Prayer: all wet

Prayer: all wet

Prayer: all wet

Bad Astronomy
The entire universe in blog form
Nov. 14 2007 6:59 PM

Prayer: all wet

A little while ago I wrote about how useless it is for the governor of Georgia to try to pray for rain to end the drought in his state. I also said:

I bet that a month from now they’ll get rain, and they’ll say, "See? We did it!"

Phil Plait Phil Plait

Phil Plait writes Slate’s Bad Astronomy blog and is an astronomer, public speaker, science evangelizer, and author of Death From the Skies!  

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Guess what?

But if we pray and it doesn't rain, does that mean the answer is no? Not necessarily, said a handful of Atlanta thinkers.

"The answer is at some point it will happen," said [Rabbi Steven] Lebow. "Maybe we're just not ready for it yet."

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This is bad thinking at its baddest. No matter what, this means eventually their prayers will be answered, even when it's crystal clear that the prayer had nothing to do with it.

This kind of magical thinking is really dangerous. Why bother actually trying to do anything, when we can just wish for it to be so? And even better, if we wish long enough, why, look! Our prayers were answered!

I'll note that maybe Governor Purdue may not put as much stock in prayer as he claims; he asked President Bush for help as well.

I'll also note it still hasn't rained in Georgia.