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20 October 2006 @ 10:04 am
The Impotence of Prayer  
Inspired by faith-based Mets fans...


Okay. Does anyone else think that praying for a sports team to win is retarded?

Granted, I don't have a high opinion of prayer in general. In life, it's natural to feel afraid or uncertain about the world around you, or to want to do something to bring fortune to you and yours or avert a disaster (say, an incurable disease) that you otherwise have zero control over. The solution to this is to build a strong support network of friends and family who stand with you in thick or thin, and to do all you humanly can to prevent the curveballs life throws us from hurting you too badly (put away some money for a rainy day, take good care of yourself, etc.). The solution is not to sit on your ass and ask a nonexistent magical sky person to do all the work for you. You might as well ask your security blanket or childhood teddy bear to get rid of your problems- because, as James Randi once wrote, that's all a deity is: "a security blanket that children carry into adulthood."

You may say, "Well, I do all that I can, but I supplement that with prayer. God's not just going to give you a million dollars, but he might if you work hard enough." Well then, how do you know the prayer is doing anything? If you're taking care of things on your own, do you really need prayer? Do you think maybe it's just a superstition that you're afraid to shed? Are you really afraid to think that, just maybe, you're capable of tackling the world all by yourself? ;)

Okay, back to sports. Where your favorite sports team is concerned, there's not a lot you can personally do to help them, aside from financially. You can buy tickets and merchandise. At game time, there's even less you can do, unless you count rooting for them. You, personally, can't make someone a better catcher or runner or whatever. But that's okay! For those who can't accept that gracefully, there's always prayer!

Now, even when I was a little Christian in grade school, I never understood how asking God for your team to win worked. I knew that, as a fan of Team X, I and many other fans of Team X might be asking God for Team X to win. But, there were bound to be people asking God for opposing Team Y to win, too. So, supposing God exists and wants to bring happiness to all his followers, what is he supposed to do at that point? Count up votes? What sort of majority is needed, a simple one or two-thirds? If there's a tie, does he make the game end in a draw? What if it's a playoff game, where the game can't end in a draw?

If you pray to God for your team to win, you must believe that God exists, listens to prayers, acts based on those prayers, and has the ability to affect the outcome of the game. But lots of people are praying for Team X and Team Y. Only one team can win- let's say it's Team Y. The praying Team Y fans seem to have been vindicated, but what about the fans who prayed for Team X? What are they to conclude? That God doesn't love them as much as the Team Y fans? WTF?

It's not just sports. There are lots of situations where conflicting prayers are going out to the Almighty. I need go no further than Israel to prove that. That's probably the most fucked-up example of it, too. The Israelis and Palestinians pray to the same god, and you know not all of those prayers are pure. If I were God, I'd be banging my head against a wall by now, realizing that this prayer system just plain sucks. If he goes by majority prayer, it's unfair to the minority prayers. If he says "Fuck it!" and just makes his own decision about how things come out, then praying is completely irrelevant, isn't it?

Back to my initial assertion: prayer for sports, or for anything really, is retarded. Want to give thanks? Thank all the people who've made a difference in your life. Want to get through a tough time? Draw those people around you, stand strong, and do whatever is in your power to combat whatever hardship you're facing. Don't ask God to be there for a loved one in a hard time, be there for them yourself. I mean, what story warms your heart more- that fifty people prayed for an ailing cancer patient, or that fifty people raised money, made cards and gifts, and visited with an ailing cancer patient? People caring about people- that's a beautiful thing. God caring about someone- how can you ever prove it?

Above all, accept that random good and random bad happen in this world, and that you won't always be able to control or do anything about it. That's just how it is. There's no higher power or "plan" that all this falls into. It's just. How. Life. Is.
 
 
 
Brandonprice on October 20th, 2006 02:31 pm (UTC)
So Brady looks at this huge black and gold house up on the hill decked out in Steeler's paraphanelia and asks St. Peter, "Why's Ben got the biggest house around?"

St. Peter chuckles and says, "No, no, that's _God's_ house."
Miusheri: steeler_dorkmiusheri on October 20th, 2006 02:41 pm (UTC)
WIN! ;D
Ellieellie on October 20th, 2006 03:02 pm (UTC)
I was just about to say that God is a Steelers fan....

God does not want one to sit on one's tush and pray for things to happen. And it's typically agreed that one should not pray for petty matters. Sports is, whether we like it or not, a petty matter. To pray for the strength you'll need to do something difficult, or for the safety of a loved one in danger, or someone you care about that is very sick... All of these are the things God would want you to pray for.

There's scripture that backs me up, but I can't find it off-hand.

There are some Christians out there that say, "Well, I prayed for this person so my obligation to them is done." They're not Christians. Sorry, they're not. A true Christian is dedicated to mission work, which means they are dedicated to good works. How else to spread the good news? A real Christian would say, "Wow, I prayed for my friend in mass and said a rosary for them, but I'm making sure I visit them in the hospital and I'll make sure that I'll donate to x-cancer society. I'll walk in x-cancer related fundraising event and work to promote awareness of the disease."

Is pray an important part of this? Absolutely. How else are you going to have a conversation with God if you don't talk to him? As silly as this sounds, prayer isn't just asking for things for yourself. Prayer is also asking what you can do to make the world better.

It just frustrates me that so many religious people are anything but. They give those with faith a bad name.

How Random Babbling Becomes Corporate Policyt3knomanser on October 20th, 2006 04:22 pm (UTC)
It just frustrates me that so many religious people are anything but

That's because there are no concrete facts. Religion is the source of all relativism (despite claims to the contrary!). With no established facts, those with lives dedicated to religion often lose any sort of compass or bearing.
(no subject) - ellie on October 20th, 2006 04:35 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - miusheri on October 20th, 2006 05:17 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - ellie on October 20th, 2006 05:34 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - t3knomanser on October 20th, 2006 06:11 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - ellie on October 20th, 2006 06:21 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - t3knomanser on October 20th, 2006 09:21 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - ellie on October 20th, 2006 09:25 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - t3knomanser on October 20th, 2006 09:27 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - ellie on October 20th, 2006 09:35 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - t3knomanser on October 20th, 2006 09:54 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - ellie on October 20th, 2006 10:01 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - t3knomanser on October 20th, 2006 10:17 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - ellie on October 20th, 2006 10:26 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - t3knomanser on October 20th, 2006 10:48 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - dulcinbradbury on October 23rd, 2006 06:07 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - miusheri on October 20th, 2006 05:29 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - ellie on October 20th, 2006 05:37 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - miusheri on October 20th, 2006 05:45 pm (UTC) (Expand)
steelerbabe777: ONOZ OMGsteelerbabe777 on October 20th, 2006 02:55 pm (UTC)
Ok, you know that I'm not a believer of "God" or organized religion, but I do believe in a higher power. I believe there is something out there bigger than ourselves, but not necessarily someone who has the power to control things based on a way someone prays or attends a church or gives money to said church.

You know how many people out there that go to church on a weekly basis, pray everyday, sometimes multiple times a day, and STILL have really fucked up shit happen to them? Cancer, fatal accidents, abductions, murders, robberies, etc...

Ohh, and don't EVEN get me started on Priests raping and molesting young boys. Seriously, how can you be a "man of God" yet do something that completely sick and twisted and see NOTHING wrong with it?!!? If this is the kind of shit that prayer and organized religion gets people, then WTF. Think that by sending your son to be a Choir or Altar boy will get him closer to God, when in reality, it only gets him closer to a fucked up adulthood after he's raped in the ass by a supposed "man of God" at the tender age of 8. Seriously, this kind of stuff is fucked up and it SHOULD open people's eyes about what religeon is really about--it's a business, just like anything else.

Back in the day, the ancient people used "Gods" to explain things they could not explain themselves. For example, if a bad thunderstorm, tornado, Tsunami, earthquake or other type of weather-related anomoly happened, they thought it was because "God" must've been angry with them. But, we know better now, the science behind why certain weather conditions exist, etc. So basically, we've debunked their whole way of thinking through science. In reality, isn't it safe to say that the people of today STILL use "God" to explain things they cannot otherwise explain themselves? Fucked up child rapings/murders, disease, famine, war, etc...."But it's all ok, because in the end, we'll have Heaven to go to, where everything is great, and there's rainbows and marshmallow clouds, and angels, and God, and no one is raped, killed, diseased, unhappy, etc..."

/My $.02
Ellieellie on October 20th, 2006 03:07 pm (UTC)
As a practicing Catholic, I would point out that the number of priests raping and molesting young boys is a small percentage compared to the number of priests that do a good job counseling their parish on the faith. That being said, as a practicing Catholic, I'd like to point out that the Church doesn't go far enough in condemning these men.

I think people use religion as a form of hope. I do - that there is something after this life and that there is some entity out there that loves the disgrace that humanity can be. But weak people think that because God will bring us to Heaven people don't have to work to stop terrible things from happening. True Christians, Muslims and Jews agree that working for peace on Earth is noble and important.
steelerbabe777steelerbabe777 on October 20th, 2006 03:50 pm (UTC)
I certainly am not trying to impune your religion or its beliefs and values. However, when I see links on Fark about Priests establishing charity contributions for those "poor, poor Priests that rape children...Gawd, how awful a life it must be to be a bad person! Here, lets let people give you money to support you for being a total asshat," that really burns my ass.

These GOOD Priests should be treating these guys as the scum they are, and trying to teach them the REAL ways of humanity and leading a good life. I find it truly hard to believe you can commit such a crime (possibly screwing up a person so bad to the point that they grow up to rape and murder children themselves), yet go take communion, confess, and it's all A-OK in God's eyes...? It just doesn't make sense.

There is nothing wrong at all with having a belief and having hope. I certainly believe in a Higher Power myself with certain limitations (I don't believe fully in anything that can't be proven, but I have my justifications for believing there is something out there greater than myself), but I can't justify going to church, putting money in an offering tray, and praying to God, and believing in the Bible and its stories when I don't have any sort of proof of its existance.

I'm definitely a skeptic. I tend not to believe in things that cannot be proven. I know it's great to have faith and that really, really comforts a lot of people, but it's just not my way.

"To the believer, no evidence is necessary. To the skeptic, no evidence is sufficient." - Randi.
(no subject) - ellie on October 20th, 2006 04:24 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - steelerbabe777 on October 20th, 2006 05:22 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - ellie on October 20th, 2006 05:40 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - steelerbabe777 on October 20th, 2006 05:46 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - ellie on October 20th, 2006 06:28 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - dulcinbradbury on October 23rd, 2006 06:12 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - ellie on October 23rd, 2006 06:14 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - dulcinbradbury on October 23rd, 2006 06:19 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - ellie on October 23rd, 2006 06:25 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - dulcinbradbury on October 23rd, 2006 06:28 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - miusheri on October 20th, 2006 05:25 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - steelerbabe777 on October 20th, 2006 05:27 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - miusheri on October 20th, 2006 05:34 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - steelerbabe777 on October 20th, 2006 05:37 pm (UTC) (Expand)
Miusherimiusheri on October 20th, 2006 04:16 pm (UTC)
LOL, awesome icon!

You could call me an atheist in that I don't believe in any particular god. You could call me an agnostic in that I don't know the intimate inner workings of the universe, and am willing to concede that maybe there is a higher power, maybe there isn't, we don't know. You could call me an apatheticist in that, overall, I don't really care either way. ;) Doesn't affect me in my day-to-day life.

But yes, I very much agree with what you're saying. Whether you're selling indulgences in the Middle Ages or asking for offerings nowadays, religion = business. And I think science will continue to explain more and more things over time- maybe even screwed-up behavioral patterns and consciousness itself (or what some people call a "soul").
steelerbabe777steelerbabe777 on October 20th, 2006 05:26 pm (UTC)
Thanks! I ganked the icon from someone on Fark, with his permission, of course...! =)

You remember that class I took, Psychology of Paranormal Beliefs? We touched on religion a time or two, but my professor said that there's no way we'd ever be able to explore those kinds of issues in the short 16 weeks we had. Which is why we just stuck to the lesson plan and watched episodes of Penn & Teller's BullShit! ;-) But anyway, he said he wanted to do a "Psychology of Religion" class because there really is a lot we can learn about religion and why people believe what they believe, but the school wouldn't allow it. They thought it was too controversial. I would've DEFINITELY registered for that class if they would've allowed him to do it...
a stunning paragon of nomenclaturesemperar on October 20th, 2006 03:42 pm (UTC)
not verbatim, maybe, this has been years
old episode of 'third rock from the sun' in which the big sister in the family/security officer/gender-confused whatever-her-name-is joins a baseball team;

before a game, they see the opposing team starting to pray and the coach huddles them up and tells them they're going to pray before the game.

she says, "So we're going to show them that our god is stronger than their god, right?"

and he glares at her, and says, "There's only one god."

"...uh... you don't see a conflict of interest there?"
Miusherimiusheri on October 20th, 2006 04:21 pm (UTC)
Re: not verbatim, maybe, this has been years
Awesome! I missed a lot of "Third Rock," but I loved Shatner as the Talking Head.
How Random Babbling Becomes Corporate Policyt3knomanser on October 20th, 2006 03:43 pm (UTC)
*kiss* How goes sweets? It's been a crazy morning with stuff not working, but things, overall, go well. *kiss*
Miusherimiusheri on October 20th, 2006 04:11 pm (UTC)
Good to hear, baby! *kiss*

Things are okay- though I freaking HATE meetings that run late ::kicks meeting people::
How Random Babbling Becomes Corporate Policyt3knomanser on October 20th, 2006 04:19 pm (UTC)
Don't we all? *kiss* I love you sweets. I'm gonna dive back into researching why this thing won't work. Curses! *shakes fist*
(no subject) - miusheri on October 20th, 2006 04:20 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - semperar on October 20th, 2006 04:30 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - miusheri on October 20th, 2006 04:49 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - t3knomanser on October 20th, 2006 05:56 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - miusheri on October 20th, 2006 06:00 pm (UTC) (Expand)
pine_island on October 20th, 2006 10:09 pm (UTC)
Does anyone else think that praying for a sports team to win is retarded?

*raises hand* IMO God has more important shit to deal with than whether or not a sports team wins a game. Glory eventually fades anyway - anybody remember Da Bulls? Michael Jordan who?

If I were God, I'd be banging my head against a wall by now

I'm quite certain that given the events of this past year, poor God probably has wood splinters protruding from his forehead from all the wall-pounding he's been doing. -_-*

People caring about people- that's a beautiful thing.

A-men, sistah.