At some level, even most unbelievers want to to engage in some supernatural way of affecting reality. Since they won’t appeal to God, we have the nonsensical secular version of praying: “sending good thoughts” or “sending energy” to someone. I recently saw this phenomenon in action when an acquaintance of mine had chest pains. His girlfriend (who is a facebook friend of mine) posted updates as they navigated through the medical system – it turned out that he had an aneurysm/torn aorta and needed emergency surgery. They are both atheists, as are many of their friends. While some people did reply to the Facebook updates that they were praying, here are some of the secular responses:
- Sending lots of positive energy and well wishes to S—-!
- Oh no!!!! Energies are on the way. Please keep us up to date.
- my thoughts are with y’all.
- We’re all sending good vibes his way
- Sending much love, energy, light and love your way
My personal favorite (and yes, I realize the writer was not being too serious):
- Im sending best wishes to you two for his quick and full recovery! May Flying Spaghetti Monster caress him with his noodly appendage and see to it that S—-’s heart heals fully! For thine art thy ziti, thy linguini and thy elbow! (R)Amen!
Obviously the “senders” meant well, and wanted to show love and support. So by that standard, mission accomplished. But do people ever take a minute to think how stupid this stuff sounds? Whether you believe it works or not, there is at least a rationale to prayer – you’re appealing to a higher power to intercede for you. What is the rationale behind these comments? If you’re sending a wish, whom do you expect to fulfill the wish? By what mechanism do you actually send energy and vibes? How does one receive these things?
The unexamined nature of these things drives me up a wall. When it’s appropriate, I very politely ask people who say these things to explain how it works. So far, no one has been able to; what they’re quite clear about – and I learn this later via other people – is that I’m a jerk for asking. C’est la vie, I guess.