Does Prayer Make Sense for Atheists?

I’ve always enjoyed abstract math and higher dimensional / non-Euclidean geometries. Add in the weirdness of quantum mechanics and dark energy and its even more interesting. Top it off possibly with things like discreetness and strings and it gets absolutely mind-boggling. I still love to read and think about all these things, although my mathematics have gotten too rusty over the years to keep up in depth – so I can’t claim expertise.

Now on one hand I am not a fan of the popular “new age” ideas that try to equate some of these concepts with “god” and spirituality. But I will also admit that there are some possibilities nonetheless, and those are genuinely intriguing. Take for instance the notion of cause and effect – and how this is actually proven to not be so clear-cut on the quantum level. There is even some wiggle room in the bigger relativistic realm of space-time.

One place I heard this come up recently was in Elizabeth Gilbert’s “Eat, Pray, Love”. At the beginning of the book she was praying for help, and she believed an answer came that told her to “go back to bed”. At the end of the book she brought up the possibility that maybe it was her future self that responded to the prayer of her younger self. I cannot claim to know if current scientific understanding allows for this, but I very much like it.

Prayer came up at last week’s seminar with Atheist pastor Gretta Vosper, and again yesterday at the monthly “Spiritual” group I attend. In both cases it was the question of who do you pray to when you no longer believe in “god”, or at least not in the “man upstairs” type “god”. Psychology may suggest that “prayer” to yourself may still be meaningful – maybe even powerful in some cases. How much more if your future self is potentially involved!


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