine color, and the blind began to see, and the tongues of the dumb began to flow with Divine insights, and such a revolution took place in the world which no eye had seen and no ear had heard before? It was the prayers during dark nights of one (prophet of Islam) who had been wholly lost in God which created an uproar in the world and manifested such wonders as had appeared impossible in the case of that unlearned helpless one. The effect of prayers is greater than the effect of fire and water. Indeed in the systems of natural means nothing has greater effect than prayer. (Ruhanikhazain)

        • Kevin K

          That stuff never happened. It’s fables. Myths. Fairy stories. No zombies. No miracles. None of it.

          Prayer is perfectly ineffective.

        • SparklingMoon,

          Prayer is perfectly ineffective.
          —————————————
          Love obviously grows stronger between two beings according to the closeness of their mutual relationship. For instance, a mother loves her child and a child loves its mother because it was born out of her blood and was fostered in her womb. Human beings are bound to God in the relationship of the Creator and the created.When a child being driven by hunger cries for milk, then milk is generated in the mother’s breasts. The child does not know what prayer is, but his cries draw the milk. This is a universal experience. Sometimes when the mother does not perceive the presence of milk in her breasts,the child’s cries help to draw it.Then can our cries before God Almighty draw nothing? They certainly draw everything. But those sightless ones, who parade themselves as scholars and philosophers,cannot see it.If a person were to reflect on the philosophy of prayer,keeping in mind the connection and relationship which a child has with its mother he would find it easy to understand.(Ruhanikhazai)

        • Kevin K

          Please prove to me you’re a human being and not a bot. Thanks.

        • A Turing Test? Let the games begin.

        • SparklingMoon,

          I am not here to prove something about my person as it has no importance . The discussion is about the blessings of prayers and the methods we should use to draw the Mercy of God Almighty.

        • Kevin K

          That’s exactly something a bot would say.

          I’m right! You’re not human.

        • Giauz Ragnarock

          Then “God Almighty”‘s word is completely irrelelevant. All we need do is make up stuff he says, as you have honestly shown/sarcasm

        • MNb

          “Love obviously grows stronger between two beings according to the closeness of their mutual relationship.”
          Correct.
          Your relationship with “your Lord” is unilateral.

        • smrnda

          This.

          When people talk about their *personal relationship* with their god, I keep thinking, it’s like claiming a personal relationship with a celebrity you have never met but admire from afar. In some ways people who claim a distant god are better able to defend the claim.

        • Pofarmer

          Its better than that. Studies show that Christian prayer utilizes the speech centers of the brain. As far as your brain is concerned it’s a real conversation. You’re cultivating an intimate relationship all right- with yourself.

        • Kodie

          It’s fed by the power of suggestion that prayer is part of a two-way relationship. People really like to think their experiences are what they want them to be, and not wonder how brains work. Memory is another area where people firmly believe they remember something exactly as it happened, and not influenced by the studies that show how memories change. It’s not difficult to think about it – people expect their brains to tell them the truth, and fear losing touch with reality or not remembering things, of mental illness and dementia. If they think they are having a two-way conversation, and it’s expected and acceptable in their communities to think so, then it’s real. It’s not imaginary. They can’t fathom how their brains work, and it’s not damage. It’s probably the same part of the brain where you imagine having a conversation with someone else, rehearse for a future meeting with your boss, proposing marriage, or dwell on a past experience that might have gone not too well and rewrite the dialogue, or making dialogue for characters you’re writing. It’s just that people don’t think that’s real.

        • MNb

          “It’s not difficult to think about it”
          Not at all. But it’s also possible to turn this upside down. I am as afraid of dementia and other mental illnesses as everyone else. As long as I’m capable to adjust what I think I experience and memory due to new information I manage to process I hope I can keep dementia etc. away for another while.

        • Kodie

          Still, it’s hard for many people to admit their senses and thoughts aren’t real when they feel real to them. Like I said also, they’d have no problem imagining how a conversation will go or should have gone, etc., they’re not mixing that up with an actual conversation. People know how imagination works, and when something is imagined, that it’s not real. But when they think they are having a conversation, even if they are talking to “god”, and god is listening, and whether or not he answers (to them) audibly as a different voice than their own, or the answers just come in thoughts they have, or answers come later in the form of whatever is prayed for happens or is denied, or some “sign” they attribute to god, guiding a decision they have to make, they do not perceive that it is imaginary, an effect of the skill of imagining conversations, the skill of thinking, of even meditating. Like, when you are angry, they say “count to 10”. Your brain is in charge, and to some extent, you can reprogram your automatic reactions, to realize you don’t have to be sad or angry or whatever. It’s obvious to me that prayer functions to the desperate as a way to calm all the cluttered and horrible thoughts, to discover what you already know, but can’t seem to access while sad or mad or whatever. That calm and peace from praying is actually when you take your current state of mind of despair and condition yourself to shut it off. A neat trick and how the mind actually works, not a miracle, not cuckoo.

        • MNb

          ” it’s hard for many people ….”
          Sure. I only told how I cope with this very recognizable problem.

        • Kodie

          Well of course.

        • MNb

          Finally I have a justification for my annoying habit to talk with myself.

        • Inspired by a Richard Russell post, I wrote this about how “personal relationships” actually work, vs. how relationships with Jesus work.

          http://wp.patheos.com.s3.amazonaws.com/blogs/crossexamined/files/2014/06/Don-Addis-Imaginary-Friend.jpg

        • tubi11

          “Are you aware what was the wonderful event that happened in the deserts of Arabia, that hundreds of thousands of the dead came alive within a few days, and those who had been corrupted through generations took on Divine color, and the blind began to see, and the tongues of the dumb began to flow with Divine insights, and such a revolution took place in the world which no eye had seen and no ear had heard before?”

          Citation needed.

        • SparklingMoon,

          BARKAT UD DUA (Blessings of Prayer) by Hadrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad of Qadian,

        • Greg G.

          I wonder why that doesn’t happen everyday?

        • Greg G.

          What is the primary source? How does Mirza know this?

        • Ignorant Amos

          He’s his own primary source, the promised messiah replacing Jesus and he is also a prophet…so divine revelation is the source a suppose. He’s also a heretic, so that puts him in good company too.

          In 1890 Ahmad received revelation that Jesus, Son of Mary, (peace be upon him) had passed away like all previous prophets and that Ahmad was the metaphorical second coming of Jesus of Nazareth, whose advent was foretold by the Prophet of Islam, Muhammad. The exact revelation was as follows:
          “The Messiah, Son of Mary, Prophet of God, is dead. It is thou who hast appeared in his spirit, according to the promise. And the promise of God is bound to be fulfilled.”
          Ahmad’s likening unto Jesus indicated the purpose of his advent was to end religious wars, condemn bloodshed and reinstitute morality, justice and peace. Ahmad’s advent has brought about an unprecedented era of Islamic revival. He divested Muslims of fanatical beliefs and practices by vigorously championing Islam’s true and essential teachings. He also recognized the noble teachings of the great religious founders and saints, including Zoroaster, Abraham, Moses, Jesus, Krishna, Buddha, Confucius, Lao Tzu and Guru Nanak, and explained how such teachings converged into the one true Islam.
          The claim contradicted the belief of Christians and Muslims – both of whom believed Jesus, Son of Mary, to be alive and one day returning to revive mankind. Ahmad already faced opposition from other Muslims and non-Muslims, but this claim generated unprecedented opposition.

        • SparklingMoon,

          It is described by Mirza Ghulam Ahmad about his claim: The true criteria for judging the claim of a Prophet is to see whether he has come at the time of need, whether he has made his appearance at the time foretold by the Prophets, whether he has been accompanied by Divine help, and whether he has satisfactorily answered the objections raised against him by his opponents. Only he who meets all these criteria can be considered truthful in his claim.

          As far as the need of the time is concerned, this age is practically crying out for a heavenly reformer, re-establish the long lost spirituality, strengthen the faith by granting certainty, save people from sin and transgression, and draw hearts towards piety and virtue. This shows that I have come at the time of need, and only the most prejudiced will deny this.

          The second condition, that the claimant should appear at the time foretold by the Prophets, has also been fulfilled with my coming. The Prophets had prophesied that the Promised Messiah would appear at the end of the sixth millennium after Adam. The sixth millennium, if we go by the lunar calendar, has already passed; and if we go by the solar one, it is almost coming to its end.

          The third condition, that of Divine support, has also been fulfilled with my coming. People from every religion rose to destroy me,sparing no efforts and doing everything in their power to bring this about, but they were totally frustrated in their designs. Everyone knows how people of every community stood up against me, and how they all failed in their designs to destroy me, while I continued to grow by the day until I had with me a followers of over 200,000 people. ( In 2001, his followers were 200 million worldwide) Had I not been supported by a Hidden Hand, and had my mission been based on human contrivance,I would surely have fallen victim to one of the numerous arrows aimed at me, and would have been destroyed, and no one would even know where I was buried, because God Himself becomes the enemy of one who attributes falsehood to Him and there is no shortage of means for his destruction. But God saved me from all the designs of my enemies exactly as He had promised me twenty-four years ago.

        • Without Malice

          The world would be better off if every man who ever came out of a cave, or down from a mountain saying, “I’ve been talking to God, and God has told me how he wants all of you to live your lives,” had been bitch slapped up one side of the street and down the other and told to shut the hell up.

        • WayneMan

          OMG, I love it…

        • MNb

          I didn’t ask for prophecies and miracles. I don’t care what happened in a far away country a long time ago.
          I asked for “your Lord” talking back.
          To me.
          When I prayed.
          At the place where I was, not in Arabia.

          “The effect of prayers is greater than the effect of fire and water.”
          Fire cooks my food.
          Water quenches my thirst and washes my clothes.
          Praying …. nothing. Zero. Nada. Zilch.

        • Without Malice

          Jesus, will your bucket of bullshit never be empty?

        • adam

          “”
          and it is through the effect of prayer that extraordinary events display the power of the All-Powerful.

          So people who ‘pray’ know more about what is better for them and others than the ‘God’s they worship….

    • Jacob Thane

      I never realized how much religious people came across as self-important until I broke away from my faith.

      Big words and many words do not necessarily add up to intelligent or even intelligible statements.

      • That’s a tangent but a very interesting one. People do break away from religion, they just don’t do it very often. If you have any insights into what pushed you to start thinking outside the Christian box (assuming that describes your journey), I’m curious to hear about it.

        • Jacob Thane

          Thanks for asking, and I’m happy to share.

          For a bit of background: I was born into a very Christian family. Raised with the typical evangelical fanfare of going to church every Sunday, praying before every meal, and making a point of “letting the character of Jesus shine through your actions”. I did very little questioning through my childhood, teenage years, and well into adulthood – because, well, faith wouldn’t be faith if there wasn’t a tinge of doubt. And this was healthy – to have doubts and still choose to believe against all odds – or so I was told.

          I didn’t start questioning my faith until just last year. The turning point was that I was hearing about other people’s incredible experiences of God in their lives. Stuff like answered prayers, or non-Christian friends who decided to come to church, or Billy down the street who is able to speak in tongues. Ordinarily these things would be “proof” in the Christian community of God’s hand at work – but to me it was a sign of my isolation. Why would these people all be experiencing God like this, and I am not? Were they lying? Were they dishonest about circumstance? If not, what makes them special? Why is God not revealing himself to me in that way?

          Experiences like those kept adding up. I remember being at a rather low point in my faith life – doing a rather lethargic Google search for “how do I know God is real”, with no real expectations. I found some apologetics websites with no substance, but I also found Patheos. Bob, your blog was one of the first real eye-openers for me. I was impressed with the topics being covered, because having been re-reading parts of the Bible (and finding that my adult understanding of it was vastly different than the childhood version that I was spoonfed) I resonated with these perspectives. They made sense.

          I can’t pinpoint exactly when I “lost my religion” in the following months. One day, I found myself simply ruminating that the reason why God doesn’t reveal himself to me, was perhaps because he is not real. It was a thought that was as mundane as accepting the fact that the sky is blue or water is wet. I disturbingly realized that I have likely imagined a lifelong relationship with a person who does not even exist.

          I suppose that in the end it was the very thing that was supposed to be evidence for God that drove me to abandon my faith. A personal God must be revealed by personal experiences, which I wasn’t having – extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence. And that is a fact that I believe too many Christians are being dishonest about to themselves (and especially others). I would know – I spent 30 years seeking and lying to myself.

          Sorry that got long. Thanks for reading.

        • SparklingMoon,

          It is described by Mirza Ghulam Ahmad: Blessed are the prisoners who supplicate and do not get tired for they shall one day be released; blessed are the blind ones who persevere in their prayers for one day they shall see. Blessed are those who are in the graves and seek the help of God through supplication for one day they shall be taken out of their graves. Blessed are you who do not get tired in your prayers and your souls melt while you pray, and your eyes shed tears, and a fire is lit in your breasts and you are driven into dark chambers and desolated jungles seeking solitude. The God to Whom we call is very Benevolent, Merciful, Modest, True, Faithful and Compassionate to those who are humble. You should also become faithful and supplicate with full sincerity and loyalty so that He should have mercy on you. Withdraw from the tumult of the world and do not make your faith a matter of personal contentions. Accept defeat for the sake of God so that you might become heirs to great victories. God will show a miracle to those who pray and will bestow extraordinary favour upon those who beg. Prayer comes from God and returns to Him. Through prayer God comes close to you as your life is close to you.

          The first bounty of prayer is that it creates a holy change in the supplicant and in consequence of this change God makes a change in His attributes. His attributes are unchangeable, but for a person who has changed himself, He has a special manifestation of which the world does not know, as if He were another God. He does not become another God, but a new manifestation displays Him in a new light. In that special manifestation, He does for His transformed servant, what He does not do for others. In short, prayer is that sovereign remedy which converts a handful of dust into precious metal. It is the water which washes out inner impurities. With such prayer, the soul melts and, flowing like water, falls at the threshold of the Divine.

        • Greg G.

          Blessed are you who do not get tired…

          That simply means “Gullible are you who do not get tired…” People get tired of making excuses for their religion. For a while, it is the challenge is a test of faith but it is trying to believe what is becoming clearly not true.

        • SparklingMoon,

          When a beggar goes to someone and begs with humility and earnestness and does not move from his place,even after he is rebuked, and continues his supplication, then in the end the person supplicated is moved and bestows something on the beggar despite his miserliness. Then should not a supplicant have at least so much steadfastness as an ordinary beggar? When God Almighty Who is Benevolent and possesses Majesty sees that His humble servant has been prostrate at His threshold for a long time, He does not lead him to a bad end. If a pregnant woman should become impatient after four or five months and should take some abortive medicine, the child would not be born, but she herself would be involved in despair. In the same way, he who is in a hurry before the due time only suffers loss and puts his faith in danger. In this condition some people become atheists

          A prayer should be carried on to the limit until it produces a result. You will have observed that a piece of cloth is placed under a burning glass and the rays of the sun concentrate upon it and their heat arrives at the degree which sets the cloth on fire. In the same way, it is necessary that a prayer should be carried on to a stage where it should develop the power of burning up failures and frustrations and to fulfill the desired purpose. (Ruhanikhazain)

        • Bob, your blog was one of the first real eye-openers for me. I was impressed with the topics being covered, because having been re-reading parts of the Bible (and finding that my adult understanding of it was vastly different than the childhood version that I was spoonfed) I resonated with these perspectives. They made sense.

          Terrific! You made my day. I’m glad the blog was helpful.

        • Giauz Ragnarock

          If it’s any “comfort”, when I “knew God” he never mentioned you or any of your interactions with him or even any details of your life. Heck! Henever even mentioned having anything to do with the people sitting into the pew in front of me. Not once did any of those people ever segue into a conversation about something “God” told them about me. I found all this quite jarring when I first realized “God” didn’t really seem to know anything about any of us.

        • WayneMan

          Yes, I had a similar path, except it happened over 40 years ago for me. I was born, raised, and baptized a Christian. Knowledge and education was primary in my journey to atheism. There were things early on that always bugged me, like how people not exposed to Christianity could be barred from heaven, how religion basically seemed to be primarily a product of ones random geography (where we were born and raised), and why would a god “design” such a horrible blood and guts world for poor sea and land animals. And the more I actually read and studied the Bible, instead of just listening to Sunday sermons, the more things just did not add up, or simply were impossible. I came to a point in my early 20’s where I could no longer continue to make excuses for the inexcusable.

        • Without Malice

          I came to atheism through the slow realization that the God of the bible, in spite of what I had always believed, was a rather unpleasant fellow, a mad, murderous, tyrant in fact and his fig tree cursing son not much better.

        • Don’t forget that it was only in the New Testament that we get the lovely idea of burning in hell forever.

      • Dys

        MoonSparkle is a big fan of Mirza Ghulam Ahmad (a leader of a minor branch of Islam and largely considered a heretic by mainstream Islam), and constantly copy/pastes things from his works.

        It’s typically a lot of words with little to no substance.

        • Philmonomer

          Yeah, I stopped reading her comments long ago. It is gibberish. Just skip over them.

        • Kevin K

          Honestly, I think it’s a bot. No human can create such perfectly meaningless “sentences”.

        • Jacob Thane

          You and I must have different groups of friends then 😛

    • Rt1583

      During any given school year and football season there are hundreds, thousands, of games being played every week. The vast majority of the teams playing send up their prayers to win. One team always wins.
      Are you saying that the winner is always the team which, with 5 different ways of perfectness, supplicates itself before god?

      • MNb

        Enter Dutch genius Johan Cruyff:

        I am not religious. In Spain all 22 players make the sign of the cross before they enter the pitch. If it works all matches must therefore end in a draw.

      • SparklingMoon,

        Though nothing good or ill in this world is free from determination, yet nature has appointed such means for the achieving of the good or the ill, the true and correct effect of which is not questioned by any wise person. The natural system tells us that determination is closely related to means. That is why a person should not fallen into the error that anything can happen without the intervention of the means which nature has appointed spiritually and physically.

        As a general rule, nothing is free from determination. A person who derives advantage from fire, water, air, clay, corn, vegetables, animals, or minerals, does so under the rule of determination; but if a stupid one should imagine that without the help of the means which God Almighty has appointed, and without treading the paths that have been fixed by nature, something might be acquired without the mediation of physical or spiritual means, such a one seeks to falsify the wisdom of God Almighty. (Ruhanikhazain)

        • Greg G.

          So prayer doesn’t work there either.

        • Jack Baynes

          The question here isn’t whether God makes everything happen (that’s not proven, but it’s not what we’re discussing today), the question was whether prayer accomplishes anything.

        • Kevin K

          I think it’s a bot. There’s not one sentence that actually makes any sense at all.

        • katiehippie

          It’s a cut and paste from a book.

        • Kevin K

          Which also makes me suspicious that it’s a bot. Notice that it hasn’t responded at all to my requests to prove that it is human. And when it does reply to a post, it only replies to the first sentence of the post. Some sort of triggering algorithm, is my guess.

        • SparklingMoon,

          the question was whether prayer accomplishes anything.
          —————————————-
          The acceptance of prayer is in two ways;one as a ”trial” and the other as ”exaltation”. As a ”trial” sometimes the prayer of sinners and disobedient ones and even disbelievers is accepted, but it is by way of ”trial”. The condition of acceptance of prayer by way of ”exaltation” is that the supplicant should be one of the elect of God Almighty and the lights and signs of his being one of the elect should appear in him in all directions.

          The distinction between the two acceptances is that in the acceptance of the prayer which is as a trial, there is no condition that the supplicant should be righteous and a friend of God, nor is it necessary that on accepting such prayer God Almighty should intimate the acceptance through a special communication. Nor are those prayers of such a high degree the acceptance of which is a wonderful and extraordinary event. Those prayers that are accepted by way of ”exaltation” have the following signs:

          First, that the supplicant is righteous and truthful and a perfect individual. Second, that he is informed of the acceptance of his prayer through the word of God. Third, most of these prayers are of a high degree and relate to great affairs, the acceptance of which shows that it is not the work or planning of man,but is a special sample of Divine power which is manifested in the case of select servants. Fourth, the prayers by way of trial are accepted rarely, but the prayers by way of exaltation are accepted in large numbers.

          Very often a supplicant by way of ”exaltation” is involved in such difficulties that if any other person had been involved in them, he would have seen no way out of them except through suicide. It happens that when those who worship the world and are far away from God Almighty are involved in great grief, and sorrows, and diseases, and disorders and trials from which there is no escape, they, on account of the weakness of their faith and their despair of God Almighty, take poison or jump into a well or kill themselves with a weapon. On such difficult occasions, the person who enjoys exaltation is helped by God Almighty in a wonderful manner on account of the strength of his faith and his special relationship with God. The favor of God takes hold of his hand in a wonderful manner so that the heart of one who is aware of these mysteries testifies involuntarily that the person concerned enjoys the support of God.

          Fifth,a supplicant by way of exaltation is the recipient of Divine favors and God Almighty becomes his Guardian in all matters and the light of the love of God and the signs of acceptance by God and of spiritual delight and favors are manifested in his countenance as is said by God,the Glorious: (Quran83:25)’Thou wilt find in their faces the freshness of bliss.’ And:(Quran10:63)’Behold! the friends of Allah shall certainly have no fear nor shall they grieve.’ (Ruhanikhazain)

        • katiehippie
        • It can be calming for the praying person … though there’s nothing supernatural there.

        • Kevin K

          That is why a person should not fallen into the error that anything can happen without the intervention of the means which nature has appointed spiritually and physically.

          Wow. That’s just pure mush. Gobbledygook. Devoid of meaning.

    • Giauz Ragnarock

      At what point you come to call bullshit on theism, if ever you come to that point, none of what you once wrote here will matter. Suddenly, you never understood anything about your religion once you start to critisize it. What’s the point if in a few years you could be character assassinated by your former co-faithful and no god is there to confirm or deny how sincere or accurate your points you make here are?

    • Without Malice

      Well, that’s enough drivel to hold me for the rest of the week.

    • adam

      ” A person who does not comprehend the principle encounters difficulty in comprehending a branch. ”

      And those that DO comprehend the principle that it is just one talking to oneself as ones IMAGINARY ‘friends’ have no trouble comprehending a branch being used to obscure the truth to invoke magic over reason.

  • Michael Neville

    Koukl’s god sets up Catch-22.

  • Jack Baynes

    I will ask for a something mundane to appear (a candy bar or a glass of water) and do this demonstration repeatedly, in public, simply because this will shock millions of non-Christians to consider afresh the Christian claims.

    Isn’t this one of the reasons that Jesus supposedly said that his followers will be able to perform all the miracles that he did and more?

    • Greg G.

      My business plan for my earth moving business is to hire two Christians to move mountains by prayer alone. The overhead would be their salaries and the tithe I’m sure they would require.

  • Tommykey69

    When someone on Facebook posts a plea for his/her friends to pray for someone who is sick, is having surgery, etc., how does my not praying affect what happens to the person any differently than it does if I do pray?

    • Greg G.

      If prayer does anything, it does a little more harm if you tell them you are praying for them. If you don’t tell them you are praying for them, it doesn’t matter whether you pray or not. That’s what the Templeton study on prayer showed.

    • Pofarmer

      Facebook is interesting . I don’t know how many times I’ve seen ” pray for a miracle for x” and then x dies and it’s ” pray for x’s family” or whatever. You would think at some point they’d figure it out. And I guess some do.

      • I’ve seen people pray for an 80-something person with multiple medical issues. They don’t pray for healing (which they know would be futile) but peace or that he come to Jesus or whatever.

        • MR

          You regulars may have noticed that I haven’t been participating much lately beyond the occasional drive-by up vote. I’ve been a little consumed lately. My father took ill earlier this year (among other tragedies in his life) and recently died a horrible death. All those prayers…?, yeah, well, thanks for nothing, Christians.

          With his death, now I’m starting to get the “I’ll pray for you and your family,” “I’ll pray that God brings you peace and comfort.” Well, I’ll be the first to attest that all those prayers did shit for me and my family. Peace? Somehow in the midst of all of this, I, myself, have managed to dredge up my own peace to see me through. Comfort? You know what, people have brought me comfort…, not empty prayers. I certainly didn’t need an imaginary being and meaningless prayers to do these things.

          I know people mean well, hell, I used to pray for others in such times myself, but all their talk of prayers and God now just seems childish and empty. Advice to Christians: Don’t tell someone you’re praying for them because you might as well be telling them you’ll be sitting over in the corner talking to yourself. Instead be there to lend a shoulder and just let them know that you care. What matters are the people in your life not empty words.

        • Greg G.

          Sad to hear about your father. I hope you are managing.

        • busterggi

          My sympathies.

        • Wow. I’m very sorry to hear of your loss.

          That’s a helpful insight into how Christians’ prayers/God talk doesn’t help. I suppose you could append “… instead of doing something constructive or difficult” to their “I’ll be praying for you.”

        • smrnda

          I think in cases where there is little to nothing to be done, it’s all people have to offer.

        • MR

          I suppose you could append “… instead of doing something constructive or difficult” to their “I’ll be praying for you.”

          Yes, but not even that. A hand on the shoulder or even a hug can be so much more sincere than a texted, “I’ll be praying for you.”

        • Tyler Willis

          Sorry about your loss. I’m fortunate enough to still have both my parents alive and well.

          I honestly do think christians are letting you know that they care. That’s the point of them saying they will pray for you. You don’t believe it’s doing anything, but they do. They think they are caring for you.

          Is “I’ll pray for you” any less an expression of caring than someone saying “my sympathies” or “sad to hear about your father. I hope you are managing” or “wow. I’m very sorry to hear of your loss?” I think all of them are expressions of caring.

        • They may be the best that each person has coming from that worldview, but the particular problem with praying to address a problem is that it relieves the person of the tension/guilt/anxiety/whatever caused by the situation without actually doing anything.

          See the Ricky Gervais quote at the end of the post for another take on this.

        • Susan

          the particular problem with praying to address a problem is that it relieves the person of the tension/guilt/anxiety/whatever caused by the situation without actually doing anything.

          I know theists (many of whom I love and admire) who do useful things AND pray, in which case, their prayers don’t bother me because I understand the Stone Soup response that humans can have after doing everything they can think of but when they still feel powerless.

          I have hardly any problem with those prayers.

          Most prayers though, I find insulting and lazy.

        • Kodie

          I think the idea is, you want to say something, but like, all of the things you could say are as empty as prayer. If you don’t know a person well, and you are pretty sure that the person must have other people closer to them to talk to, I mean it’s a social thing too. If you ask someone “what can I do for you?”, even if there’s a lot they need, they will say, “nothing, it’s ok, I’ll be ok”. If you come up with a plan to help them with action, it might be too intrusive, you won’t take no for an answer, they are burdened with being polite and saying “thank you for everything”.

          I mean, when people do more than pray, it’s often worse:

          http://www.cbsnews.com/news/when-disaster-relief-brings-anything-but-relief/

          Humanitarian workers call the crush of useless, often incomprehensible contributions “the second disaster.”

        • Interesting article.

        • MR

          Sorry about your loss.

          Thank you.

          I’m fortunate enough to still have both my parents alive and well.

          I’ve been fortunate until now.

          I honestly do think christians are letting you know that they care.

          Probably you meant to say “I do think [C]hristians are honestly letting you know that they care,” and I agree, but it goes deeper than that. I’ve noted that those Christians in my life who are outwardly most “Christian” are the ones who have offered nothing more than the “I’ll pray for you” condolences, etc., via text, Facebook, or what have you…. In contrast, those in my family (Christian or not) who have most sincerely expressed their caring–and who have truly grieved with me–have needed to do nothing more than to simply be with me or to call me and express in person their love and care.

          Is “I’ll pray for you” any less an expression of caring than someone saying “my sympathies” or “sad to hear about your father. I hope you are managing” or “wow. I’m very sorry to hear of your loss?”

          My internet friends here–and I do consider them friends–and those who have no other access to me than to send me a “my sympathies” or “sad to hear about your father” or “I hope you are managing,” etc., are doing what they can and, yes, are expressing their care as best they can. But of those who have flesh and blood access to me–whether or not they are Christian–the ones who have truly expressed caring have not resorted to empty religious rhetoric, the “I’ll pray for yous”, etc.; they’ve simply been there for me. Those who most carry the agenda of “if you’re not Christian,” rather, “if your father was not my brand of Christian,” have been the ones, not surprisingly, who have given me the arms-length rhetoric of “I’ll pray for you.”

          Frankly, their reaction is not unexpected. The more religious, the more distance and less empathy they have expressed. A young cousin [questioning her religious beliefs] who says nothing, yet takes the time sit beside me on the couch, has shown me more love and caring than the Christian rhetoric of, “I’ll pray for you” (a passive-aggressive rhetoric, I might add, because I’m not blind to the silent message of, “Even though your father doesn’t believe what I believe and is not by my reckoning “saved,” I’ll nonetheless pray for you.)

          So, as someone who is actively feeling that Christian sting, I hold to my advice to Christians not to tell someone you’re praying for them, rather, just be there for them as a fellow human being. It makes a more sincere statement. –[edits]

        • Tyler Willis

          I’m the kind of guy who doesn’t know what to say or do in situations like this. I’m awkward and don’t know what to say, or do so I stay away and do nothing even though I care deeply about my friends and family. This might explain why some of your close friends stay distant. Stay strong.

        • Michael Neville

          Sorry to hear of your loss. But it is nice to see you back here again.

        • Susan

          I’m so sorry for your father’s suffering and for your loss and your suffering.

          Thank you for an eloquent post.

        • Ignorant Amos

          Very sad and sorry to hear that news, chum. Having been there I know what you’re going through, so my thoughts are with you and yours.

        • Kodie

          So sorry for your loss!

        • Syzygy

          As they used to say on “laugh in” when signing off, “Keep those cards and letters…”

        • Sandra

          My sympathies for your loss.

        • Jariel

          I am a culturally Jewish agnostic who lives in an apartment building for senior citizens. 74 seniors live here, and I’d say the average age is 80. Every weekday, evangelical Christian worship services and Bible studies are held for the residents, and several times a week these services are “healing services.” The majority of people who live here have multiple age-related disabilities, some of them extremely severe. I have never heard anyone at these healing services pray for peace or that each other come to Jesus. They pray that their health issues be healed. So far, these prayers haven’t worked.
          (Why is a culturally Jewish agnostic attending Christian worship services? I play the piano for the hymns. Or at least I did, until someone complained that a Jew shouldn’t be playing the piano for Christians)

        • And if you’re hanging around at counterapologetics sites, I’m guessing you keep your brain pretty active. Good for you!

        • Jariel

          Thanks! Well, I’m the youngest person who lives here 🙂 Actually, I DO keep my brain extremely active. By the way, this particular senior apartment building is HUD/Section 8, which means that having so many evangelical Christian religious activities (and I haven’t even mentioned the people who come in and perform recitals for us – of Christian music and hymns) is illegal, a blatant violation of church and state, and the wonderful Freedom from Religion Foundation has taken my case. 🙂 🙂 They have sent a letter to HUD and to corporate, and we’re waiting to hear back. I’m excited! – and, I’ll admit, a little scared…

        • Ignorant Amos

          Tremendous stuff…good fer you.

        • I can only imagine what it’s like to rock the boat in your situation. Best of luck.

        • Jariel

          Thanks, Bob 🙂

        • Sandra

          I don’t believe in luck or prayers, so to help Jariel, I plan to send FFRF a small donation.

        • I feel dirty after watching a Ray Comfort movie, so I do the same thing. Sending money to FFRF can be the atheist’s purification ritual.

        • Syzygy

          Everyone knows Jews play violins.

      • Without Malice

        Let’s see, if they prayed for X, and X died, maybe praying for his family might not be a good idea. Just saying.

        • Pofarmer

          There was a girl on Facebook who is going to have to have knee surgery for sports injury. She was asking people to pray for her speedy recovery. I so badly wanted to refer her to the Templeton study which showed that people who knew they were being prayed for recovered more slowly.

  • Scooter

    C.S. Lewis provides some deeper thinking on the topic of prayer.
    “… we have been tackling the whole question in the wrong way and on the wrong level. The very question “Does prayer work?” puts us in the wrong frame of mind from the outset. “Work”: as if it were magic, or a machine—something that functions automatically. Prayer is either a sheer illusion or a personal contact between embryonic, incomplete persons (ourselves) and the utterly concrete Person. Prayer in the sense of petition, asking for things, is a small part of it; confession and penitence are its threshold, adoration its sanctuary, the presence and vision and enjoyment of God its bread and wine. In it God shows Himself to us. That He answers prayers is a corollary— not necessarily the most important one— from that revelation. What He does is learned from what He is.”

    • C.S. Lewis provides some deeper thinking on the topic of prayer.

      “Deeper” like going deeper into the septic tank?

      The very question “Does prayer work?” puts us in the wrong frame of mind from the outset. “Work”: as if it were magic, or a machine—something that functions automatically.

      Yes, that is indeed the problem. We know what “My furnace works” means. Prayer doesn’t work at all like a reliable furnace.

      confession and penitence are its threshold, adoration its sanctuary, the presence and vision and enjoyment of God its bread and wine.

      Take a smart guy and give him a challenge (like: Justify that prayer works when we all know that it doesn’t), and he’ll come up with flowery bullshit that kinda sounds pretty good. It almost makes me think that it’s been my fault all along.

      That He answers prayers is a corollary— not necessarily the most important one— from that revelation. What He does is learned from what He is.

      Old Clive should go back and read his Bible. Jesus himself says that prayer works.

      It’s amazing how smart Christians will see a problem and paper over it. They haven’t resolved the problem; they’ve only convinced themselves that they’re still entitled to keep their god belief.

      • Giauz Ragnarock

        “septic tank”

        Great euphemism!

        “Deeper!”, cried Lewis. “Please!… to the wrist! I… If you do that… I’ll have an Apologeasmmmmm!!!”

        • Ignorant Amos

          That’s even funnier when I read it. When I was serving, “septic tank” is how we referred to our American comrades.

          Cockney rhyming slang.

          As a group…the word Spam…that one is an acronym.

          All terms of endearment of course.

        • Michael Neville

          All terms of endearment of course.

          Of course, just like us Yanks would refer to British soldiers as brown jobs.

        • Ignorant Amos

          I wouldn’t doubt it, just not one I’m familiar with in my time….80’s…respect all the same.

        • Not “Sherman tank”?

        • Ignorant Amos

          Nope!

    • Michael Neville

      For an intelligent, educated person Lewis wrote some really dumb things. Humans are not embryonic except in the womb. Humans are generally sentient, rational beings with a better sense of morality than Lewis’ god displays.

    • MNb

      As a teen and before I have prayed. No god showed himself.

    • smrnda

      So, in any sense, it seems that prayer is an attempt at communication. Maybe it’s not asking for something, but you’d think that an omniscient god could throw something back at the people who pray that’s a bit more tangible.

      If I make attempts at communication, and I get nothing back, I decide that the party was not interested, and i quit wasting my time and their time.

      • Ignorant Amos

        The problem is that the religious believe they ARE getting something back at least some of the times by their cognitive dissonance. That’s then used as confirmation bias to shore up the belief. When they get nothing from prayer, it is hand waved away with some inert excuse or another. It’s all a bit circular.

        • Greg G.

          A little confirmation bias goes a long way. Disconfirmation is so feeble without systematic checks.

    • Greg G.

      If prayer worked, theists wouldn’t have to come up with new meanings for “works” in order to have the sentence make sense. If “works” must have some special narrow meaning regarding prayer, a different word than “works” should be used so you are not being deceptive with the use of the word “works” when “works” does not mean what the listener is supposed to believe it means. Stop fooling yourself and others.

    • Ignorant Amos

      C.S. Lewis provides some deeper thinking on the topic of prayer.

      Deeper for who?

      Those already intoxicated from over imbibing at the eternal fountain of Kool-Aid?

      • Otto

        In Catholic terms, deeper means more convoluted.

        • Ignorant Amos

          They do love the mysterious right enough, so mysterious that it ends up being the biggest loada ballix ya ever listened to…or had to read…all of them…just read the diarrhoea coming from our current Muslim friend, Sparkly Lunatic…a post-modern verbiage generator produces easier reading ffs.

        • Without Malice

          Yep, if you can’t figure it out you know it must be true.

    • Joe

      Well, the bible says different to CS Lewis, and that book doesn’t have any talking animals in it. Oh wait, it does.

    • Without Malice

      Yeah man, that’s so deep the soles of my feet got wet when I waded through it. I guess one man’s deep thinking is another man’s bullshit.

    • Thought2Much

      “C.S. Lewis provides some deeper thinking…”

      Er… no.

  • raylampert

    I had a conversation with a Jehovah’s witness about prayer. They believe that if you want something you should pray for it, but you should also take appropriate action to make it happen. So if you want that promotion, you pray, but you also work hard and try to get your boss to notice your performance. Or you want to lose weight, you pray as well as exercise and watch what you eat, and so on.

    So to me, it sounded like prayer was more a means of focusing yourself on what was really important and asking for guidance. If you were asking for something bad or harmful, I suppose you would come to realize that if you were actually asking for it. Sort of like hearing “You want me to do what? Are you sure?”

    As a practical matter, it doesn’t sound all that bad or even supernatural. Prayer, meditation, or just concentrating and focusing on what you want, and then actually going out and working to make it happen. There’s really nothing supernatural about it, but maybe some people get a mental “boost” from feeling like they have a cosmic Superman helping them out.

    • Yes, I see the (non-supernatural) value in prayer. Unfortunately, those benefits keep the supernatural beliefs alive.

    • Facebook User

      It is not true that religious people think you must make your prayers come true. The act of praying and then working to bring about what you pray for is seen as two separate acts. But do not forget that believers see praying and then acting to bring your request about as prayer in action. So both are prayer but in different forms. So strictly speaking there is only the intention to pray. “Prayer was more a means of focusing yourself on what was really important and asking for guidance” is incorrect.

      • What do you think about “Ask and you shall receive” in the Bible? Does prayer really work like that?

        • Without Malice

          Not any more. That was for the old days. Lots of times folks didn’t even have to pray. Just the shadow of Peter falling on a cripple was enough to heal them. That’s why they call them “the good ol days”.

        • MR

          Hmm, just made another connection between the bible and ancient philosophy that I hadn’t thought about: Diogenes and Alexander.

  • dluch

    i prayed for not having to pray to get stuff… seemed to work ok
    i have food, clothing, loved ones… am reasonably happy & healthy.. and don’t need to pray anymore!

    • Ignorant Amos

      And there are millions of sorry individuals wasting their time all over the world praying their wee hearts out and not getting any of that, some are getting some of it and maybe just a few are also getting all of it…at about the same rates as those not bothering their arses praying at all. Go figure.

  • Jason K.

    Koukl began by imagining a boss who has already decided that if a
    particular person asks for a raise, he’ll grant it.

    Is this boss both omniscient and omnibenevolent? If not, then it’s a terrible example.

    But if a raise makes business sense, why not just grant it without being asked? Koukl says that the asking requirement comes from the Bible…

    Which is just another way of saying God requires it because God requires it. But why would God require it? That’s the unanswered question. And no, pointing to a hypothetical human who can’t foresee the future and isn’t infinitely good doesn’t actually explain anything.

    • smrnda

      In an ideal workplace, and employee who deserves a raise would get it. If an employer says ‘if they ask for a raise, I will grant it, but if they do not, no raise’ – that boss just comes across as the typical cheapskate who would prefer to pay workers less, and who may be happier that the worker doesn’t ask so they don’t have to spend more money. But a cheap employer isn’t a good model for a good god.

      • wtfwjtd

        Any boss worth their salt knows that motivated employees are more productive, which, in general, means they are happier and healthier as well. That Koukl acknowledges that his god doesn’t seem to be aware of any of this basic business acumen is pretty telling, and not much of an endorsement.

  • MNb
    • Doug Tozier

      Love is not exclusive to Christianity. But I would have to question this “love” that threatens me with Hell if I refuse to follow in lock-step with dubious ancient laws and teachings… Isn’t there already enough hell on earth?

      • MNb

        “Love is not exclusive to Christianity.”
        You win the internet for kicking in this wide open door.

    • evodevo

      Even better that the camp is on LESBOS lol…

  • Tyler Willis

    The prayer thing is kinda strange. I’ve heard christians talk about prayer being good for the person praying. Something about the act of asking god for stuff acheives some important spritual goal. How does praying make a person better?

    • Jack Baynes

      It teaches you that you can’t always get what you want.

      • Guy Fawkes

        And Mick Jagger was, inadvertently, being very deep when he said “If you TRY sometimes you just might find you get what you need”. It’s YOUR trying (i.e. Acting on the goal or need) that makes the actual difference. Therefore the prayer itself means nothing beyond focusing thought on that goal or need.

        • Ignorant Amos

          Therefore the prayer itself means nothing beyond focusing thought on that goal or need.

          Many may well see it that way indeed.

          Most of us here see no need for a magic feather.

        • Doug Tozier

          I have a magic feather and it makes me feel great!

        • Ignorant Amos

          If that’s what you believe is making you feel great…excellent…knock yerself out. But please don’t go jumping out any above ground floor window thinking your feather will help you to fly, especially not with a baby in yer arms.

        • Doug Tozier

          So… metaphors and sarcasm are not your thing…

          My wife has a magic feather and she uses it to make me feel great…

        • Ignorant Amos

          Of course…aren’t they yerself?

          I’m no less entertained by a ball tickle from feathers than yerself…but I’m well aware of the limits of feathers….and I implore you to know the same. They might seem magical in some case’s. say the bedroom, but they are not supernatural magical…know the limitations of feathers, like everything else, that’s all am saying.

      • Without Malice

        My parents taught me that when I was a kid. My wife finished the job.

    • evodevo

      When I say something like that to my fundie co-workers, they get all bent out of shape LOL – most fundies are of the persuasion that you are praying to an actual being, and that he grants wishes (rather arbitrarily it seems to me), and when you call them on that, they get rather peevish.

      • WayneMan

        Yes, it amazes and amuses me that people pray before sporting events, before job interviews, for love relationships, etc., while a child under 5 dies a horrible death from disease or starvation, about every 15 seconds, round the clock, nonstop. It’s like god won’t answer prayers for these dying children, but hey, he may think this game is important. And of course statistically, the probability of a positive response is about zero.

      • Tyler Willis

        Fundies, lol. Whatcha gonna do?

  • 3vil5triker .

    Explanations for how prayers work are actually justifications for why they don’t.

  • Jeff

    Prayer works as a psychological thing, the only term that I can think of, which is more than likely not accurate, is projection. We constantly talk to ourselves and prayer is simply this, but projected to a higher power, and we try to project our will onto circumstances, wishing really, really hard at someone or thing. It’s just something that we do.

    • Prayer’s benefit can be the same as meditation’s benefit. The existence of the supernatural isn’t necessary for either.

  • Syzygy

    This is as relevant as discussing how many angels can dance on the head of a pin.

    Who gives a shit?

    • Jack Baynes

      That’s easy. Pi
      Pi angels can dance on the head of a pin.
      Any God worth worshiping can create an irrational number of angels.

      • Ignorant Amos

        There’s me thinking it was between one and 30 vigintillion angels…shows what I know.

      • Syzygy

        But pi is transcendental.

        Maybe it’s sqrt(10) angels.

        • Ignorant Amos

          Brilliant!

      • Euclid

        Even a transcendental number of angels .

      • Len

        Or a number of irrational angels.

      • Frolios

        The answer is zero angels.
        God is Baptist. His angels won’t dance anywhere, head of a pin or otherwise, if they know what’s good for them.

        • I understand that initially, it wasn’t the head of a pin but the point of a pin, which is an even more impressive feat. (If you believe in angels, that is.)

        • Kodie

          Why are they always dancing? Shouldn’t they be helping people?

      • Sobeit

        It’s irrational to pray, yet we all do it – What, we don’t?

        • MNb

          And your point is?!

        • Sobeit

          Well, we all want to be rational, yet there’s something about us that is drawn to doing stupid things – no matther how hard we try to aovid it- maybe in the end, those things we are drawn to do, are not stupid?

        • Susan

          maybe in the end, those things we are drawn to do, are not stupid?

          So, you’re saying that when we are drawn to do stupid things, the fact that we are drawn to do them, means they might not be stupid?

        • Sobeit

          Yes, and, further, what we define as “irrational” should be more aptly defined as “we don’t know what this is yet”. It’s like when people are labelled “crazy” or “criminals” for not fitting in.

        • Susan

          Yes.

          Why?

          What’s your reasoning?

        • Sobeit

          “Why?” “What’s your reasoning”

          Dysrationalia.

        • Greg G.

          The Son of God was crucified: I am not ashamed
              – because it is shameful.
          The Son of God died: it is immediately credible
              – because it is silly.
          He was buried, and rose again: it is certain
              – because it is impossible
          (certum est, quia impossibile).
          –Tertullian, (160-225 CE)
              Translation by Ernest Evans, 1956.

          It is as silly now as it was 19 centuries ago.

        • Susan

          Typing a single questionable word is not reasoning.

          (Sigh, now I have to go to the dictionary.)

          Reasoning

          noun
          1.
          the act or process of a person who reasons.
          2.
          the process of forming conclusions, judgments, or inferences from facts or premises.
          3.
          the reasons, arguments, proofs, etc., resulting from this process

        • Sobeit

          Sorry, for being laconic, I do have a little more time now so I can elaborate on my reaction to the post – How Does Prayer Work? And What Does that Say About God? – Dysrationalia is when smart people do stupid things –like when people fall for Ponzi schemes – for the sake of greed, people check their intelligence at the door. I was making a correlation to when people pray to God, that perhaps it is to get some personal gain. Greed in these instances cloud our judgment.
          So my response to the post is that the way we pray says a lot about the person praying but not about God.
          One really puzzling thing I find in the bible related to this post is when Jesus, asks the apostles to stay awake with him in the garden of gethsemane and they keep falling asleep. I mean, they were witnessing first hand Jesus working miracles and this was now Jesus saying “Stay Awake” and they don’t do it? So, I guess, the atheist would say, “See! If Jesus was God, the Apostles would’ve stayed awake!” The way I view it is, Jesus asked them for a simple prayer, and the apostles were drawn to doing something “stupid”.

        • Michael Neville

          The apostles were not facing being whipped and then tortured to death, so there was no particular reason for them to stay awake. As for Jesus, Dr. Samuel Johnson described his mental state: “When a man knows he is to be hanged in a
          fortnight, it concentrates his mind wonderfully.”

        • Susan

          Dysrationalia.

          Gesundheit.

        • Sobeit

          Aaah, a little joke, I see. Do you know, we humans are the only species with a sense of humor. Some think in this world of misery in which we live, it is quite irrational to try to be funny. So, it is ok, to be irrational in humor, but not in believing in God? To be logically consistent with being an atheist, there should not be a trace of humor in your comments – like the comments of Greg G.

        • Ignorant Amos

          Do you know, we humans are the only species with a sense of humor.

          Do you know you are talking more rubbish, again?

          Non-human primates don’t just laugh – there is evidence they can crack their own jokes. Koko, a gorilla in Woodside, California, who has learned more than 2000 words and 1000 American Sign Language signs, has been known to play with different meanings of the same word. When she was asked: “What can you think of that is hard?” the gorilla signed “rock” and “work”. She also once tied her trainer’s shoelaces together and signed “chase”.

          But what about other members of the animal kingdom – do they have funny bones? Marc Bekoff at the University of Colorado, Boulder, professor of ecology and evolutionary biology and author of The Emotional Lives of Animals, believes they do. In fact, he thinks we are on the cusp of discovering that many animals have a sense of humour, maybe even all mammals.

          The idea that animals can appreciate comedy isn’t as far-fetched as it sounds, considering some of the other groundbreaking discoveries scientists like Bekoff are making about animal behaviour. They have found dogs that understand unfairness, spiders that display different temperaments and bees that can be trained to be pessimistic.

          As Bekoff points out, Darwin argued that the difference between human and animal intelligence is a matter of degree, not kind. Or as Bekoff put it: “If we have a sense of humour, then non-human animals should have a sense of humour, too.”

          https://www.newscientist.com/article/dn25312-do-animals-have-a-sense-of-humour/

          The rest of your comment is just more of the same inane ballix.

        • Sobeit

          A Sense of Humor:
          “Having a sense of humor means being able to laugh at—or at least see the humor in—life’s absurdities”.

          You believe Monkeys have the mental capacity to see “life’s absurdities”? If you believe this, my question is, what don’t you believe that is irrational, of course God, because, well, that would be too irrational.

          btw – “When she was asked: “What can you think of that is hard?” the gorilla signed “rock” and ‘work’.”

          Koko had merely learned in her vocabulary that work could be hard too. Sorry, no good humor for Koko, or you.

        • Ignorant Amos

          A Sense of Humor:
          “Having a sense of humor means being able to laugh at—or at least see the humor in—life’s absurdities”.

          . You are trying to define the term to fit your argument.

          Sense of humor:- the ability to perceive humor or appreciate a joke.

          You believe Monkeys have the mental capacity to see “life’s absurdities”?

          See what ya did there? You weaseled the words “life’s absurdities”, complete with scare quotes, into the discussion after making it part of your definition. Your initial comment declared that humans are the only animals to have a sense of humor, science is showing you assertion to be wrong. Take it up with the experts.

          If you believe this, my question is, what don’t you believe that is irrational, of course God, because, well, that would be too irrational.

          I have absolutely no idea what it is that you are asking and answering in that burble…try a bit of clarity in your commenting.

          btw – “When she was asked: “What can you think of that is hard?” the gorilla signed “rock” and ‘work’.”

          Koko had merely learned in her vocabulary that work could be hard too. Sorry, no good humor for Koko, or you.

          Sorry, I can’t help it if you have a restricted sense of humor.

          I’m left wondering why you quote mined out the more humorous of the two examples? Well, not really, you are being deceitful as you’re sort is unfortunately.

          She also once tied her trainer’s shoelaces together and signed “chase”.

          That is a trick joke as old as the hills that most humans I know have played on someone at some time. Only a being with a sense of humor would understand that.

          https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NP29NNDHw-0

          BTW, Koko is an ape, not a monkey ya ignoramus.

        • Sobeit

          I don’t think you proved I moved the goal posts at all. You offered a definition that also includes a requirement for the monkey to accomplish a cognitive function that only humans can perform – “ability to perceive “whether it be “humor”, as in your definition, or “life’s absurdities”, as in mine, the monkey just flat out can’t do it –and my definition was a perfectly legitimate offering of a well-accepted definition of humor. If I had added, for example, that it was necessary to have the “ability to perceive” the concept of infinity, then I would have moved the goal posts, but I didn’t do that.

          Also, those examples you provide, (that Michael also repeated) about the tying of the shoelaces and saying Chase, are examples of learned behavior –
          Sorry, but you have failed in your argument proving I moved goal posts, and you failed in your argument proving monkeys, gorillas, whatever, have a sense of humor – but you have succeeded, once again, in revealing your very deceitful use of Misdirection to try to win an argument. Ok?

        • Ignorant Amos

          You said, “Do you know, we humans are the only species with a sense of humor.”

          When I provided a counter example, from a reputable source, you decided to narrowly define what a sense of humor means is…

          “Having a sense of humor means being able to laugh at—or at least see the humor in—life’s absurdities”.

          While that is indeed true, it isn’t the end all and be all of what it means to have a sense of humor.

          You left this bit behind when you quote mined.

          You don’t have to be funny to have a sense of humor, or be the one telling all the jokes.

          That is the first moving of the goal posts.

          You also forgot to mention part 1 of your source.

          A sense of humor allows you to find humor in both positive and negative situations. A sense of humor may reduce stress and anxiety, as well as increase coping abilities and self-esteem.
          There are physical, cognitive, emotional, and social benefits of humor, which include: reduced pain and stress, increased mood and creativity, increased friendliness, and happier relationships with others.

          http://www.wikihow.com/Have-a-Sense-of-Humor

          What the dictionaries say…

          http://www.thefreedictionary.com/sense+of+humor

          http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/sense%20of%20humor

          http://www.collinsdictionary.com/dictionary/english/sense-of-humour

          What were ya saying about “revealing your very deceitful use of Misdirection to try to win an argument”, you piece of shite?

        • Sobeit

          Simply put – the argument forced a definition of the elements of humor – as the elements became more defined, it also became increasingly clear whose position was stronger – at that point, you realized it would be beneficial to your position by improperly criticizing the process of defining the elements of humor. I kinda admire the desire you have to win, it’s when you try to win at all costs that kinda irritates me.

        • Michael Neville

          as the elements became more defined, it also became increasingly clear whose position was stronger

          It wasn’t your position that became stronger, that’s why you redefined humor so as to exclude all the animals with senses of humor. Very shabby.

          But then we’re used to theists moving the goalposts hither and yon, often at warp 8, so as to “win the argument”.

        • Sobeit

          “But then we’re used to theists moving the goalposts hither and yon, often at warp 8, so as to ‘win the argument”’

          Michael, you actually are very wise and your comments helpful – and; I think I know what you mean – couldn’t help watching that train wreck over on Bob’s blog about Paul not knowing much – is it fair to say that Peter’s interaction provided a real blueprint for theists on how not to act here on Bob’s gracious blogs.

          what, there was like 10K comments there- holy mackerel!!

          And, Bob provided a blueprint on how to run a blog.

        • Ignorant Amos

          Hey, take it up with the scientists and experts doing all the research. You cannot rebut their research, so shrug.

          It is you that made the asinine assertion to begin with and are now struggling to defend it, but that is what you cunts do rather than hold your hands up. You start digging the hole and double down. Fucking hilarious to watch and we can call it every time.

        • Pofarmer

          What’s irritating is when you’ve quite obviously lost the point and prattle on like a nincompoop. How’s about a “Well I’ll be darned, I learned something new! Thanks guys.”

        • Ignorant Amos

          Ha ha…never gonna happen.

          Better to do the theist two step.

          Pick a narrow definition of the term after the fact, claim it is the only definition that applies to the term, then claim that’s the only definition that matters.

          Then make an ironic comment like…

          I kinda admire the desire you have to win, it’s when you try to win at all costs that kinda irritates me.

          There are meters exploding all over the place here.

        • Kodie

          I don’t know what is so hard to understand. Do you know what kids find funny? You know it’s not likely what makes you laugh, but you could at least recognize that they are finding humor and expressing it for their own amusement? You know when your boss tells a joke and when he’s being serious? I mean, people know when to laugh because they know it’s a joke, even if it isn’t funny. You might even laugh at things that aren’t really funny. I have a sense about you that you don’t, but it’s pretty common in the human condition to laugh at someone else’s misfortune rather than to feel empathy and pain for the person’s embarrassment or injury. It’s pretty normal to laugh at first, and then realize it’s poor manners, and you should check on the injured person’s wellbeing, or assure them you didn’t mean to laugh at their misery.

          But you are totally sure that monkeys don’t have any of that, because Koko’s joke didn’t make you laugh. And you really don’t get Greg G., I’m sorry. I think all the monkeys have a sense of humor and you probably are prejudiced against them because they laugh at you whenever you visit the zoo. Of course you don’t think you’re funny, and I can’t argue with you there.

        • Ignorant Amos

          There’s even a name for it, “schadenfreude”. delectatio morosa.

          We squaddies lump it in with what is known as black humor. It is a coping mechanism British soldiers use to deal with harrowing situations. Civilians don’t get it at all. It has gotten me through some dark experiences, being a first responder into some carnage filled aftermath as part of my job.

          Sobeit made an erroneous remark and just can’t accept being corrected by a baby eating heathen with evidence. So like we have seen here ad nauseum in the theist, has decided to dig in. It’s par for their course, but nevertheless still funny.

        • Kodie

          And why are some jokes funnier depending on the person telling it? Some jokes aren’t funny to me, no matter who tells them, and I find it really hard to force a giggle, but it’s funny when kids or old people say stuff than when people aged in the middle say it. In this way, it’s funny to a human that a monkey could make a joke at all, not that the joke itself was funny. It’s funny when a child makes particular observations, not that the observation itself is humorous. Sarcasm isn’t always ha-ha funny, and often the sarcastic might come off as though you can’t tell if they’re joking or serious, and either way, it might not be really funny. Some call it “dry”. I mean, it’s one kind of sense of humor to find some things funny, and not everyone finds the same things funny, and an actual sense for humor, let’s call it, that detects jokes whether they are funny or not, i.e., the kind of unfunny jokes you’re supposed to laugh at when your boss tells them, or even a monkey. Maybe the monkey will be your boss someday. You’ve probably heard someone tell a joke, maybe crass, uncalled-for, they found humor in something you find utterly disgusting, and when you don’t laugh, they tell you you don’t have a sense of humor, just because you don’t share theirs, but likely you recognized they meant to make a joke in the first place.

          Anyway, Sobeit seems to be the kind of person who wants to diminish the capabilities and intellects and emotions and behaviors of animals other than humans, which is one way to stay ignorant. The more I learn about animals, the more I don’t believe in any gods. Sobeit doesn’t want to accept humans have any relation to animals, that we are like them and they are like us. All I see when I go out where the humans are is animals.

        • Ignorant Amos

          By coincidence, “Jimmy Carr and The Science of Laughter” an Horizon Special aired this week on BBC.

          “Many Worlds Theory states that in an infinite universe there will be one planet on which I’m presenting Horizon,” Carr said. “I can’t believe your luck – it’s this one.”

          http://www.radiotimes.com/news/2016-06-19/jimmy-carr-to-host-horizon-special-on-the-science-of-laughter

        • MNb

          “The more I learn about animals, the more I don’t believe in any gods.”
          The same with me. My pet example is swarm intelligence.

        • Michael Neville

          We squaddies lump it in with what is known as black humor.

          In the US forces it’s known as gallows humor. During the Vietnam war “see you in Hell” was a common form of goodbye.

          EDIT: I have no doubt that Ignorant Amos will appreciate the humor in that phrase. He and I are both members of what Bill Mauldin, writing about World War II, referred to as “the benevolent and protective brotherhood of them what has been shot at”.

        • Kodie

          You have a poor sense of humor, so you think having no sense of humor makes you the most rational – I don’t know how that computes. You have to be smart to get jokes, and you don’t.

          Nobody is putting Koko up on stage at a comedy club, but you have to be pretty stupid not to recognize the intelligence involved in cracking a joke, in understanding wordplay. It’s not fall on the floor laugh your ass off funny, but that’s not the point. You don’t seem to get points.

        • Ignorant Amos

          And a lot of the worlds funniest comedians are atheist.

          https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_atheists_(miscellaneous)#Comedians

        • You believe Monkeys have the mental capacity to see “life’s absurdities”?

          Nice! I wonder if IA noticed your moving the goalposts.

        • Ignorant Amos

          Not half…moved them to the other end of the park.

          Why, when called out, can the theist not just hold the hands and admit their error, but instead, prefer to get the shovels and picks out and set about digging the hole deeper?

        • Michael Neville

          So IA beat me by a mere eight hours with the same link. That’s what I get for working for a living.

        • Kodie

          I think you just don’t get Greg G.

        • Sobeit

          A canister of urine in his basement since Y2K. Believe, me, I don’t want to “get” him. When you said “you should drink it already” – now that was funny – which means you’re the most irrational one here.

        • Ignorant Amos

          And you’re head is away with the fairies.

        • Sobeit

          I hate to knit pick but it’s “your” – and you, see, now you’ve done it – I have to get my yearly fix of watching Charlton Heston in the movie the “Planet of the Apes”, all that talk about smart monkeys and all.

        • Kodie

          I hate to knit pick but it’s “your” – and you, see, now you’ve done it – I have to get my yearly fix of watching Charlton Heston in the movie the “Planet of the Apes”, all that talk about smart monkeys and all.

          It’s “nitpick”.

        • Ignorant Amos

          They can’t help themselves, can they?

        • Ignorant Amos

          Ha ha…the grammar troll hoist by their own petard.

        • Kodie

          He’s really over your dumb little head.

        • Ignorant Amos

          A sense of humor far too sophisticated for Sobeit.

        • Michael Neville

          Do you know, we humans are the only species with a sense of humor.

          That may not be true.

          Nonhuman primates don’t just laugh—there’s evidence they can crack their own jokes. Koko, a gorilla in Woodside, Calif., who has learned more than 2,000 words and 1,000 American Sign Language signs, has been known to play with different meanings of the same word. When she was asked, “What can you think of that’s hard?” the gorilla signed, “rock” and “work.” She also once tied her trainer’s shoelaces together and signed, “chase.”

        • Greg G.

          Didn’t you get this one?

          http://disq.us/p/1bpwglr

        • MR

          Pretty much everything that follows from Sobeit seems to be an attempt to avoid giving a coherent response to your question, unless Disqus is hiding things from me again?

        • Ignorant Amos

          Nope, that’s pretty spot on.

        • Pofarmer

          Sobeit seems not to understand that words mean things.

        • WayneMan

          Off topic, but related to your comment: I do notice some strange technical forum behavior often. I often post a reply and when I return or refresh the page, I do not see my reply, yet if I go to my home page and look at my comments, there it is. If I look at my notifications, I see my original and someones reply, but if I have already replied to the persons reply, if I click the “view in discussion”, my new reply again does not show up. It is really weird.

        • MNb

          That’s Disqus for you.

        • Sobeit

          I think I know where KoKo works.

        • MR

          My guess is that it’s an issue with browser behavior, perhaps it’s not clearing the cache, but maybe Bob has a better grasp on any Disqus/Patheos issues.

        • When there are hundreds of comments, Disqus initially shows just 50. If you start over, your most recent comment may not be in that group.

          Two suggestions: at the top of the comments, on the right, it says “Sort by Best” (or by Newest or by Oldest). Change to Newest to see the latest comments.

          Or, go to the bottom and click Load more comments until they’re all loaded in. Then search.

        • Greg G.

          Pi is an irrational number. A rational number is a number that can be expressed as a ratio of two integers.

          You responded to Jack Baynes with a different usage of the word.

          “Irrational” means “not rational”. When you do things for rational reasons, you are basing reasoning on known or expected results. Reasoning based on the unknown would only be rational when there are no rational options with an expectation of success, but then it is just a shot in the dark.

          When experiments on prayer have been performed, the success rate is about even with how the protocols might allow a believer to skew the results, even if unintentionally. The best experiment that eliminated that possibility found that praying for a patient and telling them that they were being prayed for did worse than when the patient was not told they were being prayed for, whether they were being prayed for or not.

          It makes no difference whether you pray quietly, out loud, through a megaphone, or through a hair dryer, you get the same result as if you didn’t pray – unless you pray loud enough for an actual person who can grant the prayer to hear.

        • Philmonomer

          Yes, and, further, what we define as “irrational” should be more aptly defined as “we don’t know what this is yet”.

          Sometimes. It depends.

          Have we:

          1) Examined the “irrational” action for its efficacy?
          2) Plausible explanations for why people do it?

          If we can answer these questions, then it seems to me this is wrong: “we don’t know what this is yet.” We do know.

          For example, lots of people blow on dice before they roll them. Is that something that “we don’t know what this is yet?”

          It’s like when people are labelled “crazy” or “criminals” for not fitting in.

          Why do you think so?

        • Greg G.

          I do not pray.

        • Ignorant Amos

          One fruitcake goes, another fruitcake comes in, never a miscommunication.

        • I told you that Bill O’Reilly made sense.

        • Ignorant Amos

          Well he is a sensible guy..NOT…some philosophical bull crap going on in the senile auld wankers head though.

        • Greg G.

          You can’t explain that.

        • Ignorant Amos

          Unless one is a creotard or IDiot that is of course.

        • Sobeit

          May I suggest that you do, but not to God, because that would be irrational.

        • Greg G.

          It doesn’t matter what you pray to, it only matters that you employ confirmation bias so anything close counts as a positive response which makes a big impression in your memory and the misses are not counted by saying it has not been answered yet until it is forgotten. You can pray to an imaginary god, an imaginary saint, an angel, the devil, or a brick you really trust. The results will be the same.

        • Nope, not me.

        • Michael Neville

          Me neither. Haven’t prayed in over 50 years.

        • epeeist

          It’s irrational to pray, yet we all do it – What, we don’t?

          You are using too small a seed and too restricted a vocabulary for your random text generator. Have a look at this site to see how it should be done.

        • Ignorant Amos

          Haaa!

          There goes another coffee sodden keyboard.

        • epeeist

          Put your coffee down before you look at this site.

          While sobeit produces short gnomic utterances you can get longer screeds of gibberish from the post-modern generator.

        • Ignorant Amos

          Ideally, I should finish any imbibing before logging on, but what fun would that be?

          Chopra, always good for a giggle with his mindwank and verbal diarrhoea.

        • epeeist

          Another fun thing to do is to take a long screed that appears to be gibberish (almost any post by Luke Bruer for example) and copy-paste it into the form on this site. It is often the case that the transformed text makes as much, if not more, sense than the original.

        • Ignorant Amos

          I must remember to give that a shot later.

          Heading out for the Old Firm game. First league Old Firm in four years. Then on to the son-in-laws birthday soiree later. I will be in a mess whatever the result of the match.

        • Michael Neville

          Have a nice game and birthday bash. We’ll be thinking of you. Or not, as the case may be.

        • Ignorant Amos

          ha ha….we got tanked 5-1 …and I got into a mess as expected…I think it was the sloe gins what did it…the ten pints prior assisted though.

        • Michael Neville

          Sloe gin? Aren’t you supposed to be drinking whiskey? Bushmills, to be precise, since you’re a Prod (yeah, you’re an atheist but a Protestant atheist).

        • Ignorant Amos

          Well Bushmills is sold everywhere in the province. Sloe gin is sold in just one pub in the town, so it would’ve been silly not to indulge.

          I see the reference to the Hitchens joke. I do indeed live in a predominately Protestant area and I am a unionist, but I don’t recognise as a Prod and I’m quick to point that out to those who might confuse me with being such.

        • Michael Neville

          Having read what you’ve written about Norn Iron I know that while you’re a unionist you’re not a Prod.

          The late, great Canadian songwriter and singer Stan Rogers singing “House of Orange”.

          Yet the damned U.D.L. and the cruel I.R.A.
          Will tomorrow go murdering again.
          But no penny of mine will I add to the fray.
          “Remember the Boyne!” they will cry out in vain,
          For I’ve given my heart to the place I was born
          And forgiven the whole House of Orange
          King Billy and the whole House of Orange

    • Ignorant Amos

      Who gives a shit?

      Obviously some of us do.

    • Prayer in the US is relevant because of its use in insulting the First Amendment.

  • Kevin Zeller

    Of course, prayer does not work, simply because… http://jesusneverexisted.com

  • Facebook User

    Christopher Hitchens believed that if you petition God for something you are claiming to know better than him. Believers answer that not all prayer is asking for something and can be as simple as just being with God. But that kind of prayer is still asking. It is asking for God to be present and to help you be with him. It may not use words but a request can be made without words. It says, “Be here now with me.” That is a request. Also, to think you are connecting to an invisible person is a HUGE claim. People forget that. It is very arrogant to think you can know the person is there. Prayer is arrogant and another symptom of how human nature prefers its own version of good to real good.

    • Frolios

      “It is very arrogant to think you can know the [invisible] person is there.”

      And even more arrogant to think that people who don’t know that God is there deserve to be tortured eternally.

  • Without Malice

    Being God has just got to be the most boring job in the whole universe. I mean, hell, you can never do anything you didn’t already know you would do and no one can do anything that surprises you. It would be worse than being caught in a Groundhog day scenario like in the movie. No wonder the old boy is so ill tempered.