Friday, August 12, 2011

Five Years and Still Waiting...

Five years ago, on August 11, 2006, Aaron Kinney over at Kill the Afterlife posted this blog entry in which he published a prayer request on my behalf.
In his post, Aaron wrote:
This post is a prayer request for all theists and afterlife believers to give Dawson Bethrick 20/20 vision! Whether a Christian, Muslim, Satanist, Hindu, or whatever other superstition you believe in, you are cordially invited to pray to, converse with, bargain with, sell your soul to, or by any other means necessary get your invisible sky fairy to magically grant Dawson Bethrick the 20/20 vision that he is so patiently requesting. 
Don't let the derogatory references to your deity fool you; I am dead serious here. This is the perfect opportunity to win a convert for your religion of choice! Dawson Bethrick has stated that he is even willing to close his eyes and bow his head to increase the prayer's effectiveness. It's a small price to pay for 20/20 vision! All you need to do as the messenger of God is to set up an appointment with Dawson, and he will surely give the head bow and eyelid shutter at the requested moment. 
And if Dawson's vision really does change to 20/20 because of your religious intervention, I have a good hunch that he will convert to your religion. I know I will! You hear that, theists? If Dawson Bethrick confirms with me that his vision has been miraculously enhanced to 20/20 because of your prayer or other negotiation with your God, then I, Aaron Kinney, will convert to your religion on the spot. 
This is a grand opportunity for theists everywhere! Convert two extremely atheistic souls, and destroy two atheist blogs with one successful prayer request! It's a fucking bargain. Our souls are for sale at discount, theists. Can you cough up the spiritual dough?
Five years later, and I am in fact more dependent on corrective lenses than before. How can this be?

Now of course, some Christians might dismiss this prayer request by saying “God doesn’t do parlor tricks.” And yet, it’s not clear what exactly a “parlor trick” is understood in this context to be, while Aaron’s prayer request is not for the Lord to do anything different from what the gospel narratives in the New Testament already depict him doing, namely curing vision problems. Aaron certainly has not asked that the Christian pray that Jesus do something that’s arguably frivolous, like turning water into wine (if that’s not a parlor trick, what is?), but that Jesus do what he’s said to have done in passages such as Matthew 9:27-31, 20:30-34, Mark 8:22-26, 10:46-52, Luke 7:21, and John 9:1-41.

Sensing the futility of this move, some Christians might retort by saying that such passages are not meant to indicate cures of physical blindness, but rather “spiritual blindness.” But if Christians think I’m “spiritually blind” on account of the fact that I reject Christianity, then it seems again that these passages have relevance which the Christian could not deny, and that again we have yet another opportunity to find out how effective prayer is and how reliable the Christian god’s promises are.

Let’s put it this way: critics of Christianity are not going to be impressed by the apologists’ ingenuity in creating excuses for their religious doctrines not coming to pass. And yet, excuses are all that apologists seem capable of producing.

Now one Christian did comment in response to Aaron’s blog, and stated, “Dawson, I have been praying for you.” When I inquired on this, and pointed out that my eyesight still had not been restored to 20/20 vision, the same Christian responded, “I said ‘I am praying for you’ but I didn't tell you what I am praying.” This kind of response strikes me as simply childish, when in fact the Christians expect us to take their worldview’s doctrines of miracles and divine promises seriously.

If a Christian truly believes that his god has the power to restore my vision to 20/20 acuity, and actually believes that prayer has any efficacy, why would he hesitate or be reluctant to pray for my eyesight?

Some Christians might respond, as many I’ve known have, that my lack of faith prevents their god from working in my life. This only suggests that their god is a very weak god, so much so that it is rendered effectually powerless by a mere human being’s lack of faith. This doesn’t even seem biblical. The book of Acts depicts Saul of Tarsus as militantly opposed to Christianity, to the point of conducting aggressive campaigns against its followers. Clearly he could not be said to have had faith in Jesus at this point. And yet, his lack of faith did not prevent Jesus from working in his life, according to the holy storybook.

Besides, shouldn’t the believer’s faith be enough? After all, John 14:14 puts the following promise into Jesus’ mouth:
If ye shall ask any thing in my name, I will do it.
This is an unequivocal promise which Christians believe Jesus uttered. Are we supposed to simply ignore such things? Should we be surprised that apologists themselves do not introduce this and similar passages when trying to defend their god-belief? I’m not. They’re an embarrassing failure. But if a non-Christian bring them to the apologist’s attention, don’t be surprised if the apologist tries to make the non-Christian appear foolish or ignorant (or both) for doing so. While these verses are in fact in the bible and we’re expected to accept everything the bible says as “God’s word,” the apologist will try to show that the problem is with you when you remind him of their presence in “Scripture.”

Meanwhile, my eyesight continues to decay, which suggests either that believers who are aware of the prayer request that Aaron publicized are reluctant for some reason to pray for my eyes to be restored, or their god really doesn’t exist, or both. I can’t help but suspect that believers don’t want to pray on my behalf because they don’t want to give their god a chance to fail.

But what do I know?

by Dawson Bethrick

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14 Comments:

Blogger Ydemoc said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

August 12, 2011 5:19 AM  
Blogger Ydemoc said...

(last comment deleted to add something to my last paragraph)

Dawson,

Good stuff! I also found the site "Why won't God heal Amputees?" (found on your "Recommended Resource" list) also has much to say about the folly of prayer.

Also of note is this article: "Largest Study of Prayer to Date Finds It Has No Power to Heal" (Los Angeles Times, March 31, 2006; http://articles.latimes.com/2006/mar/31/science/sci-prayer31).

The article reports that not only did prayer have no power to heal, but also patients who knew they were being prayed for "had more complications" than those who were not aware of prayers being said for them. The added pressure to get well was cited as a possible explanation for why prayed-for patients did not fare as well as those who were not prayed for.

On one occasion, when I wasn't feeling well, I was able to cite this article to discourage anyone from praying for me to get well. I told them, "I can't stop you from praying. But if you're going to do it, please don't tell me you're doing it, because I'll probably get worse."

The article above cites a Sister of a monastery who makes a few comments in an attempt to dismiss the study. This dismissal basically boils down to her stating that faith is not subject to scientific testing. Surprise, surprise.

Ydemoc

August 12, 2011 5:32 AM  
Blogger Justin Hall said...

Yes but what neither of you knew was that I have been secretly praying to Blarko the wonder being for the past 5 years for Dawson to continue his atheistic blog. My prayers have been answered thus Blarko must exist! See proof of Blarko's mighty powers.

Alright, then off to work, because prayers are not going to pay the bills:)

August 12, 2011 6:02 AM  
Blogger Hezekiah Ahaz said...

Ydemoc,

Can you get any more clueless?

Here is the link when you are ready.

http://paulsapologetic.blogspot.com/

Dawson,

I hope you enjoyed the tribute I paid to you over on my blog. Stay tuned for more in the future.

August 12, 2011 6:55 AM  
Blogger Bahnsen Burner said...

Intersting points, Ydemoc. I will check out that article. It's interesting that the study found that people who knew they were being prayed for actually had additional complications. I'm curious as to how mystics will react if I tell them not to pray for me if/when I get sick for that reason. I suppose I should have a printout of that article handy just for such an occasion!

Yes, Why Won't God Heal Amputees? is a fun website, though I haven't visited it in a couple years now. But it's a good question. Certainly the omnipotent and all-loving creator of the universe has the power to heal amputees. But, if it's real, it chooses not to. Some father figure! If my daughter got sick or lost a limb, I'd do everything in my power to help her any way I can. Nothing would stop me. That's what a loving parent does. Who needs a "father" whose utter indifference is confused with "love"?


Justin, you're right. All along it's been the power of Blarko that has inspired and sustained my blog. See, prayer is effectual, but of course only when the right deity is prayed to. There is only one Blarko. All the others are just posers.


Nide, I'm aware of your blog since you've advertised it here the first time. I read your first blog entry last week. Since then, I've not found any reason to return to it. So if you have a tribute entry to me, I have not read it, and frankly, I'm not interested in going and looking for it. You are irrelevant.

Regards,
Dawson

August 12, 2011 8:25 AM  
Blogger Ydemoc said...

Hezekiah wrote: "Can you get any more clueless?"

Yes. I actually think I can get much, much more clueless. How? By letting my imagination run wild and believing in biblegod.

"Clueless" seems to be a favorite of yours. This is the second time (if not more) that you have used this in an attempt to belittle my views.

I wonder if Hez can tell us what "clues" I'm lacking that would lead me to biblegod belief? How did he acquire awareness of these clues? And why would I need "clues" in the first place to believe in something that is supposed to be so obvious?

Ydemoc

August 12, 2011 10:19 AM  
Blogger Hezekiah Ahaz said...

Great.

http://paulsapologetic.blogspot.com/

August 12, 2011 10:29 AM  
Blogger Ydemoc said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

August 12, 2011 10:51 AM  
Blogger Ydemoc said...

Dawson,

(I, again, deleted my previous comment after publishing it. Funny how that's when I notice errors or lack of clarity. This also happens quite often to me when I print something and view it after composing it on my computer. Anyway, here is my edited comment:)


Along these lines of praying for miracles, I've wondered why the types of miracles we read about in the bible are exclusively contemporaneous with the times and culture of the bible.

By this I mean, we have wine turning into water, talking donkeys, a human living inside a whale, a talking serpent, spitting to heal sight, etc. Nothing anachronistic; no unusual mode for such miracles.


How is that we don't read of any of the bible characters performing such miracles as landing on the moon, identifying rabies and developing a vaccine, curing polio, discovering radiation, discovering electricity and using it for power, turning oil into fuel for automobiles... I could go on and on.

The answers are obvious (a) alleged bible miracles really didn't happen (b) my proposed miracles couldn't happen either, since at that time, they did not possess knowledge needed for such discoveries and innovations.

This only underscores the hierarchical nature of knowledge. To borrow a phrase from Hez, the people who wrote such bible tales truly were "clueless."

Here's a little something I came up with that I think sums this up in, hopefully, humorous fashion:

Do you know why Jesus didn't come up with the miracle of air conditioning? Because, where would he plug it in?

(Can you *imagine* how many more followers he would have had if he would've come up with such an innovation in the hot desert!?!)


Ydemoc

August 12, 2011 11:26 AM  
Blogger Ydemoc said...

Just an addendum to my previous comments:

The British science fiction writer, Arthur C. Clark -- whose works I am not familiar with, but whose quote I came across and liked -- wrote:

"Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic."

Can you imagine what people of biblical times would think of all the things we have today, things that most people take for granted?

No doubt they would think of such things we have today as magic - perhaps even that heaven is indeed here on earth.

Ydemoc

August 12, 2011 11:54 AM  
Blogger Ydemoc said...

Hez,

I failed to connect your previous comments to me on your earlier post. Now that I have, I see that your hilarity continues.

You wrote: "Can you get any more clueless?

Here is the link when you are ready.

http://paulsapologetic.blogspot.com/"

Just as I thought: When I'm ready to get more clueless, I should visit your blog!

C'mon, Hez, you're really Norm Crosby or Yogi Berra, aren't you?

Ydemoc

August 12, 2011 12:36 PM  
Blogger Aaron Kinney said...

Hey man! I remember this, how epic. God is taking his sweet ass time, the motherfucker. Hasa diga eebowai!

August 13, 2011 11:05 AM  
Blogger Luiz Claudio said...

Dawson: "I can’t help but suspect that believers don’t want to pray on my behalf because they don’t want to give their god a chance to fail"

Poor christian souls, supressing the thruth with their wickedness...

August 14, 2011 12:04 PM  
Blogger Noor said...

I've never prayed, but strangely enough after a decade of gradual worsening, my vision did a flip-around and has been improving significantly in the last few years. Now to figure out which god is responsible... But I guess those who don't pray are rewarded.

August 16, 2011 3:11 AM  

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