Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Weather prayers

GOP supporters and residents of the Tampa area prayed this past week that God would prevent hurricane Isaac from striking Tampa and disrupting the Republican Party’s nominating convention. Democrats would have done the same, had severe weather threatened their nominating convention. Weather prayers are also popular with sailors, farmers, vacationers, and others.

That type of weather prayer is immoral, foolish, and nonsensical.

Weather prayers are immoral because the unspoken request is that the severe weather strike another location, inflict its harm and disruption on other people. Praying that somebody else – even implicitly praying that somebody else – suffer from severe weather is incongruous with loving one’s neighbor, a basic Christian ethic principle.

Weather prayers are foolish because weather prayers are ineffectual. Meteorologists, oceanographers, and other scientists increasingly understand the physics of weather, physics that presume a consistency and regularity that are incompatible with God's occasional, direct intervention.

Finally, weather prayers are theological nonsense. If one accepts that God created the cosmos, setting in motion physical dynamics that determine the weather, and if one believes that God is beneficent and omniscient, then surely God has a much better perspective on what is best for creation than the limited, inherently inaccurate perspective of any group of humans. Believing that God heeds weather prayers means that God plays favorites, loving some people more than God loves others.

Weather prayers invite people to ridicule religion and reflect religious immaturity. Let’s stop praying about the weather and begin praying for the well-being of all people, for God loves everyone equally.

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