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J. Neil Schulman on...How to Talk to God

GARY YORK:  How should one talk to God?


J. NEIL SCHULMAN:  Maybe this will help.
Get somewhere you're sure no one can overhear you. In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus recommended using a closet for praying.


I think any room with a lockable door -- or somewhere isolated and remote -- might work. For an atheist trying this as an experiment, isolation limits the embarrassment factor, and you can always tell yourself it's not praying but just a form of meditation or a creative exercise or an experiment or anything that makes you less uncomfortable.
Next. Forget everything you've been taught about how to pray. You feel more comfortable jumping up and down on one foot or laying back and looking at the stars, or whatever, do it, if it helps. You don't have to be on your knees. You don't have to simulate the posture of a praying mantis. You don't have to use "theeís" and "thouís." You donít have to ask for anything or make any confessions or apologies.
Then just start talking, as if you're dictating a letter. Say whatever the heck is on your mind. Ask the questions youíve always wondered about. Pretend you're applying for a job or a loan or a college admission.


I don't know in what form the response will come, or how long it will take, or how many times you have to do this before you connect (in fact, one of the questions I wonder about is whether God has voicemail of a sort and how often he checks stored messages) but I'm pretty sure you'll eventually get a response.


GARY YORK:  Having read Rand and Heinlein for years I felt intellectually inoculated against kooky God stuff.  Wonít that be a real problem for me if I try to talk to God now?


J. NEIL SCHULMAN:  No.  Being a fan of Rand and Heinlein puts you so far ahead in conceptual mapping that it should make the conversation quite direct. A reading of Rand and Heinlein provides excellent paradigms, thought experiments, brain exercise, intellectual Drano. God may live forever but he's a busy man and is not adverse to saving time.


GARY YORK:  I've tried talking to God but never heard anything back.


J. NEIL SCHULMAN:  Maybe the problem isnít that God isnít answering but that youíre wearing earplugs. The first question anyone has to ask when wondering about a possible response to a prayer is: what should I identify as the answer?


Most people don't even realize the spam filters they have in place. A lot of atheists are atheists because anything originating from a source labeled "God" or containing a long list of banned words like "soul," "heaven," salvation," etc go directly into the bulk mail folder and get deleted without examination.


Back to Gary York's interview with J. Neil Schulman






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