Monday, July 24, 2006

Thanks for nothing

I was only partially listening to the news yesterday morning and heard a comment that there was a call for an “International Day of Prayer for Peace.” I did not give the item much attention, and later looked up what this call for an “International Day of Prayer for Peace” was about.

Apparently the pope decreed that Sunday, July 23, 2006 was a day for Praying for Peace. What become more interesting is that I had to search for which Day of Praying for Peace the Pope was talking about! Perhaps he did not know that as recently as Memorial Day, 2006 Pres. Bush had called for an International Day of Prayer for Peace. Or that the World Council of Churches had one September, 21, 2005 and intends to have another September 21, 2006. In fact, they want one EVERY September 21st.

Other groups disagree, holding that June 21st is the appropriate Day for International Prayers for Peace. And, we are beginning to break down into certain groups, calling February 20th an International Day of Prayer for Peace for Iraq.

If you want to join in this international cry for Prayer for Peace, you could have chosen September 21, February 20, May 29, June 21, July 23, or start back over with September 21, again. I would suspect that if I started looking harder, I would find more and more and MORE International Days for Prayer for Peace.

What good are these Prayers for Peace doing? Do theists really believe it affects their god? By what means?

It seems odd that we must have so many. Does God forget that he wants peace unless we have these days often?

I imagine God in the morning:

God: Well, time to review the over-night prayer sheet. What have we got? Joe is asking for health again. O.K. Hmmm. Jim wants world peace. Interesting. Jane is still looking for a new job. Hey, Jack wants world peace too! Look at this! So does Bob, Bill, Bruce, Buster and Barry. Looks like a whole bunch of ‘em want world peace! I haven’t broken out in peace for a long time. Maybe it is high time we had some…

Or do theists believe that if enough people pray for a certain item, God has to do it?

God: HA! Only 100 Million people prayed for peace today. No peace for them.
Angel: I heard that they are calling for an international Day of Prayer for Peace next week.
God: Crap! Do you think that enough people will pray, so I have to step in?

I would presume that people praying to God actually think he is capable of stepping in and exacting peace in some way. Seems a bit useless to pray to a God that is either unable, or uninterested, despite the prayer.

If God is capable AND is able—why don’t we have peace? If the God that is painted as all-powerful, all-knowing, and people are praying to as if he has the ability to have peace, if that God wants peace, I would think it would be impossible for us, as mere humans to have war.

Conversely, if that God wants war, it would be impossible for us to have peace. We have war—it seems quite straightforward that such a God must therefore either be limited by desire or ability.

So why ask him for something that he either can’t or won’t do? Appears to be a waste of time.

Now, I am sure there are some residual effects of these International Day(s) of Prayer for Peace. It may give people a chance to pause and reflect that Peace would be a good thing. Again, though—so what? A momentary thought of “Gee, wouldn’t peace be nice?”

“Gee, wouldn’t reduction in world hunger be nice?”

“Gee, wouldn’t elimination of disease be nice?”

Think of all the wonderful things that we could have an International Day of Prayer for, and we can pat ourselves on the back because instead of solely selfish thoughts, for once we took a few seconds out of the hours we spend on us, and thought, “Gee, it would nice if people didn’t kill each other.”

The most noxious part of this Day of Prayer is that people think they are actually doing something by asking a God that is either non-existent or not able, to do something.

The concept of theism, at times, is very tempting. How great it would be, to have some all-powerful creature out there that has the capability to solve every problem I have, no matter how screwed up it is.

It’s like having an immensely rich father that I could know no matter what financial straits I find myself in; He is there to bail me out ever time. Only better. This father can do miracles, and make people well, and cause entire continents to disappear. Like Daddy Warbucks on supernatural steroids!

And theism goes one step further to re-iterate and reinforce time and time again how pitiful and weak and flawed humans are, and it is only by the most powerful being’s whim that we are allowed to even exist at all.

We can’t have peace on our own. Only a God can do that! So, the only action we can take is to ask, and beg and plead this God to step in and do what we cannot—“have peace.” The theist can proudly get off their knees, dust their hands, and proclaim, “Hey, I did my part. Everyone knows that without a God, wretched humans will only have war. Don’t worry, everybody. I asked God to step in with peace.”

And then next month we can have another International Day of Prayer for Peace, and again the theist can play their pivotal role.

After 10 or 12 of these, does unease overcome the theist, in the form of doubt? Why doesn’t God step in? Is it possible that this God may not want peace? How can that be?

Luckily, there is an answer presented to reassure that doubt—we are too stupid to understand why there is no peace. The theist informs me that God is so smart; HE knows why it is more important to have war than Peace. We think that humans are more intelligent than snakes, which are more intelligent than flowers, which are more intelligent than rocks. It would only make sense that a God is more intelligent than a human, and just like a rock cannot understand basic algebra, humans, apparently, cannot understand the importance of not having peace.

Well, for heaven’s sake, stop asking God, then, to provide peace! I would hate for super-intelligence to do something dumb, just because stupid people asked him! If theists really think that God has an intelligent reason for not preventing war, then do us all a favor and stop asking him to do something you think is stupid!

But theists really don’t think it is less intelligent, or stupid to have peace. So why doesn’t God?

Or perhaps there is some higher purpose, such as free will, or the allowance of war from the fall. Again, if God has a purpose, why is the theist asking him to set this greater purpose aside? Does the theist think that their purpose is better than their own God’s?

If the theist does not know God’s reason, and cannot know it, who are they to question God? I have been told that it is not a matter of circumventing God, but that God likes to be asked.

Yikes! If God “likes” to be asked for peace, why would he EVER provide it? Once he did, we would stop asking! How long has it been since we have had an International Day of Prayer for Curing Polio? Or International Day of Prayer for better communication? Did God stop “liking” those requests? Or did humans knuckle-down and work out the solutions themselves?

Look, I am not asking theists to all voluntary to become peace-negotiators, or handcuff themselves to anti-aircraft guns. Rather, I would ask that instead of wasting time asking a God that obviously doesn’t want something to provide it, get out in their community and work for peace on their own.

Perhaps interact with people of a different culture, race or creed. Get involved with people we would normally be uncomfortable with. Start telling your nation’s leaders you want peace, not war. Start actually doing something, rather than institute yet another “International Day of Prayer for Peace” in which your God demonstrates admirably he has no interest in peace at all.

1 comment:

  1. Praying for peace sounds like a contradiction when so many theists believe they are fighting in the name of their God.

    Praying for peace in the circles I once hung out in meant praying for the return of Jesus & peace for only believers. I think that is what the prayer for peace means in fundamentalist circles.

    Great post.