Praying Atheists

You read that right. Praying. Not preying. Just to let you know.

The clever Lisa Morguess also shared this article from The Washington Post, “Some nonbelievers still find solace in prayer.” (Thanks, Lisa!) I think you will find it interesting, too.

Let me just give you the gist. Some people call themselves atheists. And they still pray.

“Four years later, Gold is trim, far happier in his relationships and free of a lifelong ennui. He credits a rigorous prayer routine — morning, night and before each meal — to a very vivid goddess he created with a name, a detailed appearance and a key feature for an atheist: She doesn’t exist.

While Gold doesn’t believe there is some supernatural being out there attending to his prayers, he calls his creation “God” and describes himself as having had a “conversion” that can be characterized only as a “miracle.” His life has been mysteriously transformed, he says, by the power of asking.”

Mystery? Miracles? Gods? What the hell, you might be thinking (I am)? I mean, this guy prays AND he prays to yet another (pretend) god(dess) for help. This whole thing doesn’t make sense. Mr. Gold claims his life has been “transformed….by the power of asking,” but who or what is he asking if he doesn’t believe in the reality of his goddess? 

Gold’s ideal object of worship–because all atheists have ideal gods and goddesses– “…is embodied by a female image he began drawing decades ago, a 15-foot-tall goddess…” Do you think his goddess looks anything like Jennifer Aniston? If so, perhaps he’s confusing praying with having a fantasy. (I’m already suspicious.)

Isn’t Mr. Gold doing exactly what believers have been doing for thousands of years: creating his own personal god? Because, not having a picture, not even one drawing of this legend named god, means that everyone has a unique image in their imaginations of what he/she/it looks like. Naturally, your personal genie lives to serve you and grant your wishes: just ask. 

Wait a damn second. Is this how Siri was born from Steve Job’s Buddhist mind?  

Now. I’m not trying to poke fun at the vestiges of anyone’s faith. Truly, I’m not. I just don’t understand. This whole thing sounds like one big hangover. You know, after you’ve had too much religion, you’re stuck with the effects long after you’ve stopped partaking.

In some ways I can relate, so get ready to throw stones. I still say goddamnit and god bless you and OH MY GOD! But that’s more of a language thing–you keep using the same words and saying them in the same way that you were brought up with. Hence, I say “wooder” while some of you say “water.” I say “soda” while some of my Texas friends say “Coke.”

This isn’t that kind of habit. This is how Mr. Gold is comforting himself, this is how (he thinks) his goals are accomplished, his desires are filled (again, the Aniston fantasy?). He’s hanging on to the “power of prayer” because he believes it works. For those of us less comfortable with usurping religion’s rituals, we might meditate  for a sense of peace or just to focus our minds or to calm ourselves.  And this is a dilemma we’re all faced with when we lose our religion: how do we comfort ourselves and those we love when we were used to leaning on god, on seeing heaven as one big carrot . 

I suspect Mr. Gold–and those like him–are not really atheists.

The thing is, you and I know that our religious hymen is now broken, and it cannot be fixed. So there’s no chance we’ll ever find God again, not even in a foxhole. For Mr. Gold this is not the case: he says he is “….open to someday changing his mind about the existence of God,” which suggests to me that he has not gone all the way. He’s still clinging to his virginal hope that he’s wrong. God might not be man-made character like Mickey Mouse or the Grim Reaper. Christ might have been spawned from an all-powerful, all-knowing deity in the sky (or wherever his address is). There might be things like virgin births and miracles and magic.

“It’s only been recently that people who are atheists said, ‘One can do spirituality in an atheist context,’ ” Melton said.

Pffft. Isn’t this just stripping religion naked, removing all of its accessories and then having your way with what is left? You want to keep  “spirituality”? Fine. It’s now yours. When you’re no longer a card-carrying member of a church, you’re free to do whatever the hell you want, believe whatever the hell you want. But that doesn’t make you an atheist.  Atheists don’t believe in prayer, miracles, superstition, fate and goddesses that aren’t real who still grant your requests. (I know, you and I call him Santa.)  

I do understand that there are times when we must shower in a prayer–when we are in mixed company: at Grandma’s for Thanksgiving, at a wedding or at a banquet. And we should be respectful of others while they pray. We can even offer our own “blessing,” if we must, showing our gratitude to those around us and for the time we have together. But holding onto prayer and a god-figure as a ritual and as a solution seems to redefine atheism. And if atheists pray to some imaginary goddess, then how are they different from Christians who pray to an imaginary god?

What do we call ourselves now? Non-praying atheists? Atheists without imaginary friends? Orthodox atheists? Wait, what?

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59 responses to “Praying Atheists

  1. I think that more people need to learn how to do basic meditation or “take a few deep breaths”. People say they feel better after they pray and I am sure they do, but it is because they stopped and took a moment to gather their thoughts. Not because a god sprinkled magic happy dust on them.
    At meals, both my boys know exactly where our dinner came from. From the volunteers at the coop who planted, tended and harvested the crops to my husband making money for us to buy it and then me spending time preparing it. We dont pray to a god thanking it for our meal, we take pause to remember how much actually went into that meal. Not that some god “allowed” us to have it.

  2. @Family of 4, my thoughts exactly!

  3. That is strange. I mean, there are times that I definitely “pray” because I’m frightened and I don’t know what else to do. Like, say, when my child is very ill or even just before a major test. But I’m not praying to anything in particular when I do this. I know that if my child recovers, it is almost certainly not because some mystical creation intervened, but because either doctors with incredible skill healed her or the amazing power of the human body helped her heal herself. If I pass the test, it’s probably because I studied.

    I think a lot of atheists and agnostics do this – it’s a psychological gut reaction to beg for help when you have no other option and feel helpless. And I know that meditating and guided imagery can do wonders for relaxation and general peace of mind and health. The difference comes in whether this is just comfort (I imagine angels comforting me) or I believe the angels are real (I know the angels comforted me.)

    So it’s not all cut and dry. I wonder if possibly this is what happened to Hubbard and his followers? He thought of what he wanted in a god, he made it up, and then he started to believe in his own creation – or, at least, he got others to believe in it. There is a YA book called “Godless” that I highly recommend. A frustrated Catholic boy cooks up a new religion worshipping the water tower as a joke, but his friend buys into it a little too much. Much food for thought there.

    • @alice – I’m the same way. Not technically ‘praying’ and certainly not addressing anyone in particular in times of stress. I like to think of it more like putting positive energy out there and also making myself have a more positive outlook. Sort of like taking a deep breath, having a internal discussion and choosing to tell yourself that yes, things will be OK. :)

      • That’s a good way to look at it. I’ve found the meditation in yoga to be very relaxing. Once you manage to relax and quit thinking of everything. It’s certainly impossible to do if you are praying out loud where everyone can hear.

  4. @alice: “He thought of what he wanted in a god, he made it up, and then he started to believe in his own creation – or, at least, he got others to believe in it.” You just defined Christianity.

  5. I don’t get making up a person or thing to pray to, because that does still ring of praying to God. I do see value in morning and evening “sessions”. For me it is more about talking things through in my mind. People may call it prayer or meditation, but for me, it is about getting clarity. I believe once we get thoughts outside of ourselves either through writing, speaking, or meditation, the problems become smaller and we are able to see solutions.

  6. I really think this is just a way for the person to get into a meditative state. I have done hypnosis and guided imagery and you can be living in this fictional story momentarily and you know it is fiction but it still helps. For this person, it helps to have the whole story around his meditation. I see nothing wrong with that and am convinced he really is an atheist.

  7. LanceThruster

    I’ve heard it described that prayer is just a consolidation and expression of your hopes and desires and that there’s value in your focusing on them.

  8. Sam Harris has spoken at length about the idea that religion has basically monopolized the market on mindfulness, meditation, prayer, and self-reflection such that a lot of people can’t manage to think of one without the other.

    But in this case, I’m reminded of those e-cigarettes. There might be some differences from the real thing, but they sure as hell look the same from a distance.

    People like Gold, in my opinion, are scratching their religious itch in the same way as every other believer; the only difference, as you pointed out, is that he’s eliminated the dogma and structure of organized religion. It might be true that he doesn’t actually believe in the god he’s praying to, but the fact that he’s directing his thoughts toward some sort of external being means that the underlying psychological framework is exactly the same as every other believer.

    I don’t know. These folks can do whatever they like, I guess. I just worry sometimes that articles like this will only serve to embolden those intent on discrediting atheists and atheism by giving them something to point to and say, “See? You still need god!”

    • LanceThruster

      I remember a southern ex-GF expressing on many occasions, “I’ll hold a good thought for you.” I often find myself, when riding on public transportation and seeing the various expressions on the faces of fellow passengers, making a silent “wish” that I hope everyone has a good life, overcomes whatever obstacles and adversity they’re dealing with, and finds joy in life for themselves and the ones they love.

      Philosopher once said, Cosmic consciousness is the feeling that you love other people…but can’t explain why.”

      • LanceThruster

        s/b — Philosopher Alan Watts once said, “Cosmic consciousness is the feeling that you love other people…but can’t explain why.”

        • @LT Philosopher Alan Watts once said, “Cosmic consciousness is the feeling that you love other people.but can’t explain why.”

          I feel this sense of unexplained “love” quite often, even sometimes to my surprise. Yesterday, in talking with my Mormon neighbor. She seemed so vulnerable, and she’s always a little frenzied with all the kids she has to herd and watch. Yet she’s always smiling, and that spirit of trying to be happy with the hand she’s dealt is moving. When I see strangers do nice things for each other, I feel that sense of love for other people. Don’t you?

          I think that Charity expresses this sentiment, too–that you love your fellow man simply because they are with you on this path. (Sorry, Charity, hope I’m not putting words into your mouth.)

      • @LT Ooops. Going backward in my inbox, and just came to your first comment about traveling on public transit and hoping that everyone “has a good life.” Very, very nice…

    • @Senator Jason I like Sam Harris and a lot of what he’s written, but I never agreed with his stance on meditation and spirituality because I think he is just holding on to more mysticism.

      I agree with you and worry about this, too: “These folks can do whatever they like, I guess. I just worry sometimes that articles like this will only serve to embolden those intent on discrediting atheists and atheism by giving them something to point to and say, “See? You still need god!”

      • I’ve heard Sam admit that he probably clings to the possibility of “woo” a bit more than his associates like Krauss, Dawkins, and Dennett (admitting the remote possibility of reincarnation, for example) … but I’ve taken a different message from him about meditation. A least from what I’ve seen of his talks, he makes an effort to separate the practice of self-awareness and mindfulness with the religions that tend to use them for their own purposes. One of the videos that somes to mind is called “Death and the Present Moment”. It motivates me to start meditating, but like so many other things I haven’t gotten around to it. Oh well, I plan on living forever anyway; I have the time.

  9. Hi Debbie,

    As always, you never disappoint me on your topics.

    I don’t pray at all. As a Christian I was a prayer-a-holic. No lie! I would pray over every single thing! I would pray for my parents, my sisters and their families, my husband, my kids, my neighbors, friends and strangers. I would pray about the weather. I would spend all day trying my best to bless people and or pray for God to bless them, even those meanest to me. I prayed for protection and good health for all of the people mentioned above, as well as for everyone’s homes, property, cars, schools, and businesses. You wouldn’t know it by looking at me now, but I would fast and pray. I would pray in tongues under my breath in a confrontational situation. I would pray in tongues out loud in the privacy of my own home or in a congregation that welcomed it with all things Pentecostal. I would pray for my husband to be before I even knew he existed, as well as the children we would some day have before I was ever pregnant. I would pray for churches, ministries, nations, governments, the abused and the abusers.

    Now I escape to the bathroom away from the kids when Mr. Amazing is at work, and I simply tell myself “Char, get your shit together!” whenever there’s a “crisis”. I often go into tough girl mode when drama happens, and evaluate what has happened, is happening, and what I can do to “make it work” as Tim Gunn would put it. If my husband is home, he and I talk about how to resolve an issue, and where to begin. It’s amazing to me how some things (some, mind you) are really not as difficult as they may seem at first.

    So, NO, I do not pray anymore, I let common sense, reality, empathy and research dictate how I deal with the unexpected and with others. As an atheist, I have no desire to re-connect with my past emotional state. I have a hope, and determination to move on and not fall behind.

    • @Charity And you never disappoint me on your insights and comments….It sounds as if praying took A LOT of emotionally energy and that you carried people’s concerns on your shoulders.

      Focusing your efforts here, on this planet, on the people who can make a difference must feel very empowering now.

      • Debbie, it really is empowering, you totally hit the nail on the head! I really am much more present now with my thoughts, deeds, husband, kids, and basically, everything else. I hope my comment did not offend our community, Christian and otherwise. I didn’t mean to belittle anyone who prays or meditates. After sharing so much of myself with others here and across the web, I hope your readers can understand my point of view. As usual, Debbie, you get my approach.

    • OMG Charity! You just described my former “life of prayer.” Yea I’ve been there too. For decades, I lived my life in that same state of perpetual prayer. I don’t think anyone would take offense from the way you described yourself and how you used to live. Your description was sincere, transparent and completely honest in a sweet way. Well said, Chickie!

      It’s not that atheists don’t “care” about others! I believe that love for others, and genuinely wanting the best for everyone, is very unselfish. And it’s the way I choose to be.

      • Hey Shelley,

        I haven’t heard from you in a while, I hope all is well.

        Yeah, as the oldest of seven daughters, and a stay at home mom of two little boys, I often carried the burdens of the world on my back. Christianity was awfully miserable and I have no regrets in walking away. I don’t miss church, prayer, the Bible or anything else Christianese. I am me, and I am who I am as I work on what I neglected for 39 years. It’s only been a little over a year of being religion-free, but I am enjoying everyday as I go through the process!

        Hey, aren’t you the fun girl who has two Christmas trees every year? Me too!

        • Yep I still have two Christmas trees, a fun one and a fancy one! :) You and I share a lot in common. I neglected my inner peace, my identity, and walked away from Christianity – all religion – when I was 42, seven years ago. I’m the oldest of three, and it was a tremendous burden for me, especially being born into the Mormon religion (I was seventh generation Mormon). I left Mormonism in 1997, and then began my search for the “truth.” I was baptized Southern Baptist, then became active in a non-denominational Christian church, then “got the spirit” and joined a Pentacostal Holiness church. Like you, I spoke in tongues at church, at home, anywhere and everywhere… Dang. Then I became Methodist, before I finally gained some common sense. I was so tired, and disgusted by the forced dogma and the judgment. It was exhausting.

          We lost my sweet brother 18 months ago to brain cancer. He walked away from Mormonism when he moved out to go to college, and declared himself an atheist.

          Even on his death bed (literally), mom was right next to his head, talking in his ear, asking him if he “believed.” She had hounded him for months. He finally gave into her and said, “Yes mom, I believe.” I know he was just trying to make it easier on her. It still gives her relief, believing that he converted back before he died. Him doing that for our mom makes me smile when I remember it…

          • Oh, Shelley, I am so sorry your brother died. Wow, I have never had to worry about one of my sisters like that. That must have been so hard for you, especially as his big sister. You must have grieved so much. Did being an atheist, as well as your brother being one himself, help you in a unique way to mourn? Did it help you to better understand him as he was deathly sick? There must have been an amazing connection you two had, not just as siblings, but even more as a shared insight into living a godless life.
            I’m so sorry that he died so young. Thank you for sharing something so personal. I hope you continue to remember all the love you two had in every memory you made together.

          • Shelley, I am very sorry for your loss.
            What is this “speaking in tongues” thing?

            • Hello Lisa,

              For a more logical explanation for speaking in tongues I leave you with this:

              http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Glossolalia

              For me, it is a state of mind. When I was eight years old my mother led me into “the baptism of the Holy Spirit (i.e. Holy Ghost)”. According to modern day Pentecostal believers the evidence of speaking in tongues is the great witness of this experience. Oddly enough, it is not the only or greatest gift of the Holy Spirit according to scripture such as I Corinthians 13 and other Biblical passages. The apostle Paul wrote extensively about the nine gifts of the (Holy) Spirit:

              http://www.bible-knowledge.com/gifts-of-the-holy-spirit/

              Paul was also very thorough about the nine fruits of the (Holy) Spirit:

              http://www.bible-knowledge.com/fruits-of-the-holy-spirit/

              The apostle Paul was Saul of Tarsus. He was a very legalistic Jew, and the Bible first mentions him in the book of Acts in the New Testament in the Bible. (Matthew, Mark, Luke, John then Acts) Acts is the supposed first book of the Bible (after Jesus’ birth, 33 years of life, crucifixtion, death, ressurection, and ascension into heaven) of the Christian church or followers of “The Way”. You can first read about tongues in the beginning of the book of Acts where we find believers praying together in a space that is called “the upper room”. “Saul of Tarsus” at the time was a leader in the synagogue, and persecuted followers of Christ. He would oversee stonings of such people, his most famous one was the death of Stephen. Long story short, as Saul travelled to Damascus after this event he becomes a convert through a Jesus vision, and God orders a man named Ananias to disciple him.

              Much of the New Testament was written by Saul/Paul, and these were called Epistles:

              http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pauline_epistles

              Now from my understanding, his name was always Saul and Paul. If you look at his genealogy you will see that King Saul, right before and during David’s life (I and II Chronicles in the Old Testament of the Bible) was one of his ancestors. King Saul and Saul/Paul are of the tribe of Benjamin. There were 12 tribes, and they’re all descendants of Israel, a man formerly known as Jacob. Hence, the “12 Tribes of Israel” (reference Genesis, first book of the Bible). Jacob was able to have a dozen boys by impregnating two wives and their two slaves (i.e. handmaidens).

          • @Shelley I know I’ve mentioned this before, but your brother did a wonderful thing for your mom. Shows what kind of person he was.

  10. Juan Pablo Bernal

    so this guy thinks he’s an atheist just because he doesn’t believe in the christian god? well, under his definition he might as well be a muslim and still be an atheist! I also find myself cursing in the name of god every now and then, that doesn’t make me a theist either… but I also remember that “interfase” time when I was sill “officially” a catholic but quite disenchanted and critical and in the need of something to believe in.So I guess that I am a little symphatetic to this guy who is comming to terms with his lack of believing in the god he was educated to believe in. All that he needs, in my opinion, is just to open a bit more his eyes and realize that it is not necessary to beleive in any god to be happy with life the way it is. some guidance form fellow atheists might help. who says we cannot be also a welcoming community?

    • @Juan Pablo Bernal Great points. You’re saying that he just needs to let go of the rope and see that we’re here to catch him? I like this: “All that he needs, in my opinion, is just to open a bit more his eyes and realize that it is not necessary to believe in any god to be happy with life the way it is. some guidance form fellow atheists might help. who says we cannot be also a welcoming community?”

  11. I thought that article was strange, too, Deb. And I thought the same thing: if this guy believes in the power of prayer, if he’s “created” some deity to comfort him, etc., then he’s NOT atheist. He MIGHT be agnostic. But really, he just sounds confused to me.

    I can see equating prayer to meditation – perhaps to a lot of people, that’s all prayer really is – a form of meditation. But you certainly can’t meditate on someone else’s behalf, like you can supposedly pray on someone else’s behalf.

    I don’t know . . . I do think that sometimes, in times of grave distress, I find myself engaging in some sort of silent bargaining with the universe. When my husband was diagnosed with cancer, when my newborn son needed major surgery, I found myself pleading internally, “Please . . . please . . .” But I wasn’t talking to god, or even really the universe. It’s probably a vestige of my old Christian faith, but really was just a self-soothing exercise.

    Anyway, the human mind and heart are certainly strange, aren’t they?

    • @Lisa For sure, “Anyway, the human mind and heart are certainly strange, aren’t they?” They are a little intimidating with the secret and undiscovered knowledge they hold.

      I do understand why people pray. But as you said, not sure that you can hold on to praying to a deity and call yourself atheist. I consider myself agnostic, but I don’t believe in god. I just didn’t like the certainty and the negative associations that atheism has now.

  12. If only people believed in themselves and those around them – it really is enough!!

  13. It strikes me as a sort of meditation for him, and if it works for him, so be it. He sounds more like an agnostic than a true atheist, but such distinctions get very blurry. I try not to put such labels on others, and hope they’ll accord me the same respect.

    I quibble with your talking about us “losing our religion.” I never had any religion to lose. I was born without belief, an atheist at birth as we all are. No one ever sold me on a belief in the supernatural, so I remain an atheist.

    Also, I believe there is a distinction between religion and spirituality. I am not religious; I am very spiritual.

    • @PiedType, I agree that we are all born without belief. I think the reference, “losing our religion,” however, refers to many of us who were at one time indoctrinated into a particular religion and then eventually “lost” that religion or belief.

      I’ve never honestly understood what “spiritual” means. Would be interested in an explanation from someone who holds themselves out to be “spiritual.”

    • @Piedtype I had actually written a line in there for people who never had any, but took it out because regardless of whether you were brought up in religion or not, as a humans we still have to find ways to comfort ourselves.

      We are not born as atheists, but simply without belief. Atheists reject the idea of god, which means they’re already aware of “his” existence. You wouldn’t be able to identify as an atheist until you understood these concepts.

      As Lisa said, I’m not clear about the whole “spiritual” thing either. An explanation from someone would be great….Spirituality, to me, implies belief in the idea that the spirit or soul is a separate and unique entity from the body that can also be removed and shuttled some place else….Anyone want to clarify?

  14. “I have been driven many times upon my knees by the overwhelming conviction that I had no where else to go. My own wisdom and that of all about me seemed insufficient for that day.”
    ― Abraham Lincoln

    I think this quote defines prayer pretty well, and actually ties in with what a lot of non-believers have said in these comments. The comments on this page seem to suggest that MOST people (believer and non-believer) have a natural urge to “ask for help” or “plead” in desperate situations. Similarly, I’m sure most see their sleeping child in their crib and whisper “thank you”. Is this prayer? Or not? Why is this the “natural” tendency of humans? Or has society created this habit?

    I don’t know the answers to these questions I ask. For me personally, these things are prayer and I am directing them at God. But for non-believers, who are these pleas, requests, or expressions of gratitude directed at? I think one of my favorite things about prayer is how humbling it is. “Help me, I’m overwhelmed. This situation is bigger than me. I don’t know what to do.” or “Thank you for this healthy baby, how can I be so lucky to have this baby?” Sometimes I feel clarity or an “answer”, sometimes I feel nothing. Either way I always feel better.

    • @Molly Good quote. Thanks for sharing.

      When I looked at my kids in the crib, I used to think holy shit, they’re so vulnerable. We all are. That does give one a humbling feeling to think how little and insignificant we are to this indifferent universe. I believe in luck, not fate. So I do use that one a lot. “I’m so damn lucky to be on this planet, in the US, at this time in history….”

  15. LanceThruster

    One comic who described what we might expect through prayer said…

    “Sure I believe in God. It’s just that my God is a capricious prick.”

    xD

  16. This doesn’t really bother me all that much. So the guy has made up some deity he knows isn’t real. In the context of a twelve step program, it makes perfect sense. There are actually many atheists in such programs who have done the same thing. That’s one of the great things about atheism: there aren’t a set of creeds or dogmas one has to ascribe to in order to claim the moniker. I enjoyed the article. Thanks for sharing it.

  17. I consider myself Agnostic and open to any possibilities but I cannot “pray” since I really don’t know who I’m praying to. When someone is having a hard time I say “I am thinking of you and your family”. If I attend a function that requires group religious prayer I am respectful but uncomfortable and my mind wanders. All that being said, I think the definition of prayer may be more broad (e.g., Wikipedia: “Prayer may be directed towards a deity, spirit, deceased person, or lofty idea, for the purpose of worshipping, requesting guidance, requesting assistance, confessing sins or to express one’s thoughts and emotions. Thus, people pray for many reasons such as personal benefit or for the sake of others. Yoga is also a common form of prayer.”) I believe that meditation is good for body and health, perhaps this is a form of prayer? I can’t seem to find time to meditate though. :) When I was young I felt a deep connection to the earth. I could sit by a river for hours watching the bugs and wildlife. Every once in a while I’ll feel that connection again and it makes me happy and content to be on this earth. That is my definition of spirituality.

    • @blendingwords This brought back a lot of memories for me: “When I was young I felt a deep connection to the earth. I could sit by a river for hours watching the bugs and wildlife.” I lived in the northeast, around a lot of woods. I’d walk through the woods, even lie on the ground, and I, too, felt that sense of connection. There’s nothing like it. Even at night, my friends and I would lie down in the grass and just look up at the stars. Not sure my kids can feel that here were I live now–there is mostly concrete and houses and it’s hard to see stars in the cities.

  18. I am a non-believer, what most people refer to as an atheist. For me…

    mediation = prayer

    I mediate, it’s my way of clearing my mind, cleansing my “soul,” becoming in tune with my cognitive awareness, and my sense of existing. Being raised in a Christian church, prayer was instilled in me. It’s a difficult thing for most of us to just shake off, especially in times when things in life are pretty rough.

    For me, meditating – praying – isn’t asking some kind of fictional God, or Santa, for all my wishes to be granted; it isn’t me putting all my faith into a big “someone” out there who I think will take away all my pain and worries…. Meditation – Prayer – is my way of coming to an emotional place of purposefully accepting things just as they are; it’s a way for me to express my deepest desires; it’s a way for me to deal with, and accept, the painful tragedies that none of us are immune to…

    • @Shelley This is nice, “Meditation – Prayer – is my way of coming to an emotional place of purposefully accepting things just as they are; it’s a way for me to express my deepest desires; it’s a way for me to deal with, and accept, the painful tragedies that none of us are immune to…”

      Prayer is asking someone — some god or other object of worship– for things/actions/events. It’s outside of one’s self. Where meditation focuses internally and calms and soothes. It’s a way for nonbelievers to self-sooth.

      I have also read that anthropologists think that man’s early meditation in the form of chanting helped the brain evolve awareness.

  19. Mr. Gold is the type of theist who doesn’t want to have a clergy standing over him. He is a non-aligned theist, so to speak. I know a couple of people like that. They claim their are agnostic, yet they constantly talk about something spiritual happening to them all the time. I tend to lump these people in with animists and druids. The precise nature of their god is unlike that of those around them. The moment someone attribute a coincidental occurrence as a “miracle,” they are no long are or never were an atheist.

    I meditate (okay, I zone out in front of the television where all active thought comes to a halt and I cannot even tell you what I just watched). I think this may be part of the human condition. The brain needs to take a break from all the input. Focusing exclusively on one thought (like Om) or thinking of a single goal helps block the rampant amount of input that comes pouring into our brains every moment.

    Confusing a moment of serenity with a god is just whacky.

    • @Derrick….”The moment someone attribute a coincidental occurrence as a “miracle,” they are no long are or never were an atheist.” Yes, that’s what I thought, too. It’s one thing to meditate or “zone out,” quite another to be asking a goddess that you don’t believe in to grant your wishes. And then claim it’s a miracle when your wish is granted by the make-believe goddess.

  20. I always felt that…
    Prayer = asking/begging & thanking someone or something
    Meditation = looking inward & strengthening yourself to move forward
    Just like when my kids need help with their homework. If I do it for them, then It doesn’t help them. They need to pause, calm down and do it themselves to better/strengthen themselves.

    @blendingwords
    I live near the Smokey Mountains and I too have a strong connection to the earth. When I am there, deep in the lush woods, every single sense is overloaded with the energy that all of that life is giving off. It is amazingly uplifting & healing.

  21. Thanks for the info on comedian Doug Stanhope raising money for Oklahoma tornado victim Rebecca Vitsmun who told Wolf Blitzer she was an atheist on CNN. I think it is great! I just donated and the total is up to $122,615 as of right now. :) http://www.indiegogo.com/projects/atheists-unite I am proud that she had the guts to go along with what Wolf wanted her to say. I hope that i would have the guts when put in that type of position. Actually, I think now I would just laugh if asked. :)

  22. The Spiritual Pilgrim

    I said a prayer for you.. Whether you like it or not… Whether you believe it or not. I talked to Mr God about you. ;)

  23. You bring up an excellent point this this post. It makes me think of the reverse. If someone claims to believe, but they don’t practice it …. then, do they really believe. I think the world is full of people on both sides who are confused with the disposition of their belief.

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