I did have a straight face when I wrote that. It turns out that your analogy of lying and rape is invalid. In such cases, the truthfulness of the matter depends on subsequent actions taken by me. In the case of prayer, it does not — I cannot in any way influence the outcome for someone else; it’s entirely objective and testable for oneself. To assume that I could is, well, absurd.
Congratulations to you also on your prescience — a total failure to address the issues, coupled with willfully ignorant hostility, is boring indeed.]]>
Paul, one final comment from me. I have personal proof from my own experiences that prayer works for me. Does it matter whether millions of others have had the same experience, or that millions have not? Or does it matter that someone devised an experiement that shows it didn’t work under that experiemental condition?
To use your gold machine analogy: The machine produces gold for me, I can use the gold, it works for me. If I give you the machine and it doesn’t work for you…sorry. Do I have to make gold on demand in front of you to prove that the machine works? No, when I need it, when I have the faith – desire etc. then it produces gold for me.
And more importantly, prayer for me has proved more valuable than any gold the machine could produce.
Oh, I noticed that your description of atheists in foxholes used the word doubt….not know.]]>
You are a stranger on my blog who will soon get bored with telling us all how wrong we are, and then you will dissappear. You will leave smugly congratulating yourself for once again proving how smart you are and how misguided believers are. Good job, you should be proud. You’re maturing into the pure cliche I knew you’d be.
I’m sure if you kept this up I’d get sick of it and ban you, but because I know you’ll go away soon there’s no reason to even create the controversy (“I just wanted to talk civilly about the fact that God doesn’t exist and he BANNED me!! CENSORSHIP!!”).]]>
If it’s true that little about prayer’s efficacy can indeed be verified — as you indicate — what’s the point of discussing it? Wouldn’t it just be idle speculation? In the very acts of asking and taking it up for discussion, aren’t you implying that things about it can, in fact, be determined? (Trying to determine these things is, of course, what the original thread questions are all about).]]>
It actually turns out that that old chestnut is patently false. There were, in fact, many atheist soldiers in Vietnamese foxholes who did remain consistently true to their doubts. I know of a few (highly decorated, in fact) who report of knowing many more such guys that they knew. Truth be told: being in a war often makes people doubt things even more.
Regarding my motives — are they really relevant? You would seem to suggest that, by questioning them, the validity of what someone says depends on how you perceive them as a person. Does “what I’m trying to do” somehow change the value and substance of what I say?
Is the fact that I take these questions seriously somehow offensive?
I think your suspicions of proof are well founded. Perhaps I can shed some more light on this.
Everything you mention as examples were, at some point, assertions made as a result of someone’s rational observations of evidence. In other words, they were all at least initially founded on something that qualified as proof to some degree. But later on, additional observations forced them to change to various degrees — slightly modifying some and completely overturning others. That’s the essence of the scientific method. The point is, they we all based on something. If you’re so skeptical of those things, why aren’t you even more skeptical of prayer, which is founded on much less than anything you mention?
You would seem to indicate that since our base of knowledge is constantly expanding and subject to refinement, it’s unreliable. Therefore, ideas which cannot be proven are the only reliable ones.
While the burden of proof rightfully belongs to the individual making the claim, I do believe it’s possible to prove a negative as a practical matter.
To illustrate this, let’s say I make the claim that I have managed to construct a device that will spontaneously produce gold from air. Out of curiosity, you then request some kind of proof, such as a firsthand demonstration, or tons of gold, etc. Naturally, I fail to produce anything like that. But let’s say I persist in my claim, adding, “and you can’t prove that it doesn’t work.” You would then probably respond with something like, “So what?” In addition, let’s say you also point out that the burden of proof rightfully lies on me, not you.
But, you’re still curious. You then ask me if you can get the plans for my device, which I then provide. So you then build it and try it out for yourself. Again, nada.
Later on, you then happen to hear that other people have actually tried the same thing you did, in order to verify the original claim — and they got the same results you did.
Have I proved my claim about the device? Certainly not. Have you proved it doesn’t work, as a practical matter? The same might be said of alchemy, phlogiston, ether, tooth fairies…what makes prayer so special?
As for what this thread is about — I was under the distinct impression that it began, in fact, with the very question we’ve been discussing. Did I somehow misinterpret it?]]>
How many years did the scientists of the day prove that the earth was the center of the universe? How many times have the scientists looked thru their telescopes and pronounced they were looking at the very edge of the universe?
When I was in High School electrons orbited around in an atom in percise orbits. When I was in High School it was impossible to see in the dark.
How about the computer and what it can do, what about the microscope and what we can now see and know.
There is so much evidence to point out that what we know and can prove today has changed and will continue to change. Proof of prayer today…I think I can prove it to me…maybe tomorrow you can prove it to yourself.
By the way this blog started out as a tongue in cheek effort about prayer, not a debate on proving it works.
Thanks for your comments, they has stimulated my toughts, and I really do mean that sincerely.]]>
And Paul, while I appreciate your civility I’m having a difficult time understanding your motive. It seems the logic you apply to disproving prayer isn’t being used in your judgement coming to a site of people who strongly believe in the power of prayer. And what’s the ultimate goal? Convince us ignorant folk that prayer doesn’t work? That there is no God? To what end are you doing this? Are you suggesting life is better or freer or happier without a belief in God? Do you think you have greater insight into human nature, love, politics and what’s best for other people because you don’t have God to burden you? I’m just not understanding what you’re trying to do.]]>
Rational standards would seem to indicate that one’s level of confidence should be proportional to the quality and quantity of evidence which supports it (as established within a just court system, for instance). If I make the claim that something works, you might justifiably expect to have some sort of discernable demonstration of that claim. If I cannot provide that, you might justifably suspect something’s wrong — perhaps I’m trying to intentionally mislead you, or that I’m deluded or crazy, etc. It seems to me that many people make prayer an exception to this. Perhaps someone can explain why that is.
Don, let’s please keep this about the ideas at hand, not about each other. If we’re trying to remain intellectually honest, making aspersions violates those standards.]]>