Spot the Atheist

Ask pretty much any modern day atheist about “sending prayers” on Facebook, and you will almost assuredly get an eye roll and a groan.  It generally follows this model: Someone posts about something bad in their life, or in need of something good as an outcome of a situation, and in the comments below are lengthy strings of people just posting “prayers!”, or “praying for you!”, or “sending prayers!” or some other such nonsense.  Jesus is occasionally referenced.


Notice in this comment thread, there was ONE person that offered to actually help.  And this isn’t the only example.  Long threads of people offering “thoughts and prayers”, and one single person offering good advice or offering real help, has become part of an entire meme genre titled “Spot the Atheist”.  Go ahead and google it.

Here’s another:


Check out Jacob with his completely useful advice!  If he hadn’t chimed in, Mr. DeWitt would have just suffered longer.  But thanks to someone with a bit of real knowledge, he stands a chance of some relief.

And that’s really the point of this article.  I might not have known the proper care for Mr. DeWitt’s symptoms, but it doesn’t do me any good to post some useless gesture.  I wouldn’t, for example, comment “try smoking lots of cigarettes.”

But those other commenters didn’t know the right answer either, and for some god-forsaken reason thought that their answer would actually help.  So in reality, they’re taking the “god of the gaps”, which is just the process of sticking god into every problem you personally don’t know the answer for, and extending that process out.  The dam is leaking, and they expect that a “prayer” will plug the hole, without knowing anything at all about dam construction or structural integrity.

Now, we know prayer doesn’t work.  If you ever want any proof that prayer is completely useless, you simply find a religious organization with lots of money, have them hire some researchers or scientists or doctors willing to set up a legitimate double-blind study, and then simply note the results.  Yes, we have such a study, and the results are quite conclusive.  Prayer is useless.  It’s 2018, this study is 12 years old, and we still have to tell people that prayer is useless.  I’m surprised we aren’t still drowning witches…..

But again, ignorance is the residence of god, and ignorance of how to help is the residence of prayer.  If you ask the doctor about to help someone with, say, cancer, they’re going to go into a whole lot of specific stuff about biology and advanced surgical or medical techniques.  Stuff I don’t understand to be sure.  But they aren’t going to write “prayer” on their chart.  This is because, as we noted in our study, prayer is useless.

As a non-doctor, I am powerless to help someone with cancer.  And that really sucks, because it would be nice if I could help all people at all times.  But I can’t.  I have to be honest about what I can and can’t do.  And if you have cancer, buddy, I’m recommending you to a doctor ‘cuz I’m not going to do you any good.

Now, just because I can’t cure your cancer doesn’t mean I don’t feel the need to help.  And I assume the “thoughts and prayers” commenters feel the same.  So they offer their useless remedy.  And then, that’s it.  They’re conscious is clear I guess, because they “helped.”  Only they didn’t actually help at all.  And since I know how worthless prayers really are, I also know that my obligation to be a good person hasn’t been fulfilled.  So as an atheist, I have to do just a little more thinking and then do something that takes time and money.

Without prayer to relieve me of my duty to be humane, I resort to cooking meals for people.  I help people move.  I give them a hand.  I loan (give) some cash.  I give someone a ride.  I sit down with them and let them vent and listen.

Sending prayers is a cop-out.  It has become such a virus of non-action that it has entered the sphere of politics.  This trend needs to be reversed.  As atheists, we need to be the example of doing something real and meaningful.  Also, feel free to take a jab at the “prayer” committee as long as it is appropriate.  But be a good human.  “Spot the Atheist” should be a universally recognized game.

The Spartan Atheist


34 thoughts on “Spot the Atheist

  1. Now, we know prayer doesn’t work.

    Let 100 people take turns praying for light in a dark room, then have one person switch the lamp on, and see which has an actual effect. It’s really not difficult.

    The very phrase “thoughts and prayers” as used by politicians after school shootings (as a substitute for action) has become a mockery, and deservedly so.

    No doubt you’re right that some people use prayer as a way to satisfy their desire to help when in fact there’s nothing they can do. But it’s still a form of reality denial. Knowing one is unable to help is sometimes simply the truth, however unwelcome.

    For a moment the title “Spot the Atheist” made me think this must be a post about a non-believing dog, but that’s just me. 🙂

    Liked by 6 people

    1. “For a moment the title “Spot the Atheist” made me think this must be a post about a non-believing dog”

      LOL! That’s just funny. And thank you so much for including me in your link round-ups. I tried to like and comment on this last one but for some reason couldn’t. Probably user (me) error.

      I stopped short of talking too much about the “thoughts and prayers” mocking after school shootings because I’m TRYING to keep my page non-political. But absolutely, completely deserving of mockery.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. Heh. I’ve always held that when Lady Macbeth said “Out, out, damned Spot!”, she was just trying to get the dog to go outside.

        The fact that it’s almost impossible to talk about religion without politics creeping in (or vice-versa) is a disquieting reality of the times. The fact is, in the US we now have a theocratic party and a secular party. It’s an oddity of US culture. As far as I know, no other Western democracy has a major political party so strongly identified with religious fundamentalism as the US Republicans — there isn’t the constituency for it.

        I’ve read about that prayer study, but if there’s one topic on which believers are primed to be totally impervious to objective evidence, it’s probably this one. Still, kudos to the researchers for showing that even the most unlikely phenomena can be tested using the scientific method.

        Your blog has been quite a find and it will continue to show up in the weekly round-ups. I found it via Amanda’s blog, which in turn I found via some comments she had left at a loony Catholic site I read for “know the enemy” purposes.

        I don’t think the “Blogger” system my blog uses has “like” buttons. It’s pretty different from WordPress. Anyone should be able to comment, though. Just choose the name/URL option under the comment box and you can enter a name (including your blog URL is optional).

        Liked by 1 person

    2. … then have one person switch the lamp on Oh but don’t you realize THAT was the answer to all those prayers? Sheesh! I’m surprised you didn’t pick up on that right away. *sarcasm*

      Liked by 1 person

      1. LOL! Sorry, I don’t think like a religious person.


  2. Not only is saying/writing “sending thoughts and prayers” totally useless, but what’s even worse is the person “sending” them actually believes they have filled their obligation to “help.”

    Plus … how many carry out their promise and actually PRAY? (And “Dear God, please help _____” doesn’t count.) Of course, even if they did … well, need I say more?

    Liked by 3 people

    1. No kidding. After they write “thoughts and prayers”, they neither think nor pray for the person. That’s the ultimate cop-out.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I noticed a strange line in the first string–WTF. Prayers. I hate these, too, but I see them every day. I agree with Nan; I think very few of these people actually say a prayer.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Prayer works. I pray every day for people to offer up prayers for bad things that happen to people, and it happens. Every. Single. Time. 🙂

    Liked by 4 people

    1. I pray that you will comment on my articles. 😄

      Liked by 2 people

      1. Sorry. I never leave comments. 🙂


  5. One of the things that grates my nerves is someone who says they’ll pray for you. I find that highly presumptuous of them.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I like to respond with “Thanks, I’ll dance naked in the woods for you.”, or alternatively, “Thanks, I’ll think for you.” depending on my mood.

      Obviously, sometimes the situation just calls for me to thank them and move on.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. I’m more inclined to say, “Thanks, but I don’t believe in prayer.” Or sometimes I just smile and say nothing. It’s just a worthless and hypocritical statement!

        Liked by 1 person

      2. I’d say “I’d prefer it if you did something useful with your time”.

        Liked by 1 person

      3. Oh nice. Would love to see what you look like naked.

        Liked by 1 person

      4. Lol! Nobody wants to see that…


      5. I like to respond with “Thanks, I’ll dance naked in the woods for you.”, or alternatively, “Thanks, I’ll think for you.” depending on my mood.

        “Thanks, I’ll fart for you.” Depending on my mood. It’s an easy commitment to keep and just as useful as what they proposed.


  6. You could always say, oh thank you and while you’re at it, would you pray for all the children that are starving all over the world, the loved ones riddled and dying from cancer, people shot and killed in mass shootings and wars, families that have never known a day of peace in their entire lives and children that have been separated from their parents that are being caged and in some cases given into human trafficking.

    Liked by 7 people

  7. Reblogged this on aunt polly's rants and commented:

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Of course, he got the flu due to being a sinner and it was God’s divine plan…
    That annoys me to no end! I find it horrible and disgusting when people say stuff like that about losing family or friends, or someone dies some horrible death from something like cancer for instance!

    Liked by 2 people

  9. Thanks a bunch for the link to the (in)famous double blind peer-reviewed prayer study… adding yet another arrow of my quiver when confronted by the “true believers”. Peace.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. When someone threatens to pray at me or over me or for me, if I’m feeling mellow, I just say ‘thanks” , otherwise I just smile and keep moving.

    My Great Aunt Jenny was a Benedictine nun (cloistered order) and one of the tasks in that Order’s life was, during the 50s, to pray for the end of communisim. It’s what they prayed for. I always wondered if the concerted efforts of several thousand Benedictine nuns might have moved the needle a bit toward the end of communisim…I know they thought so…

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It didn’t help. But I appreciate her effort.


  11. I notice this all too often. Whenever I see the masses of useless “sending thoughts and prayers” I’m compelled to offer real advice and actual encouragement. It’s a major issue in society when people are lazy and use this prayer route instead of thinking and doing. Great post!

    Liked by 2 people

  12. If there were a god that answered prayers, the population pleading to and praising the correct one would be overwhelmingly blessed compared to the heathens. If prayers to Allah were effective, the Middle East would be a paradise as opposed to a perpetual war zone. If genuflecting before the Biblical god were beneficial, Mississippi would be Heaven on Earth, instead of ranking 50th in the country in income, education, and health. If Buddhist prayers worked, Tibet would be Shangri-La for real, instead of suffering its seventh decade of brutal Chinese occupation. If homage to Vishnu yielded results, India would have streets of gold instead of being severely polluted.

    Liked by 4 people

    1. Kinda makes you wonder how they can claim what they claim.

      Liked by 1 person

    2. Right on! And isn’t it amazing that most believers can’t see this?


  13. They cant or more likely won’t see this bs just as trump supporters won’t see his bs.

    Liked by 1 person

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