Lukvance, I read your article on prayer.
Basically, it is a page of nice-sounding words, psychobabble, contradictions and double think. Firstly, you have to already believe in a god, because god won't pay any attention to you otherwise
. Secondly, you have to think that everything that happens is already up to god, because god will not pay any attention to you anyway.
Thirdly, you have to realize that prayer is not communicating with god, because god does not listen to human prayers and then change the world to suit our needs. God has better things to do, like imposing his will on everyone
. (More about that later.)
Which makes prayer as useful (or as useless) as meditation, listening to music, getting high, having sex, watching a movie, going for a run, playing a video game or anything else that people do to forget their problems for a while. Prayer just makes us humans more able to accept the world that god has made. Apparently, the job of human beings is to adjust our minds to accept the world as it is, and make our peace with that. How very Buddhist. How very Hindu. How Islamic.
Because prayer has absolutely no measurable effect on the well-being of people-- prayer does not do anything
. Prayers to god will not keep the tsunami from sweeping away your family. Prayers to god will not keep the tsunami from sweeping away your neighbor's family. Prayers to god will not heal anybody of anything, unless the prayer happens to randomly coincide with one of god's capricious miracles.
For a lot of people, even those who want to believe in god, prayer is probably less effective than just sitting quietly and daydreaming for a few minutes. Like someone on this board suggested, there are probably a number of people bowing their heads in church and not feeling anything happening at all, and thinking they are the only ones. But they could be the majority!
Seriously, if prayers will not make god do something people want (and I agree that prayers have no effect on god's behavior) I am not sure what prayers to god are supposed to accomplish. Maybe praying is just to convince people that they are doing something religious when they are not in church.
BTW, I did not see anything on the page about how god will not impose his will on anyone
. Since god made the universe and is in control of it all, everything bad or good that happens in the universe is god imposing his will on you
. That makes prayer even more a moot point, right? Devoutly believing people plead and beg in prayer for god to save their dying children, and yet the children die anyway. Meanwhile god stands there not imposing his will, except that he is imposing it
, by creating the poverty, disease, drought and famine in the first place.
Doesn't he impose his will on people all over the world, unbeliever and believer alike, all the time?
God sent that hurricane, wildfire, tsunami or landslide to destroy your town, so, he imposed his will on you. Most people whose homes got destroyed did not want it to happen, but god did it anyway. Most women who have miscarriages late in pregnancy did not want that to happen, but god killed their babies anyway. Most people who lose their jobs did not want it to happen, but there is god yanking their chains.
It was god who had you select that winning lotto ticket or get that promotion at work, or have that successful childbirth. So, clearly, he imposed his will on you. Certainly, there have to be a few people who did not want to win the lottery, or get a promotion or have a baby. But there is god, sticking his big honker in people's business again.
Obviously, I don't think that there is a god in charge of the universe. But for people who do, yeah, he is definitely imposing his will.