## If prayer works....

Hot topics in delusion and rationalization.
Nigel
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### If prayer works....

Wouldn't that necessarily mean there is a god? In other words, most people pray to god to help them. So if praying really works, would that be proof god exists? Or am I missing something like the cause/effect relationship? Or would there be another explanation for the power of prayer?
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Hexxenhammer
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Maybe it's aliens who can read human thought waves and then use their quantum interference devices to influence probabilities in the praying person's favor.
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Abdul Alhazred
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### Re: If prayer works....

Prayer does "work" after a fashion, in so far as it can create a frame of mind.

Summoning bears to protect you from juvenile delinquents is probably out, though.
The arc of the moral universe bends towards chaos.
People who believe God or History are on their side provide the chaos.
Nigel
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### Re: If prayer works....

Abdul Alhazred wrote:Prayer does "work" after a fashion, in so far as it can create a frame of mind.

Summoning bears to protect you from juvenile delinquents is probably out, though.
Create a frame of mind, okay, but you know what I meant. Intercessory prayer. When my mother-in-law was dying, I prayed for her to die as quickly and painlessly as possible. Let's assume there was a cause and effect there, because as far as I know, she did. Would that mean there is a god?
If you can't laugh, what good are you?

I thought I won't submit this...but who cares...let it roll. -Pillory
Abdul Alhazred
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### Re: If prayer works....

Nigel wrote:Create a frame of mind, okay, but you know what I meant. Intercessory prayer. When my mother-in-law was dying, I prayed for her to die as quickly and painlessly as possible. Let's assume there was a cause and effect there, because as far as I know, she did. Would that mean there is a god?
Then it's a question of defining your terms.

Most memorized prayers are about creating a frame of mind.

For intercessory prayer, postulate some impersonal paranormal effect. Would that fit the definition of prayer if you mistakenly believed a god was doing it?
The arc of the moral universe bends towards chaos.
People who believe God or History are on their side provide the chaos.
tamiO
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### Re: If prayer works....

Nigel wrote:
Abdul Alhazred wrote:Prayer does "work" after a fashion, in so far as it can create a frame of mind.

Summoning bears to protect you from juvenile delinquents is probably out, though.
Create a frame of mind, okay, but you know what I meant. Intercessory prayer. When my mother-in-law was dying, I prayed for her to die as quickly and painlessly as possible. Let's assume there was a cause and effect there, because as far as I know, she did. Would that mean there is a god?
Of course not, don't be silly. (or be silly, see if i care )

There is the possibility that your higher self had a little chat with her higher self and you called that communication, "prayer" and mistakenly thought you were talking to God. Her higher self let go of the physical body out of compassion for you.
MLynn
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Well, being one of the few (only?) Xians here I pray alot; but - for me it's not so much about asking for help or things as being thankful or just meditating.
I believe in God, but there is no empirical proof that I can offer. Whether "praying" is evidence that skeptics can accept (I don't think so) of the existence of God, I cannot say. My beliefs are private and precious and I don't expect anyone else to understand or accept them.

Nigel, I don't think this helps ya, sorry...
Obey the zombie whippet or she will eat your brain
I for one welcome our zombie Christian overlord - Philip
Abdul Alhazred
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Such praying as I have done when I believed in it, or was attempting to believe in it, was of the frame of mind variety.

Isn't commanding supernatural beings sorcery rather than prayer?

As I said, a matter of definition.

Sorry about your mother-in-law. But if you had administered the quietus by natural means you would have been a criminal by the laws of any USA state.

But not morally wrong in my opinion.

Do you believe in immortal souls? I do not. The answer to this question is anterior to yours.
The arc of the moral universe bends towards chaos.
People who believe God or History are on their side provide the chaos.
Nigel
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MLynn wrote:Well, being one of the few (only?) Xians here I pray alot; but - for me it's not so much about asking for help or things as being thankful or just meditating.
I believe in God, but there is no empirical proof that I can offer. Whether "praying" is evidence that skeptics can accept (I don't think so) of the existence of God, I cannot say. My beliefs are private and precious and I don't expect anyone else to understand or accept them.

Nigel, I don't think this helps ya, sorry...
It does help Lynn, just in a different way than I'd originally asked.

I'll rephrase: if people pray to god for a sick child to get better, and the child does indeed get better, and it can be proven that the prayer was a direct cause of the child getting better, would that be evidence of the existence of god?

However, if either the child did not get better, or a link between prayer and the health of the child cannot be proven, then we're back to where we are now, which is god cannot be proven to exist.

Now let's say the prayer worked, but somehow god is not responsible (don't ask me how we could figure that out, you scientific types are the ones who can tell me). Then we could investigate other aspects, such as holistic medicine.

I don't believe in this, necessarily, but I find it an interesting question.
If you can't laugh, what good are you?

I thought I won't submit this...but who cares...let it roll. -Pillory
Nigel
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Abdul Alhazred wrote:Such praying as I have done when I believed in it, or was attempting to believe in it, was of the frame of mind variety.

Isn't commanding supernatural beings sorcery rather than prayer?
I would say so, but that to me, goes along with most (if not all) organized religions.
As I said, a matter of definition.
Agreed. I originally posted from work, so next time I start a thread, I'll try to remember to do it from home, where I'm more likely to have it thought out before hand, and less likely to be interrupted.
Sorry about your mother-in-law. But if you had administered the quietus by natural means you would have been a criminal by the laws of any USA state.

But not morally wrong in my opinion.
Thank you. My character is such I would not have done more than I did, no matter what (in those circumstances).
Do you believe in immortal souls? I do not. The answer to this question is anterior to yours.
I find it very difficult to believe in immortal souls, because then there's more to it than simply a soul. There must be heaven, or ghosts, or someplace for the souls to go (unless they go to the 10th dimension, or some such). The short answer is no, I don't think I believe in immortal souls.
If you can't laugh, what good are you?

I thought I won't submit this...but who cares...let it roll. -Pillory
MLynn
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Nigel, I've never witnessed the "supernatural" healing of a child or anyone else, so I can't comment on that as evidence of the existence of God. St. Luke was a physician. When I get sick I go to the doctor; when the dogs get sick they go to the vet and get treatment. I wish there was a way to, without a doubt, prove to people the existence of God, but I don't think there is. I think your questions are interesting ones and I say, keep asking. There are more questions in this world than answers, that's for sure...

Edited to add: It really makes me angry when "televangelists" claim to heal people and bilk $$out of innocent people trying to get help, and the people think they are "healed" but really getting sicker. Then they are told they didn't enough faith. Obey the zombie whippet or she will eat your brain I for one welcome our zombie Christian overlord - Philip tamiO Posts: 1171 Joined: Sat Jun 05, 2004 3:28 am Nigel wrote: I'll rephrase: if people pray to god for a sick child to get better, and the child does indeed get better, and it can be proven that the prayer was a direct cause of the child getting better, would that be evidence of the existence of god? However, if either the child did not get better, or a link between prayer and the health of the child cannot be proven, then we're back to where we are now, which is god cannot be proven to exist. Now let's say the prayer worked, but somehow god is not responsible (don't ask me how we could figure that out, you scientific types are the ones who can tell me). Then we could investigate other aspects, such as holistic medicine. I don't believe in this, necessarily, but I find it an interesting question. I think... it would be more effective if the child knew that the people were praying for her and she believed wholeheartedly that the prayers would be answered. It would help the child create a positive frame of mind and thsi would remove the fear, instead of (insert chemical released during fear (adrenalyne?))- instead of that she would be releasing feel good chemicals into her system. All of this would help her sleep deeply; she would spend more time in stage four sleep and this would set up ideal conditions for her medicines to work at their optimum. That's my hypothesis, your kilometerage may vary. tamiO Posts: 1171 Joined: Sat Jun 05, 2004 3:28 am MLynn wrote: It really makes me angry when "televangelists" claim to heal people and bilk$$ out of innocent people trying to get help, and the people think they are "healed" but really getting sicker. Then they are told they didn't enough faith.
Have you ever seen the documentary, ""A Question of Miracles?""

I would like to get a copy. I think there is great potential in reaching believers and promoting better thinking by creating documentaries for the big screen. ( Yep. Michael Moore has inspired me. )
Nigel
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MLynn wrote:Nigel, I've never witnessed the "supernatural" healing of a child or anyone else, so I can't comment on that as evidence of the existence of God. St. Luke was a physician. When I get sick I go to the doctor; when the dogs get sick they go to the vet and get treatment. I wish there was a way to, without a doubt, prove to people the existence of God, but I don't think there is. I think your questions are interesting ones and I say, keep asking. There are more questions in this world than answers, that's for sure...

Edited to add: It really makes me angry when "televangelists" claim to heal people and bilk  out of innocent people trying to get help, and the people think they are "healed" but really getting sicker. Then they are told they didn't enough faith.
I've not witnessed either, but it seems "studies" are claiming that prayer really works (I even saw it on the cover of Reader's Digest - what more credible scientific journal is there?). So, if it "works", there must be a reason. To be honest, I prayed to quit drinking. I don't believe it did any good, in the "traditional" sense, but as has been said, it certainly made me feel better, so it gave me a more positive frame of mind.

I guess with questions like this, I'm kind of a benign troll.
If you can't laugh, what good are you?

I thought I won't submit this...but who cares...let it roll. -Pillory
Loon
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Nigel wrote:I've not witnessed either, but it seems "studies" are claiming that prayer really works (I even saw it on the cover of Reader's Digest - what more credible scientific journal is there?). So, if it "works", there must be a reason.
IF it works, there is a reason. I've not seen any studies that bear this out just yet (though one was mentioned and trashed on the basis of its author in this week's Swift). However, there are other reasons that "prayer" might work. If the patient knows that people are praying for them, they may relax (especially if the patient believes in god and whatnot). If the caretakers know that people are praying and trust god themselves, then they might relax, or their demeanor might change, which can have an effect on the patient. The patient may improve simply from the attention. (TamiO mentioned all of this, as well as some othe relevant stuff).

If the study is double blinded, then we can begin to ask "well, why did this work?" It could be because god heard the prayers and interceded. It could be because prayer creates good psyschic waves, or happiness, or serenity, or whatever, that has a positive effect on the target. (It would be interesting to see if patients nearby had any effect). ItT could be that praying is a form of meditation (in that you focus on pretty much one thing) and therefore the pray-ers are more serence, thus decreasing mental confusion and bad energy in the universe. None of these require the standard idea of god (though we can't overlook the need to define the god whose existence we are endeavoring to prove)

Also, we cannot overlook the fact that one person makes for an n=1 study. Whether a single patient gets better or not does not show any indication as to the value of intercessory prayer. For all we know, lots of people were praying for the person to die. At most, should the patient die, we can say "well, prayer didn't work for us this time."
nigel wrote:To be honest, I prayed to quit drinking. I don't believe it did any good, in the "traditional" sense, but as has been said, it certainly made me feel better, so it gave me a more positive frame of mind.
I think that may well be the point. Certainly if you no longer drink, there is no evidence prayer hurt you (though again, n=1...) For all we know, you're uncertainty may just be "the good lord moves in mysterious ways."
I guess there he chose to err on the side of more votes. -[size=75]Grammatron[/size]
Mooseboy
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Abdul Alhazred wrote:Isn't commanding supernatural beings sorcery rather than prayer?
It depends upon the way that the forces are manipulated if you Invoke a diety to then Evoke a spirit, I would say that that is sorcery. Which as you have pointed out is the basis of a lot of old ritual magic.

However if you Invoke a diety to then wield an attribute, then there is a fine distiction there, did you summon the diety or did the diety summon you.(In Lord of Light Roger Zelazny inadvertantly spelled out this process. Raise the god form, invoke the aspect and wield the attribute)

I agree totaly with the frame of mind analysis of prayer having had many a material prayer that was not answered I learned a long time ago that praying for other people is always the best.
hammegk
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Mooseboy wrote:I agree totaly with the frame of mind analysis of prayer having had many a material prayer that was not answered
Don't you understand "no"?
I learned a long time ago that praying for other people is always the best.
Or perhaps requesting direction, resolve, and strength to proceed might be best?
Last edited by hammegk on Wed Jul 14, 2004 6:55 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Skeeve
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hammegk wrote:Or perhaps requesting direction, resolve, and strength to proceed might be best?
And, by thinking thereof, you cognate on those qualities, and therefore show more of them via training your neural nets.

Clever, that, eh?
Then Skank Of America could start in...
hammegk
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Skeeve wrote:
Clever, that, eh?
Almost as if designed, huh?
The most important things in life–beauty, grace, redemption, compassion, loyalty, love–are beyond the reach of reason. Which doesn’t make them any less real. Stay far back: I'm allergic to Stupid.

The simple rule, the greatest plan, that he should keep who has the power, and he should take who can.

The only enemies of guns: rust ... and politicians.

Philanthropist (n.) - Someone who spends his own money to advance his version of Utopia. Socialist (n.) - Someone who spends your money to advance his version of Utopia.

“Jesus loves the little cheeses, all the cheeses of the world. Swiss and Cheddar, stinky, too. If He loved them, so should you. Jesus loves the little cheeses of the world.”

I'm right 98% of the time; who cares about the other 3%?
Sundog
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hammegk wrote:
Skeeve wrote:
Clever, that, eh?
Almost as if designed, huh?
But neural nets are a great example of self-organizing behavior not by design, wouldn't you say?

Never mind, I'm being stupid. You're referring to the machinery running the nets.