Sparrows and Prayers

by James Wallace Harris, Friday, July 14, 2017

Even as an atheist I’ve always loved the sentiment that God knows every sparrow that falls from a tree. It’s a comforting feeling to know that we’re watched by someone who loves us. A 2008 poll showed 60% of Americans believe in a personal God. But according to one estimate, there are ten times as many stars in the universe than all the grains of sand on Earth. The next time you’re at the beach, contemplate the sand and imagine that each grain contains as many humans as Earth, and then imagine what it would be like to hear all their prayers, and then remember you’d need to listen to all the beings on all the other grains of sand too. Can any mind no matter how vast discern so many voices?

There are over 7 billion humans on this planet and between 200-400 billion birds. How can God know every sparrow that falls from the sky or listens to every prayer we make? Now imagine multiplying 407 billion times every planet in the universe. Now multiply that times every universe in the multiverse.

sparrows and prayers

The only person that hears our prayers are ourselves, and maybe a few people who love us if we tell them. The idea that there’s a loving being that listens to all our wants, desires, and fears is a story primitive people told themselves. How can we believe it when we know so much more? Our reality is even larger than what we can see with the Hubble telescope. There’s no reason not to assume it’s infinite.

We need to individually listen to our own prayers and answer them ourselves. We need to collectively listen to each other’s prayers and work together to answer them as species. Humans need to note each sparrow that falls from the trees and care for them.

We should all want universal health care, we all get sick. Why should the rich get their prayers answered, and not the poor? Why should the rich be the sparrows that get noticed?


5 thoughts on “Sparrows and Prayers”

  1. You’re a smart man, so tell me why conservatives, especially the more rural and poor, don’t want universal health care since the higher taxes would more than likely not come from them? I understand why richer conservatives don’t want it because they don’t want their taxes going to help people they deem beneath them or that they bring their situation on themselves. Or being more fundamentalist in their religious beliefs, maybe they feel God will take care of the poor and they don’t have to.

    1. Sadly, I’m not smart enough to answer that question Mary, but read Strangers in Their Own Land by Arlie Russell Hochschild who wrote a whole book trying to answer that it. It boggles my mind that so many non-rich people belong to the Republican party!

      1. I think it’s anti choice in abortion, anti gay marriage, anti other ethnicities, anti separation of church and state, anti government even though they need it the most, anti any law to curb gun violence, anti science (especially evolution and climate change) and anti that we all live in a global world now like it or not. This will ruin our country in the long run unless the younger generation can turn the tide.

  2. Jim, you’re assuming a personal God would be like ourselves would be human. The whole notion of how many million or billion there are might not be an issue at all. Saying that, when I occasionally pray I too worried that they’re just too many requests for one God.

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