Author Topic: Why prayer doesn't work [#2826]  (Read 4464 times)

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Offline albeto

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Re: Why prayer doesn't work [#2826]
« Reply #29 on: November 22, 2015, 05:57:04 PM »

That's odd.  I have those things as well and I mock your God.

Now that's a funny coincidence, because the same is true for me. ;-)

But generally speaking, I have a theory that prayer doesn't just settle the brain into a state of greater peace/tranquility/serotonin production, although this is demonstrably true. I suspect prayer functions to tether one to their faith when the claims of the faith are shown to be unreliable and realistically absurd. I think it tethers one not because it is a source of comfort (although that's a positive effect), but because it works to preserve the faith by distracting the faithful.

For example, we have a stated theology that promotes a god as omniscient and omnipotent. He no doubt knows the physical and emotional state of every individual, and as a superior moral being, would do something to correct pain and suffering. But he doesn't. Our experiences show reality doesn't conform with theology, and so the believing individual develops reasons to explain away the discrepancy between religious claims and reality. These excuses may range from lacking faith, to sin, to god's nature as one of primarily offering invisible companionship, or even a more pantheistic explanation. This "theological correctness" is explained more in this paper, whose snippet I offer here:
 
Quote
In particular, Barrett has argued that a strong inclination to detect agency in the natural environment is a normal part of human psychology. The evolved mental module responsible for this inclination, which he termed the Hyperactive Agency Detection Device, makes us predisposed towards believing in supernatural entities such as invisible ancestors, immaterial spirits, animals that can change shape, ghosts, holy mountains, etc. In a review article of the field, Barrett takes as the main tenet of CSR the thesis that ‘much of what is typically called religion may be understood as the natural product of aggregated ordinary cognitive processes’ (Barrett 2000: 29).[3]
 
One interesting finding that has emerged from this cognitive research is that people use different versions of the same religious concept under different cognitive load demands (Barrett and Keil 1996; Barrett 1999). Barrett observed that orthodox theology typically dictates properties of supernatural beings that are highly counterintuitive and that strain our cognitive resources, e.g., omnipotence, omniscience, eternal existence. When questioned about their opinions and given some time to reflect, people profess to accept official theology, but when they are engaged in ‘online’ tasks, applying religious concepts in practice, they make tacit assumptions that violate official theology. Instead, believers tend to fall back on more intuitive and anthropomorphic versions of supernatural beings. Barrett (1999) has coined the term ‘theological correctness’ to describe this phenomenon. The related concept of theological incorrectness describes the tendency of believers to stray from official theology if the latter is too cognitively burdensome (Slone 2004).
In Mysterious Ways: On petitionary prayer and subtle forms of supernatural causation

Prayer is an important way in which the brain of the faithful avoids painful cognitive dissonance. It does so by distraction as well as producing an influx of serotonin and other chemicals that effect the pleasure center of the brain. It's a cognitive show of smoke and mirrors. When people believe in physical miracles such as sudden restoration of health, money to pay the bills, a prime parking space, etc. they are encouraged to expect comparable physical changes in the environment in ways that suit their needs. Confirmation bias serves to assure them their faith is well placed, but when things don't go as expected and one must respond to reality in a rational way, prayer serves to distract them from paying attention to the claims of their faith. It serves to excuse one from critically analyzing the claims of their faith and holding it accountable. Indeed, faith is a more virtuous response to this discrepancy. Furthermore, when prayer fails in an overwhelmingly painful way, it serves to encourage the believer to focus on promises that can't possibly be held accountable to reality. Past feelings of reward inspire anticipation of future reward, reward in greater measure than ever experienced. Promises such as immortal life and eternal bliss for faithfulness in time become the focus of prayer when illness is not cured and one must accept surgery, long-suffering, or worse, make funeral arrangements.

People who believe in a vague, general, deism pray for more general things, like an increase of love, patience, kindness, comfort from suffering, etc. These can be seen easily in any direction, and so the claim is easy enough to verify because it's so vague it could apply anywhere. There's less theological correctness to be done because the claims are evasive and ultimately meaningless. The Forer, or Barnum effect explains how this works.

So to the OP (letter writer), I would say prayer absolutely works. It is a behavior with a demonstrable effect. It's just that it works differently than the faithful are taught to believe. It doesn't actually change the environment, and it does more than just calm frayed nerves. It functions to protect the individual from the pain that comes from approaching unreliable, but dearly held beliefs with logic and reason and critical thinking skills. One might even argue it functions to preserve the life of the mind virus. In any case, we cannot long survive when primitive superstitions are given valuable influence to inspire the use of modern technology. As prayer functions to rationalize demonstrably faulty beliefs, as it serves to celebrate ignorance and reward gullibility, it's not a benign thing.

It works, and that's a problem.

Offline Emma286

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Re: Why prayer doesn't work [#2826]
« Reply #30 on: November 22, 2015, 06:03:03 PM »
But a believer believes God is responsible for all these things. Not a coincedence all of them happened.

Regarding your first statement ahumanbeing, I understand that.   ;)  But this is a belief no more based on proof than other similar religious ideas.  As for your second statement, well wasn't claiming evolution doesn't ever work in a conscious way!




Offline screwtape

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Re: Why prayer doesn't work [#2826]
« Reply #31 on: November 23, 2015, 09:28:58 AM »
Let me add Osiris argued with other Gods, Jesus was a human for some time and he was killed. Allah isn't affected by any mortal matters.

my green text indicates I am acting as moderator and not part of the discussion. 

What you are doing here, ahumanbeing, is preaching.  You are making a vague, unfalsifiable statement of faith about your beliefs.  Those kinds of statements are inherently discouraging of discussion.  This forum is discussion.  So please do not post this kind of statement.  I know it will take some adjustment.  Religious people make a habit of making these statements.  But please try

Thank you.

What's true is already so. Owning up to it does not make it worse.

Offline Graybeard

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Re: Why prayer doesn't work [#2826]
« Reply #32 on: November 23, 2015, 01:06:11 PM »
Of course. :) Almost every single time it worked. And when it didn't it was for our good or God prevented some harm or something else.
Of course. :) Almost every single time it worked. And when it didn't it was for our good or Osiris prevented some harm or something else.

Quote from: ahumanbeing
Let me add Osiris argued with other Gods,
Why does that matter?
Quote
Jesus was a human for some time and he was killed. Allah isn't affected by any mortal matters.
Osiris is a god like Allah.
Nobody says “There are many things that we thought were natural processes, but now know that a god did them.”

Online eh!

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Re: Why prayer doesn't work [#2826]
« Reply #33 on: November 25, 2015, 04:39:13 AM »
How can we make these conversations not be pure farce;

Said the muslim to the xian - my gods magic is real magic and your gods magic is fake magic cos I said so.
« Last Edit: November 25, 2015, 04:40:49 AM by eh! »
some skepisms,
1. "I have not seen God. I have felt the invisible presence"
2. What if there is a rock in the middle of a road, a blind person is speeding towards it, ...they say that they can't see it.   Would you recommend him to keep speeding?

Offline Chronos

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Re: Why prayer doesn't work [#2826]
« Reply #34 on: November 25, 2015, 05:21:30 AM »
But a believer believes God is responsible for all these things. Not a coincedence all of them happened.

Since Nick has these things while not believing in any God, are you saying that you pray for all of them anyway but only one is not coincidental?


John 14:2 :: In my Father's house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you.

Offline Chronos

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Re: Why prayer doesn't work [#2826]
« Reply #35 on: November 25, 2015, 05:24:13 AM »
Of course. :) Almost every single time it worked. And when it didn't it was for our good or God prevented some harm or something else.

Isn't it nice how your god is excused from answering prayer requests? He gets credit for everything good but never anything bad. I'd love to have that job.


John 14:2 :: In my Father's house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you.

Offline nogodsforme

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Re: Why prayer doesn't work [#2826]
« Reply #36 on: November 25, 2015, 02:13:50 PM »
Does prayer make Allah change his mind and do something different from what he was going to do anyway? If not, then what is the point of prayer?

God does what he was going to do anyway, and you think he is answering your prayer. Nothing different happens because you prayed about it. Whatever happens, you have to say it was the correct thing, even if it was the opposite of what you prayed for! Since Allah did it, and Allah is perfect so whatever Allah does it the right thing. That means everything, good, bad or neutral, that happens is the right thing, because it is the will of Allah. Nothing to do with what people pray for or want.

Example: Grandmother gets sick. You pray for her to get well. She (after going to the doctor, having surgery and medicine, etc) gets well. Praise Allah. He answered your prayer. But consider this. If you had not prayed, would Allah have let grandma die? Did your prayer change Allah's mind and cause him to spare grandma?

Maybe he killed someone else's grandma instead, because he had to have a dead grandma in his perfect plan. Someone who did not pray or did not pray the right way or hard enough or to the right god. Since grandmas die everyday, Allah must need for some grandmas to die, even when people pray for them to live.

Of course, there are many, many grandmas who get better, or are never sick to begin with, and no prayer is involved. Or the people pray the wrong way or to the wrong gods, etc. Yet, Allah sees fit to save the grandmas of all those people who ignore him. How do you make sense of that?

On the other hand, suppose you pray for Grandma to get well and she gets worse. What then? Allah is ignoring your prayer. Grandma gets so sick that she dies. That is the opposite of what you prayed for. How is that for your good, or to prevent harm or something else positive? The family is left to make up some malarkey about how it is a good thing because now she is no longer suffering. Or she is in paradise now.

That is not as good an outcome as grandma getting well, or even never getting sick in the first place. Prayer might have made sense in ancient times when people did not understand germs and illness or how natural disasters worked. When people's lives were really up to random chance and there was nothing anyone could do. Might as well ask for help from a magical being.

But nowadays, you can clearly see that "prayer" and "no prayer" lead to the same exact outcomes. Millions of people have prayed for peace in the Middle East over the last century. And yet, there is still war. Aren't the people of Syria praying their hearts out? Allah must want things to be the way they are. He is not listening to anyone's prayers.[1]

What is the point of prayer?
 1.  Unless he only listens to the prayers of the handful of people who like all the killing-- the amoral arms dealers and the psycho terror leaders? 
When all of Cinderella's finery changed back at midnight, why didn't the shoes disappear? What's up with that?

Offline Graybeard

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Re: Why prayer doesn't work [#2826]
« Reply #37 on: November 27, 2015, 09:32:42 AM »
Other people's views.

“Whatever a man prays for, he prays for a miracle. Every prayer reduces to this: ‘Great God, grant that twice two be not four.’” — Turgenev

From Michael Dummett (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Michael_Dummett):

On the morning after a battle, Mary prays that her husband has not been killed. Is this a coherent plea? It would seem that the matter has already been decided: Her husband is alive or dead. If he is dead, then in order to grant Mary’s prayer God would have to change the past retroactively.

“If one does not think of [such a] case, the idea of doing something in order that something else should previously have happened may seem sheer raving insanity,” writes Michael Dummett. “But suppose I hear on the radio that a ship has gone down in the Atlantic two hours previously, and that there were few survivors: my son was on that ship, and I at once utter a prayer that he should have been among the survivors, that he should not have drowned; this is the most natural thing in the world.”

Perhaps God can grant Mary’s prayer without changing the past: Perhaps, using divine foreknowledge, he interceded at the time of the battle knowing that she would later pray for this.

“One of the things taken into account in deciding [the outcome], and therefore one of the things that really causes it to happen, may be this very prayer that we are now offering,” writes C.S. Lewis.

But this entails an oddity of its own — such favors, it seems, are available only to those who are in some doubt about a past event. God will intercede today for a prayer tomorrow — but only an uncertain person would make such a prayer. “I may pray that the announcer has made a mistake in not including my son’s name on the list of survivors,” Dummett writes, “but once I am convinced that no mistake has been made, I will not go on praying for my son to have survived. I should regard this kind of prayer as something to which it was possible to have recourse only when an ordinary doubt about what had happened could be entertained.”
Nobody says “There are many things that we thought were natural processes, but now know that a god did them.”

Offline Nudawn11

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Re: Why prayer doesn't work [#2826]
« Reply #38 on: November 27, 2015, 10:20:18 AM »
Other people's views.
“Whatever a man prays for, he prays for a miracle. Every prayer reduces to this: ‘Great God, grant that twice two be not four.’” — Turgenev

Every once in a while I pray, not to one but all of the Gods that I know of.
@Graybeard:          And its not for anything like 2+2 <> 4. and also prayed to Orisis
@ nogodsforme:    I do not want him to change his mind about any global event
@ahumanbeing:     I pray with complete faith and belief
@Bereft_of_Faith:  Not praying for a missing Limb.
All that I pray for is that the draw of the Euro Millions lottery matches with the ticket I have bought.

But unlike @ahumanbeing not once has it been answered.  :(

I have noticed even people who claim everything is predestined, and that we can do nothing to change it, look before they cross the road. - Stephen Hawking

Offline nogodsforme

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Re: Why prayer doesn't work [#2826]
« Reply #39 on: November 27, 2015, 03:24:50 PM »
^^^A believer will respond: but god did answer that prayer-- for the person who won!

For everyone else who prayed to win, god has nothing for them. They have to go back the job they hate and worry about their bills or not having a job, or taking care of sick relatives or never being able to afford a new car or house. But hey, says the believer, maybe god made something even better happen. They never say what that "something even better" might be. Winning the lottery twice? &)

Or god prevented all those people from suffering the pain of having money change their lives for the worse......

And there is something to that. Lots of money does not always increase happiness or security. Only shifts the worry to different concerns, like how to manage the friends and family who come out of the woodwork asking for dough. And how to keep crooks from targeting your family for investment scams or even extortion and kidnapping threats. So it could be that god is really doing everyone who does not win a big favor.

But that still leaves the people who prayed to win the money, actually won, and whose lives got worse. Why does god grant them that prayer, knowing that winning the Euro lottery will make their life worse? Maybe that was one of the prayers answered by demons... :P
When all of Cinderella's finery changed back at midnight, why didn't the shoes disappear? What's up with that?

Offline Nudawn11

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Re: Why prayer doesn't work [#2826]
« Reply #40 on: November 30, 2015, 06:00:45 AM »
Thanks Nogodsforme for the eye opening considerations from God.

But the fact is I did not ask for peace, happiness, suffering etc, from him. He has said, he has given us "Free Will", & I say stick to it and don't interfere.
On the other hand he also said "ask & I shall give" and on that I hear nothing for my ask from any one of them.
I have noticed even people who claim everything is predestined, and that we can do nothing to change it, look before they cross the road. - Stephen Hawking

Offline velkyn

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Re: Why prayer doesn't work [#2826]
« Reply #41 on: December 01, 2015, 08:09:30 PM »
Thanks Nogodsforme for the eye opening considerations from God.

But the fact is I did not ask for peace, happiness, suffering etc, from him. He has said, he has given us "Free Will", & I say stick to it and don't interfere.
On the other hand he also said "ask & I shall give" and on that I hear nothing for my ask from any one of them.

if you are talking about the Chrsitain god, where does it say that it gave us free will? 
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Offline aliceliddell

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Re: Why prayer doesn't work [#2826]
« Reply #42 on: January 01, 2016, 11:16:48 PM »
Prayer is still superstition.  People who think their prayers are answered first become dangerous narcissists.
Oh.. you read that in the bible did you?

Offline dallacuse

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Re: Why prayer doesn't work [#2826]
« Reply #43 on: April 25, 2016, 10:49:26 PM »
Of course. :) Almost every single time it worked. And when it didn't it was for our good or God prevented some harm or something else.

Hope you still check the boards from time to time.

This is terrific-almost every single time you pray, your prayers are answered.

Could you please start praying that an amputee has his/her limb restored let us know how that works out?

Offline kanchana

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Re: Why prayer doesn't work [#2826]
« Reply #44 on: February 25, 2017, 06:11:20 AM »
 :) :) :) :) :)I am studying religion in college because

Offline velkyn

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Re: Why prayer doesn't work [#2826]
« Reply #45 on: February 26, 2017, 12:26:21 AM »
:) :) :) :) :)I am studying religion in college because

because what?

welcome to the forums. Please tell us about yourself. 

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Offline Chronos

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Re: Why prayer doesn't work [#2826]
« Reply #46 on: April 22, 2017, 04:30:31 PM »
:) :) :) :) :)I am studying religion in college because

because what?

welcome to the forums. Please tell us about yourself.

because you are from a Christian family and have no other choice?

or, because you are Jewish?

or, because you are just masochistic?  (a little humor there)


John 14:2 :: In my Father's house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you.

Offline kanchana

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rockvintage
« Reply #47 on: May 10, 2017, 08:18:11 AM »
Contextless spammy links removed.

Moderator-mode-jdawg70
« Last Edit: May 10, 2017, 09:58:27 AM by jdawg70 »

Offline wheels5894

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Re: Why prayer doesn't work [#2826]
« Reply #48 on: May 10, 2017, 02:56:39 PM »
This but be that kanchana[1] is actually studying necromancy judging by the dates on this particular thread! [/font]
[/size]
[/size]Moreover, no one has yet shown that prayer works and it is unlikely that Kanchana will mange it either.
 1. assuming this is not a bot and I am not making that assumption. The lack of content suggests this at least[/size]
No testimony is sufficient to establish a miracle, unless the testimony be of such that its falshood would be more miraculous than the facts it endeavours to establish. (David Hume)