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Atheists Only: Would this be proof?

Discussion in 'Atheism' started by Katzpur, Feb 5, 2007.

  1. Autodidact

    Autodidact Intentionally Blank

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    What I find to be a remarkable coincidence is the way that God answers prayers at the exact same rate as if he didn't exist.
     
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  2. Katzpur

    Katzpur Not your average Mormon

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    Yeah. :eek:
     
  3. Katzpur

    Katzpur Not your average Mormon

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    Really. Well, my experience is entirely different from yours, but as I said before, faith precedes the miracle, not the other way around.
     
  4. 9-10ths_Penguin

    9-10ths_Penguin 1/10 Subway Stalinist
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    Looking at correlation without an understanding of causation, it would have been a good idea to adhere to every Jewish practice, not just keeping kosher: assuming that they were healthier (which I admit is just a presumption), the correlation would be just as strong between health and circumcision, or health and celebrating Jewish holidays, as it would be between health and dietary customs.

    Still, assuming that God healed them is the alternative that has the most new assumptions built into it. If we consider some sort of psychic ability like I mentioned, we need to assume an unknown mechanism by which the healing could happen, but the originators of that healing, i.e. the people themselves, obviously exist. If we consider that a God healed the people, not only do we have to assume an unknown mechanism like we would for pyschic abilities, but we also have to assume the existence of God as well. I know that Occam's Razor isn't a guarantee of correctness, but we have to look at the situation objectively: one alternative requires a 5-gallon bucketfull of baseless assumptions; the other requires a god-plus-5-gallons-sized bucket.
     
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  5. Smoke

    Smoke Done here.

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    Good point. If you didn't understand the process, it would be impossible to know which of the behaviors were beneficial.

    However, I still want to stress my objection to the notion that keeping kosher enabled the ancient Israelites to enjoy greater health or longevity than their neighbors. We're always being told that, but there never seems to be any evidence to back it up.

    You're right, and I concede the point. I guess that having been a theist for so long, I haven't yet completely overcome a mental bias in favor of theism. That's a good thing to be aware of. ;)

    So I'd like to change my answer.

    In the event of a remarkable scenario like the one Kat lays out in the OP, I'd be very interested in learning what processes led to the outcome described. On re-reading the OP, I also find it interesting that even a believer describes this scenario as impossible.
     
  6. Smoke

    Smoke Done here.

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    I used to have faith; I had faith for quite a long time. But I still don't have any remarkable tales of miracles to tell. It's true that I could always find my keys if I asked St. Phanourios to help me find them, but that's the sort of miracle that not only doesn't impress atheists, it doesn't even impress believers who aren't disposed to believe in praying to saints.

    What it seems to come down to is that as far as we know, miracles don't have any objective existence at all, and believing in miracles is really just a particular way of looking at the world, and an unwarranted and fanciful way at that.
     
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  7. Autodidact

    Autodidact Intentionally Blank

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    But actual controlled studies indicate that I'm right. Here's an example: Don't you think thousands of committed, faithful Christians prayed for Hurricane Katrina to turn away from New Orleans? Did it do any good? Did it have any effect? Try this: For the next week, pray for warm, dry weather. Then compare it to the weather for the last ten years during the same period. Do Christians win the lottery at a higher rate than atheists? Don't you think they pray to do so? It doesn't matter what order you do them in; prayer has no measurable effect, except on the person praying.
     
  8. Katzpur

    Katzpur Not your average Mormon

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    Thanks for your input, autodidact. I disagree, but that should come as no great surprise.
     
  9. Ceridwen018

    Ceridwen018 Well-Known Member

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    Katzpur,

    To answer your initial post;

    If the experiment with the sick patients ended up as you said, I would definately be intrigued. I wouldn't drop everything and believe in god on the spot, but I would certainly want to pursue further testing.

    I wonder...if god was real and sick people die without prayers...could religious people be prosecuted for the deaths of cancer patients because they didn't pray for them?! :eek:
     
  10. Mr Spinkles

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    Hi Ceridwen.....nice post. :D :bow:

    But if further testing showed, absolutely, positively, that prayer worked....then you would have to reconsider the possibility of god, no?

    Hey Katzpur,

    Hopefully this isn't too off-topic, but.....

    Obviously, the issue of the efficacy of intercessory prayer cannot be resolved by the experiences of a single individual. The only compelling way to demonstrate an effect is through controlled study. Many such studies have, in fact, been performed.

    A friend of mine, who posts on this forum by the name of Zeno, has reviewed the medical literature pretty thoroughly on the subject of the efficacy of intercessory prayer. While there is controversy over the issue within the literature, a close examination reveals that the body of methodologically sound studies show that prayer in and of itself has no statistically significant effect. (Of course, there can be psychological effects on patients if they know they are being prayed for--harmful effects, in some cases.) I can ask Zeno to cite the relevant studies (including the ones which claim to measure a positive effect) if you like.
     
  11. Katzpur

    Katzpur Not your average Mormon

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    I've actually seen the results of a couple of these studies and, as interesting as they are, I don't see them as particularly pertinent to my OP. I intentionally didn't put this thread in the debates forum, because I'm not particularly interested in trying to convince anybody that prayer works. My whole purpose in posing the question I did in the OP was to see to what degree the results I described would influence atheists to reconsider. I'm just happy to see that that the subject has generated as much discussion as it has. Most of my threads fall flat. :eek:
     
  12. 9-10ths_Penguin

    9-10ths_Penguin 1/10 Subway Stalinist
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    I think part of my problem with intercessionary prayer, at least in the Christian context, is the inherent self-contradiction I see in it: if you truly believed that God had a perfect plan and would see to your every need (i.e. that God is the Provider God described in Matthew 6:25-31), then why would you ask Him to change that plan?

    Actually, I should qualify my last statement. In the Mormon context, I can potentially see a didactic point: since, as I understand it (and correct me if I'm wrong), you teach that people can become elevated to the status of gods, it would be understandable for God to want to train people for that eventuality. In that case, it'd be like having a child say "please pass the ____" at the dinner table: the parents would never let the child starve; the objective of having the child do this is good manners, which is a part of preparing the child for life as an adult.

    I think if 500,000 people spontaneously had their cancer removed by prayer, I'd reconsider my opinions about God. However, I wouldn't automatically be convinced that God must have been the cause of it.
     
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  13. Autodidact

    Autodidact Intentionally Blank

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    You disagree with the facts that I stated?
     
  14. Autodidact

    Autodidact Intentionally Blank

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    This is what I call "Heads I win/Tails you lose" argumentation. If intercessory prayer works, it is evidence for the existence of the God prayed to. If it doesn't, it is not evidence against. Inconsistent standards.
     
  15. 9-10ths_Penguin

    9-10ths_Penguin 1/10 Subway Stalinist
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    I'm not sure why this is a problem. The premise that we're evaluating is whether an intelligent God exists, who presumably has the power to exercise His own judgement on requests being made of Him. When intercessionary prayer doesn't work, there are multiple explanations available; without other evidence, there's no reason to pick "God doesn't exist" over "God doesn't want to do that".

    Failure of intercessionary prayer is evidence against a non-intelligent (or infinitely compliant) God who acts as a sort of "cosmic vending machine" and gives you whatever you want if you just press the right buttons. However, that model of God doesn't match the religious beliefs of anyone I know personally.
     
  16. Katzpur

    Katzpur Not your average Mormon

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    Facts? :biglaugh:Listen, how about we make a deal, you and I? I won't try to tell you how the God I believe in works, and you don't try to tell me about how the God you don't believe in doesn't work. The less you and I try to communicate, the better off we'll both be.
     
  17. Katzpur

    Katzpur Not your average Mormon

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    Good point. I've thought a lot about that over the years. I believe that a big part of His plan is that we learn to trust Him and have faith in Him. I further believe that there are times when He chooses to respond to a prayer offered in faith and that there are sometimes several different directions His plan could take and still be perfect.

    Well, that's an interesting concept, too. Frubals for your good points!
     
  18. Autodidact

    Autodidact Intentionally Blank

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    I believe the board has an "ignore" button if you don't want to talk with me.

    Here's my post that you "disagree" with:
    What do you disagree with? That Christians did NOT pray for Katrina to turn? That it worked? That if you prayed for warm, dry weather it would work? That Christians do win the lottery? That they don't pray to do so? That intercessory prayer has a real, detectable effect on the external world? These are factual issues. Which of them is incorrect? Educate me.
     
  19. Autodidact

    Autodidact Intentionally Blank

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    Right. And if you count up those times, they just happen by coincidence to be the exact same number of times as if He didn't exist.

    The invisible bears a strong resemblance to the non-existent.
     
  20. Katzpur

    Katzpur Not your average Mormon

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    I don't put people on ignore. Even the most obnoxious, hateful ones.

    Educate you? Give me a break. There are some miracles even I don't believe are likely to happen. The only factual issue here is that intercessory prayer has a real, detectable effect on me. That's all the evidence I need, and you are not in a position to tell me I'm wrong about that. Now if you wouldn't mind, let's get back to the topic of the OP -- which, incidentally, was not why God didn't stop Katrina dead in its tracks. If you want to debate the existence of God, do it on a debate forum and don't look for me to participate.
     
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