Does prayer work? Not a snowball’s chance in Heck – not that there really is a Heck of course. The proof of the pudding is of course, if prayer really worked, there would be a miracle in that we’d all be lotto winners or at least pretty rich and famous! We’d be total successes at our jobs, in our relationships, have perfect partners and perfect children. And our cars wouldn’t break down! Further, the sun would shine down on us every day of our lives.
Even if we all just prayed for good things in general, not personal things in particular, and if our benevolent prayers really worked, then there would be no disease or suffering or crime or wars, etc. We’d all live in a utopian Camelot a course in miracles. But we don’t! I mean, come every Christmas and Easter, the Pope publicly prays for world peace. That’s noble of him. But, come next Christmas and Easter, he has to do it all over again! Now if the Pope can’t get results, what hope for the great unwashed?
Since a result, that is, world peace (as one of many possible examples), hasn’t happened; it’s obviously not the case, then either God doesn’t exist, or doesn’t answer prayers a course in miracles online. If the latter, then God doesn’t give a tinkers damn about us, so why should we give a tinkers damn about Him (again, being traditional and assuming the masculine)? If we don’t give a damn, then Gods existence, or lack of existence, is basically irrelevant.
Think of all those trillions of man-hours (sorry, person-hours) wasted over the centuries by those in pursuit of an illusion – that praying brought results. Do you really think our world today is a better place for all that time, effort and energy? No? Then I say again – what a waste. Further, no scholarly studies ever done on the beneficial results of praying have ever shown that praying works.
If prayer does seem to work at times on a personal level, it’s probably more a case of mind-over-matter, the power of positive thinking, and akin to the placebo pill in medicine. Every now and again, the improbable happens. Just because you prayed for an improbable event doesn’t mean the prayer worked, and therefore that there’s a God who answered it.
Further, as in the case of supposed miracles, prayer validation is also a highly selective bookkeeping exercise in that a hit is documented and displayed for the entire world to see; a miss is never mentioned or discussed.
Quasi related are the buzz words ‘faith’ and ‘ritual’. As far as I can tell, all the faith in the world in a supernatural being isn’t going to heal up a broken leg any faster, or anything in a similar type of basket. You would be hard pressed to provide evidence that having faith yields extra positive results relative to those not having faith. In a similar vein, religions thrive on ritual. Do this at such-and-such a time; don’t do that on such-a-such day of the week; observe this; cross yourself thus, eat (or don’t eat) that at this time; adopt this posture in this situation, etc. Even the military isn’t quite as strict in its rules and regulations (rituals)! Anyway, observing all the rituals part and parcel of a particular religion, in terms of effectiveness, a pathway to the good life doesn’t really seem to get you any extra brownie points. It strikes me as another sociological example of ass-kissing because you are told to kiss ass by authority figures who, I gather, in this case derive said authority from a supernatural being for which there is no evidence. Sorry sheep; it’s all a case of the blind leading the blind.
I’d better define exactly what I mean by a miracle, since it buzz word has been so overused, especially in marketing, that it has lost all real meaning. I mean there are miracle detergents, miracle drugs, miracle discoveries, miracle anything and everything. I’ve actually read scientists, who should know better, who use the word ‘miracle’ when they really mean unexpected or against all odds. If you get dealt a royal flush, you’d say it’s a miracle. But it isn’t. There are things that are plausible, possible, probable, and improbable. Then there are things that are downright impossible. If something considered impossible happens, then it’s a bona fide miracle. A highly improbable event, like being dealt a royal flush, isn’t a miracle. A bona fide miracle would be for an amputated limb to regenerate. No doubt amputees have prayed for such a miracle – alas, it ain’t ever happened.
So my definition of a miracle is an occurrence that goes totally against the grain of any sort of possibility of such a happening, happening. A miracle is only a miracle if the event defies the impossible, not just improbable odds. So, winning the lottery isn’t a miracle because it’s a plausible event. However, there is no medical science that could explain the regeneration of an amputated limb. If such an event happened; absolutely documented, that would be a miracle and considerable evidence for the existence of a supernatural God. A miracle pizza (and I’ve seen them so advertised) isn’t, since it’s possible to create a great tasting pizza!
Take the sum total of all so-called miracles and subtract those events that are unlikely but possible, from those that are absolutely impossible according to modern science. What’s the bona fide residue – zero, zip, zilch.
So, one of the alleged, albeit in a mysterious way, in which God works, is to answer prayers, and create or oversee miracles. Has there ever been any miracle, anywhere, undisputed and totally accepted by science as factual and unexplainable? If so, science would have bowed to the reality of God long ago. No, I suggest that miracles are either misinterpretations, fabrications, wishful thinking/delusions, sleight-of-hand (magic) or evidence of advanced technology! Dump someone living 4000 years ago into the 21st Century and no doubt such a person would find most of our civilization a totally miraculous one. Dump us into the 31st Century and we’d believe in miracles too!