I don’t get Prayer!

July 26, 2010

I don’t get why people pray, and I don’t get why the Bible tells you to pray.  It seems to me that if prayers worked, we would know about it.  There have been some studies done.  At least one study I read about had a two groups of cancer patients, one who got prayed for by a bunch of people, and one who didn’t.  There was no difference in the recovery rate for either group.  This brings up some possibilities.

Maybe God didn’t answer the prayers because he knew he was being tested.  This is a pretty dick thing to do though.  Sure some people were praying just to help out with the study, but surly some people were praying because they knew people were suffering and were hoping God would intervene.  Anyway, why would this stop God from helping.  I am pretty sure it says in the bible that if you pray, your prayers will be granted.  It seems like since he asked people to pray, he would be happy when lots of people do it.  If people found out that prayer worked, they would pray more, and really believe.

However, some people say that if he revealed himself that way, it wouldn’t take faith to believe in him (because you would have proof), and faith is the most important part.  If this is the case though, then nobody should pray.  You are getting proof of your God every time you pray and you think your prayers are answered.  There still seems to be some contradiction though, because some people say god answered there prayers.  Now their faith is stronger than ever because they asked of God, and he delivered.

So if he answers some prayers, why doesn’t it matter if more people pray for the same thing.  Also, why do the loved ones of really devout, really good people get cancer, or get hit by cars?  These people already believe, and they probably pray pretty religiously.

One other argument is that God works in mysterious ways, or God has a plan.  However, if this is true, then there is no reason to pray.  If he know his plan and it can’t be changed by prayer.  Then prayer doesn’t really work, right.  People should just trust in God, and his plan.  I know that some people do feel this way.  I have heard people say this, but they still pray anyway.

So what does praying do really.  Does God sometimes  change his plan for a prayer, and sometimes not?  Do people just pray because they are in a shitty situation (like a loved one having cancer), and feel helpless, so they need to do something. People pray for all sorts of shit and think that God answers them.  They pray for sports teams to win.  They pray for promotions at work.  They pray for that special someone to finally notice them.

When it works, they praise God, when it doesn’t, they forget about it, or say God has a plan.

My question is: If you think prayer works, how would you know the difference between it really working, and it just being coincidence?

Also, if you pray, tell me what you pray about, and why you pray.

Updated: Here are the citations from the bible.  I read the verses around them, they don’t seem out of context.  Let me know if you think differently.

Mark 11:24 Therefore I tell you, all things whatever you pray and ask for, believe that you receive them, and you shall have them.

John 14:13 Whatever you will ask in my name, that will I do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son.

John 14:14 If you will ask anything in my name, I will do it.

Matthew 18:19 Again I say to you, that if two of you shall consent upon earth, concerning any thing whatsoever they shall ask, it shall be done to them by my Father who is in heaven.


Logic, Love and Brian McKnight

July 22, 2009

kevinDoes anyone remember the song “Back At One”, released by Brian McKnight in 1999?  This was the brief period of time where R&B ruled the airwaves, right before boy bands took over.  If you don’t remember, here are the lyrics to the chorus:

One, you’re like a dream come true
Two, just wanna be with you
Three, girl its plain to see that you’re the only one for me and
Four, repeat steps one through three
Five, make you fall in love with me
If ever I believe my work is done
Then I start back at one

Oh Brian McKnight, how you made the ladies swoon.  I’m afraid the same cannot be said for logic enthusiasts.  You see, for “step” number four, he says to repeat steps one through three.  But one through three aren’t steps; they are merely statements.  How do you repeat “you’re like a dream come true”?  Also, if step four is repeating one through three, then how does he ever get to five?  Maybe that’s his trick.  Say nice things for thee steps, throw an extra step to make it seem like you’re doing more work when you’re really just repeating previous steps, and then throw in a step that requires all of the hard work, but you’ll never really get to that step.

Brian McKnight might not understand logic, but he is definitely a professor in Loveology.


“I need to get to the top of one of those pyramid schemes”

July 14, 2009

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I got back early yesterday from TAM7 and it was awesome.  Way better than anything I expected.  However, on the EARLY trip back to the airport, I was confronted by ignorance.  Almost immediately, our taxi driver launched into an attempt to sell MonaVie.  Really?!  It’s 2009.  People are still falling for this?  I guess people have believed in God for thousands of years.  There are probably many things one can do in order to recognize a pyramid scheme, but I figured I would  list one major alarm:

You have to buy into the idea. Why do people who are already involved always try to sell you the idea instead of the product?  You could argue that it’s less work and more money to sell in bulk (get rich quick).  But why don’t they sell it in bulk to retailers?  Why can’t I find it in stores?  And why, if I go to their website, can’t I purchase the product there?  It only allows me to enroll in their sells program.

This is exactly what happened with our taxi driver.  Instead of asking if we wanted to buy some of his product, he launched into a speech (probably memorized) about how we could be making tons of money.  In fact, it was his “ticket out of taxi driving.”  Good luck buddy.

Coming from THE skeptical conference of the year, you might be expecting a fierce debate ensued.  But the facts are: I was coming off heavy binge drinking, as well as a record lack of sleep, and I had never heard of MonaVie; and I wasn’t about to humor him by asking.  I just wanted to get to the airport and for him to shut up.


Atheist vs Agnostic

September 28, 2008

I have heard the debate on Atheist vs Agnostic for a while and I figured I would put my feelings about it here.  First off I am an atheist, so this post is basically reasons why I am not agnostic, I will clarify what i mean by atheist though.  I find it interesting that to the world it is better to be agnostic than atheist.  Maybe people feel like they can convert you or that there is hope for you yet if you are an agnostic, while if you are an atheist there is no hope.  Maybe it is the fact that atheism is contrary while being agnostic is neutral.

The trouble with both of these words, maybe with all words, is that the aren’t very clear.  I have heard a few definitions for agnostic such as:  someone who doesn’t know if a god exists, someone who doesn’t care if a god exists, someone who is waiting for the evidence before deciding.  Dictionary.com defines agnostic as:

1. a person who holds that the existence of the ultimate cause, as God, and the essential nature of things are unknown and unknowable, or that human knowledge is limited to experience.

2. a person who denies or doubts the possibility of ultimate knowledge in some area of study.

3. of or pertaining to agnostics or agnosticism.

4. asserting the uncertainty of all claims to knowledge.

Atheist is  meant as someone who doesn’t believe in a god, although I feel like there is a stigma about it meaning that someone won’t believe in a god, someone who doesn’t believe no matter what.

The thing is, I feel like absolute belief either way is a bad thing.  Science knows that it can’t prove anything 100%, it never tries.  All science does is say this idea fits the evidence so far.  If there is a lot of evidence it says this is a fact, knowing that if new evidence comes along, the fact may change.

This should be the behavior of all intelligent and rational people, everyone should be agnostic about everything.  In the practical sense, we still say “I believe the sky is blue”, or “I believe the Earth revolves around the sun”.  No one claims to be agnostic about fire being hot.  So in this general sense I am agnostic.  I know the answers may change based on evidence.  This post is specifically about feelings toward a god though.

Obviously no one KNOWS if a god exists or not.  Believers like to say they have spoken to their god, but there are other possibly simpler explanations, so I don’t like that definition, because again, everyone should be agnostic.  Someone who doesn’t care if a god exists is a legitimate definitions, I just don’t think it applies to me.  We as humans are always searching for answers to where we came from, whether it was a god or some multi-verse is very interesting, on a more personal level though, it is important because if there was a god and he was like the god in the bible, I would like to know so I could avoid going to hell.  That place sounds like it sucks.

Which comes to the next definition, waiting for evidence.  This is where I clarify what I mean by atheist.  I am an atheist toward all of the current religions I know about.  I am not agnostic toward them because there is a ton of evidence against them.   They don’t make any sense, and have nothing in them that couldn’t have been written by someone of their time period.  Evolution is a great example.  There are massive amounts of evidence for evolution, none of which is described in any holy text that I have every seen, and it is a process that takes away the need for a creator.  I Am agnostic toward the Idea of a god/creator/higher power because, just like I said before, this is the behavior of rational people.  Maybe our universe is just some colony of bacterial on some other creatures body, the problem with this speculation is that there are infinite “what ifs?”.  So I don’t like to waste my time with them.  So I still call myself an Atheist because I don’t worship or believe in any of this because the evidence just isn’t there.

I don’t want to go into it to much but I do want to point out what Richard Dawkins and many other say.  “We are all atheist to something”.  Maybe it is Zeus or maybe unicorns, but we come to this through logic and evidence.  I find it interesting that a Christian is just as logical as me when it comes to Islam.  They know it isn’t true, but when it comes to their own religion, logic flies out the window.

The last point I want to make is the “maybe it is unknowable” argument.  I don’t like this either, because I feel like it is an excuse to stop looking for an answer.  Just like the Christian answer to “What created the big bang?” If you just say god, and that is the end, that just sucks.  No need to look any further once god come into the picture.  I feel the way about the “unknowable” answer. If something is unknowable then why keep looking.  The thing is you can never know if something is unknowable so why use it even as a place holder answer.  So I am an Atheist in this respect too, I think that it wasn’t a god that created us, so we had better keep looking.

So that I why I am an atheist and not agnostic.  This all reminds me of a quote from a religious friend of mine, and it kind of ties with what I said early.  He said that what he didn’t like about atheist was that “they think we are wrong”.  The we he was talking about was Christians.  What I don’t like about this is the shifted burden of proof.  He was right that I do think he is wrong, but I think he is wrong because lack of evidence.  It is the responsibility of the religious to find proof for their beliefs if they want to be taken seriously.  Anyway, that is why I am not religious.


Health Care under Attck

September 26, 2008

I don’t know if this fits with this site but no one has posted in a while so…A couple of days ago I read about the Regulation Proposed to Help Protect Health Care Providers from Discrimination.  The gist is that a provider doesn’t have to give proper health care if it is against thier religion.  The standard example is abortion.  A doctor is able to refuse to give an abortion if is againt thier religion.  Another example is a doctor not  giving emergency contraception to a rape victim, or even be required to tell her that such a thing exists.

I think this sets a bad precedence.  A public health care provider should be required to give the best and most accurate knowledge and service to a patient.  It shouldn’t matter what their religious feelings are.  As far as I know most abortions are done at specialized clinics,  so if a doctor doesn’t want to give abortions they shouldn’t get a job at one of these clinics.  It is their right to choose a job based on religion, but once they have a job they shouldn’t be protected for not doing that job.  It is also their right to choose a non public job.  I am sure there are private health care providers, all though I am not sure what the regulations are on them.   The point is that a health care providers job is to take care of a patient, regulations should be put in place to protect patient rights against doctors superstitions.  What if a patient has a curable illness, but the doctor recommends only prayer, instead of the standard tested treatment?  I think this person should be fired, not protected.

I also think this is interesting because this Regulation wants to protect against discrimination, but I think it encourages it.  I think that if  it is the doctors right to not do certain procedures based on beliefes, it should be the right of a hospital to know about that up front and hire or not hire based in this information.  As it stands Religion and beliefs are a personal issue and they is why they should not be discriminated against, but if people want to make them a publc issue even so much as to effect work, then it becomes a relevent issue that is effecting others.  That is not ok.


None of us are dead

August 21, 2008

I know it may seem like it because there have no posts in a while (couple weeks), but I assure you that none of us are dead. I make no excuses for my posting habits (or lack thereof) of late, but assure you we’ll be back on track soon.

Love,

Josh


I Could Be Wrong (GASP!)

July 31, 2008

Yes, I could be wrong…and that’s the point.  As skeptics, as citizens, as human beings, we need to admit that we are fallible.  Our beliefs are not absolute.  We can make mistakes.  Mistakes in judgment, mistakes in arithmetic, mistakes in anything.  I have been wrong a hell of a lot, and I bet that most of you don’t have an entirely pristine track record either.  This is fine.  We shouldn’t cling dogmatically to a set of edicts and laws.  We should commit to a process of refining beliefs; of acquiring knowledge to better inform and shape our ideas about the universe and ourselves.  Skeptics don’t think they know it all.  In fact, that’s why they’re right so often.  Every foolish and uniformed notion that we throw away gets us closer to the truth.  Seek out new information.  Be adaptable.  Challenge your beliefs.  Be wrong so that you can be more right.