Does prayer work? Not a snowball’s chance in Heck – not too there is indeed a Heck of course. The proof of the pudding is obviously, if prayer really worked, there would be a miracle for the reason 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, the sun would shine down on us every day of our lives.
Even if we all just prayed for good stuff in general, not personal things specifically, and if our benevolent prayers really worked, then there will be no disease or suffering or crime or wars, etc. We’d all live in a utopian Camelot. But we don’t! I am talking about, come every Christmas and Easter, the Pope publicly prays for world peace. That’s noble of him. But, come next Christmas and Easter, he’s to do it all over again! Now if the Pope can’t get results, what hope for the fantastic unwashed?
Since a result, that is, world peace (as one of many possible examples), hasn’t happened; it’s obviously not the case, then either God doesn’t exist, or doesn’t answer prayers. If the latter, then God doesn’t give a tinkers damn about us, so why should we give a tinkers damn about Him (again, being traditional and assuming the masculine)? When we don’t give a darn, then Gods existence, or insufficient existence, is actually irrelevant.
Think of all those trillions of man-hours (sorry, person-hours) wasted within the centuries by those in quest for an illusion – that praying brought results. You don’t think our world today is really a better area for all that time, effort and energy? No? Then I say again – what a waste. Further, no scholarly studies ever done on the beneficial results of praying have ever shown that praying works.
If prayer does seem to just work at times on a personal level, it’s probably more an incident of mind-over-matter, the ability of positive thinking, and similar 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 case of supposed miracles, prayer validation can also be a very selective bookkeeping exercise in a hit is documented and displayed for your world to see; a miss is never mentioned or discussed.
Quasi related will be the buzz words’faith’and’ritual ‘. In terms of I can tell, all the faith on earth in a supernatural being isn’t planning to heal up a damaged leg any faster, or anything in an identical type of basket. You would be hard pressed to offer evidence that having faith yields extra very good results relative to those devoid of faith. In an identical vein, religions thrive on ritual. Do this at such-and-such an occasion; don’t do that on such-a-such day of the week; observe this; cross yourself thus, eat (or don’t eat) that at the moment; adopt this posture in this example, etc. Even the military isn’t quite as strict in its rules and regulations (rituals)! Anyway, observing all the rituals part and parcel of a particular 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’re told to kiss ass by authority figures who, I gather, in this case derive said authority from a supernatural being which is why there’s no evidence. Sorry sheep; it’s all an incident of the blind leading the blind.
Having dispatched the ability of prayer, here’s my take on the related notion of miracles.
I’d better define precisely what I am talking about by magic, since it buzz word has been so overused, especially in marketing, that it has lost all real meaning. I am talking about there are miracle detergents, miracle drugs, miracle discoveries, miracle anything and everything. I’ve actually read scientists, who ought to know better, who utilize the word’miracle’if they really mean unexpected or against all odds. If you get dealt a royal flush, you’d say it is a miracle. But it isn’t. You will find items that are plausible, possible, probable, and improbable. Then there are items that are downright impossible. If something considered impossible happens, then it is a bona fide miracle. A very improbable event, like being dealt a royal flush, isn’t a miracle. A bona fide miracle will be for an amputated limb to regenerate. Without doubt amputees have prayed for this type of miracle – alas, it ain’t ever happened.
So my definition of magic is an occurrence that goes totally from the grain of any sort of likelihood of this type of happening, happening. Magic is just magic if the big event defies the impossible, not merely improbable odds. So, winning the lottery isn’t magic because it is a plausible event. However, there’s no medical science that can explain the regeneration of an amputated limb. If this event happened; absolutely documented, that would be a miracle and considerable evidence for the existence of a supernatural God. Magic pizza (and I’ve seen them so advertised) isn’t, since it’s possible to make a great tasting pizza!
Take the sum total of most so-called miracles and subtract those events which are unlikely but possible, from the ones that are absolutely impossible based on 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, is 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? If that’s the case, science might have bowed to the fact of God long ago. No, I suggest that miracles are either misinterpretations, fabrications, wishful thinking/delusions, sleight-of-hand (magic) or proof of advanced technology! Dump someone living 4000 years ago in to the 21st Century and without doubt this type of person would find most of our civilization a totally miraculous one. Dump us in to the 31st Century and we’d believe in miracles too!
There’s another issue in that when God were all powerful, He wouldn’t need to perform certain miracles. Some miracles seem to become a band-aid means to fix a challenge that shouldn’t have existed in the very first place, if an all powerful, all knowing God had been on His toes because it were. For instance, say you visit the doctor Monday morning, and he informs you that you’ve incurable cancer. Monday night you pray to God to rid you of the affliction. Tuesday morning you find your cancer went! That’s a miracle – well certainly not since now and an unusual again, cancer switches into remission. That aside, wouldn’t it have been easier if God had ensured your incurable cancer had never allow us in the very first place? As to loaves and fishes, it would have been more straightforward to have ensured a satisfactory method of getting food in the very first place! Miracles in such cases I recommend 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? For instance, have some of those unfortunate thalidomide victims ever all of an immediate, overnight say, awakened to find they are in possession of fully functioning limbs as opposed to stumps? Surely this type of miracle is within God’s power – however it ain’t ever happened.
Then there are the show-off (‘wow, look at me, ain’t I something!’ ) type 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 just like the Red Sea, or simply plain walking on water (and therefore are relegated to those impossible things one tends to accept before breakfast when you breakfast in fairy-dairy land), many so-called miracles are just improbable happenings that do happen now and again as a result of pure statistical probabilities. You’ll hear about the miracle where someone was cured of a supposedly incurable illness as a result of prayer, or someone was found alive in an earthquake induced collapsed building a fortnight after-the-fact or survived that horrific car crash. That you don’t hear about another 9,999 exactly similar cases when the person snuffed it in the natural, probable means of things. IMHO, miracles are an example of highly selective bookkeeping, like only counting the deposits and never the withdrawals, only in case of miracles, you tick and publicize the hits and ignore and sweep underneath the carpet the misses.