Atheist Prayer


#1

This is a response to a post on another thread:

forums.catholic.com/showpost.php?p=36979&postcount=15

rather than clutter up that thread I thought this subject deserved it’s own.

[quote=dolffn]I would also like to note that atheists should feel free to pray to God to make Himself known to them on occasion, as an atheist doesnt really have anything lose if they are wrong. If nothing else, think of it as an expiriment.

~Mike
[/quote]

Mike, I’m an atheist who has been doing this for many years. And for me, the lack of a response is pretty strong evidence that God doesn’t exist.

And it’s not like I’m asking for tomorrow’s lottery numbers. I’m asking some pretty basic stuff like whether he really does exist, what religion he wants me to follow, which human beings really speak for him and which are the frauds, how he feels about abortion, etc. I’ve been met with silence every time. No voices in my head, no voices from the sky, no feeling that anyone is listening, no discernable signs that anyone had heard my prayer. Life continues on as if no one had heard a word I said.

How should I interpret this lack of response? I can think of five possible explanations:

  1. God is unable to “hear” or understand my prayers.

Objection: If God is omniscient then this cannot be true. I think every Christian would agree this is false.

  1. God hears and understands me but chooses not to respond.

Objection: This seems to contradict the assertion that God wants me to believe in him and wants to have a personal relationship with me.

  1. God hears and understands me and wants to respond but is unable to.

Objection: If God is omnipotent this cannot be true.

  1. God hears, understands and responds to me but I am unable to perceive the response.

Objection: Again, if God is omnipotent then he would surely be able to respond in a way that I could perceive.

  1. There is no omniscient, omnipotent God that wants to have a personal relationship with me.

Since the other possible explanations have been eliminated assertion #5 must be true.

Comments?


#2

Brother, I think you need the aid of an intercessor, and I recommend the Virgin Mary! Here is another experiment for you:
Start praying the rosary every day for a month and see what happens. You can do an internet search to learn how. It will require a half hour of your time a day but I think that Mary will help you get your question answered. Try it - you have nothing to lose.


#3

[quote=arnulf]Brother, I think you need the aid of an intercessor, and I recommend the Virgin Mary! Here is another experiment for you:
Start praying the rosary every day for a month and see what happens. You can do an internet search to learn how. It will require a half hour of your time a day but I think that Mary will help you get your question answered. Try it - you have nothing to lose.
[/quote]

So only certain types of prayers work?

By the way how about this little riddle, Which I am reminded of by drew98’s post:

[left]Is God willing to prevent evil, but not able?

Then he is not omnipotent.

Is he able, but not willing?

Then he is malevolent.

Is he both able and willing?

Then whence cometh evil?

Is he neither able nor willing?

Then why call him God?

Epicurus
[/left]


#4

I didn’t say that only certain types of prayers work! Those are your words. I said I think you need the aid of an intercessor. Most of us (myself included,) are so immersed in our own sin and petty thoughts that we wouldn’t recognize God if he hit us on the head with a hammer. An intercessor is someone who is already close to God who is willing and able to speak on our behalf. This is what you and I need.

You will never approach God through logical reasoning!. He is so far above and beyond the human mind that it can normally only experience him as darkness. Instead of reading Epicurus, I recommend St. John of the cross; and instead of futile debate, I recommend praying the rosary. :thumbsup:

Peace be with you.


#5

Hey, i would just like to say, you havent hard any voices from the sky, in your head, and so on, BUT HAVE YOU LOOKED AROUND YOU LATELY. I believe God tries to communicate with us in so many ways, we jus don’t pay attention. For example, lets say you were wopndering about abortion, you might be waiting for a voice on your head, but then you hear a baby cry, or an ad for president bush comes on, or the next day someone you knows says how wrong abortion is. Just a thought for you. See you later. bye.


#6

Have you thought that God has answered but you really dont like the answer or it is not what you want it to be. God always answers, either yes, no or not at this time. The rub of seeking and finding God is when he avails Himself you must accept it. If you, in your heart are not ready to accept him, it is not a true prayer. You are then giving God a test and that is not the way it works my friend.


#7

[quote=Monarchy]So only certain types of prayers work?

By the way how about this little riddle, Which I am reminded of by drew98’s post:

[left]Is God willing to prevent evil, but not able?

Then he is not omnipotent.

Is he able, but not willing?

Then he is malevolent.

Is he both able and willing?

Then whence cometh evil?

Is he neither able nor willing?

Then why call him God?

Epicurus
[/left]
[/quote]

If God prevented everyone from doing evil then we wouldnt have free will and would be mere puppets. Malevolent? That doesnt seem to fit. If your child misbehaves, do you lock them in a cage for the remainder of their lives to prevent them from doing “evil” anymore? Seems like love and mercy fit in here.

~Mike


#8

[quote=ncgolf]Have you thought that God has answered but you really dont like the answer or it is not what you want it to be. God always answers, either yes, no or not at this time. The rub of seeking and finding God is when he avails Himself you must accept it. If you, in your heart are not ready to accept him, it is not a true prayer. You are then giving God a test and that is not the way it works my friend.
[/quote]

I dont think an atheist would be praying if they were not sincerely interested in finding out the Truth. They may not find the truth that they want to, but that seems kind of irrelevent in that the discovered Truth is unchangable. Why would anyone sidestep the acceptance of the discovery? One could just as easily ask why do people choose to sin while believing in that Truth.
I think it is two different things to give God a test and to test wether God exists. Drew seems to be attempting the latter from what I can tell. Now if a person were merely dropping an egg and asking “God if you exist, then stop this egg from falling and breaking.”, concluding that God doesnt exist based on that experiment, then that person has not really reflected on God’s role in the world and in their life within the context of observable history and science and would be foolish (we dont live in a magical world).
I also believe that all prayers are answered, but they are answered on God’s time and in God’s manner of choosing.
Drew, I recommend that you continue to pray and to maybe spend a few minutes at the end of each day to reflect and consider how your prayer may have been answered in that day. You may not get a big obvious proof, but it may come in small ways. Quite frankly, hearing voices might make one question their sanity, unless I suppose it was heard by more than one person at the same time.
I would also recommend, if you havent already, do some reading on some athiests that have become Christian and writings that they may have written. I am not really familiar with many such people, but would be interested myself in reading such works if anyone has any recommendations. The only person that comes readily to my mind is CS Lewis. The ideas presented may help you in discerning God’s voice in your life.
I will pray for you as well,

~Mike


#9

I’m sorry, but it strikes me as a little comical that an atheist should takes his own prayers seriously, never mind that God would be likely to.

If you don’t believe, how can you hear the voice of someone you deny exists?

Faith is an active choice that has to be made, unqualified surrender to the will of the Creator. If you are an atheist, you are still in defiance.

People who believe many times do not hear an answer to their prayers.

Bishop Sheen had some wisdom to offer on that score:

He suggested there are three possible answers to our prayers:

Yes.

No.

Wait.

The impatient person, the child, the teenager, the young man in a hurry to make his mark on the world, has little patience. This is one of the reasons why so many atheists pride themselves on having discovered the wisdom of the ages along with their puberty.


#10

[quote=arnulf]Brother, I think you need the aid of an intercessor, and I recommend the Virgin Mary!
[/quote]

I don’t see why I would need an intercessor unless you’re saying God is limited in some way.

[quote=arnulf] Here is another experiment for you:
Start praying the rosary every day for a month…Try it - you have nothing to lose.
[/quote]

Nothing to lose? 1/2 hour per day for 30 days is 15 hours! To me, that’s a lot to lose! I’ve prayed the rosary before (but not for 30 days in a row) and it can get pretty tedious.
Furthermore I don’t really feel comfortable reciting the prayers of the rosary because I would essentially be declaring things I don’t really believe.


#11

[quote=rianredd1088] I believe God tries to communicate with us in so many ways, we jus don’t pay attention. For example, lets say you were wopndering about abortion… or an ad for president bush comes on,
[/quote]

By your standard just about anything can be interpreted as a communication from God. How do you seperate what’s coming from God and what isn’t?

So if I’m thinking about abortion and an ad for John Kerry comes on should I take that as a sign that God wants me to be pro-choice?


#12

[quote=ncgolf]Have you thought that God has answered but you really dont like the answer or it is not what you want it to be.

[/quote]

Yes, I’m prepared to hear answers that I may not like.

That’s not my experience. I’m getting none of those answers. Just silence.

I’m not testing God, I’m testing the claims that my fellow human beings are making about God. I’m perfectly willing to accept that God has no desire to communicate with me but that god would not be the Christian God.


#13

[quote=dolffn]I also believe that all prayers are answered, but they are answered on God’s time and in God’s manner of choosing.
[/quote]

Well that’s one possible explanation. But I would wonder why he wouldn’t want me to become a believer as quickly as possible.

[quote=dolffn]Quite frankly, hearing voices might make one question their sanity
[/quote]

Since I’m expecting to hear from God that shouldn’t be a problem.


#14

[quote=Drew98]I don’t see why I would need an intercessor unless you’re saying God is limited in some way.

Nothing to lose? 1/2 hour per day for 30 days is 15 hours! To me, that’s a lot to lose! I’ve prayed the rosary before (but not for 30 days in a row) and it can get pretty tedious.
Furthermore I don’t really feel comfortable reciting the prayers of the rosary because I would essentially be declaring things I don’t really believe.
[/quote]

No, my friend, God is not limited, but you and I are. In fact, we are so far from God that we are unable to know whether or not he hears our prayers. This is why we need help for help from someone who we know has to be close to God.

You are not likely to develop a friendship with God unless you are willing to spend time with him. Half an hour a day is nothing! The friends of God pray without ceasing.

:blessyou:


#15

[quote=Carl]I’m sorry, but it strikes me as a little comical that an atheist should takes his own prayers seriously, never mind that God would be likely to.

[/quote]

I’m simply taking the Christian claim that God wants to have a relationship with every human being seriously. I find it very interesting that a Christian would discourage someone from praying.

Why wouldn’t I be able to? If I mistakenly believe my telephone is dead would I be unable to hear the dial tone if I pick it up and hold it to my ear?


#16

Why wouldn’t I be able to? If I mistakenly believe my telephone is dead would I be unable to hear the dial tone if I pick it up and hold it to my ear?

Does it not occur to you that dial tone means nobody is listening on the other end?


#17

DREW

Then again, maybe the dial tone you hear means that possibly some day someone will be on the other end. Maybe. But wouldn’t that make you an agnostic, rather than an atheist?


#18

You know, sometimes you just have to kick the dust frrom your sandals and walk on…

Peace brother… :thumbsup:


#19

[quote=arnulf]No, my friend, God is not limited, but you and I are. In fact, we are so far from God that we are unable to know whether or not he hears our prayers. This is why we need help for help from someone who we know has to be close to God.

You are not likely to develop a friendship with God unless you are willing to spend time with him. Half an hour a day is nothing! The friends of God pray without ceasing.

:blessyou:
[/quote]

I dont think the rosary would be appropriate for an atheist in that it would be insincere and would be done almost in a more magical fashion waiting for the results of your saying the particular special words.
In contrast to what Carl said, I think an atheist is perfectly valid in a sincere prayer in searching for God. I understand that technically an atheist has chosen to reject the existence of God, but does that limit them from recognizing the possiblity of God’s existence. Granted, you may want to technically refer to them as a temporary agnostic when they have these considerations. I would say that many a Christian have done the same thing in becoming temporary agnostics in considering the possibility that they are wrong in their beliefs.
I would be careful in trying to judge a person’s heart and sincerity simply based on a label that they have assigned themselves. How many Catholics out there do not even know what it means to be Catholic?

~Mike


#20

well you know, if an ad for john kerry comes on, you know what ther church teaches, then that might be from God telling you that he is wrong. and i believe god is always there when we need him, wouldn’t you agree?


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