Two Kossacks named Aravir and RandomActsOfReason got into a fairly long running argument about my intentions in the comment section, and I thought I might use some of their own language to clear things up a bit.
I think Aravir summed up part of my thesis nicely with this comment:
"Folks, it makes no sense, I don't even believe in a higher power, but praying seems to do something for me. Go figure."
And with the addition of this comment from Random, the summary is complete:
“we often engage in rituals out of habit, culture or upbringing, without conscious thought or rational reflection. I suggested it is possible that the need to continue to engage in traditional religious prayer might suggest a lingering doubt about doubt.”
Random also asks:
"why are you praying"? Why not do something else that evidence shows produces the desired effect? And, moreover, why are you praying using specifically religious terms - praying to "Dear Lord", etc.?"
I think I’m praying mainly because I was deeply religious at one point in my life, and prayer is kind of a behavioral atavism. I do have a doubt about doubt. I’m not a person to say ‘there is no god’, but I am someone to say that I don’t believe in God (at least in any of the notions of gods I’ve ever heard articulated).I am open to the idea of a god existing, but I’m pretty sure that my mode of contact with whatever that being might be is wholly man contrived, and something I do only because of who I’ve been in the past. I don’t expect the practice to remain with me. It’s a reflexive way to react to joy.
Random finishes up with this assertion:
“Testifying is a form of implicitly suggesting that a particular experience should be tried by others. Otherwise, there is no reason to share it in the form of a diary on a site whose mission and culture involves persuading people about their beliefs about various things.“
I don’t endorse prayer, implicitly or otherwise. I’m simply noting my experience. This is a deeply religious society, and sharing personal experiences—I have found—can be helpful to others in similar situations. My relationship with prayer and god has been a neurotic one. There’s no reason I should expect all of that to go away just because I stopped believing.
I am very glad to be free of religion, even if the voodoo has been so bred into me that I have my occasional 2 am ‘what if’ sessions.
Wholesale, I am good without god, and way better off without religion. That I still pray is a Pavlovian quirk, a body-memory reaction to joy. I don’t recommend prayer. I’m very much a ‘one hand working is worth far more than two hands praying kind of guy’. But do what you need to do. We’re weird animals, us humans, and we require a certain amount of behavioral latitude.