Not So Polite Dinner Conversation – prayers and theist claims, or “again, why believe such claims?”

Prayer-vs_-DeedsIn a delightful coincidence (no gods needed), w have another Billy Graham bit of nonsense about prayer,  prayers for water in the American west, our current TrueChristian, KD, claims about how his prayer was answered, and his claims on how dare anyone bring that up, complete with indignant words on why it’s the atheist’s fault for not doing anything to help those who need help.

In Nevada, home of Las Vegas, and Utah, ground zero for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, aka Mormons, they are praying for rain.  The snow pack in the Rocky Mountains is very small and that means very bad times for farmers who need water.  Similar prayers have been offered for Texas, for the Southeast, etc, and unsurprisingly, they haven’t been answered.  Rain has indeed come to some parts but weather patterns, not gods, do this, and the drought in the southwest and west has not gone away with some divine deluge.

In Nevada,  it was a  multi-faith service, which seems to mean that they’re appealing to any god at all to get some relief.  This of course is a little odd since Judeo-Christo-Islamic religions generally insist that their god and theirs alone is real and is the one to be beseeched.  At this event, there were Buddhists, Hindus, Bah’ai, Muslims, and the various sects of Christianity doing their best to get their gods’ attention.   The one fellow, Rajan Zed,  who started this says “”When God sees (all these) leaders sitting together in unity and harmony and praying in diverse traditions and seeking common good for the entire community, God will be naturally moved to provide the devotees relief from drought so that it will not affect their quality of life, livelihood and health,”.   Mr. Zed is a Hindu believer. In that the Hindu religion can be presented as all of their gods as aspects of one god, it is not surprising that Mr. Zed invokes God and not Indra, the appropriate aspect.  It certainly does make it much easier to gloss over that “God” is not the same to all people.

According to some Christians, daring to be with non-TrueChristians  is a big no-no.  Can’t get the big guy jealous, you know.   Even Mr. Zed was a target for this, when he was the first person to be a guest chaplain in the US Senate and to offer a Hindu prayer.  The TrueChristians were horrified!  I guess when you are desperate to save your way of life, any port in a storm. It’s a shame that it’s a lot of effort for nothing.  Perhaps they’ll realize that and, in addition, that none of their gods do anything, it’s up to them.

The latest Billy Graham column in the local paper also mentions prayer.  This one is titled “Those in positions of power need prayers.”  The querent asks why nothing seems to get “better” even though their pastor prays for “our nation’s leaders” and their local government leaders.  Considering that prayer is to get what one wants, it’s not hard to make an informed guess that the querent wants their way when it comes to laws, etc and since it’s Billy, being beseeched, the querent is not happy with the current folks in power.

Billy (aka his staff) says that we should imagine how much worse things would be without those prayers.   Which begs the question, just how “omnipotent” is this being if it can’t make things supposedly so much better than *this*? Of course, BG says that God’s ways are mysterious, and that it must be intentional that we don’t see this god doing anything at all, or at least only making a half-assed effort.   We also have a bible verse quoted, 1 Timothy 2:1, where Paul says that one should pray for everyone so that “we” can have peaceful quiet lives.  This doesn’t make much sense if one also believes the bible’s claim that this god put all of these leaders into power in the first place (Romans 13 and Titus 3 which says submit to the authorities, not pray that they change), .  If that is true, why the continued need for prayers?   Incidentally, this bit in Timothy is also the chapter that has Paul insisting that no women ever have power over a man, including teach them (Christian interpreters can’t quite decide if this says man, men, or husband.).  Makes a lot of elementary school teachers quite the sinners, eh?  Also, women are only saved by childbearing, which is quite a bummer for those who can’t have children at all.

These two instances regarding prayer underline why prayer is such an odd concept, especially with the assumption of a omniscient god.  Omniscient is Latin for “all knowing”, knowing everything ever without regard for time or place.  It’s also a problem with the claim that a god has everything happening according to some master plan.  A prayer is worthless: the god already knows what the person wants and has already decided not to do it or it would have occurred without any effort at all.   If a god *needs* a prayer,  it blows those other attributes out of the water.  It needs reminded?  It needs its ego fluffed?  I’ve seen arguments that gods require prayers but don’t “need” them, which seems to be splitting more than a few hairs and seems like “do this pointless task just to make me happy”, a divine “on the truck, off the truck” exercise (a reference to the military tendency to have soldiers to do busy work).

Finally, an update on the claims of KD, my frequent TrueChristian commenter, and his wedding ring miracle.  He did answer my question on why should one believe such a claim and would he believe the claim if used to support the existence of another god than  his own, the Christian one.  He has stated that he believes that other gods exist, a fair answer since the bible supports that, as well as supporting the claims that there is only one god.  His answer isn’t a typical one but as has been noted, Christians don’t always agree on much.

He was asked why we should believe this god answered his prayer about a ring and at the same time, this god ignores the desperate prayers of the starving, dying, etc.  I noted that when I was young, I wondered why this god did not help the hungry in Sahel region in Africa. I wondered why there was no manna, no quail, no loaves and fishes.   KD answered by asking why I did nothing to help, still no explanation of why his god was a no show.  It seems that one young gal in the US was expected to figure things out and help everyone.  What can I say? No one told me that this god couldn’t do anything in some of the most Christian countries in the world so it was up to me and my Halloween UNICEF box.

There in a nutshell, we have why prayer is worthless, it makes you think you are doing something when in reality you are doing nothing but abdicating responsibility.  Do something, even if it is that UNICEF box from a girl who lived on a farm where we didn’t have much money but we were lucky enough to have food.   It’s worth vastly more than hoping your imaginary friend will do something.

As an aside,  we have even more stupidity here in the US.  Coca-Cola did a lovely, if mildly jingoistic and goddy, ad(auto launches with sound) that dared to have a patriotic song sung in languages other than American English and a gay couple celebrating with their child.  The usual suspects are being the expected twits about it.  No surprise there at all.  Sigh.

PS – the current snowy weather here:

The current Snowmaggeddon
The current Snowmaggeddon