So, I saw this post on the Friendly Atheist blog about a stupid Christian Bus Ad (showed later) that basically tells kids to ask God, and only God, for help when their parents are addicted to, and exposing them to, illicit drugs. Frankly, you don’t have to be an atheist for this to piss you off; you just have to have a few functioning brain cells…
Here is the offending bus ad:
Now, it’s not controversial to say that kids should be encouraged to seek help if their parents are doing illicit drugs in the home, especially if their behavior while on those drugs truly is scary (To tell them otherwise would only prolong a bad situation for these kids, after all), so I’m not going to dwell on this for too long.
No, I’m going to dwell on the mainstream theological belief, whether Muslim, Jewish, or (especially) Christian, that if you ask for something from God, He (it’s always “He”, isn’t it?) will provide. Now, anyone who has actually payed attention to things that happen will notice that not everyone gets what they prayed for, and those that do almost always get it because they or some other person made it happen (In fact, the “Power of Prayer” has been documented to be a pretty impotent one), but that doesn’t stop some people by insisting that their grandma had a successful surgery because they asked God when a team of highly trained and talented medical staff worked for hours to ensure that outcome.
And you know what? That is why reasonable people, even if they nominally believe in the “Power of Prayer”, still take it upon themselves to ensure their preferred outcome. People know that if they want grandma to survive the fall that broke her hip and is causing her to bleed internally and be able to walk again, they should take her to the hospital; if your premature newborn son is very ill, then you should take him to the doctor, at least. They might think that prayer will “help” or “won’t hurt” (and it might even have a placebo effect), but when the chips are down, they’d rather have a doctor in their corner than Sky Cake.
And this is because they know that if you trust God, and only God, to heal your ill newborn if you pray to Him, this is probably what will happen to you. There’s just no escaping it. They just haven’t taken the next step and realized that, if you, or someone else, had to work to achieve an outcome that you prayed to God for, then God really didn’t do shit–Why was the prayer even necessary? Hell, why would you ask the guy who gave you a disease to cure it?
However, not only is the belief in prayer wrong, it can be disastrous. Not everyone belongs to the group of reasonable people. For example: Christian Scientists (most. ironic. name. ever) eschew modern medicine, calling it “sinful” and against their belief that “God will provide.” Well, that’s why their sick babies often end up dying horribly, painful deaths.
And this brings be back to that stupid bus ad. The fact that the Bible, and it’s hawkers, literally says, “Don’t worry, just pray and God will help you!” is just another reason why we should not follow that book. People need to learn to be self-sufficient–to solve their own problems and to work towards the outcomes they want to happen. You can’t rely on God to do anything for you because, well, there probable isn’t a God to do anything for you. Help yourself, or, if you can’t, seek the help you need from good people who actually exist and, therefore, can actually help.
After all: If you give a man a fish, he’ll eat for a day; if you teach a man to fish, he’ll eat forever; if you tell a man to pray for fish, he’ll starve.