Social Question

zensky's avatar

Atheists: do you ever thank/ask/pray to God?

Asked by zensky (13272 points ) December 12th, 2012

Do you ever have a “moment” – maybe because of a traumatic event – or a prayer for the ill…

Or, as an atheist, does this not even cross your mind?

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96 Answers

elbanditoroso's avatar

No. It doesn’t even dawn on me.

ragingloli's avatar

Have you been smoking again?
No. Have you written your letter to Santa yet?

CWOTUS's avatar

I don’t “give thanks” to a non-existent being, but I do have frequent moments of… what should we call them? ... “gladfulness”? “appreciativeness”?

I often notice how lucky I seem to be.

whitenoise's avatar

I Thank God many many times a day. That is what I’m supposed to do, here where I live.

Mariah's avatar

Well as an agnostic atheist, I’m not so certain there’s no god that I haven’t been willing to give it a try at times. I’ve been desperate enough (while ill) that it seemed worth a try. At worst nothing would happen.

If there is a god, I don’t think he’d be fooled by reasons like mine though. It was awfully selfish.

cookieman's avatar

Thing I often say despite being an agnostic-atheist:
• Jesus Christ!
• Holy Shit
• Bless You
• Thank God

I don’t believe Jesus was divine or that anything is holy – blessings are meaningless and I’m pretty sure there’s no god to thank.

But they are sayings I’ve known my whole life. Exclamations, nice things to say, or an expression of gratefullness. But sayings nonetheless.

tom_g's avatar

(agnostic atheist here)

Never. But for me, the concept of god is so offensive and repulsive that it would never even occur to me to expand the tragedy of trauma by bringing more of it to the situation. Plus, I wouldn’t know what “god” to pray to.

syz's avatar

Nope.

jonsblond's avatar

What @cookieman said.

I did have many friends who prayed for me when I was having a difficult time this past summer, and I thanked them for thinking of me and sending good thoughts. I was very thankful to have their support.

DigitalBlue's avatar

No, it really doesn’t even occur to me. Just isn’t a normal part of my thought process.
I used to pray when I was young and still religious, but I haven’t prayed or asked or thanked any gods in at least 15 years.
I really don’t even say “thank god,” I say “thank goodness,” just out of habit, though, not to avoid “thanking god.”

Seek's avatar

Not even a little, apart from random blasphemic comments such as those mentioned by @cookieman.

I often feel fortunate, but the location in which the chips fall is not to the credit of any supernatural power.

wildpotato's avatar

Sort of. I use the rhyme “Tony, Tony, turn around; something’s lost and can’t be found” when I am looking for important things I’ve lost, and that’s kind a prayer to St. Anthony. I also like to thank St. Christopher when I find an awesome parking spot in the middle of Manhattan. But to me, this isn’t the same thing as praying to God, more of an indulgence in a fun superstition.

zensky's avatar

I did not realize that Christopher was the patron saint of parking spots. Good to know.

mazingerz88's avatar

Sounds like an AA meeting. Hi, I’m @mazingerz88 and I’m an agnostic aetheist. Stopped praying about twelve years ago. But once in a while I would find myself mumbling a “Thank God” or “God help me” and then either feel silly or hopeful afterwards.

Adirondackwannabe's avatar

I pray but it’s not to God, it’s more to the Great Spirit. I say a prayer any time I bury an animal, or if someone needs a lift for whatever reason.

wildpotato's avatar

@zensky You prompted me to do a bit of research. Turns out there is some debate on who the patron saint of parking spaces is. I always thought it was Christopher because he’s the patron of travelers. But this source says it’s St. Boniface, and this one says it’s either Mother Cabrini or St. Therese of Lisieux.

zensky's avatar

Thanks @wildpotato – it’s so confusing for us atheists to know to which patron saint to turn to. ;-)

Also, the little rhyme thing is so cute and Dr. Seussish – I fluther, I learn.

cookieman's avatar

Not to put too fine a point on it, but…
Songs I enjoy singing along to despite being an agnostic-atheist:
• Say a Little Prayer for You
Dionne Warwick
• One of Us
Joan Osborne
• Losing My Religion
REM
• God
Tori Amos

And let’s not forget sex. “Oh god!!” never sounded better.

tinyfaery's avatar

Only when cussing or swearing do I even mention any god or Jesus. I say thanks to real people for real things.

Adirondackwannabe's avatar

@cookieman Ah, the holy prayer of the orgasm.

JLeslie's avatar

Nope.

@cookieman I find it interesting you talk about Jesus as God. That’s very Christian.

DominicX's avatar

Well, I’m more of an agnostic, so if there is something out there, I sometimes invoke it. Last night I went out despite leaving candles burning in my room and I was like “Please God, don’t let the place burn down.”

P.S.: It didn’t. :)

zensky's avatar

@DominicX I notice you even capitalize God.

wildpotato's avatar

@cookieman That’s a great point. I always do feel a little weird about loving King Britt’s recreation of Sister Gertrude Morgan’s original Preservation Hall album (the song I linked to might sound familiar if you watch True Blood) so much. While I don’t think singing along with it means that I believe in what I’m saying, I agree that it is interesting to think of this as an act that approaches prayer.

digitalimpression's avatar

What’s with all the atheist questions?

JLeslie's avatar

Did you mean do I actually think in terms of thanking God? Or, do I say the words Thank God? I use Thank God, Lord have mercy, and others all the time. They are just expressions to me.

digitalimpression's avatar

@Adirondackwannabe Every season is atheist season. Heck, you can’t even say Christmas anymore without someone scowling. xD

mazingerz88's avatar

Heh. I maybe agnostic atheist but I love Christmas! My happiest childhood memories all happened during Christmas. No scowling here.

Rarebear's avatar

Sure. It helps to cover my bases.

Mariah's avatar

@digitalimpression This question, specifically @CWOTUS‘s response, reminded me of a question I had been kicking around my head for awhile. Calm down, we’re not taking over the universe.~

KNOWITALL's avatar

@digitalimpression I’m glad about all the Atheist questions, as a non-judgemental Christian it’s very very interesting to me to see the responses.

I’ve been around a few non-religious people, Wiccans, etc…, but here in the Bible Belt, it’s very rare and quite frankly I’m interested in how ya’ll think. :)

burntbonez's avatar

Never. The idea of god has nothing but a theoretical meaning to me. Praying to god would be like praying to a desk or an ant or a star. Just a random object with no magical powers.

flutherother's avatar

I’m a kind of an atheist and yet I can a kind of imagine praying to God in certain circumstances. I don’t believe it would help but I wouldn’t refuse to pray on principle.

Skaggfacemutt's avatar

No, because when I was younger and believed in God, every time I prayed or asked for anything, my whole life would suddenly go to shit!

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

Sure, but it goes out to no one specific. Praying and even saying ‘Oh God’ are just our cultural artifacts, we’re all infused with them so I don’t mind that that’s what comes to mind but it doesn’t indicate anything to me.

Sunny2's avatar

I sometimes wish I could pray to God, but remind myself that I don’t get to because I’m not a believer. The time I wished it most was at the bedside of a 6 year old who was dying.

KNOWITALL's avatar

You know even if you don’t believe, you can still pray. Talking to God is one of the things that people don’t understand, because you don’t get an immediate response very often, but you’d be surprised how much it helps.

Sunny2's avatar

@KNOWITALL Not without feeling like a two faced fraud, I can’t; but I appreciate what you are saying.

wildpotato's avatar

I’ve been thinking about this question some more, and I realized that it didn’t even occur to me to answer in the most straightforward way. I do technically pray to God a lot when I go to synagogue, which is mostly on High Holy days. Singing en masse in Hebrew is my favorite thing about being Jewish, but I don’t think I ever actually thought of it as praying. I do not consciously understand the words (I say consciously because I’m told I was fluent as a little’un, so maybe I do understand them a bit, unconsciously), so it’s not about talking to God; it’s about the music. Like, even though I know that words of the prayer for mourning praise God, reciting “yitgadal, yitgadash, sh’may rabah” doesn’t feel like praising God to me, but more like a memorial to the lost person. So I don’t think I can be said to really engage in prayer in this context, either.

Maybe this is why it felt so awkward to me the few times I’ve sat in on a Christian service, for weddings and such – praying in English just seems so…uncomfortably vulnerable.

glacial's avatar

No, never. That’s kind of the point.

El_Cadejo's avatar

Wouldn’t exactly be an atheist if I did…..

tranquilsea's avatar

When my mom was dying..it never even crossed my mind.

El_Cadejo's avatar

btw “No atheists in foxholes” argument is BS.

Blackberry's avatar

No, why would I do that?

I understand some people have a hard time trying a fathom a person “not believing in anything, only to die and that’s it”, but some of us also have a hard time trying to understand why someone would chose to believe in something without evidence. So we find common ground and live our own lives. Cheers, broski.

bkcunningham's avatar

Are atheists offended when you tell them to go to hell?

CWOTUS's avatar

Most days not, @bkcunningham. Most days, anyway.

Blackberry's avatar

@bkcunningham They shouldn’t, at least. I believe the proper response would be to shrug it off and create distance between you and the hostile wacko.

JLeslie's avatar

@bkcunningham if Christian says go to hell, are they really think go to hell? If someone told me to go to hell I would take it the same as go fuck yourself, take a long walk off a short cliff, etc. I don’t think of go to hell as literally a damning to hell. It doesn’t bother me or make me uncomfortable like it is a religious thing in the same way, “I will pray for you,” and “have a blessed day,” makes me uncomfortable.

zensky's avatar

@JLeslie I don’t know but I’ve been told that I’ll pray for you means, in fact, fuck you very much.

JLeslie's avatar

@zensky Seriously? I am still unsure about “bless her heart.” I am pretty sure that is a cut down.

jonsblond's avatar

@bkcunningham You missed this question I asked not too long ago. :)

@JLeslie “Bless her/his heart” is used when referring to ugly babies. (I’m joking. Kind of)

zensky's avatar

Ask around. When a Christian woman of a certain age says I’ll pray for you this means you are on her shitlist and she hopes you basically fry in hell.

bkcunningham's avatar

@jonsblond, I don’t know how I missed that. It is a classic.

bkcunningham's avatar

@JLeslie, a cut down? Noooo. Bless your heart.

Mariah's avatar

@bkcunningham I’d get offended at “go to hell” because someone is literally telling me they think I deserve an eternity of suffering. It’s the sentiment.

bkcunningham's avatar

@Mariah, I’d never tell you to go to hell. Bless your heart.

choreplay's avatar

Bless her heart is tacked onto the end of any sentence that cuts someone down but they want to keep their religion at the same time. It means they aren’t gossiping if they tack on “bless their heart” My southern born wife says it can be replaced with “aren’t they an idiot”.

bkcunningham's avatar

@Rarebear, had posted a video of this guy who said that saying things didn’t make them so. I can’t remember who it was. It was very eloquent and made you think, but basically the fellow was saying that wishing death on someone had no affect on the universe or wishing good luck wouldn’t. He made some kind of statement wishing death upon his young daughter because it is only words. I think it was one of the best explanations I’ve heard that would answer what I imagine is the root of the question.

The funny thing, just after listening and watching the video, I was censored for telling an atheist I hoped he rotted in hell. Anyway…

cookieman's avatar

How about these common phrases?:

“She’s such an angel.”
“This pie is heaven.”
“Guy thinks he walks on water.”
“It is hotter than hell today.”

Must atheists and agnostics stop themselves from saying such things for fear of somehow validating every word in the bible, every man-made religion, and every heinous act ever commited in the name of these religions?

Seems a bit much. There are so many phrases, songs, poems, etc. whose roots are religious, that I can’t imagine not picking up some of them in your life.

Are some atheists that vigilant in their use of language?

JLeslie's avatar

@cookieman I would think it is the opposite. That the theists are more likely to sensor their language, worried about taking God’s name in vane, that sort of thing. Maybe worried their words are more literal?

JLeslie's avatar

@bkcunningham So true. LOL. Some of those my hus and had to write up as a “do not say” for his employees who take calls on their customer service line. They couldn’t figure it out for themselves.

cookieman's avatar

@JLeslie: Well exactly. That’s been my experience as well. I’m just riffing on the idea that some atheists claim to never utter anything religious. I don’t see how that’s possible.

bkcunningham's avatar

I imagine it is like a celibate person saying f you. It has no meaning. Or calling a test tube baby a mother f-er.

wundayatta's avatar

I set aside one day a month to pray to god. I throw all the gods into the river, then I get in a raft, and float along until the first god I hit. I pray to that god. Then I float a little further, and hit another god, and that god I ask a boon. Finally, I float a little further and hit my last god. I give that god a small offering along with thanks.

After that, I push the raft off and I float along to the landing place. Miraculously, I run into no more gods. The river of gods is miraculous that way. I have now run the river of gods 400 times, and never once have I hit a fourth god on any trip.

I’m told that occasionally people will ht a fourth god, and there’s no telling what will happen if you do. Legend has it that the death of the gods is related to someone hitting a fourth god. Personally, I think there are weird power vortexes in the river of gods.

rooeytoo's avatar

I like the idea of reincarnation because next time around I am going to be 5’10” and willowy! I really have no respect for any organized religion that I have thus far in my life encountered. They are all misogynistic and have too many silly rules that I feel any busy and sensible god simply would not care about. They are all man made and I mean man as in male made. But while no one has ever proved to me the existence of a supreme being, neither has anyone ever disproved, so I live my life as best I can, do good when I can and try to avoid the bad stuff. If there is a god I think it has not much input into our daily lives. That is where it all gets complicated for me. Why are some people healthy, lucky, pretty, smart and others not? I feel like I am most of those and therefore it is up to me to make my own way in this world and not expect extra help. I was given the tools, I must use them in the best way I can.

augustlan's avatar

I pray sometimes, kinda’ sorta’. Not to a god, more like…to the universe or something. Like, “Please, please, please let her be okay.” That kind of thing.

glacial's avatar

I’m not careful to exclude religious expressions from my language… after all, that would have no consequences for me whatsoever. I do expect Christians to avoid an expression like “go to hell”, because presumably it actually means something to them. Likewise, I can quite comfortably take the “lord’s” name in vain… but that is definitely off the linguistic menu for a Christian. So if I don’t do it, who will?

And “bless your heart” – oh my, yes that is a put down. It is like saying “you poor dear, you are not clever enough to understand that what you are doing/saying is wrong”.

Seek's avatar

@cookieman I have no desire to stop saying “Wednesday” because I don’t believe in Wotan.

El_Cadejo's avatar

@Seek_Kolinahr pshhh fuck Wotan, Thor’s day is where its at :P

JLeslie's avatar

@glacial ah, the indirectness, two facedness, and passive aggressiveness of the south. Being a yankee I am not good at it or being on the receiving end of it. But then, they see our directness as rude. Everything is perspective I guess.

Mariah's avatar

One of those moments I wish I could believe. Just learned that the man who taught me everything I know about music, starting at age 6, has passed away. He became ill almost immediately after retirement. He was supposed to be in Arizona enjoying himself and this happened. He was a religious man. Wish I could believe he’s gone to heaven.

wundayatta's avatar

@Mariah Trust that he is experiencing no pain. That’s almost as good as heaven.

JLeslie's avatar

@Mariah I know what you mean, I wish my grandma coule see her father again. He died when she was 5, you might have seen me write about it. She missed him basically her entire life. If it is true we just cease to exist, at least she no longer is missing him or feeling pain. She had quite a bit of pain at the end. Another reason I think there is no God, so much suffering at the end of life? What does someone gain from that? Horrible.

glacial's avatar

@JLeslie It’s funny – I never really associated that phrase with the South. I’ve heard it often, and I know very, very few Southerners. I would tend to associate it more with maritimers or people from the British Isles.

JLeslie's avatar

@glacial. Very interesting. Some things said in the UK are said in the south, which surprises me when I hear it. I wish I could think of a few off the top of my head, but they aren’t coming to me right now.

And, of course there are passive aggressive people up north also, but it seems to be done to a perfection in the south. My husband is Mexican and his family tends to be extremely passive aggressive also.

bkcunningham's avatar

@JLeslie, what do you mean, what do we gain from suffering at the end of life?

JLeslie's avatar

@bkcunningham I mean some religious people I know seem to think suffering is a part of life that is there for a reason, that everything is for a reason. Probably everyone agrees suffering sometimes helps us grow, or we can learn from it, but if God has some sort of reason for suffering, then if we die at the end of it, how did it help us? We didn’t come through it and go on to have a better life because we went through it. The whole Jesus suffering and dying on the cross seems to be the basis of suffering being some sort of admirable thing, and that there is a pay-off for having gone through it. I don’t think it is just Christianity though, I don’t know much about other religions and how they look at suffering and God and what it all means.

zensky's avatar

Well, @JLeslie – we have our guilt. That’s suffering. Oy.

JLeslie's avatar

@zensky Well sure there’s that. Does Judaism say all sufferring is for a reason? That we should look at suffering as having some sort of silver lining? Cosmic significance?

zensky's avatar

No, however, we must always feel guilty and answer a question with another question, right?

zensky's avatar

You’ve inspired my question of the day!

bkcunningham's avatar

Does @zensky seem different to anybody else or it is just me?

zensky's avatar

Go for it: how do I seem different?

cookieman's avatar

Less bald?

JLeslie's avatar

Imagine if suffering really is the ticket to heaven and God? Then the Jews win hands down. LOL.

choreplay's avatar

@JLeslie, The Christian faith doesn’t believe suffering is the ticket, but more of a wake up call. Wait this is in Social and there was that promise to myself that I wouldn’t get involved in anymore religious debates. Never mind

Skaggfacemutt's avatar

I live in a sea of mormons, so I kind of revel in throwing out sayings like “hotter than hell”. It is rather fun, because the mormons have this weird idea that “hell” is a bad word (really, I thought that they said it was a place). Kind of like saying “it’s hotter than Arizona.” How does that make Arizona a bad word?

Of course, I could say something like “greener than the Emerald City” even though I know that the Emerald City is fictitious. Referring to something that doesn’t exist doesn’t make it any more real.

CWOTUS's avatar

Sod God.

burntbonez's avatar

Oh Lod! The cod God has no bod. Nod if you’ll carry the hod for the pod, Todd.

glacial's avatar

@burntbonez Sounds like your bog is dood.

wildpotato's avatar

You guys are probably thinking of God the Dyslexic Dog :)

glacial's avatar

What, nobody reads Stevie Smith anymore?

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