If my father, on his death bed asks me to pray, I will make the appearance of praying. Why would I want to leave the man I love the most with disappointment in his last moments? There are times to be right and times to be generous and good.
It's a matter of perspective. My father's expectation is that I am true to myself and not restricted to his beliefs. That's how my family is. It's an insult to the way we live to betray that. If the situation was reversed, and I was dying and he wanted to pray, the same would hold true. It would pain me less that he wanted to pray than it would that he would feel the need to conceal his beliefs and convictions to appease me. Really, in this inverse scenario, I'm the one who gets off easy. I'll be dead and done soon; he's gotta live with the aftermath.
My father doesn't pray or believe in God, mind you, but we could find analogues, I'm sure.
This falls under the assumption that he is of sober mind at the time.
I don't think there's a real analog to a God who will be waiting to reward you after you pass on.
I meant an analogue to acts of placation.
Remember the line from the Atheist Christmas Carol I posted? "It's better to be loved than to make a point."
What kind of Humanist would one be, if they denied their own father a dying wish? If it made you feel any better, I suppose you could always cross your fingers behind your back.
I'm going to be needing one of those some day, and it's going to be for a cheeseburger.
I'm not sure about the study personally, but there was an episode of "House" in which someone said there was, and we all know that if it's on TV, it has to be true.
actually there was a study that showed that people who knew people were praying for them did worse... http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2006/04/060403133554.htm
I would ask to borrow it --
Once I used a local minister as a reference. It came to my attention that every time someone called for a reference, the minister used it as an opportunity for soul saving, putting me in a rather bad light. Sadly, I see this as yet one more brick in the wall....;p)...