“Sending good thoughts” and “sending energy”

Thought Receiver?

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.


  1. Here’s a question for you… Have you ever just considered rebuking these ”senders of good thoughts” as superstitious pagans no better than indigenous tribesmen living in some jungle hut? Oh, I’m sure they would be offended by this truth, since they’re probably very conscious of their elite self-appointed status within our society – however, since when has a little real truth hurt someone who considers themselves a repository of ‘truth’. I think of Christ speaking to the self-appointed guides of His day Matthew 23:27.

  2. I have thought about it, but I prefer asking questions and encouraging people to examine what they’re saying instead of rebuking people directly. Discussion and debate, rather than confrontation, is my more style.

  3. Randy McRoberts says:

    I’ve been asking the same questions for awhile now, and people look at me like I’m crazy or something. Maybe they’re right.

    Anyway, your approach is the correct one. Larry’s approach will only make us look as smug as the one’s we are dealing with, only more stupid.

    Thanks for your writing.

  4. Yeah, I’ve often wondered what the transmission device was for good thoughts or positive energy. What’s the accuracy? How do you know if it made it to its intended target? Christianity at least makes sense in that prayer is a conversation with the deity, asking for intercession on another’s behalf. Anything else seems very energy inefficient.

  5. I don’t see “sending good thoughts” as any more nonsensical than asking an unseen deity to intervene.

    What would be appropriate for a non-religious person to say?
    Michele recently posted..“Do you have Narnia”

  6. But that’s my point… the rationale for prayer is that God has provided the mechanism where he hears and answers our prayers, so we can speak aloud or through our thoughts, and he gets the request. Because he is omnipresent and omniscient, etc. and because he loves us, he will answer. (Which doesn’t necessarily mean yes, it can mean no or wait, etc – the rationale is that our Heavenly Father knows best and will do what’s best.) So if you don’t buy into the rationale, it’s nonsensical, of course. But there is a rational process taking place which is explainable based on the framework provided.

    To the person who does not believe, by what mechanism does a thought get sent? Why does it matter if it does? There’s no deity to impact the situation; at best you’ve got a thought sitting out there doing… what? There’s no rational framework to hold up the idea – at least none I’ve ever heard. If an unbelieving person just wanted to express caring and support, I should think they’d say things like, “I’m very sorry to hear this news,” “What can I do to help you?” or other human-oriented responses. Instead, you get sort of a Godless prayer.

    That’s why, when it’s appropriate to ask what they mean by it, I do ask. Because if there’s a rationale for this I’d like to hear it, and if there’s not I think I’m doing them a favor by pointing that out.

  7. I’m always amused by how upset people get when asked a simple question like “how does that work.”
    Perhaps, that’s why I continue to do it.