Does prayer work? Not really a snowball’s chance in Heck – not that there is indeed a Heck of course. The proof the pudding is obviously, if prayer really worked, there would have been a miracle for the reason that we’d all be lotto winners or at the very least pretty rich and famous! We’d be total successes at our jobs, inside our relationships, have perfect partners and perfect children. And our cars wouldn’t break down! Further, sunlight would shine down on us each day of our lives.
Even when most of us just prayed for nutrients in general, not personal things particularly, and if our benevolent prayers really worked, then there could be no disease or suffering or crime or wars, etc. We’d all reside 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’s to accomplish it yet again! Now if the Pope can’t get results, what expect the fantastic unwashed?
Since an outcome, that’s, world peace (as one of many possible examples), hasn’t happened; it’s obviously false, then either God doesn’t exist, or doesn’t answer prayers. If the latter, then God doesn’t provide a tinkers damn about us, so just why should we provide a tinkers damn about Him (again, being traditional and assuming the masculine)? If we don’t give a damn, then Gods existence, or insufficient existence, is simply irrelevant.
Think of all those trillions of man-hours (sorry, person-hours) wasted over the centuries by those in search for an illusion – that praying brought results. You may not think our world today is really a better place for all the period, effort and energy? No? Then I say again – just what a waste. Further, no scholarly studies ever done on the beneficial results of praying have ever shown that praying works.
If prayer does appear to work at times on an individual 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’s a God who answered it.
Further, as in case of supposed miracles, prayer validation can also be a very selective bookkeeping exercise in that the hit is documented and displayed for the whole world to see; a miss is never mentioned or discussed.
Quasi related would be the buzz words’faith’and’ritual ‘. As far as I can tell, all the faith on the planet in a supernatural being isn’t planning to heal up a damaged leg any faster, or anything in a similar form of basket. You would be hard pressed to provide evidence that having faith yields extra good results relative to those not having faith. In a similar 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 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 all the rituals part and parcel of a specific religion, acim lesson 1 in terms of effectiveness, a pathway to the good life doesn’t really seem to have you any extra brownie points. It strikes me as another sociological exemplory instance of ass-kissing because you are 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 accept the related notion of miracles.
I’d better define exactly what I mean by magic, because 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 should know better, who use the word’miracle’if they really mean unexpected or against all odds. If you receive dealt a noble flush, you’d say it’s a miracle. However it isn’t. You will find items that are plausible, possible, probable, and improbable. Then you can find items that are downright impossible. If something considered impossible happens, then it’s a bona fide miracle. A very improbable event, like being dealt a noble flush, isn’t a miracle. A bona fide miracle could be for an amputated limb to regenerate. Undoubtedly amputees have prayed for this kind of miracle – alas, it ain’t ever happened.
So my definition of magic is definitely an occurrence that goes totally from the grain of any type of chance for this kind of happening, happening. Magic is magic if the function defies the impossible, not just improbable odds. So, winning the lottery isn’t magic because it’s 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 have been 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 produce a great tasting pizza!
Take the sum total of most so-called miracles and subtract those events which can be unlikely but possible, from the ones 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, where 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? If so, science might have bowed to the reality of God long ago. No, I suggest that miracles are either misinterpretations, fabrications, wishful thinking/delusions, sleight-of-hand (magic) or evidence of advanced technology! Dump someone living 4000 years back to the 21st Century and undoubtedly this kind of person would find nearly all of our civilization a completely miraculous one. Dump us to the 31st Century and we’d believe in miracles too!
There’s another issue in that if God were all powerful, He wouldn’t need to perform certain miracles. Some miracles seem to become a band-aid solution to a challenge that shouldn’t have existed in the initial place, if an all powerful, all knowing God have been on His toes as it were. For example, say you go to 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 will find that your cancer moved! That is a miracle – well certainly not since now and a rare again, cancer switches into remission. That aside, wouldn’t it have now been easier if God had ensured that your incurable cancer had never have developed in the initial place? As to loaves and fishes, it would have been better to have ensured an adequate method of getting food in the initial place! Miracles in such cases I suggest are God’s correction fluid or whiteout! An all knowing, all powerful God wouldn’t need correction or whiteout fluid!
How come you simply get medical miracles that defy the improbable odds, in place of beating impossible odds? For example, have some of those unfortunate thalidomide victims ever every one of a sudden, overnight say, awakened to locate they will have fully functioning limbs in place of stumps? Surely this kind of miracle is God’s power – but it ain’t ever happened.
Then you can find the show-off (‘wow, look at me, ain’t I something!’ ) form of miracles that serve no real purpose or don’t imply any’oops, I goofed’scenario – like walking on water. Although some miracles totally shatter the laws of physics, like creating something out of nothing, parting bodies of water just like the Red Sea, or perhaps plain walking on water (and therefore are relegated to those impossible things one tends to just accept before breakfast when you breakfast in fairy-dairy land), many so-called miracles are simply improbable happenings that do happen now and again due to pure statistical probabilities. You’ll hear in regards to the miracle where someone was cured of a supposedly incurable illness due to prayer, or someone was found alive within an earthquake induced collapsed building a fortnight after-the-fact or survived that horrific car crash. You never hear about one other 9,999 exactly similar cases where anyone snuffed it in the natural, probable means of things. IMHO, miracles are a typical 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 under the carpet the misses.