Wednesday, April 04, 2012

Prayer Studies vs. Empirical Miracles (atheist problem with Prayer)

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Yesterday 15 Tarnados blasted their way through the Dallas area. they actually played hopscotch in and around the city. I prayed at the outbreak of the first funnel cloud that no one would die and no one did, even though 650 homes were demolished. Huge trailers, the kind they pull with 18 wheelers, were picked up and hurled into the sky, like children's toys. Those things weigh several tons. A tornado came very close to the house,. although I didn't see it I followed it on tv radar. I can just hear the skeptics laughing that I"m stupid enough to beleive that my prayer was answered and that's why no one died. I realize no way to prove it, but I believe that is the case. This is about why empirical examination of miraculous healing on a case by case basis, such as they do at Lourdes, is better than double blind studies. It illustrates the fact that there is good reason to believe that prayer works.

We can always expect atheists to be on prowl to mock and ridicule prayer. They really have no choice to but reject it and clutch at straws to keep from believing the thousands of stories that come out every years of answered prayers. They have to reject it. It's only their ideology that prevents their addition that they have no intention of examining the facts. A particular study has been bandied about as "proof that prayer doesn't work." This study is ironic because to accept it's validity they actually must accept the validity of previous studies that show prayer does work. Since atheists are usually pretty dishonest they can't distinguish between different kinds of evidence, so they act as though this one studies disproves even empirical results.

Friendly Atheist

Study Concludes Intercessory Prayer Doesn’t Work; Christians Twist the Results

I was reading an article in Christianity Today and one of the paragraphs made me do a double-take. I couldn’t believe anyone was actually writing it… it was incredible how much fact-twisting was going on.

First, a bit of background.

It’s no surprise that prayer can have a positive effect on those who believe in it. If you pray, it can relax you and make you feel better. If you know others are praying for you — that others care about you — you feel better and your body might actually respond to that positivity. None of this has anything to do with a god answering (or even listening to) the prayers. It functions more like meditation. Prayer can have a calming, healing effect for those who buy into it.

But what happens when others pray for you and you are unaware of it? To no atheist’s surprise, this has never been shown to work.

This idea has been tested repeatedly — usually, the studies have flaws. And even when the results show that the intercessory prayer has no effect on anyone, those who believe in it will look at the hits and ignore (or rationalize) the misses.

Funny he should mention flaws, because that's going to be a key issue with me. The so called "faults" he's talking about are mainly about the inability to control for outside prayer. The irony is back ten years ago when there were about 14 studies that proved prayer worked,* the major athist argument was you can't control for outside prayer. These were all done the same way, double blind and so on. The major atheist argument was that you can't control for outside prayer. The study athesits now run around touting as a disproof of prayer is one that is invalidated by the same argument it depends upon controlling for outside prayer. Rather than understand that if they accept their anti-prayer study they have to drop the major argument against Byrd and Harris and the pro-prayer studies, they try to invalidate the pro prayer studies on irrelevant grounds that basically amount to guilt by association.


Here's the "big study" that disproves all prayer:
also from the article above:

Three years ago, a multi-million-dollar, controlled, double-blind study was conducted to test intercessory prayer.

The Study of the Therapeutic Effects of Intercessory Prayer (STEP) found two major results:

1) “Intercessory prayer had no effect on recovery from surgery without complications.”

2) “Patients who knew they were receiving intercessory prayer fared worse.”

Fared worse?! Even I was surprised by that. So were many Christians — this didn’t sit well with them.

This new article from Christianity Today, though, offers a rationalization I’ve never heard before. You can tell they’re really straining to find a silver lining…[this is quoting Christianity today]

Ironically, STEP actually supports the Christian worldview. Our prayers are nothing at all like magical incantations. Our God bears no resemblance to a vending machine. The real scandal of the study is not that the prayed-for group did worse, but that the not-prayed-for group received just as much, if not more, of God’s blessings. In other words, God seems to have granted favor without regard to either the quantity or even the quality of the prayers. By instinct, we might selfishly prefer that God give preferential treatment to those who are especially, deliberately, and correctly prayed for, but he seems to act otherwise.[end quote]

True to his character, God appears inclined to heal and bless as many as possible.

This prefectly rational explanation the atheist calls a "rationalization." Of cousre he does, his ideology demands that he not think reasonably bout it but that he use it to attack. That's what atheism is about. Nothing could be more reasonable. What the quote actually says is that we can't study prayer the way we would a drug in a field trial. The reason the mystical experience studies I use don't make this mistake is becuase they have the sense to study the effects, they don't try to get inside the experience itself. These studies must actually assume that we can control God's will and control for what God does as well as for outside prayer.


What do I mean by outside prayer? The study has two groups, experimental group and control group. You blind the study so that neither the participants nor the researchers even know who is in which group. That way they wont treat them differently based upon expectations. So in this case it means the control group is not prayed for the experimental group is prayed for. Then you look to see if there is a difference. Back ten years ago when I used to argue these studies all the time I was actually rationalizing the answer on the control because I felt it was so important to have studies since atheists are always flapping their gums about no empirical proof. I was rationalizing. It was only latter that I was able to force myself to take a good hard look at the rationalization and then I stopped using the arguments. But the current crop of atheists are not willing to face the honest truth. How can you double blind and say no one in group A will be prayed for? How can you know people not connected with the study aren't praying for them? Their friends know they are sick. How can we be sure no one of them has one friend, or how can we know one guy on the freeway doesn't pray for everyone in the hospital every time he passe it on his way home form work? Christians do things like that. So there's no way to ever control for outside prayer.

Friendly Atheist man wants to Claire its' Christianity today that is rationalizing but look at his own rationalization. He's twisting the facts, as surely as he says Christians do. He has to ignore the problems of controlling for God's will and for outside prayer. He's twisting because the says the pro prayer studies have flaws but he's not begin honest about what they are. He is in a catch 22. He must either give up his study and admit you can't control (his study depends as much on controlling outside prayer and Byrd or Harris did). If he denies the problem and says they can control for outside prayer then he must accept that Byrd, Harris, and at least eleven other studies show that prayer works.*

Friendly Atheist above:

So the fact that the prayers had no effect on the sick? Don’t think about that, say Gregory Fung and Christopher Fung, the authors of the article. Instead, they want you to consider that prayer works because the un-prayed-for people didn’t die a horrible death.

That’s one way of ignoring the evidence when it’s staring you in the face.


What's obvious here is that the concept of double blind prayer study is a problem. Not prayer that is disprove, clearly , it is the ability to conduct a double blind and control for the will of God and outside prayer. One of the major problem with atheists taking this is a rationalization is that they don't know what prayer is about. They think prayer is just for getting stuff if it doesn't get you somethign one time then it doesn't work. This is because they refuse to study about the meaning of Christian theology or to understand what Christianity is about. Since they don't want to know they can't figure out what they are doing wrong with the criticize the wrong end of prayer. Far from disproving prayer this study disproves the ability to study prayer as thought it's a drug that has to work every time.

Friendly atheist:
There’s gotta be a perfect analogy for this somewhere. What comes to mind?
to be honest what comes to my mind first is that you are not idiot. I suppose that would be one of those uncalled for comments that is sure to send Hermit comment the comment box. But he did ask.


The better method of "proof" for prayer is empirical evidence. Prayer is something that can be studied empirically in terms of result so we don't need double blinds. There are no cotrols on them anyway so they can't be good double blinds. Empirical is better because it's there, if you have the evidence its' obvious. There's another atheist argument, one that says we just look at the good stuff and ignore the misses, that's "hit rate."

"Paradoxical" on CARM


I think it gives them the notion that they "could" have some control over things that are beyond their control. By way of just one example, I think they know that they personally can't control whether or not a loved one dies, and it is comforting to think that a being can grant that loved one a reprieve. If that loved one is deathly ill, and the believer prayed very hard that he or she would live, and he or she recovered, the believer chalks it up to a prayer being answered, and spreads the news so that others can feel empowered by this being that he and his friends believe in. This gives solace to society as a whole, and is useful to the human psyche. Humans don't want to think that life is random and there's nothing they can do to change what will be. Since they are not God, they want to think they can have a direct pipeline to Him and have him grant favors. That is the next best thing to being God, and gives that person perceived power that they wouldn't otherwise have without the prayer belief.

It matters not that billions and billions of prayers go unanswered or ignored. If there was even just ONE person out of a billion that got well after prayer, that would be all a believer would need. As for the outher 999,999,999,999, either they didn't pray enough, pray right, or it was God's will.
My opinion is that prayer gives humans the illusion of power that they do not possess by using an imaginary God to give it to them
The problem here is it doesn't take into account empirical miracles and it doesn't consider the complexity of veriables. In other words you don't need the hit rate because you are not dealing with something that is supposed to happen every single time. You are dealing with a will that can decide case by case if it wants to work or not. If scietnfiic studies on partcial excellorators had a theory about sub atomic pascals having minds of their own there would be no way to study them and no one would have evdience for the existence of any of them. Its' only when we can assume a stable situation that we can study it. That's why we have to go case by case. If a cause violates what we know nature on it's own produces then, and only then, do we have reason to believe there's really evidence of answered prayer. God goes case by case deicding if he wants to act. So we must go case by case deciding the chances of this or that happening according to probability. The veriables are far too complex to ever expect to be able to analyze the outcome short of something that really challenges our understanding of how nature behaves.

A leg is broken. We pray, we x-ray, the leg is not broken anymore. Within a half an hour the leg went from broken to not broken, this is something nature just doesn't ever do in our experience. That would be empirical evidence of a miracle. It would require a double blind. It wouldn't even try to control for anything because it doesn't have to. The only thing it would control for is making sure the X-Ray is not a fraud. I don't now of a case this dramatic but I do know of several that are close enough that they count as evidence of prayer working. The scientific study of miracles at Lourdes, France, the shrine to Mary of the Catholic chruch is very good. The ruels are strict and they are administered by major medical researchers of Europe.



MODERN MIRACLES HAVE STRICT RULES

BY DAVID VAN BIEMA


The paradox of human miracle assessment is that the only way to discern whether a phenomenon is supernatural is by having trained rationalists testify that it outstrips their training. Since most wonders admitted by the modern church are medical cures, it consults with doctors. Di Ruberto has access to a pool of 60 - "We've got all the medical branches covered," says his colleague, Dr. Ennio Ensoli - and assigns each purported miracle to two specialists on the vanquished ailment.

They apply criteria established in the 1700s by Pope Benedict XIV: among them, that the disease was serious; that there was objective proof of its existence; that other treatments failed; and that the cure was rapid and lasting. Any one can be a stumbling block. Pain, explains Ensoli, means little: "Someone might say he feels bad, but how do you measure that?" Leukemia remissions are not considered until they have lasted a decade. A cure attributable to human effort, however prayed for, is insufficient. "Sometimes we have cases that you could call exceptional, but that's not enough." says Ensoli. "Exceptional doesn't mean inexplicable."

"Inexplicable," or inspiegabile, is the happy label that Di Ruberto, the doctors and several other clerics in the Vatican's "medical conference" give to a case if it survives their scrutiny. It then passes to a panel of theologians, who must determine whether the inexplicable resulted from prayer. If so, the miracle is usually approved by a caucus of Cardinals and the Pope.

Some find the process all too rigorous. Says Father Paolino Rossi, whose job, in effect, is lobbying for would-be saints from his own Capuchin order: "It's pretty disappointing when you work for years and years and then see the miracle get rejected." But others suggest it could be stricter still.

There is another major miracle-validating body in the Catholic world: the International Medical Committee for the shrine at Lourdes. Since miracles at Lourdes are all ascribed to the intercession of the Virgin Mary, it is not caught up in the saint-making process, which some believe the Pope has running overtime. Roger Pilon, the head of Lourdes' committee, notes that he and his colleagues have not approved a miracle since 1989, while the Vatican recommended 12 in 1994 alone. "Are we too severe?" he wonders out loud. "Are they really using the same criteria?"


Reported by Greg Burke/Lourdes
Copyright 1995 Time Inc. All rights reserved.

The Lourdes miracles are a good argument. They are much stronger than those double blind studies. There are a lot of good arguments and good info available on my miracles page on Lourdes. (Don't pronounce the s). There are also protestant miracles. There are three main prolems wtih this info:

(1) it's old
(2) It's assocaited with a faith healing ministry, the faith healer (Kathryn Kulhman ministry)
(3) book's out of print although recently has been re-pulished in a new form that I have not seen.** Kullman ministry asked Dr.Richard H. Casdraoph to verify several of the healing and he uses his his entire staff of medical technicians and consulting doctors to help. This is not as well founded as the Lourdes miracle committee, but it's not bad.

The Casdroph book goes into great deatail on every case. Since these were not the actual patients of Casdroph himself, there are 3 tiers of medical data and opinion; Casdroph himself and his evaluation of the data, several doctors with whom he consulted on every case, and they very from case to case, and the original doctors of the patents themselves. The patients gave their permission and were happy to provide the medical data on their healing since they were all people who had written to the Kulhman ministry with words of their healing. Not all of them were healed immediately in the meeting. Some were healed latter when they got hom.Naturally no one had a x-ray machine standing by at the faith meeting to crank out results like a x-rox copy, so all of them took some period of time to see the results. Not all of them were toally healed immediately. But all the cases were either terminal or incurable and all of them, within a year, returned to full health and pain free existences.

Dr. Richard Steiner, of the American Board of Pathology, head of department of Pathology Long Beach Community Hospital reviewed several of the slides. William Olson, American Board of Internal Medicine and head of Isotope Department at Long Beach Community Hospital, and several radiologists form that Hospital also consulted on the rest of the cases.


1)Reticulum cell Sarcoma, right pelvic bone.
2)Chronic Rheumatoid Arthritis with Severe Disability
3)Malignant Brain Tumor (Glioma) of the left Temoperal lobe
4)Multiple Sclerosis
5)Arteriosclerosis Heart Disease
6)Carcinoma of the Kidney (Hypernephroma)
7) Mixed Rheumatoid Arthritis with Osteoarthritis
8)Probable Brain Tumor vs Infarction of the Brain
9)Massive GI Hemorrhage with GI shock (instantly healed)
10)Osteoporosis of the Entire Spine


All of these people were totally healed of incurable or terminal states. The one commonality they all have is that they were at some point prayed for by the same person, Kulhman. Let's look at a few examples:

1)Lisa Larios: Cell Sarcoma of the right Pelvic bone.

Larios didn't know she had cancer. She had developed a great deal of pain in her pevis and was confined to a wheel chair, but the doctors had not found the evidence of the tumor at the time her mother took her to hear Kulhman. Yet, when Miss Kulhman said "someone over here is being healed of cancer, please stand up" she stood up without knowing why. She had already started feeling a strange heat in that area and had ceased to feel pain. She went up onto the stage and walked around without pain. She was than "slain in the spirit" which is that odd thing when the healer pales his/her hand on the forehead and the person falls over in a faint. It took some time to receive the next set of x-rays becasue she only learned after the meeting some days latter that she had cancer. Than the next set of x-rays showed vast and dramatic improvement. It would still be some time,almost a year, before her pelvis was completely resorted. But she did return to full health. The Catholics wouldn't except this miracle because it could be confused with a normal remission. The power of suggestion can be ruled out because the heat started before she was called to the stage, and because she didn't even know she had cancer, but responded to a call for healing of cancer. The first dramatic improvement which was immediate within a few days, and walking on the stage is not characteristic of remission. Casdroph has the medical evidence from several hospitals to which she had been taken.

3)Mrs. Marie Rosenberger: Malignant Brain Tumor.

"Three things make this case an exceptionally excellent example of divine healing. 1) medical evidence of the case includes biopsy proof of the malignant nature of the tumor. The slides were obtained from Hollywood community Hospital and reviewed by the head pathologist at Long Beach community Hospital who confirmed the diagnosis of malignant astronomical or glioma class II. 2) When the healing occurred Marie Rosenberger was down to 101 pounds and was expected to die."


The healing began to manifest immediately and by the next morning was evident. She received no further drugs or medication from that point on. 3) The third thing that makes the case good is the long term nature of the healing. Her diagnosis was in 1970 and by the time Casdroph wrote the book in 76 she was still healthy and happy with no sign of the disease since the healing (which was in 1971 one year after the diagnosis).


8)Anne Soults: Probable brain tumor vs. Infarction of the brain.

"This lady's brain abnormality was well documented by the standard diagnostic techniques and she was seen by man specialists. Electroencephalographic study was performed in each of her hospitalizations.The repeat study dated January 6th reported 'abnormal EEG suggesting left temporary pathology, there is no significant change since 12/27/74.'...the clinical impression was that of brain tumor and her symptoms suddenly and completely disappeared following a visit to the Shrine service."


When she went to the service an unknown christian placed his hands on her shoulders and prayed for her. The symptoms immediately vanished and subsequent tests found that the abnormality had disappeared. This is not normal remission. Remission does not mean that the symptoms immediately vanish.

9)Paul Wittney Trousdale:Massive GI Hemorrhage.

Trousdale was a prominent civic leader and builder in California in the early 70s. On December 12, 1973 he was admitted to St. John's Hospital in Sana Monica with massive hemorrhaging which required many transfusions.His wife called Reverend John Hinkle to his bedside, they prayed and he was instantly healed. All the medical values returned to normal and he went on to live a normal and productive life, engaging in athletics and sports. Subsequent examinations revealed no abnormalities.

10) Delores Winder: Osteoporosis of the Complete Spine.

"Mrs. Delores Winder presents us with an unusual case of severe, chronic, disabling pain secondary to Osteoporosis, which her physicians tried to relieve by five different spine operations. The patients symptoms had begun early in 1957. By 1962 she had worn a full body cast or brace of some sort...although at the time of her healing she was in a light weight full body plastic shell. Although she did not believe in instant miraculous healing she attend a lecture by Miss Kulhman in Dallas on August 30. 1975.She was miraculously healed beginning with a sensation of heat in both of her lower extremities.She has been resorted to full health, wears no barce or support, takes no medication and has completely normal sensations in the lower extremities. This is unusual becasue the spinathalamic in the spinal cord had been interrupted on both sides, and in such cases the resulting numbness is usually permanent."

The real problems that I have with atheists and they way they deal with prayer is they can't bring themselves to modrate the criticism. It's either out and out mockery or they feel they have to totally accept. They don't seem to regard keeping their mouths shut until the evidence is really good as an option. They also make no effort to understand the point of prayer. they can only deal with the surface level. They can't make the effort to understand what prayer is and thus undestand why the answers are not rationalizations, but they only want to focus on one thing, the surface level, did you get what you want? it never occurs to them that's not the point of prayer. I will deal with these factors and more next time.



*one study has been disproved. Wirth the study on invetro, Wirth himself has been proved to be a fraud. That's where atheists argue guilt by association. I've seen them try to invalidate the studies that Wirth wasn't even connected with.

**

15 comments:

Dave said...

The original article cited does sound like an absurd rationalization -- the idea that the lack of difference between the two groups indicates that both groups were equally "blessed" should rightly be derided. Don't you agree?

Two other things stand out in your blog post. One is you assume Christian theology is what is relevant. But even if it were, it is so broad you can make whatever you want out of it anyway. The other is that if "God" is picky about which prayers are answered, there is no way to be able to say what is answered prayer and what isn't.

That only leave unequivocal evidence of something extraordinary. The Lourdes material is interesting but not sufficient. But it is doubtful one is ever going to have the proper circumstances for the kind of continual monitoring and scans and the like to actually document a miraculous healing in progress, which means that the evidence is always going to be suspect.

In any case, there is also a moral argument against intercessory prayer for healing or protection being answered (why do only some prayers go unanswered) and this brings up the same response to all such challenges -- that human can't judge God and therefore moral criticisms are not allowed. But that is just an evasion.

A simpler answer is that God is a construction, not a being (even when framed as Being itself but then reduced again to a being anyway in practice). That humans have access to a larger store of potential to alter things than most realize, and some are better at accessing it than others.

The difference between that and the general atheist position is whether any credence is given to actual accounts of things changing. Personally I don't believe prayer has an external effect outside of interpersonal pathways, nor that some guy praying kept anyone from dying. Since there is nothing supremely extraordinary about the lack of fatalities, there is no evidence for the prayer's effectiveness

Weekend Fisher said...

Hey I was hoping you were ok. Worried about it; glad to hear that nobody was killed.

And ... just in case ... glad you were praying. :)

Take care & God bless
Anne

Metacrock said...

Thanks Anne, good to hear from you.

looking at all the damage it really is a miracle no one was killed.

Metacrock said...

Dave said...

"The original article cited does sound like an absurd rationalization -- the idea that the lack of difference between the two groups indicates that both groups were equally "blessed" should rightly be derided. Don't you agree?"


>>>it's not "proof" they were blessed but it doesn't disprove prayer. it only we can't control for outside prayer. hypothetically the control group could have been getting "illicit outside" prayers. so both groups could be the result of prayer. that's the argument not that they prove both are blessed. that doesn't disprove prayer.

"Two other things stand out in your blog post. One is you assume Christian theology is what is relevant. But even if it were, it is so broad you can make whatever you want out of it anyway."

>>what does htat mean? I don't recall saying "Christian theology is what stands out." I'm not sure to what you are refering.

"The other is that if "God" is picky about which prayers are answered, there is no way to be able to say what is answered prayer and what isn't."

Putting it in terms of "picky" is redescring the argument in unfair terms. My theory is that God allows a world where pain and death are ever present because he wants to search for truth. I'll forgoes explaining again why. The point is that God is willing to allow supernatural effects but only in certain limited circumstances. Not that he's being picky just that he can't be too obvious.

"That only leave unequivocal evidence of something extraordinary. The Lourdes material is interesting but not sufficient."

I don't see why not. If we count the saint making miracles too the growing back lungs cover night is not a cheap parlor trick. Some of those healings are of incurable diseases. If if it's a healing and its inexplicable that's the criteria it doesn't matter if less dramatic than other things.

Metacrock said...

Dave part 2:

"But it is doubtful one is ever going to have the proper circumstances for the kind of continual monitoring and scans and the like to actually document a miraculous healing in progress, which means that the evidence is always going to be suspect."

That's why empirical approach is better than double blind. Why do you ave to document it in progress? That's a useless criterion. that's like saying historian can't access the causes of the American involvement in Vietnam because we didn't monitor them as they unfolded.

"In any case, there is also a moral argument against intercessory prayer for healing or protection being answered (why do only some prayers go unanswered) and this brings up the same response to all such challenges -- that human can't judge God and therefore moral criticisms are not allowed. But that is just an evasion."

I doubt that you can pull such an argument. Nothing immoral about god setting up criteria for action. Anything God does to bend the envelope of possible happenings is over and above what we should expect form nature. that its' not equally distributed is not a moral issue, because it's not withheld on grounds of race, creed, or gender or the like.

"A simpler answer is that God is a construction, not a being (even when framed as Being itself but then reduced again to a being anyway in practice). That humans have access to a larger store of potential to alter things than most realize, and some are better at accessing it than others."

trying to re label and re describe trnaspersonal as "reduced to anthropomorphism" or whatever is extremely unfair and strikes me as hostile and aggressive. you are really saying "I will Take God away form you. I'll destroy your relationship with God."

No logical reason why trnspersonal is anything other than trnaspoersonal. The only problem is understand weahter it means transcendent or transcendental.

I think it means transcendent, but understood correctly the transcendent includes the things it reaches beyond.


"The difference between that and the general atheist position is whether any credence is given to actual accounts of things changing. Personally I don't believe prayer has an external effect outside of interpersonal pathways,"

that strikes me as a contradiction. wouldn't international pathways be "reduced" anthropomorphism?


"nor that some guy praying kept anyone from dying. Since there is nothing supremely extraordinary about the lack of fatalities, there is no evidence for the prayer's effectiveness"

have you researched statistics of the death given the swath of destruction, the intesity of the tornadoes the number and so on?

you are making an unscientific statement.

I haven't researched it either but the last time Lankester was trashed by Tornado about 8 people died. It was trashed the other day with about 10 other communities in the general area, all trashed as badly. no one died.

Metacrock said...

Dave, I don't really mean to say that voicing your opinion about prayer is aggressive. I've woke up. come on!

Dave said...

You haven't personally investigated the Lourdes material, and you assume that there are no honest non-religious people who would have been really interested in it if the evidence were sufficient. There are all sorts of non-God explanations possible for weird phenomena, and there is plenty of evidence of the importance of interpersonal theories of disease and healing as opposed to strictly biomechanical and biochemical frameworks accepted by many academics.

As for the morality argument, it boils down to unequal response. A God that can "choose" to save everyone but doesn't is putting something else over the value of human life, and generally speaking putting other motives ahead of the health and well-being of sentient beings is considered immoral.

That's why, to rephrase something from my previous comment, it boils down to whether one is already predisposed to believe, because one can claim God doesn't answer every such prayer for some unknown reason, which is also how some people avoid the issue of reliability of prayer.

If you can't see that your prayer to avoid fatalities in the storm has no objective and demonstrable connection to whether or not fatalities occurred, then you would never ever see any example of prayer that you favored as being answered. You would simply say "God said yes" or "God said no." There would be no criteria to distinguish that from prayer having no effect whatsoever.

I listed a potential alternative to a "personal God" perspective and predictably you launched into a reply about how I want to "take God away from you" or to "destroy your relationship with God." It's the same thing, minus the profanity, that you did when I suggested you were being hypocritical or at least inconsistent in trying to have God as transpersonal in theory but highly personal in practice.

Specifically, you wrote: "I will throw away the experienced I hd. I had both. I expedience the void and I know the void loves me. if you snot' get it too bad...I am not going to think of God a a dead ipersonal force that neither loves nor cares. I'm not going t accept the idea that he's just an an amplifed notion of man."

Ironically, my whole point was that only the personified image of God was an amplified notion of humanity, but in any case, based on what you've written over the years, I can't help but see this as part of a larger pattern. It's as if you really just want to believe in a loving old man in the sky who personally hears you and takes care of you, God as an individual, a person.

Yet you realize that this image is culturally and psychologically constructed and too simplistic to be the grand and mysterious higher power worthy of the idea of God. Thus the appeal of a God that is beyond words and concepts, a God that is immune from simply being labeled as a human projection and all of the criticism that invites.

It's like the philosophical material is a cover, a way to convince others or perhaps yourself that it's OK to believe in the God you really want to believe in, if only you can just juggle enough concepts and arguments at once and make it all fit together. Any criticism is deflected by switching back to the argument that the personified individual God you talk about is really just a convenient shorthand. When that is called into question, you become very upset and abandon logic or philosophy for claims that your faith is being attacked.

I am not attacking your faith, I am questioning your assumptions and arguments. If that disturbs you, just ignore my comments or ask me to stop posting them.

Metacrock said...

Dave:"You haven't personally investigated the Lourdes material, and you assume that there are no honest non-religious people who would have been really interested in it if the evidence were sufficient."

I haven't personally gone over there but I have talked to a committee member. I never said there are no unbelievers who are interested.I don't know. I doubt that Van Beema guy is a believer.


"There are all sorts of non-God explanations possible for weird phenomena, and there is plenty of evidence of the importance of interpersonal theories of disease and healing as opposed to strictly biomechanical and biochemical frameworks accepted by many academics."

we would have to examine the specifics to see if they hold up. It's not a matter of proof it's a matter of warranting belief.

"As for the morality argument, it boils down to unequal response. A God that can "choose" to save everyone but doesn't is putting something else over the value of human life, and generally speaking putting other motives ahead of the health and well-being of sentient beings is considered immoral."

I just have a little feeling that if you hand an infinite perspective the question might look a bit different.

"That's why, to rephrase something from my previous comment, it boils down to whether one is already predisposed to believe, because one can claim God doesn't answer every such prayer for some unknown reason, which is also how some people avoid the issue of reliability of prayer."

If you are predisposed to disbelieve so if you see in front of your face you will explain it away.


"If you can't see that your prayer to avoid fatalities in the storm has no objective and demonstrable connection to whether or not fatalities occurred, then you would never ever see any example of prayer that you favored as being answered. You would simply say "God said yes" or "God said no." There would be no criteria to distinguish that from prayer having no effect whatsoever."

I answered that by saying it's not a matter of proof. why can't you understand that? my arguments do not rest on proving that it's rue. I never asi 'If you can prove that it's true that proves it unless you do that you can't believe." I didn't argue I can prove this I didn't say My argument rest on this. grow up. stop trying to play big bad skeptic. there's good reason to assume that God works miracle. no course you can't prove it. you can't prove anything. almost nothing can be proved. proof is real hard to come by science doesn't do it.

why can't you understand the warrant issue? Its' snot about proof it's permission. get it. permission not proof. A REASON TO BELIVe that's it not proof.


that's not really a valid way to think no one is going to care about that when 13 tornadoes are on their way to their house. I dare you not to pray under that condition. When your father is on his death I dare to say "I can't pray about this look at the other fathers he wont save today. I can't ask him to save my Dad."

"I listed a potential alternative to a "personal God" perspective and predictably you launched into a reply about how I want to "take God away from you" or to "destroy your relationship with God." It's the same thing, minus the profanity, that you did when I suggested you were being hypocritical or at least inconsistent in trying to have God as transpersonal in theory but highly personal in practice."


you contradicted it yourself as well.

Metacrock said...

Dave, the second half of your post will be the discussion in the main section tomorrow.

Dave said...

Having no distinction in outcome isn't about proof, it isn't even enough for a rational warrant, unless that is reduced to simply believing something because no one can absolutely show it isn't true. It is the inversion of the notion that you can't believe something unless someone can absolutely show it is true.

I did not say anything about conclusively proving anything, but that doesn't mean one can say "rational warrant" and then precede to claim that personal conviction is sufficient. You don't need a rational warrant to obtain some kind of permission to believe whatever it is you want to believe. The way you are using that term it only means "you can't show why I can't believe something".

No, the "infinite" perspective does not swallow up moral questions, and I find that a distasteful tactic used by fundamentalists to justify any horrible thing they want to believe about God. It still an offensive example of special pleading.

I don't see any urgent or strongly compelling reasons for presupposing God exists or performs miracles. Nor am I predisposed to believe or disbelieve in either (and calls for others to grow up is something you really ought to avoid).

If I were predisposed to be cynical (which is different than skeptical) about the issue, why would I bring up non-theistic/non-Western perspectives on what might explain bizarre occurrences attributed to divine intervention? Just because I don't agree with you doesn't mean I am ignorant or out to ruin your faith.

Whether or not is natural for some people to want to look for help in an emergency from whatever source comes to mind has nothing to do with evidence, rational warrants, or anything of the kind. And the simple fact is, no, I do not feel so compelled to call out to God in times of stress. You can dare me all you like, it doesn't change the fact that I have not and do not do so. I don't see such prayer as good or bad, or that one who does or doesn't engage in them as superior or inferior to one who does the opposite.

Metacrock said...

I think we are talking at cross purposes here Dave. I didn't advanced the thing about the Tornado as anything more than statement of faith.It's not proof it's not even supposed to warrant belief. I was speaking of Lourdes as warrant for belief.

I don't have to prove any statements of faith that I make. I will pray for whomever I choose at whatever moment i fear for them.

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