Author Topic: Beliefs about prayer  (Read 1402 times)

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Online daniel1948

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Re: Beliefs about prayer
« Reply #90 on: January 15, 2020, 10:00:50 AM »
One of the main symptoms of a delusion is the suppression of cognitive dissonance, often to the point where the subject is incapable of recognizing the irrationality of their delusion.

I think this is true.  People who believe in intercessory prayer believe that god has a plan, and that if it still fits in God's plan to answer a prayer, it will happen.  They do not then analyze the correlary that God's original plan before the intercession was for people to suffer and die when they didn't have to.  To think about such things would invoke unresolvable cognitive dissonance, so they just don't take it that far.  They focus on what God can do with prayer, not on what God doesn't do without prayer.

The above is the crux of it all.

When Arthwollipot says that atheists are "framing it the wrong way" what comes through loud and clear is that believers, in order to maintain their cognitive dissonance, simply refuse to accept the necessary corollary to their thesis. They reject the unavoidable fact by putting their fingers in their ears and shouting "la la la la la la la..." over and over again.

Because it simply is not a matter of "framing." It's a matter of unavoidable logic.

But cognitive dissonance allows believers to believe contradictory things and go on happily singing the praises of God. Because if they accept the logical conclusions of their internally contradictory beliefs, it would break their whole world view.
Daniel
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Offline The Latinist

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Re: Beliefs about prayer
« Reply #91 on: January 15, 2020, 10:25:46 AM »
One of the main symptoms of a delusion is the suppression of cognitive dissonance, often to the point where the subject is incapable of recognizing the irrationality of their delusion.

I think this is true.  People who believe in intercessory prayer believe that god has a plan, and that if it still fits in God's plan to answer a prayer, it will happen.  They do not then analyze the correlary that God's original plan before the intercession was for people to suffer and die when they didn't have to.  To think about such things would invoke unresolvable cognitive dissonance, so they just don't take it that far.  They focus on what God can do with prayer, not on what God doesn't do without prayer.

The above is the crux of it all.

When Arthwollipot says that atheists are "framing it the wrong way" what comes through loud and clear is that believers, in order to maintain their cognitive dissonance, simply refuse to accept the necessary corollary to their thesis. They reject the unavoidable fact by putting their fingers in their ears and shouting "la la la la la la la..." over and over again.

Because it simply is not a matter of "framing." It's a matter of unavoidable logic.

But cognitive dissonance allows believers to believe contradictory things and go on happily singing the praises of God. Because if they accept the logical conclusions of their internally contradictory beliefs, it would break their whole world view.

QFT, emphasis added.
I would like to propose...that...it is undesirable to believe in a proposition when there is no ground whatever for supposing it true. — Bertrand Russell

Offline Shibboleth

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Re: Beliefs about prayer
« Reply #92 on: January 15, 2020, 11:00:07 AM »
I would just add that many theologians are incredible scholars and philosophers. It is wrong IMHO to assume that these issues are just ignored. I do think that Catholic theologians, Orthodox, theologians, etc. do tackle this issue. We oversimplify views here.
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Offline John Albert

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Re: Beliefs about prayer
« Reply #93 on: January 15, 2020, 12:34:34 PM »
I would just add that many theologians are incredible scholars and philosophers. It is wrong IMHO to assume that these issues are just ignored. I do think that Catholic theologians, Orthodox, theologians, etc. do tackle this issue. We oversimplify views here.

Their entire field is predicated on assuming an extraordinary premise, and then twisting evidence and logic to support that premise.

When they find a logical contradiction such as the Problem of Evil or the Problem of Free Will, they create some handwavy pretense to justify it, or else declare it a "divine mystery" and move on.

That definitely fits the main definition of "incredible."

Offline Billzbub

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Re: Beliefs about prayer
« Reply #94 on: January 15, 2020, 12:44:04 PM »
I was thinking about it last night, and I had a thought.  It could be that subconsciously, people who pray think that God is a busy guy, and that he might just need his attention called to a situation by prayer so that he can intervene.  It is not a matter of God letting people get sick when he could make them better.  It is more a matter of God noticing that someone is sick because of all the prayer and then stepping in.  Obviously, this flies in the face of the idea of an omnipotent god, but it still makes sense because people are anthropomorphising god and giving him attributes that a person would have without realizing it.

In short, people who pray are just calling for god's attention so that he'll implement his will, and they are hoping that his will coincides with theirs.  If it doesn't, well, at least god looked at the issue because of their prayer.

Shibboleth, you cut to the chase yet again.  We are not the first people to have this thought, and religious scholars must have a complex explanation that we are all just too lazy to look up.
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Offline The Latinist

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Re: Beliefs about prayer
« Reply #95 on: January 15, 2020, 02:53:31 PM »
I was thinking about it last night, and I had a thought.  It could be that subconsciously, people who pray think that God is a busy guy, and that he might just need his attention called to a situation by prayer so that he can intervene.  It is not a matter of God letting people get sick when he could make them better.  It is more a matter of God noticing that someone is sick because of all the prayer and then stepping in.  Obviously, this flies in the face of the idea of an omnipotent god, but it still makes sense because people are anthropomorphising god and giving him attributes that a person would have without realizing it.

In short, people who pray are just calling for god's attention so that he'll implement his will, and they are hoping that his will coincides with theirs.  If it doesn't, well, at least god looked at the issue because of their prayer.

These people believe that God is, literally, omniscient.
I would like to propose...that...it is undesirable to believe in a proposition when there is no ground whatever for supposing it true. — Bertrand Russell

Offline Jeremy's Sea

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Re: Beliefs about prayer
« Reply #96 on: January 15, 2020, 03:15:26 PM »
While I'm sure these thoughts account for some people, none of this is really a complex phenomenon. It's just reconciling cognitive dissonance, and how that is handled is different for different people. Even the concept of prayer has changed over time, and depends on how technologically advance/accepting of technology your culture is.
God truly has retreated farther and farther away from everyday personal affairs. Most religious people may pray for the success of their football team, but don't think twice about God's involvement in the weather. The more we understand and accept science and tech, the less needed God is in our affairs. We may never eliminate the role of God's mysterious plans from the anxiety and outcome of major life events like illnesses and childbirth, but when medicine and biology was literally a mystery to us God was super busy.
It's just something we've kind of held onto as most demystifying technology isn't very old. What's more interesting to me is thinking about whether or not humanity will ever outgrow the need for personal gods. I think because we are storytellers first and foremost that we may never fully shake the need for gods.
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Offline arthwollipot

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Re: Beliefs about prayer
« Reply #97 on: January 15, 2020, 06:58:48 PM »
Quote pyramids trimmed.

I'm asking you if Revelation is to be believed.

Of course not. Why are you asking me?

I just think that acknowledging an objective reality should count for something. It should count for quite a lot, really.

Of course you do. That's natural - for you.

A believer in intercessory prayer might have a different opinion, but theirs would be a fundamentally misinformed opinion because it pretends to knowledge that is not demonstrable in reality.

And that fact is irrelevant.

I think that's going a bit far. I can't prove that the supernatural isn't real. That's an important distinction.

Not really. Of course you can't prove it. But you know and I know that the supernatural isn't real. Come on. We do know that. As much as we can, as much as is practical, we do know that. We don't really have to pay lip service to uncertainty any more, unless we find the need to be needlessly pendantic.

And while I won't go so far as to stake a positive claim that supernatural things don't exist, I don't really need to validate my lack of belief in them either. I don't need to justify my disbelief in gods, any more than I would need to validate my disbelief in pixies or unicorns or smurfs.

And I'm not asking you to.

But not caring that one is wrong is definitely a problem.

Only to you.

They may get to choose the reality they experience, but they don't get to choose the reality that actually exists.

But here's the thing. What they believe actually exists isn't the same thing as what you believe actually exists. You would probably say that you have higher standards of evidence for things actually existing, but speaking as someone who fully bought into this what you would call delusion, I can assure you that I really, genuinely believed that the set of things that actually exist included God, the Holy Spirit, Satan and demons. But they don't, and they never have. That mattered not to me.

And at some point their lack of acknowledgement of reality will become problematic. It could even turn out to be fatal. But even if it never presents any obvious problems for themselves, it's likely to cause problems in their interactions with others.

And somehow, for the vast majority of believers, it almost never does.

Of course you can't force it. But people can be persuaded to change their minds. And different people react to different approaches in different ways.

Some people manage to figure it out and escape some of their delusions. Some people steadfastly refuse to do so, and others are blithely unaware that their way of thinking is unreasonable. Still others are totally incapable of being rational. It's important not to generalize too much.

Of course. You and I both went through that process. Me perhaps somewhat later in life than you, and along a different path (I went through a neopagan/wiccan phase after my Christian phase), but I still went through it.

I do understand to some extent, having come from a religious background myself. But I also have parents who cultivated in me a strong interest in the sciences, and that interest ultimately won out over any fantasies about the supernatural.

But hey, we all have different experiences.

Indeed. My parents didn't instil in me a strong interest in anything in particular, but they did do everything that they could to support me in whatever I chose to do.
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Offline Shibboleth

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Re: Beliefs about prayer
« Reply #98 on: January 16, 2020, 11:30:45 AM »
Sacrifice and prayer has been core to religion for a very very long time. One of the key functions of a God is so that people can ask for help on a supernatural level and have hope of getting that help. I do think the hurdles are a little bigger for Christians on this matter than in a pantheon religion. It always gets back to the question of "Why does God allow bad things to happen!"
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Offline Billzbub

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Re: Beliefs about prayer
« Reply #99 on: January 16, 2020, 12:17:54 PM »
I briefly googled the question, and the few sources I looked at say something like this quote from one of them:

"God heals because He is compassionate. He desires to act with kindness and gentleness towards human beings. In the greater world around us human disobedience, indifference and disbelief often disrupt the flow of His compassion."

So basically, because god wishes free will to exist, he chooses not to use his omnipotence and omnicience to heal people that don't deserve it.

Also, some people need to suffer to become their best selves, so he can choose to let them suffer to make them better.

I (and maybe some of you) have been overlooking the idea that believers in intercessary prayer may just think yes, god might withhold healing if someone chooses not to accept him in their hearts and pray to him.  The bible does clearly show that god is a dick sometimes, so I guess I shouldn't be surprised.
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Offline Billzbub

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Re: Beliefs about prayer
« Reply #100 on: January 16, 2020, 12:22:02 PM »
When I think about it in more detail, I can easily get to an impasse.  For example, what about a 5 year old with cancer that hasn't been taught about god?  Will god let him or her suffer because of the lack of belief and the lack of prayer more than if that same kid was a believer and a prayer?  If I'm not mistaken, the bible has examples of where he allows women and children to suffer and die to accomplish some goal with a man (for example, Job).  So maybe the child is suffering because the parents could have had faith but chose not to.
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gleefully altering one’s beliefs to accommodate new information should be a badge of honor

Offline The Latinist

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Re: Beliefs about prayer
« Reply #101 on: January 16, 2020, 01:26:13 PM »
I come back to this: if God has the knowledge and power to heal a suffering 7 year-old but does not do so, then He is an Asshole.
I would like to propose...that...it is undesirable to believe in a proposition when there is no ground whatever for supposing it true. — Bertrand Russell

Offline Jeremy's Sea

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Re: Beliefs about prayer
« Reply #102 on: January 16, 2020, 01:30:17 PM »
In my view, those sects that deny medical treatment because it might contradict God's will makes more sense than believers who cling to life. If you believe in heaven and your just reward, and God is calling you there to an eternity of bliss, why the hell wouldn't you want to go?
I'd be one of the first people eaten in that To Serve Man episode of the Twilight Zone. Benevolent aliens who want to take me away from the drudgery and pamper me?! Hell yes I'm getting on that flying saucer!  :laugh:
If I believed in heaven, truly believed, I'd get there as fast as I could. It was smart of the early religious leaders to realize this and call suicide a grave sin. But no one says you couldn't go to a war zone and help people and minister to them. That seems to me a pretty quick fix to most of life's problems.
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Offline Jeremy's Sea

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Re: Beliefs about prayer
« Reply #103 on: January 16, 2020, 01:31:16 PM »
I come back to this: if God has the knowledge and power to heal a suffering 7 year-old but does not do so, then He is an Asshole.
“Live a good life. If there are gods and they are just, then they will not care how devout you have been, but will welcome you based on the virtues you have lived by. If there are gods, but unjust, then you should not want to worship them." - Marcus Aurelius
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Offline Billzbub

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Re: Beliefs about prayer
« Reply #104 on: January 16, 2020, 02:23:45 PM »
I come back to this: if God has the knowledge and power to heal a suffering 7 year-old but does not do so, then He is an Asshole.
“Live a good life. If there are gods and they are just, then they will not care how devout you have been, but will welcome you based on the virtues you have lived by. If there are gods, but unjust, then you should not want to worship them." - Marcus Aurelius

That's a great quote and a great riposte to Pascal's Wager.
Quote from: Steven Novella
gleefully altering one’s beliefs to accommodate new information should be a badge of honor

 

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