Wednesday, May 3, 2006

The National Day of Solemn Monologues

Well, the National Day of Prayer is almost upon us. That sacred day begins, as I type this, just five hours from now. According to the National Day of Prayer Task Force’s official website, the infantile holiday “was established in 1952 by a joint resolution of the United States Congress and signed into law by President Harry S. Truman.” It seems that the National Day of Prayer is just another unfortunate product of the anti-Communist hysteria of the ’50s; you see, we had to distinguish ourselves from godless Communists by rolling around in Christianity, like a pig in the mud. After all, it was also the mid ’50s when the words “under God” were wedged into the Pledge of Allegiance.

I have nothing but scorn and mockery for the National Day of Prayer. Only in a country fully infected with religiosity would the government choose to legitimize prayer: An activity that can be defined as dropping to one’s knees and talking to oneself, pretending to speak to a higher being. Mental institutions are full of people who were institutionalized because they spoke to “people” who didn’t actually exist; why are they more irrational than those who speak to a logically contradictory deity for which there is no hard evidence? At least, in most cases, the mentally ill pretend to communicate with other people; those who pray are pretending to communicate with a Supreme Being who snapped the universe into existence.

I am very confident that the people who read this blog already know what I’m about to say is true, but I’ll make the point in any case: Prayer does nothing. It is precisely analogous to crossing one’s fingers, knocking on wood, wishing upon a star, saying “God forbid” or “God willing,” or hoping really, really hard. Not only that, it’s pathetic in the most literal sense of the word. When people pray for their goals to be achieved, they are pleading with a non-existent deity to do it for them; can one possibly engage in a more disempowering activity? A truly empowered individual goes out and strives to achieve his/her goals; he/she doesn’t whine at the feet of an alleged higher power, begging for a handout. And prayer for the recovery of a sick or injured loved one is a similar waste of time. Besides, should one really be spending time talking to oneself during what might be the last days of a loved one?

I know, in a major scientific study, prayer’s mythic power already has been disproved. But, I have a suggestion that, hopefully, will cement this. In honor of the National Day of Prayer, the United States should shut off all hospital machinery for the day, and suspend all airline security checks for the day. In their place, individuals should pray. It would be put-up or shut up time for prayer.

I wonder if the members of the National Day of Prayer Task Force are brainwashed enough to agree to suspend all hospital care for a loved one on that day, replacing traditional medicine with prayer. I wonder if they’d be willing to fly from, say, New York to Los Angeles on an airplane filled with passengers who hadn’t gone through security checks of any kind—with only the "Power of Prayer" to keep them safe. In these (admittedly extreme) examples, would the Task Force still allege that praying delivers more tangible results than crossing one’s fingers or knocking on wood?

But maybe I’m misinterpreting this. Maybe the Prayer Mafia doesn’t think praying has an actual effect on the real world; maybe they simply believe it’s a method by which to come closer to God. Of course, the atheist question is “What God?” I’ve seen no hard evidence for any God, let alone the God of a particular religion (let alone the logically contradictory Christian God). That being true, isn’t the National Day of Prayer simply a case of the federal government legitimizing via holiday a one-way conversation with an entity for which there is no evidence? And if such a characterization, indeed, is accurate…how scary is that?

I’d sooner support a National Day of Knocking on Wood; you see, there's actual hard evidence that wood exists.

12 Comments:

Blogger Drunken Tune said...

Right on, man! Finally, something we atheists can agree on. National Day of Prayer? More like National Day of Slayer! Rock on motherfuckers!
http://www.nationaldayofslayer.org/

10:34 PM EDT  
Anonymous bernarda said...

It would be more effective to have a "Salt Throwing Day", especially for religions that believe in the devil.

"Throwing salt over your shoulder is akin to blessing someone after they've sneezed -- it's a way of keeping the devil at bay while you're in an especially vulnerable moment. Depending on your interpretation, the salt is either intended to blind the devil so he can't witness your error, or keep him from sneaking up on you while you're cleaning up your mess."

http://ask.yahoo.com/20031006.html

It must work. I have been doing it since I was young and I have never been troubled by Satan. What more proof could you want?

2:59 AM EDT  
Blogger Scott "Scott Taylor" Taylor said...

I have no problem with people talking to themselves. To them, it's not a waste of time. They get the same satisfaction from it that I would get from finishing a good book(or the sense of relief from finishing a terrible book). I don't see any reason that they should stop wasting their time, it's literally telling them not to do something because it's not productive. I don't know about you, but I enjoy watching bad movies and eating food that has no nutritional value. The real problem lies with the state endoursing any set of religious beliefs over another. Complete religious freedom requires a full seperation of church and state. There are definately a fuckton of bad laws concerning free speech and freedom of religion from WWI to the McCarthy era that still havn't been lifted(someone was investigated for sedition in 2005 after writing to an editor critisizing the government...). I couldn't care less what people do on their own time, but I do when they start dragging other people into it. I guess we can agree on "Fuck the National Day of Prayer" though.

3:26 AM EDT  
Blogger Scott "Scott Taylor" Taylor said...

The real problem lies with the state endoursing any set of religious beliefs over another.
whoops, I meant endoursing any set of religious beliefs at all.

3:38 AM EDT  
Anonymous bernarda said...

"There are definately a fuckton of bad laws concerning free speech and freedom of religion from WWI to the McCarthy era that still havn't been lifted(someone was investigated for sedition in 2005 after writing to an editor critisizing the government...)."

Here is a related story from CNN.

http://www.cnn.com/2006/LAW/05/03/montana.pardons.ap/index.html

4:01 AM EDT  
Blogger Scott "Scott Taylor" Taylor said...

Covered that in the blog (;

11:55 AM EDT  
Blogger Aaron Kinney said...

Hey man, I just finally responded to you. Sorry for the delay. Let me know what you think :)

http://killtheafterlife.blogspot.com/2006/05/response-to-frances-magnificent-moral.html

2:22 PM EDT  
Blogger DoctorBoogaloo said...

Why just once a year? Why not every day? Everyone on your knees... tell Jebus where it hurts.
Maybe they should all point their Christian fannies in the air -- the way Muslims do. Then we'll have 60% of the earth's population shoving their asses skyward, communing with a non-existent acid dream.
I like the image. God, and the asses who believe.

10:15 PM EDT  
Blogger TheJollyNihilist said...

Right on, man! Finally, something we atheists can agree on. National Day of Prayer? More like National Day of Slayer! Rock on motherfuckers!

I'll tell you what, even though I'm not really a rock music fan (look at my profile and you'll see my taste runs more toward Whitney Houston and Broadway), I would gladly endorse the National Day of Slayer rather than the infantile National Day of Prayer.

It must work. I have been doing it since I was young and I have never been troubled by Satan. What more proof could you want?

Hey, I'm convinced. Thanks for the info on the "salt over your shoulder" superstition, which ranks just slightly less silly than the Christianity superstition. Speaking of blessing someone after they've sneezed - I hate doing that! Knowing where it comes from (keeping the devil at bay), I feel like an utter fool saying "God bless you." However, most people will simply think you're rude if you don't, not really caring about philosophical objections.

I have no problem with people talking to themselves. To them, it's not a waste of time. They get the same satisfaction from it that I would get from finishing a good book(or the sense of relief from finishing a terrible book). I don't see any reason that they should stop wasting their time, it's literally telling them not to do something because it's not productive. I don't know about you, but I enjoy watching bad movies and eating food that has no nutritional value. The real problem lies with the state endoursing any set of religious beliefs over another. Complete religious freedom requires a full seperation of church and state. There are definately a fuckton of bad laws concerning free speech and freedom of religion from WWI to the McCarthy era that still havn't been lifted(someone was investigated for sedition in 2005 after writing to an editor critisizing the government...). I couldn't care less what people do on their own time, but I do when they start dragging other people into it. I guess we can agree on "Fuck the National Day of Prayer" though.

Yeah, I see your point. I really don't have that much of a problem with the silly act of prayer when it's done in private. I do, however, object to it being formally legitimized with a holiday. I see prayer as analogous to masturbation. Though it might be pleasurable while it's happening, in the end it yields no productive results. Neither are worth creating a holiday for.

10:31 PM EDT  
Blogger TheJollyNihilist said...

Aaron,

Interesting response. I am working on a reply to that response. I will post it in the comments section on your thread, and as a new post right here. That way, even more people will have a chance to weigh in on these issues.

I'm about half-way done with my reply at this point, but want 24 more hours to fine-tune it.

10:37 PM EDT  
Blogger TheJollyNihilist said...

Why just once a year? Why not every day? Everyone on your knees... tell Jebus where it hurts.
Maybe they should all point their Christian fannies in the air -- the way Muslims do. Then we'll have 60% of the earth's population shoving their asses skyward, communing with a non-existent acid dream.
I like the image. God, and the asses who believe.


That definitely has potential as an atheist book title: "God, and the Asses Who Believe." I'd buy it on the title alone, I think.

10:42 PM EDT  
Anonymous bernarda said...

A bunch of men in a room with their asses in the air. What kind of signal is that?

CBS News just did a poll on Americans' religious belief. 59% said they prayed often. Oh My God!

http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2006/04/13/opinion/polls/main1498219.shtml

3:15 AM EDT  

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