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This Is the Opposing View + Personal Evidences

1)
Study Yields No Evidence for Medical Efficacy
of Distant Intercessory Prayer:
A Follow-up Commentary

by Gary P. Posner, M.D.


http://members.aol.com/garypos/prayerstudyafterpub.html

2)
Long-Awaited Medical Study Questions the Power of Prayer http://www.nytimes.com/2006/03/31/health/31pray.html


Not to mention the Royal Family, the most prayed for family in England, has no better health then average Joe (bar the benefits of money).

Prayer does not help people. Else the world would very simply be a better place.

Claiming that the answer is always yes no or maybe is a fail-safe. It provides the illusion of prayers being occasionally answered while others are held back for mysterious reasons.

Think of the people you know, do bad things happen to good people and good things to bad? Do good things happen to good people and bad things to bad?
If you really think about it, you'll find no relation there either. Good and bad people (Depending on what those definitions mean to you) receive both good and bad things from the chaos of the world around them.

It is a fallacy to think you are helping anyone by imagining things better for them. It is not because you are a bad person that bad things happen to you.


smebro smebro 22-25, M 87 Responses Nov 8, 2007

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I can tell you that you are wrong. I can quote you scripture. I can give evidence of events that prove that prayer has power. I can tell you that being a believer but I will not do any of this. One of the greatest lesson I ever learned is that when you have a personal spiritual encounter with God you do not need convincing. You do not need any of the above. Whether scientifically provable or not. Prayer worked for me.

In order to receive anything from God, you must 'believe that He exists & that He is a rewarder of them that DILIGENTLY seek Him'<br />
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"You will find Me when you seek Me with your WHOLE HESART"<br />
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"A double minded man is unstable in ALL his ways: let not tht man think that he will receive anything feom the Lord"<br />
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"It is not for the clay to judge the Potter"

I happen to like opposing views, as a follower of Jesus the Christ, I know that even Jesus faced opposition, so much so that those who opposed, finally had him crucified to shut Him up, interesting that did not stop Him nor the dawning of the Kingdom of God on earth.<br />
Regarding prayer Luke tells us in Luke 18:1, that Jesus told His followers to always pray and not lose heart. There are many things in this life that could cause us to lose heart when it comes to our prayers. Have you lost heart in your prayer life? I know I have at times. When we have prayed for something and God has chosen in His perfect will and timing not to answer us, we sometimes lose heart. When hardship and persecution comes our way, this can cause us to lose heart. Is there something that you have stopped praying about? If so, you have lost heart. This happens to all of us. I want to challenge and encourage you to start praying again.<br />
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When we pray with passion directly from our hearts, it has power. I love to pray about specific details, because when God answers the prayer of something specific, it builds my faith. Charles Spurgeon said, “It is the burning lava of the soul that has a furnace within – a very volcano of grief and sorrow – it is that burning lava that finds its way to God. No prayer ever reaches God’s heart which does not come from our hearts.”<br />
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God’s timing is always perfect. I can testify to this in my own life. There are times when He delays, but there is always a reason. We need to be people of consistent and unwavering prayer. In good times and bad, pray continuously. Trust the One you are praying to because He is faithful and true.<br />
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If your prayers have lost heart, press into Him more - not less.<br />
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As we all grow in Christ, our time spent with the Lord will increase. Daily and constant communication develops as the relationship deepens. John MacArthur says, “Prayer is the spontaneous response of the believing heart to God. Those truly transformed by Jesus Christ find themselves lost in wonder and joy of communion with Him. Prayer is as natural for the Christian as breathing.” Is prayer as natural as breathing to you?<br />
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God desires a relationship with all of us. When we pray from our hearts (honestly and authentically), it builds our relationship with God. If you have lost heart in your prayer life, press into Him more – not less.<br />
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Our Lord loves us more than we can imagine. It is amazing that we can have a conversation with the Creator of the Universe! God hears us and responds to our prayers. Our prayer lives are not a mechanical set of words or repeating memorized phrases. It is deep communion when we speak directly from our hearts. Our Father does answer and it maybe , yes, no , or wait....no and wait are were we grow in faith and trust.

Mmmmmn yeah that seems about right.. The gravitas of your reply is appreciated

for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.<br />
A Preacher of God once said; <br />
Lot's of prayer is lot's of power.<br />
Little prayer is little power.<br />
and no prayer is no power at all.<br />
it is written:<br />
"But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you."<br />
"Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you: For every one that asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh findeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened." <br />
"we have not because we ask not."<br />
"Casting all your care upon him; for he careth for you."<br />
"In nothing be anxious, but in everything, by prayer and petition with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God. The peace of God, which passes all understanding, will guard your hearts and your thoughts in Christ Jesus."<br />
"Pray without ceasing. In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you."<br />
"Call unto me, and I will answer thee, and show thee great and mighty things, which thou knowest not."<br />
"If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land."<br />
"For if our heart condemn us, God is greater than our heart, and knoweth all things. "Beloved, if our heart condemn us not, then have we confidence toward God. And whatsoever we ask, we receive of him, because we keep his commandments, and do those things that are pleasing in his sight."<br />
"And this is the confidence that we have in him, that, if we ask any thing according to his will, he heareth us: And if we know that he hear us, whatsoever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we desired of him." <br />
"But let him ask in faith, nothing wavering. For he that wavereth is like a wave of the sea driven with the wind and tossed. For let not that man think that he shall receive any thing of the Lord."<br />
" But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him."<br />
"And whatsoever ye shall ask in my name, that will I do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If ye shall ask any thing in my name, I will do it."<br />
" And in that day ye shall ask me nothing. Verily, verily, I say unto you, Whatsoever ye shall ask the Father in my name, he will give it you. Hitherto have ye asked nothing in my name: ask, and ye shall receive, that your joy may be full." <br />
"But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you."

Eyes, I love that analogy, it will stick in my mind as a lighthouse of hope for our innate logical nature. If children can see the inconsistencies, then anyone can...if they approach the topic innocently… <br />
It is such a waste when a child is indoctrinated mentally into any religion...unfair and cruel.<br />
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Tate; isn’t it a glossy set, why! Their opinions must be important if they host things on such a glossy set!<br />
I hope that more people get the internet, so they don’t have to watch cr*p like that. Video no.2 is frightening.

So vague elle...so so vague (To us who you think mock)

I've been keeping up with the entire conversation... not an easy task, I assure you. I wanted to interject with a comment one of my students made while we are reading Animal Farm. <br />
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When anything good happens on the farm, they attribute it to Napoleon, stating even "Thanks to the leadership of Comrade Napoleon, how excellent this water tastes," and whenever anything goes wrong, they blame Snowball. <br />
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One of my students piped up and said that it was like her mom and grandma. Whenever anything good happened, they gave God credit, and when anything went wrong, they blamed the devil. If they lost electricity, the devil was at work (including once where dad forgot to send the check o the elec company). When mom found $20 she thought she lost, it was god. <br />
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Several students shared their own examples, and quite a few seemed upset that their parents didn't take responsibility for their own mistakes (although I'm not quite sure my kids understood that they need to take responsibility for their own actions as well).<br />
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They said that it was stupid to beleive everything good was someone else's doing, and everything bad was someone else's fault.<br />
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Its not exactly the same as crediting and blaming dieties, but its a rather good analogy I think. <br />
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As an agnostic, I do not think that everything good that happens is some divine entities will, and everything bad is some malign entities interference. Heck, I can't see why they would bother with us anymore.

:) I do my best

Some videos I would appreciate anyone watching, thoughts welcome.<br />
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First one should be able to give believers a good idea where we Atheists come from.<br />
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WTvAHwbBmiM<br />
So I highly recommend that.<br />
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Second one is a very interesting look into how the American population are being influenced by what they watch. With a very poignant example.<br />
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JX_sXsfCb9A<br />
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Third one is another good Atheist explanation as to why what most of you say is inconceivable to us. Which is also why we are far beyond ever believing the same.<br />
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YKcx0biHPR0<br />
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Please watch if possible, only 15 minutes at the most, and all very interesting. Especially the second one, which gives me a new reason to fear American Ignorance.

smebro I was worried that people would not appreciate my sermon. Go ahead and delete it if it is too offensive, I don't care.<br />
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anotherhuman - my opinion is that we do need to seek gods blessings. go back and read carfully what I previously stated.

Maple; It does make sense, although if prayer really worked, wouldn't it make more sense to use those powers for other people in worse situations then yourself?<br />
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MJ; This is a common theme amongst some faithful people, the idea that all the other faiths actually believe the same as you…only they have it slightly wrong. When the beliefs are so incompatible, I do not see how that could work.<br />
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Abb, you find those things interesting, but I really don’t. This is not the place for long references to texts, or else I might just direct you all to Richard Dawkins.<br />
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AnotherHuman, you and I see the hypocrisy in thinking that prayer is helping. Every prayer answered has a background of events that logically led to the ‘answer’. The fact that it can be yes no or makes it as reliable as…well…Chaos. <br />
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Abb, Not all Christians believe prayer is an act of growing close to god, many as we see here, think it’s also a means of requesting goods and services from the universe. <br />
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There are so many faiths in here with different versions of prayer and faith. I need time to respond. Which will be hard…Another Human raised the most important point of all; If there is a mechanism (God or otherwise) that answers the prayers, then why does it choose specific people and only at certain times? Is it because those people are better deserving? In which case might we ask the people who have had anecdotal evidence that prayer works for them to not pray for themselves, but instead to pray for those that need it. The starving, the poor. Having said that; those prayers would achieve nothing (As I think everyone intuitively knows) compared to people physically pursuing their ‘prayers’ themselves (in the case of people who are asking requests, not people who are getting close to God.) .<br />
Sorry to those I haven’t addressed, I’ll be back later.

no anotherhuman...Its not that I cant explain it when things go wrong and call it prayers answered when they go right...<br />
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Ever heard the song....lyrics go something like...."sometimes I thank God...for unanswered prayers"..? <br />
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We may not always understand they why's....good or bad...<br />
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If I thought it was as simple as all that ...imagien i would pray for a huge pile of money....LOL

True ElleMeza. However, there are blessings we can have but will not recieve if we do not ask. God wants us to seek after him. To exersise faith/action in his words. We learn a lot and grow stronger in the process.

Well, I cannot accept credit. the concept comes from my bible dictionary. I have learned from personal experience that the concept is true. Even the Lord Jesus in agony prayed to have "this cup removed" but "thy will be done".

Very well stated Abb, saw both my parents died very undignified deaths. Yet, there was an amazing grace & dignity as well. I awed me! I saw beauty in the grief. God was there with us all through it.

Those situations are sad....and no I cannot explain them.<br />
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It is interesting though that it some think it seems to prove there is no God when they feel prayer didnt work...but doesnt seem to prove there is a God when it does.<br />
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The good ole' double standard.

Forgive me if I share a anecdotal experience, but I am busting to do so here. As it really suits why I believe in the power of prayer. I have also elsewhere included this story in the title. I can attest to BLESSINGS & MIRACLES HERE ON EP. so here goes.<br />
This story goes way beyond consequences & odds & luck, FAR beyond. TARDY really what are the odds on this, both persons searching for the same answers for almost 10 years with no results, on an event that occurred over 62 years ago, getting together on this small web site, in a small story etc. Can you evaluate the odds on this occurring? <br />
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I have been researching my families military history for nearly a decade, steadfast & focused and sincerely committed to finding answers to so many questions regarding the sacrifices my ancestors made to Canada & to the world. So much effort with little results.<br />
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I am attesting that faithfulness is rewarded and Blessings can and are received. What is also amazing is that the facts appear right here, on the EP web site.<br />
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This year "Remembrance Day" or "Veterans Day" (in the USA) fell on a Sunday. I attended church knowing their would in all probability be a dedication & a two minute silence observed for all those serving and who have served. <br />
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As this is a day, where one wears any medals of honour received (I was wearing mine), I noticed a older women wearing several I did not recognize. As I am the guardian of my family's war medals, I was curious and approached her. She explained her medals were British Medals for her service during the Battle of Britain. Anyway, after the service I felt compelled to humble myself and approached her, asking for prayer. During this special time, she beseeched God for a special blessing to be bestowed on me. During this moment I had a sense of smelling Lilacs and Lilies, and told her so, after her prayer.<br />
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Later that evening, I signed on to EP, and was notified of a comment on a story. When I first joined EP I joined the group "I want to memorialize a fallen soldier", and entered my dad's brothers death in WW2. There it was my blessing & miracle. <br />
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Who commented! The daughter of the Squadron Leader who commanded the tank squad of my Uncle's Battalion! This man had received the MILITARY CROSS for actions taken in the very battle my Uncle and his crew were instantly killed in, just days before Victory was declared.<br />
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Finally, someone to fill in the gaps. This person was not a member before this very day here, if fact has just entered into this site on November 11th, and found that very small site, to leave a comment. <br />
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We are now friends, and are looking towards joining together to answer all the questions, both of us have been searching years for. Knowing the, time efforts, attempts, previously made, for contacts during a decade, I do not hesitate to call this a "Blessed Encounter".

As far as the afterlife is concerned, I think most people would find the mormon additions very interesting. One of the extremely radical deviations that Joseph Smith took was that the afterlife does not contain the black/while, heaven/hell extremes commonly believed at the time and persisting to this day among many Abrahamic faiths. It is really exciting for me so if I may, I would like to explain. <br />
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Doctrine and Covenants Section 19 verse 3 states that the Lord is going to pass judgement according to the works and deeds done in mortality.<br />
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Then starting in verse 6 are great mystery is revealed:<br />
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6 Nevertheless, it is not written that there shall be no end to this torment, but it is written endless torment. <br />
7 Again, it is written eternal damnation; wherefore it is more express than other scriptures, that it might work upon the hearts of the children of men, altogether for my name’s glory. <br />
8 Wherefore, I will explain unto you this mystery, for it is meet unto you to know even as mine apostles. <br />
9 I speak unto you that are chosen in this thing, even as one, that you may enter into my rest. <br />
10 For, behold, the mystery of godliness, how great is it! For, behold, I am endless, and the punishment which is given from my hand is endless punishment, for Endless is my name. Wherefore— <br />
11 Eternal punishment is God’s punishment. <br />
12 Endless punishment is God’s punishment.<br />
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I am not aware of anywhere in the scriptures the word "forever" being used. Essentially, what the Lord is saying is that even really bad people that suffer really bad things in "hell" are eventually going to be redeemed from their fallen state and be given an inheritance of glory and happiness. Other scriptures describe these different degrees of glory but I don't want to bore anyone.

abb...I am not mormon. I am non-denominational. I am simply Christian.<br />
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Have attended many...and been a member of a few different denominations in my lifetime. Now...I am apparently just too complicated to fit into any of those molds....LOL

Smebro...in answer to your remark about Muslims attributing something similar to a different power, I don't think it's a different power...I think it's all the same power and we all just have different names for it. Also, lol, about the brain tumor because for a few days after that I walked around wondering if I did have one! I have prayed with fervor since then, but never experienced that same thing again. Your conversation here is illuminating and has brought out some very interesting insight in a lot of people.

Lexus, I am curious to know if there is any particular brand of faith that you embrace? Your talk of "age of accountability" is kind of a mormon/LDS thing but I didn't think you were mormon.

hahaha... I don't intend to be the referee, abb8279! I just tend to like talking about my own beliefs in my own stories, when in other people's I try to bring my thoughts and opinions on the discussion at hand, unless I feel that my own particular flavour is relevant.<br />
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Unlike smebro, however, I tend to respect people of Abrahamic faiths who will express what they believe, when that comes to non-believers going to hell. There are certainly parts of all those scriptures (to my recollection) that are fairly explicit about what lies in the after life. Whilst being told that I am going to hell is likely to cause me to tune out, I do appreciate the consistency of belief.

Sembro....what you spoke about are lazy Christians....plain and simple. Prayer can help others...we should though ask ourselves what part we are personally doing for sure....<br />
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As for going down a couple of notches in your eyes...ahh well...stinks to be me I suppose.<br />
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Regardless, what I wont do lie to to you.. If one does not accept Christ as their savior...I am sorry...the Bible is clear on what lies ahead.

Dodo - you are an expert at remaining the referee. I was hoping to nudge you out of that comfort zone but I can see it will not happen.

But would such a dissection of our silliness achieve anything?<br />
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Observers! Leave now before you inadvertently influence the outcome of this experiment in silliness.<br />
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I think...the silliness may be overlooked for the solid points made in pre-silliness comments. I don't like to delete, and so the silliness must stand the test of time.

Correct! I am indeed on the Eastern Seaboard of Australia! <br />
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You know, you could always just delete the silly posts before the thread gets hijacked by the Power of Silly, or comes to an unfortunate halt.<br />
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It would quite nicely underscore some thoughts on the nature of reality - and how flexible one's experience of things is. Observers could quite rightly debate whether or not there had ever been any silliness in the thread, and both perspectives would be justifiable based on internal evidence...

I knew it! experience was way too easy...it had to be something like extraterrestrial.<br />
If you like, we can call you Marasheneeeerian...if you like, cause it's easy to remember.<br />
I suspect you are over Australia, as your circadian rhythm seems to suggest. <br />
I wonder if anyone is compelled to comment after three posts of silliness (Although I am serious) .

You got me. The 'E' in 'EP' actually stands for Extraterrestrial! (Because even the rest of the universe is so anthropocentric that we call ourselves aliens ;) )

You are way too cool Tardy.<br />
Like, you must be an Alien monitoring EP from earth's atmosphere or something.

Ultimately, I think it is difficult to separate the defence of one's beliefs from appearing to advocate them.<br />
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(This is one of the reasons I do not put forward my own beliefs in these discussions. I find the ideas are more easily examined in a dispassionate way.)<br />
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The neutrality of belief is not as clear cut as is perhaps we might like. <br />
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For members of <b>many</b> organised religions, there is both an ethical and theological imperative to spread what you believe to be the truth, rather than leave unbelievers in ignorance, or worse, to suffer.<br />
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Similarly, there is a movement within the broad atheist paradigm that feels that religion creates more suffering and does more harm than it does good, on both a personal level and societal level, and it poses a major barrier to a better world. The inference from this is that organised religion should be consigned to a position of cultural, but not metaphysical nor political importance. <br />
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Anyone from either of those perspectives can not really live and let live, truly.<br />
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On the matter of anecdotal evidence, I agree that an individual's experiences provide personal proof. And our personal truths are of vital importance to each individual. However, that does not mean that they necessarily represent a broader truth experienced by everyone else, nor that your own interpretation of events necessarily relates to any underlying reality. <br />
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I am not saying that my anecdotal experience is any better interpreted than anyone elses. For example, the transcendent moments of peace and universal connection I have experienced, I feel that many people of faith would interpret as being in communion with god.<br />
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Clearly, anecdotal evidence is necessarily problematic. This does not mean it is meaningless, but I think it is important to understand its limitations. <br />
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On the statistical note, it is ironic that the original prompt for the story has sort of been lost. I am still highly skeptical of the idea that the "power of prayer" is terribly amenable to study. [interesting to think about in theory though. the parameters of prayer, how to measure outcomes, how to remove observer impact... can you double blind god ;) Run a population scale, prospective cohort study with a crossover control group?]<br />
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Anyway, it is most certainly a poor way to examine the existence or non-existence of a deity, given that the absence or presence of efficacy of prayer is ultimately quite non-conclusive. Prayer could work without a god. Prayer could not work, and yet there could be a god.

The problem, Lexus, is that the Christians that engage in conversation like this are quality...but there are plenty that seem to make matters irrevocably worse (this has nothing to do with prayer, but instead to do with the idea of leaving the faithful alone). For some of us, it seems the only 'righteous' thing to do is suggest they consider the belief systems they are living by. <br />
Obviously you are not harming anyone by praying...but I really want those that pray as an act of helping situations to think about what they are doing, and then, if they can, help the situation physically...even if only in a minute manner. Meditation, I think, Is something completely separate from Prayer...although some Prayer might physically resemble meditation.<br />
I have seen plenty of faithful people suggest they are helping victims by praying, when in all actuality (From where I'm standing, notably different from where you are) they are doing no more then wishing the situation will get better. If anything, I hope this thread will encourage a few people to help others a little more for mankind, to give advice instead of prayer, to give a little to the hungry and poor. (Not to say that any of you aren't already doing this).<br />
Everyone should defend their beliefs, and where appropriate, adapt those beliefs to better fit the likely picture. There is likely nothing a non-believer can do to instantly persuade a believer that their faith is no more then happy thoughts, just as there is likely there is no way for an faithful person to persuade the world that their chosen faith is the one and only (Often wont stop them trying though).<br />
I had a discussion today about with Abb about the idea of a base 'truth' and I found myself reminded of how inconsistent I am with my beliefs. Today I am thinking about photons for some absurd reason...on any other day I might be once again considering my place in the multi-verse. None of the theories I've read, the theories of everything (within which I place religion) are complete or whole, because science is always updating and adapting and suggesting alternatives. There is rarely ever a single accepted theory for anything. I kind of like it that way, it makes my reads of New Scientist all the more satisfying, it surprises me when I do research online...it thrills me when I see the mysteries in the world around me.<br />
What I am saying is...Science rules, you have no idea what you are missing out on. There are concepts which would blow your mind, they may not even be true...but if you can suspend your belief long enough to see them as tangible...then you see how amazing it is that we are alive at all in the universe...when it's far more likely our matter would be in dust . <br />
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Lexus, I'll let you in on a secret, any Christian that hints that those who don't say/think the right things are going to hell, immediately drops a few notches in my (And I'd imagine many atheists) good-books. Suggesting that you will receive a mighty reward for doing something others find a physical impossibility is nothing short of arrogance, we really hate that. Obviously we don't believe it, but the fact you could even visualise non-believers suffering is enough to put many of us off a rational conversation. The flip-side would be us saying what we really think about your beliefs in blatant arrogance, which I have done a few times (With enough cajoling, anyone can get nasty) and am trying to avoid in order to maintain healthy relationships. I might think something about your beliefs, and you might think something about our afterlives, and we all might be offended if we really said what we truly believed.<br />
I have a ramble alert in the corner of my eye, indicating I'm rambling because of the Vodka Cruisers and Fairy Bombs.

absolutely!!....corrrect me if I am wrong...but all I have done here is attempt to defend my beliefs....<br />
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I have said repeatedly that I had no intentions of forcing anyone to think or feel anything....<br />
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Its all simply a matter of choice.

Here is a thought...why does anyone truly care if we are all just dillusional and ignorant of the "facts"...??<br />
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Why the need to try to spoil it for us....leave us to our blissfully happy ignorant existance.<br />
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In the end...the proof will come....some of us will be happy....some of us....imagine will not.

Dodo- there is no reason why one could not organize the he said/she saids into a data base of observational data. As graduate of statistics from Utah State University I can state that from a statistical point of view, obervational data does not prove anything but it is not discarded either. For example: you cannot perfom a controlled analysis on smoking, it would be unethical. All the evidance complied on the hypothesis that smoking is bad comes from observational data. Once you have compiled enough data the evidance begins to paint a pretty clear picture. <br />
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On the other hand there is no reason why a controlled experiment could not be perfomed in regards to prayer. Take several groups of people and have them pray in various ways over various things (not just illnesses) all the while taking note of their intent and you could prove whether or not prayer works. <br />
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Of course, this is what started this whole discussion in the first place. The interesting thing about it is that years ago I read an article in the Readers Digest about prayer which stated that studies show that prayer does indeed work. Statistics work but people are biased and agenda driven. You cannot always trust any statistical study that comes out.<br />
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BTW Dodo, we don't just want your commentary, we want your personal opinion on this stuff. What do YOU believe. Are you thiest or athiest? Do you believe in prayer or not?

Tardy has augmented this discussion nicely, with an admirably even-handed approach.<br />
Maple, I have to disagree with the idea of one being indicated through collected experiences. As Anotherhuman alludes to, there are wars over who has the correct God. But what’s-more is the ultra-specific methods of worship and lessons contained within each different faith, and the incompatible belief sets. Some have reincarnation, some have purgatory, some have heaven, some have numerous hells…None have quantifiable evidence, they just say these things.<br />
It does matter to the believer that they are praising a specific God, or else people wouldn’t bother learning about any faith, because they’d have the knowledge that there is only one invisible being, and that because he never interferes (Or chooses to do so on rare occasions) there is no way to know his true motivations in regards to anything. That kind of religion would be the most agreeable of all, as no-one would spend time preaching or guessing the motivations of a being that no-one admittedly has an open channel of communication with (This is me hypothesising a world with God again, not my denial of belief as some have suggested in the past).

Most of the religious conflict that spring to mind are not about the name of the god (ie inter-religion), but how to worship the god (ie sectarian) (given that Judaism, Christianity and Islam are just all sects of a faith that worships the Abrahamic god).<br><br><br />
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Which just makes all the death and destruction even more unpalatable really, although it is not just religious belief that tends to suffer from this phenomena.

A lot of these comments demonstrate a very interesting difference the approach that faith-based truth seeking and rationalised truth seeking work.<br />
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In faith based truth seeking ANY evidence is viewed as valid and reinforcing of the truth. Personal anecdote is regarded as good evidence.<br />
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In rational based truth seeking, the integrity and quality of the evidence is crucial. You said, he said, she said is not viewed as good proof of anything. Personal and private anecdotes can often be of deep, deep personal meaning, and bound up with very profound emotion. That makes it very important to the person who experienced it, and that is important.<br />
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But it does not mean that the truth-value of that experience extends beyond that person's own experience; counterpoint examples are readily found from all sorts of faiths, and from people who are rigidly atheistic in their world view.<br />
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And this is why personal anecdote has *limited* use in proving things. It may demonstrate *why* prayer can benefit an individual but it most certainly offers no proof to the existence of a deity that responds to prayer.

Mj, you are not alone, many times in prayer or in worship, there is a scent (have fessed up about that somewhere else here, can't remember where). It is as real as the answer to prayer (I find it to be between the smell of a lilac and a Lily of the Valley). <br />
A answered prayer is not unnecessarily the answer you want, but if not, the peace that comes to you in that NO, or change of heart towards your request, (if one has been made) surpasses all understanding. Mapleman, love your heart for the Lord! You may not show Scientific wisdom, but certainly you do show, Godly wisdom. I prefer the later.

Ditto to what mapleman said!!

Hi MJ, all input welcomed. Keeping in mind that I will talk frankly about faith as I give it no more respect then politics. <br />
Some people experience insects crawling on them as they go through heroin withdrawal. The mind is a powerful thing, just look at how realistic your dreams feel in the moment. <br />
The question remains, why did you have an experience like this while a Muslim experiences something similar but attributes it to a different power? Or the people in situations of dire need who received nothing for their cries of agony. I respect that you have experienced something others have not, but that does not detract from how removed that experience is from common experience…or the fact that other people claim similar things that are found to have basic causes (Brain Tumours can cause an olfactory response…smelling something odd) <br />
or that people from other faiths (Or spiritual beliefs), especially the people from beliefs incompatible with yours, that have experienced similar things but under conditions and with explanations that have nothing to do with your particular faith. <br />
Not everyone can work themselves to the point of a break-down where they cry out to the cosmos, and even then very few would experience what you did. For me that is an indication that your experience is as valid as Alien abduction stories. Some people believe them, some people say ‘hmmm’ and some begin to think about sleep paralysis and the often misguided power of the brain. <br />
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Abb, Have you tried to open an English version of the Koran? My guess is you will have much the same luck finding guidance. If we free-associate with our interpretations of written texts, then you are can find lessons anywhere.<br />
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All ya’ll others, those that might be considered ‘Smebro’s followers’ by the great moral dictator Marji; I am the anti-christ! So long I have been waiting for someone to call me this! So long, in fact, that I put that dime-a-dozen title on my profile page. Yay for me! I’m breaking Christian rules and becoming an untraditional anti-christ! So untraditional that I might not seem all that bad at all…I might actually make sense.

very nice experience MJ....proud of you for your courage...:)

There have been many times that I have been praying about something then open the scriptures (Bible, Book of Mormon, Doctrine & Covenants, Pearl of Great Price), flip to a page and my eyes land right on the exact answer. There is a popular phase I have heard that goes like this: If you want to talk to god, pray but if you want god to talk to you read the scriptures.<br />
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Many others I talk to have the same experience.

~sigh~ I thought very long and hard about sharing this story...It was about a year before I met my husband, and my heart was broken. I had recently made it out of an abusive relationship and I needed help. I didn't pray much in those days, but this time, my prayer was indeed as pure as they come. I was sick of dating, sick of looking at every man and wondering if he could be the one...I was full of despair and misery. My prayer was a last ditch effort. I asked God to help me. I asked that it be done within the year. I was crying as I prayed, lying alone in my bed in the pitch black. My doors were locked, my windows locked...I was alone in my house. As I sent my prayers up, laden with tears, the room suddenly filled with the overwhelming scent of flowers. But, not like any flowers that I had ever smelled. I sat bolt upright in bed and demanded to know who was there. I shook like a leaf and for the first time in my life, I knew, I knew for a fact no doubt about it that there is something bigger than me, and bigger than you out there. I went to sleep with a feeling of peace that I have never known since...and it was three days to the year that I met my husband. Was it a delusion? No. Am I nuts? No. I have met one other person in my life who has had this experience during prayer... if it's not God, then I don't know what it is.

You didnt claim I was trying to convert you...you just kept saying over and over you couldnt force yourself to believe something. I was saying that I wasnt trying to force you either...:)<br />
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Faith and love are very much alike despite your not thinking so....:) Bioth are also intangable forms of trust by the way.<br />
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Sem...dear one...I am wasting my breath here...and do believe you are too. We just see this very differently....and that is ok with me.<br />
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{{hugs}}

And wouldn't that be the fairest best world of all Lexus? If there were no need for faith…like if your God had conveniently written the universal truths across the stars for us to find…so that it might be clearer for everyone. <br />
I never claimed you were trying to convert me...did I? I started this conversation. <br />
When loving people it is much different to loving a being that never provides a response. When I love someone it is because I have known them to the point where I either trust them through a long worn out relationship, or because the connection I felt with their physical personality or being is enough to set in motion events that lead to love. Loving another person is rarely a choice, or never a choice; it just happens. In that case the proof is no more then the experience you have had with that person, you have the personal evidence needed to allow the love to come. You did not look at the person, open your heart, and by-choice fall in love with them. It is very hard to find analogies for the Subject of God and faith, because the analogy inevitably involves things happening in the real world…where as matters of faith occur in the mind (And hence can not be easily analogised).

Sembro...why do you feel anyone including me is trying to force you to do or believe anything?<br />
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I am not...strong arm tactics are not the Chrsitian way nor are they mine.<br />
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I am not really suggesting these two things are on nearly the same level. But just as an example...how are you sure that you love someone. You can list out reasons they deserve it...things you like about them...yada yada.. But there is no way to prove with a blood test for instance that you "love them".<br />
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Belief of God is a heart issue. He enters your heart. Its very difficult at least for me to try to explain this to another person. I hope that someone pipes in here with a better abililty at doing that and helps me out...LOL<br />
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Sembro...if there were the tangable proof out there that you seek...there would simply no longer be the need for faith at all.

Lexus, you might call it a gift or a choice, but that doesn't detract from the fact that one cannot force oneself to believe something. One needs personal evidence. With so many people claiming personal evidences for so many different and incompatible faiths, how can you be sure you were gifted or chose the right version? <br />
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Marji; Well... Thanks for your input. I guess I should expect the Vatican to plan it's assassination anytime now. You might pray for anyone you please based on who you think deserves it. I'm only talking to the believers that feel like talking to me, optional to read and respond. It's very funny you find me so offensive when there are people on this same website proclaiming burning hell for others, I'm reasonably sure my message makes a lot of sense...compared to that.

Sembro...No I am not saying you have to lie to your logic. I'm not in fact saying you have to do anything at all.<br />
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I do not claim to be educated in other religons...You mentioned Alah...<br />
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I said this way back there somewhere in my commetns to this story...I am a bit of a rebel...hehe<br />
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I do not know for sure one way or the other which or none or all of other religous dieties are in fact just God by another name...<br />
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I neither think that its a matter of our "test grade"...as in we are standing there and St Peter says...sorry you got a 70% you only understood and believed 70% right so your outa here...no not at all what I beleive.<br />
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We are not saved by our "works" we are saved by His grace...we choose to accecpt the gift...or we do not.<br />
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My logical side is just fine...I do not feel I am at all dismissing what I consider to be common sense.

Lexus, what can anyone say to that? Are you saying I have to lie to my logic, that i need to dispose of all the reasoning I have...so that, like you, I can believe in a totally unbelievable concept with nothing based on physical reality?<br />
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in your world do the Muslim children 'choose' Allah? <br />
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What are the benefits of choosing your God over theres?<br />
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I doubt you actually chose anything, I think the fact you have your faith is because you were born in America. No choosing involved.<br />
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Lexus, how does one lie to their logical side? Is it a matter of dismissing common-sense or is it all about learning not to trust Human knowledge?

Sembro...if you have been taught....then you have reached the age. It's then a choice. You choose not to believe...I have chosen to beleive.<br />
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It is a choice...you choose to acecpt His gift of grace...have faith in Him and to believe His word...or you dont. it really is not complicated at all.

Lexus, how can that choice be made if there is no compelling evidence. perhaps its easy for some people to swallow the bible, but some of us are not so 'lucky'. You cannot force belief (Although you can easily influence it at a young age). Your explanation is one version of millions, none of which make any more sense then the others.<br />
For example, why should it be set up as that? What is the mechanism that detects this age of accountability? why should there need to be such an age?<br />
That choice is not a choice, there's no choice involved, you either trust science or live by ancient myths. You might interpret it in that way, but where is the physical indication of the same?

just wanted to throw one little thing in here. Children are not going to hell because they were never exposed to Christ. One has to reach the "age of accountability" which is basically the age when we are cognitively able to make the choice. If we are never exposed to the choice...then its never reached.

We think a lot of people believe certain things... often it turns out they have their own version.

What are the benefits of a Mormonism over Buddhism?

Smebro, I appreciate your comments. I agree that it does not make any sense to say that people (especially children) of other beliefs are going to suffer in the afterlife. The Book of Mormon makes clear that children are born innocent and all are saved. Small children are not capable of sinning. Furthermore, all adults who choose to live good lives are not going to any kind of hell, no matter what beliefs they have. I think most religions teach false doctrine in regards to these issues.<br />
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As far as faith being a science I will dissagree. There is an experiement that all people are invited to try. First of all you need to sincerely and humbly want to know if there is a god and then be willing to give a place in your heart for his words. The Bible is the word of God through ancient prophets but it is so old and has been translated so many times that it is not complely accurate anymore, it has errors. I recomend you read the Book of Mormon with a desire to know if there is a God and with a willingness to keep His commandments. If you do this humbly and pray to God the Father, in the name of Jesus Christ you will feel something. You will feel his love. You must also understand that we are the children of God, he loves us and wants us to feel/seek after Him. If we draw near to Him, He will draw near to us.

Mapleman, I am more sceptical then a lot of people, but there are plenty of Atheists who are as, if not more, sceptical and active in their scepticism then I am.<br />
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Tricz; You have a different stand then I do. I see human achievement augmented by an increase in more accurate knowledge. To me it is not worth sitting back and letting each conflicting ideology continue to be warped and twisted in so many negative ways. I am compelled to urge every person of faith to question that faith.<br />
Telling a Christian they don’t understand their ideology will not help, it will liky cause another branch of Christianity to break off onto its own path…as has happened so many times for every faith. They will never understand their ideology because although it seems very clear-cut…its completely open to interpretation (There is no way to test any of the claims).<br />
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Where you say that science is a quantification of the material world, and that God is not material…I am pondering the underlying logic of that statement. The only quantifiable existence we have is the physical, so to say that God is undetectable by science is like saying my invisible dinosaur is undetectable by science. Such a claim can be applied to anything. People are known to believe insane things, and to be thrown into mental institutions. But if there is a large group of people who believe in the same invisible thing then society doesn’t consider it so crazy anymore.<br />
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Later you mention God being omnipotent…but that doesn’t make sense, why would an omnipotent god set in motion events that would see an angel of his defeat him? or why would he set in motion an earth with humans doomed to sin?<br />
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The subject of prayer goes deeper then the question of whether it is possible or not. In the origonal comment I posted in another story I tried to raise this subject. If Christians really believe they are being occasionally given gifts from above, then why are they not questioning the reasoning ability of the entity that values spoken words and silent thoughts above the pain and suffering of those who do not say or think those things? That is a very complex question. One I wish was considered more…if only to have them realize how strange the logic is behind the practice and faith in general.<br />
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Could you elaborate on how reason will lead to aspects of faith? If reason could find that invisible universe and explain where it’s contents came from…then it would become fact, not faith. There is a significant difference between facts and faiths.<br />
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Suffering does not make you a better person. In rare cases, you might benifet from suffering…but if suffering really did make better people we would put our children through army training. What about people that live only to suffer and die? Do they gain from the experience? <br />
Again, Suffering does not, as a rule, make you a better stronger person. I doubt many people could agree with you. I will not be actively trying to increase the worlds suffering.<br />
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That placebo affect you talk about was the opposite in the most recent major research. The heart surgery patients who knew they were being prayed for where the only ones with a variation in survival rate; they died more often. Seems they might have thougt that the fact they were being prayed for was a bad sign which raised stress levels. That’s no placebo I’d want. <br />
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God does not exist any more than any other invisible element outside of everyday experience.<br />
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Abb8279;<br />
God is Santa Claus, don’t you get it? He is exactly as real as Santa Claus, he exists in the same way…<br />
You can call faith science, but it is not. Faith cannot be tested, no faiths have any tests that bring their proposed reality into possibility.<br />
You do not have faith that your car will start; you have the knowledge that cars have been designed to work when a key is inserted and twisted, you also have the personal evidences of seeing other cars (And likely your car) starting in that same way. You have seen with your own eyes that the car will start.<br />
But believing that; ‘if you think this way, and say these things; you will get to live forever while everyone else is in pain forever’, is very different to starting an automobile.<br />
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Abb, How do you justify a god who lets children go to hell all because they were born in a place where your particular God is not the accepted one? Does that make the slightest bit of sense to you?<br />
It is not a matter of exercising faith, it’s a matter of proving why anyone should bother. If there is no benefit to exercising faith, then why do it?<br />
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Abb, I am a missionary myself. A missionary of logic. The world needs people like me more then every in these days of miss-information. Now is the time for people to really question what they know. As you say; I am only trying to help people better understand what they are taught.<br />
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Kingofspades; I wouldn’t be so quick to sweep the converters under the label of insecure. Some of them truly and wholeheartedly believe that they are doing it for good reasons; they are no insecure so much as in a different universe then you. As far as them believing that others go to hell…that’s a mixture of the base beliefs they force upon themselves, insecurity and positive thinking (everyone wants to be in the exclusive club).<br />
And I have to ask if you think I am insecure, because I might be perceived as trying to convert people. My mission statement is to get people to question, I try to stick to that.<br />
Where do you draw the line between sharing experience and dictating belief? You say you do not want to have you beliefs dictated by anyone else…I think that’s impossible to begin with. You can only believe something if you have the personal evidence, you can only have the evidence if you seek and learn.<br />
I’m not trying to argue with you, just curious. <br />
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Abb8279; I believe you had no sinister motivations when you did the missionary work, but I do not think missionary work is moral in itself. The process of offering help in exchange for belief systems…or just offering belief systems…is a twisted one that should have been halted a long time ago. There should be no such recruitment drive. <br />
But that’s not to say I think you’re evil for doing that, I do not think that at all, I just think the reasoning behind it was seriously flawed.<br />
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I can agree to disagree that beliefs are different, as I said earlier; no-one can truly convince anyone of a truth, it takes specific circumstances to bring about a base belief. But I will not give religion undeserved respect. It proposes big ideas and crosses every aspect of everyday life, it should be treated as any other significant element of the modern human world. Scrutiny is the key, question what you know.

I can certainly agree with KingOfSpades to agree to dissagree when beliefs are decidedly different. One of the tenants of my religion is to allow all people to worship/believe how, where or what they may. <br />
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The purpose of proselytizing is not to tell people how wrong they are. It is an act of love not insecurity. I spent two years of my life as a mormon/LDS missionary in France. I was not paid, and it was very difficult. Almost everybody in France is either athiest or agnostic. They wanted nothing to do with mormon missionaries. The reason I went was because of answered prayers. Because my faith in God had made a tremendous difference in my life and I wanted to share the blessings I had recieved with others. <br />
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I cannot speak for others of my faith and certaintly not for other religions but I can assure KingOfSpades that my motives as a mormon missionary were pure.

If we assume that all humans are endowed with Reason, then it follows that people can use Reason to seek understanding. <br />
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And in fact, if there is a Creator who has endowed all humans with this Reason, I think it would be safe to say that this Creator would want us to use Reason to understand the universe. <br />
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Reason dictates that while we all may have a common understanding on a lot of things -- the sky is blue, water is wet -- when it comes to our fundamental beliefs about how the universe works, we all will have different expectations and beliefs. <br />
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Asking whether prayer works -- isn't that asking how the universe works? This is a profoundly personal question. Ask 10 people and you will get 10 answers. <br />
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Asking about God -- we again are asking how the universe works. 10 people will give you 10 different answers. <br />
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Is one answer more "right" than the others? Well, this is where everything gets tricky, where arguments start, where wars get bloody. Trying to convince other people of your belief is a sign of insecurity. If you are totally convinced about what you believe to be true -- why the need to convince someone else? Only the insecure seek to convert. <br />
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(As a small digression, I am highly suspicious of the motives of anyone who seeks to convert others to their belief system. It is rare that such motivations are pure).<br />
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To say someone will be "punished" for their belief by going to Hell or having pain inflicted on them is totally beyond the pale of decency. Again, this comes only from insecurity. <br />
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I know what I believe. It probably is not what you believe. That's fine. My experiences are different than yours, so I can use my Reason to understand that my set of beliefs about how the universe operates will be different than yours. <br />
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It would be far more constructive a conversation to talk about experiences and beliefs, rather than lay out baseless suppositions that "one day you will understand", or "i am right and you are wrong," etc. I don't see that as being helpful in the least. <br />
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This is why, at least in America, we have a wall of separation between church and state, and why people are free to believe what they want. Religious liberty is precious because in truth, we all believe different things. I would hate to live in a country where I was forced to believe something that I didn't want to. This ethos should permeate our relationships with each other. If the state can't dictate my belief, why should someone else?

God is not Santa Claus, he does not just give anything we want. <br />
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Faith is not a blind belief, it is a science. Joseph Smith taught that all intelligent creatures operate on the principal of faith. For example, I don't know for certain that my car will start if I go out to put the key in the ignition. I have evidance that it will so I put faith in that evidance but acting and trying to start the car. If my faith in that thing is true then the car will start or there will be fruits of my faith in that thing. <br />
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Likewise, people can exersise faith in God but they need to know how. They need to know what a car is, what a key is, how to put the key in the ignition etc. they need to know who God is, how to pray what the purpose of prayer is. If people pray correctly there will be fruits of their faith. <br />
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I can assure you, if you know God and how to pray, he answers prayers. That is why we send out missionaries. The world is starving for the truth but they ofen don't understand even when they are taught.

Just thought I'd add my two cents here:<br />
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Baptism by Fire or Invincible Ignorance is the term used for people who seek the divine or simply a higher moral standard totally unexposed to a Christian God. That would mean all well-intentioned Buddhists (though technically Buddhism is not really a religion) Hindus, Muslims etc are not "doomed to Hell" but rather saved. Any Christian who says all non-Christians are going to Hell just doesn't know his theology. <br />
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Science is the quantification of the material world. God, who is not material and, by most accounts, infinite, is hardly measurable then, isn't He? Besides, like said, it's all about intentions. Perhaps God has a very good reason for not healing people miraculously. It would seem, to God at least, that death really isn't that big of a deal. <br />
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Faith and Reason are indeed compatible. Reason will lead to aspects of faith, however we are unable to comprehend them at this particular moment in our history. <br />
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However, Platonic philosophers believed in a one, all-powerful god and gave logical reasoning for their opinions despite not having heard of such a concept (unless imported by the Seleucid). <br />
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So, the power of prayer, if hinging on God's existence, logically hinges on the actual existence of God, right? Well, no. God, if He exists, must be all-merciful if he is omnipotent, so why wouldn't he heal the sick. Maybe because healing and life are not truly what's best for that person. Suffering is seen as an evil, logically, but a Christian should see suffering as a blessing. Suffering makes you a better, stronger person.<br />
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Not only that, there's the placebo affect. If people believe in the power of prayer and know that people are praying for them it's much the same as giving someone a sugar pill when their in intense pain and telling them it's morphine: more often than not they will experience an alleviation of pain, albeit self-induced.<br />
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So, in short: God exist? Probably- Aristotle thinks so, but it doesn't matter because God is unquantifiable as are His acts and for all we know it's all psychosomatic. Prayer work? Apparently.

Sembro…man…you are forcing me to elaborate and explain myself…grrr….LOL…just kidding…<br />
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My statement about not believing man was as you implied rather general. Let me explain. I grew up with two sets of parents…and between them was exposed to several different religions. As I entered my early teens I began to move from the “I go to this church and believe this because my parents do”…to beginning to evaluate things for myself. I eventually broke away from that church and joined an Evangelical Free Church in town. To say my father was not a happy man about this would be an understatement. I am not going to say what religion he was…it simply isn’t necessary to risk offending anyone. This process and event though forced me to seek information to support my view…what you would call research I suppose.<br />
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So no, I don’t dismiss entirely, I “check” it. Then possibly I dismiss it or have learned something. Faith is not to me a factual thing. It isn’t like looking a word up in Webster’s….it just isn’t that easy. To suggest it must be factual again to me is like trying to look up math equations in my daughters’ English book.<br />
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I am going to step out on a limb here…and I imagine some may very well try to saw it off at my feet…but…ah well…sometimes that happens.<br />
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Much of the Bible is in fact a compilation of stories….stories intended to teach a lesson. I, and here is where some will start sawing. I think many Christians get way too bogged down in looking this or that up in the Greek…dissecting this verse or that one. I think many miss the forest because they are focusing on the tree.<br />
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Sembro…I did not say “One day you'll open your heart and understand'….that to me almost sounds like an insult to your intelligence. What I said was…..” Keep thinking...keep questioning....perhaps someday...perhaps not...your heart may hear.” Perhaps you think those are the same…however I do not. I think you are an intelligent person…it isn’t a matter of whether or not you understand….I have the impression its more about…hmmm…how can I say this differently to make my intent more clear…<br />
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Perhaps your soul will be touched. Does that better portray what I meant?<br />
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God did not make you incapable of believing in him. God gave you the gift of free will and it is your choice to not believe. As for your skepticism and drive for knowledge….if God had intended humans to be droids he would never have given us free will.<br />
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His grace is easy to obtain…all we must do is ask for it. Can’t get any easier than that.<br />
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Sembro, I can’t explain why there is pain in the world…I can’t explain why children are born with defects or disease…so forth and so on. I have some questions that I will want to ask God about when given the opportunity…<br />
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I don’t know you that well…for all intensive purposes I have never really met you. I have a feeling though and forgive me if I am overstepping…but…I don’t think your heart is necessarily closed, just more skeptical than most.

Go ahead Mapleman, <br />
I was way to vague with the association between those two concepts... I'll come back and detail later.

It's not that bad Elle, I think I must have misstated the situation. No-one forces any religion on anyone.<br />
Here's where my country is at...<br />
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increase in non-Christian religions<br />
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* Over two million people are Christian.<br />
* The main Christian denominations are Anglican (584,793 or 17 percent of people), Catholic (486,012 or 14 percent) and the Presbyterian group (417,453 or 11 percent).<br />
* The number of Catholics increased by 12,900 between 1996 and 2001, while the number of Anglicans (-46,971) along with the Presbyterian group (-38,895) decreased.<br />
* The count of Anglicans exceeded that of the other denominations in all regions except Auckland (where Catholics were largest) and Otago and Southland (where the Presbyterian group was the largest).<br />
* The main denominations in the 1901 Census were Church of England (41 percent of people), Presbyterian (23 percent), Catholic (14 percent), and Methodist (11 percent).<br />
* At the 1901 Census only 1 in 30 people did not give a religious affiliation.<br />
* Almost 4 out of 10 people did not specify a religious affiliation in the 2001 Census.<br />
* There has been an increase in people whose religion is non-Christian:

Kingofspades, good points. For me it does come down to compatible views. I am constantly comparing my outlook to others, looking for inconsistencies in my own. I look at the most recent scientific developments with the scepticism they require in this day and age where one set of knowledge can be quickly replaced with another.<br />
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I do not equate Faith and Knowledge/reason, as you’ll see in my other story ‘Don’t lose hope, we’ve already lost faith’ I have strong views on what it means to be faithful. Which colours how I see ex<x>pressions of faith (Such as claiming to have a prayer answered.), in my mind faith and reason are incompatible, as they contradict each other.<br />
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I do not think that learning about accepted facts is the same as having faith in them, as faith excludes the possibility of intense testing or study.<br />
I’m not speaking on consequentialism yet, too many theories of everything throw that concept out the window, and currently I am trying to get a multi-verse mindset I’ll shake myself out of it if I start thinking along action-reaction lines.<br />
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Do these mindsets need to be compatible? Will humanity be better off if we agree on something? <br />
I doubt anyone can answer that, it certainly seems religious memes are largely incompatible. <br />
But I can do no more than share my view when the urge hits me, I can’t stop people praying if they think its a valuable use of time.<br />
And since it’s the internet, they can’t stop me sharing my views. Arrogant as that is, it’s true (And works in reverse).

Hi, what a great discussion. Heated but polite, and so far civil. I hope to keep it that way. <br />
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I just want to add that perhaps what we are dealing here is a false dichotomy. "Religion" versus "Science". "Faith" versus "Reason." Derrida would ask us to deconstruct those terms. Why do we feel the need to set up this opposition? <br />
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Could it not be possible that Faith and Reason are two manifestations of the same thing? <br />
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Was not Plato, one of the greatest philosophical minds of history, also a mathematician?<br />
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The issue of prayer relates to the power of intention within the mind. I intend to get up out of my bed every morning, and I do. I intend to have a job, and I get one. My intention is my power. <br />
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Prayer is the use of intention to call upon the power of God. That is what people do when they pray. They ask God to do something. Are they able to tap that power? Is there are a God that answers them? I'm not sure even they know. But we cannot challenge their perception of what is True. <br />
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The same for the person who does not believe in such power. That person believes that such intentions do not work. That is their perception of what is True. <br />
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Is there a way to make those two perceptions compatible? Possibly. Possibly not. But why do they need to be compatible? It's OK if two people see reality differently. Maybe they are just experiencing two different things. <br />
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These experiments are almost always influenced by the assumptions of their designers. You cannot have an assumption-free experiment. Those looking for proof of one thing will find it; those looking for proof of another will find it as well. <br />
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Sometimes the way we look at a problem causes more headaches than it otherwise would.

We have a Christian political party in New Zealand, the leader of which is convinced that New Zealand will be a Christian nation within the next ten years (Under his rule). He faces disbelievers by saying 'Well it doesn’t matter that you don't believe now because in the future the whole of New Zealand will open their hearts to God'<br />
Well shoot, that’s a nice come-back, rather blanketing as well.<br />
Lexus, your statement about not believing what " " Man" " tells you is all very well and good. So do you just dismiss it entirely? Or do your own research? What does it take for a fact to be factual? Does it have to make sense to you on some other level (Or do you admirably research?)? Or does God actually whisper to you what is true and what isn't? I cannot express how confusing that statement is in context, what can you beleive if you don't believe the accumulated knowledge of man? <br />
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Lexus, I hate it when people say 'One day you'll open your heart and understand'<br />
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If you really believe that, then ask yourself this.<br />
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"Why would a good god make a being like smebro, which strong scepticism and drive for knowledge, but also with an occasionally good heart...why would god make a creature like smebro incapable of believing in him?" <br />
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Not to mention why he would make his grace so difficult to obtain, so difficult in fact that children will be born and die without hearing about the simple ‘prayer’ that might have saved their life, so simple that all it takes to be doomed to burn in hell is to be born on an island and raised away from civilization. <br />
Even if such a god were real, he would not deserve worship for setting up a reality like that. I am a good person regardless of what I say or do. <br />
Do not speak of my heart like it were closed, my heart is full of wonder and awe at the majesty and complexity of the universe I inhabit, I don’t need to imagine anything within that…there is far too much to comprehend without invisible worlds and magical interventions. <br />
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What it comes down to is that I can’t lie to myself, no heart involved; except that my heart (in the literary emotional sense) wants me to be true to the world I live in, for there is no better place.

of course we do....DOH....LOL

Sembro...I wont ask you to force yourself to beleive anything. Believe it or not I question other Christains constantly...doesnt always go over very well either.<br />
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This is normally having to do with understanding and interpritation of scripture...I think much of the Bible is seriously misunderstood.<br />
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I do believe in God and in Prayer...what I dont do is believe on face value anything "man" tells me.<br />
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Keep thinking...keep questioning....perhaps someday...perhaps not...your heart may hear.

Augustine and Aquinas both condemn that argument FOR believing in God as... well, stupid. It's rather unfair to judge all theology by what some crazy with a stolen Gidian's Bible has to say.

I think if a patient believes in the power of prayer then knowing people are praying for them can have a great impact on their recovery. This seems obvious. What isn't obvious is if it is indeed God at work or a psychosematic rejuvenation.

Sorry lexus, I have also been accused of being insulting when I was trying to inspire thought. You can understand why I feel this way, that same question is posed often.<br />
Street preachers said to me 'Even if there was only a 1% chance that god was real, I would still take that chance' which is to say 'Why would you allow the chance of missing out on an afterlife' which seems to be implying there is only one available. <br />
Seeing as you asked, I will answer you question.<br />
Why would I choose to risk eternity?<br />
Because I cannot lie to myself, I cannot force myself to believe something. It's that simple. I might come on here one day and pretend to believe, I might even pretend so well that I convince people that I am born again...but it would not take the personal truth away; I would not believe it.<br />
It comes down to a base truth within myself. I need to be sure my life is lived as honestly as possible, which requires information and thought. Forcing myself to believe something, for which there is no evidence, is not something I can sustain. To stay honest to myself I will always question, especially what I think I know.

No Sembro I dont see the question as stupid...and nor did I intend any insult. <br />
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It was intended to cause thought...<br />
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I dont have issues as far as I know with other religons...I am a wild card who rather thinks God is God...you can name Him anything you like.<br />
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I imagine you have yet to see me even attack yours. Call it stupid...or call you stupid.<br />
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The worst you will hear from me is that I dont understand or agree with your point of view.

Keep on butting in Tate, a Buddhist perspective is welcome here.

People claim god and science should be separate. I fail to see how that can be possible when God serves as an answer to science based questions, and that science is the art of explaining existence. <br />
Those things seem like they should be tied together, that is to say, God owes as much of an explanation for his existence as physics do.<br />
To say 'Physics are here because God is here' is only to say 'How did god get here'<br />
On that note, although I can hypothesise worlds where a god does not exist, it is NOT me believing in any God.<br />
To me God is no more then a theory, a huge theory that claims to solve absolutely everything…while solving nothing at all.<br />
Mapleman, you say that everyone is good, yet you have the opinion that most (If not all) aid work is done by religiously motivated groups.<br />
Wouldn’t it make more sense to donate to the groups that help for the sake of helping and helping alone? Of which there are plenty. I don’t need to tell you that red-cross wasn’t the only aid group there. <br />
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Lexus, don't insult my intelligence. I could ask you one thousand questions about other gods to which you are as much of an atheist as I am.<br />
I find that question hypocritical and insulting. You are as much of an atheist to other faiths with big promises, tell me; why do you risk the thousands of eternities offered by the many religions? <br />
Now do you see how stupid that question is?

Here is a question for you.<br />
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Just on the off chance that there is in fact a God...and His promises are true.<br />
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Why would you choose to risk eternity?

The Bible is not a science book...apples and oranges<br />
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Try this on for size. I think just personal thing. The whole thing tries to teach us the Golden Rule

Then why, Lexus, Is the bible cited as if it were a scientific document. Your statement can be adjusted to apply to any faith if you swap 'does not believe in god' with 'believes in god' and 'science' with 'the bible'<br />
Luckily you and Maple don't use those tired tactics. Is it more effective if I never cite science? Because I certainly find religious arguments more compelling if they do not quote scripture.<br />
I’m commenting in snippets as I get my thoughts together.

Huh. God isnt scientific. Its rather like trying to prove a mathmatical theory using your English book.

Well that’s a convenient way of dismissing science.

I find it interesting to note that at least from my experience those who believe in God do not feel the need to run around trying to scientifically prove anything. However on the reverse side, those who don’t believe in Him have a persistent need to try to prove He isn’t there.<br />
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Seems there is something to that which speaks to me anyway.

Great analysis, can not agree more.

Smebro….I do not understand how you can say that prayer helps no one. That truly baffles me.

http://members.aol.com/garypos/prayer.html<br />
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A comprehensive list of studies.<br />
Mapleman, isn't that the link to where you sign up for a course in something that looks like it's focused on positive thinking?

Looking at links

Endorphin has a good point. Surely it's not too big a jump to grow a new healthy limb then it is to remove mutated cells from a dying one...surely...or at least not that much harder, if the power had no limits. <br />
See http://whywontgodhealamputees.com/ for more solid arguments based on that. <br />
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Maple; If you pray for grace, what are you gaining? The peace?<br />
I'm not trying to disprove anything, how could I disprove something to the whole world? I'm providing my contradictory view that Prayer helps no-one, and that the underlying mechanism in prayer is nothing. People can read and dismiss, you don't have to agree.<br />
Personally I have a big problem with missionaries, sure; they are helping people, but they are also spreading belief structures to less educated parts of the world. As Christianity dies in the western world there is an uprising of Christians in Africa. The help is great, from all corners, but the material they peddle should be destroyed.<br />
And there is plenty of non-religious aid groups, religion is not a prerequisite for helping the needy. The better world I dream of would help the poor simply because they are human, not because they can be converted. There would be no bibles on a mission to help people.<br />
I will actively look for evidence that supports Prayer then, or if you can find me these Harvard articles I would be happy to look.

I think, although I am no expert in religion, that the act or prayer is there to bring you into Gods favour in such a way as to receive benefits. It is an open communication to God; it is also an 'opening of the heart to god' which, according to most Christian messages, is one of the first steps towards being in his favour. Many Christians see being in Gods favour as the only way to be good, not all, but many. So I point out that good things don't always happen to good people, as they don't. There is no tally of good and bad in the universe except in our heads, nor is there a network through which occasional requests can be granted. <br />
I have to agree that the act of prayer is probably of some mental benefit for the prayer, much like meditation... But the benefit is to the self alone.<br />
There are more studies, I'll look later. Studies alone don't form my opinion that Prayer has no power. <br />
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Given the (perceived) nature of the intervention, it's surprising they don't think exactly what I said in first comment. <br />
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How do you think the experiment should be run Tardy?

I was quite interested in this experiment when I first heard about it. After thinking about it for a while, I am still fairly dubious about what can actually be taken from this study.<br />
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Health science is a difficult field to generate strong truth values at the best of times (ie even if a study demonstrates a strong benefit to a treatment, this often says very little about what is actually going on), unlike fields such as physics, which generate "tight" theories and evidence. The study design itself appears conventional, but is actually quite unusual when one thinks about the nature of the intervention.<br />
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I do not say this because I believe in prayer. And even given that I do not believe in a deity of any sort, I do not feel that the <i>act of praying</i> is without merit (but obviously do not believe any deity is intervening on the behalf of those prayed for), although I would not advocate it for people who do not do it.<br />
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Two things though, I'm curious as to what the efficacy or non-efficacy of prayer have to do with moral consequentialism (ie good things happening to good people or bad things happening to bad people etc?)<br />
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And also, my understanding is that the prayer has not much to do with imagining things better for people, and is the act of asking a deity to intervene on your behalf to bring about a certain outcome. Perhaps someone who prays can clarify this?