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Christianity Admin on 19 Dec 2006 06:15 am

Understanding that prayer is useless

This story comes from Australia:

Australia is experiencing a huge drought — the worst drought in “more than 200 years,” according to the article. It’s a bad situation: “With crops failing, farmers are struggling to meet interest repayments. Falling rural land prices and rising grain prices have driven many farmers to bankruptcy.” Entire farming communities in eastern Australia are coming unraveled.

So what are churches doing? They could actually do something useful to help the farmers. Instead, they are praying. They organized a “National Day of Prayer”. According to the article:

“We invite all Australians to express their solidarity with those who are suffering by taking a few moments to pray or to join a local worship service,” said Archbishop Phillip Aspinall, head of the Anglican Church of Australia during one set of rain prayers…

In a joint statement, church leaders have urged Australians to remember the human cost of the drought beyond its economic consequences. “We should remember the many people on farms and in small businesses who are suffering, often in a deeply personal way,” said Roman Catholic Archbishop Philip Wilson.

As rational people, it is time for us to recognize is that these prayer sessions are a total waste of time. Resorting to a superstitious activity like prayer is no different that organizing a rain dance or sacrificing a virgin to the rain gods — it is a completely useless activity. As described in this video, prayer is nothing but an illusion.

What these farmers need are rational solutions to their problems. They need grants or no-interest loans that help them ride out the drought without going bankrupt. Or they need citizens to organize large-scale donation programs like Farm Aid did in America. Or they need money to install new technology, such as that used in Israel to cope with limited water resources (see this article for a quick discussion). Or they need government help to develop new sources of fresh water (deep wells, desalination plants, etc.) that are immune to drought. Or they need programs that help them transition to new careers without becoming homeless. What these farmers do not need is large numbers of people sitting around in churches and “feeling good” as they talk to their imaginary gods. Prayer is completely useless.

How can intelligent, rational people help society to make the transition from superstition and irrationality to rationality? We need to Join Together and Speak Up. We need to state, clearly and without apology, that God is imaginary, that the Bible is repulsive and that prayer is complete superstition. We also need to call for and support rational rather than irrational solutions to problems like those faced by farmers in Australia.

In other words, when people face problems, we need to actually do something rational to solve the problems. Prayer accomplishes nothing.

10 Responses to “Understanding that prayer is useless”

  1. on 19 Dec 2006 at 10:29 am 1.Jimson said …

    The prayers give hope to the farmers and hurt no one.

  2. on 19 Dec 2006 at 10:53 am 2.Kristin said …

    Prayers may give a sense of hope, but without concrete action to help the farmers in their plight, that hope will be illusory. Allowing someone to think that prayer alone will help them in this situation in fact will hurt them if it turns out that appropriate action would have led to a better outcome than only praying.

    Related to the recent story about the family that got lost on an old mining road up in the Siskiyou mountains in Oregon, twelve years before there was a camper salesman, DeWitt Finley, who also got lost and stuck in the snow along the same road. He sat in his vehicle and kept a journal as he waited for someone to come and rescue him. Ultimately he died from starvation, but the journal records that he was relying upon prayer to send someone to save him. But he could have tried walking back to the road and following it down to civilization while he still had the energy. Prayer here in fact did do actual harm, because the hope it gave truly was illusory.

  3. on 19 Dec 2006 at 2:40 pm 3.Zing said …

    The rain will come eventually. It is inevitable. Then these Christians will then claim that their god answered their prayers, and that their prayers made the rain come. How do you fight idiocy?

  4. on 19 Dec 2006 at 3:21 pm 4.Chapter said …

    well the churches are doing “something” where you guys are doing nothing.

    Don’t like it , don’t pray and just quit bitching.


  5. on 19 Dec 2006 at 5:52 pm 5.Adam said …

    The churches are not doing “something.” They are doing NOTHING.

    Churches give money to causes all the time. That would be doing something. Prayer is totally useless and accomplishes nothing.

    If the churches were to call for a national day of prayer to the Flying Spaghetti Monster for him to bring rain, you would see how pointless praying really is.

    Giving people false hope is not harmless.

  6. on 19 Dec 2006 at 6:11 pm 6.Sam said …

    Churches pull a publicity stunt like “Let’s pray for farmers.” People come to church to pray. Church passes offering plate. Church pockets money.

    Religion is a racket.

  7. on 20 Dec 2006 at 3:02 pm 7.Loi P said …

    Like the Landmark Forum racket?

  8. on 21 Dec 2006 at 3:44 pm 8.Kevin said …

    Yes – just like the Landmark Forum. Another group that takes money and derives power from misled, delusional followers.

  9. on 21 Dec 2006 at 4:31 pm 9.Loi P said …

    “Yes – just like the Landmark Forum. Another group that takes money and derives power from misled, delusional followers. ”
    Wow, you actually responded? I was being sorta retarded. The moment after I posted it I wanted to delete it.
    Yeah, you’re kinda right though. I went to the Landmark Forum and didn’t find that it made a real big difference or anything. The teachings were stuff that I already knew.
    Want to experience the Landmark Forum’s 3 day training in about 20 seconds? Read on-
    1) Be honest (with yourself and others).
    2) Your perceptions are just that, only perceptions.
    3) Life has no purpose; you have to create your own.
    4) Don’t take too much time making decisions, just choose the one that feels the best.
    5) Sometimes you have to take what life gives you.
    I think 2, 3, 4 & 5 are common sense. 1 on the other hand, is only good in certain situations. (You should always be honest with yourself but not necessarily with other people.)
    Actually, the main problem that I had with the Landmark Forum was their obssesion with integrity. I don’t think you always have to be honest.
    What do you think though? (Sorry I made my post so long. I meant it to be only one paragraph.)

  10. on 28 Dec 2006 at 8:28 pm 10.Matthew Starrs said …

    Obviously you have a limited number of Aussie readers. They (of which I amone) would be quick to point out that:
    1. Your American farm Aid is abysmal compared to the way Aussies do through both Government and non-government support in natural disasters
    2. A lot of compassionate aid comes through the church for those in need both locally and internationally (about 1000% more per capita than you americans do)
    3. The idea of pulling together in prayer is as much about solidarity as it is about ending the drought. You may be able to argue that unexpected rains were merely coincidental, but there is no argument that the outpouring of moral, financial and social support has increased due to the efforts of these organisations.

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