This article on the Washing Post site 'Some nonbelievers still find solace in prayer' is about an "atheist" who was overweight and depressed, so he created an imaginary "goddess" he coincidentally called "God'. He prays to this God three times a day, and attributes his healing to a "miracle". This was all a fallout from joining a 12 Step program that required prayer (Don't get me started), and seems to have gotten out of hand. 

There's no way this guy's atheist, I would say he's barely agnostic. He's comparable to the vegan who has bacon and eggs for breakfast every morning.

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If a delusion works and doesn't hurt anyone, use it.

It is said that insanity involves believing your delusions are real, while religion involves believing other people's delusions are real - at least this guy's just insane, it could be worse, he could be religious.

Atheist doesn't mean you always behave perfectly rationally. It just means you don't believe that gods exist. This man prays to a god he doesn't really think exists.

It says he prays "to a very vivid goddess he created with a name, a detailed appearance and a key feature for an atheist: She doesn’t exist. While Gold doesn’t believe there is some supernatural being out there attending to his prayers,..."

This looks to me like a good example of the placebo effect. As you may have heard, the placebo effect works even if you KNOW you're getting a placebo. Maybe visualizing some deity giving him things tricks his mind into going after them, better than just meditating or positive self-talk would. It's the power of positive thinking, but from a different angle.

In the comments on this blog about the same article, numerous atheists say they talk to their mother or father who is dead, and sometimes "hear" advice from them, even though they don't believe their mother is really there somehow.

As I transition from Christian to atheist, I've often wondered if it wouldn't do me some good to start praying again. I'm glad I'm not the only one thinking that.

RE: "as long as it is not hurting you  or someone else" - Interestingly, Terrance, you hit on the only rule I ever had, when raising my children. I told them, you may do anything you like, as long as you don't hurt yourself or anyone else. It took awhile though, for them to see how some things hurt others. A couple still haven't figured it out entirely.

Indeed. This is the only reasons atheist groups exist at all. We don't form "a-unicornist" groups full of people who don't believe in unicorns. If those who believe in unicorns were forcing their beliefs into science class, advocating against some helpful laws based on their belief, or threatening those who don't believe with persecution and damnation, I suspect we would form a-unicornist groups pretty quickly.

I believe the crux of this , is that Gold is involved in a 12 step program for food addiction . The things all twelve step programs have in common , is that they are heavily religious , ( 5 of the twelve steps involve a supernatural entity ) , and they prey on people at their most distracted and vulnerable . This gives the twelve steppers a ready supply of individuals in weakened , anxious , sometimes terrified states , in order for them to pressure and cajole these poor devils into following their ridiculous , non scientific , non evidence based beliefs . There is no middle ground with these people . The chapter for agnostics in the AA book , can be summed up as , " Stop doubting and believe ! " . Absolute bullshit . It's absolute bullshit because , after going through all that crap , 12 step programs have no better success rates than stopping ( whatever it is one is trying stop ) , on ones own ! That's a whooping 5% success rate , folks .

 The guys (Bill W and Dr Bob ) who founded AA were christian, but they stumbled upon something that cuts to the core of addiction. Addicts sink into a twisted world view built on paranoia, distrust, selfishness. shame, egotism and denial that provide them with an excuse to justify their addictive behaviors. Many of the 12 steps encourage recovering addicts to shed the negative narcissism and to shift their view to recognize and accept that events they cant control.

The praying atheist could be a fiction created by christian apologists, or even an atheist mocking the religious leanings of the 12 step programs.

Where is your evidence that this , rather than scientific , evidence based , medical therapy for addiction works ? AA does not work . The last time they released any records to the public , ( 1988 ) , their success rate was less than 5 % , which in actuality , is worse than the success one would have if they stopped on their own . This is the reason they no longer release records . AA and other twelve step programs have done great harm by impeding scientific , evidence based , treatment strategies that actually work , in order for them to promote their cult . Let me ask you , what other medical therapy regiments have remained static and unchanged since their inception in the 1930's ?

There is such a thing as an atheist church, complete with pastor, pews, and passing the plate.

Personally, I don't think this helps the cause.

I think beer and pizza may be part of the Communion ceremony - it transmogrifies into the body and marinara sauce of the Flying Spaghetti Monster --

I must go and buy some rare stamps for my stamp collection that I don’t have.

You must be an aphilatelist.

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