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 needless to say, if prayer really worked, there will be a miracle because we’d all be lotto winners or at the 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 up! Further, sunlight would shine down on us every single day of our lives.
Even though all of us just prayed for good things 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 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 a cure for the fantastic unwashed?
Since a result, that is, world peace (as one of several possible examples), hasn’t happened; it’s obviously incorrect, 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 just why should we give a tinkers damn about Him (again, being traditional and assuming the masculine)? If we don’t give a darn, then Gods existence, or lack of existence, is basically irrelevant.
Consider all those trillions of man-hours (sorry, person-hours) wasted on 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 point, effort and energy? No? Then I say again – what a waste. Further, no scholarly studies ever done on the beneficial link between praying have ever shown that praying works.
If prayer does seem to just work at times on an individual level, it’s probably more an incident of mind-over-matter, the power of positive thinking, and akin 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 exists a God who answered it.
Further, as in case of supposed miracles, prayer validation is also a very selective bookkeeping exercise in that a hit is documented and displayed for the entire world to see; a miss is never mentioned or discussed.
Quasi related will be the buzz words’faith’and’ritual ‘. As far as I could tell, most of the faith on the planet in a supernatural being isn’t planning to heal up a broken leg any faster, or anything in the same type of basket. You would be hard pressed to supply evidence that having faith yields extra very good results relative to those lacking faith. In the same vein, religions thrive on ritual. Try 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 most of the rituals part and parcel of a particular religion, acim lesson 1 when it comes to 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 instance of ass-kissing because you’re told to kiss ass by authority figures who, I gather, in cases like this 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 power of prayer, here’s my accept the related notion of miracles.
I’d better define precisely what I mean by a miracle, 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’when they really mean unexpected or against all odds. If you obtain 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 you can find items that are downright impossible. If something considered impossible happens, then it is a bona fide miracle. A highly improbable event, like being dealt a royal flush, isn’t a miracle. A bona fide miracle will be for an amputated limb to regenerate. Undoubtedly amputees have prayed for this type of miracle – alas, it ain’t ever happened.
So my definition of a miracle can be an occurrence that goes totally from the grain of any sort of probability of this type of happening, happening. A miracle is just a miracle if the event defies the impossible, not merely improbable odds. So, winning the lottery isn’t a miracle because it is a plausible event. However, there’s no medical science that might explain the regeneration of an amputated limb. If such an event happened; absolutely documented, that will be 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 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, among the alleged, albeit in a strange way, where 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 could have bowed to the fact of God long ago. No, I claim that miracles are either misinterpretations, fabrications, wishful thinking/delusions, sleight-of-hand (magic) or proof of advanced technology! Dump someone living 4000 years ago to the 21st Century and no doubt this type of person would find most of our civilization an entirely 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 execute certain miracles. Some miracles seem to be a band-aid solution to a challenge that shouldn’t have existed in the first place, if an all powerful, all knowing God had been on His toes because it were. For instance, say you go to a 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 discover that your cancer went! That is clearly a miracle – well certainly not since now and an unusual 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 first place? Regarding loaves and fishes, it would have been simpler to have ensured a satisfactory supply of food in the first place! Miracles in 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!
How come you simply get medical miracles that defy the improbable odds, as opposed to beating impossible odds? For instance, have any of those unfortunate thalidomide victims ever each of a sudden, overnight say, awakened to locate they now have fully functioning limbs as opposed to stumps? Surely this type of miracle is within God’s power – nonetheless it ain’t ever happened.
Then you can find 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. While some miracles totally shatter the laws of physics, like creating something out of nothing, parting bodies of water such as the Red Sea, or simply 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 just 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 creating a fortnight after-the-fact or survived that horrific car crash. You do not hear about the other 9,999 exactly similar cases where the person 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.