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Is your religion mythology?

 
unsmoked
 
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unsmoked
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13 July 2019 13:53
 
EN - 13 July 2019 12:11 PM
MrRon - 13 July 2019 10:32 AM
EN - 12 July 2019 06:45 PM

If I experience something as true, I believe it until shown it is false.

Back to the magic example. So when a magician causes your signed dollar bill to mysteriously end up embedded in that apple that’s been sitting on the table all along, do you believe that the dollar became invisible, travelled through the air, and non-destructively quantum tunneled to the center of the apple?

Ron

No, Ron, that’s a stupid question. He is a magician - he knows how to deceive people. There is a rational explanation for magicians’ tricks and I know that they practice the art of deception.  It’s fun, but it’s not real.  When I experience God, no magician is involved.

Topic Title:  Is your religion mythology?

EN, did you tell us years ago that you don’t believe the Bible miracles?  Would your Bible be like Thomas Jefferson’s?  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jefferson_Bible

Considering the virgin birth, changing water into wine at a wedding party etc. . . . do you think the New Testament authors really believed such tales, or were they deliberately spicing up the script for gullible, superstitious people?  (as Hollywood screenwriters might change an adventure novel to include more car chases and romance).

“Faith is to believe what we do not see, and the reward of this faith is to see what we believe.”  -  St. Augustine

(believe in winged horses and you will see them?)

 
 
bbearren
 
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bbearren
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13 July 2019 14:27
 
Jefe - 26 June 2019 08:39 PM

All religion is mythology….

What is religion?

Whose definition is valid?

To whom is such definition valid?

Who defines god?

whose definition is valid?

To whom is such definition valid?

Who sets the boundaries of a discussion on “religion”?

 
 
MrRon
 
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MrRon
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13 July 2019 14:42
 
EN - 13 July 2019 12:11 PM
MrRon - 13 July 2019 10:32 AM
EN - 12 July 2019 06:45 PM

If I experience something as true, I believe it until shown it is false.

Back to the magic example. So when a magician causes your signed dollar bill to mysteriously end up embedded in that apple that’s been sitting on the table all along, do you believe that the dollar became invisible, travelled through the air, and non-destructively quantum tunneled to the center of the apple?

Ron

No, Ron, that’s a stupid question. He is a magician - he knows how to deceive people. There is a rational explanation for magicians’ tricks and I know that they practice the art of deception.  It’s fun, but it’s not real. .

But my point is just that - that our senses can be so thoroughly and easily deceived. You had true experiences, yet you were not justified in believing the magician’s narrative. Anyway, the fact that, in this case, it was by a magician is irrelevant. The same glitchy input/output process of our brains is always there waiting to be exploited in some fashion.

When I experience God, no magician is involved.

Right. Just a plain old evolutionarily wired and patched cerebellum with a relatively recent cerebral cortex. And a backdrop of thousands of years of cultural myth designed to appeal to our basic desires for justice, immortality, and meaning. 

Ron
PS - To be absolutely clear, I’m not doubting that you have experiences, that they are 100% real to you, and that you ascribe those experiences to God.

 

 
EN
 
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EN
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13 July 2019 19:47
 
unsmoked - 13 July 2019 01:53 PM
EN - 13 July 2019 12:11 PM
MrRon - 13 July 2019 10:32 AM
EN - 12 July 2019 06:45 PM

If I experience something as true, I believe it until shown it is false.

Back to the magic example. So when a magician causes your signed dollar bill to mysteriously end up embedded in that apple that’s been sitting on the table all along, do you believe that the dollar became invisible, travelled through the air, and non-destructively quantum tunneled to the center of the apple?

Ron

No, Ron, that’s a stupid question. He is a magician - he knows how to deceive people. There is a rational explanation for magicians’ tricks and I know that they practice the art of deception.  It’s fun, but it’s not real.  When I experience God, no magician is involved.

Topic Title:  Is your religion mythology?

EN, did you tell us years ago that you don’t believe the Bible miracles?  Would your Bible be like Thomas Jefferson’s?  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jefferson_Bible

Considering the virgin birth, changing water into wine at a wedding party etc. . . . do you think the New Testament authors really believed such tales, or were they deliberately spicing up the script for gullible, superstitious people?  (as Hollywood screenwriters might change an adventure novel to include more car chases and romance).

“Faith is to believe what we do not see, and the reward of this faith is to see what we believe.”  -  St. Augustine

(believe in winged horses and you will see them?)

I believe in the miracles I have experienced.  I have experienced Jesus, so I believe him alive.  I have experienced answered prayer, so I believe it.

 
Brick Bungalow
 
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Brick Bungalow
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13 July 2019 22:38
 

Can I just say that I appreciate everyone present for participating? I don’t have a lot of outlets for these conversations these days. Even if it’s not always apparent I do read everyone’s contribution and try to consider it carefully. I know I sometimes miss the point.

(Directed at no one in particular)

I don’t think there is such a thing as atheist mythology but there is a set of conceits and errors common to folks who fancy themselves as rationalists or positivists and who often identify as secular or atheist. In my opinion and observation. It’s common among a certain set of educated religious believers as well but in the non post graduate world I find it’s more common among atheists. I’ve been guilty of all of this. Feel free to check me if you catch me doing any of the following:

*The idea that my convictions are the product of observation and deduction while yours are the product of fear, superstition or paranoia. I think we are all ultimately grounded in our interests and in our conditioning. If we are lucky enough to have good thinking skills in addition then… we are lucky. I think good conversational citizenship entails charity toward other parties. Benefit of the doubt until proven otherwise.

*The idea that a worldview can be seated and stable on pure rationality. Or indeed that any particular proposition can be distilled this way. They cannot, as far as I can tell. We all have motives. We all have biases. We all have gaps in knowledge and mistakes in method. So, humility.

*The idea that all articles of culture are to be considered under the same kind of scrutiny. Unlike kinds make for unfit analogies. Similarly the tactic of comparing the best bits of my view and my camp with the worst of yours. Arguments in bad faith. Obfuscation. Contempt. Tactics calculated to project confidence achieve the opposite effect.

*The idea that winning an argument is equal to proving a point. Conflating who is right with what is true. Injecting ego and competition into what ought to be a mutual exercise in discovery.

One reason that I’ve shifted my own emphasis on the god question is because I have greater regard for the void in which god sits. I feel drawn toward certain deistic ideas. I perceive concepts like the convergence of aesthetic values. The ground of being. The thirst for moral realism. Acknowledging infinite worth. Stuff like that. I don’t think these are god experiences. I certainly don’t call them that but they may be belong to a set. They correspond to things that apologists of previous generations have wrote at length about.

I think the question about whether a theistic god exists is an exercise in historical methodology and is quite aptly placed beside the questions of whether pantheon deities or totemic deities or ancestor deities exist. The moment you make historical or scientific claims you are subject to historical and scientific scrutiny. That seems only fair.

The question of a deistic god is different… in my mind at least. I think that’s more analogous to questions like whether the universe is finite or infinite or whether we can truly possess knowledge or whether death is the end of subjectivity or whether we have free will. I think these questions exist less to be answered and more as free weights for our intuition. They are our instruction manual for how to ask a question. There is a part of us or at least part of me that doesn’t really want a definitive and final answer.

 

 
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14 July 2019 05:04
 
EN - 13 July 2019 07:47 PM

  I have experienced answered prayer, so I believe it.

I would love to explore this further. Is this something you would be willing to elaborate on?


Ron

 
Garret
 
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Garret
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14 July 2019 06:45
 
Brick Bungalow - 13 July 2019 10:38 PM

The question of a deistic god is different… in my mind at least. I think that’s more analogous to questions like whether the universe is finite or infinite or whether we can truly possess knowledge or whether death is the end of subjectivity or whether we have free will. I think these questions exist less to be answered and more as free weights for our intuition. They are our instruction manual for how to ask a question. There is a part of us or at least part of me that doesn’t really want a definitive and final answer.

To me the conversation over the existence of a deistic god is interesting for a non serious semi-philosophical talk, but the concept appears to be the product of human imagination and not something we’ve gleaned from examining the world around us.  It’s like debating Superman versus Captain Marvel, but because Christianity is so deeply normalized in western society debating a deistic god doesn’t seem as nerdy.

The only evidence we have for God are stories and claim that are impossible to verify.  If we discard these theistic claims, then there exists nothing that would even suggest a god exists.

To put it in comic book terms, that’s like debating the existence of a character that has never appeared, never been mentioned, and has no measurable impact on any story.

 
bbearren
 
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bbearren
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14 July 2019 08:21
 
Garret - 14 July 2019 06:45 AM
Brick Bungalow - 13 July 2019 10:38 PM

The question of a deistic god is different… in my mind at least. I think that’s more analogous to questions like whether the universe is finite or infinite or whether we can truly possess knowledge or whether death is the end of subjectivity or whether we have free will. I think these questions exist less to be answered and more as free weights for our intuition. They are our instruction manual for how to ask a question. There is a part of us or at least part of me that doesn’t really want a definitive and final answer.

To me the conversation over the existence of a deistic god is interesting for a non serious semi-philosophical talk, but the concept appears to be the product of human imagination and not something we’ve gleaned from examining the world around us.  It’s like debating Superman versus Captain Marvel, but because Christianity is so deeply normalized in western society debating a deistic god doesn’t seem as nerdy.

The only evidence we have for God are stories and claim that are impossible to verify.  If we discard these theistic claims, then there exists nothing that would even suggest a god exists.

To put it in comic book terms, that’s like debating the existence of a character that has never appeared, never been mentioned, and has no measurable impact on any story.

bbearren - 13 July 2019 02:27 PM

What is religion?

Whose definition is valid?

To whom is such definition valid?

Who defines god?

whose definition is valid?

To whom is such definition valid?

Who sets the boundaries of a discussion on “religion”?

Discussions such as this thread are similar to playing American football and soccer at the same time on the same playing field, and trying to enforce both sets of rules on both games.

In my reading through this thread, EN, as always (and he can correct me if I’m wrong), is discussing his faith, his experiences.  He is not trying to defend the christian religion.  He is not trying to defend someone else’s comic book.

 
 
Jefe
 
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14 July 2019 09:11
 
bbearren - 13 July 2019 02:27 PM
Jefe - 26 June 2019 08:39 PM

All religion is mythology….

What is religion?

A general definition is pretty close to:

Religion is a set of beliefs concerning the cause, nature, and purpose of the universe, especially when considered as the creation of a superhuman agency or agencies, usually involving devotional and ritual observances, and often containing a moral code governing the conduct of human affairs.

bbearren - 13 July 2019 02:27 PM

Whose definition is valid?

Good question.  Whose definition would you accept?

bbearren - 13 July 2019 02:27 PM

To whom is such definition valid?

Each individual must find and accept the definition of religion that most suits their understanding of the term.  Many of them will be very close to each other.  Some outliers may exist. How should we treat the outliers? 

bbearren - 13 July 2019 02:27 PM

Who defines god?

Each individual believer has their own idea of what (a) god(s) definition is.
Some of those, like the definition for religion, will have a lot of overlap.  Some of them will be different.
We can use peoples’ descriptions, devotions, and practices to suss out a close approximation of what their god is like in order to discuss that appearance of god.  It won’t be perfect because we won’t necessarily share an identical personal image, but there will be similarities between similarly affiliated religious folks.

bbearren - 13 July 2019 02:27 PM

whose definition is valid?

Good question.  Who’s definition is valid.  EN’s description is different than yours and those are different from others.
Which is valid?  Which should be considered non-valid?  Is validity even an attribute that matters in the discussion of supernatural beings or forces for which evidence (outside of personal revelation) is scarce?

bbearren - 13 July 2019 02:27 PM

To whom is such definition valid?

See above comment.

bbearren - 13 July 2019 02:27 PM

Who sets the boundaries of a discussion on “religion”?

Those discussing it, I guess.  Some people walk away from difficult conversations or evidence, so I think that sets a sort of self-imposed boundary.  For me, the sky is the limit, so to speak.  I can talk about anything, and am willing to explore.  What boundaries would you set that would be applicable to anyone other than yourself?

 

 
 
EN
 
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EN
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14 July 2019 11:46
 
MrRon - 14 July 2019 05:04 AM
EN - 13 July 2019 07:47 PM

  I have experienced answered prayer, so I believe it.

I would love to explore this further. Is this something you would be willing to elaborate on?

Ron

Sure, I’ll give you the one example that I think best qualifies as an instantaneous answer with the least likelihood of another causative factor. About 15-20 years ago I was the preacher in a small country church (I practiced law during the week and preached on Sunday).  There was a man in my congregation who from time to time would suffer migraine headaches. It’s difficult to fake a migraine - you can see the heaviness in the person’s face. One Sunday he told me and the music minister that he was getting a migraine and might have to go home. One of us suggested prayer, and I remember us laying our hands on him and praying for healing from the migraine.  After the prayer he had a sort of startled look on his face. I asked what was going on and he said that as we prayed, he experienced what he felt like was something reaching into his head and pulling something out.  He said the migraine went away.  I was there a few more years and he didn’t have another migraine.  I saw him at the local 4th of July parade this year (he lives about 3 miles from me) and I asked him about this experience.  He said that he has never had another migraine, and that he tells people about the experience when he gets a chance.  I’m sure he would tell you, too.  That’s the closest I ever seen to an immediate answer to prayer. To my knowledge, he hadn’t taken anything for it, but I would have to ask him that specifically.  But you could tell by the look on his face that the migraine was gone and that he had experienced something unusual.

I can anticipate some of the questions.  “Have you ever prayed and nothing happened?”  Yes, in fact some sick people I’ve prayed for died.  Some lived and even recovered from things like cancer, but they were also receiving medical treatment, so I can’t say for sure that prayer had anything to do with it, other than give them comfort.

“Was he receiving medical treatment at the time?”  I don’t know, thanks for asking.  I’ll clarify that with him next time I see him.

“How do you know he was telling the truth?”  Like I said, it’s hard to fake a migraine, and hard to pretend you don’t have one when you do.  You can see it in the person’s face.

“Why would God answer a prayer about a migraine and not one about cancer or a sick child”?  I don’t know.  The “rules” set out in the NT are 1) it has to be a prayer of faith, without doubt; and 2) it has to be something within the general will of God (like healing, not like winning the lottery).  My general feeling is that on this occasion the three of us praying had faith - I don’t remember any doubt at the time. I probably don’t have that much faith in the face of serious disease, and perhaps the sick person doesn’t, either.  We live in a generally skeptical world used to purely scientific or rational explanations, so belief in prayer is not natural for us anymore.  Getting to the point of no doubt is damn hard, to put it mildly.  Most Christian churches don’t really believe in the “miraculous”, and the one I grew up in didn’t.  Prayer with no doubt is not practiced or achieved by that many.

Any way, there it is.

 

 
GAD
 
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GAD
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14 July 2019 11:54
 
EN - 14 July 2019 11:46 AM
MrRon - 14 July 2019 05:04 AM
EN - 13 July 2019 07:47 PM

  I have experienced answered prayer, so I believe it.

I would love to explore this further. Is this something you would be willing to elaborate on?

Ron

Sure, I’ll give you the one example that I think best qualifies as an instantaneous answer with the least likelihood of another causative factor. About 15-20 years ago I was the preacher in a small country church (I practiced law during the week and preached on Sunday).  There was a man in my congregation who from time to time would suffer migraine headaches. It’s difficult to fake a migraine - you can see the heaviness in the person’s face. One Sunday he told me and the music minister that he was getting a migraine and might have to go home. One of us suggested prayer, and I remember us laying our hands on him and praying for healing from the migraine.  After the prayer he had a sort of startled look on his face. I asked what was going on and he said that as we prayed, he experienced what he felt like was something reaching into his head and pulling something out.  He said the migraine went away.  I was there a few more years and he didn’t have another migraine.  I saw him at the local 4th of July parade this year (he lives about 3 miles from me) and I asked him about this experience.  He said that he has never had another migraine, and that he tells people about the experience when he gets a chance.  I’m sure he would tell you, too.  That’s the closest I ever seen to an immediate answer to prayer. To my knowledge, he hadn’t taken anything for it, but I would have to ask him that specifically.  But you could tell by the look on his face that the migraine was gone and that he had experienced something unusual.

I can anticipate some of the questions.  “Have you ever prayed and nothing happened?”  Yes, in fact some sick people I’ve prayed for died.  Some lived and even recovered from things like cancer, but they were also receiving medical treatment, so I can’t say for sure that prayer had anything to do with it, other than give them comfort.

“Was he receiving medical treatment at the time?”  I don’t know, thanks for asking.  I’ll clarify that with him next time I see him.

“How do you know he was telling the truth?”  Like I said, it’s hard to fake a migraine, and hard to pretend you don’t have one when you do.  You can see it in the person’s face.

“Why would God answer a prayer about a migraine and not one about cancer or a sick child”?  I don’t know.  The “rules” set out in the NT are 1) it has to be a prayer of faith, without doubt; and 2) it has to be something within the general will of God (like healing, not like winning the lottery).  My general feeling is that on this occasion the three of us praying had faith - I don’t remember any doubt at the time. I probably don’t have that much faith in the face of serious disease, and perhaps the sick person doesn’t, either.  We live in a generally skeptical world used to purely scientific or rational explanations, so belief in prayer is not natural for us anymore.  Getting to the point of no doubt is damn hard, to put it mildly.  Most Christian churches don’t really believe in the “miraculous”, and the one I grew up in didn’t.  Prayer with no doubt is not practiced or achieved by that many.

Any way, there it is.

standard psychology, remember the ones the seemed to work and ignore the millions of times it didn’t.

 
 
Brick Bungalow
 
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Brick Bungalow
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14 July 2019 13:36
 
Garret - 14 July 2019 06:45 AM
Brick Bungalow - 13 July 2019 10:38 PM

The question of a deistic god is different… in my mind at least. I think that’s more analogous to questions like whether the universe is finite or infinite or whether we can truly possess knowledge or whether death is the end of subjectivity or whether we have free will. I think these questions exist less to be answered and more as free weights for our intuition. They are our instruction manual for how to ask a question. There is a part of us or at least part of me that doesn’t really want a definitive and final answer.

To me the conversation over the existence of a deistic god is interesting for a non serious semi-philosophical talk, but the concept appears to be the product of human imagination and not something we’ve gleaned from examining the world around us.  It’s like debating Superman versus Captain Marvel, but because Christianity is so deeply normalized in western society debating a deistic god doesn’t seem as nerdy.

The only evidence we have for God are stories and claim that are impossible to verify.  If we discard these theistic claims, then there exists nothing that would even suggest a god exists.

To put it in comic book terms, that’s like debating the existence of a character that has never appeared, never been mentioned, and has no measurable impact on any story.

I want to gently suggest that it’s not useful to keep repeating the point about a lack of evidence. This has been amply conceded. No one present is trying proselytize. 

Your superhero analogy is fitting in the sense that we would probably not answer a question about Captain America by saying that there is no evidence for his existence. We all know that already. If we have an interest in that character we let that part remain unstated and move on.

As we should here. .

 
EN
 
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14 July 2019 14:25
 
GAD - 14 July 2019 11:54 AM
EN - 14 July 2019 11:46 AM
MrRon - 14 July 2019 05:04 AM
EN - 13 July 2019 07:47 PM

  I have experienced answered prayer, so I believe it.

I would love to explore this further. Is this something you would be willing to elaborate on?

Ron

Sure, I’ll give you the one example that I think best qualifies as an instantaneous answer with the least likelihood of another causative factor. About 15-20 years ago I was the preacher in a small country church (I practiced law during the week and preached on Sunday).  There was a man in my congregation who from time to time would suffer migraine headaches. It’s difficult to fake a migraine - you can see the heaviness in the person’s face. One Sunday he told me and the music minister that he was getting a migraine and might have to go home. One of us suggested prayer, and I remember us laying our hands on him and praying for healing from the migraine.  After the prayer he had a sort of startled look on his face. I asked what was going on and he said that as we prayed, he experienced what he felt like was something reaching into his head and pulling something out.  He said the migraine went away.  I was there a few more years and he didn’t have another migraine.  I saw him at the local 4th of July parade this year (he lives about 3 miles from me) and I asked him about this experience.  He said that he has never had another migraine, and that he tells people about the experience when he gets a chance.  I’m sure he would tell you, too.  That’s the closest I ever seen to an immediate answer to prayer. To my knowledge, he hadn’t taken anything for it, but I would have to ask him that specifically.  But you could tell by the look on his face that the migraine was gone and that he had experienced something unusual.

I can anticipate some of the questions.  “Have you ever prayed and nothing happened?”  Yes, in fact some sick people I’ve prayed for died.  Some lived and even recovered from things like cancer, but they were also receiving medical treatment, so I can’t say for sure that prayer had anything to do with it, other than give them comfort.

“Was he receiving medical treatment at the time?”  I don’t know, thanks for asking.  I’ll clarify that with him next time I see him.

“How do you know he was telling the truth?”  Like I said, it’s hard to fake a migraine, and hard to pretend you don’t have one when you do.  You can see it in the person’s face.

“Why would God answer a prayer about a migraine and not one about cancer or a sick child”?  I don’t know.  The “rules” set out in the NT are 1) it has to be a prayer of faith, without doubt; and 2) it has to be something within the general will of God (like healing, not like winning the lottery).  My general feeling is that on this occasion the three of us praying had faith - I don’t remember any doubt at the time. I probably don’t have that much faith in the face of serious disease, and perhaps the sick person doesn’t, either.  We live in a generally skeptical world used to purely scientific or rational explanations, so belief in prayer is not natural for us anymore.  Getting to the point of no doubt is damn hard, to put it mildly.  Most Christian churches don’t really believe in the “miraculous”, and the one I grew up in didn’t.  Prayer with no doubt is not practiced or achieved by that many.

Any way, there it is.

standard psychology, remember the ones the seemed to work and ignore the millions of times it didn’t.

I didn’t ignore them, I specifically acknowledged them.  Standard psychology - don’t read what is written.

 
MrRon
 
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14 July 2019 14:35
 
EN - 14 July 2019 11:46 AM
MrRon - 14 July 2019 05:04 AM
EN - 13 July 2019 07:47 PM

  I have experienced answered prayer, so I believe it.

I would love to explore this further. Is this something you would be willing to elaborate on?

Ron

Sure, I’ll give you the one example that I think best qualifies as an instantaneous answer with the least likelihood of another causative factor. About 15-20 years ago I was the preacher in a small country church (I practiced law during the week and preached on Sunday).  There was a man in my congregation who from time to time would suffer migraine headaches. It’s difficult to fake a migraine - you can see the heaviness in the person’s face. One Sunday he told me and the music minister that he was getting a migraine and might have to go home. One of us suggested prayer, and I remember us laying our hands on him and praying for healing from the migraine.  After the prayer he had a sort of startled look on his face. I asked what was going on and he said that as we prayed, he experienced what he felt like was something reaching into his head and pulling something out.  He said the migraine went away.  I was there a few more years and he didn’t have another migraine.  I saw him at the local 4th of July parade this year (he lives about 3 miles from me) and I asked him about this experience.  He said that he has never had another migraine, and that he tells people about the experience when he gets a chance.  I’m sure he would tell you, too.  That’s the closest I ever seen to an immediate answer to prayer. To my knowledge, he hadn’t taken anything for it, but I would have to ask him that specifically.  But you could tell by the look on his face that the migraine was gone and that he had experienced something unusual.

I can anticipate some of the questions.  “Have you ever prayed and nothing happened?”  Yes, in fact some sick people I’ve prayed for died.  Some lived and even recovered from things like cancer, but they were also receiving medical treatment, so I can’t say for sure that prayer had anything to do with it, other than give them comfort.

“Was he receiving medical treatment at the time?”  I don’t know, thanks for asking.  I’ll clarify that with him next time I see him.

“How do you know he was telling the truth?”  Like I said, it’s hard to fake a migraine, and hard to pretend you don’t have one when you do.  You can see it in the person’s face.

“Why would God answer a prayer about a migraine and not one about cancer or a sick child”?  I don’t know.  The “rules” set out in the NT are 1) it has to be a prayer of faith, without doubt; and 2) it has to be something within the general will of God (like healing, not like winning the lottery).  My general feeling is that on this occasion the three of us praying had faith - I don’t remember any doubt at the time. I probably don’t have that much faith in the face of serious disease, and perhaps the sick person doesn’t, either.  We live in a generally skeptical world used to purely scientific or rational explanations, so belief in prayer is not natural for us anymore.  Getting to the point of no doubt is damn hard, to put it mildly.  Most Christian churches don’t really believe in the “miraculous”, and the one I grew up in didn’t.  Prayer with no doubt is not practiced or achieved by that many.

Any way, there it is.

Thanks. And I’m sure you’re smart enough to realize that through the course of history there has probably been innumerable occasions where devout Christians have prayed by the rules under similar circumstances for cures for their loved ones, but to no avail. So would you agree that God answers all prayers with ‘Yes’, ‘No’, or ‘Maybe’?

Matthew 21:22 indicates that anything asked for in prayer will be received. But, if as you say, that healing is only within the “general will of God”, then why only certain types of healing? Like things that are self-limiting and will probably subside on their own anyway. Even cancer can go into remission on it’s own. So, for example, why does God NEVER heal amputees?

More generally, why does one need to pray in the first place? Why would God stand by and knowingly let this man suffer from migraines unless and until someone requested relief? If your child is suffering intensely in some way, and you KNOW they are suffering, and you could so easily alleviate that suffering with no skin off your back, would you just let your child suffer indefinitely until they asked for your help? If any of us found out that our neighbor was neglecting their child in that manner we would call it abuse and be rightly outraged. Does it really make sense that an all-powerful and all-loving God would behave that way towards his children?
 
Lastly, if this man wasn’t cured of his migraine, would that diminish your confidence that a God exists? I suspect not. In fact, I suspect that even if you never witnessed a single answered prayer, you would still be a believer, no? 

Ron

 

 
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GAD
Total Posts:  17602
Joined  15-02-2008
 
 
 
14 July 2019 15:20
 
EN - 14 July 2019 02:25 PM
GAD - 14 July 2019 11:54 AM
EN - 14 July 2019 11:46 AM
MrRon - 14 July 2019 05:04 AM
EN - 13 July 2019 07:47 PM

  I have experienced answered prayer, so I believe it.

I would love to explore this further. Is this something you would be willing to elaborate on?

Ron

Sure, I’ll give you the one example that I think best qualifies as an instantaneous answer with the least likelihood of another causative factor. About 15-20 years ago I was the preacher in a small country church (I practiced law during the week and preached on Sunday).  There was a man in my congregation who from time to time would suffer migraine headaches. It’s difficult to fake a migraine - you can see the heaviness in the person’s face. One Sunday he told me and the music minister that he was getting a migraine and might have to go home. One of us suggested prayer, and I remember us laying our hands on him and praying for healing from the migraine.  After the prayer he had a sort of startled look on his face. I asked what was going on and he said that as we prayed, he experienced what he felt like was something reaching into his head and pulling something out.  He said the migraine went away.  I was there a few more years and he didn’t have another migraine.  I saw him at the local 4th of July parade this year (he lives about 3 miles from me) and I asked him about this experience.  He said that he has never had another migraine, and that he tells people about the experience when he gets a chance.  I’m sure he would tell you, too.  That’s the closest I ever seen to an immediate answer to prayer. To my knowledge, he hadn’t taken anything for it, but I would have to ask him that specifically.  But you could tell by the look on his face that the migraine was gone and that he had experienced something unusual.

I can anticipate some of the questions.  “Have you ever prayed and nothing happened?”  Yes, in fact some sick people I’ve prayed for died.  Some lived and even recovered from things like cancer, but they were also receiving medical treatment, so I can’t say for sure that prayer had anything to do with it, other than give them comfort.

“Was he receiving medical treatment at the time?”  I don’t know, thanks for asking.  I’ll clarify that with him next time I see him.

“How do you know he was telling the truth?”  Like I said, it’s hard to fake a migraine, and hard to pretend you don’t have one when you do.  You can see it in the person’s face.

“Why would God answer a prayer about a migraine and not one about cancer or a sick child”?  I don’t know.  The “rules” set out in the NT are 1) it has to be a prayer of faith, without doubt; and 2) it has to be something within the general will of God (like healing, not like winning the lottery).  My general feeling is that on this occasion the three of us praying had faith - I don’t remember any doubt at the time. I probably don’t have that much faith in the face of serious disease, and perhaps the sick person doesn’t, either.  We live in a generally skeptical world used to purely scientific or rational explanations, so belief in prayer is not natural for us anymore.  Getting to the point of no doubt is damn hard, to put it mildly.  Most Christian churches don’t really believe in the “miraculous”, and the one I grew up in didn’t.  Prayer with no doubt is not practiced or achieved by that many.

Any way, there it is.

standard psychology, remember the ones that seemed to work and ignore the millions of times it didn’t.

I didn’t ignore them, I specifically acknowledged them.  Standard psychology - don’t read what is written.

Yes, that it how it becomes a one-in-a-million and with those odds it can only be a miracle from god.

 
 
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