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← Francis Collins prays for Hitchens

Francis Collins prays for Hitchens - Comments

prettygoodformonkeys's Avatar Comment 1 by prettygoodformonkeys

Actually seems like a pretty good spirit in which to proceed.

Other than the made-up god, and the doing it because the book says so, of course.

Sun, 26 Sep 2010 18:39:51 UTC | #525281

DamianIcely's Avatar Comment 2 by DamianIcely

I'm confused

Sun, 26 Sep 2010 18:43:16 UTC | #525282

SourTomatoSand's Avatar Comment 3 by SourTomatoSand

I'm going to file this under "meaningless."

Sun, 26 Sep 2010 18:51:11 UTC | #525285

Stevehill's Avatar Comment 4 by Stevehill

To a sincere Christian, praying for someone in need is as natural as breathing, and may be the only response they can make (over and above a get well card and a bunch of grapes).

Whilst it can cause offence to the "beneficiary", most take it in the spirit in which it is given: at least it's not doing any harm, and it's nice to know someone is thinking about me.

There are however boundaries. In the UK, medical professionals have (rightly) been disciplined for shoving their faith down their reluctant patients' throats: it's seen as taking advantage of a patient who may not be in much of a position to argue.

My (vague) recollection is that Collins is directly or indirectly helping with Hitch's treatment. In that case he's possibly crossing an ethical boundary.

Sun, 26 Sep 2010 18:57:03 UTC | #525289

Veronique's Avatar Comment 5 by Veronique

I am so depressed by Collins taking this stance.

It is not as though Collins doesn't know what stance Hitchens takes. Why does he do this thing?

I am like Jerry Coyne - keep it to yourself, Collins. No one needs to know this stuff on The Washington Post or anywhere. I know I am not supposed to be offended - sometimes, like now, I have difficulty in using any other word to describe the way I feel.

Damn you, Collins. There was no need for this. So why did you do it? You are still the silly religite witnessing for your silly god figure. Right? You have to ensure that you get lollies from god. Why are you playing the geneticist? No, don't answer that!! Mere drivel which would make me scream.

You are a grown up man, Collins. You are a geneticist Collins; well, at least, you are a good administrator of a scientific research programme. How many researchers and their students actually produced the results. Not you so much, eh, Collins? You know there is no need for this bullshit. Why do you continue in this?

How childish can your emotional life be? How bereft of logic can your mental processes be?

Gosh, golly, sheesh, any expletive that isn't one!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Sun, 26 Sep 2010 18:57:34 UTC | #525290

Corylus's Avatar Comment 6 by Corylus

Oh dear me, another one?

I’m not sure what this means, but I hope Collins isn’t praying for Hitch to see the light and ask God for wisdom.

The most charitable explanation I can think of is that Collins is aware that medical science needs more information about illnesses - in order to more effectively treat them - and he is praying for that.

This, however, is me reaching.

Sun, 26 Sep 2010 18:58:55 UTC | #525292

DamianIcely's Avatar Comment 7 by DamianIcely

I really am just confused. His (collin's) explanation doesn't really mean anything to me.

Sun, 26 Sep 2010 19:04:13 UTC | #525296

AtheistEgbert's Avatar Comment 8 by AtheistEgbert

More evidence to suggest that one the one hand, we strident atheists must never ever say anything hurtful to theists. But on the other, even the most lukewarm theists like Collins can't respect the wishes of his closest friend.

And to top it all, he has to make his praying public.

It only angers me the more.

Sun, 26 Sep 2010 19:07:59 UTC | #525298

Chris Redmond's Avatar Comment 9 by Chris Redmond

The more I hear about Collins, the less I like about him. I'm with Jerry Coyne on this one - keep this kind of mumbo-jumbo to yourself, and certainly don't publish it so sycophantically in The Washington Post. It's okay, we get it, you love Jesus and are still a good scientist to boot - you don't need to broadcast this for the world to see. Just stick to the Human Genome project and help us find a cure for cancer.

Sun, 26 Sep 2010 19:09:45 UTC | #525301

Paula Kirby's Avatar Comment 10 by Paula Kirby

I’m not sure what this means, but I hope Collins isn’t praying for Hitch to see the light and ask God for wisdom.

I'm afraid that's exactly what it means. It's arrogant and it's patronising, and in Hitch's place I would show him the door faster than he could say 'frozen waterfall'.

Sun, 26 Sep 2010 19:14:23 UTC | #525303

Dhamma's Avatar Comment 11 by Dhamma

This is nothing short of disgraceful. I wish significant atheists took a stance against this. It's fully obvious he's taking advantage of the situation, why would he otherwise take it up in a public article? There's absolutely no good reason for it than to show christian "humility".

Sun, 26 Sep 2010 19:15:58 UTC | #525305

xfrosch's Avatar Comment 12 by xfrosch

5 ¶ And when thou prayest, thou shalt not be as the hypocrites are: for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and in the corners of the streets, that they may be seen of men. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward. 6 But thou, when thou prayest, enter into thy closet, and when thou hast shut thy door, pray to thy Father which is in secret; and thy Father which seeth in secret shall reward thee openly.

Sun, 26 Sep 2010 19:17:12 UTC | #525307

helen sotiriadis's Avatar Comment 13 by helen sotiriadis

it seems to me that it's important for theists to let others know that they're praying. it attracts so many rewards, in this life.

Sun, 26 Sep 2010 19:22:55 UTC | #525310

Chica1's Avatar Comment 14 by Chica1

If someone wants to pray for him, for whatever outcome, that is of course their choice. We all know it won't make the slightest bit of difference, but advertising that fact, is nothing short of disrespectful. What happened to respecting other peoples beliefs? It is clear to anyone who has heard of him that he would not want people to pray for him. It is condescending and arrogant. I suppose they are trying to push people into either thanking them for their "help" or censure them for what they see as reasonable behaviour.

Sun, 26 Sep 2010 19:24:56 UTC | #525311

huzonfurst's Avatar Comment 15 by huzonfurst

Well, isn't that just so special of him?

Sun, 26 Sep 2010 19:34:24 UTC | #525319

Raiko's Avatar Comment 16 by Raiko

Why people insist they pray for Christopher Hitchens so loud-mouthedly is beyond me, anyway. Some part of them must realize that sending an actual get-well card or donating to cancer research or reading/buying his books, etc. would be much more charitable of them in this situation.

When someone is sick, why not do something that seems like it would actually please, help or flatter the sick person, rather than doing something you'd want to get yourself when you're sick.

Sun, 26 Sep 2010 19:51:07 UTC | #525326

The Plc's Avatar Comment 17 by The Plc

It seems a great time to revisit Sam Harris' devastating review of Collins' book, the Language of God.

Francis Collins—physical chemist, medical geneticist and head of the Human Genome Project—has written a book entitled "The Language of God." In it, he attempts to demonstrate that there is "a consistent and profoundly satisfying harmony" between 21st-century science and evangelical Christianity. To say that he fails at his task does not quite get at the inadequacy of his efforts. He fails the way a surgeon would fail if he attempted to operate using only his toes. His failure is predictable, spectacular and vile. "The Language of God" reads like a hoax text, and the knowledge that it is not a hoax should be disturbing to anyone who cares about the future of intellectual and political discourse in the United States.

If Collins had any sense, he would see that a person who has established himself as a public face of science is being profoundly irresponsible, as well as profoundly embarrassing, in flaunting his belief in childish superstitions at every chance he gets.

Sun, 26 Sep 2010 20:10:20 UTC | #525332

jac12358's Avatar Comment 18 by jac12358

To be fair (and immediately I can sense the umbrage this comment will create, so please think first about what I am saying), atheists are guilty of this as well. Recently I recall there being a fuss over trying to prove to the rest of the world how charitable atheists are, the point being, I assume, that one does not need good old fashioned religious morality to be charitable. While I believe this is true, touting how much one donates to charitable endeavors is, or can be viewed as Francis Collins is by Coyne, as blowing one's own horn.

The ONLY difference is that with a charitable donation there is actual measurable/provable activity (i.e. the donation) and the medical research or other form of immediate aid and results it provides. In contrast to the prayer which can be lied about (is there a "prayer receipt?") and is actually doing nothing helpful whatsoever. So we cringe when someone makes a fuss over the pointless self-mumblings someone claims to be doing, especially on behalf of the "enemy."

Yet on the grounds alone of advertising either prayer or donations, the effect is simply to gain credibility in an argument or to try to improve the opinions others have of you.

So keep it private!!

If prayer is as effective as money, then it doesn't need an announcement to make it work. Or does it??? Possible the knowledge of being prayed for can have a sort of psychological psychosomatic placebo effect on the one being prayed for. But in that case the power is not in the prayer, but in the mind of the target. So a prayer need not actually be said, and thus prayer itself has not been proven to work.

Sun, 26 Sep 2010 20:11:27 UTC | #525334

AtheistEgbert's Avatar Comment 19 by AtheistEgbert

I would like to send an atheist get well card to Hitchens. If anyone knows some forwarding address, that would be great. Maybe we (atheists) can show our support for him this way.

Sun, 26 Sep 2010 20:20:59 UTC | #525340

Austin K's Avatar Comment 20 by Austin K

let him say what he wants

Sun, 26 Sep 2010 20:27:59 UTC | #525343

Joshua Slocum's Avatar Comment 21 by Joshua Slocum

Um, whom do you believe is trying to prevent Collins from saying what he wants? How can anyone "let" or "not let" him say what he already has in the Washington Post? If you really meant to say "I'm feeling really piqued that you're commenting on Nice Christian Man's Public Piety," then say it.

Comment 20 by Austin K :

let him say what he wants

Sun, 26 Sep 2010 20:31:36 UTC | #525345

AtheistEgbert's Avatar Comment 22 by AtheistEgbert

Comment 20 by Austin K :

let him say what he wants

Yes, precisely. We don't mind what he says, we just criticise him and move on. But we're not allowed to say anything, for fear of offence. Hypocrisy.

Sun, 26 Sep 2010 20:36:18 UTC | #525348

Steve Zara's Avatar Comment 23 by Steve Zara

Oh dear. There has been some research about the effectiveness of prayer that has shown that it can have an effect - negative. Presumably it's because if someone thinks you are praying for them they worry more about their condition.

So, Collins is promoting a potential harmful therapy. Not particularly ethical, I would think.

Sun, 26 Sep 2010 20:39:06 UTC | #525349

Coffee_Anathema's Avatar Comment 24 by Coffee_Anathema

Comment 10 by Paula Kirby :

I’m not sure what this means, but I hope Collins isn’t praying for Hitch to see the light and ask God for wisdom. I'm afraid that's exactly what it means. It's arrogant and it's patronising, and in Hitch's place I would show him the door faster than he could say 'frozen waterfall'.

I agree. At least Collins isn't hoisting himself with the patard of 'if I pray to God Christopher will MAAAGICALLY get better'. What I'd like to see is him doing his praying in front of Mr Hitchens, looking at his impassive, unmoved and rational face, observe how he doesn't automatically go into remission, and how neither of them have an epiphany as to how to reverse metastasis and stop cancer in its tracks. I would much rather Collins did his job, which will do people in Hitchens' condition (in the future, regrettably enough) than loafing around praying will. Given the opportunity.

Sun, 26 Sep 2010 20:44:57 UTC | #525351

Neodarwinian's Avatar Comment 25 by Neodarwinian

The truth does not care about your hope professor Coyne. You know very well Collins is praying for the very thing you hope he is not praying for.

( italics noted )

Sun, 26 Sep 2010 20:46:55 UTC | #525352

Tiende Landeplage's Avatar Comment 26 by Tiende Landeplage

Here is another "Praying for Hitchens" entry, also from "On Faith", by one Sally Quinn, featuring one of the more glaring oxymorons I've come across recently:

Prayer is about a need to control one's life.

Sun, 26 Sep 2010 20:46:55 UTC | #525353

sgturner59's Avatar Comment 27 by sgturner59

Collins quotes a biblical text he's relying upon in his prayer for Hitchens. It would be interesting to know what hermeneutic Collins uses to determine which biblical texts are reliable, since he clearly finds biblical text regarding medical miracles unreliable.

Sun, 26 Sep 2010 20:52:17 UTC | #525355

Quine's Avatar Comment 28 by Quine

I posted the following at the WP article:

With others, I am glad to see that Dr. Collins is lending his medical skills to the health issues re Christopher Hitchens. I wonder, however, if he thinks about the self hypnosis aspects of his (Dr. Collins) own prayers? I suspect it helps the parts of his brain that believe without evidence hold out against the parts of his brain that know from science that those beliefs make no logical sense.

If I could, I would ask Dr. Collins about cases of so called "split brain" patients (they have had the corpus callosum cut) in which some have been shown to have a half brain that believes in the supernatural and a half that does not (see: ). (Reminds me of Dr. Collins' position in both religion and contradictory science at the same time.) So, where do these people "go" after death?after death?

Sun, 26 Sep 2010 21:13:48 UTC | #525362

Tim VI's Avatar Comment 29 by Tim VI

Why is Jerry not part of the horsemen? He really has written some of the most devastating articles on faith and religion over the past year or two.

Sun, 26 Sep 2010 21:21:26 UTC | #525372

beanson's Avatar Comment 30 by beanson

wait- Collin's god didn't know Hitch has cancer? Collins has to inform him? Does he think he knows more than his god does? bit of an insult to the big guy isn't it Francis?

Sun, 26 Sep 2010 21:21:41 UTC | #525373