The Paris mass shootings and bombings have been terrible. It’s a right minefield of religion, politics and sadness. One idea which has routinely popped up on social media has been that Christians should pray for Paris.
This came into our mailbox here at SIN. It is a medical miracle anecdote, in the same strain as a post from the other day:
I have just returned from a surgical mission trip to the Dominican Republic. Although I am an atheist my schedule was such that it was most convenient for me to travel and work with XXX Ministry XXX, a frankly Christian evangelical organization operating out of Texas.
I received this email today from an old friend:
Hope you’re well.
I’m reading your little book of unholy questions at the moment and thought I’d share a prayer story with you. When XXXX was pregnant with YYYY and we had the 12 week scan, the physical measurements and blood factors indicated that YYYY had a strong likelihood (60%+) of having a chromosomal disorder (Down’s syndrome or worse).
This is from The Independent, though what is equally as depressing in this day and age, is that the Bill to allow prayers at the beginning of Council meetings seems to have got through the House of Commons unopposed:
Tory James Arbuthnot comes out as an atheist, claiming MPs must pretend to be religious
A Conservative MP has said Tory MPs are under pressure to pretend they are religious and he could only confess that he was an atheist because he was standing down at the next election.
The Odds Must Be Crazy is a new addition to the Skeptic Ink Network. It’s opening piece is actually a post of mine which fits nicely into their niche: a post on prayer and the coincidences involved in daily life which can be confused with successful, answered prayer. In mathematical terms, this can be explained by Littlewood’s Law.
I have an analogy which I hope will illustrate why at least a lot of examples of alleged successful prayer or interventions of God take place.
I bought a CD for my partner the other day. it was by an X-Factor third place finisher from a few years ago, Rebecca Ferguson. Not something I’d usually buy myself, of course, but she’s got a rich and textured voice which sounds lovely.
I recently reviewed Randal Rauser and John Loftus’ debate book entitled God or Godless. I have also responded to Randal’s post on why I am an atheist as well as posting an article critiquing Randal on why he is a Christian. During my review, I noted that I was particularly frustrated at Randal’s prayer chapter.
Of course, on his logic, it is the children’s fault for building their houses and schools in a tornado area.
Oh no, they are only children.
So I posted this meme to my facebook profile:
Now I thought that was pretty funny. Prayer is notoriously ineffective. But a Catholic friend posted this reply:
Hmm…and space exploration has benefited humanity so much!