FIFTY atheists are taking part in an
experiment in which they spend two to three minutes each day
The Atheist Prayer Experiment,
organised by the Premier Christian Radio programme
Unbelievable?, started on Monday. Until 26 October, the
atheists taking part will ask "God to reveal himself to them",
The experiment was inspired by an
academic paper, "Praying to Stop Being an Atheist", by Dr Tim
Mawson, a fellow and tutor in philosophy at St Peter's College,
Oxford, in the International Journal for Philosophy of
Religion in 2010. The abstract to the paper states that
atheists "are under a prima facie obligation to pray to
God that He stop them being atheists".
Justin Brierley, the presenter of
Unbelievable?, said that the paper "suggests that prayers
should be kept as open as possible. . . Atheists taking part might
try 'God, if you are out there, reveal yourself to me.'"
Dr Mawson said: "This experiment is
not aiming at definitively proving whether God exists or not, but
each participant will at least, by the end of it, have a little
more evidence, one way or another, on the question."
James Norriss, a participant, wrote on
his blog on Monday, after the first day of prayer, that his
"technique. . . just involves sitting quietly, somewhere without
too many distractions, closing my eyes for what feels like about
the right length of time, and verbalising in my head a general
request to any entity capable of detecting the message, that they
make themselves a part of my life in some way."
Another participant, Oliver Humpage,
wrote on his blog: "Although I go into this experiment with the
best of intentions, I do hope God doesn't answer my prayers: if
there's . . . a creator, that's rather boring. I much prefer my
version of the world."