How Prayer Works

Situation A: Positive Result

Petitioner: Please God, make it rain today.

Result: It rains

Theological interpretation: Your prayer was answered because of your faith. God is good!

Atheist Interpretation: Meteorology allows us to predict the weather with startling accuracy in the short-term. It rained because utterly predictable conditions allowed it.

Situation B: Negative Result

Petitioner: Please God, make it rain today.

Result: It does not rain.

Theological interpretation 1: God always answers prayers. Sometimes he answers “no.” God is good!
Theological interpretation 2: You didn’t have enough faith. God is good!
Theological interpretation 3: You don’t know what’s best. Only God knows that. God is good!
Theological Interpretation 4: You didn’t pray hard enough/correctly. God is good!
Theological Interpretation 5: God is punishing you for your sins. God is good!
Theological Interpretation 6: Your prayer was not to the glory of God. God only answers prayers that work to his own glorification. God is narcissistic good!
Theological Interpretation 7: God will answer your prayer, but not in your timeframe. Wait. God is good!

Atheist Interpretation: Meteorology allows us to predict the weather with startling accuracy in the short-term. It didn’t rain because utterly predictable conditions did not allow it.

Atheist conclusion: Prayer has no effect on objectively measurable outcomes.

Theist conclusion: Prayer works!

If you’re a recovering theist, you know how unpleasant it can be to have a prayer, especially a big one such as praying for the health of a loved one, go unanswered. A great deal of ink has been utterly wasted trying to explain why God answers some prayers and does not answer others. Once you stop believing in God, the answer becomes intuitively obvious: God doesn’t answer prayers because he doesn’t exist. Outcomes in the world always conform to the expectation that there is no deity acting upon our desires. What a relief to not have to pretend to believe such nonsense!

 

 

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The One True Church

Christians like to tell you that theirs is the only path to Heaven. There’s a little problem with that, though. Some of them think all the other “Christians” are going to hell, too! Here’s a list of Christian denominations that believe only they are “true” Christians.

Roman Catholicism. Catholics believe that they are the one true church, and that no one is saved outside their church. But you knew that. 55% of Christians are Catholic, leaving a mere billion people burning in hell if their belief is true.

Mormonism. Joseph Smith taught that everyone except faithful Mormons will be damned. That means only one sixth of one percent of all the Christians! Everyone else: toast!

Jehovah’s Witnesses. I like these folks a lot. For one thing, they like to come by for a visit. For another thing, they don’t believe in Hell (JW’s believe that if you die unsaved you just cease to exist–I agree 100% with that view!) But what I really admire is that, unlike the Catholics and the Mormons, they don’t equivocate about the “one true church” thing. They straight up own it. 7.6 million of these cats, and all of them have well-developed calves. Plus also: PRINCE.

Eastern Orthodox. These guys own it, too, but they’re kind of dicks about it. Their dickishness is, I admit, purely anecdotal on my part. It’s just that I’ve known several Orthodox believers and every one of them found a way to work it into conversation. There are 230 million Orthodox believers but–go figure–they don’t all agree on which of them is the “real” Orthodox church. In fact, a lot of them despise each other. In Russia, they used to execute each other for fun back in the 17th century. No lie!

I know there are others. Please remind me in the comments…

Deus Vult: When God Tells His Followers to Kill

crusdaePeople just can’t seem to stop killing people. Often we kill people because we want a thing that someone else wants. Like some land, or some oil, or a Greek hottie named Helen. Other times we start wars because we hate someone else. Maybe they’re a different tribe, or skin color, or have different political beliefs.

But sometimes, sadly, we start wars for no other stated reason than because God tells us to. Sure, there are probably other reasons, but when God tells you to do it, you don’t ask a lot of questions. Are we saying there were no other reasons for these wars? No, we are not. What we are saying is that the rationale for war, the story told to the people fighting it, is that it is willed by God. Continue reading

Noah’s Ark, A Story for Children

ImageOnce upon a time, God looked down on the Earth that he’d created and saw that everyone on it had become very, very naughty. He read their minds and saw that even their thoughts were naughty. This really made God mad because he loved them all and had created a plan for all of their lives, and clearly none of them were following the plan. Continue reading