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Christianity Johnson on 05 Sep 2008 05:57 am

Why doesn’t prayer work?

Prayer is a huge part of the Christian lifestyle. But there is a problem: Prayer does not work. Prayer is nothing but a superstition, and provably so. Still, Christians cling to the idea that “God answers prayers” as described in the Bible.

Therefore, you will often see Christian literature that is wildly optimistic about prayer on the one hand. This article is a good example:

What does it take for God to answer our prayer?

This is the wildly optimistic part:

I had a good friend who prayed often. She would tell me every week about something she was trusting God to take care of. And every week I would see God do something unusual to answer her prayer.

And:

For those who do know him and rely on him, Jesus seems to be wildly generous in his offer: “If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be given you.” (John 15:7 ) To “remain” in him and have his words remain in them means they conduct their lives aware of him, relying on him, listening to what he says. Then they’re able to ask him whatever they want.

So we have a God in the first example who is answering prayers on a regular basis, and in the second case we have a God who will grant believers “whatever they wish”. This sounds great, doesn’t it?

There is only one problem: God never heals amputees and God allows tens of thousands of children to die of starvation and dehydration every day. We see people who are consumed by cancers and diseases, and children are born with all sorts of birth defects every day. Yet there is no response from God when we pray to solve these problems. Prayer doesn’t work in any of these cases.

So the articles have to explain this breakdown. One way to do it is to invent the concept of “God’s will”:

Here is another qualifier: “This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us. And if we know that he hears us — whatever we ask — we know that we have what we asked of him.” (1 John 5:14,15) God answers our prayers according to his will (and according to his wisdom, his love for us, his holiness, etc.).

Where we trip up is assuming we know God’s will, because a certain thing makes sense to us! We assume that there is only one right “answer” to a specific prayer, assuming certainly THAT would be God’s will. And this is where it gets tough. We live within the limits of time and limits of knowledge. We have only limited information about a situation and the implications of future action on that situation. God’s understanding is unlimited. How an event plays out in the course of life or history is only something he knows. And he may have purposes far beyond what we could even imagine. So, God is not going to do something simply because we determine that it must be his will.

The other is to invent the concept of the “peace of God”:

Certainly people get sick, even die; financial problems are real, and all sorts of very difficult situations can come up. What then?

God tells us to give our concerns to him. Even as the situation remains dismal, “Cast all your anxiety on him, because he cares for you.” (1 Peter 5:7) The circumstances may look out of control, but they aren’t. When the whole world seems to be falling apart, God can keep us together. This is when a person can be very grateful that they know God. “The Lord is near. Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:5-7) God may provide solutions, resolutions to the problem WAY beyond what you imagined possible. Probably any Christian could list examples like this in their own lives. But if the circumstances do not improve, God can still give us his peace in the midst of it

So if 10,000 children die of starvation today, that must be the “Will of God”. And if God completely ignores the prayers of amputees for healing, that is OK because God fills them with “the Peace of God”.

To summarize, God says, “ask whatever you wish, and it will be given you.” (John 15:7 ) That seems straightforward, until you ask for something concrete and measurable, like healing an amputated limb. In that case prayer fails every time, and Christians fall back to the “Will of God” and the “Peace of God” excuses. It is NEVER God’s will to heal an amputee, or eliminate cancer, or feed the starving, etc.

Here is another article that covers the same ground:

Prayers That Move the Heart of God

The title itself is amazing – somehow you are going to design a prayer than moves God’s heart, presumably to get your prayers answered. The article explains it this way:

God doesn’t give me everything I repeatedly ask for when he knows it’s not best for me. But a shallow reading of Luke 11:9-10 could lead me to think otherwise. There Jesus says, “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; he who seeks finds; and to him who knocks, the door will be opened.”

Is the way to get what I want from God through wearing him down, or getting as many people as possible to ask God for it? What kinds of prayer really move the heart and hand of God?

What kind of prayers move God? Again we see a non-answer:

There’s so much to want—healed bodies, restored relationships, changed circumstances….

Yes, that it true. Unfortunately…

But asking, seeking, and knocking aren’t secret formulas for getting what we want from God…

Which is strange, because the Bible says they ARE the way to get what we want from God, and that He will give them to us. But since they don’t work, we have to settle for the “Peace of God”:

they’re ways to get more of God. As I listen to God speak to me through his Word, he gives me more of himself in fuller, newer ways. Then, if healing doesn’t come, if the relationship remains broken, or if the pressures increase, I have the opportunity to discover for myself he is enough. His presence is enough. His purpose is enough.

The author describes an extremely sad situation: an infant daughter named Hope with a metabolic disorder that will kill her in just a few months. It is truly tragic. Since prayer is superstition, it is not going to change the course of events. So how does the author rationalize the ineffectiveness of prayer?

Time seemed to be slipping away so quickly when one day, as I rocked Hope in the nursery we’d prepared for her—tears spilling down my face—I thought, I’ll ask God to give Hope more time. It seemed such a modest prayer; I’d already surrendered any insistence God heal her completely. But even as that prayer formed in my mind, I sensed God calling me to submit to his perfect timing. So my prayer instead became, Give me strength to make the most of every day you give me with Hope. Show me how to rest in your plan for her life and mine.

In this case it is not only God’s Will that the child dies, but God’s plan. God planned out this whole tragedy. And the author believes that God is reaching into her brain and editing her thoughts.

At this point any rational person screams out, “what kind of sick demon would PLAN to have an infant suffer and die? And why would anyone worship such a demon?”

Why worship a demon?

If you are a Christian and you are staring to realize the irrationality of worshiping a demon, this web site can show you a better way:

- Whywontgodhealamputees.com

62 Responses to “Why doesn’t prayer work?”

  1. on 05 Sep 2008 at 12:25 pm 1.Anonymous said …

    Your complete and utter ignorance about basic Christian principles is amazing. You’re not even fighting against Christianity. You’re fighting against some bizarre straw-man you’ve set up.

    Also amazing, is the fact that you’ve spent countless hours of your life trying to disprove something you don’t believe in. Most people would call this “idiocy,” or at the very least a complete waste of life.

    Sadly, you’ve probably spent more time talking about Christianity (or your skewed perception of it) than most Christians have.

    If you don’t believe in something, MOVE ON. No one gives a squirt.

  2. on 05 Sep 2008 at 3:47 pm 2.OC said …

    Anon,

    What are the “basic Christian principles” that govern prayer? Why would a magazine called “Today’s Christian Woman” be utterly ignorant about said principles?

  3. on 05 Sep 2008 at 5:00 pm 3.Anonymous said …

    I didn’t say the magazine’s presentation of Christian principles was ignorant. Nice try though.

    The author’s perception (a.k.a. straw-manning)of, and inability (or refusal) to understand the principles is what’s ignorant.

    God isn’t a gum-ball machine, where you put in a prayer and automatically receive your heart’s desire (if He’s working “correctly,” of course). That’s a ridiculous over-simplification.

    But really, that wasn’t even the main point of my argument. Thanks for ignoring everything after the first paragraph…

  4. on 05 Sep 2008 at 6:19 pm 4.Armchair General said …

    “God allows tens of thousands of children to die of starvation and dehydration every day. We see people who are consumed by cancers and diseases, and children are born with all sorts of birth defects every day. Yet there is no response from God when we pray to solve these problems. Prayer doesn’t work in any of these cases.”

    Are you serious? Is this SERIOUSLY (one of) your argument(s) against God?

    So, according to YOU, if God existed, EVERYONE in the ENTIRE WORLD would be healthy, wealthy, and live forever? What are you, defective?

    This mindset delves to a level of idiocy that’s nearly unfathomable to anyone with a modicum of reasoning ability.

    “There is only one problem: God never heals amputees”

    Why should God grow back amputee’s limbs? Your argument isn’t any LESS ASININE than saying “God DOESN’T EXIST because he doesn’t give me STRAWBERRY ICE CREAM FROM HEAVEN every day.”

    You obviously view God as some kind of magical genie in a lamp, and if YOU don’t get YOUR wish you decide that God DOESN’T EXIST. Because if he did, he’d do what YOU want him to. Yeah, there’s some rock-solid logic…

  5. on 05 Sep 2008 at 9:05 pm 5.OC said …

    “God isn’t a gum-ball machine”

    I am curious as to why you might say that. Biblically, it is clear that you are incorrect. In the story above are two Biblical quotes that affirm the assertion that God should answer prayers:

    1) “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; he who seeks finds; and to him who knocks, the door will be opened.” (Luke 11:9-10)

    I believe that, under any standard interpretation of the English language, “For everyone who asks receives” indicates that everyone who asks receives.

    2) “If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be given you.” (John 15:7 )

    I believe that, under any standard interpretation of the English language, “ask whatever you wish, and it will be given you” means that you can ask whatever you wish, and it will be given you.

    Therefore, we are left to wonder why neither of these two verses works when faithful, Christian amputees pray for severed limbs to be restored.

    I am curious if you might address the fact that God ignores the prayers of faithful amputees. Why does God ignore amputees?

    “Thanks for ignoring everything after the first paragraph”

    It is simply the case that I am not the author of the site. Thus I am unable to say why he or she might have invested the time. Although, if you read other posts on the blog, I believe you might be able to infer the reason why. For example this post indicates that religion uses deception to steal money from innocent victims:

    http://whywontgodhealamputees.com/blog/?p=171

    Perhaps the author hopes that by educating Christians, it might be possible to end theft by superstition.

  6. on 05 Sep 2008 at 9:17 pm 6.OC said …

    Armchair General,

    I would like to ask you the same question I asked of Anonymous. The Bible clearly indicates that God will answer prayers, as demonstrated by (John 15:7) and (Luke 11:9-10), as well as many other verses in the Bible.

    In Christian mythology, the Bible is the word of God, and therefore must be true. Thus, we are left to wonder why neither of these two verses (and many others) are true for faithful, Christian amputees who pray for severed limbs to be restored.

    I am curious if you might address the fact that God ignores the prayers of faithful amputees.

  7. on 06 Sep 2008 at 3:29 pm 7.InterestedBystander said …

    To believe that Christian prayer works, you cannot also believe in Gods Plan. If things are destined to happen through Gods will, you would have to know that events are pre-planned and your prayers would have no effect on God’s will, because he knows better in all situations.

    To beleive prayer works, you also have to cast aside one of the basic premisis of the Christian God.

    1-God is all powerful
    2-God is all knowing
    3-God is benevolent

    With these three premisis that we believe as Christians, it is impossible to answer the “problem of evil”…that is why is there suffering in the world…floods in Indonesia, Hurricanes in America, starvation in Africa…disease…and on and on. If you believe all three of those things, then your prayers are moot as God will automatically do the best thing for everyone at all times.

    So, assuming God is real, he would have NOT be one of the three above for prayer to even matter at all. When you strike any of those three, the definition ceases to describe the Christian God.

    I hope the reasoning is as refined here in print as well as it is in thought.

  8. on 06 Sep 2008 at 7:58 pm 8.WOTW said …

    Armchair General wrote

    ” This mindset delves to a level of idiocy that’s nearly unfathomable to anyone with a modicum of reasoning ability. ”

    And believing the word of the bible is what exactly?

    ” “There is only one problem: God never heals amputees” ”

    Ya see there is more than ONE problem. There a thousands if not millions of problems that god will not and cannot solve. ‘ Prey and you prayers will be answerd ‘ WHAT? Can you give me proof that god has answerd a single prayer?

    ” Why should God grow back amputee’s limbs? Your argument isn’t any LESS ASININE than saying “God DOESN’T EXIST because he doesn’t give me STRAWBERRY ICE CREAM FROM HEAVEN every day.”

    Why shouldnt he? He has claimed over and over again in the bible that he will answer ALL prayers. Are you saying that he will answer the prayers of crash victims, cancer victims, people who are having a bad day and people who want STRAWBERRY ICE CREAM? What then has he got against people with amputated limbs? Why wont he heal these poor people?

    “You obviously view God as some kind of magical genie in a lamp, and if YOU don’t get YOUR wish you decide that God DOESN’T EXIST. Because if he did, he’d do what YOU want him to. Yeah, there’s some rock-solid logic… ”

    Im presuming the author of this website views god as an imaginary being who is not only asking for himself but, speaking on behalf of millions of people who’s prayers go un-answerd – especially those with amputated limbs. You obviously view god as a living person/being and if thats the case then you to are very delusional. Why believe in something that has never shown itself, never wants to show itself, never answers prayers, kills thousands upon thousands of people every day, promotes child abuse both physically and sexually, promotes muderer’s to kill and so on. If he is an all pervect god and created us, why then all the pain and suffering? Yeah, there’s some rock-solid logic…!!!

    Anon – have you even read the bible?

  9. on 07 Sep 2008 at 8:01 pm 9.Armchair General said …

    First of all, all the responses in this thread so far ASSUME that “answering a prayer” means saying “YES.” This is IDIOTIC. As we know from REALITY, there are MULTIPLE ways to answer a request.

    Secondly, the people quoting Luke 11 … you’re taking those verses out of context (not surprisingly, as it seems to be the MO for supporters of hate-sites).

    Luke 11:9-10 is not stating “ask for WHATEVER you want, and you’ll AUTOMATICALLY get it.” It is talking about eternal life (a.k.a. “salvation”). Ask for eternal life, and you shall receive it. Of course to understand this, you’d have to read more than TWO verses. Too tough for you?

    When compared to other verses in the Bible, it’s obvious that Luke 11:9-10 is talking specifically about salvation.

    James 4:2-3 states, “You do not have, because you do not ask. You ask and do not receive, because you ask wrongly, to spend it on your passions.”

    The Bible very clearly states that selfish requests will not be granted.

    Overall though, the argument is RIDICULOUS, since you wouldn’t be able to find a “faithful Christian” who’d actually pray to have their limbs grown back. It’s an straw-man and a very weak one at that, since it’s a complete fabrication.

    Most importantly though: If you’re going to pick apart the Bible, you can’t just grab the tiny snippets you don’t like and IGNORE the rest … you’ve got to take the WHOLE package. The Bible states that Man has a free-will. This enables people to RUIN other people’s lives. God gave us free-will, so he’s not going to step-in and prevent us from hurting and killing each other. When people do something stupid you can’t turn around and blame God for it (even though it’s the “easy” way out).

    Also, according to the Bible, we’re living in a “fallen world.” The world ended up in this state because of sin. SIN is why people have cancer, diseases, and yes, have amputated limbs.

    According to the Bible, God offers eternal life to ANYONE who asks (and receives Jesus’ payment for them on the cross). This includes amputees. In the long run, living on this earth with an amputated limb isn’t even a DROP IN A BUCKET compared to eternity.

  10. on 07 Sep 2008 at 11:07 pm 10.OC said …

    Armchair General,

    “First of all, all the responses in this thread so far ASSUME that “answering a prayer” means saying “YES.” This is IDIOTIC. As we know from REALITY, there are MULTIPLE ways to answer a request.”

    Have you taken the time to view this video?

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jk6ILZAaAMI

    It makes quick work of your argument. The “MULTIPLE ways” argument is “idiotic”, to borrow your terminology.

    “When compared to other verses in the Bible, it’s obvious that Luke 11:9-10 is talking specifically about salvation.”

    To assist in this discussion, I have taken the liberty to copy the entire first section of Luke 11 below:

    ———————————–
    1One day Jesus was praying in a certain place. When he finished, one of his disciples said to him, “Lord, teach us to pray, just as John taught his disciples.”

    2He said to them, “When you pray, say:
    ” ‘Father,
    hallowed be your name,
    your kingdom come.
    3Give us each day our daily bread.
    4Forgive us our sins,
    for we also forgive everyone who sins against us.
    And lead us not into temptation.’ ”

    5Then he said to them, “Suppose one of you has a friend, and he goes to him at midnight and says, ‘Friend, lend me three loaves of bread, 6because a friend of mine on a journey has come to me, and I have nothing to set before him.’

    7″Then the one inside answers, ‘Don’t bother me. The door is already locked, and my children are with me in bed. I can’t get up and give you anything.’ 8I tell you, though he will not get up and give him the bread because he is his friend, yet because of the man’s boldness he will get up and give him as much as he needs.

    9″So I say to you: Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. 10For everyone who asks receives; he who seeks finds; and to him who knocks, the door will be opened.

    11″Which of you fathers, if your son asks for a fish, will give him a snake instead? 12Or if he asks for an egg, will give him a scorpion? 13If you then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!”
    —————————————-

    If Luke 11 speaks strictly about salvation, then why might it bring up fish, snakes, eggs and scorpions? Why might it mention “giving good gifts to children”? Why is the word “salvation” left unmentioned?

    “Overall though, the argument is RIDICULOUS, since you wouldn’t be able to find a “faithful Christian” who’d actually pray to have their limbs grown back. It’s an straw-man and a very weak one at that, since it’s a complete fabrication.”

    We can easily find millions of faithful Christians praying over cancers and diseases. Sarah Palin recently prayed on behalf of an oil pipeline. Why would Christians not pray for amputees? It happens all the time.

    “Most importantly though: If you’re going to pick apart the Bible, you can’t just grab the tiny snippets you don’t like and IGNORE the rest”

    Actually we can, because a small amount of negative overshadows a great deal of positive. Example: A priest lives an exemplary life for 60 years, and then murders a parishioner or rapes a small boy. The priest will be convicted and sent to jail. The 60 years of exemplary living is outweighed by the single negative event. For the Bible, it is the same. You should be able to understand that.

  11. on 08 Sep 2008 at 1:30 am 11.Armchair General said …

    The Youtube video does nothing more than simply restate how the author deals with his inability to grasp the concept of prayer.

    I asked my mom for a Boeing 747 earlier and she said “no.” Therefore I decided that she doesn’t exist either.

    Let’s move on … Luke 11:11:

    “how much more will your Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!”

    Good grief, it’s right there! It says it RIGHT THERE. Didn’t you even pay attention? It’s talking about filling people with THE HOLY SPIRIT … WHEN THEY ASK.

    The other items are in there as comparisons. Are you that DENSE?

    So, in John 10:9 Jesus proclaims, “I am the door…” so what’s next … you’re going to claim that Jesus was actually made of WOOD? It’s like you people have no reasoning capabilities whatsoever.

    “Why would Christians not pray for amputees? It happens all the time.”

    Yeah, genius? Name one. Find one “faithful Christian” who’s prayed that a lost limb grow back. Since it happens “all the time” it should be really simple, no?

    I’ve never once in my entire life heard of ANYONE praying for a lost limb to grow back. Not a single time.

    It’s a completely farcical, baseless argument.

  12. on 08 Sep 2008 at 5:26 am 12.wheelchair general said …

    Hey Armchair-
    just how many amputees do you know? I happen to know 9 personally (including myself) and I can tell you that if you are a “believing christian” and you truly believe that it was god’s will that you lost your legs in a war (fighting in his name, no less), and that you lost them because you sinned, well, that is one awesome god! now I’m no christian, but I can tell you when you lose a limb you sure as hell pray it would come back – christian or not! you sir display your staggering arrogance and utter lack of empathy in matters you know nothing about.
    who are you trying to convert here? you’re only proving the point of the blog: religious zealots are delusional fucks!

  13. on 08 Sep 2008 at 8:21 am 13.OC said …

    “Yeah, genius? Name one. Find one “faithful Christian” who’s prayed that a lost limb grow back. Since it happens “all the time” it should be really simple, no?”

    A quick search of Google yielded this link:

    Rock Solid founder trusts in God to heal his leg

    It is not a farcical argument.

    Now, faced with reality, will you admit that you are wrong?

  14. on 08 Sep 2008 at 10:12 am 14.Armchair General said …

    Once again, you’ve completely ignored the rest of the points, where I detail exactly why you’re incorrect.

    You’ve ignored the fact that you MISUNDERSTOOD Luke 11, same as you ignored James 4:2-3 (once again, for posterity sake), “You do not have, because you do not ask. You ask and do not receive, because you ask wrongly, to spend it on your passions.” (quite OBVIOUSLY stating that whimsical prayer requests will not be granted)

    Asking God to heal a leg isn’t the same as asking him to grow back a lost limb. This is OBVIOUS (or should be, to anyone with a modicum of sense). I guarantee you he’s not praying that God grows his lost limb back. Chances are he’s praying for grace to deal with the loss of his limb.

    The Bible mentions that the Apostle Paul had some kind of infirmity (we’re not sure exactly what) that he often prayed for healing, but God replied “My grace is sufficient for you.” Sometimes we’re presented with problems so we can become stronger.

    I know in my personal experience that I appreciate certain things much more since I’ve had to fight for them, than people who’re handed everything.

    Ultimately, this argument is pointless. There will really be no getting through to someone as entrenched in disbelief as you. Even when faced with actual stories where Cancer miraculously disappears, when doctors admit they’ve no idea what’s happened, you’d still call it a “coincidence.” This type of denial really can’t be argued against. It’s like trying to arguing against the lunar landing conspiracy theorists, or the 9-11 conspiracy theorists. There will never be sufficient evidence to convince you, because you can ALWAYS pawn it off as “coincidence.” Always.

    I’ll keep you and the author of this blog in prayer though. And I’m not being sarcastic at all. I prayed for you this morning, actually.

  15. on 08 Sep 2008 at 11:45 am 15.OC said …

    “Asking God to heal a leg isn’t the same as asking him to grow back a lost limb. This is OBVIOUS (or should be, to anyone with a modicum of sense). I guarantee you he’s not praying that God grows his lost limb back. Chances are he’s praying for grace to deal with the loss of his limb.”

    Sir, the link was placed there for you to click, so that you may read the article yourself. You are incorrect. Since you seem to be disinclined to click the link, allow me to assist:

    ———————————
    “The Moser family believes in miracles.

    They believe God saved Kathleen Moser’s life when she suffered from a blood clot that moved from her leg to her lungs, and they believe God cured her of the debilitating disease fibromyalgia — a condition of feeling widespread, immense and chronic pain for no apparent reason. There is no known cure.

    And the Mosers believe God will perform a miracle and Kathleen’s husband, Greg, will grow a new leg and foot to replace the recently amputated limb following a tree-cutting accident in June.”
    —————————————-

    He is a faithful Christian, the leader of a Christian youth group, stating for the record in a public newspaper that his plan is for God to regenerate his leg and foot.

    Again, faced with reality, are you willing to admit that you are wrong?

    Let us clarify this simple, easily verified point so that we may then begin discussing your other points one by one.

  16. on 08 Sep 2008 at 12:31 pm 16.Armchair General said …

    First of all, your own link disproves your argument. There was NO CURE to the disease that Kathleen Moser had … and yet she’s completely healed. Of course, that’s a “coincidence,” right?

    One man praying that God regenerates his limb is not “all the time.” I admit though, I shouldn’t have made a blanket-statement. Through the powers of the Internet you can pretty much find ANYONE doing ANYTHING. Chances are, you could probably even find someone praying that it rains strawberry ice-cream. Still, doesn’t make it a legitimate request.

    Unlike Kathleen Moser’s blood-clot in her lungs, an amputated limb is not life-threatening. Also, an amputated limb is more-or-less cosmetic (before you TWIST this, I’m NOT saying that it is not a disability), and could quite easily fall under “passions” referenced in James 4:2-3. So, God miraculously answered the more dire of the two requests. Also, it’s a miracle that the man is even alive (yeah, I know … “luck of the draw” … whatever)

    Also, you’ll notice that Greg Moser said “I’d rather be 100 percent through prosthesis OR a miracle” … obviously, he accepts the fact that God regenerating his limb might not happen. Since he made the decision to have it amputated, he’s also accepting the fact that that might be the way he’s going to have to live.

    Yes, he did pray for a miracle. But where you seem to be UNABLE to comprehend, is that these people don’t EXPECT God to pander to their every whim. They can accept a “no” answer, and they can accept that there might be a reason for it that isn’t immediately apparent.

  17. on 08 Sep 2008 at 4:38 pm 17.wheelchair general said …

    armchair said: “There will really be no getting through to someone as entrenched in disbelief as you.”

    entrenched in disbelief. let’s think about that. I think a more useful and less pejorative term might be rational thinking.
    yes, you could say I “disbelieve” that the earth is flat, that buddha and christ and Ghengis Khan and thousands of other gods were born of virgins, that some dude created the earth 6,000 years ago, that we should stone apostates, adulterers and homosexuals to death because that is god’s will..
    but I don’t see that as disbelief. you keep gloating over how much “sense” you possess, but you’ve done little to illustrate it.

    “Also, an amputated limb is more-or-less cosmetic”
    again… well fuck you, too. why don’t you walk a mile in MY shoes? oh.. well you know what I mean. if I had legs or shoes, that is..

    armchair, beyond being a total jerk, you indeed seem to miss the whole point of the amputee argument. you keep saying shit like: “Yes, he did pray for a miracle. But where you seem to be UNABLE to comprehend, is that these people don’t EXPECT God to pander to their every whim. They can accept a “no” answer, and they can accept that there might be a reason for it that isn’t immediately apparent” this says nothing of the power of prayer. it only shows that you have to believe pretty hard for that “logic” to make sense.

    the billions of people who don’t pray to the “correct” god are doing just fine. the bible’s message of prayer simply doesn’t hold up under scrutiny. it is nothing more than wishful thinking. some people are healed from life threatening diseases, survive freak accidents, awaken from comas, etc.. whether you attribute this to Elvis, magickal fairies, “positive” vibes, the abrahamic god, zeus, allah, the power of jesus, the miracle of chili cheese fries, animal magnetism, you have to admit that there is no objective way WHATSOEVER to actually know what was behind it.
    this is what is often called the placebo effect. healing can take place for reasons that are not understood. there’s no “sense” in jumping to conclusions where there is no evidence.
    and when pious folks make the weak claim that prayer cannot be tested, well one has to wonder what he has to hide. he could reveal himself in an instant and convert every last bastard, yet he chooses to speak through the least educated, megalomaniacal dimwits who have no understanding of the sciences, no understanding of the cosmos, the worlds religions, history, etc.
    there are millions of examples where science has saved lives, cured diseases, allowed civilizations to prosper (not to mention expand our literal view of the universe exponentially and disprove many claims of the bible…) it happens every minute.
    interestingly, there is no single documented case of a prayer doing ANYTHING more than chance or the placebo effect would have done anyhow. prayer looks alot like homeopathic medicine. people SWEAR it works, but somehow when studied, it always manages to fail!

    “And I’m not being sarcastic at all. I prayed for you this morning, actually”
    yeah, and I sacrificed a goat for you last night. hope it works (got my fingers crossed)!

  18. on 08 Sep 2008 at 4:59 pm 18.OC said …

    “Yes, he did pray for a miracle.”

    Let us focus on this. Christians are inclined to pray to God about everything. Therefore we must ask why. The reason lies in the Bible’s explicit promises concerning prayer. In order to help you fathom the depth of God’s promise in this regard, I have taken the liberty to copy a number of verses:

    Matthew 17:20:

    For truly, I say to you, if you have faith as a grain of mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move; and nothing will be impossible to you.

    Matthew 21:21:

    I tell you the truth, if you have faith and do not doubt, not only can you do what was done to the fig tree, but also you can say to this mountain, ‘Go, throw yourself into the sea,’ and it will be done. If you believe, you will receive whatever you ask for in prayer.

    Mark 11:24:

    Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours.

    John 14, 12-14:

    “I tell you the truth, anyone who has faith in me will do what I have been doing. He will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father. And I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Son may bring glory to the Father. You may ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it.”

    Matthew 18:19:

    Again I say to you, if two of you agree on earth about anything they ask, it will be done for them by my Father in heaven. For where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I in the midst of them.

    James 5:15-16:

    And the prayer offered in faith will make the sick person well; the Lord will raise him up. If he has sinned, he will be forgiven. Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective.

    Mark 9:23:

    All things are possible to him who believes.

    Luke 1:37:

    For with God nothing will be impossible.

    These verses together express an identical concept, best summarized in John 14:14: “You may ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it.”

    The word “anything” encompasses amputated limbs. The words “I will do it” promises results.

    You may find other bits in the Bible that contradict the verses quoted above, but in that case what you have found are biblical contradictions. God has promised here that “All things are possible to him who believes.”

    The unfortunate reality is that these verses are incorrect, on two different levels:

    1) Amputees demonstrate that the verses are incorrect through direct observation of empirical evidence

    2) Statistical analysis demonstrates that the verses are incorrect in the absolute sense.

    Reality shows all of us that prayer is entirely ineffective.

    The way that you are currently hiding from reality is by developing rationalizations such as the “no” answer. An intellectually honest person would abandon such artifice. He would observe reality, accept the results of statistical science and acknowledge that every “answered prayer” is merely a coincidence.

    Kathleen Moser’s healing is a coincidence, yes. All of statistical science supports that conclusion. And so would you, if you would allow yourself to think rationally.

  19. on 08 Sep 2008 at 5:43 pm 19.Armchair General said …

    OC: Your narrow-mindedness is astounding. You take everything at face-value without the slightest thought of understanding what’s happening beneath the surface. CONTEXT means nothing to you.

    This discussion is pointless. It’s like trying to explain the underlying message of “A Modest Proposal” to someone who INSISTS that Johnathon Swift was ACTUALLY condoning the eating of children. If you don’t use your brain while reading, that’s exactly what it says.

    If you don’t believe it, fine. That’s up to you. You’re not, however, going to convince me through “empirical evidence,” (misnomer) that God doesn’t exist and prayer doesn’t work.

    To me, “miracles,” to you, “coincidences.”

    The theory of evolution can’t be proved through empirical evidence either, but you probably have a lot easier time swallowing that.

    ————-

    Fortunately, you can’t stop people from believing in God, or praying.

    Why do you even care so much? Why do you care if people pray or believe in a “fictional” God? It amazes me the amount of time the creator of this website WASTES every single day, posting mind-numbingly pedantic articles. He probably spends more time thinking about Christians than anything else.

    Do other people’s beliefs influence YOUR life? No. Are Christians running around killing people? No. Are they out helping people, donating time and money to charities, and generally trying to live up to a high moral standard? Yes. How is that a bad thing?

  20. on 08 Sep 2008 at 6:03 pm 20.lil tom said …

    “Do other people’s beliefs influence YOUR life? No. Are Christians running around killing people? No.”

    this is a bad joke. and even though it was bad, I do hope you were kidding. millions of people have been killed in the name of christ. christians still kill people every day. our country is currently involved in religious warfare. god makes his way into domestic and foreign policy. creationism is trying to pass as science. people like you tell me they are praying for me. other people’s beliefs DO effect others. ever hear of a suicide bomber. have you forgotten about 9/11?

    I have to return the question. why do YOU care. and why do you waste YOUR time? atheists are about 1% of the world’s population. do you feel threatened by rational thought?

  21. on 08 Sep 2008 at 7:19 pm 21.Armchair General said …

    Yes, beliefs do affect others. I wasn’t talking about radical Islamics. OBVIOUSLY suicide bombers affect people. I’m talking about 21st century Christians (NOT 11th century).

    I waste my time simple because I’m bored at work. By mid-week I’ll probably tire of the pseudo-intellectual circle-jerk and move on.

    Atheism is simply ‘unorganized religion.’ They don’t meet (for a “service” at any rate, they do seem to congregate to complain about things a lot), or have any specific religious texts (although they do have quite a selection of books on it), but they all disbelieve the same thing(s), and are completely fanatical about it.

  22. on 08 Sep 2008 at 9:24 pm 22.SteveK said …

    “The word “anything” encompasses amputated limbs. The words “I will do it” promises results. ”

    Another fundy at work on the internet boxing with shadows. It’s easy to land a KO punch to an understanding that nobody actually holds. If you manage find a person that agrees with your understanding of the Biblical text, please argue with them about the folly of their thinking. Somehow I doubt you will find such a person, but hey, stranger things have happened.

  23. on 08 Sep 2008 at 10:11 pm 23.SteveK said …

    “Kathleen Moser’s healing is a coincidence, yes. All of statistical science supports that conclusion. And so would you, if you would allow yourself to think rationally.”

    Descriptive statistics say no such thing and inferential statistics beg the question you are trying to answer because statistical data can’t tell you what *actually* occurred. Using your flawed logic, science supports the conclusion that everything is a coincidence because everything that happens can be shown to fit the statistical distribution pattern for coincidental happenings.

  24. on 08 Sep 2008 at 10:47 pm 24.Helpus said …

    “science supports the conclusion that everything is a coincidence because everything that happens can be shown to fit the statistical distribution pattern for coincidental happenings”

    If it weren’t so sad, that would be hilarious. You apparently know nothing about science!

    When a drug actually works, it shows a statistical effect. That’s how we know it works! Prayer has no statistical effect. That’s how we know it doesn’t work.

    The fact that you don’t understand that is why you believe that prayer works. But it also shows that you are an ignoramus.

  25. on 08 Sep 2008 at 11:02 pm 25.SteveK said …

    Helpus
    The beauty of coincidence (randomness) is it has no bounds of statistical order. It can strike repeatedly and orderly just like a random flip of the coin can produce 1000 heads in a row – and still fit the statistical patterns associated with random. It can also strike in the usual random way.

    The fact that drugs show a statistical effect doesn’t rule out coincidence because coincidence is always in the game. As I said before, statistical data can’t tell you what *actually* occurred – so the data can’t tell you if something is coincidence or non-coincidence. Knowledge can rule out coincidence though.

    Thanks for playing.

  26. on 08 Sep 2008 at 11:29 pm 26.SteveK said …

    Helpus,
    I think an example will help make my point that statistics can’t tell you everything about what actually occurred.

    The statistical data shows heads is flipped 50% of the time and tails 50% of the time. I now flip a coin 1000 times.

    a) what was flipped *each* time? (answer: statistical data can’t help us answer this question but knowledge of each flip can)

    b) were the outcomes the result of random coin flipping or were the results influenced in some non-random way? (answer: statistical data can’t help us answer this question)

    c) if I tell you my friend told me he influenced the outcome of every 20th flip, but he didn’t tell me how, does this mean the outcome was the result of randomness or non-randomness? (answer: statistical data can’t help us answer this question – non-randomness if true, randomness if false)

    d) if I tell you God spoke to me through prayer that he influenced the outcome of every 20th flip, but he didn’t tell me how, does this mean the outcome was the result of randomness or non-randomness? (answer: statistical data can’t help us answer this question – non-randomness if true, randomness if false)

    e) did my friend (or God) *actually* influence the outome? (answer: statistical data can’t help us answer this question)

  27. on 08 Sep 2008 at 11:46 pm 27.Helpus said …

    SteveK,

    Please don’t tell me you are pulling out the old, “God is so wonderful that he manages to do his miracles so they are statistically undetectable, but then he also completely ignores amputees and down syndrome kids by NEVER healing them” excuse. Because that would show you are an even bigger ignoramus.

    If a healing modality has zero statistical effect, then it has zero statistical effect. Prayer has zero statistical effect.

    “if I tell you God spoke to me through prayer that he influenced the outcome of every 20th flip, but he didn’t tell me how, does this mean the outcome was the result of randomness or non-randomness?” If God was effecting coin flips in any way in response to prayer, it would be statistically detectable. That is the difference between the real world and your imaginary religious world.

  28. on 09 Sep 2008 at 12:37 pm 28.Snag said …

    Armchair General – “I waste my time simple because I’m bored at work. By mid-week I’ll probably tire of the pseudo-intellectual circle-jerk and move on.”

    By mid-week you will realize that your irrational beliefs make no sense and you will turn away rather than probing any deeper.

  29. on 09 Sep 2008 at 2:12 pm 29.SteveK said …

    Helpus
    “Please don’t tell me you are pulling out the old, “God is so wonderful that he manages to do his miracles so they are statistically undetectable….”

    Please don’t tell me God is required to heal anyone in a *specific* way or at a *specific* time. Please don’t tell me it’s *impossible* for God to work within the bounds of statistical data.

  30. on 09 Sep 2008 at 9:26 pm 30.lil tom said …

    I think by *specific* steveK means *detectable*.

    clearly God being the supernatural being he is, is to busy trying to deceive us by making it SEEM so glaringly obvious that he’s not there so that his brilliant test to see whether we fall for SATAN (aka rational thinking, science) or believe in his invisible, magical, immeasurable (literally) miracles, and disavow what we know from science (ie statistics, evolution, big bang, old earth, heliocentric solar systems, civil rights, etc).

    why does god hate science? could it be because His role is shrinking more and more as We learn more about our universe and ditch the habit of making claims without substantial evidence?

  31. on 09 Sep 2008 at 9:36 pm 31.Armchair General said …

    Wait a moment, lil tom … I’m sorry … did you just say, “Science” and “Big Bang” in the same sentence? What on earth do those have to do with each other?

    Most scientists don’t even agree that the “big bang” was how the universe began. It’s not reproducible, and there’s absolutely NO empirical evidence to support it.

    Incidentally, there’s also no reproducible evidence to support evolution … but chances are you didn’t do a single bit of “free thinking” to actually find out if that’s true, did you? You simply just swallowed what the school system fed you, and automatically accepted it as truth.

  32. on 10 Sep 2008 at 4:33 am 32.lil tom said …

    well, there are people who still believe the earth is flat and that the sun revolves around it. what can you do?

    armchair. I guess you don’t believe in math either.
    yeah, they taught me that in school, too – and it ain’t in the bible (well, actually there are numerous mathematical errors in the good book). reckon math is a fallacy then, too.

  33. on 10 Sep 2008 at 4:55 am 33.SteveK said …

    “I think by *specific* steveK means *detectable*.”

    No, I don’t.

  34. on 10 Sep 2008 at 7:09 am 34.lil tom said …

    stevek, then why are the answers to prayer undetectable?

  35. on 10 Sep 2008 at 8:14 am 35.Armchair General said …

    Hey look, YET AGAIN you’ve completely SIDE-STEPPED everything I said, and went in a completely different direction.

  36. on 10 Sep 2008 at 9:16 am 36.Snag said …

    Armchair General – “Most scientists don’t even agree that the “big bang” was how the universe began. It’s not reproducible, and there’s absolutely NO empirical evidence to support it.”

    The empirical evidence that supports the big bang theory:

    http://www.talkorigins.org/faqs/astronomy/bigbang.html#evidence

    a) Large-scale homogeneity
    b) Hubble Diagram
    c) Abundances of light elements
    d) Existence of the Cosmic Microwave Background Radiation
    e) Fluctuations in the CMBR
    f) Large-scale structure of the universe
    g) Age of stars
    h) Evolution of galaxies
    i) Time dilation in supernova brightness curves
    j) Tolman tests
    k) Sunyaev-Zel’dovich effect
    l) Integrated Sachs-Wolfe effect
    m) Dark Matter
    n) Dark Energy
    z) Consistency

  37. on 10 Sep 2008 at 10:51 am 37.Armchair General said …

    Snag:

    I shouldn’t have mentioned the word “evidence” since it is not synonymous with “proof.” There’s plenty of evidence to support all kinds of things (yes, even creationism), but that doesn’t make it proof.

    If the big bang theory were PROVEN it wouldn’t be a THEORY, it’d be a scientific FACT. Why on earth are you arguing like it is? Can’t deal with the fact that it also takes FAITH to believe in the big bang theory? I don’t pretend it doesn’t take faith to believe in the creation theory. You’re quite obviously delusional.

    Just admit it: It takes faith to believe in the big bang theory.

  38. on 10 Sep 2008 at 3:02 pm 38.Foolish believer said …

    We people of earth treat amputees like outcasts and we allow 1000′s of children to starve and die with our selfishness and business. We stop prayer from working by destroying and denying the channels through which it is intended to work – us. Prayer is not about being superstitious, religious, anxious and self-seeking; it is about acceptance of real-life, trying to improve oneself for the purpose of helping others, patience when asking for things and asking for things with unselfish motives.

  39. on 10 Sep 2008 at 3:50 pm 39.SteveK said …

    “stevek, then why are the answers to prayer undetectable?”

    By science or by other means? If you’re asking why science can’t measure answers to prayer, my ultimate answer is I don’t know. My experience tells me it’s related to the fact that science can’t measure sovereignty, motive, reason, purpose, intent, justice, etc. All of these factor into how a free agent responds to a request so there are variables not accessible to science and not in their control.

    If science asks various leaders from around the globe to perform some ‘good’ acts within their countries according to an assigned methodology and time-frame, you may or may not get a statistically measureable result. Why? I don’t know exactly, but certainly there are reasons behind every response (or non-response) you get.

  40. on 11 Sep 2008 at 2:46 am 40.lil tom said …

    steveK,
    ever wondered if your praying to the wrong god?
    maybe god only answers the prayers of the CORRECT ONE among the 38,000 christian denominations. I bet that’s why it only SEEMS that prayer doesn’t work from a scientific standpoint. It’s more like the lotto and less like science…

  41. on 11 Sep 2008 at 5:13 am 41.SteveK said …

    “ever wondered if your praying to the wrong god?”

    It’s certainly logically possible if that’s what you mean. However, what is logically possible may not be philosphically or physically *probable*. Obviously you want to be convinced that God probably exists before you begin praying to him. I’ve gone through that process many times. The thing is, if I’m wrong then I have no knowledge that I’m wrong because every time I go through the reasoning process it leads me to ‘God exists’. I could still be wrong though.

    There’s a book out that’s called “Ten Prayers God Always Says Yes To”. God says yes to these prayers (at the proper time) because those are the prayers we universally need him to say yes to. As you can see below, these aren’t the “God give me your peace, now!” or “God, show me that You exist by appearing to me now” or “God give me $20, now!” kind of prayers.

    Perhaps science should study these prayers. Just kidding….it won’t work for some of the reaons I mentioned. Science can’t detect ‘suffering’ or ‘generocity’ or ‘peace’ so it has no way to empirically measure the effectiveness of these prayers. You can give it an honest go if you’d like and conduct your own personal experiment.

    God, show me that You exist.
    God, make me an instrument.
    God, outdo me in generosity.
    God, get me through this suffering.
    God, forgive me.
    God, give me peace.
    God, give me courage.
    God, give me wisdom.
    God, bring good out of this bad situation.
    God, lead me to my destiny.

  42. on 11 Sep 2008 at 2:29 pm 42.OC said …

    SteveK,

    Are you seriously proposing that your God “Always Says Yes To” prayers for wisdom? If that is the case, why do we find so many prominent Christians to be so lacking in regard to wisdom? Notable examples include:
    1) George W. Bush
    2) Ted Haggard
    3) Jim Bakker
    4) Jimmy Swaggart

    Why do we encounter so many profoundly unwise Christians in the general population? Why might our prisons be filled with unwise Christians?

  43. on 11 Sep 2008 at 2:36 pm 43.Armchair General said …

    Uh … because even when we KNOW the right thing to do, we don’t always do it. You’ve never intentionally done something you knew was wrong? That’s so obvious it didn’t even deserve an answer.

  44. on 11 Sep 2008 at 2:50 pm 44.OC said …

    I find that I have never been granted wisdom from an omniscient being, while SteveK is proposing that such omniscient wisdom is available to all Christians who request it.

    Are you seriously proposing that a Christian, upon receiving inspired wisdom sent directly from the omnipotent creator of the universe, would choose a path other than the one indicated by God? Would not God’s path, being divinely and omnisciently derived, stand out like a runway lined with strobe lights in the fog?

    Consider: If your God is granting wisdom, why would he not grant the wisdom to choose the divine path in all cases?

  45. on 11 Sep 2008 at 2:52 pm 45.Armchair General said …

    “I find that I have never been granted wisdom from an omniscient being.”

    Well, that’s fairly obvious.

    “Are you seriously proposing that a Christian, upon receiving inspired wisdom sent directly from the omnipotent creator of the universe, would choose a path other than the one indicated by God?”

    Ever hear about this guy named “Adam?”

    Case closed.

  46. on 11 Sep 2008 at 3:15 pm 46.OC said …

    Consider: If your God is granting wisdom, why would he not grant the wisdom to choose the divine path in all cases?

  47. on 11 Sep 2008 at 3:33 pm 47.Armchair General said …

    So, what you’re actually asking is why doesn’t God completely remove free-will? That’s a rather silly question.

  48. on 11 Sep 2008 at 4:03 pm 48.OC said …

    How can there be free will in a person to whom God grants wisdom? Wise and foolish are opposites. Once God grants wisdom, the recipient can no longer be foolish, unless he is not wise. As God is perfect, wisdom granted by God must of necessity also be perfect.

    Either God grants perfect wisdom, or he does not. Which is it?

  49. on 11 Sep 2008 at 4:16 pm 49.Armchair General said …

    You’re arguing semantics, pushing every definition to it’s absurd extreme. It’s obvious that you’re doing it intentionally to be irritating. Have fun with that.

  50. on 11 Sep 2008 at 4:59 pm 50.OC said …

    I would suggest that you pray for divine wisdom in this matter, and then share God’s perfect wisdom with us all. Consider: the answer is always yes when a Christian prays to God for wisdom.

    Either God grants perfect wisdom, or he does not. Which is it?

  51. on 11 Sep 2008 at 9:12 pm 51.lil tom said …

    steveK,

    “Science can’t detect ’suffering’ or ‘generocity’ or ‘peace’”

    says you! why not? why should we set limits on our knowledge?

    I think we can detect peace and suffering pretty readily, even on a scientific level. are you saying we shouldn’t study the brain?
    again, by making presuppositions we only limit our understanding.
    surely people used to say such rash things like “science can never: show that the earth is round, cure disease, send us to the moon, explain the systems of the body, allow instant communication across the globe, etc..” but those, too were only because people wished instead to set the boundaries of research and knowledge out of sheer laziness.

  52. on 11 Sep 2008 at 9:39 pm 52.SteveK said …

    “As God is perfect, wisdom granted by God must of necessity also be perfect.”

    I agree. Each kernel of wisdom given is perfect. The wisdom that says love is a virtue to be pursued is perfect in nature.

    “Either God grants perfect wisdom, or he does not. Which is it?”

    He does, however you can’t say the giving of perfect wisdom always results in the receiving of perfect wisdom. There can, and is, often a disconnect there due to our own sovereign free agency and imperfect nature.

    The general working principle is this: Pride gives rise to sin and sin gives rise to stupidity – er, I mean folly – but humility gives rise to God’s grace which gives rise to wisdom. Lastly, don’t confuse perfect wisdom with complete/total perfect wisdom.

  53. on 11 Sep 2008 at 10:17 pm 53.SteveK said …

    “says you! why not? why should we set limits on our knowledge?”

    Not says me, but says common sense and centuries of thought on the subject. This is not meant to be an insult, but you wouldn’t ask “why not” if you had the most basic understanding of what constitutes a philosophical question versus an empirical/scientific question.

    “How tall is that tree?” is an empirical question that science can answer because an extra-mental object (the object we call tree) is available to be measured.

    “What is a tree?” is a question that can’t be answered by empirical means alone because the concept of a tree (the what) is a mental abstraction of an extra-mental reality. You don’t want to make the rookie mistake of measuring the brain and concluding “This (in the brain) is a tree” because what then is the extra-mental object standing before you? Is there one tree in your brain and one standing before you? Of course not.

    And BTW, I’m not asking to limit our knowledge. The more the better.
    ……….

    “I think we can detect peace and suffering pretty readily, even on a scientific level. are you saying we shouldn’t study the brain?”

    Yes we readily detect it just like the tree, but the question “what is peace?” is not something that can be determined through empirical methods alone as I explained above.

  54. on 12 Sep 2008 at 1:32 am 54.lil tom said …

    steveK said: ““How tall is that tree?” is an empirical question that science can answer because an extra-mental object (the object we call tree) is available to be measured.
    “What is a tree?” is a question that can’t be answered by empirical means alone because the concept of a tree (the what) is a mental abstraction of an extra-mental reality. You don’t want to make the rookie mistake of measuring the brain and concluding “This (in the brain) is a tree” because what then is the extra-mental object standing before you? Is there one tree in your brain and one standing before you? Of course not.”

    well, that’s just the most ridiculous thing I’ve heard all week! You really believe we don’t have the ability to determine what is tree and what is non-tree?
    why would a measurement (which is an abstract idea by your logic) of an abstract idea be less abstract than the abstract idea of the object itself? do you even realize the absurdity of your statement? you claim that the tree is abstract yet the tree’s measurement is not. hmmm… sounds pretty backwards to me.

    If you really believe that we should give up using language to describe our perceived world, then go ahead. while your at it, get rid of all the luxuries given to you by the useless abstractions of science (your computer, your car, your clothes, your home, running water…) because they, too are based on abstract ideas.

    I gather that you’re trying to argue that by applying science to understand emotions and life itself we’re simply missing the Truth that life or the “soul” is something “other” or something altogether supernatural. here’s the problem: by it’s definition, supernature could not interact with nature. so it becomes quite clear that this reality as we are able to perceive it is all we have to work with. Many scientists posit that there most likely are other realities that we don’t have the capacity at this moment (if ever) to perceive, but by definition they would have to be natural, not supernatural. it would be foolish to pretend like we truly understand our universe (but quite noble to try) or to buy into antiquated versions of the known universe, yet there are things we can be fairly certain of if only by the rigors of the scientific method. I disagree with you that we should not try to define the abstract. I’m a fan of math, music, language and other systems of thought. yes, it could be asked: “but is reality real? can it be defined?” seems to me you would say “no”, I say “let’s try!”. We are without a doubt closer now than we ever would be had we blindly accepted what the bible told us about our cosmos.

    science really is our candle in the dark.

  55. on 12 Sep 2008 at 2:37 am 55.SteveK said …

    “You really believe we don’t have the ability to determine what is tree and what is non-tree?”

    Of course not. I’m saying we didn’t come to know this by way of the modern empirical sciences. The evidence for that is humanity knew what a tree was long before the scientific method was around as modern method. Knowlege of what a tree is is available to anyone with proper sense perception and reasoning abilities. No labcoat and no PhD required.

    “you claim that the tree is abstract yet the tree’s measurement is not. hmmm… sounds pretty backwards to me.”

    I didn’t go into that because it would make for too long a comment. Yes – meters, inches, etc are universal concepts that represent an extra mental reality. So are peace, sacrifice, goodness, virtue etc.

    You gotta stop reading beyond what I am actually saying and then accusing me of saying it. My comments aren’t meant to cover every angle so stop wasting time building strawmen.

    “by it’s definition, supernature could not interact with nature. so it becomes quite clear that this reality as we are able to perceive it is all we have to work with.”

    If you’re talking physical supernature then you may be right. I’m not well informed there. This says nothing about what God can or cannot do. A statement about that requires theology.

    “science really is our candle in the dark.”

    It’s one of several candles in the dark. You admitted to this in your last comment even.

  56. on 12 Sep 2008 at 12:21 pm 56.Armchair General said …

    lil’ tom:

    How about “motive.” Can science measure “motive?”

    Don’t be a dolt. You sound even more dogmatic than the Christians you look down on. There are quite obviously things outside the realm of measurability.

    Of course, if you admit that, you’d also have to admit that “prayer” might possibly be in that realm also…

    Also, how could you make such a ridiculous claim that science can measure “suffering?” Suffering is a word which only has meaning when compared with it’s antithesis.

    Some spoiled brat may think he “suffering” because his parents told him that he wasn’t allowed to go to a party. In his mind he’s “suffering.” When compared to children starving to death in Ethiopia, he’s not suffering.

    How do you “scientifically” determine what is and isn’t “suffering?” Would you attempt to only measure “suffering” by physical affliction? How about psychological abuse? It’s absurd to think you can measure something which has no median, no control group.

  57. on 13 Sep 2008 at 1:07 am 57.Armchair General said …

    So … no takers? No surprise.

  58. on 13 Sep 2008 at 6:15 am 58.Foolish believer said …

    [lil tom: “but is reality real? can it be defined?” seems to me you would say “no”, I say “let’s try!”. We are without a doubt closer now than we ever would be had we blindly accepted what the bible told us about our cosmos.

    science really is our candle in the dark.]

    please don’t waste time trying to prove reality is real, you seem like a bright guy and that would be a waste of time – even if you did it. What is the dark that we are in? What is it that we are tyring to get closer to and why?

    AG: i think all things are definable and measurable even if only qualitatively and not quantitatively. In searching for how to measure things like motive and suffering, my goal is to encourage people to have pure motives and help to stop people that are suffering – I think this is what God created us to do. It is not His will that we suffer and have evil motives, it is His will that we explore, understand His creation and sustain it in love…. unfortunately all of us are not living by His will and the Earth is approaching destruction – mercy mercy me.

  59. on 13 Sep 2008 at 9:39 am 59.PSR said …

    An example of science measuring motive:

    http://www.sciencemag.org/cgi/content/abstract/316/5831/1622?ck=nck

    There are many others IF YOU WOULD LOOK

  60. on 13 Sep 2008 at 11:59 am 60.Armchair General said …

    PSR:

    Ha hah, wow … that’s a huge STRETCH. I’m afraid you’ve got nothing.

    Of course studies can SPECULATE about motives. “One possible motive” is not a quantitative measurement.

    As I said before, it’s completely unscientific to claim you can measure something that has a RELATIVE definition.

  61. on 13 Sep 2008 at 7:49 pm 61.lil tom said …

    up in arms(chair), sir general, sir:

    of course we cannot effectively, absolutely quantify that which is by definition qualitative. I’m not making that claim. sorry if I confused you. I do, however think that science can and has explained a lot about who we are and where we come from. there’s no reason to doubt (or to impede) that we will learn more by the means of science (LHC should tell us a lot) in the future.
    by learning more about the nature of consciousness, the structures of our universe(s?), we learn more about ourselves.
    my comment was simply that we should not set boundaries on what is allowed to be studied. If we assume we can’t know something, we certainly never will. if we assume that we can know something, we probably will. I take the optimistic approach (wow, even an atheist can have hope – gasp!)

    if we allow ourselves to make claims that cannot be measured or disproved, then we would have every reason to assume that every page of the national enquirer is probably true (as some do) for one could simply argue that science doesn’t have the capacity to understand such miracles and never will. thus elvis is walking the earth along with bigfoot, aliens, cindy mccain is a robot, and I am ghandi reincarnate. and you could NEVER prove me wrong!

  62. on 14 Sep 2008 at 6:11 am 62.lil tom said …

    oh yeah, I forgot that Cindy Mccain IS a robot! oops

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