Does prayer work? Not really 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 would have been a miracle in 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 everyday of our lives.
Even though most of us just prayed for nutrients in general, 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 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 has to complete it once again! Now if the Pope can’t get results, what hope for the great unwashed?
Since an effect, that is, 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 give a tinkers damn about us, why should we give a tinkers damn about Him (again, being traditional and assuming the masculine)? If we don’t give a damn, then Gods existence, or not enough existence, is actually irrelevant.
Consider all those trillions of man-hours (sorry, person-hours) wasted over the centuries by those in search for an illusion – that praying brought results. Do you really think our world today is just a better place 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 results of praying have ever shown that praying works.
If prayer does seem to work at times on an individual level, it’s probably more an instance of mind-over-matter, the ability of positive thinking, and comparable to the placebo pill in medicine. Every now and again, the improbable happens. Just because you prayed for an improbable event doesn’t mean the prayer worked, and therefore that there exists a God who answered it.
Further, as in case of supposed miracles, prayer validation can also be a highly selective bookkeeping exercise in that a hit is documented and displayed for your world to see; a miss is never mentioned or discussed.
Quasi related would be the buzz words’faith’and’ritual ‘. So far as I can tell, all of the faith on earth in a supernatural being isn’t going to heal up a broken leg any faster, or anything in an identical type of basket. You would be hard pressed to supply evidence that having faith yields extra good results relative to those not having faith. In an identical vein, religions thrive on ritual. Do this at such-and-such a period; don’t do this 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 of the rituals part and parcel of a specific religion, acim lesson 1 in terms of effectiveness, a pathway to the great 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’s no evidence. Sorry sheep; it’s all an instance 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 exactly what I mean by a miracle, as it buzz word has been so overused, especially in marketing, that it has lost all real meaning. I mean there are miracle detergents, miracle drugs, miracle discoveries, miracle anything and everything. I’ve actually read scientists, who should know better, who utilize the word’miracle’once they really mean unexpected or against all odds. If you receive dealt a royal flush, you’d say it’s a miracle. Nonetheless it isn’t. You can find issues that are plausible, possible, probable, and improbable. Then there are issues that are downright impossible. If something considered impossible happens, then it’s a bona fide miracle. A highly improbable event, like being dealt a royal flush, isn’t a miracle. A bona fide miracle would be for an amputated limb to regenerate. Without doubt amputees have prayed for such a miracle – alas, it ain’t ever happened.
So my definition of a miracle is definitely an occurrence that goes totally against the grain of any sort of probability of such a happening, happening. A miracle is a miracle if the event defies the impossible, not merely improbable odds. So, winning the lottery isn’t a miracle because it’s a plausible event. However, there’s no medical science that may explain the regeneration of an amputated limb. If such an event happened; absolutely documented, that would have been 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 produce a tasty pizza!
Take the sum total of 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 mystical way, by which God works, is always 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 would have bowed to the reality of God long ago. No, I declare that miracles are either misinterpretations, fabrications, wishful thinking/delusions, sleight-of-hand (magic) or proof of advanced technology! Dump someone living 4000 years ago into the 21st Century and no doubt such a person would find most of our civilization a totally miraculous one. Dump us into 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 execute certain miracles. Some miracles seem to become a band-aid treatment for a problem that shouldn’t have existed in the initial place, if an all powerful, all knowing God had been on His toes since it were. For instance, say you head to the physician 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 is a miracle – well not necessarily since now and a rare again, cancer switches into remission. That aside, wouldn’t it have now been easier if God had ensured your incurable cancer had never allow us in the initial place? Regarding loaves and fishes, it would have been more straightforward to have ensured an adequate way to obtain food in the initial place! Miracles such cases I would suggest are God’s correction fluid or whiteout! An all knowing, all powerful God wouldn’t need correction or whiteout fluid!
Why you simply get medical miracles that defy the improbable odds, rather than beating impossible odds? For instance, have some of those unfortunate thalidomide victims ever all an immediate, overnight say, awakened to find they are in possession of fully functioning limbs rather than stumps? Surely such a 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 simply accept before breakfast whenever you breakfast in fairy-dairy land), many so-called miracles are only 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 creating a fortnight after-the-fact or survived that horrific car crash. That you do not hear about one other 9,999 exactly similar cases where the individual snuffed it in the natural, probable way 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.