Posted tagged ‘Prayer’

Modern Day Witch-Hunt in Polk County, Florida

05/08/2011

Let’s imagine for a moment you have a daughter, Bethany, in high school with an absolutely clean academic and disciplinary records. One night, over dinner, Bethany reveals to you that her teacher, Mr. Duff, has been giving A’s to students who don’t deserve them and provides you with copies of the work in question as proof. First thing the next morning, you speak with the principal, Ms. Bolland, to see that this matter is dealt with. Giving better grades to students that don’t deserve them is not only a disservice to the student who received the better grade, since they’re ultimately unprepared for the next year, it is a disservice to the tax payers, because they are paying for a dishonest and poor educator, and to every other student in the school, since they earned their good grades the right way.

Later that week, you receive a call from Ms. Bolland with some upsetting news: Bethany has received detention. According to Mr. Duff, Samantha, one of Bethany’s peers, accused Bethany of smoking a cigarette behind the school during lunch. Bethany did no such thing. Mr. Duff is punishing her even though no one actually saw this and even though Samantha has a somewhat of a well-known grudge against your daughter and an ulterior motive in making these allegations. The following day, Ms. Bolland calls you again but this time with some news that is significantly more frustrating: Bethany is being punished with a week of in-school suspension. The allegations against your daughter have no evidence aside from hearsay. It’s clear Bethany is innocent of the things she’s been accused of. Mr. Duff is furious with your daughter for the trouble he sees Bethany as being the cause of (when the blame rests squarely on his shoulders for forging grades in the first place) and has no problem abusing his authority in getting some revenge.

This situation is analogous to the one EllenBeth Wachs, Lakeland’s most noteworthy atheist, finds herself in. She’s suing the city of Lakeland for their exclusively Christian “pre-meeting” prayers as well as potentially pursuing the same against the Polk County School Board for the same reason. Ms. Wachs has also drawn attention to Sheriff Grady Judd for his act of donating county sports equipment to eight Christian churches. This sports equipment had been refurbished with money from a county credit card, coordinated by Polk County deputies who were working on the taxpayer dime, as well as cost taxpayers in less obvious ways like the cost of fuel spent transporting said equipment and the inmates who were going to install the equipment, and etc.

EllenBeth Wachs has angered many local officials and they’re taking whatever opportunity they can to hit back at her by arresting her on trumped up charges and allegations. For a brief rundown of what Ms. Wachs is facing, read here, here, and here.

The Earthquake and Tsunami in Japan…

03/11/2011

Dead Bodies Wash Up On Japanese Shore

I propose we perform an experiment with Japan. Cease the clean-up. Cease the relief efforts. Cease trying to cool down the nuclear reactors that threaten to turn the entire island of Japan into a veritable Chernobyl.

Everyone…everywhere…pray.

From 8am – 9am we'll pray to Jesus. If Japan returns to the state it was in before this disaster, we'll have evidence for 1) prayer and 2) Christianity. From 9am – 10 am we'll pray to Allah. If Japan returns to the state it was in before this disaster, we'll have evidence for 1) prayer and 2) Islam. And etc… until we run the entire gamut of theism and find (A) the one, true religion or (B) that no religion is true.

Because then the real fun begins. If we discover the one, true religion, we can direct our collective outrage at the appropriate deity. We can start asking tough questions. "Why did you let this happen? What's the point of all the suffering? Because Japan didn't worship you? Because parts of the US tolerates homosexuality? Because there are atheists? Because you missed performing genocide so much but decided another global flood was excessive?"

Or, we'll all have conclusive evidence that either no god exists or that if one does, he doesn't give a shit and no matter how much you pray, he's not listening, at least not with the intent of helping. We can all finally move on from the bullshit. We can stop offering up empty words and fooling ourselves that we've actually contributed to feeding, clothing, and sheltering those that have lost anything and everything.

But of course I offer this up in jest. Past experience shows us nothing will get done unless we do it ourselves. And deep down we all know that.

“I get letters constantly from people saying, “Oh, God will look after it.” But He never has in the past, I don’t know why they think He will in the future.”
– Bertrand Russell

The “Power” of Prayer

08/13/2010

Far too many believe in the “power of prayer” when there is no reason, and more importantly, no evidence, to believe such a thing.  Studies have shown there is no advantage to prayer; meaning the odds of “success” are the same regardless of how much prayer is done, how many pray for it, and where the prayer is offered.  That is not to say that prayer is not completely without benefit.  Praying can be a very cathartic experience and provide those who are in need with a feeling of relief.  And no, the benefit of a catharsis does not prove a god is real.  Prayer is cathartic in the same way that young children and their imaginary friends are; both are ways of releasing pent up emotions.  Anyway, the lack of statistical significance in support of prayer does not mean that there is not a god; it just demonstrates the non-existence of a personal god. 

Unfortunately, logic does not sway those with faith when it comes to matters of faith.  That’s a shame and I’d like to ask those of you who buy into the notion of prayer a few questions so you can hopefully “see the light.”   Whose prayer would you answer: the prayers of an adolescent who wants her severe case of acne to clear up before school picture day or the prayers of another adolescent who lost her vision and wants it back?  Obviously, any decent, rational person would answer the latter.  Why hasn’t any god?  What would be stopping us from answering the prayers of both adolescents?  What’s stopping a god?  If you believe in prayer it should trouble you that your god won’t heal any of the amputees, the mentally challenged, or the blind but takes the time to make sure you’re “blessed.”  Would you take the time to make sure you were “blessed” while refusing to answer the prayers of the hungry, the sick, and the poor?