Tuesday, August 31, 2010

"I'll Pray For You" -- Gee, thanks. Knock Yourself Out

Last week a friend's prayer circle prayed for someone who'd been in a car wreck, and the person got better. Too bad they didn't pray for her not to get into a car wreck! Well, maybe God wanted her to suffer so his believers would say a lot of prayers. Or maybe he sent a bunch of cars crashing into each other that day and whoever got the most prayers gets to live another day. They suffer more than the ones who die, but hey it's a small price to pay for being God's next American Idol.

Meanwhile, my little doggie has cancer, and was doing very poorly last week. I took her to her oncologist, who diagnosed the problem (not the cancer, but the cancer made it worse), took appropriate treatment, and now doggie feels better. Nobody prayed for her. I wasn't optimistic about the outcome, and I bawled like a baby. I know this doggie will die soon, and I thought this was "it." There's no chance that "wishful thinking" even played a role in exerting some magic woo toward the outcome.

"His eye is on the sparrow," and apparently also little doggies. Yet he lets people get into near-fatal car wrecks just to see if people will pray over them? What the heck?

It seems to me (not a scientific study!) that women are quicker to call up a prayer circle, offer to pray for you, or to credit the divine for the good outcome of their fervent mentations. I've never had to deal with the prayer business with men the way I do with women. When they blather on about how God saved so-and-so I don't point out the fallacy of confirmation bias or the fact that people die every day despite fervent prayers. I just nod and say "that was lucky" or something equally lame yet polite.

We atheists don't have the equal and opposite power to annoy. If I tell a believer that doggie got IV fluids and a different chemo, they won't think "oh that had nothing to do with it -- it was God!" And they probably don't get this uncomfortable feeling of wondering what's the right thing to say. I suppose some bite their tongue and refrain from saying "Praise God," but I wish more of them would do that!

Well, off to ebay to look for a divining rod. Perhaps I can influence doggie's fluids and save some money.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Unfairness on "Jeopardy"

Imagine you're a teenaged girl named "Hema Karunakaram," all-American non-white teen and possibly brought up in one of the religions popular in India or...?... and you've studied hard all your life and gotten onto Teen Jeopardy. You do well and make it to the semi-finals, competing against two anglo white boys. The game isn't going well for you but you've got some money to "bet" with... and then the Final Jeopardy category is announced: The Old Testament.

You bet all you have in the hopes it'll be something very commonly known. The question is "He was offered all the weapons of the first King of Israel but turned them down."

The answer you write: "Who is Moses?"

The answer the two white boys write: "Who is David." They come in 1st and 2nd.


Should this girl have known this trivia about David? Should Jeopardy have even used this question no matter who the contestants were?