• Small text
  • Medium text
  • Large text

The Atheist Prayer Experiment

Justin Brierley the presenter of Premier's faith discussion show Unbelievable? has invited atheists to take part in the Atheist Prayer Experiment.

The Experiment

Seventy one atheists and agnostics signed up to take part in the Atheist Prayer Experiment.

Each person was asked to pray for a few minutes per day for forty days during September and October 2012. They were praying for God to reveal himself to them. The experiment was based on the academic paper by Oxford philosopher Tim Mawson called Praying to Stop Being an Atheist which argues that it is in the best interests of atheists to pray to God.

Justin Brierley - host of Premier Christian Radio's faith discussion show Unbelievable? organised the project and you can listen to the show at www.premier.org.uk/unbelievable

The Results

Of the 71 who signed up:


2 people finished the experiment believing in God (Kendra and Kelly)

1 person appears to be in the "undecided" category and describes herself as "seeking faith"

6 people have indicated that they should not be counted as they failed to take part in the experiment

48 responded that they do not believe God was revealed to them during the experiment


(Some prayed for the entire 40 days, some prayed sporadically during the time frame, and some stopped praying after a period of time)


14 of the participants have not responded with their results as yet

Radio Shows Reflecting on the Results

Justin is joined by Tim Mawson and several of the participants. Once broadcast you will be able to hear the 2 radio shows reflecting on the results and the questions that have arisen: 

Atheist Prayer Experiment Results Show - Unbelievable? Sat 10 Nov 2012 

Results Show 1

Atheist Prayer Experiment Show 2 - Unbelievable? Sat 17 Nov 2012

Results Show 2

Full Interviews with Participants

KENDRA: Now believes in God

Hi Justin,

I am married to an atheist and together we have listened to your show since nearly the beginning. I have always fought against believing in God, always hearing that science and God can't mix. I tried and tried to not believe but I have always been drawn back in. I flip-flopped between fierce atheist to wishy-washy occasional Christian. I guess I felt ashamed wanting to believe so I would look for reasons and excuses not to. I would seek out anything related to Richard Dawkins, Christopher Hitchens and others and sort of make fun of believers. All the while I was conflicted.

I then heard about the experiment and decided to test God once and for all. I also tried to get my husband to do the experiment but he refused.

I think I was hoping he would join me so I could use the experiment kind of as a way to just admit it. I then realised that I could no longer live without God. With God I feel like I have hope and positivity. I feel safe. I feel like I have direction. I found that when I was an atheist I felt lost and alone. I just couldn't deny my belief any longer.

And so now thanks to you, your podcast and the experiment I have decided to commit my life to God. I have found peace and meaning.

No one in my family attends church so I know this will be a bit of a struggle. My husband is supportive thankfully since our 11 year-old daughter has also decided that she wants to be a Christian as well.

Until recently we weren't really pointing her in any specific faith journey. Once I decided to come out as a Christian she actually told me she was one as well but was afraid to say anything about it.

I suppose miracles do happen :)

Thank you Justin!

Kendra

Andrew: Still does not believe in God

Andrew is married to a Christian and often attends church but does not believe. He talks to Justin about his experience.

Andrew

Laura: Still does not believe in God

Psychotherapist Laura talk to Justin about how she tried to approach the experiment in as scientific a manner as possible.

Laura

Cang (aka Spooky Valiket): Still does not believe in God

Cang (aka Spooky Valiket on the Facebook Group) recorded some of his prayers on video - he talks to Justin about his experience.

Cang

Freki: Still does not believe in God

Freki tried praying to different gods during the experiment and relates a story about helping a woman who was knocked down in a traffic accident.

Freki

Kelly: Now believes in God

Kelly was heavily pregnant when she began praying and explains why, after the birth of her baby, she began to believe in God.

Kelly

Rachel (aka Paddy McGingersnap): Still does not believe in God

Rachel (Paddy McGingersnap on Facebook group) talks about her experience "hearing a voice" during prayer, but not attributing it to God.

Rachel

Ally: Still does not believe in God

Ally found praying to a female version of God easier, and says seeing an amazing triple sun rainbow effect was as close as she got to a sign.

Ally

Bob: Still does not believe in God

Bob talks about coincidences experienced during the experiment but why he doesn't find them sufficient evidence for God.

Bob

Charlie (aka Maine Skeptic): Still does not believe in God

Charlie (Maine Skeptic on the Facebook Group) explains why it was the toughest month of his life as he and friends experienced the loss of loved ones.

Charlie