Friday, June 20, 2008

Dead Man agrees that ‘Prayer doesn’t work’


We all face times in our lives when we feel helplessness, and distress.

When ‘bad things’ happen we instinctively look for answers, and the hope there IS someone, or ‘thing’, that can help, an eternal & mystic shoulder to cry-on and solve our problems.

Sometimes there are no answers, and nothing we as individuals, or our fellows, can do to change the outcome.

As humans we find this ‘powerlessness’ hard to accept.

Prayer offers comfort.

Prayer allows one to ‘believe’ they are doing something positive, and that process will produce a similar outcome.

Does prayer work?

There’s not a scred of scientific evidence, nor a credible independent study, that can confirm the efficacy of intercessory prayer.

No test to even prove in a supernatural entity that answers prayers, even exists in the first place.

If the world’s entire population of amputees, all prayed to their chosen god, in an attempt to re-grow their missing limb or digit – what would be the result?

It doesn’t matter if you pray to: Celtic Gods, Polynesian Gods, Slavic Gods, Gods of War, Gods of Thunder, Underwater God with snorkels and flippers, Hindu Deities, a long forgotten three-headed Animal Deity from 2,000 B.C, Spirits of the Forest, Spirits distilled from wheat, primordial Goddess of Fertility, Goblins, Demons, Guardians of the Oceans, mystical Nymphs in skimpy clothing, Saint Germaus, Saint Eric, 1980’s Aussie punk band The Saints (or for that matter, all of the lot of them combined).

In reality ‘there’s no one at the end of the phone to answer your call’.

When the Pope gets sick he sees a doctor, rather than relying on ‘the power’ of prayer, as there is no substitute for real medicine.

When the Popemobile breaks down they take it to a mechanics for repairs, rather than summonsing God.

Praying for any outcome what so ever, is but issuing a wish, it won’t alter an outcome one iota, and in some cases the total reliance on prayer can have serious adverse ramifications e.g. parents who neglect a sick child and rely instead on ‘Gods will’.
IF it did work, there would be after all, no disease, poverty etc and indeed no dead people, and every week we'd win lotto. An earthly eutopia where all prayers were answered (remind me to e.mail Terry Gilliam with the idea for a new movie)

Seriously folks, knell down, close your eyes, clasp your hands and say after me: "prayer will never change an outcome".

Successful outcomes are mere coincidence, nothing more.

What prayer does, is provides a vestige of hope, for things to go our way, which could be interpreted simply as ‘positive thinking’ or ‘visualisation’.

It’s instinctive to look for ‘a reason’ for things, and if we think it is a God behind all of our daily activities, it’s understandable to try and communicate with him (or her, or a half man/half animal, half human/half god, dead relatives, the sun, aliens, spirits etc, etc).

There will always be prayer, in one form or another.

But it’s time for all of us to elevate our thinking and uniformly admit: praying simply does not work.

4 comments:

Neil William said...

Atheists all face times in their lives when they feel helplessness, and distress.

When bad things happen they instinctively look for evasions, hoping there ISN'T Someone eternal & transcendent to give ultimate categorical meaning to "bad", and its eternal consequences.

Sometimes the evasions become impossible to maintain, and there is nothing they as individuals, or their fellows, can do to thwart the knowledge that the world works according to a Sovereign purpose.

As atheists they find this Sovereignty impossible to accept.

Suppression of the knowledge of God offers comfort.

Suppression allows one to "believe" that meaning and purpose are not necessary, and that God is not the sufficient ground for these things.

Does suppression work?

There’s not a shred of scientific evidence, nor a credible independent study, that can confirm the rationality of the denial of God.

No answer outside of God which would solve Hume's "problem of induction", and thereby provide a non-circular justification for the inductive method of science, in the first place.

If the world’s entire population of secular humanists rested their hopes in atheism, in an attempt achieve supposed autonomy – what would be the result?

It doesn’t matter what God has given some over to in the past: Celtic gods, Polynesian gods, Slavic gods, gods of war, gods of thunder, underwater gods with snorkels and flippers, Hindu "Deities", a long forgotten three-headed animal "Deity" from 2,000 B.C, spirits of the forest, spirits distilled from wheat, primordial goddesses of fertility, goblins, demons, guardians of the oceans, mystical nymphs in skimpy clothing, Saint Germaus, Saint Eric, 1980’s Aussie punk band The Saints (or for that matter, all of the lot of them combined).

In reality, "Thy throne, O God, is for ever and ever".

When Richard Dawkins gets sick he sees a doctor, rather than denying there is some bodily malfunction, as there is no substitute for conceiving the human body as being meant to function in a certain way, according to design.

When Dawkins' car breaks down he takes it to a mechanic for repairs rather than deciding to wait billions of years to see what "better" vehicle gradually develops from purposelessly recombining metals etc. at his local junkyard.

Denying God due to any hang up whatsoever is but issuing a wish; it won’t make God go away, and in some cases the total reliance on God denial can have serious adverse ramifications, e.g. parents who neglect the moral education of their children and rely instead on state education.

IF it did work, there would be, after all, no guilt, no spiritual angst, etc.; indeed no seeking after Natural Justice, and every week the lotto wheel would spin according to pure, indeterministic chance. An earthly eutopia where all desires could be pursued with impunity - remind me to e-mail Quentin Tarantino with the idea for a new movie.

Seriously folks, suppose you were to kneel down, close your eyes, clasp your hands and say (at a suitable distance from me): "we will not have this Jesus to rule over us".

Success in drawing your next breath, indeed every breath, is by God's forbearance and determined purpose, nothing more.

What the suppression of God does for the atheist is to provide a vestige of hope that God's judgment may be escaped, which is impious, wishful thinking.

It's natural to look for a reason for things, and when we acknowledge it is God behind all of our daily activities, it’s proper to communicate with Him, (renouncing all other so-called gods).

There will always be scoffers of prayer, of one form or another.

But it’s time for Christians to turn around such scoffing assertions, if only to show that, divorced from good argument, they do not work.

Neil William said...

"IF it [prayer] did work, there would be after all, no disease, poverty etc and indeed no dead people, and every week we'd win lotto. An earthly eutopia where all prayers were answered"

What makes you think prayer is supposed to work this way?

Canterbury Atheists said...

Neil, don't 'blow a valve' there buddy. If prayer did work (the god on the other end of the phone would need to be advised first though, are we talking Zeus,Horus, Krishna, Cat God Bast, or the fairies at the bottom of the garden here??)-then there would surely be some independent study to substantiate the proposition? Happy to debate any of my ramblings based on fact not fiction. Besides IF prayer did work it would be the best advert theists could offer to substantiate evidence of the power of their god versus other gods. In all your convoluted replies you have yet to even name the god you believe in or answer just who he/she/it that answers prayers? My proposition is there is no evidence prayer works and you offer nothing to re-buff my ascertain. Away for 7 days. Gotta go for now. Paul.

Neil William said...

Paul,

Considering my siding, in your "Shoplifter" post, with "The God of the Bible", and my above mentions of "Jesus" and "Christians", I took it for granted that you would connect the dots and see that I was a Christian. Sorry if I've not been direct about that.

For the record, I'm an evangelical Christian of the Reformed persuasion, believing in the God known by the covenantal name, Yahweh, who revealed Himself most fully in the Incarnate Jesus Christ.

How about answering my second comment, which was more targeted to your subject matter? What makes you think prayer is supposed to work in the way(s) you imagine?

The success of your criticism depends on your being able to show that the results of prayer are at odds with the theology or motivations of the people who pray.

All I'll need to re-buff your assertion - with regard to Christian theism, at least - is to have you make it in an informed way, if you are willing or able.