Friday, December 16, 2016

The Nothing Fails Like Prayer Argument: a rebuttal

This is a statistical analysis of what I like to call the Nothing Fails Like Prayer argument.

Believer and unbeliever alike might well pause to reflect at this point on where this leaves us. Regarding God anthropomorphically for the moment, it appears that he has been put in a no-win situation. If he acts in answer to experimental prayer, he is denying his nature by becoming the tool of humans; if he fails to act he is judged to be non-existent!

10 comments:

B. Prokop said...

"Aslan is not a tame lion." (C.S. Lewis)

B. Prokop said...

Then some of the scribes and Pharisees said to [Jesus], "Teacher, we wish to see a sign from you." But he answered them, "An evil and adulterous generation seeks for a sign; but no sign shall be given to it except the sign of the prophet Jonah."
(Matthew 12:38-39)

Joe Hinman said...

all such skeptics habitually flee from examining Lourdes. They make all sorts of assumptions but they will not examine the medical committees research. I will deal with this on a chapter on SN in my coming book God, Science and Ideology,

B. Prokop said...

What the skeptics never seem to get is that prayer is not us trying to align God's will to our own (or, at least, it should not be), but rather us trying to align our own wills to His. Thus, although I might fervently pray for A to come to pass, God may have B in mind, and grant that instead.

jdhuey said...

"...have B in mind, and grant that instead."

And how is this in any way observably different from prayers being totally ineffectual?

jdhuey said...

"...that prayer is not us trying to align God's will to our own (or, at least, it should not be), but rather us trying to align our own wills to His."

Fatalism?

jdhuey said...

So then, what exactly is the point in people asking others to pray for them?

B. Prokop said...

Read Lewis's Miracles - this is, after all, a website about Lewis. He has a whole chapter on that very subject, and says it far better than I ever could. (I'd just be repeating him anyway.)

Joe Hinman said...


Blogger jdhuey said...
"...that prayer is not us trying to align God's will to our own (or, at least, it should not be), but rather us trying to align our own wills to His."

Fatalism?

It's not fatalism, which is blind and random and brute fact. God's will is purposive and wise and has a meaning and a point, We don't necessarily knw what that is but we don't have to understand it to know it has a meaning and a purpose. We an know and understand some things abuot it,


Blogger jdhuey said...
So then, what exactly is the point in people asking others to pray for them?

December 17, 2016 4:06 PM

I think most of prayer is communion and getting to know God. Even most of prayer that involves asking for things is about leaning to ask for the right things. through the process of hit rate for answers we learn the proper values by seeing what kinds of things to ask or, In praying for other we solidity with others

I think prayer is a matter of zones. we can have times when we are in god;s will we are in the zone for answers an (according to the big plan) and in that zone there is wiggle room for God to answer special requests and we can at times effect God's answers, the last presidential election not being one of those times.

B. Prokop said...

I think all such discussions about "prayer" in the abstract are missing something. Prayer is a concrete act that a person engages in, like eating, sleeping, and breathing. Discussions about generic "eating" are rather limited to "Eat, or else you'll die of starvation." You need to talk about nutrition, overeating or anorexia, the relative benefits of eating one thing rather than another for the discussion to have value.

Similarly, talking about "prayer" without taking into account how the person is actually praying has little (or even no) utility. It'd be far more profitable to discuss the Divine Office, the Liturgy of the Mass, devotional prayer (such as the Rosary or the Divine Mercy Chaplet), prayer in Latin, meditation, contemplation, Lectio Divina, work as prayer, Ignatian Discernment, etc. Now that would be the equivalent of discussing the role of carbohydrates in a diet, rather than talking about "eating" - and might even get us somewhere.