Praying Won't Do Shit!

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Comment by Dr. Bob on September 30, 2013 at 2:54pm

So very simplistic.

If we get people to come together as a community for one day a week, to change their behavior from ordinary selfish pursuits and instead to focus for an hour or two on being a community, on listening to lessons about kindness and generosity, on personally focusing on the needs of others and wishing them well, do you really believe that has no psychological effects?   We see all kinds of positive effects in organizations from ongoing weekly professional development experiences, even though those are mostly sit-on-their-butt learning sessions.

So if we're really interested in evidence-based claims, the question you have to address is why religion would be uniquely ineffective when other forms of social gathering, professional development, and meditation are effective.   I don't think you've got evidence to support that claim.

So absent any evidence to the contrary, we should probably conclude that it's quite likely that prayer does do shit.   Like any personal discipline and community endeavor, it changes the people who participate.  In fact, I believe there's some evidence to suggest that the religious are actually more generous with their donations of both time and money to charity.

Comment by kris feenstra on September 30, 2013 at 6:04pm

"So very simplistic."

It actually is, which makes it hard to believe you managed to shoot past the mark toward defending something not under fire.

Prayer is much like flames pained on the side of a race car: they can create an image of speed and perhaps make the driver feel good about their vehicle, but ultimately it doesn't make the car go faster.

In saying 'praying won't fix shit', it seems rather clear that the image is talking about the direct impacts of prayer towards solving problems and not incidental benefits which could likely be achieved through other means.

Comment by Strega on September 30, 2013 at 6:08pm

There is also the potential that the people attending the religious two-hour session can feel that they've done their bit for their religion, and can go back to living entirely selfishly for the rest of the week.  I'm pretty sure prayer does do shit, but literally so.

Comment by kris feenstra on September 30, 2013 at 8:16pm

Delightful Angela. Is this were we sit back and tell you what a unique snowflake you are? A rebel freethinker not tied down to any groupthink? 

There are atheists who aggressively try to convert theists to atheism, certainly, but you're trying to link two vastly different things in lumping it with prayer. First, there is no similarity between the acts of converting theists to atheism and the act of prayer apart from the fact that these are things which people do. If you wanted a parallel of this atheist behaviour in theists, it would be - real shocker here -- converting others to religion for which there is a deep, rich history with many faiths. Both sides will have members who attempt to convert others, and also a great many who don't really give a fuck that much one way or the other.

Second, converting theists is not part of atheist doctrine, dogma or lore largely because there is no such thing. Prayer, on the other hand, is enshrined in different ways for many different religions. It's not just something theists do on a whim, but rather part of their faith (well, it can be done on a whim too, I suppose).

When I say 'there is no such thing' regarding doctrine, dogma, and lore, I mean that in the context of using words by there actual meanings instead of heavily diluted equivocation for the sake of specious comparisons.

If you want to demonstrate "same shit different smell", try not being so damn superficial about it.

Comment by kris feenstra on September 30, 2013 at 8:25pm

We know that Hitler and his cronies were psychopaths - but no - that information wont do because you like to blame him on the religious.

I don't think you really understand the progression here. Hitler has often been used as an example of the evils of atheism. When Benedict XVI tried to play this old card, there was a backlash of criticism addressing the fact that Hitler was, by all visible indicators, Catholic himself, and that Catholicism was far from the staunchest critic of Nazism as it rose in Germany.

Comment by Yahweh on October 1, 2013 at 4:24am

Praying is actually a great way to pretend you care, When someone hears about a guy who prays for people. They would think,"wow what a pure hearted guy praying for people he doesn't even know! Let's give him an award!:

Comment by Keenan Fry on October 4, 2013 at 7:47am

I don't know.. let me pray on it and get back to you.


Comment by Erock68la on September 2, 2014 at 3:33pm

@ Dr. Bob

There's no doubt it does some good for the people doing the praying, especially if they don't think too deeply about it.  They feel like they really care and they feel like they are good people who are actually doing something to help.  I'm sure that gives them a psychological boost and a warm fuzzy feeling.  Unfortunately, it does fuck-all for the person or situation being prayed for.  And that's the point.


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