Home > Philosophy, Religion > Why Prayer Doesn’t Work (Part 1 of 2) — Ridiculous Rituals

Why Prayer Doesn’t Work (Part 1 of 2) — Ridiculous Rituals


Asking God for forgiveness is like apologizing for the way he made you.

Xenocrates

Did you pray today? Do you have a personal relationship with God? Have you completed your 5 daily prayers while facing Mecca? Did you repeat the requisite number of Hail Mary’s as was recommended by your priest to atone for your sins? If so, after reading this post, you can put an end to that. Now I’m going to demonstrate why it is not necessary to pray about anything.

Read more…


E-mail: accordingtoxen[at]gmail[dot]com

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  1. tulio
    September 4, 2011 at 5:15 pm

    Xen, you’ve been on a roll lately with some of your most thought provoking posts to date in the last month. I was a former believer that has lost faith due to the power of reason. In a way you really are like your Morpheus avatar blowing the doors off the Matrix. I appreciate the time you take to write these articles as I learn a lot from them. I still can’t bring myself to admit being an atheist. I don’t even know if I am one. I may be an agnostic-leaning atheist. I sincerely hope there is a God. I would like to think life goes on and that our physical death is just a transition to something else. But the type of anthropomorphic, personal God that I was raised with that “listens to our prayers” I can’t buy into. It all seems so silly now. Maybe there is a god, but that god is entirely different than what we imagine it to be. I think the strongest evidence for god is having life against the astronomical improbability of life. I really can’t wrap my mind around how this “primordial soup” born from stars arranged itself into DNA which eventually became self-aware. If there is no god, then maybe some civilization billions of years advanced from us in another dimension created this universe as an experiment. I have to believe that life was engineered. At a certain point, the believing the improbability of it happening by chance takes as much a leap of faith as believing in a god.

    Btw, I have topic suggestion for a future post. I’d be curious to see your view on why very few lifeforms are self-aware.

    • September 4, 2011 at 7:58 pm

      Hey Tulio,

      I admit, I know exactly how you feel. I was in your boots only a few years ago. Letting go of the emotional entanglement of what we grew up to love in religion is a tough thing to do. Just recognize that the reason why you are doing it is not because you were forced to, but because it no longer provides satisfactory answers. Therefore you should not feel compelled to value yourself as being a member of a group of people without knowing if group membership has any valuable intrinsic meaning.

      But what I want you to realize is that you are not required to completely dissolve yourself of your faith, nor should it be something instantaneous. That is a slow, gradual process of discovery. You can’t leap from “There is a god” to “There isn’t a god” without taking some baby steps along the way. At some point, you’ll realize that you can drop the religion without dropping the fundamental belief.

      I do believe in the god principle. I just don’t believe that god is a being. That is where I and religion part company. For while a Christian may speak of a god in human terms, I speak of a god in terms of quantum physics — and I only do that for the purposes of relating to the lay man. Otherwise, I’d talk about Higgs Bosons, WIMPs, MACHOs, Quarks and the like. The concept of creation remains. The methodology however, is how we differ.

      With that said, It is perfectly fine to stick with the belief in a god within reason (as most Deists do). Just know that you will eventually come to a point where you also recognize that the god proposition is an inherently human invention—just like the religions that are weaved around it. God is an anthropomorphism of the natural process of creation; a process we have only recently begun to understand.

      Re: Atheism

      Personally, I don’t identify myself as an atheist either. The word is really an epithet used to describe people who are thought to be ungodly, in the most derogatory sense you can imagine it, simply because they reject the traditional cosmological view as is offered by religion (which is not the first time that has happened. Remember Galileo?). However, while the term has since become appropriated by some of the most prolific thinkers of our time, it has been sullied as a rallying cry for those who are anti-religion, as opposed to those who are pro-rationality. (In case you’re wondering, the two are mutually independent).

      Atheism has become a religion of its own, becoming the very enemy they claim to despise so much. They are characterized by the angst laden, belligerent lot who while they prefer to be free from religion, are aggressively anti-faith (which is completely illogical — since no advancement in human knowledge would have been possible without faith). They routinely attack citizens of faith, using expletives, insults and other ad hominem remarks to prove a point. They are more interested in putting down believers than educating them. They are less interested in conversation and more excited about winning an argument.

      While from a technical standpoint I could be considered atheist, I’m not exactly one who identifies with that movement as I don’t consider myself to be a troglodyte — and neither should you. While I favour objective rationality over subjective mysticism, I don’t believe insulting believers convinces them of their folly.

      That’s why the more intellectually savvy among us prefer to refer to ourselves as “free thinkers” or more appropriately, “Secular Humanists“. We are people who are not fearful of questioning the mythology behind the status quo, but at the same time, we respect every man’s right to choose (so long as that choice is not explicitly dangerous).

      What I’m basically saying is this:

      You don’t need to identify yourself as an atheist. Leave that to the obnoxious lot who consider themselves rationalists. We only use the term because it is more instantly recognizable to the lay man than something as post modernist as “secular humanism”. From what you’ve written, that seems to be where you fit best (that is, if fitting somewhere is if any interest to you).

      Re: Sentience in Life

      I already touched on this in the posts called The Enigma of Life. Sentience (i.e. Self awareness) requires an immensely rare sequence of cause and effect. To quote Scotty from Star Trek, it has the same probability of “shooting a man riding a bullet with a bullet while riding a horse”. Rarity and impossibility are mutually exclusive. Just as how there is a level of cold where absolutely no energy exists (which is colder than the center of a black hole), there is a level of rarity that is so rare, that the odds of discovery is practically impossible. Sentient life is just one of those rarities. These rarities are possible simply because the universe is big enough for such a rarity to exist.

      It’s not hard to imagine that life exists by chance. Just think of it this way: If the universe wasn’t just big enough, we wouldn’t be having this conversation. 😉 Scientists call this the “Goldilocks Principle“.

      Of course, if we discover (or less preferably, are discovered) by another sentient race, then that would automatically adjust the scale of improbability (and thus, the likely physical size of the universe) by several orders of magnitude that no computer on this planet has enough memory to process. That number would be so large, that it doesn’t have a name.

      Cheers,
      Xen

  2. September 3, 2011 at 9:54 am

    Cute picture! 🙂

    P.S.
    I’d like to add – it is ridiculous even when you don’t think about it.
    🙂

    • September 4, 2011 at 4:32 pm

      LOL! I guess I was trying to be nice. 🙂

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