Thursday, June 01, 2006


I was gonna wait for awhile before I got into the principles of Dougintology, but Scott Adams' blog was about people who think their god talks to them. So here we are - Prayer.

The standard Christian idea of God is an all powerful being who has a plan for us all. That is, everything that happens is according to plan. This seed sprouts while that one rots... the plan. This person gets a safe dropped on him while that person finds a free bag of money in the now broken safe... the plan.
Most people who pray do so because they want something from God. They want to do well on a test, they want traffic to open up so they can get home, they want a pony, etc. Most prayers are all gimme-gimme. This, to me, is incredibly arrogant. God is supposed to say "Well, I HAD this whole elaborate scheme to control the fate of the universe and guide it to my one devine goal. But you know what? I'm gonna throw all that out so you can get that one last Snickers bar."

I know, there's a formula for prayer that some faiths give.
1) Tell God what a spiffy fella he is. (apparently the almighty needs constant reassurance)
2) Thank God for all he's given you. (a thank you note is always appreciated)
3) Ask that he keep up the good work.
4) Amen.

I really have nothing against that formula. I think you're talking to yourself, but that's me.

While I do think you're talking to yourself I don't think prayer is worthless. It requires you to step back from whatever stress you're suffering in your life, calm down, and focus on something else. Just de-stress a bit. The more you do it the longer you'll live.
It's better than stopping and counting to 10 but not on the same level as meditation.
If the cause of the stress is something you can't do anything about ask God to handle it. While this doesn't improve the situation it serves as a way of admitting that problem is beyond your control so you'll be able to move on and stop trying to control the uncontrollable.
Prayer can also be a sounding board to which you can explain your problems to your thumbs and by explaining them see your solution. I prefer to use e-mail. I write to the guys to ask their help with a batch of code and 75% of the time the message is never sent because I found the solution while writing the message.

Would God give you an answer? I don't think so. If you get an answer the first response should be to check your medication. Beyond that you need to ask why it is that God always agrees with you. Nobody ever says "Personally, I'm against abortion, but God came to me and said it's ok. I still think abortion is murder, but hey, who if God says it's not I can't argue."

Assuming that God really has decided to talk to you, you then have to decide whether or not God actually LIKES you.
God wasn't a big fan of Joan of Arc. He told her to go off and lead an army against the British. They set her on fire. Gee, thanks, God.
"Go spread my word." Does he really want you going out and telling the world "God spoke to me. He said he wants all the green M&Ms." or does he want you to spend your remaining days in a padded room?
God created the platypus so he's not above a good practical joke now and then.

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