Tish Harrison Warren presents her readers’ prayers for Ukraine, but God doesn’t seem to be listening

March 14, 2022 • 12:30 pm

Once again Tish Harrison Warren is spreading Christian dogma in the pages of the New York Times, and once again I’m baffled that her unevidenced superstition is being purveyed to the paper’s readers.

The typical liberal religionist rationalizes praying to God as simply a form of meditation or a way to get emotional support. When pressed, such people may say that they don’t really think God even hears prayers, much less answers them.

But that’s not Reverend Warren. This Anglican priest is sure that God hears prayers. In her column on sin last week, she asked for readers to send samples of what prayers they were saying for Ukraine, and how that prayer made them “feel”. To wit:

She added, after this poll, that “We may mention some of your thoughts in next week’s newsletter.” I was pretty sure she would; after all, that’s a ready-made column. And sure enough, she did. Click on the screenshot to read:

It’s important at the outset to realize that for Warren, prayer is not a meditative, feel-good exercise. She really thinks God hears the diverse prayers she presents. My question is this: if God hears them, why doesn’t He stop the carnage of Ukraine, or give Putin a stroke? But I can’t ask her that stuff.

Nor does she mention the famous single-blind study of prayer that showed that intercessory prayer to God to help cardiac patients heal faster showed absolutely no effect (there was, as I recall, one significant effect, but in the direction that prayer worsened one criterion for healing).  Earlier, Galton studied the effect of prayer for the longevity of British royals and showed no effect when royals were compared to other upper-class Brits with similar healtcare and nutrition.

Taking into account all studies, the Wikipedia article on “Efficacy of prayer” sums it up tersely in the first paragraph:

The efficacy of prayer has been studied since at least 1872, generally through experiments to determine whether prayer or intercessory prayer has a measurable effect on the health of the person for whom prayer is offered. Empirical research indicates that prayer and intercessory prayer have no discernible effects.

In short, there is not an iota of evidence that prayer works, but people still pray. You’d think that in the face of this evidence, people would confect other reasons for praying, as they often do, but would stop pretending that God hears prayers and sometimes acts on them.

And I doubt that Reverend Harrison would sign on to faith healing, a staple of some Christian sects. But what else is praying to God to change Putin’s mind, or make Russian soldiers want to go home, than a form of faith healing? And she subscribes to that form of faith healing.


Each morning over the past few weeks, I have woken up to the chirpy voices of my children. I’ve gotten them off to school and their daily activities, poured a cup of green tea and sat down to pray for Ukraine.

As I pray, images fill my mind: photos I’ve seen of tanks rolling into cities, of a Ukrainian man weeping over his dying son, of mothers and babies crammed into subway stations, of a Ukrainian soldier’s funeral. The contrast between my safe home and the war raging 6,000 miles away feels overwhelming. I feel helpless. There is little that most ordinary people here can do, besides donate money and pray.

Somehow I think the imbibing of not just tea, but “green tea” is significant here, but the subject is too deep for me.

The above shows the patented combination of personal vulnerability and “deep theological reflection” that, said Religion News, makes Warren “a rising star in Christian spiritual writing”. If that’s the case, then the pool of religious writing talent is no deeper than its theological lucubrations.

Warren continues:

But I believe that prayer is indeed powerful, often in ways we can’t account for. War, whatever else it is, is spiritually dark, even demonic. . .

Demonic? Does she think that there are malevolent sprites involved? (Remember Pope Francis accepts the existence of demons.)  But below you see where Warren avows not just belief in a divine being, but the fact that said Being has ears that can hear all the world’s prayers:

Last week I asked you to share prayers that you have offered for Ukraine. We received hundreds of beautiful responses. It was a profound experience to read so many prayers from people all over the world and of various faiths. It often felt intimate and tender, as if you were allowing me to read your journal or private mail. Thank you for that privilege. I wish I could share all of the responses, though I trust that God has heard each one.

What makes her trust that God has heard each one? That’s a pretty powerful God, but it also shows that, unlike many liberal believers, she accepts a personal god, not just a renamed “universe” or “spiritual feeling”.  I would love to interview the good Reverend, just to find out what she really believes. We can start with the Nicene Creed.

Anyway, here are a few prayers she got. To a cynical antitheist like me, the prayers are a mixture of virtue flaunting before God, Warren, and the The New York Times, mixed with a bit of self-flagellation. Here’s one. It doesn’t sound that bad, but remember that it’s supposed to be addressed to God, not The New York Times:

Dustin Valero in California wrote that he uses his tradition’s prayer book. He prays “for the Ukrainians, including the church in Ukraine,” that they would have “a deep resolve and a deep sense of togetherness in the midst of trauma.”

He explained, “When I pray specifically for the church in Ukraine, while praying through this communal prayer book, I feel connected to the global body of believers. Their suffering is my suffering. Their cares are my cares. I consider them to be the peacemakers who can leverage love and faith in the midst of this darkness. I know my safe place on the couch is much different from their lived reality. I fight apathy and distraction in my day to day, and this prayer keeps suffering and hope closer to the front.”

In the one below, Sam is asking God to affect the mental processes of Russian soldiers. Moreover, he thinks that a). God hears this and b). God has the power to do this. But why don’t they? They already want to go home, but if they tried they’d be court-martialed.

Sam Rood in Brooklyn wrote, “My co-workers in Odessa have been praying that ‘a holy fear’ would fall upon the Russian soldiers so that they have an overpowering desire to go home. I’ve adopted that prayer.”

He continued, “My Ukrainian brothers and sisters understand that the Russian soldiers are not their true enemy. Their desire isn’t that they suffer or die but that they return home and they can all live in peace. Though fighting and even killing may be necessary, we remember our common humanity and shared need for peace.”

All of this comprises specific avenues of “praying for peace.” People have been praying for peace for centuries, but the important thing is this: God doesn’t seem to listen, at least not until a few million people have already died.

Below: a woke prayer, which indicts America as well.

The Rev. Canon Patrick Genereux from Iowa wrote: “When reflecting on Ukraine, I begin by being mindful of the murder and mayhem that we, the U.S., inflicted on Vietnam, Iraq, Yemen, Afghanistan and any other places in the world, just as the Russians are doing in Ukraine. I pray for the forgiveness of these people for what we have done to them. I pray for the church in its blessing of war out of fear of reprisals. I pray to be forgiven for my part in these sins as both a priest and at one time a member of the military.”

He also wrote, “My prayers focus on all those whose lives will be forever changed — Ukrainians, Russians, Europeans, and in the end, us all. I pray for the most innocent victims of all wars, the children.”

And one last prayer that asks God to soften the Pharoah’s heart:

Many readers said that they are praying for Putin to repent of his actions and turn away from pursuing war. Here is an excerpt from a prayer from Pamela Thacher in New York: “God, please allow Putin to reject his thirst for war and punishment and greed, and whatever goal he had for his war, let him pursue it through other means. I pray for their leaders, of course, and especially the extraordinary President Zelensky.”

Now one can’t help but be touched by the sympathy that these people show toward the Ukrainians, but don’t we all? Nevertheless, I can’t help but feeling frustrated that they also believe that God is listening to them and—especially—that they seem to believe in a a benevolent God despite the strong and palpable evidence that God is letting awful stuff happen in Ukraine right now.  God is allowing babies, pregnant mothers, children, and cancer patients to be killed. Why is he doing this? Please tell us, Dr. Warren, and if you say, “its a mystery,” then you have no warrant at all for knowing what God is like.

This is the problem of moral evil, which, along with the problem of physical evil, like cancer and earthquakes, is truly an Achilles heel of theology. Any person who looked at the world, especially in the last two weeks, and still retains a belief in a god, much less a benevolent god, is either blind, brainwashed with faith, or both. But that was also true during the Second World War.

So tell us, Reverend Warren, if God is really listening, why doesn’t he stop the war? He could, you know. He’d just have to soften Putin’s heart.

69 thoughts on “Tish Harrison Warren presents her readers’ prayers for Ukraine, but God doesn’t seem to be listening

  1. You money quote:
    “This is the problem of moral evil, which, along with the problem of physical evil, like cancer and earthquakes, is truly an Achilles heel of theology. Any person who looked at the world, especially in the last two weeks, and still retains a belief in a god, much less a benevolent god, is either blind, brainwashed with faith, or both. But that was also true during the Second World War.”

    1. Ah yes, the age-old problem of evil…or for ‘evil’ I would substitute “apparently gratuitous, unjust, and horrific suffering”. Theologians over the centuries have tried many ways to reconcile the existence of a tri-omni deity with the existence of ‘evil’ by means of ‘theodicies’, otherwise known as convoluted excuses for God’s non-interventionist policy(soul making, free will, satan, greater good defense, and others).

      A rather interesting biblical treatment of the problem can be found in the Book of Job. Needless to say, intercessory prayer does not work- except perhaps to make the person praying feel better- a form of self therapy/coping mechanism.

      1. But this is the liberal religionist’s “out, and one that Warren doesn’t share because she (and some of the people she quotes) think that God is listening and also that God can DO SOMETHING ABOUT IT. Several of the prayers she quotes are petitionary prayers.

        1. The whole problem with Petitionary Prayer is that it amounts to saying “God, I know that you are omnipotent and omniscient, but I have a better idea.” Isn’t that actually blasphemous?

          1. +1 Good one, I liked this! 🙂

            I thougth it was in line with a another funny comment I read once: If you are a horrible person and do Satan’s work on Earth, shouldn’t you be rewarded when you go to hell? Satan wouldn’t be so stupid to try to lure us into sin with a promise of eternal torment, that would be horrible PR. (I have this on good authority: “Satan is smart and should not be argued with, says Pope Francis”, The Independent, december 2017)

            It’s funny to try to use real logic on this kind of thinking (i.e. religion), it shows how illogical it really is. But a lot of us are reared in it, so we – unfortunately – become somewhat immune to the crazyness, we are used to it and let priests etc. ramble on without holding them to any real standard of coherence or logic.

            1. Brilliant point about rewards from Satan for doing his bidding – and Fred’s remark about blasphemy is excellent too – I’ll be reusing both of them!

              1. OHHH, now I see – hmmm….

                IS there some good ‘ol apologia for that? Maybe it is simply not how it works.

        2. She and many theists certainly see this as a petition and not a form of self-assuagement, agreed. However I do think self-assuagement sometimes comes in petitionary-like speech. I sometimes talk about my dead dad as if he’s around. Does that make me a theist who thinks there is an actual dead guy actually around? No. It means that anthropomorphizing a memory or hope for the future sometimes helps me deal with things.

          So I absolutely agree with your characterization here, in the case of Tish and her crowd of respondents. But if the ‘person in the foxhole’ uses petitionary speech, I don’t think that I’d take the petitionary nature of it to mean they expect a God to answer. They could simply be phrasing their self-talk-therapy in an anthropomorphic way.

        3. Don’t leave out the possibility (if a god exists, which is an intensely dubious proposition) that the god of the Bible is listening, does hear, could do something about events, and consciously chooses to do nothing.
          (Is that “consciously” redundant? Could a “triply-omni” god do something unconsciously? That might be a theological blind alley, but since man created his gods in her own images, the idea does deserve some attention. Maybe after the dancing angels headcount has finished.)
          Just how optimistic was HP Lovecraft?

  2. I try out a new expression : the yard sale of the mind on display in the article would be amusing and humorous in how it illustrates exactly PCC(E)’s excellent explication (sorry – I just went with it) — if it were not that it is deliberately attached to a real scenario of unfair death, violence, and misery, as religion is frequently observed to do to support itself.

  3. My question is this: if God hears them, why doesn’t He stop the carnage of Ukraine, or give Putin a stroke?

    Did Tish consider that maybe God is hearing and answering…and the one true faith is the Russian Orthodox faith?

    1. Or that it is going to happen – like many claims of this type – Real Soon Now. Just stay tuned, get thyself prepared.

    2. Indeed. It seems to be a feature of many wars, past and present, that both sides are equally convinced that God is on their side.

    3. According to The Guardian, Bartholomew I, the spiritual leader of the Eastern Orthodox church, has said:

      We are watching the drama of the Ukrainian people and admire its powerful resistance against the invader,” Bartholomew said in unscripted comments from the pulpit. “We appeal for an immediate ceasefire … the war has to end. The United Nations charter explicitly forbids the use of violence in international relations and binds all the organisation’s members to resolve their differences with peaceful means … an unjust war is happening in the heart of Europe, human blood is being shed, children and women are being killed and towns and villages destroyed. Our thoughts are with our brothers.

      He then thanked Mitsotakis for the assistance Athens has sent to Ukraine which incudes shipments of Kalashnikov rifles and other weapons. https://www.theguardian.com/world/live/2022/mar/13/ukraine-news-russia-war-ceasefire-broken-humanitarian-corridors-kyiv-russian-invasion-live-vladimir-putin-volodymyr-zelenskiy-latest-updates-live

      Of course, Bartholomew I has form when it comes to Ukraine, having previously granted autocephaly (independence) to the Orthodox Church of Ukraine. This led to a schism with the Russian Orthodox Church.

  4. Dear Earth People: I command you, on pain of eternal damnation, to stop all that damn praying. It
    is an annoying distraction from listening to my angels play favorite golden oldies on their harps.

  5. Whenever I read the bs coming from this deluded christian, my response is a mental “puke emoji”. There is nothing substantive I feel like arguing, just 🤮. There, that’s better.

      1. +2

        Exactly what I was feeling when I read these ‘prayers’. But I don’t know how to do the puke emoji on word press. Also, Warren is an ass.

  6. Standard Christian responses:
    God works in mysterious ways.
    God hears all prayers but may not answer them.
    God has a plan but it is not for us to divine God’s plans.

    1. There is also the “explanation” that God does answer all prayers, but sometimes the answer is “no”.
      He can’t or won’t save millions of people from being killed in a holocaust, or stop a nation from being invaded by a neighboring superpower, but hey, he’s really good at finding someone’s car keys, right?

      1. The problem is that God (Jesus) NEVER once says he will “answer” prayers. Instead he repeatedly says “Whatever you ask for in my name will be given to you.” He unequivocally promises to give you whatever you ask for. The whole idea that he “answers” prayers and that sometimes the answer is “no” is a cop out theologians came up with to explain why nothing fails like prayer.

    2. Also, divine intervention interferes with human free will.

      Or, perhaps God is mighty rather than almighty:

      The LORD was with the people of Judah, and they took possession of the hill country. But they failed to drive out the people living in the plains, who had iron chariots.

      1. I hear the interfering with human free will one a lot.

        The trouble is that the same Christians who claim that God won’t interfere with free will to stop bad things will happily accept the credit on God’s behalf when good things happen. If a surgeon saves a patient’s life, God imbued the surgeon with the necessary skills to do so. This compromises the surgeon’s free will, but they don’t notice that.

  7. Some texts say Aristotle was tried for “impiety.” What he actually said, I have also read, was “prayer does not work.”

        1. Plus god does not seem to have any antitank missiles to send to Ukraine, but I’ve heard that Pesci has a warehouse full of them.

  8. Clearly all the pro-Ukraine prayers are being equaled by pro-Russian prayers, and, therefore, god can’t act. Only possible reason he hasn’t intervened. That must be true for all the other wars in History, too. If only one more person had prayed, it could have tipped the balance.

    1. Well, I guess that many past wars ended in victory for one side or the other so the victors of those wars might argue that their prayers were more effective or more numerous than those in favour of the losing side. On the other hand, they might have had stronger armies, more tactically brilliant commanders, more motivated soldiers, the benefit of some strategic advantage or any of a wide range of other potential advantages in the real, physical world so even in those cases there doesn’t seem to be much basis for claiming it wos the prayers wot won it!

  9. Let’s go with the idea that God really exists, and has the famous traits like omnipotence and being all-knowing, what does it say about praying?

    God’s hearing must be seen as a very crude metaphor, perhaps too crude to allow Christians to get away with it. I can accept the metaphor for a microphone that “hears” something. I can accept it for a seismometer, or even a Geiger counter, though the metaphor is pushed to its limits. I could accept it as a metaphor for a spirit entity to somehow “know” what was prayed, without the involvement of waves or direct signals of any kind. If one accepts magical entities, one might as well accept they “sense” in some magical way.

    I can give plenty of leeway on that aspect, but the metaphor ultimately breaks with God being all-knowing. If he is all-knowing then, to him, there is no causality. All possible worlds, in all possible ways are laid out, and he knows which one was the real one as if it all happened already. God of course knew every prayer at all times. But you see here that “all-knowingness” pretty much destroys the God concept, since in that perspective, God’s state cannot change, and always existed. He must be unchanging, state-less, eternal. He knew everything always, including his own role of what he will do, which to him is always already done.

    Engaging with belief in any rational way is a foolishness. It’s too easy to poke holes into it, and yet Christians don’t have the equivalent of “answers to obvious arguments”. We live in a world were the most glaring of issues are typically ignored away by them, traditionally because Christians were in charge and could simply ignore them away. Theologians may have sophisticated(TM) answers, but that is just comical once you realise that they effectively work like shamans reading the intestines of goats. Their “insights” come from religious texts which they read in sophisticated(TM) ways, as if they were reality itself. And yet religious people expect to be taken seriously. Believers really do deserve ridicule, especially those who are like Ms Harrison.

    1. The religious basically perfected the following defense mechanism:

      “Daring to question my belief in God is itself a sign of immorality, stupidity, immaturity, etc.”

      It has been co-opted today by anti-racists of the Woke variety. If you question a flimsy claim of racism, you are yourself racist.

      This maneuver insulates the religious/woke person from any sort of rational analysis.

  10. I wish some religious leader of some kind would say to his or her “flock” that, if you pray but do nothing of substance, you are being worse than useless, and god or whatever will not look kindly upon you, because you admit there’s a problem but do nothing. By praying, they pass the buck, and can then consider the problem out of their hands. After all, they turned it over to god, and if god isn’t gonna do anything, what can THEY do? They’ve done their part. I wish more religious leaders would say that their god has left it up to humans to figure out and solve these problems…god’s not gonna reach in and solve them for you. If enough of the people who resort to prayer took even some rudimentary action, more problems might be solved more quickly.

    1. “Prayer of desperation is the adult manifestation of infantile crying.” (John C. Wathey)

      When you realize how a god-believing mind is really just one partially stuck in infancy (as Wathey shows in his book “The Illusion of God’s Presence”), you really see it manifest when people pray to their cosmic father figure to sort things out, which of course he never does.

  11. My favorite line from that bit (the whole thing is amazing) is “What’s the use of being God if any run down schmuck with a two dollar prayer book can come along and F-up your plan?” Classic Carlin. I bet he’s down there screaming up at us.

      1. Yeah, when you get to the end of the comment thread, it’s not clear whether you’re replying to the last comment or posting a new one.

        Click on the button and say a Hail Mary is my approach.

  12. In “Faith Versus Fact”, our host considers the truth claims made by religionists. It occurs to me that this sub-population simply does not use language in a way for which truth considerations are relevant. That is, they do not value (or, I suspect, quite understand) any congruence between language and things in the physical, testable world. For Tish Warren & Co., words are deployed like finger-painting, independent of relationship to things. So, they can say God “hears” prayers without reference to ears, or sound, or vibratory phenomena of any kind—and the string of letters “God” is, of course, used without reference to any testable phenomenon. This is not discourse like a description of something in the real world, or directions to go somewhere, take something apart, or fix something—it is an ornament. Or, in a post-modernist perspective, it is the purest kind of text, meaning nothing outside itself (like so much post-modernist verbiage).

    1. Yeah, exactly – as John McWhorter has observed in other domains, it is “music”.

      I’d go further and argue it is not figuratively music, but literally, in a way that it points to a primal need that instruments and singing were developed to fulfill. That the expression “singing to the choir” is actually literal and figurative.

      As such, how do we “argue” with Beethoven’s 9th? In the same way they do with the article here – they do NOT argue with it, but merely provide the sounds the cadence expects, in particular in written form. Originally, the illiteracy would be so pervasive there’d be no ability to write, but only chant back to the priest.

      1. Hmm. This brings up the question of what function music was evolved to fulfill. In the cases of the
        singing of wolves, elephants, whales, and birds, we postulate that their music fulfills functions in the real world: functions involved in mating, group coordination, and location of individual group members. If the singing of hominids evolved to fulfill similar functions, then music generally (above
        all instrumental music) would be labelled a spandrel, in the Gould/Lewontin sense. And a fine spandrel it is! The fully developed spandrel (e.g. Beethoven’s 9th) sure is far away from the primordial function. Come to think, I guess Tish Warren’s bromides and Judith Butler’s gibberish are far away from the real functions for which the traders of ancient Sumer developed writing.

        1. I think those sounds that signal biological needs/events would be the primal form of music. A primal association of sound and life.

          Beethoven’s 9th is layered on that – a designed sound, to call to those associations reinforced through life cycles/generations.

          As the spoken language developed, being dependent on sound, naturally it evoked similar associations – the emotional reaction to fight-or-flight sayings, etc.

          What I’d say here, with _written_ language – devoid of sound except in the mind’s ear – the words and ideas as expressed in English take on the patterns and cadences that ordinarily would be done with spoken words. A written language music.

          The disconnect noted here occurs because written language is not spoken language. Charles Darwin, Steven Weinberg, etc. had to construct arguments and ideas that worked somehow in a nonlinear way that music – being linear – does not. So we read these prayers and are confused, because the writers are confused – using written language when they need spoken.

          Maybe. This is interesting!

          1. Music is linear, all right, but some (Western art music above all) is multilinear. I find contrapuntal lines to be among the most enthralling aspects of music. As to what the
            individual lines convey, I learned this from my DD son: a simulation and a feeling of
            movement. Hence the ancient and honorable connection between music and dance. Maybe the particular wizardry of counterpoint is that it permits a single individual to feel
            like an entire dance troupe.

            1. I dig it, but by “linear” – a hasty word-grab – I mean the way music is always NOW, time goes forward, one thing follows the next — until the silence ends the music, as a matter of _experience_ – in contrast to, say, a research paper or novel, which, though also must be read through experience, requires something more, certain cognitive acrobatics, so I grabbed “non-linear”..

              That’s getting out there, so I come back :

              We are trying to understand the _written_ banalities in the article. I think it helps this effort by contrasting the experience of sound with the written form of those “prayers” – which are, I argue, meant to be sounded out.

  13. There will be many people, mostly Russian, who are praying for success of Putin’s “special military operation”. How does god decide which prayers to answer?

    1. Same way He decides who should win the big ballgame — Notre Dame or Southern Methodist (or at least who should cover the point spread), I suppose. 🙂

  14. Next time someone claims that God “moves in a mysterious way”, remind them that God is incapable of moving. An omnipresent being cannot move because there is nowhere for it to move to or from since, being omnipresent, it is already everywhere.

    1. I fear they will simply tell you that moving in a mysterious way includes being able to move even when you are already everywhere. The problem is that people who believe in god and his mysterious ways simply do not accept that normal logic and reason even apply to those claims.

  15. If prayer is part of the causal chain in God intervening for the good of Ukraine, then I am baffled as to why this is a God worthy of worship.

    Surely a just and powerful God would just know when to intervene without us asking…does Pish Warren think that God is sitting there with arms crossed waiting to be properly summoned?

    It’s hard for me to regard people who belief such things as intelligent or moral…”mush-head” seems too kind a descriptor….

    1. This tends to obscure the astonishing fact that the individual is the victim – the victim of a millennia-old mind virus called religion.

      Richard Hofstadter has argued that otherwise sensible, not-clinically-paranoid people can nevertheless be the victim of the “paranoid style” of United States politics. I think the same thing is going on here, but with religion manipulating the victim, against their better senses – because of the mechanisms that religion has developed to spread and maintain itself.

      1. Understood, but belief in prayer is particularly stupid. It also shows how so-called sophisticated religious leaders who support prayer are trying to have it both ways…they know that the majority of their flock still thinks of God as a literal person that is active in the world.

        So I can’t view the likes of Warren as a victim in the sense you describe, although I do think that many religious people are victims in the way you say they are. For Warren, I think that she is more of a grifter than a victim.

      2. The brutal truth is that no individual can do everything or know everything – unless their physical situation is heavily constrained. Such as being a hermit or someone marooned on a desert island.

        The upside is that we might not be able to do something but we can find someone who can. We might not know the answer to a question but we can find someone who knows the answer.

        The downside is that we are unconsciously influenced by the behaviours of our friends and our friends friends and that our outsourced cognition need not be based on true facts. And logically we are also unconsciously influenced against the behaviours of those we consider outside our connections (and their friends too).

        If you have been brought up with a set of connections to people who share a particular belief (religion, ideology, philosophy, sports team) chances are that you will inherit those beliefs unconsciously, or at least the predisposition towards them.

    2. This is a longstanding difficulty. JC is reported as saying:

      And when you pray, do not keep on babbling like pagans, for they think they will be heard because of their many words. Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him.

  16. Immanuel Kant wasn’t an atheist, but here’s his opinion on prayer:

    “Praying, conceived as an inner ritual service of God and hence as a means of grace, is a superstitious delusion (a fetish-making); for it only is the declaring of a wish to a being who has no need of any declaration regarding the inner disposition of the wisher, through which nothing is therefore accomplished nor is any of the duties incumbent on us as commands of God discharged; hence God is not really served.”

    (Kant, Immanuel. Religion within the Boundaries of Mere Reason. 1793. Translated by George di Giovanni. In Religion and Rational Theology/ Immanuel Kant, edited by Allen W. Wood and George di Giovanni, 57-215. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1996. p. 210)

  17. How about in stupid Tish’s space I write: “The best idea is if people stopped believing in ridiculous Iron Age fairy tales, stopped sending “thoughts and prayers” thus embarrassing themselves (and me!) and gave up on the entire turd tower of childish, dumb assed ideas that so frequently get us in situations like today’s. To wit: religion and all magical beliefs.” ?
    Oh and maybe Tish resign.
    running out of patience with dumbassery.

  18. You mention the testing of the efficacy of prayer as it relates to cardiac disease, and it has often struck me that such tests — of which there have been legion — generally relate to medical situations that require large sample sizes and rigorous double blind and placebo methods but can still be more or less ambiguous. (The religous often point to this or that study that, so they say, would seem to support their beliefs.) So I have often thought it would be much clearer if one would test the efficacy of prayer, e.g., on kids who have had their legs blown off by land mines. Let those who advocate for prayer pray for the limbs of 100 limbless kids to have their legs restored and compare that group with 100 kids who were not prayed for. The (I assume) clear result will show unambiguously that prayer is worthless and/or that the gods don’t really give a fuck about children. In fact, I once suggested doing so to an old friend of mine who is now a minister and specializes to a degree in healing people whose legs are of slightly different lengths. (No joke, his name is Eric Wilding, runs Agapedox Ministries in Toronto; on his website you can see videos of his purported healings.) He agreed that this would be a noble effort, but of course nothing came of it.

  19. I feel sorry for Tish’s ‘chirpy’ children. Subjected to her religious crap, without any way of escape, at least until they are older.

    And she says she sits down to pray. Shouldn’t she be on her knees? Maybe that’s why the war is still going. Get it together Tish!

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