Archive for the ‘ Prayer ’ Category

Why Praying Is Hard

It used to be easy for me when I believed that it did something useful. Then I wondered why an omniscient creator god needed to hear from me to guide his perfect plan. Then I wondered why his perfect plan included so much pain and suffering in the world. Then I learned statistics.

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On any given day there will be a sizable portion of the population of which it can be said “it sucks to be you.” It’s hard to remember that when it’s my day to have a sucky life. These days are the ones that I used to pray about. It never did any good. Sometimes, drinking few fingers of Scotch and playing with my dogs makes it better. Some days there is nothing for it but a few aspirin and more sleep than normal.

In the end, no matter what your philosophical position is, none of us have it all figured out. Some days or weeks just suck, badly.
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When that happens, I try to meditate, relax, remind myself that it will pass because it will pass. I’m not talking about first world problems or fears about imaginary things. I’m talking about real life that grabs me and shakes me and won’t let go till I somehow figure out how to solve the problem. Without a solution at hand it often enough feels like a good scotch and some tearful moments will fix things. Perhaps even an attempt to ignore them will do it. Sadly, nothing like that really works.

Instead of prayer I sit and talk with myself. Amazingly there is a sound thinking part of me willing to have the conversation. I complain and that other part of me tells me it’s just one of those days so buck up sunshine, till you do something nothing will change. It would be nice to have a skydaddy that would fix it all for me but there is none. Even when I pretended there was, it was me that did all the hard work.
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If I can do this anyone can. I’m juggling 153 things at once and I just want to put some of them down. No such luck. I just have to soldier on. Writing this is not helping me do any of them but it is allowing me to have that internal conversation that I need. Do a few more things tonight, wake up, shower, do some more of them. Keep doing that till there is room to breathe or sleep. That is all I have. It’s the only plan I’ve got. The weight on my shoulders will not go away till I shed it myself. Praying would not fix it. In fact, praying would be no more effective than me writing this post.

That’s how this nihilist anti-theist does it.

How do you deal with shitty days?

God Hears Your Prayers

Yes, I stumble across random posts by believers that are trying to give advice to other believers and it hurts. Seriously it hurts. First when my jaw hits the desk and then again when trying to do a triple face palm.

This post is a comment on one from altruisco, you might know them. He feels privileged that he can pray to a god and he is concerned that some might be discouraged when their prayers do not seem to be answered right away.

Our privilege of prayer is from God, and it is as much ours now as when it was given to Israel (Deuteronomy 4:7). Yet, when we pray or speak to the One in Heaven, there are times when He seems not to answer. There can be many reasons for this, and the Scriptures suggest why and how our prayers are being dealt with by the One who is so tender and loving, who Himself loves our communing with God the Father, for He, Himself, is our representative (Hebrews 4:15).

But don’t let George discourage you, let’s continue

A primary reason why prayer is unanswered is sin. God cannot be mocked or deceived, and He who sits enthroned above knows us intimately, down to our every thought (Psalm 139:1-4). If we are not walking in the Way or we harbor enmity in our hearts toward our brother or we ask for things with the wrong motives (such as from selfish desires), then we can expect God not to answer our prayer because He does not hear (2 Chronicles 7:14; Deuteronomy 28:23; Psalm 66:18; James 4:3). Sin is the “stopper” to all the potential blessings that we would receive from the infinite “bottle” of God’s mercy! Indeed, there are times when our prayers are heinous in the Lord’s sight, most notably when we clearly do not belong to the Lord either because of unbelief (Proverbs 15:8) or because we are practicing hypocrisy (Mark 12:40).

I’m thinking this guy has not read

Matthew 18:20 – For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them

Mark 11:24 – Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours.

Another reason why prayer seems to go unanswered is that the Lord is drawing out of our faith a deeper reliance and trust in Him, which should bring out of us a deeper sense of gratitude, love and humility. In turn, this causes us to benefit spiritually, for He gives grace to the humble (James 4:6; Proverbs 3:34). Oh, how one feels for that poor Canaanite woman, who cried out incessantly to our Lord for mercy when He was visiting the region of Tyre and Sidon (Matthew 15:21-28)! She was hardly the person a Jewish rabbi would pay attention to. She was not a Jew and she was a woman, two reasons that Jews ignored her. The Lord doesn’t seem to answer her petitions, but He knew all about her situation. He may not have answered her stated needs immediately, but still He heard and granted her request.

It’s just a shame he doesn’t answer the prayers of those parents with starving children.

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God may often seem silent to us, but He never sends us away empty-handed. Even if prayer has not been answered, we must rely upon God to do so in His own time. Even the exercise of prayer is a blessing to us; it is because of our faith that we are stirred to persist in prayer. It is faith that pleases God (Hebrews 11:6), and if our prayer life is wanting, does that not reflect our spiritual standing also? God hears our impoverished cries for mercy, and His silence inflames us with a sense of persistence in prayer. He loves us to reason with Him. Let us hunger for the things that are after God’s heart and let us walk in His ways and not our own. If we are faithful to pray without ceasing, then we are living in the will of God, and that can never be wrong (1 Thessalonians 5:17-18).

God always seems silent to starving children. He sends them to the grave empty handed and with empty stomachs. Yes, trust that your god will answer your prayer. It worked out so very well for those now dead starving children and their families. Those starving children must not have believed in god with enough fervor. Maybe they forgot to pray without ceasing.

 

 

Proof That The Christian God Exists!

Yeah, I know. That title is more exciting than this post will be. I do that a lot. Still, bear with me this is pretty close.

I’ve been thinking today about the people that tell me answered prayers are evidence of their god existing.

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I know that looks more like a collision between methane and a flame, but whatever.

I wish Christians would keep a tally of the prayers they prayed which were answered with ‘no’ or ‘not now’. They are fond of remembering the ones they think were answered with a yes but they can never tell you how many were answered with no or not now – essentially not answered at all.

Do me a favor, ask them how many went unanswered when you hear that trope.

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I’m sure you’ll get a reaction a lot like the second image.

More seriously, if supposedly answered prayers is evidence of the god’s existence via interaction with the world it should be fair to say that un-answered prayers are also an evidence of the character of any given god. That is to say that if a god does not answer should we count that as abstention or as a Fsck You. In either case it is not a positive answer.

Matt. 18:20 For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them.

Clearly the Christian god is going to hear a lot of prayers.

If that did not sink in, this means that Gov. Rick Perry got the middle finger from his god in a big way. Of course that won’t count in the tally of what evidence is. No, that was just a ‘not now’ answer.

Do us all a favor, ask those that use answered prayers as evidence for a list of prayers that were not answered. Ask for details. Those prayers too are evidence to be considered. Let’s start making sure it gets the consideration that it deserves.

When the counting is done, here’s a link you might want handy: A book on statistics

I’m not even going to make the argument that they don’t know statistics. I think that simply asking for the list will be enough to start the conversation or terminate it completely.

Give it a try and let us all know how it worked out.

 

Five Seconds Is A Long Time

Imagine if you will that you could save 5 seconds every morning when getting ready for work. Over the span of an average worker’s life that would be worth 72.222 days. Just 5 seconds per work day.

How much time do or did you spend praying each work day? How much time of each work day do you spend being angry? How much time of each work day do you spend listening to ‘that guy’ that won’t stop talking?

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I know I wasted a lot of days praying. I kind of wish I had them back. What would I have done with it or how would I have spent it? I don’t know for certain but I do think that I could have used it better. That’s not a regret per se’, just an observation on what it cost me to become an atheist. It took a long time to get here. A lot of my life was wasted on what I was taught as a child to believe.

Society, especially in the USA, wastes that time of most children’s lives. Note that they have no proof that its not a waste of time and energy and joy, they do it in case the religion is real. Oh, I know that many of them think their chosen religion is true (or the religion that their parents chose for them). That’s where it get kind of criminal and creepy. Parents are taught to waste so much of their children’s lives on the off chance that a religion that was chosen for them is correct. They do this when there is no proof that any religion is correct about anything. I added up the 5 seconds. Imagine what hours per week looks like in the long run. Just 5 hours per week spent on religion adds up to over 500 days over the span of a work career. That is easily 1% of your life. When  you spend roughly 33% of your life asleep, that extra 1% becomes a pretty big chunk because it is effectively multiplied when you consider it comes out of your waking hours. So you work 8 hours and sleep 8 hours. 3% of the rest of your time is spent on something that was chosen for you, instilled into you, wasting your life.

It’s no wonder that atheists sometimes seem angry about religion.

I Am My Own God. That’s What Kevin Says!

I found this post and almost got some drool on my shirt from the jaw dropping open. No, this is probably not good enough to make the evening news but it will do for here. The Author, Kevin we’ll call him, clearly thinks that this post of his is clever. I say that because it sure makes him sound smug. Kevin, you see, has a way with words. He also has a way with presuppositions. Let’s see what he has to say about my god.

The entirety of his post follows with some commentary:

“Well, I don’t believe in God,” a man told me one day.

“How did that happen?” I inquired.

“I did a lot of reading and came to the conclusion that God is not real and the Bible is a book of fairy tales.”

Well, this seems fairly benign, something that might happen anywhere at nearly any time. How does Kevin respond? Why, as a theological authority of course.

“So, you placed yourself as your ultimate authority in all things spiritual. Do you realize that you have made yourself your own god?”

Kevin seems to believe that his god is real no matter what the evidence does or does not say about the matter. To him there is no choice as to whether his god is real. He also knows that those other gods are false gods. He asserts that making a decision about whether his god is real or not means that you are usurping his god’s power and rightful role of dominance over each and every human. We are not to use our free will to make any decisions about the god. No. This is not permissible.

“Never thought of it that way.”

The reason that he never thought of it that way is because it is convoluted thinking. Stupid thinking. There are billions of people who think Kevin’s god is false yet they do not think they are their own god. They already have a god (which is not Kevin’s god) to worship. Surely Kevin doesn’t think he made himself his own god by deciding that all the gods which are not his god are false gods. None of that stops Kevin from continuing to assert that deciding a god is false necessarily means you are placing yourself in the high position of that god. You know, just like thinking a politician sucks at their job makes you a politician or not believing in the Easter bunny means you have to deliver all the eggs. Wait, maybe he’s on to something there?  Maybe that thought is worth a bit more thinking?

“Can you save yourself from hell?  Do you heal yourself when you are injured? Do you have control over the weather? Can you answer your own prayers?”

Here we go. Kevin wants to know if you can do all the things he thinks his god can and does do. Of course he has no evidence to support these beliefs, no evidence for hell; no evidence that his god heals the sick; no evidence that prayer works; no evidence that his god controls the weather; no evidence at all. None of that stops him from making unfounded assertions though.

At that point, he got mad at me.  But he had something to think about.  By being his own god, yet without Godly attributes (all-knowing, all-powerful and present everywhere) he isn’t being very wise.  The reality is that self has limited knowledge, limited power and is limited to being in one place at a time. Self is a pretty weak god in actuality.

There it is. Deciding that a god does not exist when you don’t yourself have godly attributes such as omnipotence and omniscience means you are not wise. This, he says, is because humans are not god-like. Clearly he believes that to make such decisions a human must have the arbitrarily defined attributes of his god. Not even Zeus is capable of making such decisions about Kevin’s god.  No mere mortal can make such a decision about Kevin’s god without presuming to be a god themselves. See the logic there? You can’t say Santa Claus does not exist without being an actual Christmas fairy. You would be unqualified to say that leprechauns do not exist unless you are an actual leprechaun.

You can’t argue with Kevin or change his mind. He is fully convinced that a god, his god, exists. Any belief otherwise simply means you are a fool. To Kevin, it’s plain as day and if you can’t see it you’re defective and headed for hell.

Atheists are nothing more than fools fooling themselves – according to the verse below. But, as a Christian I know that I can do the same thing. I claim to believe in God, but my behavior reveals the opposite.  I put more faith in myself than I do in God and I let myself down. How foolish!

Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools, Romans 1:22.

© copyright Kevin T Boekhoff

Wait. Did he try to redeem himself in the end? No. He is saying he is fooling for not having more faith in his god which simply makes the atheist even more of a fool. Kevin, like most believers, likes to quote mine. That quote above seems pretty apropos for the post but let’s look and see what Paul was really talking about in this passage:

Paul’s Longing to Visit Rome

First, I thank my God through Jesus Christ for all of you, because your faith is being reported all over the world. God, whom I serve in my spirit in preaching the gospel of his Son, is my witness how constantly I remember you 10 in my prayers at all times; and I pray that now at last by God’s will the way may be opened for me to come to you.

11 I long to see you so that I may impart to you some spiritual gift to make you strong— 12 that is, that you and I may be mutually encouraged by each other’s faith. 13 I do not want you to be unaware, brothers and sisters,[d] that I planned many times to come to you (but have been prevented from doing so until now) in order that I might have a harvest among you, just as I have had among the other Gentiles.

14 I am obligated both to Greeks and non-Greeks, both to the wise and the foolish. 15 That is why I am so eager to preach the gospel also to you who are in Rome.

16 For I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God that brings salvation to everyone who believes: first to the Jew, then to the Gentile. 17 For in the gospel the righteousness of God is revealed—a righteousness that is by faith from first to last,[e] just as it is written: “The righteous will live by faith.”[f]

God’s Wrath Against Sinful Humanity

18 The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of people, who suppress the truth by their wickedness, 19 since what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them. 20 For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse.

21 For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened. 22 Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools 23 and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images made to look like a mortal human being and birds and animals and reptiles.

24 Therefore God gave them over in the sinful desires of their hearts to sexual impurity for the degrading of their bodies with one another. 25 They exchanged the truth about God for a lie, and worshiped and served created things rather than the Creator—who is forever praised. Amen.

26 Because of this, God gave them over to shameful lusts. Even their women exchanged natural sexual relations for unnatural ones. 27 In the same way the men also abandoned natural relations with women and were inflamed with lust for one another. Men committed shameful acts with other men, and received in themselves the due penalty for their error.

28 Furthermore, just as they did not think it worthwhile to retain the knowledge of God, so God gave them over to a depraved mind, so that they do what ought not to be done. 29 They have become filled with every kind of wickedness, evil, greed and depravity. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit and malice. They are gossips, 30 slanderers, God-haters, insolent, arrogant and boastful; they invent ways of doing evil; they disobey their parents; 31 they have no understanding, no fidelity, no love, no mercy. 32 Although they know God’s righteous decree that those who do such things deserve death, they not only continue to do these very things but also approve of those who practice them.

And there it is. Because these people did not believe in Kevin’s god, Keving’s god made them murderous, lying, homosexuals… among other things. Without belief in Kevin’s god you are less than human in his eyes. When Kevin and his ilk say atheists are ‘fools’ that is just jesus-speak. They really mean that you are less than human, vile, evil, deserving of hell. They hold you in great contempt. Their polite words are drenched in pride, bigotry, and boasting.

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Read verse 22 AND 23 in its entirety: This is not talking about atheists but Kevin doesn’t want you to know that part. He thinks atheists can’t read his holy book … apparently.

Kevin and his ilk think themselves wise yet they would never dare question their god or their holy book. For them Wisdom hit its peak about 2000 years ago. For them there is nothing more, no more wisdom, no more knowledge, no new ways of solving problems.

 

Is Anti-Theism A Valid Position?

mephistopheles hesitant has a pretty decent post here in which they attempt to address, as a response, a post that was derogatory of anti-theists. I don’t want to go over the all of that territory as mephistopheles hesitant makes a fair go at it. I simply want to comment on some few sentences they used at the end. Their concluding paragraphs are below, complete, emphasis is mine.

The anti-theists have made a courageous engagement with questions about the place of religion in society. This is an important discussion that we need to have, not just because of Islamist terrorism and gay marriage, but because religious modes of thinking and being are part of our society and they compete in the marketplace of ideas. Anti-theists like to talk about religion as if it is a set of shackles from which we need to free ourselves. It is an extreme point of view, but we should acknowledge that some anti-theists sincerely want to help religious people to know that human beings are not inherently guilty, that we should not fear open questioning in the pursuit of truth, that you do not owe a cosmic debt—which you cannot physically or spiritually repay—to your Creator for a transgression you did not commit. Anti-theists are “spreading the good news” that you do not bear the mark of Cain or the stain of Adam. With this comes liberation and increased personal responsibility. If you commit an action so horrible that no person will forgive you, there is no hope of ultimate redemption. There is no second chance.

While they are not anti-anti-theist I take issue with some thoughts they have:

There are many shortcomings in the anti-theist arguments. They lack nuance. Mostly, they lack an understanding of the anthropology and sociology of religion. They’re not political science or psychology or philosophy experts, either. They’re informed citizens trying to open up dialogue about questions that matter. Is there purpose in the universe? Is there an afterlife? Is there an all-loving Creator? Do such beliefs, if false, serve any good purpose in the world? All theists have to do is actually defend their beliefs against criticism. That’s not asking much.

Now, don’t take offense at the anology but this is a lot like one of the Rabbi’s sitting down to dinner with Moses and trying to convince him that these Egyptian fellows really aren’t that bad and they deserve a more nuanced and civil discussion about the matter, and how being terse, impassioned, and sometimes angry really isn’t doing the Jews any favors. All the Jews have to do is defend their belief in freedom against tyranny. Maybe a couple of good debates or something?

I’m not anti-theist. It’s a mistake to believe ridding ourselves of religion is the only option, or the best option. It’s not practical, and people are right to sound the alarm bells of bigotry and intolerance. Anti-theists have so far been careful about walking the fine line of anti-theist and anti-Christian or anti-Muslim. GA42’s points are important to consider, because we know what happens when extreme views fall into the hands of the mob. We have to correct anti-theists when they characterize all religious people as “illogical” or “irrational” or “stupid.” We have to be wary of dogmatism and ideological homogeneity in our beliefs, theistic and atheistic.

Now, when you think this paragraph through it will make sense. Read it again, several times if you have to. What is being asked for here? Who is legislating thought crimes into law? Who is legislating oppression into law? Who is legislating theological thought into law? Don’t be bigoted toward the tyrants he asks. Interesting way of putting things. In the position of theology there is no central ground save perhaps for agnostics. A parley for compatibility is nothing less than asking the enemy to put their weapons down. We know how that works out in the effluence of human affairs. Yes, I’m sort of saying that any capitulation at all is complete capitulation. Despite the violence that religion reigns down on humanity this is not a war of attrition it is a war of ideas – once side fighting for complete dominance and the other fighting for a secular world with freedom of thought for all.

We can all improve our attitude, our tone of voice on the issue of religion. We’re perfectly capable of talking about religion without resorting to hostilities. We can have strong feelings about a subject and attack peoples’ ideas without attacking the person. Theists have long had a privileged voice in society, and my hope is that nonreligious persons will no longer feel afraid to express their beliefs openly. As obnoxious as the anti-theists are, they are affording us all the ability to be more public about our opinions on religion. We should thank them for that.

Anti-theists well can talk about religion without resorting to violence. It’s a position we’ve been forced to endure for many centuries because anything else meant death, often a horrible death. Some modern countries still have blasphemy laws that carry very harsh penalties and death. Anyone that forgets that has forgotten the lessons of war, of history, of humanity. We are still a very long way from living in a society where expressing atheist ideas is safe. To believe otherwise is to fail to understand this society at all. When it indeed is safe to talk about our thoughts on religion perhaps then it will be time to consider that more nuanced approach. Until that time theists are not deserving of a nuanced civil discourse. They will get it, but they are not deserving of it.

Hell Is Real…

It’s called Alzheimer’s Disease.

Recently I found a blogger that thinks the mind creates the brain. That person is an idiot. Watching a vivid character and mind waste to nothing is the most disheartening thing I can possibly think of. I can’t imagine the hell of not being able to remember 5 minutes ago. My mother is becoming like many animals… living only in this moment but able to remember her college GPA to three decimal places. She can’t remember what she ate last night but she can remember long term stuff like the back of her hand. It’s a torture that I can see taking its toll on her and soon on the family. If prayer would work I would pray for her. It gives me physical pain to see that beautiful woman and mind reduced to such confusion and pain. Hell is real. It is the loss of your mind.

When she faces her god, she won’t remember if she has sinned and can’t repent of them if she did. If this is a god’s perfect plan I want to beat that god to death with a hammer. This was his plan? Torture her here and then condemn her after? I really want some believer to explain their god to me now. I want to know why their god wants me to feel such pain. I want to know why their god wants to torture my mother and my family. I want an explanation or for religion to shut the fuck up. Religion has no explanation and this just happens. It is part of life and if fucking sucks. I cry for the woman who does not know what my tears are for. Tell me you religious believers, what are my tears for? What is my family’s suffering for? What part of god’s perfect plan does this support? I’m listening…

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