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Extraordinary Claims => Religion General Discussion => Christianity => Topic started by: Paolo on May 23, 2020, 08:45:40 PM

Title: On ''Prayer''
Post by: Paolo on May 23, 2020, 08:45:40 PM
Ok, this is another on a series of ''supernatural'' things...  :eyes:

So, this friend of mine who is hardcore Evangelical or Lutheran, if you prefer that...he prayed for my insomnia problem (I used to take medication-- yes, this is quite a personal thread), and I got to ''sleep'' on that day...

However, not too many days passed and I started having trouble sleeping again. He prayed once more and this time it didn't work out. I stayed on medication for the following months until I naturally could sleep without taking pills (which has led me to think it was psychological, at the end of the day).

So, what are your views on prayer? What effects can it have? Can it have any real supernatural truth to it? And what about the example I gave of myself?
Title: Re: On ''Prayer''
Post by: SGOS on May 23, 2020, 09:09:43 PM
If you pray for rain, it will rain.  This seems like proof enough until you realize that if you don't pray for rain, it will still rain.
Title: Re: On ''Prayer''
Post by: Mike Cl on May 23, 2020, 09:27:49 PM
Prayer is a placebo, at best.  It only effects the person praying if they think it did.  It is called wishful thinking.
Title: Re: On ''Prayer''
Post by: Unbeliever on May 23, 2020, 10:21:07 PM
Galton did an interesting study of prayer a long time ago, and found it had no effect. Worse yet, it had negative effects sometimes.
Title: Re: On ''Prayer''
Post by: Baruch on May 24, 2020, 12:48:02 AM
Galton did an interesting study of prayer a long time ago, and found it had no effect. Worse yet, it had negative effects sometimes.

Regular medications have a negative effect sometimes.  Dirty medical staff cause thousands of fatal nosocomial infections in hospitals.
Title: Re: On ''Prayer''
Post by: Hydra009 on May 24, 2020, 12:53:10 AM
So, what are your views on prayer? What effects can it have? Can it have any real supernatural truth to it?
I dunno, try praying for world peace and see what happens.
Title: Re: On ''Prayer''
Post by: Baruch on May 24, 2020, 12:57:40 AM
I dunno, try praying for world peace and see what happens.

Beware of what you ask for.  World peace only happens with extinction of the humans.
Title: Re: On ''Prayer''
Post by: Cassia on May 24, 2020, 06:58:27 AM
Prayer effectivity is a simple proposition to prove with controlled experiments. The promise is simple as well in Mark 11:
 Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours.

There are not and will never be successful experiments. Just plot out the frequency of human events, you will see the bell curve. If god has a plan, why are his followers always asking him to change it?
One would expect that the faithful would have a huge advantage over everyone else. This is far from the case. In fact I could find tons of data to show the opposite.

Intelligence and hard work has alot more to do with wellness than getting on you knees and faith in nonsense. The fictitious jesus character is a liar. Then the apologists will step in a say "well your prayers will be answered in heaven". Not what was promised and totally unprovable. Perfect story for swindlers.

(https://4.bp.blogspot.com/-5DCpfSfDzWQ/Wd9AC5A1TTI/AAAAAAAACPY/iJHruEO4P8Q1XBwLf3p4aQCi4wLx6lOugCLcBGAs/s1600/thoughtsandprayers_s.jpg)
Title: Re: On ''Prayer''
Post by: aitm on May 24, 2020, 07:07:54 AM
If the best a god can do is to give you a nights sleep, don’t go praying for a miracle.
Title: Re: On ''Prayer''
Post by: SGOS on May 24, 2020, 07:08:25 AM
Plastic Jesus
Billy Idol

I don't care if it rains or freezes
Long as I've got my plastic Jesus
Ridin' on the dashboard of my car
Through my trials and tribulations
And my travels through the nation
With my plastic Jesus I'll go far
Ridin' down the thoroughfare
With a nose up in the air
A wreck may be ahead
But he don't mind
Trouble comin', he don't see
He just keeps his eye on me
And any other thing that lies behind
Title: Re: On ''Prayer''
Post by: Blackleaf on May 24, 2020, 11:40:03 AM
Galton did an interesting study of prayer a long time ago, and found it had no effect. Worse yet, it had negative effects sometimes.

Yeah, I was gonna bring that up. It seems there's performance anxiety associated with knowing someone (or multiple people) are praying for you. You don't want to disappoint them by not getting better, and that causes you to become more stressed, increasing your chances of dying instead of getting better.

I like this idea Christians have, that the more people you have praying for something, the more likely it is for those prayers to come true. It's like God is up there in Heaven, with some arbitrary quota he come up with.

"Sorry, guys. You only had 10,000 people pray that little Jimmy doesn't die of cancer. You were supposed to have 12,000 pray that he doesn't die. Oh well. I didn't want to do this, but you only have yourselves to blame."

And then there's the annoying win-win scenario they set up for God. If God gives you what you asked for, then he answered your prayers because he is good. But if he doesn't give you what you asked for, then he is still good, because he knows better. THEN WHY DID YOU BOTHER ASKING IN THE FIRST PLACE!? Hell, even if a child dies from cancer, they say, "Well, he's in a better place now, where he will feel no sadness or pain." God is in the perfect position. He can't lose. He can do absolutely nothing, and he'll still get all the credit.
Title: Re: On ''Prayer''
Post by: Jagella on May 24, 2020, 11:52:55 AM
So, what are your views on prayer? What effects can it have? Can it have any real supernatural truth to it? And what about the example I gave of myself?

Prayer is a superstition that, at best, may temporarily give a person hope for a solution to a problem. I see nothing "supernatural" about prayer because it is a delusion, and delusions are very natural--no magic is required to explain them. Your example demonstrates that prayer fails, and when it fails, people will explain away the failure.
Title: Re: On ''Prayer''
Post by: Jagella on May 24, 2020, 11:59:37 AM
If you pray for rain, it will rain.  This seems like proof enough until you realize that if you don't pray for rain, it will still rain.

Testimonies regarding the "power of prayer" often involve the post-hoc fallacy. This fallacy goes like this:

Events A and B came before event C.
Conclusion: A caused C.

Of course, event B could also be said to be the cause of C. So when prayers are answered, the "answers" may come about for reasons beside the prayer.
Title: Re: On ''Prayer''
Post by: Jagella on May 24, 2020, 12:02:47 PM
Galton did an interesting study of prayer a long time ago, and found it had no effect. Worse yet, it had negative effects sometimes.

I think the "negative effects" of prayer can be explained as people wasting their time with prayer while they could be doing something that has a good possibility of solving the problem in question.
Title: Re: On ''Prayer''
Post by: Blackleaf on May 24, 2020, 12:22:51 PM
I think the "negative effects" of prayer can be explained as people wasting their time with prayer while they could be doing something that has a good possibility of solving the problem in question.

That is also definitely a possibility, such as with those sending donations to a faith healer instead of continuing to take their medications (because taking them is a declaration of a lack of faith). But I think he's referring to a study in which people were in the hospital. They couldn't really do anything other than wait. But studies have found that these people, if they know people are praying for them, have an increased likelihood of death. Performance anxiety is believed to be the reason for this effect.
Title: Re: On ''Prayer''
Post by: Unbeliever on May 24, 2020, 12:48:12 PM
''When did I realize I was God? When I was praying and realized I was talking to myself.''
Peter O'toole
Title: Re: On ''Prayer''
Post by: Baruch on May 24, 2020, 01:34:54 PM
''When did I realize I was God? When I was praying and realized I was talking to myself.''
Peter O'toole

A wise man, but actually a demi-god.  Thinking you are God is megalomaniac.  Only a politician or billionaire would make that mistake.
Title: Re: On ''Prayer''
Post by: Baruch on May 24, 2020, 01:36:03 PM
Prayer is a superstition that, at best, may temporarily give a person hope for a solution to a problem. I see nothing "supernatural" about prayer because it is a delusion, and delusions are very natural--no magic is required to explain them. Your example demonstrates that prayer fails, and when it fails, people will explain away the failure.

Power of positive thinking, if you are a theist.  Won't work for atheists of course.  They have the powers of positive integers ;-)
Title: Re: On ''Prayer''
Post by: Blackleaf on May 24, 2020, 05:28:02 PM
A wise man, but actually a demi-god.  Thinking you are God is megalomaniac.  Only a politician or billionaire would make that mistake.

...Don't you think you're a demigod?
Title: Re: On ''Prayer''
Post by: Jagella on May 24, 2020, 07:30:24 PM
That is also definitely a possibility, such as with those sending donations to a faith healer instead of continuing to take their medications (because taking them is a declaration of a lack of faith). But I think he's referring to a study in which people were in the hospital. They couldn't really do anything other than wait. But studies have found that these people, if they know people are praying for them, have an increased likelihood of death. Performance anxiety is believed to be the reason for this effect.

I experienced a kind of "religious performance anxiety" when I was a Christian. I was reprimanded by a faith healer because I could not "receive my healing." He blamed me telling me that it was my fault that I was not healed. According to his logic, if I really believed Jesus could heal me, then it would have happened. My remaining in my condition was proof that I was an unbeliever.

He didn't consider the possibility that miracles of healing don't really happen.

Anyway, I was very upset over the whole matter. Not only did I lose out on my miracle, but I was afraid that my "unbelief" might damn me. I was also very confused because it sure seemed like I believed. After all, I sought the miracle by asking this "healer" to help me. If I didn't believe, then why would I have asked him to pray for me?

So yes, such performance anxiety might adversely affect anybody who has Christians praying for their recovery from an illness or injury. Those praying are unlikely to see prayer as the reason for the failure. They may blame the person prayed for seeing her or him as faithless.

(https://i.ytimg.com/vi/TKMMKJp2G-8/maxresdefault.jpg)
Title: Re: On ''Prayer''
Post by: trdsf on May 24, 2020, 09:21:48 PM
Prayer is basically a way to pretend you're doing something to help someone, when you're not.  Basically, "I'll pray for you" is nothing more than a socially acceptable way to say, "Wow, sucks to be you."
Title: Re: On ''Prayer''
Post by: Baruch on May 24, 2020, 10:43:45 PM
...Don't you think you're a demigod?

Yes, but I ain't special.
Title: Re: On ''Prayer''
Post by: GSOgymrat on May 25, 2020, 06:32:37 AM
I think there are positive, as well as negative, aspects of prayer.
Title: Re: On ''Prayer''
Post by: Sal1981 on May 25, 2020, 08:50:59 AM
I think there are positive, as well as negative, aspects of prayer.
Whatever positive aspects there are to prayer, can be better answered with other approaches, IMO.
Title: Re: On ''Prayer''
Post by: Baruch on May 25, 2020, 11:43:35 AM
Whatever positive aspects there are to prayer, can be better answered with other approaches, IMO.

All prayer is the same as nutty parents not taking children to an available doctor?
Title: Re: On ''Prayer''
Post by: Sal1981 on May 25, 2020, 11:45:46 AM
All prayer is the same as nutty parents not taking children to an available doctor?
No & did I write that?
Title: Re: On ''Prayer''
Post by: Baruch on May 25, 2020, 11:57:21 AM
No & did I write that?

A suggestion.  List the negatives and positives in order.  Just for clarification.  I could say that on average, vegetarians are a threat to society.  But I don't have to give any reasons why ;-)
Title: Re: On ''Prayer''
Post by: Sal1981 on May 25, 2020, 03:55:12 PM
A suggestion.  List the negatives and positives in order.  Just for clarification.  I could say that on average, vegetarians are a threat to society.  But I don't have to give any reasons why ;-)
Psychosomatic benefits (feel-good) from prayer can well be had from an awe-inspiring hike through nature, that's first and foremost in my mind. I know they're not the same - but that's kinda the point - since prayer is introducing bogus "benefits" that can be easily answered elsewhere and yet be authentic.

Second, prayer gives false hope, it might have positive effects immediately when you're praying for some reason or another, the same feel-good benefit I just mentioned, but ultimately and down the road, prayer does jack shit for you and giving a false impression of actually doing something when you're only just talking to yourself, instead of actually doing something instead praying to change whatever circumstance you're praying for.

Third, which also ties into the second sentiment, when someone prays for x, and lo and behold their prayer is "answered", such as praying a headache away and it goes away, makes people falsely attribute something that would happen regardless of their prayer, to what amounts to wishful thinking, which makes you think that prayer has an impact or an effect, when it does, again, jack shit. What do you think will happen, instead of real action, pray in a difficult situation with real-world impacts that you wrongly think that prayer will affect, when it does jack shit? Reality doesn't give a shit what you're praying for.

Fourth, prayer is nefariously giving a false impression of how wishes are answered, as if a god would care, when only actions and its accompanying realistic outlook is what makes a difference. Besides, god supposedly has a plan for everyone or some shit, then why pray? Isn't praying asking god to change his fucking plan?

Fifth, prayer is falsely giving thanks/attributing stuff to a non-existent entity which gives a negative reinforcement for stuff you could do yourself all along. If you think about it, isn't a pat on your own back more fulfilling and being proud of something you yourself did? I think so.

I could probably think of more but these 5 points is what stands out to me.
Title: Re: On ''Prayer''
Post by: trdsf on May 25, 2020, 08:46:13 PM
Alas, I can't recall where I saw the study, but one research project on intercessory prayer showed that hospital patients who knew they were being prayed for tended to do worse -- in interviews, the reason turned out to be that because they knew they were being prayed for, they assumed they were doing worse than they actually were and "needed" the "help" of prayer.
Title: Re: On ''Prayer''
Post by: Jagella on May 25, 2020, 09:25:08 PM
Prayer is basically a way to pretend you're doing something to help someone, when you're not.  Basically, "I'll pray for you" is nothing more than a socially acceptable way to say, "Wow, sucks to be you."

Prayer can be quick, easy, and cheap. It sure beats actually doing some work or taking risks to make the world a better place!
Title: Re: On ''Prayer''
Post by: trdsf on May 26, 2020, 02:44:44 AM
Prayer can be quick, easy, and cheap. It sure beats actually doing some work or taking risks to make the world a better place!
And we've all seen how effective "thoughts and prayers" are against mass shootings, too.
Title: Re: On ''Prayer''
Post by: Baruch on May 26, 2020, 09:34:27 AM
And we've all seen how effective "thoughts and prayers" are against mass shootings, too.

I am disappointed too.  Not enough genocide.
Title: Re: On ''Prayer''
Post by: Paolo on May 29, 2020, 12:38:21 AM
Thanks for the answers, guys. There have been some insightful posts here.
Title: Re: On ''Prayer''
Post by: Paolo on May 29, 2020, 12:43:15 AM
If the best a god can do is to give you a nights sleep, don’t go praying for a miracle.

Well, to be fair, this friend of mine from the OP also claimed that he was able to ''self-heal'' from diabetes through prayer alone (though, strangely, he wasn't able to specify what type of diabetes he had...)
Title: Re: On ''Prayer''
Post by: SGOS on May 29, 2020, 08:52:09 AM
Well, to be fair, this friend of mine from the OP also claimed that he was able to ''self-heal'' from diabetes through prayer alone (though, strangely, he wasn't able to specify what type of diabetes he had...)
Lack of knowledge is the playground of woo.  Woo fills in the blanks of ignorance.  It's an easy fix like patching a rust hole in my old Junker pickup with duct tape.
Title: Re: On ''Prayer''
Post by: Baruch on May 29, 2020, 11:46:41 AM
Lack of knowledge is the playground of woo.  Woo fills in the blanks of ignorance.  It's an easy fix like patching a rust hole in my old Junker pickup with duct tape.

Hence controlled experiments.  But placebo does work.  The body is partner with psychology.
Title: Re: On ''Prayer''
Post by: Sal1981 on May 29, 2020, 11:58:54 AM
Hence controlled experiments.  But placebo does work.  The body is partner with psychology.
Placebo works because body contains mind, they're not separate entities.
Title: Re: On ''Prayer''
Post by: Baruch on May 29, 2020, 12:38:01 PM
Placebo works because body contains mind, they're not separate entities.

What is matter?  Never mind.  What is mind?  Doesn't matter. ;-)

If a doctor gives you a pill, and says to you, you will die shortly ... vs a doctor give you a pill, and says to you, you will recover shortly ... which doctor do you prefer?  This is the difference between hospice and hospital.
Title: Re: On ''Prayer''
Post by: Paolo on June 11, 2020, 02:25:16 PM
Lack of knowledge is the playground of woo.  Woo fills in the blanks of ignorance.  It's an easy fix like patching a rust hole in my old Junker pickup with duct tape.

''Woo'' as in ''woo-doo''? I'm confused.
Title: Re: On ''Prayer''
Post by: Hydra009 on June 11, 2020, 02:54:23 PM
http://skepdic.com/woowoo.html

Woo is a blanket term for a variety of supernatural, paranormal, occult, or pseudoscientific beliefs.  It's usually used in the context of quackery (a person who pretends to be an expert who uses this fraudulent, unearned elevated status to promote psuedoscientific remedies based on woo)
Title: Re: On ''Prayer''
Post by: Baruch on June 11, 2020, 02:58:08 PM
http://skepdic.com/woowoo.html

Woo is a blanket term for a variety of supernatural, paranormal, occult, or pseudoscientific beliefs.  It's usually used in the context of quackery (a person who pretends to be an expert who uses this fraudulent, unearned elevated status to promote psuedoscientific remedies based on woo)

Same applies to political ideology and racism.  Quacks, all of them.

Also applies to lay descriptions of quantum mechanics, because Popular Science is still a magazine for the gullible.
Title: Re: On ''Prayer''
Post by: Paolo on June 11, 2020, 03:33:12 PM
http://skepdic.com/woowoo.html

Woo is a blanket term for a variety of supernatural, paranormal, occult, or pseudoscientific beliefs.  It's usually used in the context of quackery (a person who pretends to be an expert who uses this fraudulent, unearned elevated status to promote psuedoscientific remedies based on woo)

Thanks. And I just realized I misspelt ''voodoo''.
Title: Re: On ''Prayer''
Post by: SGOS on June 11, 2020, 04:27:36 PM
I associate woo with science fiction of my youth.  Before the aliens appeared on the screen there was often a "woo-ooo" sound with a continually varying pitch.  Think of a guy playing a saw, although I haven't seen a guy playing a saw for 50 years.  The sound was actually made with a musical instrument that could play actual tunes.  It was something recently invented around the time the talkies were showing up in theaters.  I guess some director saw and heard one, and said, "Hey, that reminds me of Martians," and it became adopted by Hollywood to put in sound tracks whenever they wanted to create an eerie atmosphere.  As for the music that it could play, I think it had rather limited appeal.  I don't think any band ever used that instrument, except for maybe Spike Jones. 
Title: Re: On ''Prayer''
Post by: Hydra009 on June 11, 2020, 05:10:38 PM
Thanks. And I just realized I misspelt ''voodoo''.
Misspelled :P

Just kidding.  Either is fine.  American/British variations.
Title: Re: On ''Prayer''
Post by: Baruch on June 11, 2020, 09:45:59 PM
I associate woo with science fiction of my youth.  Before the aliens appeared on the screen there was often a "woo-ooo" sound with a continually varying pitch.  Think of a guy playing a saw, although I haven't seen a guy playing a saw for 50 years.  The sound was actually made with a musical instrument that could play actual tunes.  It was something recently invented around the time the talkies were showing up in theaters.  I guess some director saw and heard one, and said, "Hey, that reminds me of Martians," and it became adopted by Hollywood to put in sound tracks whenever they wanted to create an eerie atmosphere.  As for the music that it could play, I think it had rather limited appeal.  I don't think any band ever used that instrument, except for maybe Spike Jones.

Perhaps a Theramin ...

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Theremin

Leon Theramin was also a great Soviet inventor, who helped the KGB spy on the Americans ;-)
Title: Re: On ''Prayer''
Post by: Unbeliever on June 12, 2020, 04:58:24 PM
They can sound really beautiful when played by a virtuoso - but then, so can a saw. I remember Grandpa on HeeHaw playing one.