Jerry Coyne pointed this nonsense out in which the author, Pamela Gerloff, Ed.D., at Psychology Today, claims that cats pray. This is her evidence:
The other day, as I was dusting off a little glass shelf that had been my mother’s, I inadvertently bumped one of the tiny figurines on it–one of a set of blue and white china elephants she had once given me. The disturbance sent all the beloved creatures toppling. As I juggled to keep the whole shelf from falling, I felt a flash of frustration move through me; I might have been tempted to utter a censorable word, except that just at that instant my eyes caught Miss Kitty’s. Sitting motionless on the footstool next to me, her inward gaze shifted outward ever so slightly, just enough to neutrally observe my agitated state.
Instantly, the contrast in our inner experiences became palpable to me and I had a sudden insight. “Why, she’s praying,” I thought, as my mind fell into the calm oasis of her silent meditation.
Millions of cats throughout the world quietly doing their spiritual duty, emanating peace and contentment.
I see in no way how this is any evidence of praying. Was a brain-scan performed to see look at which parts of the cats brain lit up? Of course not. And who the fuck should get funding for that idiot project in the first place? Even the crackpot Templeton Foundation would not fund this lunacy.
Now, why would anyone think that a cat is capable of conscious though? And more so, idolize a God in the same way humans would? Can felines also read? If they can’t how could they be praying to a God that humans pray to? Oh, but you’ll claim next that they can understand English and must have overheard someone talking about Jesus/God. Or maybe that they know innately that God exists. Or how about that the receive transference from humans? Yea, that makes sense too. But in fact, it makes just as much sense as a cat praying.
Now, this begs the question of what other animals pray? Well, obviously a praying mantis does. Duh! It’s in their fucking name! Not only that, but the assume a praying position!!! How could one not think that they are praying? What are the chances that they would randomly obtain a position that is generally designated to prayer? Yes! They must be a religious insect! Um, no! They too cannot comprehend thoughts like humans can. They too, like cats, don’t think. They are instinctual. They have reactions. That’s how their brains function. Neurons fire back and forth and cause an action to occur.
Now is the time for me to introduce the concept of “free will.” This will surprise many people, but this concept is an illusion. We do not make the choices that we think we make. People often have a hard time understanding or comprehending this because is appears that we do have free will. But, there are experiments that can test this notion. What happens is that we hook someone up to take brain scans and then the person is told to make an choice on two arbitrary objects as soon as it comes to that person’s head. We can actually “predict” the choice with high accuracy before the person “chooses” themselves. This means that your unconscious is making the decisions.
Do you really think that you can control 100 billion neurons in your head firing back and forth? Or take this experiment. Think of someone in your head and say the first person who pops in. Lets say you said Tom. Why did you think of Tom and not Dan, or anyone else for that matter? You did not “freely choose,” and thus, you can see that you do not, in fact, have free will. Another test is to start talking in a conversation with someone. Notice that you don’t know what the last word of the sentence is going to be. But, somehow our brains do. If they did not, we would constantly make grammatical errors and the sentences would rarely make any sense at all. But we never do! It really is incredible to think that our brains somehow know what our sentence will look like before we actually consciously know!
I know what you’re going to say, “you’re telling me that if i stand up and walk across the room, I did not choose to do so?” Correct. Let’s take the following as an example. Most people don’t think that a dog has free will. In fact, let’s use a mouse because that’s even more ridiculous to assume that a mouse has free will. Then take two equivalent treats. Next, place them two feet in front of the mouse and and let the mouse go. The mouse will run (or walk if it’s a lazy fucker) toward one of the treats. It looks like the mouse made a decision. He didn’t. His brain reacted in some way that made him go toward one treat over the other. He did not consciously choose. This is the same illusion that happens with humans when we think we consciously chose something.
Another thing that gets people on the whole notion of free will is that they will ask, “well, if you say I don’t have a choice in anything, then I should just not do anything since it will happen anyway.” No, this is called fatalism. This was more of a Calvinistic idea. Lets say for instance that I did not write this blog post. Will the blog post write itself? Of course not. You still have to do stuff. Even if you try not to do something, your body will push you to do something. Try sitting in bed all day. Your body will make you want to go to the bathroom, talk to friends, go eat, go get up and walk around, etc.. Just because you don’t have free will does not mean that you can lie around all day. Our actions are based on our genes and our environment. That is how our brains work. So enough of this fatalism nonsense and back to this cat prayer lady.
I have provided another quote that completely ignores facts.
She then went on to quote her mom in saying,
It was a musing-aloud about how maybe the world seemed to be in increasingly bad shape because there were fewer and fewer monks and nuns spending time in seclusion praying.
Really? You think the world was better in the past? Would you have liked to live in the 14th century while the Black Death took place? Or how about during the Inquisitions? Or the Crusades? Was it a better world when gays were put to death? How about the Salem Witch Trials? Would you prefer to live then too? Or the Civil War? Was it a much better time period when slavery was all over? Do you prefer when infanticides or genocides were horribly common? Or how about before modern medicine when you could die of nearly any illness we consider minor today? And when the life expectancy was cut in half of what it is now? How about during the Partition of India in 1947 when millions were slaughtered? Yes, these atrocities resulted from religious beliefs. Science has made everything much more pleasant. Religion has served to slow the progress of science and encourage hatred. As Steven Weinberg famously said, “With or without religion, good people can behave well and bad people can do evil; but for good people to do evil—that takes religion.”
If one takes only thirty seconds to think about like in the past versus life today, one would never choose to live in an earlier time period unless of course, they are terribly sadistic. I encourage you to look at the history of violence in this world since you clearly overlook all of the evidence. How about reading this book by Steven Pinker.
It’s really incredible to think that a cat would pray for you because you almost knocked over a table. Why would a cat possibly care about you knocking over a table? It’s incredible that you are even seriously suggesting this as a possibility.
Of course I do realize this is a joke, but it looks doubtful.