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Who hears #PrayersForOklahoma?
May 21st, 2013
04:45 PM ET

Who hears #PrayersForOklahoma?

By Daniel Burke, CNN Belief Blog Co-Editor
[twitter-follow screen_name='BurkeCNN']

(CNN) - God may not notice the thousands of prayers tweeted for victims of Oklahoma’s devastating tornado - but Ricky Gervais sure has. And he is not pleased.

As of Tuesday afternoon, more than 75,000 people have used the hashtag #PrayForOklahoma, including pop starlets, pastors and politicians, according to Topsy.com, a trend-monitoring site.

For example, the White House tweeted,

But the hashtag and the sentiments it promotes prompted a fierce backlash on social media, led by Gervais, a British comedian, and other prominent nonbelievers.

And while one Oklahoma City pastor says he appreciates the Twitter prayers, some religious scholars say devout petitions require more than moving your hands across a keyboard.

"A prayer is supposed to have a consequence for you," said Elizabeth Drescher, a lecturer at Santa Clara University in California. "It's not an act of magic."

Gervais, an ardent foe of organized religion, was more caustic.

After MTV tweeted that pop stars Beyonce, Rihanna and Katy Perry are sending their prayers to Oklahoma, Gervais responded, “I feel like an idiot now … I only sent money.”

Gervais and other atheists also kick-started a counter-trend, using the hashtag #ActuallyDoSomethingForOklahoma.

“If all people are doing is praying, it is worthless,” Hemant Mehta, an Illinois math teacher who writes the blog “Friendly Atheist,” told CNN. “If they are praying and donating to the Red Cross, that’s more like it.”

Mehta is promoting a group called Foundation Beyond Belief that aims to provide a humanist response to crises like the Oklahoma tornado.

The prayer debate spilled into other social media sites as well, with commenters on CNN’s Facebook page sparring over God’s role in Monday’s destructive whirlwind.

According to Oklahoma officials, 24 people have died, many more are injured, and once-orderly streets look likes foretastes of the apocalypse.

In response to a woman who said she was praying for the victims, Facebook commenter Peter Tongue replied, “If prayer works, there wouldn’t be a disaster like this in the first place .... so please keep your religion to yourself.”

But believers had their say as well.

“God is still in control!” said Wilbur Dugger, a commenter on CNN’s Facebook page. “Everything (God) does is to get our attention. … My sympathy and prayers go out to those who get caught up in his demonstrations of (God) ruling the world.”

The social-media sparring over prayer and God’s will reflect a culture in which traditional notions of religion - and the places where people talk about faith - are changing faster than a Twitter feed, said Drescher, the Santa Clara lecturer.

“We’re watching people re-articulate what it means to be spiritual and religious,” she said.

Just a few years ago, for example, no one knew what a hashtag was. Now the “#PrayFor...” meme appears after almost every national and international tragedy.

But what exactly does it mean? Is the tweeting multitude really folding its hands in prayer, or is it a fleeting expression of existential angst? Or maybe just a trendy thing to say?

“It seems to express hope and anxiety, and maybe even helplessness,” Drescher said.

“At the same time, it evokes this strong response from people who see it as a cop-out, a way of claiming some kind of spiritual space that doesn’t actually have any meaning to the people who are posting the meme or the community they are addressing.”

Traditionally, prayer has required something of the pray-er: an orientation toward reverence, a readiness to act, Drescher continued. “You are meant to do something - and that something may not be an easy thing.”

Slapping a hashtag at the end of a tweet doesn’t meet that standard, the scholar said.

The Rev. David Johnson of St. Andrew’s United Methodist Church in Oklahoma City said the prayerful tweets mean something to him - even if he’s been too busy to read them.

Since Monday, St. Andrew’s has become a Red Cross command post and reunion site for families to find loved ones caught in the tornado’s path. The tragedy has also touched the congregation itself, with homes, and some lives, lost on Tuesday, Johnson said.

Told of the Twitter prayers, Johnson said, “that’s awesome.”

“People feel helpless - like God called them to do something but they don’t know what. That’s where prayer comes in.”

Johnson said his church appreciates the many material donations coming its way: the generator sent by a lady from Arkansas, the food and water sent from neighboring towns. But they also solicit, and are happy to receive, the many prayers recited - or tweeted - on their behalf, he said.

“We’ve seen quite a lot of trauma in the last day,” Johnson said. “Obviously, people are going to ask why God allows tornadoes to happen. That’s just part of this world. God doesn’t promise us that bad things won’t happen, he promises to help us get through it. That’s what prayer helps us do.”

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Belief • United States

soundoff (3,515 Responses)
  1. Dyslexic doG

    You hysterical Christians really need to read the article. He just suggested we send money because prayer does nothing.

    If prayer did anything then the sheer volume of prayer would have resurrected the dead, healed the injured and fixed all the buildings. None of that happened!

    Prayer does nothing so send money which is more practical. Sheesh!!!

    May 22, 2013 at 4:46 pm |
    • sam stone

      Wrong

      Your aguement is based on the assumption that just because one prays, and believes in god that they should be immortal, and live through all of lifes events.

      You have poor understanding of what prayer really is, and used for.

      May 22, 2013 at 4:54 pm |
  2. toothball

    @MCFx

    Thanks for those non-facts.

    May 22, 2013 at 4:45 pm |
  3. Harvey Brown

    My wife and I are victims of the Moore, OK tornado. She is Emergency Medicine Resident that happened to be working in the hospital (Moore Medical Center) that was directly hit by the tornado. Our house was in the path of tornado, but fortunately for us it changed directions and our house was spared. When I heard that a tornado had touched down in our area I drove to the hospital to seek shelter and to be with my pregnant wife, because if the tornado had struck my house, I would have been killed or severely injured. Needless to say, it was a frightening experience being in a building that was directly struck by a EF5 tornado. Thankfully, no one in the hospital was killed or injured, and we all made it out of the building safely. However, both of our vehicles were totally destroyed by this EF5 tornado. I have no clue where my Honda Civic is, as it was picked up by the tornado and dropped who knows where. Our vehicles were fully insured, but the insurance money will not be enough to replace what we have lost. Therefore, Ricky Gervais is right, although I appreciate people's prayers, what I really need is MONEY to replace our two vehicles! The car dealership is not going to accept a check for $20,000 PRAYERS. Oh, and P.S., my very pregnant wife didn't offer her prayers to the injured patient's that came from the surrounding areas to the triage center set-up outside the movie theater, she provided with them medical care! People of Faith need to realize that prayer without action is useless, the affected people actually need help!

    May 22, 2013 at 4:44 pm |
    • P3

      You mean there are actually other people in Oklahoma like me? We must be the three people here who aren't in church on Sundays. LOL

      May 22, 2013 at 4:48 pm |
    • Bearded Blue

      Well said Harvey – I'm making another donation on the basis of your post here. I hope some of it finds it way to you and your wife

      May 22, 2013 at 4:51 pm |
    • Dyslexic doG

      thanks for your sanity! Much appreciated amongst all of this Christian hysteria.

      May 22, 2013 at 4:51 pm |
    • mattindc

      Prayers are BETTER than NOTHING. Harvey sounds like a scammer to me. I gotta bridge in Brooklynn I wanna sell you.

      May 22, 2013 at 4:52 pm |
    • mattindc

      You want some $...send proof of WHAT HAPPENED to YOU...not some PO box in another state for donations/\.

      P R O O F
      .
      No GOD? Prayers are useless? Watch that Long Island Medium and REPENT. John Edward?
      Modern day profits friends in Christ.

      May 22, 2013 at 4:56 pm |
    • Bearded Blue

      "Prayers are better than nothing"? Prayers do nothing...

      Get off your knees and make a donation or go help the clean up – do something. Prayer does nothing but make yourself feel like you have done something – it is quite selfish

      May 22, 2013 at 5:01 pm |
    • mattindc

      hahaha you dumb athesits like Beared loser Blue send money to scammers......I've been BROKE numerous times in my life and have prayed to the LORD & SAVIOUR JESUS Christ for help and BAM!!!! Money is handed to me......
      HE exists and trad lightly friend.....he's watching YOU, Bearded Blue...hahahahahah

      May 22, 2013 at 5:06 pm |
    • mattindc

      hahahaha you atheists are a joke.....what a trip!

      May 22, 2013 at 5:08 pm |
    • Harvey Brown

      To MATTINDC:

      This in not some scam, this is a real person you are talking to you. You want proof, provide me with your email address and I will send you pictures of my wife's LR4. When they find my Civic, I will send you pictures of that as well. I can also put you in touch with my Progressive claims adjuster as well. I live at 134th and Penn, in a development called Country Place. (Look it up). It is only two miles west of Telephone Road, where the tornado destroyed our vehicles. My wife is a hard working EM resident and I am an analytical Chemist/Biochemistry graduate student. My wife and I are Christians, but we believe in ACTUALLY helping people when they are need, not placating them with prayers. We are not looking for hand outs, we are self-made people who came from poor families and we have busted our asses to get where we are. We have never asked anyone for anything! It is astounding that "Christians" like you would insult me and try to diminish my loss.

      It's no wonder the that the greatest cause of Atheism in the world are pseudo-"Christians" like you who profess Jesus to be their Lord and Savior, but deny Him with their lifestyle. "Christians" like you disgust me! You are coward who hides behind the anonymity of the internet. Again, you want proof I will send it to you!

      May 22, 2013 at 5:32 pm |
  4. ptw

    Instead of praying to God, maybe someone needs to give him a stern lecture about sending tornadoes through neighborhoods and schools to make people suffer and die.

    Seriously–if any person had that power and did that they would be called monsters. God? Oh, just pray to him that he'll make it all better for the damage he's done. This is like praying to Tsarnaev after the Boston bombings.

    May 22, 2013 at 4:43 pm |
    • sam stone

      This arguement is based on the assumption that just because one believes God exists, means that one cannot die, or suffer.

      See, people who "believe" understand that the life we live in flesh is meerely the beginning– and death is not the end.

      So... under your arguement, We should all believers should label themselves as immortals because they can never die, or feel pain.

      You must think we're supermen

      May 22, 2013 at 4:50 pm |
    • sam stone

      We should label all believers immortal, since they cannot die or feel pain ***********

      May 22, 2013 at 4:51 pm |
    • Dyslexic doG

      Sam ... put down the keyboard and go and take your meds ... there's a good boy

      May 22, 2013 at 4:53 pm |
    • sam stone

      Glad to know that I stumped any intelligent response from you. 😉

      May 22, 2013 at 4:55 pm |
  5. Ed

    Why should I care what Ricky says? J

    May 22, 2013 at 4:42 pm |
    • gorp

      You shouldn't/don't have to. Why bother commenting?

      May 22, 2013 at 4:43 pm |
  6. Dandy

    What we need to do is to track down the id iots who were praying for a tornado to hit Moore, OK.. 😉
    >>“God is still in control!” said Wilbur Dugger, a commenter on CNN’s Facebook page. “Everything (God) does is to get our attention. … <<< Aha.. the evil, revengeful god of the old Testament. So he is still around I guess. Where was JC when all of this was going down?? We need JC to get god back in line again... too much drought, famine, and tornadoes..

    May 22, 2013 at 4:42 pm |
  7. Kevin

    Ooooo ahhhh Ricky!! how cool you are to give $$$$ and let us all know about it.....wow

    May 22, 2013 at 4:42 pm |
    • gorp

      How cool theists are to pray for Oklahoma and let us all know about it

      May 22, 2013 at 4:42 pm |
    • henry

      Gorp – the difference is that the people that said they would pray on twitter were not attacking anyone else in their statement – duh!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

      May 22, 2013 at 4:50 pm |
  8. Jeff

    Ricky don't lose that number. It's the only one you own.

    May 22, 2013 at 4:41 pm |
    • fintastic

      ..."it's the only one you've got..."

      May 22, 2013 at 5:17 pm |
  9. Lilly

    For your information Mr G, they did studies at major universities on prayer....and guess what? The plants in the room all changed after people came and prayed. It was on the news you baffoon

    May 22, 2013 at 4:40 pm |
    • Dyslexic doG

      yes ... the plants grew ... amazing isn't it?!?!? WOW!!!

      May 22, 2013 at 4:42 pm |
    • ME II

      @Lilly,

      "Intercessory prayer itself had no effect on complication-free recovery from CABG..."
      ( http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16569567 )

      May 22, 2013 at 4:44 pm |
    • Religious kooks unite

      Those "prayer works" studies were funded and run by the Templeton Foundation and found to be (BIG SURPRISE) a fraud.

      Pray for amputees to regrow limbs and, when they do, I'll be convinced. Till then, keep your smug small-minded nonsense to yourself.

      May 22, 2013 at 4:44 pm |
    • cfg

      Oh well if it was on the NEWS then it must be true! There can't be ANY other explanation!

      May 22, 2013 at 4:46 pm |
    • P3

      AND you spelled buffoon wrong.

      May 22, 2013 at 4:48 pm |
    • Ken Margo

      LOL

      May 22, 2013 at 4:49 pm |
    • Phil

      I second Ken's LOL.

      May 22, 2013 at 4:57 pm |
    • fintastic

      The plants!!! The plants!!!

      May 22, 2013 at 5:19 pm |
  10. P3

    I have the unfortunate displeasure of being surrounded by religious fanatics here in Oklahoma, many of whom are ignorant of the world outside their small town. I agree that it's idiotic to pray for Oklahoma when you can actually do something useful instead. Don't you think people were praying before and during the tornado to something or someone they thought might provide protection? Well, how'd that work out for them? In my opinion, they need to keep their religious sentiments to themselves. It's disgusting.

    May 22, 2013 at 4:40 pm |
    • Lance

      "In my opinion, they need to keep their religious sentiments to themselves. It's disgusting."

      Start by practicing what you preach. Lack of belief is itself a form of belief.

      May 22, 2013 at 4:50 pm |
    • Bearded Blue

      No Lance it is not.

      I guess it can be if you consider "off" is a TV channel and "not collecting stamps" is a hobby

      May 22, 2013 at 4:55 pm |
  11. Heretic

    Ricky is god. You can't prove that he isnt, therefore he is. /religious logic.

    May 22, 2013 at 4:40 pm |
    • sam stone

      Your terrible attempt at appearing intelligent failed.

      Why?

      Because someone can walk into the room, shoot him and he would die. Thus, proving he is not god.

      /Atheistlogicfail #12781283771238712353453432123544657

      May 22, 2013 at 4:43 pm |
    • henry

      so glad you used the small g heretic.....Ricky is a powerless big mouth, who creates nothing but kaos

      May 22, 2013 at 4:44 pm |
    • ScienceNeedsNoMagic

      Sam Stone: Or if someone shoots him, he was ascend to heaven and take his rightful place. Can you disprove that? If you can, you understand the frustration that atheists have in trying to use reason (and adult scientific words) with people like you.

      May 22, 2013 at 4:48 pm |
    • Bearded Blue

      I'd love to try that theory on God, anyone ever seen him to try?

      Ricky and Kaos – so he's a part of "Get Smart" bad guys now?

      May 22, 2013 at 4:57 pm |
    • sam stone

      So by your statement.

      A person says Ricky is god.

      I said one could prove it because he can die.

      Then you say "Try to disprove of one being ascended to heaven"

      Where is this coming from?

      Plus, there is no reasoning with ANYONE who refuses to understand your beliefs. (Please remember the difference in UNDERSTANDING, than Believing)

      And this will go along with SOME athiests, and SOME christains alike

      May 22, 2013 at 5:03 pm |
    • ScienceNeedsNoMagic

      Sam Stone(r) says:
      So by your statement.

      A person says Ricky is god.

      I said one could prove it because he can die.

      Then you say "Try to disprove of one being ascended to heaven"

      Where is this coming from?

      My point was that if Ricky was shot and killed, I could say, "No he didn't die. He ascended to heaven. So disprove he is God." I was pointing out the typical "logic" used in religious arguments. I can ask you to prove that Jesus was God. You have no evidence that he ever existed. you might try to say, well he's in heaven now. I would ask you to prove he is in heaven. You have nothing to prove it, save your faith, which is a nice way of saying, "My imagination".

      Plus, there is no reasoning with ANYONE who refuses to understand your beliefs. (Please remember the difference in UNDERSTANDING, than Believing)

      The problem is, I fully understand your beliefs. i've read the Bible, been to church. My problem is that it was so improbable and unlikely that as a four year old, I could see the nonsense. The problem is that my "beliefs" are backed by science, reason and logic. Repeatable experiments have failed to provide the slightest sign of any God, let alone yours. There are thousands of religions out there. The chances of yours being the "one true" religion are very slim. The chances of any of them being true are very slim. That leaves the obvious. No religion is right. Science backs that one conclusion 100%.
      Using the Bible to prove your God is like using a drawing of a unicorn to prove unicorns exist.
      And this will go along with SOME athiests, and SOME christains alike

      May 22, 2013 at 5:31 pm |
    • Gary

      /theistlogic #39083719923787981723987123 – it's okay for one man to be murdered and be the son of god, but it's certainly not possible for the fallacy to ever repeat itself

      May 22, 2013 at 5:32 pm |
  12. Dyslexic doG

    Let's talk about Horus from Egypt in 3000 BC (Jesus is a copy of Horus), or Attis from Greece in 1500 BC (Jesus is a copy of Attis), or Mithra from Persia in 1200BC (Jesus is a copy of Mithra), or Krishna from India in 900BC (Jesus is a copy of Krishna), or Dionysus from Greece in 500 BC (Jesus is a copy of Dionysus) .... or any of the DOZENS of other gods predating the bronze age book character Jesus who were born of a virgin on Dec 25, traveled as a teacher, had 12 disciples, performed miracles, was killed and lay dead for 3 days and was resurrected.

    You Christians are not even original! What a joke!

    May 22, 2013 at 4:38 pm |
    • { ! }

      Do the deities you mention come from the Little Pop-Up Book of Atheist Cathechism? Apparently, some facts are so big they can't be seen. The big difference between your dieties and Jesus is that Jesus was found walking the earth among the ordinary flesh and blood people of his time. His witnesses were all weak and doubtful people like you and me. Having been thoroughly concinced that Jesus was dead, they found themselves astonished that he was not.

      May 22, 2013 at 4:43 pm |
    • Dyslexic doG

      outside your story book, there is no proof of your Jesus ever existing.

      May 22, 2013 at 4:55 pm |
    • sam stone

      D: Lol. Please do some research.

      There has been pleantiful examples that Jesus existance is definitely POSSIBLE by athiest standards.

      May 22, 2013 at 5:06 pm |
    • LinCA

      @sam stone

      You said, "There has been pleantiful examples that Jesus existance is definitely POSSIBLE by athiest standards."
      There may have been a person on which the Jesus myth was built. There is no evidence to suggest he, if he existed, was anything special.

      May 22, 2013 at 5:11 pm |
    • sam stone

      Of course.

      You can say that about a lot of things to of which can only confirm it existed, but was nothing "special".

      Thats why history books are kept to keep record of those "special events" that happen over time.

      If we did not have them, many of those events would be lost for ever, or forgotten.

      There are FEW things in this world that prove to be anything special after their "existance", and with out history being kept.

      This is why many believers, and historians would say the "bible" was created to keep mark of those special events, just as historians would keep record of other wordly events.

      By the way, great statement. There are very FEW people who can actually post something intelligent in response to some comments.

      May 22, 2013 at 5:15 pm |
    • LinCA

      @sam stone

      You said, "This is why many believers, and historians would say the "bible" was created to keep mark of those special events, just as historians would keep record of other wordly events."
      The problem, of course, is that nothing about Jesus was written until decades after his death. The bible has also been revised and edited many times. Often, or maybe even always, with an agenda to further the religion based on it.

      There is no reason to assume that anything in the bible it true.

      May 22, 2013 at 5:29 pm |
    • In Santa we trust

      fake sam stone
      "There has been pleantiful examples that Jesus existance is definitely POSSIBLE by athiest standards."

      It was mentioned before that fakes are easy to spot. Anyway the existence of a person called Jesus is possible, there is no evidence that he was a god, a son of a god, placed in a tomb, or resurrected from said tomb. So no basis for christianity.

      May 22, 2013 at 5:36 pm |
  13. Rick L

    Prayer works and those who have been in these situations know that......working together with heaven – yahhh!!!!!!!!!!

    May 22, 2013 at 4:38 pm |
    • ScienceNeedsNoMagic

      Did the prayer work for those who died? I don't think so. Or maybe my prayer for strong tornadoes in Oklahoma were stronger than the countless prayers against tornadoes in Oklahoma. Scientific studies have proven prayer does not work. But then, science was never your friend was it?

      May 22, 2013 at 4:51 pm |
  14. Lancesackless

    Dear Ricky,

    Your 15 minutes of fame were up a long time ago.

    Keep being bitter.

    May 22, 2013 at 4:38 pm |
    • Dyslexic doG

      you really need to read the article. he just suggested we send money because prayer does nothing

      May 22, 2013 at 4:44 pm |
    • Chiny

      I prayed that people would send money, and they did. Looks like they were answered after all!

      May 22, 2013 at 4:57 pm |
  15. malia24

    It is a sad thing, when people lack decency and compassion. And in times of such heartache at that. You may or may not believe in God, but it is an absolute fact that that very belief will carry many of Oaklahoma's tornado victims through this difficult time. And to belittle their source of strength... Well, you're basically kicking them when they're down, in my opinion. Some will send prayers. Others money. Some will donate blood. All different gestures of support. But I would hope, at the very least, that all will be done with a sincere desire to promote the well-being of Oaklahoma. And not to validate your own opinion as to what is best or better.

    May 22, 2013 at 4:36 pm |
    • gorp

      It's not opinion. Donating money, blood, supplies has measurable benefit. Saying you're praying for people doesn't.

      May 22, 2013 at 4:40 pm |
    • ksocreative

      I would argue that their family, friends, and communities are their source of strength that will support them and get them through this.

      May 22, 2013 at 4:49 pm |
    • Dandy

      A bunch of cash and a good dose of Valium might help a lot more than their belief in god...
      Mr. Builder.. I am praying that you will build me a new house since the last one was blown away.... tell me when it begins to work.. good luck with that!

      May 22, 2013 at 4:50 pm |
    • Chiny

      Absolutely agree with you! I'm in Oklahoma, I pray and know that it works. Some people don't and I don't condemn them or belittle them – that's their choice. Others have a different source that they go to. Whatever works for them. Why are you people so hateful about it? Yes, I've donated clothes today to the victims too. But I don't have the money right now to donate. I do what I can, and I thank God every day for what I can do...and pray for those who lose everything, pray that they get what they need. If it's an athiests money that they get, so be it!

      May 22, 2013 at 5:04 pm |
    • fintastic

      @chiny........."I pray and know that it works"

      Please explain how you "know" it works.....

      May 22, 2013 at 5:23 pm |
  16. bob

    Sometimes all you CAN DO is pray. #PrayForRickyGervais

    May 22, 2013 at 4:35 pm |
    • Heretic

      76% of americans believe in god. Your arguments are invalid.

      May 22, 2013 at 4:36 pm |
    • dontdrama

      I would but I'm an atheist.

      May 22, 2013 at 4:47 pm |
    • Dandy

      True.. and that is when you know that you are entirely screwed..

      May 22, 2013 at 4:51 pm |
    • gorp

      Sure. The point is, "Sometimes all you can do is pray" is indistinguishable from "Sometimes you can't do anything"

      May 22, 2013 at 4:52 pm |
  17. Isaiah 45

    OK, let us pray. Let's see what happens BEFORE and DURING a tragedy.

    I prayed my heart out continuously from the first day of September, 2004. I wasn't alone. No deity answered the prayers of millions of believers from all faiths around the World. Our pleadings were rewarded on the third day with the deaths of 334 people, 186 of which were young school children who horribly suffered before being blown to bits.

    If a Christian's ultimate reward is heaven, why do they love to be saved from getting there? After a tragedy, ever notice that god can't lose? He wins both ways: Alive – saved by a miracle! Dead – in a better place!

    A human father, who loves his children and has the power to protect them and does not, would be in jail for negligence. I held my deity to a higher standard, so I fired him. He may exist, but not for me. A deity whose Plan requires the blood of innocents is one I will not pray to.

    "Miracles" just may be those times that we avoid a deity's attempts to kill us.

    May 22, 2013 at 4:35 pm |
    • My Opinion

      This is honestly one of the best posts I have ever read. Everything was very well stated, and nothing was offensive at all. You simply stated your opinion for YOURSELF and no one else. I feel the very same way, but was never able to put it into words so accurately. Well done my friend.

      May 22, 2013 at 4:53 pm |
  18. Wayne

    Ricky Gervais is an overpaid id-iot!!!!! He has to let everyone know that he is giving money – making sure that anyone who said they would pray feels stupid....Mr Idi-ot Gervais – the community that pray also gives millions of dollars to charity and aid when there is a disaster- duh!!! Thanks to CNN for starting another blog for those of belief and those who do not....to tear each other to shreds.

    May 22, 2013 at 4:35 pm |
    • ScienceNeedsNoMagic

      Wayne; Chill out dude. He's just a comedian. I have yet to see any blood spilled on this page. Is it okay for Tim Tebow to publically display his beliefs all over TV? There's no difference in the two.

      May 22, 2013 at 4:53 pm |
  19. QS

    The irrationality of prayer:

    A loved one lies in a hospital and the family is told it is touch and go and could go either way. While waiting to see what will eventually happen the family prays like they've never prayed before for their loved one to survive, pleading with their god not to take their loved one away.

    Option 1 – the loved one survives and the family believes they were spared by their god who is loving and merciful.

    Option 2 – the loved one dies and the family believes they were "called home" and are now in a "better place", standing right beside their loving and merciful god.

    God gets all the glory and credit for either outcome, despite the fact that the prayers being made by the family were only for the loved one to survive.

    Faith....what a marvelous coping mechanism.

    May 22, 2013 at 4:34 pm |
    • P3

      Except for those of us who know better. I guess that's where the saying "Ignorance is bliss" comes from.

      May 22, 2013 at 4:43 pm |
    • ScienceNeedsNoMagic

      P3: Faith does not equal "knowledge". You "believe" you know a different story. To claim you know it is foolish.

      May 22, 2013 at 4:54 pm |
    • Gilbert

      You may view prayer as irrational and that is acceptable; however you should not criticize what you don’t understand. The truly spiritual that are in step with God would be praying for God’s will to be done, as we have not the understanding of the creator. Even if you choose to not believe, that is your choice, as for the ones that pray; they are hurting no one by doing so. I don’t know why you are so bitter about it; so I will pray for you. I’m sure it won’t hurt you a bit.

      May 22, 2013 at 5:30 pm |
    • ScienceNeedsNoMagic

      Gilbert; Don't claim that I don't understand prayer or religion. Just because you think that prayer or religion is true certainly does not make it so.
      To claim that only those who believe have some mystical insight into the working of the universe is a bit sad. With my science and technical background as well as my studies of religion. I am quite confident I know more about the universe than you ever will. My knowledge is based on the scientific method, not some bronze age mythical rewrite mostly copied from earlier religious texts and stories.
      The effectiveness of prayer has been scientifically debunked in a ral double blind study. So by your statement.

      Where do you think I am bitter. Amused yes, bitter no.

      May 22, 2013 at 5:37 pm |
    • QS

      "however you should not criticize what you don’t understand."

      I criticize it because I DO understand. You seem to be mistaking my lack of agreement with your belief for lack of understanding, and that's acceptable...it's just not very rational.

      May 22, 2013 at 6:30 pm |
  20. scott

    There are multiple studies that demonstrate that prayer has a measurable effect on medical outcomes. Im sure none of the atheist here will believe this, but it is true. The power of prayer has been demonstrated to have an ACTUAL effect on outcomes in the study populations. Look for "Prayer and healing: A medical and scientific perspective on randomized controlled trials".
    So mr. gervais can just keep his uninformed opinion to himself and keep pretending God does not exist. Sorry pal, but your wrong and the worst part is: you forcefully propagate the lie. Why do you care if people pray for the victims?

    May 22, 2013 at 4:33 pm |
    • Some Guy

      I have never heard of any of these studies. Please name them.

      For every one you find, I'm sure that better medical study can be brought up that shows how the placebo effect–that is, a belief that one is receiving help from something that isn't actually helping at all–has a positive effect on health.

      May 22, 2013 at 4:40 pm |
    • Tree

      "pretending God does not exist"- LOL

      May 22, 2013 at 4:41 pm |
    • P3

      Yes, but if the person prays to a milk bottle, it will have the same outcome.

      May 22, 2013 at 4:44 pm |
    • JWT

      There is nothing wrong with praying for the victims. Of course it may make the praying person feel good about it and if done in person may make the one prayed for feel like they are not alone but that is the only effect it has.

      May 22, 2013 at 4:46 pm |
    • Bearded Blue

      See Placebo Effect

      May 22, 2013 at 4:48 pm |
    • ME II

      "Intercessory prayer itself had no effect on complication-free recovery from CABG..."
      ( http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16569567 )

      May 22, 2013 at 4:50 pm |
    • Rynomite

      If your Abrahamic god is all-powerful and all-knowing, then he already knows everything you will do. As an all powerful all-knowing being he also must as a consequnce have an unchanging mind. Therefore, prayer is an irrelevant and illogical waste of time as it will not influence your god in any way.

      Of course since no such being exists, it is doubly a waste of time.

      May 22, 2013 at 4:51 pm |
    • ChristJones

      I've read a number of these studies and it is true they ask people to pray and there is change. Unfortunately, that doesn't prove causality. I know this is out of religions wheelhouse but doing something and seeing an effect (even if it is the one asked for) doesn't prove causality. This is basic "scientific method" so I don't expect the religious, or even those not scientifically minded to understand it. Proof isn't just a "if this, then that" thing. Traditional causality needs to be shown to "rationally" say "this affects (ed) that." In the words of Clarence Darrow "God created man and in his humility man returned the favor."

      May 22, 2013 at 4:51 pm |
    • ScienceNeedsNoMagic

      Scott: Not one of those scientific studies followed proper double blind processes. The only double blind test i know of actually showed:
      The control group (neither prayed to or "ignored") got better on average with the general public.
      People who did not get prayed over in the study got well the sooner than the national average.
      People who were prayed over healed slower than the control group and the national average.

      http://www.nytimes.com/2006/03/31/health/31pray.html?pagewanted=all&_r=0

      May 22, 2013 at 4:59 pm |
    • Mojo Jojo

      Study that shows otherwise: http://www.nytimes.com/2006/03/31/health/31pray.html?pagewanted=all&_r=0

      May 22, 2013 at 6:28 pm |
    • Scott

      Point out one thought provoking study and the atheists pounce. Are you at least smart enough to recognize that you may just be wrong? Wisdom is understanding one's limitations. Atheism requires just as much, if not more, faith than believing does. And no, science does not tell us that God does not exist. Nothing humanity has ever produced has definitively ruled out the possibility. So your guess is as good as mine. We both reached our conclusions based on a lifetime of experiences and study. So quit trying to act like atheist means educated/ intelligent while believer means uneducated/unintelligent. You have to realize that you take on that assumption as a means to justify your opinion. Believe what you want, just don't marginalize and mock me because I don't agree with you. You do not have the luxury of certainty to back up your claim like you think you do. The tide is turning on the religious and this should worry both believers and non believers alike. Of course, some of the hateful atheist types will celebrate the persecution of Christians from their imaginary pedestal of "intelligence".

      May 22, 2013 at 6:56 pm |
    • ScienceNeedsNoMagic

      Scott: That test was not truly done with scientific methods and has been shown to be wrong.
      How does atheism require more "faith" than belief in a God? There is no scientific evidence of a god. None, zilch, period. Science finds rational, non-miracle based solutions to bible miracles every day. The scientific probability of the existence of a god becomes smaller and smaller daily.

      It takes no "faith" on my part to NOT believe in a supreme being. The things I believe are backed by empirical study and experiments that are repeatable.
      Just as it takes the same lack of faith for me to belief that there was a great flood that covered the planet, that Adam and Eve were our original ancestors, that the earth is only 6000 or so years old, that God created the universe in 6 days, that a snake caused us all to sin, that "thought crime" is a sin, that some guy named Jesus turned water into wine as a party favor, that Mary really was a virgin, impregnated by God (that would be breaking several of his own sins you know), that Jesus died and then rose from the dead, that he fed lots of folks with a little bread – several times, that God would chose such a backward civilization to reveal himself and to allow incompetent individuals to write conflicting stories of the history, that not believing in the "right" God sentences one to hell, that there is a hell, that God would create a Satan just to cause trouble in the world and test his children that he loves so much, that God lets everything happen on this planet for "a reason", that Christianity is the "one true religion", that anyone before Christ is domed to hell, that someone in Africa that has never heard of Christ in their life is bound to hell. These are just a few of the absolutely ridiculous things one must belief to be a true Christian. If there are any you don't belief, then you are not a Christian – your good book says it is so.
      So you can say my "guess" is as good as yours, but how can you:
      1. Believe all those things as a "real" Christian and not feel a bit foolish?
      OR
      2. Cherry pick some of those things as truth, but claim the others are just "stories to help guide the believers?"

      For a Christian, those are your two choices. You have no other options. Which one is yours?

      May 22, 2013 at 7:28 pm |
    • Scott

      Thank you for explaining my options to me. It has to be one of those two choices, huh? Why, so your theory holds water? Sorry, it does not work that way. You posses no super knowledge that allows you to say with certainty the God does not exist. Your repeatable experiments and empirical study provide proof only of what limited understanding we have of the universe and to use it as a definitive answer is to make assumptions. You have faith that you are correct. But, you and I both know we are ALL left to make up our own minds based on the truths we discover for ourselves. You think poking holes in religion somehow debunks the existence of God? Not a bit. If you cannot admit that you could be wrong, then you do not truly understand the question. Oh, and I disagree with your interpretation of the effects of prayer. Neither of us can argue with any certainty of the truth. There is evidence to support both positions. We can only present what we consider to be proof, though we both know it is not proof. Both of our positions are a result of faith. Not JUST faith. Many other factors play into our beliefs. But I have faith that this universe was created by a benevolent and loving God. You have faith that human intellect and scientific study has or will demonstrate the non existence of God. so, yes, your guess is as good as mine. You do not have the moral obligation to eradicate religious thought from this world. Don't be surprised when people continue to pray to their creator LONG after you pass from this earth. just because we don't fully understand how God and the afterlife directly or indirectly interacts with this world, we don't have cause to deny even the possibility of His existence. It is just one more thing in a long list of things we simply do not understand. You give humanity way to much credit.

      May 22, 2013 at 10:19 pm |
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The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.