If nobody believed in superstition it would be unable to hurt anyone
Prayer and Science
Science has found that praying for something and leaving it to chance makes no difference. It would be more liberating to let chance do its work. You will not always get a lovely surprise but a lot of the time you will feel comforted when things turn out okay or for the best.
Those who pray to trees and those who pray to God still
imagine they get results. They like to excuse when their prayer is not answered.
That way you can pray to anything and imagine that it works. It is very
insulting to be that dishonest and then make out that your prayers saved Lana
from her cancer. It is very flattering to your self-deception to say it had the
power to help Lana.
Believers in God tell you to pray and imply that you are
doing wrong or doing something harmful if you don't. But they set up their
doctrine of the efficacy of prayer in such a way that nothing can disprove it.
For example, if you pray fervently and with great sanctity and nothing happens
they tell you that perhaps it did work but not in the way you expect. Or they
say that God had other plans. This is actually a tactic for discouraging
critical thought. The believers have something to hide. If prayer seems to get
no response, they use guesswork to "explain" that. But science cannot accept
such an approach. It needs tests and proofs that there really was a good reason
why God didn't answer. A guessed explanation is not a scientific explanation.
The person who tells you to pray to help a seriously ill
person and then who rigs it that you will never know if it really helped is
exploitive. It is an insult to the sick person and her or his sickness.
Those who imagine that prayer works and lie to themselves
about how effective it is sometimes form violent religions. Those evil religions
thrive on their self-deception and arrogance. The terrorists feel that God is
with them for they think they get a response to their prayers. They try to make
out that when they get what they don't want that somehow there is good in it
which proves their prayers were answered after all but not in the way they
expected. That way if prayer is a failure they blind themselves from seeing it.
What kind of God would give you reason and the power to
assess evidence and have you praying if prayer requires you to throw your brain
A loving God would know that since according to science
our cognitive faculties are prone to error, they do not function in the right
way, that if we have to adopt untestable beliefs that we will go into siege mode
if anybody tries to make us see sense. That is an insult to the person who tries
to help us become sensible.
Religion answers that God's mind is different from ours
and he sees and hears all so we cannot see his plans clearly. But if you are
poor at maths and you go to the local maths genius that does not mean you will
necessarily learn little or nothing. God having his own plans and seeing a big
picture could mean the plan is a near complete mystery to us but could also mean
it should be reasonably understandable and perceptible. The Christians always
bring in the hidden assumption that God's ways will make no sense to us for we
are too uninformed and limited to see. That is a trick. It is exactly what they
would say if there was no evidence that there was indeed a plan or if all
attempts to explain how God allows evil are failures. Independent evidence is
needed and it is not there. They are merely guessing.
Petitionary prayer encourages the vice of special
pleading and leads to people lying to others about the power of prayer.
What if science finds that those who pray for others seem
to develop a motivation to help others the natural way?
What if science finds that praising God is the best
prayer and has a good effect on those who engage in it?
What about the fact that even if prayer seems to have no
results you are still enhancing a sense of being in line with God's good
intentions? You are still being kind like God is kind.
Religion makes God untestable. Even prayer is not about
testing God. If you look at your prayers and notice how many of them were
answered you cannot look at it at a testing way. You will see the "answers" as
indicating that God is having a relationship with you. It becomes personal. All
approaches to God start with the notion that people sometimes pray and what they
ask for happens. The notion is the reason why some look for further evidence for
God - eg the argument that the universe seems designed so God is probably the
designer. The religious ask, "Why is there something rather than nothing?" Even
that is implicitly about a prayer relationship.
If prayer seems self-confirming anything can. Even if you
think eating custard once a week brings you good fortune, you will notice that
sometimes good things follow the eating of the custard. What you are doing is
putting the cart before the horse.
Christians give reasons for believing in God. They think
there would be nothing without God. They think God must have designed all
things. But science says its good to have reasons but they are not enough. They
have to be tested. Science points out that there are good reasons to believe
things that are actually not true at all. So the testing is the only way to be
sure. Its the only honest way to work out if something is true.
If there is a God then prayer will work. We have the scientific right to use it as a test to see if there is a God. However, the Bible says we cannot put God to the test. But if that is true, what is to stop us putting MAN to the test. What if we reason: "It may be man saying there is a God of love. What if there is not?
We need to test God not because we wish to degrade God but because we respect God and want to make sure we are not making a God out of human ideas about the divine." This truth is NEVER mentioned by religion for it knows the test will not work.
If you request a birthday cake in prayer, will God
minutely tamper with the universe to make sure you will get one? That would be
against the laws of physics. Believers might say it is not for rather than
tamper he sets up the universe in preparation for your cake. But that would be
against physics as well. Why? Would it be as bad as or worse than tampering?
It is worse for it is still tampering and it won't admit it. Prayer is
more important to religion than miracles and miracles are supposed to be about
getting people to pray and have a relationship with God. Thus if prayer is
anti-science then it follows that miracles are necessarily anti-science too.
We should be able to test because it is the only way to
test. Religion tends to see miracles as signs more than answered prayers are.
There is something vulgar about miracles being signs and a response to prayer
not being. Miracles that are happen to astonish people are ridiculous and
insulting to God.
Science and Harm
God is king and therefore has the right to forbid things
even if they do little or no harm. Some believers say that there is no real
belief in morality unless you believe in a God who decrees what is right and
what is wrong. The teaching of the divine command basis of morality implies that
morality is not discovered rationally. You hear what God has revealed about
morality. You need him to tell you what's right for you cannot work it out
yourself and indeed have no right to try to work it out. This approach puts
morality beyond science. If morality is beyond science that does not mean it is
moral to do something to put it beyond it. That would be intentional. Its
science to say that you are doing harm to a baby by burning it. We must perceive
the majesty of science and its infinite potential to make us better people.
Prayer endorses the implicit and explicit evil of belief in God.
Harvard Medical School in 2006 found that people prayed
for those recovering from heart surgery. For many, no improvement took place.
For many, they even got worse. This is admitted in the pro-Christian book
Quantum Leap, Dean Nelson and Karl Giberson, Monarch Books, Oxford, 2011, page