Prayer Shamin' 2: Dawkins Boogaloo

Dunno if you’ve heard, but famous atheist Richard Dawkins suffered a stroke recently.

The Church of England ("Cake or death!") tweeted* “prayers for Prof Dawkins and his family”*.

The question - were they genuinely trying to be nice or, knowing what the man believes (or rather doesn’t) were they, for lack of a better term, trolling?

I suspect it’s a case of them telling themselves that they are being nice, refusing to admit the trolling they deep inside know are doing.

It’s most likely a canned response they use for anyone famous. No need to read anything more into it.

I wouldn’t read hostility into it. Surely I’m not the only person who can have a disagreement with you about an issue and yet still respect and like you as an individual?

As a non-religious example of this: with the recent passing of Justice Scalia, all sorts of his political enemies have been searching very hard for nice things to say about him, all focusing on him as an individual. From a policy standpoint, I’m sure many of them went back to the green room and did a little “Finally! We get to take over the court!” dance.

However, it does remind me of one of my favorite Proverbs (25:21-22)
21 If your enemy is hungry, give him food to eat;
if he is thirsty, give him water to drink.
22 In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head,
and the Lord will reward you.

If you believe that:you should show compassion even to nonbelievers, sinners, etc and that offering prayers in times of crisis is a form of showing compassion then it stands to reason that you would offer prayers in this circumstance. No ulterior motive or “trolling” required.

Or, to go in the opposite direction, I assume the CoE officials are aware that mocking someone’s injury and lack of faith by offering insincere prayers is… well, not exactly Christ-like.

Between the two, I’m guessing it’s Column A – they’re sincerely offering prayers and hopes of comfort.

Yes, I doubt sincerely that they’re trolling. You’re supposed to be Christ like as Christ followers and I’m sure they’re trying to advance that concept.

Given Dawkins previous writings on the matter I’m sure he’d accept that they did it out of genuine concern.

Christians are wont to offer prayers of good will for those who are suffering. The prayers are a form of communication between the person praying and the God they believe in. In this context they don’t give a rap whether or not the person being prayed for believes in God – that doesn’t have anything to do with the purpose of the prayer.

If they wanted to be petty about it they’d refuse to pray for atheists. To interpret prayers for atheists as actions intended to irritate said atheists shows a staggering inability to understand people of faith.

I believe that 99.99% of prayers said in private are totally sincere, but that percentage drops when said in public, and drops further when said in public by an organized religious group towards those not of their sect.

This sounds plausible to me, but can anyone confirm or deny that this is standard C. of E. procedure?

I have trouble wrapping my head around the idea of a malicious prayer, unless they’re following the “happy is he who dashes their little ones’ heads against the stones” school of thought, and it doesn’t seem like they are.

I believe they meant well, and as an atheist, I wouldn’t be offended if someone said they were praying for me; it’s not like their prayer can hurt me.

It doesn’t have to be a malicious prayer, though-it could be a “holier than thou” prayer, especially when the news is given in a press release instead of just privately to the family.

I’d be peeved if someone who knew I was an atheist publicly (or to me) sent prayers in my direction. It’s an insult - you know I don’t want it, don’t believe it in, and don’t agree with it, and yet you do it anyway “for me”. And worse, you make sure I know about it (if I live/regain consciousness or whatever). Sincerity would be offering it privately so it really was between you and God and didn’t cause me annoyance or grief or draw attention to your cause or your organization that you know I oppose.

They weren’t trolling, they’re just delusional.

For the record I thought it was quite sweet, in a way. Glad to see much more measured responses.

I do get suspicious when prayers are announced publicly other than when said announcement is called for, such as in answer to a question (e.g. “What do you think of [famous atheist] having suffered a stroke?”).

Eh. The believer believes that praying for me will do some good, and it makes them feel good to say the prayer and to let others know that they’ve done so. It’s really no different than if I were to say “I wish him well” or “I hope he gets better” in regards to someone I cared about who was in dire circumstances. If they’re right and I’m wrong, then it’s possible that their act does help me somehow. If I’m right and they’re wrong, or if we’re both wrong, then the event is of absolutely no consequence and and it’s not worth my time or effort to be offended by it.

(If we’re both right, then the laws of logic and causality are hopelessly borked and there’s no telling what happens next.)

Again, their sincerity in this public pronouncement would be more fairly judged if we knew how often they sent these tweets, and for who.

I see what you did there!

It’s as standard a response to the news of someone’s death as you can get. There’s no point to reading anything more into it.