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Author Topic: The Religious Freedom and Civil Marriage Protection Act
Tresopax
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My answer to the death of the child example was just intended to show how being omniscient makes a big difference in moral choices.

But yes, He could probably also come up with some way to save the children individually by rearranging other things about the universe. I would think that if saving children was His only goal, He could easily save every child. He could presumably just make everyone immortal. So the fact that He doesn't, I'd guess, means He has some reason for not doing so.

If God is omniscient then I think God knows perfectly what the world would be like if He set it up in such a way that everyone was perfect, nobody ever suffered, and there was no death. And I think He sees this world, suffering and all, as better in some significant way than that other hypothetical world - better in a way that would be impossible if He eliminated all suffering. I suspect suffering allows this world to be more meaningful than it would be without suffering. But this is something that might be much clearer to an omniscient god than it is to human beings with a very limited perspective. To us, our 100 years or so in this life and our happiness during that period seems most important, but there's no way for us to know if we'd feel the same way if we were omniscient.

I really don't know why God wouldn't give us a clear explanation of His purpose, although the Bible seems to suggest its because we wouldn't understand. So I see that as leaving us in a situation similar to that of me and my mechanic - we can choose to trust, or we can choose not to.

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TomDavidson
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Of course, if your mechanic were incapable of explaining to you why you needed a new fuel pump, we could suggest that you get a better mechanic.
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swbarnes2
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quote:
Originally posted by Scott R:
swbarnes:

Dude. Sometimes 'yes' or 'no' are not honest answers.

This is not one of those times. I asked a straightforward, simple yes/no question, and you deliberately dodged it

These are very simple questions. I believe that had you prayed for the health Kara Neumann, her beta cells would not have regenerated, and she still would have died due to her diabetes.

Do you disagree with that assessment?

quote:
I'm comfortable with what I've already written, and I don't think I need to explain further.
That's great! The part where you said that some people have to die so that other people can learn things was elucidating. But I take it that you don't feel the need to tell anyone what lessons were gleaned from the death of children. I guess more children will have to die before we all learn it, right? Well, what matters isn't that an innocent child died, what matters is I'm one of the chosen people who's a pupil, not one of the others who turned out to be a lesson.

Or maybe, I'm one of the people who chose to be a pupil, and not one of the willing souls who chose to be a lesson? If that's the case, why should I feel bad for the lessons? That's so much easier.

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Rakeesh
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Kom, your complaint about snippiness points in this context is pretty funny!

ETA:

quote:
You might want to back off on Scott just a little bit, and have a bit more tact. The things you are discussing are very real to him and his family, as he has a daughter who is very sick, and I am certain he agnonizes over what to do for her more than any one person should have to.
It's good to see what your response to this sort of respectful request is, swbarnes. It elucidates, one might say, your attitude towards other people for the community in general.

But allow me to address your complaint: the question itself isn't honest, nor is it straightforward. It's a trick, a rigged game. Asking Scott, "Do you believe your prayers would cure a child of a serious disease?" is a deceptive, rigged question because he wouldn't rely on prayer alone to do that. Of course you know that because you're not an idiot, but because you persist in behaving very rudely on this topic you're going to act as though this is a big, "A HA! moment!" when of course it obviously isn't.

There's nothing inherent in belief in the power of prayer that requires belief in the power of prayer exclusively. Honestly, that's such a fundamental bit of knowledge about how religions believe themselves that the fact that you're bringing out your accusing finger over this serves to highlight the very dishonest method in which you're participating in this discussion. Scott is perfectly within his rights not to participate further in the discussion with you, and your question isn't straightforward. Technically straightforward =/ straightforward.

[ February 08, 2011, 05:27 PM: Message edited by: Rakeesh ]

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King of Men
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quote:
There's nothing inherent in belief in the power of prayer that requires belief in the power of prayer exclusively.
How about requiring prayer to have some sort of effect whatsoever? It seems to me that someone who does not believe (medicine+prayer) works better, in a measurable, repeatable way, than medicine alone (or prayer alone) does not really have any belief about the power of prayer. He just likes to repeat the words, in an effort to feel he's doing something. (I admit that this is actually not that different from a lot of modern medicine, but that's a separate discussion.) So the question might be, "Do you think that prayer makes the medicine more effective?" And if the answer is no, then I don't see that there is a belief in the power of prayer at all; there's just a habit.
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MightyCow
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How about this: There exist many atheists, and in fact, many more non-Christians. Sometimes, specific events cause people to lose their faith.

If God's overall goal isn't to save innocent children, many Christians will say that it's to become closer to his followers, or have us all become Christian, or allow us to enjoy the grace and love of his worship or however you like to word it.

If God can act on earth, why not act to prevent people from losing faith?

I don't accept the cop-out that it invalidates free will, because you can make a situation where people will freely choose to keep their faith, by eliminating whatever would have caused them to lose it, be that a priest molesting a child or a rival religion convincing them to join or a dying child or a YouTube video of Sam Harris.

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TomDavidson
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Someone needs to email Sam Harris and tell him to stop doing the Lord's work immediately.
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swbarnes2
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quote:
Originally posted by Rakeesh:
You might want to back off on Scott just a little bit, and have a bit more tact. The things you are discussing are very real to him and his family, as he has a daughter who is very sick, and I am certain he agnonizes over what to do for her more than any one person should have to.

I know that. Frankly, expected a more firm "The Neumanns were horribly wrong, they should have known that sick children die when they receive nothing but prayer. There is a thousand year long history of dead children demonstrating what happens when God, and not proven medical science, are trusted to treat dangerously ill children."

But the point of asking questions is to get answers I didn't expect.

quote:
It's good to see what your response to this sort of respectful request is, swbarnes. It elucidates, one might say, your attitude towards other people for the community in general.
Okay, sure. Strike that argument, I'll leave BlackBlade out of things entirely. Kara had no beta cells. Her parents trusted in God and the power of prayer completely, and she died of diabetes. Anyone disagree with that?

quote:
But allow me to address your complaint: the question itself isn't honest, nor is it straightforward. It's a trick, a rigged game. Asking Scott, "Do you believe your prayers would cure a child of a serious disease?" is a deceptive, rigged question because he wouldn't rely on prayer alone to do that.
I wouldn't jump in front of a speeding train, are you claiming that I can't say what would happen if I did?

Because I can. I would be crushed. Organ failure, no functioning brain, I could go on.

Why would such a question be deceptive? You want to ask me what I would think if I did somehow wake up after such a thing, ask me. I won't think it's "rigged". I'll lay out the premises I'd be working under, make note of the ones that I currently hold that I would reject given the new circumstances, etc. It's not hard, it's not deceptive, or a trick at all. Why would it be?

quote:
There's nothing inherent in belief in the power of prayer that requires belief in the power of prayer exclusively.
Light was exhorting people to trust "just a little" in God. Surely, the theists think that more is better, right? Where is the limit? No one seems willing to say, not even to say "the limit is when you trust God to save the life of your child. Don't trust God to do that." The Neumanns did, and Kara lost her life.

quote:
Honestly, that's such a fundamental bit of knowledge about how religions believe themselves that the fact that you're bringing out your accusing finger over this serves to highlight the very dishonest method in which you're participating in this discussion.
Many religious people do believe in the power of using prayer exclusively. How is it dishonest to believe that some people believe this? And I wasn't asking if anyone here thought that prayer alone was a good idea, I wanted to know what they thought would happen if they tried it. So far, no one will even hazard a guess.

It would be the easiest thing in the world for the theists to say straightforwardly "If I had prayed for the healing of Kara Neumann, she still would have died of diabetes".

I suspect that some of the theists here really believe that to be the truth. But no one will say it.

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Hobbes
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quote:
Don't let me forget to answer this. I'd like to on my own, but I have a great philosophy book that does a better job doing it than I would, and I'd prefer to quote from there...
[Smile]

quote:
Kara had no beta cells. Her parents trusted in God and the power of prayer completely, and she died of diabetes. Anyone disagree with that?
Yes (i.e. me).

quote:
Light was exhorting people to trust "just a little" in God. Surely, the theists think that more is better, right? Where is the limit? No one seems willing to say, not even to say "the limit is when you trust God to save the life of your child. Don't trust God to do that." The Neumanns did, and Kara lost her life.
Trust is a pretty broad thing. For instance I may have complete trust God will provide salvation for me should I keep the commandments He has given me, and there is no limit to that trust, no amount that is too much. So trusting God for a specific person has no limit in that sense. But your question went in another direction, or at least the way I read it it did. There you seem to be saying "where is the limit to trust when it comes to things you would trust Him to do?" In that version there are quite a lot of limits (at least for me). For instance, I wouldn't trust Him to tie my shoes, or to inflict pain on me. He may do either, but I have no reason to believe that He would so I do not trust Him to do so. In the explicit scenario given I trust He would act as most benefits me and others (such as my hypothetical daughter) and that may include saving my daughter's life without medical treatment. It may also include Him saving her life through or in tandem with medical treatment. Or it may not result in saving the life of my daughter.

Hobbes [Smile]

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Rakeesh
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quote:
I know that. Frankly, expected a more firm "The Neumanns were horribly wrong, they should have known that sick children die when they receive nothing but prayer. There is a thousand year long history of dead children demonstrating what happens when God, and not proven medical science, are trusted to treat dangerously ill children."

But the point of asking questions is to get answers I didn't expect.

Why don't you ask next if Nazis are bad, swbarnes, and should be scorned? If kicking puppies is awful? Though of course you're exaggerating quite a bit, since how much of medical science was 'proven' a thousand years ago? Sorry to interrupt your angry, insulting rant on the virtues of empirical science with a little fact n' stuff.

The point of asking Scott the question you asked him was not to get an answer you didn't expect. You're lying when you say that, and it's pretty obvious to anyone who read it, I feel very comfortable in saying. The point in asking that question, in that way, was an attempt at a zinger, to paint him into a corner, to get your, "A ha! moment." Everyone's done `em, and I've certainly done more than my fair share, and it will take a lot of persuasion for you to convince me you were sincerely seeking out an unexpected answer.

But even if it wasn't obvious, I have your own post to prove what your motive was: "You didn't do that, exactly as I knew you would not."

So let's just dispense with that bit of BS, shall we? Your motive wasn't truth-seeking seeking or perspective-learning, it was winning. That's fine, but since you're so blatant about it you may as well cop to it.

quote:
I wouldn't jump in front of a speeding train, are you claiming that I can't say what would happen if I did?

Because I can. I would be crushed. Organ failure, no functioning brain, I could go on.

Why would such a question be deceptive? You want to ask me what I would think if I did somehow wake up after such a thing, ask me. I won't think it's "rigged". I'll lay out the premises I'd be working under, make note of the ones that I currently hold that I would reject given the new circumstances, etc. It's not hard, it's not deceptive, or a trick at all. Why would it be?

No, this is why it's a deceptive question: because you imply by asking the question that Scott, or anyone else you ask the question, is the sort of fellow who believes that prayer should be relied upon exclusively. It smacks of a 'when did you stop beating your wife' question. That's why it's a rigged question, and in this context it's particularly odious not just because of personal reasons but for the more general reason of, hey, awful situation overall.

Here's why it's a trick: why are you asking Scott, or anyone else around here for that matter, if they rely on prayer alone to accomplish something such as healing? You are aware that such people are an incredibly tiny minority of the entire population, right? And you know now that he isn't one of them. Yet still you persist. "What would happen..." "What would happen..." "What would happen..." Well, I can answer your question for my own part at least. In this case I think it's most likely she would have died. Now before you start on another colorful rant, please remember that I'm being much more careful in my use of words like 'most likely' than you are with your use of words like 'many'.

But of course if I were in that situation, I sure as hell wouldn't just be relying on prayer to get the job done anyway, which is why it's a deceptive question-pretty much my entire point.

quote:
Light was exhorting people to trust "just a little" in God. Surely, the theists think that more is better, right? Where is the limit? No one seems willing to say, not even to say "the limit is when you trust God to save the life of your child. Don't trust God to do that." The Neumanns did, and Kara lost her life.
Wait a second, let me see if I understand this correctly. Light is a theist. Light is espousing one particular idea-trust 'just a little' in God. It is very likely that theists believe that 'more is better', therefore we can treat all theists as though they believe in this idea to its uttermost extreme until they've explicitly rejected it when asked in a cross-examination method? Disregarding how much of an outlier Light's perspective is on many issues around here even among theists as we have seen already from the limited time s/he has spent here?

Yes, that's a sound logical approach towards analyzing a population, swbarnes. Very scientific!

quote:
Many religious people do believe in the power of using prayer exclusively. How is it dishonest to believe that some people believe this? And I wasn't asking if anyone here thought that prayer alone was a good idea, I wanted to know what they thought would happen if they tried it. So far, no one will even hazard a guess.
'Many'? Very precise language. What does that mean, exactly? I think that when you consider what that word means in the minds of most people, and then you consider how many religious people there actually are...no, not many religious people believe in using the power of prayer at all. Unless, somehow, the small minority of atheists and agnostics have a staggering over representation in our health care system in this and every other nation on the planet that is. Your central idea is critically flawed, but that's not surprising-it was very badly expressed in the first place. Or rather dishonestly expressed.

No, you weren't directly asking if anyone here thought, specifically, they should rely on the power of prayer alone. You were beating around that bush very blatantly, though, in such a way that it was quite clear. You're simply not that good at rhetoric or politics, swbarnes.

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Anna
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I can't believe no one brought this joke yet.

It's about a priest. He's in a desert,walking and praying, when he realizes he's in quicksand, and it's swallowing it. Suddenly, he sees a firemen's truck coming to him. The chief fireman tells him: "We're on our way to take care of a fire, but we can see you're in trouble. No problem, sir! We'll get you out of there in no time!"
The priest answers: "no need, my brave man! I trust in God, He's the one who'll get me out of there".

Time passes, the sand swallows his legs, his torso. Then the truck comes back, and the chief fireman gets out again and asks the priest: "are you sure you don't need our help, sir? Only you have sand up to your neck!"
The priest answers: "I trust in God and God only. You can leave me there."

More time passes, sand swallows the priest entirely and he dies. He goes to heaven, storms past St Peters and enters straight into God's office, yelling : "why the heck did you let me die there ? I had faith in you, why didn't you help me?"
God raises his eyes to the man and says "I sent you the fire brigade twice, my son. What else did you expect me to do?"

[ February 09, 2011, 07:53 AM: Message edited by: Anna ]

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Scott R
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quote:
Originally posted by swbarnes2:
quote:
Originally posted by Scott R:
swbarnes:

Dude. Sometimes 'yes' or 'no' are not honest answers.

This is not one of those times. I asked a straightforward, simple yes/no question, and you deliberately dodged it
[Laugh]

I think I provided a pretty extensive and complete answer about how I'd behave in that situation. I don't think it can be categorized as a "dodge" under the normal definition of the word.

Unfortunately simple affirmation or denial on these topics doesn't feel completely honest to me. The audience here is biased enough that I feel that a deeper explanation is warranted.

Sorry, bro: ask all the questions you want, but you don't get to control the responses.

EDIT: That laugh smiley is WAAY too mean for my purposes. Think of it as a gentle laugh, rather than the raucous mockery it seems to be meant to convey.

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TomDavidson
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I would have said the "bro" conveyed more raucous mockery.
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kmbboots
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Anna, my guess is that no one has brought up that joke yet because it is kind of a cliche by now. But you have a point.

swbarnes, your understanding of prayer is fundamentally flawed. The Neumann's understanding of prayer is also fundamentally flawed. Not surprising; lots of people make this misunderstanding. Prayer is complicated. If by prayer you mean some magic, voodoo ritual to make God do something then, no, prayer would not have saved Kara from diabetes.

Is that sufficiently straightforward?

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Anna
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It's an old joke, but it's still a good answer to swbarnes. I think.
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advice for robots
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I've always heard it told with a man on the roof of his house in a flood, and God sent a rowboat, a motorboat, and a helicopter.
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MattP
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quote:
Originally posted by Anna:
It's an old joke, but it's still a good answer to swbarnes. I think.

Did the priest actually pray to be saved? The joke doesn't say. Are you just saying God gets credit for whatever good stuff happens and that prayer is irrelevant?
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kmbboots
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The point of the joke is that God works through people and that people who expect magic tricks are looking for the wrong thing.

The application to the Kara tragedy would be God saying, "But I sent you doctors and scientists and insulin. What were you waiting for?"

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Destineer
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quote:
Originally posted by Anna:
I can't believe no one brought this joke yet.

It's about a priest. He's in a desert,walking and praying, when he realizes he's in quicksand, and it's swallowing it. Suddenly, he sees a firemen's truck coming to him. The chief fireman tells him: "We're on our way to take care of a fire, but we can see you're in trouble. No problem, sir! We'll get you out of there in no time!"
The priest answers: "no need, my brave man! I trust in God, He's the one who'll get me out of there".

Time passes, the sand swallows his legs, his torso. Then the truck comes back, and the chief fireman gets out again and asks the priest: "are you sure you don't need our help, sir? Only you have sand up to your neck!"
The priest answers: "I trust in God and God only. You can leave me there."

More time passes, sand swallows the priest entirely and he dies. He goes to heaven, storms past St Peters and enters straight into God's office, yelling : "why the heck did you let me die there ? I had faith in you, why didn't you help me?"
God raises his eyes to the man and says "I sent you the fire brigade twice, my son. What else did you expect me to do?"

While I agree that a story with some similarities to this one is the best way for the theist to answer swbarnes, I don't think this parable conveys the whole subtlety of the issue.

If one of God's top priorities is to give us our Free Will, it follows pretty directly that God can't act through other people to help us or to answer our prayers. When he gave us free will, he gave up all control over our actions. So if you're sinking in quick sand, and some other free human being saves you, that has to have been that person's choice, and not God's.

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Anna
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quote:
Originally posted by MattP:
Are you just saying God gets credit for whatever good stuff happens and that prayer is irrelevant

No, I'm not. I'm saying that sometimes we humans have to be each other's angels. Prayer doesn't "work" this way.
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TomDavidson
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quote:
Are you just saying God gets credit for whatever good stuff happens and that prayer is irrelevant?
While that's the practical upshot, I don't think that's what they intend to say.
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Anna
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quote:
Originally posted by Destineer:
If one of God's top priorities is to give us our Free Will, it follows pretty directly that God can't act through other people to help us or to answer our prayers. When he gave us free will, he gave up all control over our actions. So if you're sinking in quick sand, and some other free human being saves you, that has to have been that person's choice, and not God's.

God can inspire the fire brigade to go where the priest is, and the people can decide to answer to that inspiration or not.
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kmbboots
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Not working through people as if we were automatons. When we do God's work through our free will being in sync with God's will. And that is a big part of what prayer does, bring our will closer to God's will and, therefore, doing God's work which is also our work.
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Hobbes
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quote:
Originally posted by TomDavidson:
quote:
Are you just saying God gets credit for whatever good stuff happens and that prayer is irrelevant?
While that's the practical upshot, I don't think that's what they intend to say.
Assuming there is no God.

Hobbes [Smile]

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advice for robots
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What Kate and Anna said.
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Tresopax
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quote:
If one of God's top priorities is to give us our Free Will, it follows pretty directly that God can't act through other people to help us or to answer our prayers. When he gave us free will, he gave up all control over our actions. So if you're sinking in quick sand, and some other free human being saves you, that has to have been that person's choice, and not God's.
You can "control" other people without taking away their free will. The simplest way to do this is by asking them to do something for you. If I ask a friend of mine to deliver a package of medicine to you which cures an illness you have, then I have acted to heal you, even though I acted through my friend - and I have done so without taking away his free will.
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advice for robots
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By giving other people the opportunity to help us when we need help, God is providing those people with a chance to do good and be blessed for it, and us with a chance to show gratitude and reciprocate. Free will is multiplied rather than restricted.

By giving us free will God isn't necessarily giving us an unlimited range of choices every time. He is giving us the power to choose for ourselves between right and wrong. There might only be two choices. God will not force us to choose the right one, even if when we choose the wrong one we cause terrible harm to ourselves or others.

As we choose the right, the choices we have grow. As we choose wrong, our choices diminish. If I choose not to take meth when it is offered to me, I am able to continue freely making choices for myself in the future. If I choose to take the meth, very soon my choices are very, very limited.

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Darth_Mauve
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According to the Bible, God has a plan.

According to the Bible, God's plan is intricate and delicate and involves the Universe, down to every single little bird.

There are various kinds of prayer.

There are prayers of thanks.

There are prayers of affirmation.

But if I pray for God to change his plan, then I am working against his plan.

Working against God's plan is EVIL.

So if I lose my wallet and pray for God's help in finding it, I am being evil, for surely it was God's plan that I lose my wallet.

The priest sinking in the quicksand is part of God's plan. For the priest to pray to God to save him, to argue against the plan of God is to rebel against God. And we all know that those who rebel against God's plan find only death.

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MattP
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quote:
So if I lose my wallet and pray for God's help in finding it, I am being evil, for surely it was God's plan that I lose my wallet.
No, you lost your wallet because God wanted you to pray so he could demonstrate the power of prayer by allowing you to find your wallet.
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Hobbes
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The problem with your line of reasoning there is point 2: "According to the Bible, God's plan is intricate and delicate and involves the Universe, down to every single little bird."

God is aware of every bird, but does not force each person into a His plan, meaning each action taken does not reflect the will of God. Losing your wallet may have been cause by God, but is much more likely caused by you leaving it on the table after you paid for lunch.

quote:
Working against God's plan is EVIL.

So if I lose my wallet and pray for God's help in finding it, I am being evil, for surely it was God's plan that I lose my wallet.

The priest sinking in the quicksand is part of God's plan. For the priest to pray to God to save him, to argue against the plan of God is to rebel against God. And we all know that those who rebel against God's plan find only death.

This reads as very condescending, as if you find those of faith discussing their silly ideas with you incredibly amusing and childish. Did you intend it that way or am I misreading here?

Hobbes [Smile]

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advice for robots
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You lost your wallet because sh** happens. By asking God for help, you are inviting him to help you.
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TomDavidson
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quote:
God can inspire the fire brigade to go where the priest is...
Then why doesn't He do that every time there's a fire and the fire brigade doesn't know about it?
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Geoffrey Card
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Vitamin C also does not cure diabetes, but that doesn't mean that people with diabetes should ignore or avoid Vitamin C.

Prayer has a certain role in a faithful person's life, but that role is not "when I pray for things, they magically happen, and I have no problems because they all can be resolved by praying hard enough".

The role is more analogous to calling your mother for advice during your first semester away from home in college. Only occasionally does she have the power or inclination to directly reach out and affect your life (via wire transfer!) and often, even the advice she gives doesn't necessarily pan out the way you imagine it will when she gives it.

But you do gain great benefit from having a wiser person to talk through your problems with, someone who can influence your own choices for the better and cut off unhelpful lines of reasoning, and who, very rarely, is actually in a position to directly help you out. Mostly, though, it's really just nice to be involved with each other and continue to maintain that relationship as you grow older and change.

To me, that's the role of prayer. It isn't some rain-dance-style rite designed to reliably induce miracles from on high. When people use it that way, I think they're doing it wrong. But believing that doesn't render prayer pointless and empty for me, either. It still has its value, and in a situation where a family member is in peril, I will be praying every time.

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TomDavidson
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Why wouldn't God be in a position to help people out directly every time they call?
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Geoffrey Card
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But I think most religious people have trouble answering questions like, "If you prayed in X situation, would Y result occur?" because the question invokes the unknown quantity of "what God is inclined to do" which is something no one is willing to predict. In general, I think that people who believe in miracles, but who recognize their rarity, don't feel that they fully understand why some situations warrant intervention, while others don't, and so they are unwilling to assume one way or the other in a given case.

A typical religious person, in my experience, will pray hoping for the best, but will also prepare themselves for the worst.

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TomDavidson
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Whereas, from an agnostic point of view, I ask myself, "How would this situation be any different if God didn't exist?" And I'm left with no reason to conclude that it would.
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Geoffrey Card
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quote:
Why wouldn't God be in a position to help people out directly every time they call?
Tom, you've already recognized my position on that earlier in this thread. If God's entire plan is contingent on his children being exposed to the hazards of reality, rather than living in a playpen, then granting us carte blanche with miraculous intervention would make this entire experience pointless.

Given His eternal perspective on the pain of mortality, compared with the ramifications of NOT suffering pain in mortality, He gets to decide not to help us — the same way I decided to hold my daughter still while the doctor administered a very painful injection. It was awful for her, and felt like a betrayal to me, but I knew that the pain would end, and that vaccinating her was the best choice in the long run. So I did it.

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Geoffrey Card
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quote:
Whereas, from an agnostic point of view, I ask myself, "How would this situation be any different if God didn't exist?" And I'm left with no reason to conclude that it would.
This would be a valid response if I were presenting the purpose of prayer as a reason for an agnostic bystander to believe in God. Since I'm not, it's kind of a non-sequitur.

I use prayer because I already believe in it. I don't expect my experience with it to persuade anyone else.

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Geraine
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If you lost your wallet because it was God's will, you didn't have a choice in the matter, which then means you wouldn't have free will.

If you lost it because you were careless, well that is your own fault. You could ask God for help, just don't get mad if it doesn't magically appear in your pocket. He may want you to learn something from your mistake [Smile]

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TomDavidson
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quote:
If God's entire plan is contingent on his children being exposed to the hazards of reality, rather than living in a playpen, then granting us carte blanche with miraculous intervention would make this entire experience pointless.
Again, this one falls flat for me because people are allowed to die who could not possibly have learned something from that experience. Did God let them die so that other people might learn?
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Rakeesh
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quote:
Again, this one falls flat for me because people are allowed to die who could not possibly have learned something from that experience. Did God let them die so that other people might learn?
Well, according to plenty of Christians, sure, Tom, that doesn't make much sense-but there are tons of religions, not just some sects of Christianity, wherein this makes plenty of sense, given that lots of religious systems don't have the idea that life and learning stops at death.
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Geoffrey Card
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quote:
Again, this one falls flat for me because people are allowed to die who could not possibly have learned something from that experience. Did God let them die so that other people might learn?
I don't think the point is necessarily for each individual experience to have a specifically-intended learning purpose. I think it's the exposure to danger and chaos in general that is part of the learning process.

Death, specifically, can be a learning experience for the friends, neighbors, and dependents of the deceased. But death also serves the purpose of ending an individual's mortal experience. If we didn't have death, then the pain of mortality would be eternal, and would take on an entirely different meaning and scale from God's perspective. But it is supposed to end, so that we can move on to other things.

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Tresopax
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Touching on the point from earlier, God would have a much better understanding of death than we do. Specifically, he would know exactly what happens to us after death, whereas we know extremely little about the answer to that question. This makes it practically impossible to cast any sort of judgement on questions of whether or not it was right or wrong for God to let someone die.
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DDDaysh
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quote:
Originally posted by TomDavidson:
quote:
God can inspire the fire brigade to go where the priest is...
Then why doesn't He do that every time there's a fire and the fire brigade doesn't know about it?
Maybe this really doesn't help the argument, since it's not really on par with most Christian doctrine, but I believe that God isn't all powerful. I think God is VERY powerful, maybe so powerful that if you give him any one specific task he'd always be able to accomplish it, but not totally, completely, absolutely in control of every aspect of the universe.

In other words, no, God cannot make a mountain so heavy he cannot move it.

In that scheme, the reason God doesn't always send a fire truck is because there is a cost to sending the fire truck, and sometimes that cost is too high, or, in some other way contrary to a purpose God is already working towards.

As for prayer... I pray. Sometimes my prayer is just talking to him, but often I ask for things. Every once in a while, God gives me what I asked for. More often, that's not what happens. Sometimes he gives me other things instead, and sometimes I feel like there's no answer at all. God really is very much like a parent.

For instance, what if my son were to ask me for a Snicker's bar? Well, sometimes I will know that a Snicker's bar won't hurt him, and will make him happy, so I give it to him. More often, however, I know that a Snicker's bar is not good for him and say no. Then (if I'm being a good parent) I figure out why he was asking for a Snicker's bar. If he was asking because he was hungry, I'll make him a healthy snack instead. If he was asking because he was bored, I'll try to entertain him. It goes on and on...

In real life, of course, it's much more complicated. I have to ask, at times, what could POSSIBLY be more important than the life of a child? Still, I'm not God and I don't know. Maybe there is, and when I'm dead, maybe I'll understand, or maybe not. Maybe when I die and see the big picture I will be angry with God and think he could have done a better job, but I really hope not!

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Geraine
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Strangely enough I thought of this thread after watching the "Firefly" episode of Fringe. Walter brought Peter from the other universe, and due to the event there were no fireflies out.(They died or something) A little girl had gone out to catch a firefly but she could not find any, so her father went out to look for her. The truck he was driving went out of control and killed a young man. (Who happened to be the son of Christopher Lloyd's character)

The Observer knew that this would happen but made no attempt to stop it. The Observer knew what should have happened, but due to Walter's decision the future that should have been was changed.

I think God does the same. He can see how things should or can happen, but our decisions can change what actually takes place.

Or there are an infinite number of Parallel Universes, which is possible too. [Smile]

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swbarnes2
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quote:
Originally posted by Rakeesh:
quote:

But the point of asking questions is to get answers I didn't expect.

Why don't you ask next if Nazis are bad, swbarnes, and should be scorned? If kicking puppies is awful?
Those are points on which I feel I already know the opinions of the board.

quote:
Though of course you're exaggerating quite a bit, since how much of medical science was 'proven' a thousand years ago?
Very little.

(See, answering questions, even rhetorical ones isn't hard!)

quote:
The point of asking Scott the question you asked him was not to get an answer you didn't expect. You're lying when you say that, and it's pretty obvious to anyone who read it, I feel very comfortable in saying. The point in asking that question, in that way, was an attempt at a zinger, to paint him into a corner, to get your, "A ha! moment." Everyone's done `em, and I've certainly done more than my fair share, and it will take a lot of persuasion for you to convince me you were sincerely seeking out an unexpected answer.
I don't understand why you are associating answering a simple question as "painting oneself into a corner", as something terrible that people shouldn't be asked to do. When Ron claims that "Each primary species was created with a library of alternate characteristics", and I ask him to show us that library in the genome of an organism, no one accuses me of wrongfully trying to paint Ron in a corner. If Ron asks me to post an example of a mutation which causes resistance, I'd do it, and not worry about some "Ah-ha" moment. And if he did manage to prove some claim of mine wrong, I would stop and relook at my evidence and my reasoning, and be glad that I didn't go on another day being wrong. And I would realize that the only reason I was able to find and correct my error was because I was willing to "paint myself into a corner".

quote:
But even if it wasn't obvious, I have your own post to prove what your motive was: "You didn't do that, exactly as I knew you would not."
I do lots of experiments where I'm 95% of the outcome before I do them. It doesn't make my carrying them out dishonest. If I'm wrong, I need to know, and the only way to discover that is to run the experiment.

quote:
So let's just dispense with that bit of BS, shall we? Your motive wasn't truth-seeking seeking or perspective-learning, it was winning. That's fine, but since you're so blatant about it you may as well cop to it.
No, it is perspective learning. I would have figured that every theist would be quick to say "Kara would die no matter who prayed over her, prayer simply can't regrow beta cells". I did not think that multiple theists, all of whom know that the Neumanns' own prayers were ineffective, would insist that prayer might have saved her life.

quote:
this is why it's a deceptive question: because you imply by asking the question that Scott, or anyone else you ask the question, is the sort of fellow who believes that prayer should be relied upon exclusively. It smacks of a 'when did you stop beating your wife' question.
I don't see how that compares to "What would happen if you did X"? Yours does contain the implicit assumption that beating was started, becuase the word "stop" demands it, but my question doesn't have any wording like that. There are a million things that I would never do, but that doesn't prevent me from at least guessing what outcomes might happen, and how likely they all are.

I obviously would never sit back and pray for a deathly ill child to get better either, but I have no problem concluding that if I did try praying for Kara to get better, she still would have died of diabetes.

And anyway, the answer to yours is still simple: "Never, because it is impossible to stop what one has never started". One word, one short sentence is all it takes to deconvolute the tangled question. And I don't consider myself painted into any corner by answering it. My answer was accurate, and contains enough context that others will derive an accurate understanding from it.

quote:
Here's why it's a trick: why are you asking Scott, or anyone else around here for that matter, if they rely on prayer alone to accomplish something such as healing?
I understand that some people on this board would rather answer that question that the one I asked, but that's why I asked the one I asked.

quote:
"What would happen..." "What would happen..." "What would happen..." Well, I can answer your question for my own part at least. In this case I think it's most likely she would have died. Now before you start on another colorful rant, please remember that I'm being much more careful in my use of words like 'most likely' than you are with your use of words like 'many'.
See, that wasn't challenging was it? Do you feel that you are painted into a corner, by giving a simple answer to a simple question?

"Most likely" to me suggests a probably of death somewhere between 50% and 70%, where other terms like "almost certainly" would suggest more like 95-99%. Does a 30-50% chance of being healed by prayer alone accurately describe your claim?

But the very least, your post suggests that you think that she might have regrown her beta cells and lived with no medical intervention, correct?

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kmbboots
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Swbarnes, in my opinion, for prayer to have medically helped Kara, it would have needed to start generations ago. Perhaps prayer for insight into the causes of diabetes, prayer for the dedication of scientist and doctors, prayer for the understanding of how prayer works so that her parents weren't so misguided, prayer for a world that is more devoted to helping sick children and preventing disease.

You, and Kara's parents, have a view of prayer that is far too narrow.

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Paul Goldner
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"Perhaps prayer for insight into the causes of diabetes, prayer for the dedication of scientist and doctors, prayer for the understanding of how prayer works so that her parents weren't so misguided, prayer for a world that is more devoted to helping sick children and preventing disease."

None of which will actually DO anything. ACTIONS to promote these goals would.

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kmbboots
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Prayer should lead to action. Better action.
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Paul Goldner
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Sure, if the quality of the person (prior to praying) is such that introspection will help him take better action in the future, then introspection will help him to take better actions in the future. But other than that, there's no reason prayer should lead to better action.
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