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Author Topic:   The Atheist Prayer Argument Is A Dull Generalisation Predicated On INEXPERIENCE
mike the wiz
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Posts: 4755
From: u.k
Joined: 05-24-2003


(1)
Message 1 of 55 (912158)
08-18-2023 3:17 PM


Black swans are found in south Australia and Tasmania.
Atheists; "I don't know anyone that has seen a black swan in New York, none of my friends do. Indeed if I ask many people from all over the world who I know online they also don't know of any and don't know anyone that does, therefore they don't exist."
This is the atheists general argument for prayer.
The usual argument goes something like this with many of the popular atheist speakers; "children get bad illnesses, parents are praying all over the world, if prayer is real show some scientific proof of it. The truth is prayer doesn't work." (or something like this as an argument)
What is the problem with the argument? Well it depends on the silent-assumption that God is a being made in the image of human reason, that should and would do everything a human being says God should and would do. (not a person filled with biases please note, like if you argue for answered prayer as a believer.)
So yes, if your beliefs are a sort of general theism where God is just a nice guy then you are right, generally prayers are landing on deaf ears.
However, if God is the Lord God of the bible, then we are made in God's image and we are told it's a sinful, fallen world and we have a sinful, fallen nature. Under this scenario, like with the black swan, you only really get pockets of true died-in-the-wool believers that truly have God's spirit being born again spiritually as Jesus mentioned, and these are the people that do get their prayers answered, I can testify to.
However they are not answered under the assumptions of a general theism. Jesus said for example, "in this world you will have trouble, but do not fear I have overcome the world."
So when an atheist says to us, "God hasn't cured cancer, God hasn't fixed the world", they are labouring under the delusion that God wants to fix the world. In fact it says in the New Testament that this, "world and it's desires are passing away but he that does the will of God will abide forever." (see how assumptions change if we don't just go with atheists that don't open the bible?)
So under Christianity at least, God isn't going to employ large-scale fixes, because Jesus didn't come and die on the cross to save the earth but the eternal soul, hence the person will abide forever but the world will, "pass away".
Is the atheist general prayer argument one of the most annoying? Yes, because of their inconsistent behaviour. Because if we get an answered prayer then according to atheists we are fallible fools that commit post hoc reasoning and confirmation bias and are riddled with all sorts of foibles. But when it comes to prayer not getting answered we are supposed to believe humans are all of a sudden NOT these fallible, bias-ridden creatures but are all of a sudden making perfect judgements about what God would or should do if God exists.
You can't win.
Conclusion; so we are basically uselessly inept fallible apes if our prayers are answered but if we say they're not we're perfect morally-pure all-knowing Einstiens that know how God should exactly behave.
If you instead want to be an informed atheist that is consistent, you have to look into what you preach. You preach humans are fallible and make all sorts of mistakes and can't be trusted, which means this would not place you in a good position to judge an all-knowing God. Nor would your subjective moral-commands be regarded logically as anything more than favourite flavour of icecream. (arbitrary and baseless, as evolved apes)
Get over yourself. Inexperience doesn't count as experience, if a witness sees Jack the ripper it doesn't matter if most people didn't, so no, we don't have to conclude that the majority of people are correct in saying that the ripper doesn't look like what the witness reported them to have looked like.
Disclaimer; I am not trying to provide a persuasive argument for prayer being real. As far as I am concerned the correct people already know God answers prayer being of a noble conscience and honestly seeking the true answers according to God's will, in a position of integrity. I am not covering the philosophical, "problem of evil and suffering" as it is known.
I am also NOT invalidating atheist concerns when it comes to genuinely being puzzled as to why God would allow the suffering of innocent children for example. I am NOT saying that this is not a legitimate concern. ALL PEOPLE struggle with the negatives that exist, and the questions are honestly asked. That isn't the issue.
The issue is this; does it make rational sense to argue limited humans could ever compete with understanding these matters on an omniscient level? Does it make logical sense to see human atheists as the standard? Well if you are really rational would would say, "no, because an all-knowing God can have reasons only they can fully understand rather that what just seems like truisms to us, which may in fact only represent simplified concepts on our own inferior level."
After all we can't really compete in any other areas can we? For example do you know any atheists have have invented any contraflow lungs or a brain or metamorphosis? But these would all be attributable to God's level of understanding under the biblical worldview.
Conclusion; It doesn't matter how wide and far ignorance extends, it cannot be counted as experience and knowledge. Black swans simply exist.

Replies to this message:
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mike the wiz
Member
Posts: 4755
From: u.k
Joined: 05-24-2003


Message 2 of 55 (912159)
08-18-2023 3:36 PM


Imagine we have a theory that in one billion bags in a warehouse there are only red balls.
If you find 500 million red balls, it will not matter if the following ball is blue, the theory is false.
In the same way logically speaking if one true miracle occurs on earth beyond question, this would negate the absence of forty two million billion zillion miracles.
If prayers are not answered generally, this is NOT an impressive argument that God does not exist.
Even Darwin knew and employed this logical thinking when he said that if there were to be just one anatomy that could not be explained by evolution his theory could be counted as false.
So what atheists may believe is a good reason to dismiss God, may for others just lead them to another question, that question being; then why the rarity?
It makes consistent sense that if the bible is true and we do have a sinful nature, that you don't get the gift without the giver.
God is not a friend with benefits, or a Santa claus you can take gifts from then on boxing day say, "now phuck off, we just want the gifts".
No being likes to be used. Can you name one intelligent person that wants to be treated with disrespect and have people be mean to them?
Look at J.K.Rowling. They want her creation but they want to divorce her from it. "give us the Harry Potter, but cut J.K out of Harry Potter!"

Replies to this message:
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Message 3 of 55 (912161)
08-18-2023 4:13 PM


Thread Copied from Proposed New Topics Forum

  
Tangle
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Posts: 9531
From: UK
Joined: 10-07-2011
Member Rating: 4.6


Message 4 of 55 (912162)
08-18-2023 5:16 PM
Reply to: Message 2 by mike the wiz
08-18-2023 3:36 PM


Hey, why not show us a blue ball?

Je suis Charlie. Je suis Ahmed. Je suis Juif. Je suis Parisien. I am Mancunian. I am Brum. I am London. Olen Suomi Soy Barcelona. I am Ukraine.

"Science adjusts it's views based on what's observed.
Faith is the denial of observation so that Belief can be preserved."
- Tim Minchin, in his beat poem, Storm.


This message is a reply to:
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Replies to this message:
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Percy
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Posts: 22614
From: New Hampshire
Joined: 12-23-2000
Member Rating: 4.5


(1)
Message 5 of 55 (912163)
08-18-2023 5:43 PM
Reply to: Message 1 by mike the wiz
08-18-2023 3:17 PM


mike the wiz writes:
Black swans are found in south Australia and Tasmania.
Atheists; "I don't know anyone that has seen a black swan in New York, none of my friends do. Indeed if I ask many people from all over the world who I know online they also don't know of any and don't know anyone that does, therefore they don't exist."
This is the atheists general argument for prayer.
I don't think many atheists would argue in this way, it being readily apparent that absence of evidence is not evidence of absence. An atheist would be more likely to argue that there is no evidence of the efficacy of prayer, except for the solace that offering it might bring.
The usual argument goes something like this with many of the popular atheist speakers; "children get bad illnesses, parents are praying all over the world, if prayer is real show some scientific proof of it. The truth is prayer doesn't work." (or something like this as an argument)
Yes, this seems closer to the truth. It is the lack of evidence that atheists are likely to focus on.
What is the problem with the argument? Well it depends on the silent-assumption that God is a being made in the image of human reason, that should and would do everything a human being says God should and would do. (not a person filled with biases please note, like if you argue for answered prayer as a believer.)
So yes, if your beliefs are a sort of general theism where God is just a nice guy then you are right, generally prayers are landing on deaf ears.
This touches on a key issue. What is it that believers claim prayer is supposed to do? Any atheist approaching the question of the efficacy of prayer would need to ask believers what they think prayer is supposed to accomplish. What atheists think it should accomplish is irrelevant, and atheists would have no trouble recognizing that.
However, if God is the Lord God of the bible, then we are made in God's image and we are told it's a sinful, fallen world and we have a sinful, fallen nature.
This touches on another key issue. Is God the God of the Bible? Of the Torah? Of the Quran? Of the Bhagavad Gita? Of the Book of Mormon? Of the Guru Granth Sahib? Of the Tripitaka?
Under this scenario, like with the black swan, you only really get pockets of true died-in-the-wool believers that truly have God's spirit being born again spiritually as Jesus mentioned, and these are the people that do get their prayers answered, I can testify to.
Someone has to live amidst a "pocket" of born again Christians before their prayers are answered? And you've gathered enough data about this that you can present evidence that it is so?
However they are not answered under the assumptions of a general theism. Jesus said for example, "in this world you will have trouble, but do not fear I have overcome the world."
So you're saying that someone who believes in God but is not a born again Christian won't have their prayers answered. I would go one step further and say that no one has their prayers answered, according to the available evidence. And if prayer were real, aren't you just being a born again Christian bigot by denying its benefits to all who don't share your Christian beliefs?
So when an atheist says to us, "God hasn't cured cancer, God hasn't fixed the world",...
Is this an actual atheist argument? Wouldn't an atheist be more like to structure his argument like this: "Consider two universes identical in all ways but one: one has a loving God and the other has no God. Both universes have sunsets and cancer and love and earthquakes and so forth. How do you tell which universe has the loving God?"
...they are labouring under the delusion that God wants to fix the world.
It seems unlikely that atheists would labor under any delusions about what a God they don't believe exists wants.
In fact it says in the New Testament that this, "world and it's desires are passing away but he that does the will of God will abide forever." (see how assumptions change if we don't just go with atheists that don't open the Bible?)
Aren't you being a Christian bigot again by only considering the Christian holy book?
So under Christianity at least, God isn't going to employ large-scale fixes, because Jesus didn't come and die on the cross to save the earth but the eternal soul, hence the person will abide forever but the world will, "pass away".
If that's what you believe, fine.
Is the atheist general prayer argument one of the most annoying?
That's not the "atheist general prayer argument." I don't know that there is one. It's just an argument you're claiming atheist's make.
Yes, because of their inconsistent behaviour. Because if we get an answered prayer then according to atheists we are fallible fools that commit post hoc reasoning and confirmation bias and are riddled with all sorts of foibles.
I think the atheist would wonder how you know when a prayer has been answered.
But when it comes to prayer not getting answered we are supposed to believe humans are all of a sudden NOT these fallible, bias-ridden creatures but are all of a sudden making perfect judgements about what God would or should do if God exists.
I think the atheist would believe prayer useless, whether believers think they've been answered or not.
You can't win.
Sure you can. If your faith makes you happy, you're a winner!
Conclusion; so we are basically uselessly inept fallible apes if our prayers are answered but if we say they're not we're perfect morally-pure all-knowing Einsteins that know how God should exactly behave.
I think the atheist would think anyone who believes prayer works is engaged in flawed thinking.
If you instead want to be an informed atheist that is consistent,...
Let's keep in mind that for the sake of your argument you made up the inconsistent atheist, and now you appear to be about to make up a consistent one.
...look into what you preach. You preach humans are fallible and make all sorts of mistakes and can't be trusted,...
I don't think atheists preach much, at least not in any religious sense, but your characterization of humans seems pretty accurate. Don't Christians believe the same, that humans are all fallen sinners?
... which means this would not place you in a good position to judge an all-knowing God.
Atheists don't think there's any such thing as God. Why would they bother judging a non-existent thing?
Nor would your subjective moral-commands be regarded logically as anything more than favourite flavour of ice cream. (arbitrary and baseless, as evolved apes)
Wouldn't it be more accurate to say that all morality is subjective, and that the religious use their religion to rationalize their morality? Southern Christianity was big time into rationalizing slavery.
Get over yourself. Inexperience doesn't count as experience, if a witness sees Jack the ripper it doesn't matter if most people didn't, so no, we don't have to conclude that the majority of people are correct in saying that the ripper doesn't look like what the witness reported them to have looked like.
Didn't follow that.
Disclaimer; I am not trying to provide a persuasive argument for prayer being real. As far as I am concerned the correct people already know God answers prayer being of a noble conscience and honestly seeking the true answers according to God's will, in a position of integrity. I am not covering the philosophical, "problem of evil and suffering" as it is known.
I think you're buried in subjectivity.
I am also NOT invalidating atheist concerns when it comes to genuinely being puzzled as to why God would allow the suffering of innocent children for example. I am NOT saying that this is not a legitimate concern. ALL PEOPLE struggle with the negatives that exist, and the questions are honestly asked. That isn't the issue.
Right. You're focused on prayer in this thread.
The issue is this; does it make rational sense to argue limited humans could ever compete with understanding these matters on an omniscient level? Does it make logical sense to see human atheists as the standard?
Wouldn't atheists be the last people to suggest holding any person or group up as a standard?
Well if you are really rational would would say, "No, because an all-knowing God can have reasons only they can fully understand rather that what just seems like truisms to us, which may in fact only represent simplified concepts on our own inferior level."
Wouldn't a truly rational person want evidence of "an all-knowing God"? And aren't you changing the subject from prayer to the nature of God?
After all we can't really compete in any other areas can we? For example do you know any atheists have have invented any contraflow lungs or a brain or metamorphosis? But these would all be attributable to God's level of understanding under the biblical worldview.
Not getting this one, either.
Conclusion; It doesn't matter how wide and far ignorance extends, it cannot be counted as experience and knowledge. Black swans simply exist.
Uh, yes, of course:
But your thread's about prayer. Do you have evidence of the efficacy of prayer?
--Percy

This message is a reply to:
 Message 1 by mike the wiz, posted 08-18-2023 3:17 PM mike the wiz has not replied

Replies to this message:
 Message 9 by Phat, posted 08-18-2023 7:07 PM Percy has replied

  
nwr
Member
Posts: 6421
From: Geneva, Illinois
Joined: 08-08-2005
Member Rating: 4.1


Message 6 of 55 (912164)
08-18-2023 5:57 PM
Reply to: Message 1 by mike the wiz
08-18-2023 3:17 PM


A whole new thread for mike the wiz to explain in excruciating detail that he's got nothing.
What was the point? We already knew that he has nothing.

Fundamentalism - the anti-American, anti-Christian branch of American Christianity

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Tangle
Member
Posts: 9531
From: UK
Joined: 10-07-2011
Member Rating: 4.6


Message 7 of 55 (912165)
08-18-2023 6:31 PM
Reply to: Message 6 by nwr
08-18-2023 5:57 PM


nwr writes:
What was the point?
I think we have to make our own point.
I dunno, maybe bet how many posts he makes before he fucks off for another 6 months declaring himself the winner?

Je suis Charlie. Je suis Ahmed. Je suis Juif. Je suis Parisien. I am Mancunian. I am Brum. I am London. Olen Suomi Soy Barcelona. I am Ukraine.

"Science adjusts it's views based on what's observed.
Faith is the denial of observation so that Belief can be preserved."
- Tim Minchin, in his beat poem, Storm.


This message is a reply to:
 Message 6 by nwr, posted 08-18-2023 5:57 PM nwr has seen this message but not replied

  
Phat
Member
Posts: 18388
From: Denver,Colorado USA
Joined: 12-30-2003


(1)
Message 8 of 55 (912166)
08-18-2023 7:00 PM
Reply to: Message 4 by Tangle
08-18-2023 5:16 PM


First You Believe and Then You Are Open To Persuasion
Tangle writes:
Hey, why not show us a blue ball?
You think we just have miracles documented, verified, and sitting around in a cedar chest awaiting your inspection?
Mike is actually making somewhat of a decent argument, but a lot depends on whether our token atheist even wants to believe. Churches themselves are at least half full of skeptics and non believers.
If I were to ask this atheist if he wanted to believe, he may say "yes of course I do! I would accept the evidence in a minute!"
Other atheists would have a different reply.. Some responses I have heard from various people (who may not have self identified as atheists but were either skeptics or agnostics.) are as follows:
Token Atheist #1: " There is no God, just as there is (are) no Leprechauns." I call this the no God default position. Critical Thinking and its accepted attempts to falsify data are partly to explain why so few educated minds even get to the point of a giant leap of faith.
Token Atheist #2: "Show me the evidence or retract your claim!" I call this the stay in your lane, leave me alone, and crawl back under your rock position. Atheist #2 was likely never a believer and has had his position reinforced by seeing American Christianity as a conservative delusion which justifies the "Christian" U.S. Empire which can be proven to have slaughtered millions of people in the name of Jesus Free Market Capitalism!. Though I have no proof, I would guess that a major percentage of professing atheists are liberals (and/or critical thinkers).
Token Atheist#3: I call these ones the "Problem Of Evil" atheists.
Rejecting the Bible as in any way authoritative makes it harder to believe in anything.
Conversely, using the Bibles own words to trash belief and attempt to falsify the apologetic narrative seemingly has no real social value...unless one actually wanted more atheists!
Of course, playing devils advocate (hopefully not literally) a skeptic may ask what the advantages are to being a Christian believer.

This message is a reply to:
 Message 4 by Tangle, posted 08-18-2023 5:16 PM Tangle has replied

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Phat
Member
Posts: 18388
From: Denver,Colorado USA
Joined: 12-30-2003


Message 9 of 55 (912167)
08-18-2023 7:07 PM
Reply to: Message 5 by Percy
08-18-2023 5:43 PM


Another Token Atheist described
Percy writes:
It is the lack of evidence that atheists are likely to focus on.
Oh right! Of course! Without evidence, these types of atheist simply close their hearts and attempt to disprove prayer (or God or Jesus) rather than speculate.
What these type of atheists *do* see is the fact that many Biblical Christians who argue against evolution are also conservatives. This fact also supports my guess that a majority of atheists are (if not) liberals at least solid critical thinkers.
If a critical thinker had any sort of unexplained positive experience, they would attempt to falsify the feeling rather than accept it. Such types rarely "get saved".
In their defense, I may add that they would ask me how I knew it was God. They also would continually bring up my horrible behavior and conclude that if this was what a professing Christian behaves like, it simply proves their point!
Also, I have been asked more than once why I dont give everything away and why I worry about money. To be fair, it is a valid question but why do they conclude that Jesus expects that (literally) of all of us?

This message is a reply to:
 Message 5 by Percy, posted 08-18-2023 5:43 PM Percy has replied

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Omnivorous
Member
Posts: 4001
From: Adirondackia
Joined: 07-21-2005
Member Rating: 5.1


(1)
Message 10 of 55 (912168)
08-18-2023 7:42 PM
Reply to: Message 6 by nwr
08-18-2023 5:57 PM


nwr writes:
What was the point? We already knew that he has nothing.
He does seem to have a disturbed mind. As a rational person, I hope the people around him have more than thoughts and prayers to offer.
If his beliefs don't bring him peace--and they clearly don't--I hope he finds the courage to change.

"If you can keep your head while those around you are losing theirs, you can collect a lot of heads."

Homo sum, humani nihil a me alienum puto.
-Terence


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Theodoric
Member
Posts: 9280
From: Northwest, WI, USA
Joined: 08-15-2005
Member Rating: 2.3


Message 11 of 55 (912169)
08-18-2023 10:43 PM
Reply to: Message 8 by Phat
08-18-2023 7:00 PM


Re: First You Believe and Then You Are Open To Persuasion
Amazingly that is stupider than Mike's post.

What can be asserted without evidence can also be dismissed without evidence. -Christopher Hitchens

Facts don't lie or have an agenda. Facts are just facts

"God did it" is not an argument. It is an excuse for intellectual laziness.

If your viewpoint has merits and facts to back it up why would you have to lie?


This message is a reply to:
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Percy
Member
Posts: 22614
From: New Hampshire
Joined: 12-23-2000
Member Rating: 4.5


Message 12 of 55 (912170)
08-18-2023 11:18 PM
Reply to: Message 9 by Phat
08-18-2023 7:07 PM


Re: Another Token Atheist described
“Stream of consciousness” much?
—Percy

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dwise1
Member
Posts: 5973
Joined: 05-02-2006
Member Rating: 4.3


Message 13 of 55 (912171)
08-19-2023 12:32 AM
Reply to: Message 12 by Percy
08-18-2023 11:18 PM


Re: Another Token Atheist described
I always found "Stream of Tequila" to be rather effective. I recently saw a Hemingway quote: "Write drunk, edit sober." Though I didn't always get to that second part.
 
Back to mike's OP, the arrogance and utter gall of believers never ceases to amaze me. They insist that atheists cannot understand what the Bible or their religion says because only believers can have such knowledge (as I recall, even Phat recently tried to play that card), but then they turn right around and lecture to us at great length what atheists think and believe and why we believe and think thus as well as what the only conclusions are that we could possibly arrive at (none of them any good, of course). Our examination of their religion/Bible/etc is strengst verboten but it's open season on atheists' ideas and beliefs?
They need to keep their damned dirty paws off of us!

This message is a reply to:
 Message 12 by Percy, posted 08-18-2023 11:18 PM Percy has seen this message but not replied

  
Tangle
Member
Posts: 9531
From: UK
Joined: 10-07-2011
Member Rating: 4.6


Message 14 of 55 (912172)
08-19-2023 2:23 AM
Reply to: Message 8 by Phat
08-18-2023 7:00 PM


Re: First You Believe and Then You Are Open To Persuasion
Phat writes:
You think we just have miracles documented, verified, and sitting around in a cedar chest awaiting your inspection?
What, you don't? What have you been doing for the last 2,000 years?
All those billions of Christians generating trillions of prayers per year but you don't have a single verified miracle for us.
Dang, us atheists are so unreasonable.

Je suis Charlie. Je suis Ahmed. Je suis Juif. Je suis Parisien. I am Mancunian. I am Brum. I am London. Olen Suomi Soy Barcelona. I am Ukraine.

"Science adjusts it's views based on what's observed.
Faith is the denial of observation so that Belief can be preserved."
- Tim Minchin, in his beat poem, Storm.


This message is a reply to:
 Message 8 by Phat, posted 08-18-2023 7:00 PM Phat has replied

Replies to this message:
 Message 15 by Phat, posted 08-19-2023 3:54 AM Tangle has replied

  
Phat
Member
Posts: 18388
From: Denver,Colorado USA
Joined: 12-30-2003


Message 15 of 55 (912173)
08-19-2023 3:54 AM
Reply to: Message 14 by Tangle
08-19-2023 2:23 AM


Re: First You Believe and Then You Are Open To Persuasion
You only accept evidence. We accept eyewitness information from ourselves and others. Of course believers don't accept every purported incident even if we witness it ourselves, but it helps to have other witnesses. Again, a critical thinker at a church event in which unexplained things happen is more likely to attempt to falsify their experience.
Let me ask you this: In your early days of bells and smells, did you feel safe with the people you were around? I would argue that your rational evidence based club makes your mental sanity more comfortable. During the few times when I and others purportedly witnessed a supernatural unexplained event, we were dumbstruck. Critics could argue that we were fooled by conmen who at best were magicians trained in illusion, but the main difference between myself and a critical thinker is that they(you) will attempt to falsify your perceptions whereas I faced the magic to see if it was in any way real. While I would cautiously agree that I could be wrong, you would never admit that you could be wrong.
You may never get the evidence that you require.

This message is a reply to:
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