The church that I pass on the way to work, the one with the marquee-style sign, has recently set its sign to the first cutesy message for the new year:
I think they’re reusing them; I’m sure I’ve seen that one before.
OUR KNEE MAIL
And it reminds me of one of the two hardest things for me to swallow about religion: the idea that God listens to and answers your prayers.
I get the need to explain the unknown. I don’t really get the need to make up fanciful stories to do so, but I suppose I see why people do it. And so maybe the Great Bear kicked a giant snowball into the sky, and it became the sun. Maybe Apollo pulls the sun across the sky on his chariot. Maybe there was a great warrior who became the sun when he died. Maybe God created the sun on the first day. They can all make for good folk tales, and they all are, except for the Great Bear and the snowball, which I just made up now.
But the idea that the all powerful, all knowing, all seeing, all singing, all dancing creator of all this wonder around us... the idea that such a being would be hanging about taking care of the day-to-day minutiae of it all is rather silly. The idea that such a being will intercede in deciding which team wins a football game this afternoon (because, admit it, if you’re an American who prays, that’s one of the things you’re praying for today, isn’t it?) is silly. The idea that the wondrous omnipotent creator is listening to Barry, and will tweak things to suit me just ’cause I ask him to is silly.
To the extent that prayer is comforting, it’s a fine thing. To the extent that a positive attitude helps one through life and helps heal one in times of illness, it’s a fine thing.
But if there be a God, he/she/it is not a micromanager. God would have set things up to be completely automated, and long, long ago would have gone off creating other universes somewhere where we can’t imagine. God didn’t even leave a receptionist. There’s no one sitting around answering knee mail, and it’s amazingly vain to think that there is.