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Atheist experiment fails to convince

30 November 2012

TWO of the 71 participants in Premier Radio's Atheist Prayer Experiment have said that they now believe in God, while 48 do not believe that God was revealed to them.

The experiment, launched on 17 September ( News, 21 September), was based on an academic paper - "Praying to Stop Being an Atheist" - by the philosopher Tim Mawson, which argues that atheists are "are under a prima facie obligation to pray to God that He stop them being atheists". Participants committed themselves to praying every day for 40 days that God would reveal himself to them. Of the rest of the 71, 14 have not yet reported back, six failed to take part, and one was undecided.

Kendra Jory, from the United States, who was an agnostic before the experiment, became a Christian. Having "flip-flopped between fierce atheist to wishy-washy occasional Christian", she said that she had realised: "With God I feel like I have hope and positivity. I feel safe."

Another participant, also American, Kelly Womble, decided to join the experiment shortly before giving birth to her first child. Then she saw a full rainbow "across the entire sky", which she took to be a sign. She had previously been a Christian, "the reason I wasn't a believer was that I felt I was praying all the time and getting nothing back."

An atheist, Ally, concluded that, if God could "do something that is completely impossible by our laws, that would be a lot more convincing".

Some who remained atheists felt that the experiment had been a positive one. Rachel, another former Christian, said: "It helped me open up and be a bit more able to embrace life and what is out there, without trying to slot it into what I believe."

However, Cang felt "humiliated" while praying, and Lucy, a psychotherapist, said that praying during a difficult time had not helped - it was better to try and distract herself.

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