In this thread, we’ve been having a side discussion. I stated that the problem of evil wouldn’t be so bad if God wasn’t distant. That is, if prayers were actually answered and God communicated with people directly. This distance clearly says that God doesn’t really care much about human beings - and that he is certianly not “our father,” for a father does not give his children the silent treatment. Finally, if God doesn’t care about human beings, the Christian God doesn’t exist.
If God does care about us, I asked, why doesn’t he talk to us directly?
In response, Keikiolu said that, “He does ‘talk’ to us directly. That’s what prayer is. As well as ‘living prayer’, which is discerning God in one’s actions and choices of everyday life.”
My response is this: Prayer is an illusion.
The contention of Christianity is that God does indeed communicate with us, through prayer.
So, let’s just say for a moment that I was a believer. I pray for God to communicate with me and help me discern if I should accept this particular job, or that particular job. I wait, and nothing happens. God didn’t answer my prayer, and I’m a bit upset.
I go to my priest and he tells me that God answers your prayers with “yes”, “no”, and “wait.” God might help you (that’s a “yes”), he might not (that’s a “no”), or he might help you at point in the future (that’s “wait”). Sometimes it’s hard to discern how God answered your prayer, you have to be faithful and have patience.
Well, that answers sound comforting, but it is, in fact, an illusion.
Let’s say for a moment that you come to me with a problem. I ask you to pray to my stone idol. One of the following three things will happen:
The problem is solved the next day. I say “See! The stone idol answered your prayer!”
The problem is solved in a year. I say “See! You just had to wait patiently.”
The problem is never solved. I say “Well, we just have to trust in the stone idol. He knows best. Just be patient and have faith.”
Well, will you begin to worship my stone idol? Of course not. Why? You won’t worship my stone idol because it did nothing. It didn’t answer your prayer. It had nothing to do with solving your problem. You know that and I know that. Whatever happened, it was nothing more than a coincidence.
If the criteria is “yes”, “no”, and “wait”, the stone idol can’t lose. It appears that the stone idol did something, but it actually did nothing.
In fact, **with any concievable scenario, no matter who you were asking, “yes” “no” and “wait” are ***always true, no matter what. *It’s true no matter if you pray to a stone idol, Jesus, Mary, or anyone. “Yes” “no” and “wait” is always the answer no matter what force or being you pray to.
If you say that God answers prayers in the form of “yes”, “no”, and “wait”, God can’t lose. But in reality, God is no different than my stone idol. My stone idol can’t lose either. That’s the illusion.
So how do we know for sure? How do we know that every answered prayer is a coincidence?
Well, scientific studies have found that Christian prayer has no tangible effect.
Dr. Herbert Benson conducted a study of heart patients, in which some were prayed for and others weren’t. The $2.4 million study confirmed that prayer had no positive effect:
Here’s the article.
In the study, the researchers monitored 1,802 patients at six hospitals who received coronary bypass surgery, in which doctors reroute circulation around a clogged vein or artery.
The patients were broken into three groups. Two were prayed for; the third was not. Half the patients who received the prayers were told that they were being prayed for; half were told that they might or might not receive prayers.
The researchers asked the members of three congregations — St. Paul’s Monastery in St. Paul; the Community of Teresian Carmelites in Worcester, Mass.; and Silent Unity, a Missouri prayer ministry near Kansas City — to deliver the prayers, using the patients’ first names and the first initials of their last names.
The congregations were told that they could pray in their own ways, but they were instructed to include the phrase, "for a successful surgery with a quick, healthy recovery and no complications."
Analyzing complications in the 30 days after the operations, the researchers found no differences between those patients who were prayed for and those who were not.
If Christian prayer has no special effect, then God does not answer prayers at all. If God does not answer prayers, God does not exist.