The Raving Theist

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Banned From Raving Atheist?

July 30, 2005 | 21 Comments

Tom Gilson wonders in today’s Thinking Christian:

Banned from Raving Atheist?

Either there is a transitory server problem at RavingAtheist.com, or I’ve been banned from commenting there. Here’s what I wanted to say this afternoon . . .

Vernichten at RavingAtheist.com said (comment number 55):

Tom, the things you describe as benefits of prayer could also be listed as the benefits of recreational drug use. Is prayer your drug?

I attempted to answer but got a 403–Access Forbidden error. That means either there’s a temporary server failure there, which is quite possible, or they’ve banned me from commenting. I’ll check back later–it will be interesting to see if they’ve cut me off. It seems unlikely; they’re not afraid of some controversy, any more than I am here.

In the meantime, here’s my answer to Vernichten’s question:

The premise of your question is that I have a drug and prayer is it.

Let’s consider some alternative analogies. The benefits I describe could also be listed as benefits of a strong, stable, loving marriage. Is prayer my marriage?

The benefits could also be listed as benefits of being incredibly satisfied with one’s work, or one’s athletic accomplishment. Is prayer my work? Is it my sport?

You can see there’s no need for me to buy into your premise. No, it’s not a drug, because it increases rather than decreases my engagement with reality.

(I know, I know, a lot of you are going to disagree with that. You can write it here in a comment if you feel a need to. What can I say, except I have experience to show that I’m a whole lot more fulfilled, functional, and productive when I pray than when I don’t. I’m a better husband, a better dad, a better employee.)

Although Tom is correct that The Raving Atheist has some tolerance for controversy, it’s rather limited. From my secret control center high atop Mt. Godless, I carefully monitor each and every comment in the Forums to make sure nothing is said which might thwart Satan’s Plan. And when I saw Tom’s comment regarding prayer, I thought: what if people became convinced that the analogy between praying and psychotropic drug use was flawed? Why, there might be . . . more prayer! The Great Deceiver would not like that.

As long as we’re discussing analogies, though, how about this one. Tom proposed that it was a more likely explanation that his denial of access at The Raving Atheist was caused by a transitory server failure than some unseen conscious force. Could there be a similar explanation for the alleged “effects” of prayer?

Finally, one last analogy:

FlandersTom.jpg

Comments

21 Responses to “Banned From Raving Atheist?”

  1. Mookie
    July 30th, 2005 @ 5:40 pm

    TRA, you are a cruel and sadistic fellow. The fact that you are atheist has nothing to do with this, of course.

    Everybody loves Ned Flanders!

  2. Homer
    July 30th, 2005 @ 8:13 pm

    Computer, kill Flanders.

  3. Steve
    July 30th, 2005 @ 9:06 pm

    HAHAHA! Stupid Flanders!

  4. simbol
    July 30th, 2005 @ 9:36 pm

    Tom

    The server is failing. It’s nor god neither the devil, because I have been denied access (401-error) and I’m not a believer. But, yes, it can be god, who, by denying money to RA for maintenance, is behind the failures. After all this is an atheist blog

    RA, mind you bussiness. Watch your server and don’t permit Tom’s god sabotage this peaceful blog.

    Tom, pray your god to let you put your opinions in this blog. Just in case, review very well you posts, lest your god is censoring them. In fact, if I were him, I wouldn’t feel very well deffended. e.g., why do you spend your bullets in the meager number of atheists (merely a 10% of the world market), when there is the muslim market (20%)? Why don’t you show them, atheists and muslisms, the powerful nature of christian prayer with a nice miracle as those that moses did? Wouldn’t it be nice taht after Tom’s prayer osama be delivered to president bush by the angel Gabriel in a public ceremony in Pennsylvania avenue?Problem tom is that your are praying for the money to pay the mortgage. Think big! But this is not your fault since him made you as you are.

  5. Bob
    July 30th, 2005 @ 9:55 pm

    The last anology was lost on me until I went to the linked site. I had thought it was a bad picture of Tom Hanks.

  6. PhalsePhrophet
    July 30th, 2005 @ 10:22 pm

    Tom flatters himself to think TRA would ban him for his simple rhetoric. It takes more nonsense than that Tom to even get a god-idiot of the week nomination, let alone a ban.
    If Tom

  7. Mijae
    July 31st, 2005 @ 12:56 am

    Let’s sing!

    Everybody in the USA hates their stupid neighbor.
    He’s Flanders and he’s really, really, lame!

    Hee hee! A wonderful subtly biting analogy on prayer, some smartass Satanist pandering, AND a dumb laugh about a Simpsons reference! Thanks, RA!

    Flanders tried to wreck my song, his views on birth control are wrong. I hate his guts and Flanders is his name!

  8. Vernichten
    July 31st, 2005 @ 7:42 am

    Now let me be clear, because my premise was misunderstood (understandably so, I wasn’t clear when I jabbed Tom about drugs). My premise is this: when you redefine things to mean whatever you want, they lose all meaning.
    I’ll try to sum up in a mock argument between Atheist and Theist:

    Theist: Prayer works!
    Atheist: No, it doesn’t. Petitioning God to alter the universe for you is asinine, whether God exists or not.
    Theist: You just don’t understand prayer. Prayer isn’t petitioning God to change the universe, it’s something vague and deep, something that I can’t explain other than to say: it makes me feel good.
    Atheist: Sounds like drugs.
    Theist: No, you don’t understand. Prayer isn’t like drugs, it’s like my family, or my work.
    Atheist: Well, another fine example of “definition highjacking”. You claim prayer works, but then you go on to change the definition of “prayer” and “works”. It’s like if I told you to go fast, and then said “by go, I meant stop, and by fast, I meant slow. These are my definitions and you just don’t understand.”

    See, the way you have defined prayer doesn’t require that it actually do anything, since the only effects it has are to make you feel better. Why not just buy a pacifier, or, like I mentioned before, drugs?

    Now, on to the more ridiculous assertion. What evidence can you put forth that backs up your claim that praying increases your engagement with reality? In what way does prayer make you a better husband, dad, etc.? Does this mean that people who pray are better people because they pray? If that’s not true, and some people don’t require prayer to increase their engagement with reality or become better people, then what’s wrong with you that you need to? If it is true, and we would all be better people if we prayed, then does that make you better than people who don’t pray?

    Tom, as a mental exercise, just imagine if you can that there is no God, and you’ve been talking to yourself this whole time. Can’t you see how an Atheist would find your behavior silly at the least, dangerously unstable at the worst?

  9. jack*
    July 31st, 2005 @ 5:14 pm

    If true to form, then this is part of a 3 step strategy of bait and switch.

    1) Redfine the sweeping statement “Prayer Works!” to be something completely banal, equivalent to something like “I find that a ritual practice with no connection to the real world, like meditation, improves my personal sense of well-being.”

    2) Goad some atheist rube to agree that that could indeed be the case.

    3) Repost the quote out of context and crow that even atheists agree the prayer works, returning to the common meaning of “entreating you deity shifts outcomes in your favor.”

  10. AK
    July 31st, 2005 @ 6:11 pm

    If prayer works, it must work backwards. Who prays the most? Prisoners and nutjobs committed to mental heath facilities!

  11. Sheldon
    July 31st, 2005 @ 8:00 pm

    Regarding “prayer works” Prayer indeed may make him feel better, like meditation might make a Buddhist feel better.

    Note, I am assuming that meditation is similar to prayer, and can be completely secularand non mystic.

    On NPR a few weeks ago they had a piece where neuroscientists were doing research on meditation and explained it as an effective way to train those parts of the brain that process anxiety and things like that. They actually found diffences in brains from long time meditators, and changes in begginners.

    Of course the bad news for the Theist is that this has nothing to do with god or the supernatural.

  12. Mookie
    July 31st, 2005 @ 8:55 pm

    #11 Sheldon,

    Yes, meditation is very important for maintaining a healthy mind. Prayer works in the same way, and probably leads the theists to believe that “god” is doing it. Our consciousness is just a bunch of chemicals, which we can control to a limited degree. The more we meditate, the better we get at it, until we become supermonks that can fly around and fight really well with green swords. Seriously, though, meditation is good for atheists as well. No need for supernatural forces or stuff like that. Its just a matter of calming the mind and focusing on simple, deep thoughts, like “just HOW many non-existent angels can dance on the head of pin?”.

  13. MBains
    August 1st, 2005 @ 6:43 am

    Tom,

    Let us not be so self-centered. TRA (hock-touii!**) constantly bans me using those same Virii 401 & 403 errors (he even uses more arcane means but I can’t talk about those w/o fear of repercussion.)

    For me its cuz I accused him of being a selfish emotionalist in his efforts to overturn Roe-vs-Wade. Wait… A white van just pulled stopped in front of my wife. Gotta get the tin-foil hat and hide…

    ** Spitting after saying one’s name is a sign of respect Ra (hock-touii!!!)

    And I really hope you get your server issues worked out. I’ve lost at least 2 comments in the last month so, even though its halfway inane, I’m gonna copy and paste this one before clickin’ Post.

  14. Xianghong
    August 1st, 2005 @ 11:22 am

    Really? Talking to yourself increases your engagement with reality?

  15. Judas
    August 2nd, 2005 @ 4:02 pm

    Deep down inside, theists know that prayers do NOT work!

    When a theist gets a flat tire in the middle of an unsafe neighborhood, and finds that there is no spare in the car, what do you think he/she will pray for?

    If said theist believes in his/her heart that prayer works, he/she will definitely pray for a miraculous fix for the flat tire (what? you think God is not powerful enough to re-inflate a flat tire?) But instead said theist will pray for his/her safety, or he/she will pray for God to send help, or he/she will pray for God to open his/her eyes so he/she can find that danged misplaced cell phone.

    And guess what? If any of those things happen, he/she will definitely claim that his/her prayer works.

    See, deep down inside, they know that prayers do NOT work. They’re just deluding themselves with something that may happen by itself anyway (without praying…)

  16. choobus
    August 2nd, 2005 @ 4:24 pm

    If prayer did work then what would happen if you had two mutually exclusive prayers done by equally deserving godlovers? This sort of makes me think that maybe they don’t, and can’t work.

    Also, I continue to wipe my ass with sheets from the bible and am building a toilet powerful enough to flush any religious text, yet I have not yet incurred the wrath of any gods (I’m I’ve told them all to fuck off over the years). So come on jesus, allah, all you cocksmokers. Smite me or suck my smegma covered schlong like the bitches you are. I hope there is an afterlife just so I can teabag jesus. I’ll dip my hairy ballsack into his half open retard mouth while I fist mary magdalen’s asshole. It will be most amusing (for me).

  17. Lucy Muff
    August 2nd, 2005 @ 6:09 pm

    choobus you can expect your punishment in hell where you belongs. Keep on saying blasphemy. You think you speak with impoonity but are just racking up guilt and it will be accounted for. and whatever you say about flanders, he is nice guy, who takes lots of shit from homer and never strikes back. This is what a real christian is like, so it is too amazing why you don’t like this atheist meanies who are more like homer

  18. choobus
    August 2nd, 2005 @ 6:11 pm

    up yours muff troll, I’ll fucking teabag you as well, unless you’re dog rough, in which case I shall restrict my amusement to fisting your tight ass, Boston style, just the way you christians like it.

  19. nutjob
    August 3rd, 2005 @ 7:56 am

    AK said:
    If prayer works, it must work backwards. Who prays the most? Prisoners and nutjobs committed to mental heath facilities!

    I’d like to point out a fallacy with your remark, not all ‘nutjobs’ believe there’s a god. I’m an atheist.

  20. Riley
    August 7th, 2005 @ 2:13 am

    Ahemm…

  21. Riley
    August 7th, 2005 @ 2:22 am

    Just checking to make sure this works.

    Anyway. I agree… with the whole prayer thing. I basically believe that prayer is seeking the truth (seeking the face of God). I don’t believe that we manifest a new reality via prayer. God wills it and it happens. I cannot change the will of God. Prayer is also “like” consolation. We console one another with prayer. But as far as miracles go…. Everything is a miracle. The “natural” is the “supernatural”… That which is above is as that which is below and vice versa. “Thy Kingdom Come, Thy Will Be Done… On Earth As It Is In Heaven”…..

    What we have now is a mix of mysticism and Christianity, the unfortunate situation resulting from folks who aren’t completely honest about the manner in which God works… After all, the atheist (of which you may be one reading my post) has a right to ridicule the contradictory beliefs of the Christian. But where the atheist fails to be honest, is the origin of their very thoughts and presumptions about which they cannot even adequately trace the origin thereof…let alone all of Creation…. believing they are as God (I AM THAT I AM)….. ludicrous!

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