Does prayer work? Not just a snowball’s chance in Heck – not too there is indeed a Heck of course. The proof the pudding is of course, if prayer really worked, there will be a miracle in that we’d all be lotto winners or at the least pretty rich and famous! We’d be total successes at our jobs, within our relationships, have perfect partners and perfect children. And our cars wouldn’t break up! Further, sunlight would shine down on us every single day of our lives.
Even though all of us just prayed for nutrients generally speaking, not personal things particularly, and if our benevolent prayers really worked, then there would be no disease or suffering or crime or wars, etc. We’d all live in a utopian Camelot. But we don’t! I mean, come every Christmas and Easter, the Pope publicly prays for world peace. That’s noble of him. But, come next Christmas and Easter, he has to do it once again! Now if the Pope can’t get results, what a cure for the fantastic unwashed?
Since an effect, that is, world peace (as one of many possible examples), hasn’t happened; it’s obviously incorrect, then either God doesn’t exist, or doesn’t answer prayers. If the latter, then God doesn’t offer a tinkers damn about us, so why should we offer a tinkers damn about Him (again, being traditional and assuming the masculine)? If we don’t give a darn, then Gods existence, or not enough existence, is actually irrelevant.
Think of dozens of trillions of man-hours (sorry, person-hours) wasted within the centuries by those in quest for an illusion – that praying brought results. Do you really think our world today is really a better area for all that time, effort and energy? No? Then I say again – exactly what a waste. Further, no scholarly studies ever done on the beneficial outcomes of praying have ever shown that praying works.
If prayer does seem to just work at times on an individual level, it’s probably more an incident of mind-over-matter, the power of positive thinking, and comparable to the placebo pill in medicine. Every now and again, the improbable happens. Simply because you prayed for an improbable event doesn’t mean the prayer worked, and therefore that there is a God who answered it.
Further, as in the event of supposed miracles, prayer validation is also a highly selective bookkeeping exercise in that the hit is documented and displayed for the entire world to see; a miss is never mentioned or discussed.
Quasi related are the buzz words’faith’and’ritual ‘. As far as I will tell, most of the faith on earth in a supernatural being isn’t going to heal up a damaged leg any faster, or anything in an identical kind of basket. You would be hard pressed to offer evidence that having faith yields extra good results in accordance with those devoid of faith. In an identical vein, religions thrive on ritual. Try this at such-and-such a time; don’t do this on such-a-such day of the week; observe this; cross yourself thus, eat (or don’t eat) that at this time; adopt this posture in this situation, etc. Even the military isn’t quite as strict in its rules and regulations (rituals)! Anyway, observing most of the rituals part and parcel of a specific religion, acim lesson 1 in terms of effectiveness, a pathway to the nice life doesn’t really seem to have you any extra brownie points. It strikes me as another sociological exemplory case of ass-kissing because you are told to kiss ass by authority figures who, I gather, in this case derive said authority from the supernatural being which is why there is no evidence. Sorry sheep; it’s all an incident of the blind leading the blind.
Having dispatched the power of prayer, here’s my take on the related notion of miracles.
I’d better define just what I mean by a miracle, since it buzz word has been so overused, especially in marketing, so it has lost all real meaning. I mean you can find miracle detergents, miracle drugs, miracle discoveries, miracle anything and everything. I’ve actually read scientists, who ought to know better, who use the word’miracle’once they really mean unexpected or against all odds. If you receive dealt a noble flush, you’d say it is a miracle. Nonetheless it isn’t. You will find issues that are plausible, possible, probable, and improbable. Then you can find issues that are downright impossible. If something considered impossible happens, then it is a bona fide miracle. A very improbable event, like being dealt a noble flush, isn’t a miracle. A bona fide miracle would be for an amputated limb to regenerate. No doubt amputees have prayed for such a miracle – alas, it ain’t ever happened.
So my definition of a miracle can be an occurrence that goes totally from the grain of any kind of likelihood of such a happening, happening. A miracle is just a miracle if the big event defies the impossible, not merely improbable odds. So, winning the lottery isn’t a miracle because it is a plausible event. However, there is no medical science that can explain the regeneration of an amputated limb. If this event happened; absolutely documented, that will be a miracle and considerable evidence for the existence of a supernatural God. A miracle pizza (and I’ve seen them so advertised) isn’t, since it’s possible to create a tasty pizza!
Take the sum total of all so-called miracles and subtract those events which can be unlikely but possible, from those that are absolutely impossible according to modern science. What’s the bona fide residue – zero, zip, zilch.
So, one of many alleged, albeit in a mysterious way, in which God works, would be to answer prayers, and create or oversee miracles. Has there ever been any miracle, anywhere, undisputed and totally accepted by science as factual and unexplainable? In that case, science would have bowed to the fact of God long ago. No, I claim that miracles are either misinterpretations, fabrications, wishful thinking/delusions, sleight-of-hand (magic) or evidence of advanced technology! Dump someone living 4000 years ago to the 21st Century and no doubt such a person would find most of our civilization a completely miraculous one. Dump us to the 31st Century and we’d rely on miracles too!
There’s another issue in when God were all powerful, He wouldn’t need to execute certain miracles. Some miracles seem to be always a band-aid solution to an issue that shouldn’t have existed in the first place, if an all powerful, all knowing God have been on His toes because it were. As an example, say you visit a doctor Monday morning, and he informs you that you have incurable cancer. Monday night you pray to God to rid you of the affliction. Tuesday morning you will find your cancer has gone! That’s a miracle – well not really since now and an unusual again, cancer switches into remission. That aside, wouldn’t it have now been easier if God had ensured your incurable cancer had never are suffering from in the first place? Concerning loaves and fishes, it would have been safer to have ensured a satisfactory way to obtain food in the first place! Miracles such cases It is suggested are God’s correction fluid or whiteout! An all knowing, all powerful God wouldn’t need correction or whiteout fluid!
How come you merely get medical miracles that defy the improbable odds, as opposed to beating impossible odds? As an example, have any one of those unfortunate thalidomide victims ever all of a sudden, overnight say, awakened to locate they are in possession of fully functioning limbs as opposed to stumps? Surely such a miracle is within God’s power – however it ain’t ever happened.
Then you can find the show-off (‘wow, look at me, ain’t I something!’ ) kind of miracles that serve no real purpose or don’t imply any’oops, I goofed’scenario – like walking on water. Though some miracles totally shatter the laws of physics, like creating something out of nothing, parting bodies of water like the Red Sea, or perhaps plain walking on water (and therefore are relegated to those impossible things one tends to simply accept before breakfast whenever you breakfast in fairy-dairy land), many so-called miracles are simply improbable happenings that happen now and again due to pure statistical probabilities. You’ll hear about the miracle where someone was cured of a supposedly incurable illness due to prayer, or someone was found alive in a earthquake induced collapsed developing a fortnight after-the-fact or survived that horrific car crash. You never hear about another 9,999 exactly similar cases when the person snuffed it in the natural, probable method of things. IMHO, miracles are an example of highly selective bookkeeping, like only counting the deposits and never the withdrawals, only in the event of miracles, you tick and publicize the hits and ignore and sweep underneath the carpet the misses.