An atheist who prays…REALLY???

This is exactly why I promote Christian concepts – even as a non-believer. Regardless of the truth of the story, there is value in “The Simple Heart of Christianity“.

Culture Monk

chicago 4

By Kenneth Justice

There’s so much turmoil in the world and in my life. I graduated college in 2008, the housing bubble burst and I’ve never felt very much stability” she said

Last week in Chicago during my Drinking in the Culture Tour I met a late 20ish woman who brought up the subject of prayer, “Both of my parents are hardcore atheists, but I found that I feel much better about my life if I pray before I go to bed at night” she told me

How did you learn to pray” I asked, “Do you have religious friends, Christian, Muslim or something that taught you about god?

Nope” she said, “I’ve never really had any Christian friends at all. I guess when I was a teenager I just noticed people praying in movies or on television and…

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29 Responses to An atheist who prays…REALLY???

  1. Ruth says:

    Hi Jason. Do you feel this value is specific or limited to Christianity?

    • jasonjshaw says:

      Hi Ruth, I believe the idea of praying is not limited to Christianity. I believe it is centred on the act of taking time to be thoughtful, which transcends belief. It is simply a good practice for anyone and there are many ways of going about it – prayer, meditation, staring into space (literally and figuratively), quiet contemplation, etc.

      • Ruth says:

        Okay. It’s just that when you put it like this…

        “Regardless of the truth of the story, there is value in “The Simple Heart of Christianity“.”
        …it makes it seem as though these concepts are exclusive or unique to Christianity, or belief in a god even. I clicked on the link and those ideas were not unique to Jesus, nor even original. I’m an atheist and I meditate/contemplate regularly. As a Christian I prayed to a deity who never seemed to answer those prayers. I was ultimately told and came to believe that the effectiveness of prayer had little if anything to do with changing outer circumstances or others. The significance or importance of prayer was that it changed me. Mediation/contemplation accomplishes that, and might I say, far better because I know I’m the one who has to change. I’m not waiting to be changed or for something else to change.

      • jasonjshaw says:

        I agree, those ideas are not unique to Jesus – but they were the ideas I was able to connect to Jesus’ teachings when I was learning about Christianity. The way they are taught Biblically tends to mangle them up with supernatural ideas, but in their essence, they are there.

        Your perspective makes sense to me, but as this re-blog demonstrates, there are also people who find a more Christian-style contemplation effective in bringing them piece of mind. It might just come down to how someone’s brain is wired as to which type of method actually brings them personal results.

      • Ruth says:

        She explicitly states she’s agnostic. So I’m not certain she’s applying this prayer to the Christian God or just sending her thoughts out into the universe. I think this might be a case of Culture Monk applying his own filter to the conversation, though certain there was more to the conversation than he wrote so possibly she indicated it elsewhere and he didn’t write that part. At any rate, even if she were applying this prayer to the Christian God, she also explicitly states that it’s what she learned from television or the culture around her and not particular to her ‘wiring’.

      • jasonjshaw says:

        It’s a method. I am suggesting that different methods have different effectiveness for people whose brains are wired differently – wired differently in the sense of right brain/left brain dependance combined with one’s learned understandings.

        From what is written, I get the impression she doesn’t know much about Christianity. She is just utilizing the method and metaphor of praying to God.

      • Ruth says:

        I think that distinction is important, nonetheless.

  2. Arkenaten says:

    What a pile of horse apples. She even stated that she was more agnostic these days so your post title is erroneous and purposely misleading.
    You cannot call yourself agnostic or atheist and then say, ”I pray to god”.
    That’s like saying ” I am vegetarian and only eat chicken and the occasional steak.”

    You can’t promote ”christian concepts” without acknowledging that Jesus is God.
    This is what it means to be a Christian….for god’s sake!
    All the other stuff can be achieved without genuflecting to a man-made narrative construct who will send you to hell if you don’t acknowledge him.
    Do you truly fail to grasp this simple, yet very explicit explanation of what Christianity is?

    Goodness gracious, Jason, your reasons for “promoting Christian concepts” get more suspect with each new post, and your credibility is going down the drain faster that last nights dishwater.
    Even Derek has little or no time for your arguments as evidenced by the length of the thread on your About page.

    I am beginning to think you are, in fact, a closet believer…or at least you secretly want to be but haven’t found the courage to fling open the wardrobe doors and cry, ”Save me Lord!”

    • jasonjshaw says:

      Ark, first off, the other day you suggested my approach is pointless. Why are you still here?

      Secondly, again, you are only seeing things in black and white. Either it’s true or it’s useless. I am suggesting it is misunderstood and working on connecting the supernatural concepts to real life explanations.

      Ark, you write fiction – are you telling me that even though your writings are a bunch of made-up hooey, that there is no good to be taken from them?

      • Arkenaten says:

        Sorry, I am hanging around because Derek asked for a few links and this caught my eye.

        Yes, I write fiction. Some even say it is quite good. It makes me laugh and keeps me busy.
        But I do not base a world view on it, threaten people with it, or claim it is truth.
        There are supernatural ( ghosts) element in the story, true, but only an idiot would consider them real life and my readers while possibly nuts like me are not idiots.
        Granted my current book is not as good as the Bible for using as toilet paper, but less trees were sacrificed in its production and at least it has some value. Christianity and the bible has none. Other than the above mentioned ablution activities.

        Either it’s true or it’s useless

        And I have already stated that it is useless and explained why.
        But if you care to explain your reasons why you feel it has validity and is merely misunderstood then please…go ahead.

        Derek didn’t buy it, but I promise you I am more open to reason than he will ever be.
        So, provide me with a reasonable …reason (sic) and preferably one that cannot be found within secular humanism

        Oh, and you didn’t address a single point regarding the comment on the post. Why was that?

      • jasonjshaw says:

        I agree, the world view associated with Christianity is the trouble. If Christianity was seen for what it is, a cultural story attempting to understand the world better – then it includes points of usefulness when connected to reality.

        Is there a narrative that goes along with secular humanism in order to help teach it? I am not aware of one. It is proven that people are able to learn more effectively with a narrative. The narrative of Jesus hits a lot of main points that can be used in teaching real concepts, if the supernatural is understood as metaphor.

        What points did I not address that you would like addressed?

      • Arkenaten says:

        If Christianity was seen for what it is, a cultural story attempting to understand the world better –

        And this merely demonstrates your complete ignorance of what those who promote and believe in Christianity really is.

        Maybe you should study the Nicene Creed, The Apostles creed and learn about the doctrine of hell.
        Research Constantine, Theodosius and maybe even Leo X.
        Read about the compilation of the bible, and Thomas Aquinas etc

        Until you do, you are merely piddling in the wind with such pithy nonsense and the average Christian will laugh you out of the room, never mind the non believers.

        Is there a narrative that goes along with secular humanism in order to help teach it?

        I find the tacit implication that humans absolutely need a story to grasp such basics as as ethics and morality patronizing and highly offensive.

        What do you think you are doing here, teaching kindergarten?

        What points did I not address that you would like addressed?

        Like, Jason?
        How about the whole comment in reference to the erroneous post.

      • jasonjshaw says:

        Specific points please. All I read was you twisting arguments to suit your belief, not unlike how Christians do.

        Again, if you find the need for a story to strengthen understandings offensive, why do you write fiction to make points? Why not just state them if stories are so pointless?

        I am not ignorant of what Christianity is, but you seem to be ignorant about definitions being able to change. Gay used to mean happy, but now it means homosexual. Pink used to be seen as a boys colour, now it is seen as a colour for girls. Christianity does not need to be synonymous with belief Jesus is God. Besides, if the story is utilized more often in secular understanding, that paves a nice wide road for current Christian believers to travel in the direction of reality.

        If you truly feel I am piddling in the wind, you might want to stop standing down-wind.

      • Arkenaten says:

        Again, if you find the need for a story to strengthen understandings offensive, why do you write fiction to make points? Why not just state them if stories are so pointless?

        I don’t wrote books to make a point. I wrote books because I enjoy writing and to sell books.

        This was the reason the gospel writers put en to paper was it?
        “Once upon a time…..”
        Rally, Jason, your analogies are beginning to contain almost no ”ogies” but a lot of ‘anal’.

        If you are not ignorant of what Christianity is then why on earth do you write things that illustrate the complete opposite?
        Are you trying to appear dumb to your Christian readers or do you consider by acting so you will appeal to their ignorance?

        Christianity does not need to be synonymous with belief Jesus is God.

        Really? Amazing. Truly amazing. So we can flush the Nicene creed down the bog and simply dismiss 2000 years of Christian Theism simply on Jason’s say so, can we? Shall we ask Derek? No. Better still, maybe you would like to explain this Revelation to the Pope?

        Find me a single Christian that will acknowledge this in writing.

        if the story is utilized more often in secular understanding, that paves a nice wide road for current Christian believers to travel in the direction of reality.

        Say what? lol….And what exactly does this pile of horse apples mean…er..exactly.

        If you truly feel I am piddling in the wind, you might want to stop standing down-wind.

        Actually I am standing off to the side…just waiting for the wind to change so’s I can watch the blow-back and laugh.

      • jasonjshaw says:

        Specifically I would use your example of your post “Are you frikkin’ Nutz!” Seems to me like a writing that is intended to illustrate a point.

        Notice how you feel the need to resort to insults to make a point? That illustrates to me that you are working from ignorance. You seem to be insecure with your understandings since you feel the need to shove them down the throats of those who don’t agree rather than looking from other perspectives to see why people hold other opinions. Your actions suggest that you consider the “Golden rule” has no value, regardless of where it came from. Is this correct?

        You accuse me of neglecting points that you made, but you do the exact same thing yourself. Hypocrite much? Definitions are subject to change, again you are illustrating your ignorance on that topic. I guess if the idea of Christianity shifted more toward reality, you would have to find something new to hurl insults at. I guess that makes sense of why you want it to continue on in its current state.

        Waiting for someone to fail so you can laugh at them – where does this fit into secular humanism? You are demonstrating quite the lack of caring toward humanity. It’s no wonder you get yourself banned from so many blogs.

  3. Arkenaten says:

    Ah…well, my blog pieces are simple exercises and bear no relation to my novel writing.

    I use aggressive insults against intransigent defenders of religion who refuse to acknowledge the damage religion causes simply because they deserve no respect whatsoever especially considering the harm religion has done for millennia and continues to do so.
    I always have an image of an abused child in my mind the second anyone starts to try to explain the ”benefits” of religion.
    Maybe you would like to take it upon yourself to explain or council a Clerical child rape victim how the church and religion are ”not so bad”, especially while the child is wetting itself with fear after being told it is going to Hell if it speaks up?
    Would you take it upon yourself to do this, Jason?

    I hope that has clarified this particular point for you once and for all?

    You seem to be insecure with your understandings

    Pop psychology, really? How low are you going to stoop here? Dear, oh, dear. And which ”understandings”, exactly, would these be, if I may ask?

    Have you ever actually read the Nicene Creed? If so, are you going to address the definition of Christianity or are you going to avoid the subject and continue to invent your own version.

    I also strongly suggest you investigate some of the horrors perpetrated upon Christians who have since deconverted before you continue with this twee approach to enlightenment.

    You have yet to demonstrate a single valid or truly beneficial point to Christianity or any religion. And as for the ”golden rule”, I have already stated that if you are going to tout Christianity then any point you raise in its favour should be over an above anything that can be found in secular humanism.

    If I get banned from a Christian blog I consider I have touched a nerve and exposed a truth that the blogger has no honest response to and thus, they will either revert to dogma or ban me from commenting.
    By exposing such lies many people who might not have known certain truths have now had the chance to read a different perspective other than the warped one presented by religion.

    Your attempt at defending it whilst trying to demean or play down arguments against it is disingenuous and an insult to those who have been harmed by it and continue to be harmed by it.

    I do not ”wait for someone to fail”. You used the down wind analogy, I merely extended the metaphor to illustrate what will happen to you when the wind changes.

    • jasonjshaw says:

      So I take it you are fully against any alcohol consumption as well due to the abuses perpetrated by some drinkers?

      Again, I will state, do you hold any value in the Golden Rule? The secular humanist version, if you must, though I’m pretty sure it’s the same rule regardless.

      You fail to realize that with the piddling in the wind analogy, you are more at risk of having a wind change send piddling in your direction as your viewpoint is firmly planted. Mine is more dynamic as I am not holding firm to a viewpoint that I’m right and those who disagree are wrong. If the piddle comes in my direction, I have the ability to move out of the way.

      I just looked up the Nicean Creed. The impression I get is that the widespread use of such a thing is a big obstacle in allowing people to look at the Bible from a more realistic point of view. It’s not the Bible that’s the problem, it’s the interpretations that neglect to address reality. I cover that issue with my Oreo Cookie metaphor of faith and reason:
      https://christianitysimplified.wordpress.com/2013/11/18/faith-and-reason-are-like-an-oreo-cookie/

      • Arkenaten says:

        So I take it you are fully against any alcohol consumption as well due to the abuses perpetrated by some drinkers?

        Alcohol, like cigarettes, is glamorized and this is immoral. Unlike religion though, one will not burn in hell for eternity for abuse or heresy against a bottle of wine or a packet of cigarettes.
        I am fully against cigarettes and they should be banned.They are a known killer. I hardly ever drink.
        Maybe if the glamour was removed then people would eventually be disinclined to drink?

        Again, I will state, do you hold any value in the Golden Rule? The secular humanist version, if you must, though I’m pretty sure it’s the same rule regardless.

        There is validity in the ‘’golden rule”. I have already explained this point to you, Jason. Am I not making myself understood?

        You fail to realize that with the piddling in the wind analogy, you are more at risk of having a wind change send piddling in your direction as your viewpoint is firmly planted. Mine is more dynamic as I am not holding firm to a viewpoint that I’m right and those who disagree are wrong. If the piddle comes in my direction, I have the ability to move out of the way.

        Have it your way. Either way, you will piss off everyone and eventually piss on yourself.

        I just looked up the Nicean Creed. The impression I get is that the widespread use of such a thing is a big obstacle in allowing people to look at the Bible from a more realistic point of view. It’s not the Bible that’s the problem, it’s the interpretations that neglect to address reality. I cover that issue with my Oreo Cookie metaphor of faith and reason:
        https://christianitysimplified.wordpress.com/2013/11/18/faith-and-reason-are-like-an-oreo-cookie/

        Quite frankly, this reply is disgusting. You have stated elsewhere that you have ‘investigated’ (?)
        Christianity and you have been “preaching” your Christian Perspective and only now have you bothered to look up the Nicene Creed. And I will venture you haven’t investigated the others either.
        My goodness! Such blatant arrogance. Don’t you feel just a little bit ashamed? Because you should.
        And this demonstrates beyond reasonable doubt any claim you had of being clued up about what Christianity is about. Perhaps you should seriously consider apologizing unreservedly to anyone that was ever a Christian.

      • jasonjshaw says:

        Ashamed of what? I’m working on connecting the Bible and a non-supernatural reality. The Nicene Creed is of little relevance to what I’m doing.

        So, with accepting value in the Golden Rule, you value people calling you names and connecting your view to those who have done deranged and harmful things to others as Atheists? That is what your actions are indicating in relation with the Golden Rule.

        As a non-smoker and occasional drinker (typically up to two servings of alcohol per sitting less than a handful of times per month), I don’t agree with your views on cigarettes and alcohol either.

        Correct me if I’m wrong, but I seem to recall it being pointed out at one point that you smoke. Or am I imagining things?

      • Arkenaten says:

        I don’t agree with your views on cigarettes and alcohol either.

        Of course you don’t. Why would you?
        So aren’t you the true blue human rights do gooder,then ?
        Have you ever investigated how kids in third world countries are introduced to cigarettes?

        Have you any idea how many deaths could be avoided if more stringent laws were applied to cigarettes and booze?
        Have you ever watched the movie The Insider with Russel Crowe?

        You don’t agree with my views on smokes? Fair enough. Wait til you you see a loved one die of lung cancer or crippled with liver disease.
        Hey, I’ve got an idea….let’s legalize Heroin. Now there’s an intelligent plan, right?

        So, with accepting value in the Golden Rule, you value people calling you names and connecting your view to those who have done deranged and harmful things to others as Atheists? That is what your actions are indicating in relation with the Golden Rule.

        Anyone who refuses to consider that their religion is false or refuses to acknowledge the harm it has done
        negates any consideration re the ‘rule’ .
        And this is after initially being courteous and asking pertinent questions.

        As for the Nicene Creed not being relevant:
        It was through these councils that such heinous laws were passed allowing the church to embark on pogroms to liquidate any and all opposition.

        You should investigate what happened during the ”war” against the Albigenese .
        Google Carcasonne and see what the church did to the inhabitants.
        There are still some extant records I believe.
        And the town is beautiful, I have been there.

        Correct me if I’m wrong, but I seem to recall it being pointed out at one point that you smoke. Or am I imagining things?

        Yes , you are imagining things…like your belief in connecting the bible and a non supernatural reality. Whatever that is,

        I stopped smoking over two years ago.

      • jasonjshaw says:

        Old blog post maybe, or my mistake!

        Define a “true blue human rights do-gooder” in a way that can’t be disagreed upon. It’s a matter of perspective. I don’t believe in banning things outright – though I do agree that control is necessary.

        Laws being passed through the belief is a problem, I agree. Again, that is not the fault of the story itself, that is the fault of inhumane interpretations of the story and the belief in such interpretations. The Nicene Creed is an agreed-upon interpretation. It is not the story itself.

        Heroin has medicinal value doesn’t it?

        My dad smoked until he had a bout with cancer. I grew up around his smoking. I have plenty of reason to be against smoking – and I believe it should be controlled strongly. Banning it though allows it to continue on in the unregulated market which is brings with it greater dangers to those who do choose to smoke.

        Are there any cases where any sort of prohibition has been successful in ending a harmful practice?

      • Arkenaten says:

        Are there any cases where any sort of prohibition has been successful in ending a harmful practice?

        Child Sacrifice for religious purposes?
        Banning corporal punishment in schools.
        Making it illegal for husbands to rape their wives.
        Banning slavery
        Banning child labour
        Banning certain experimentation on animals.

        How many examples do you want, Jason?

        Stronger and stronger control will lead to the eventual eradication of harmful substance abuse such as smokes and social acceptance will eventually disappear completely.
        This type of pressure is still a form of banning.

        Ban all advertising, ban the sale to kids over 18 instead of 16
        Ban smoking in all public places…
        etc etc…

        The Nicene Creed is an agreed-upon interpretation. It is not the story itself.

        Agreed upon by whom? Initially not the Arians, Not the Eastern Orthodox, and certainly not the Albigenese.
        And the Church was the institution that made up the story in the first damn place!

        Sorry, Jason. Fail on this. Don’t Pass Go and forfeit your 200 bucks.

        Donate it to child welfare.

      • jasonjshaw says:

        And where do you end the control to prevent society from going the way of North Korea where people become essentially enslaved and barred from a significant amount of self-expression?

        All the controls on child labour and on ensuring the Western work force is properly compensated has resulted in all of those same troubles to be shifted elsewhere where it is allowed. Can’t say that’s solved.

        According to Wikipedia, “Slavery is officially illegal in all countries, but there are still an estimated 20 million to 30 million slaves worldwide.”

        Corporal punishment has given way to a culture of bullying in schools.

        Rape still happens even though it is illegal.

        Animal testing – I’m not familiar with anything in that regard, but the illegality of breeding animals in poor conditions hasn’t stopped puppy mills.

        Child sacrifice seems to be generally a more ancient practice, is there evidence that supports its reduction in conjunction with laws against it?

        Keep in mind that the story of Jesus brings opposition to animal sacrifice, not by banning it, but by suggestion that Jesus made it obsolete. Is that a bad thing?

        Care to try again with some better examples?

        Nicene Creed was agreed upon by the “first ecumenical council”. I still don’t see the relevance of it to what I’m doing.

        I thought you said that 20% of the story of Jesus was possibly true?

      • Arkenaten says:

        Slavery is still rampant but at least it is not legal…
        Should it rather have been kept on the statute books?

        .Child sacrifice seems to be generally a more ancient practice, is there evidence that supports its reduction in conjunction with laws against it

        I tried hard not to laugh…this wasn’t a serious question was it?

        I never physically disciplined my kids and they grew to be well adjusted and never bullied anyone either. Violence begets violence. You should know this.
        I am appalled that you condone corporal punishment.

        Nicene Creed was agreed upon by the “first ecumenical council”. I still don’t see the relevance of it to what I’m doing.

        You are tacitly giving a nod of approval to a religious system that is based on lies and abuse and has been partially responsible for massive denigration of humanity for over 2000 years.
        Catholicism and the warped biblical interpretation is partially responsible for a lot of anti-semitism. This is a no brainer.

        Keep in mind that the story of Jesus brings opposition to animal sacrifice, not by banning it, but by suggestion that Jesus made it obsolete. Is that a bad thing?</blockquote.

        Wrong. It continued , officially until after the destruction of the temple by the Tenth legion.

        But pagan sacrifice continued until almost the end of the 4th century when Theodosius banned pagan worship.
        Jesus had nothing to do with it. He was a Jew. He lived a Jew, preached to Jews and died a Jew.

        I think it best we call it quits on this particular topic.
        It is now going round the bushes and merely point scoring.
        It will give you a chance to reflect and hopefully do some proper research on the topic you feel the need to embrace..
        A bit more of an in-depth scholarly approach might help you develop a little more humility and understanding, especially toward victims of religion, past and present.

      • jasonjshaw says:

        The growing income equality in the world is resulting in its own variation of near-slavery in the Western world. “At least it is not legal”??? I’m sorry Ark, slavery isn’t the problem, inequality is. As long as there are great inequalities, there will be variations of slavery that work around the banned definitions.

        What is worse, corporal punishment or lack of punishment? Sure, authorities shouldn’t be given free reign to punish who they please, but bullies also shouldn’t be given free reign to punish as they please. Like you said, violence begets violence. The question is, how do you truly minimize the violence?

        I’m pretty sure that challenging the problems within the system is not the same as giving the nod of approval to the system. It’s like it says in the Bible – challenge everything, hold on to what is good. That is what I am doing, and that is a good general thought to keep in mind in all aspects of life.

        You’re more than welcome to continue with your scholarly approach, I will learn what I need to learn as I come upon the need to learn such things. My aim is to connect on a more common level as opposed to a scholarly one. As for understanding toward victims of religion, I am opposed to those who use the Bible for activities that harm others. I am not going to demonize a whole system because certain areas of it promote cruelty. I will, however, continue to point out understanding issues within it that lead to that cruelty.

  4. Arkenaten says:

    Best of luck ..if your dialogue with friend Derek is anything to go by then you are going to need it….by the truckload.

    • jasonjshaw says:

      Best of luck to you too. I’m still wondering if my example of the statistics-based morality of drinking and driving made any impression on him.

      Aside from those who take hard-lined stances, my blog has followers and ‘likes’ from both Christians and non-believers. Don’t worry, I’m surprised as much as you are.

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