Does prayer work? Not a snowball’s chance in Heck – not that there really is a Heck of course. The proof of the pudding is obviously, 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, within our relationships, have perfect partners and perfect children. And our cars wouldn’t breakdown! Further, the sun would shine down on us each day of our lives.
Even when most of us just prayed for good stuff generally, not personal things particularly, 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! After all, 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 yet again! Now if the Pope can’t get results, what hope for the truly amazing unwashed?
Since an effect, that is, world peace (as one of numerous 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 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 damn, then Gods existence, or insufficient existence, is simply irrelevant.
Think of dozens of 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 a better place for all that time, effort and energy? No? Then I say again – what a waste. Further, no scholarly studies ever done on the beneficial outcomes of praying have ever shown that praying works.
If prayer does appear to work on 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. 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 are the buzz words’faith’and’ritual ‘. In terms of I could tell, all of the faith in the world in a supernatural being isn’t going to heal up a damaged leg any faster, or anything in the same kind of basket. You’d be hard pressed to provide evidence that having faith yields extra positive results in accordance with those not having faith. In the same vein, religions thrive on ritual. Try this at such-and-such a period; don’t accomplish 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 of the rituals part and parcel of a certain religion, acim lesson 1 when it comes to 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 case of ass-kissing because you’re 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 accept the related concept of miracles.
I’d better define just what After all by a miracle, because it buzz word has been so overused, especially in marketing, so it has lost all real meaning. After all you will find 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’s a miracle. But it isn’t. There are things that are plausible, possible, probable, and improbable. Then you will find things that are downright impossible. If something considered impossible happens, then it’s 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 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 possibility of such a happening, happening. A miracle is a miracle if the function defies the impossible, not only improbable odds. So, winning the lottery isn’t a miracle because it’s a plausible event. However, there’s no medical science that can 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 create a great tasting 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 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, 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 that’s the case, science would have bowed to the reality of God long ago. No, I claim that miracles are either misinterpretations, fabrications, wishful thinking/delusions, sleight-of-hand (magic) or proof advanced technology! Dump someone living 4000 years ago in to the 21st Century and undoubtedly such a person would find nearly all of our civilization a completely miraculous one. Dump us in 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 do certain miracles. Some miracles seem to become a band-aid means to fix a problem that shouldn’t have existed in the first place, if an all powerful, all knowing God had been on His toes since it were. For instance, say you visit the 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 that the cancer has gone! That is a miracle – well not really since now and an unusual again, cancer goes into remission. That aside, wouldn’t it have now been easier if God had ensured that the incurable cancer had never allow us in the first place? Regarding loaves and fishes, it could have been simpler to have ensured an adequate way to obtain food in the first place! Miracles 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, in place of beating impossible odds? For instance, have any one of those unfortunate thalidomide victims ever each of an immediate, overnight say, awakened to locate they are in possession of fully functioning limbs in place of stumps? Surely such a miracle is within God’s power – but it ain’t ever happened.
Then you will 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. Although some miracles totally shatter the laws of physics, like creating something out of nothing, parting bodies of water like the Red Sea, or simply plain walking on water (and therefore are relegated to those impossible things one tends to accept before breakfast whenever you breakfast in fairy-dairy land), many so-called miracles are simply 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 a earthquake induced collapsed creating a fortnight after-the-fact or survived that horrific car crash. That you don’t hear about one other 9,999 exactly similar cases where the person snuffed it in the natural, probable way of things. IMHO, miracles are a good 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 beneath the carpet the misses.