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Old 06-22-2006, 09:34 AM   #31
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I bet if a study was done it would show that goodness is not defined by me, by you or by any individual or group. If it's not defined by anyone or any group then let's just get rid of the whole concept and make life simple.
I'd love to hear the setup for this study. Can you please elaborate?
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Old 06-22-2006, 09:57 AM   #32
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Actually Victus made reference to the studies. Anyway, see my link above. I guess we just interpret the evidence differently.
The evidence that showed that pretty close to the same number of people had complications after heart surgery whether they were prayed-for or not? 59% of the test subjects who were prayed-for had complications; 52% of the test subjects who were not prayed-for had complications. So between 50-60% of the test subjects had complications, regardless of whether they were prayed-for.

How, exactly, do you "interpret" that information?

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I'd say good is doing what ought to be done in a given situation. I readily admit that determining what ought to be done can be difficult - but that doesn't mean that the concept of good is a human concept. On the flip side, if goodness is simply a human concept then what ought to be done in a given situation is completely up to me and me alone. I don't buy into that and I bet if a study was done it would show that goodness is not defined by me, by you or by any individual or group. If it's not defined by anyone or any group then let's just get rid of the whole concept and make life simple.
Define "simple."

Okay; I'm just breaking balls now.

Why would "what ought to be done in a given situation" be external to humans? If we agree that "what ought to be done" is what minimizes suffering and maximizes happiness (as defined by universal utilitarianism, of rinstance), then we need no external meter by which to define "good." That which is "good" (or that "which ought to be done") is that which minimizes suffering and maximizes happiness.

This would then not be a matter left up to you and you alone; the morality of your actions would be based on the amount of suffering and/or happines that they caused and/or stopped. No external supernatural agents are therefore necessary to call an action good.

The fact remains that "goodness" is defined by groups; what is morally reprehensible in one society or time may be commonplace in another. Even religion is simply a consensus of what will considered "good" by a group of people; in the case of J-Xianity, the council of Nicaea decided what you would deem "good" about 1,700 years ago.

What needs to happen is that people need to realize that factionining themselves into "cultures" and "societies" is pointless and harmful from a moral standpoint. We need to understand that all human beings comprise one species, one society, and are all subject to one morality based on the human condition.

atheist (n): one who remains unconvinced.
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Old 06-22-2006, 10:02 AM   #33
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Clearly we don't see the evidence the same. Nowhere to go from here really.
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Old 06-22-2006, 11:45 AM   #34
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Clearly we don't see the evidence the same. Nowhere to go from here really.
I don't know that we've necessarily even agreed on what the evidence is.

The question being, I think: does prayer, by itself, actually effect physical reality in any meaningful way?

There are some perfectly natural ways that prayer can, indirectly, effect reality. One may find psychological comfort and confidence through prayer, and thus be able to think more clearly without adverse concerns, therefore functioning more effectively in reality. But this is not the work of the prayers themselves, but rather psychosomatic effects caused by the individual; the same end can be achieved through simple meditation or self-help methods.

The only way to study the actual effects of prayer is through situations wherein the individual praying has no way of effecting the outcome. So we must look at situations like the Sago Mine Disaster; 13 men trapped in a collapsed mine, and thousands of people praying for their safe rescue. 12 of them died; the evidence thus indicates that the prayer was utterly useless.

To be thorough, then, we must look at a wide variety of situations like the Sago Mine Disaster. In doing so (which I have not done), we will reveal any correlation that prayer has with the manipulation of reality. If we find that a statistically significant majority of cases where people pray for a specific outcome actually yields the prayed-for outcome, then we can say that prayer effects reality.

Without conducting such a study, however, I can only guess when I say that I doubt any statistically significant majority will bear out that claim. My hypothesis: we will find that the actual outcome reflects the prayed-for outcome in about half of the cases, while the actual outcome opposes the prayed-for outcome in the other half of the cases. Which is exactly what we would expect if prayer has no effect on reality.

atheist (n): one who remains unconvinced.
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Old 06-22-2006, 12:01 PM   #35
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Clearly we don't see the evidence the same. Nowhere to go from here really.
I don't know that we've necessarily even agreed on what the evidence is.

The question being, I think: does prayer, by itself, actually effect physical reality in any meaningful way?
I'd say it moves people toward aligning their lives and their character with what God wants it to be - which is a good thing. The process of sanctification is demonstrated in a physical way by the way we think and act. I'm sure the next disagreement between us will be about 'what God wants it to be'.
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Old 06-22-2006, 12:11 PM   #36
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Regarding prayer, I prefer the Scrappleface interpretation of the evidence.
They didn't get the results they wanted, so they claimed "Godidit". That's not an interpretation, it's a cop-out from people who didn't get what they wanted.

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Regarding good/evil. I'm sure you are familiar with the whole free will debate. I'm sure you are familiar with the whole 'god has a plan and is working the plan' debate. Also, if there really is objective good and evil then explain how this can come about via natural means. If it's a made up human concept then we are arguing over nothing really.
I'm debating you on your terms. Christianity, I think most would agree, proports moral absolutism. As such, the existence (and dominance) of 'evil' would seem to make God either powerless, sadistic, negligent, or nonexistent. I choose the simples answer that fits the evidence. There is no magical man living in the sky.

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More....the existance of a rational mind. Like the existence of objective good/evil, naturalism can't accout for it. Also, the evidence that physicalism is clearly false.
What is so mysterious about a rational mind, it's an advantagous result of a developed cortex. Chimps can complete basic logic.

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Old 06-22-2006, 12:12 PM   #37
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Regarding prayer, I prefer the Scrappleface interpretation of the evidence.
They didn't get the results they wanted, so they claimed "Godidit". That's not an interpretation, it's a cop-out from people who didn't get what they wanted.
I'd rather just look at the Scrappleface article as what it was meant to be: satire. Lurker was making a joke. (I think, considering in the same issue it was claimed that Apple has a cure for AIDS, but it requires proprietary medicines).

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Old 06-22-2006, 12:57 PM   #38
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I'd say good is doing what ought to be done in a given situation. I readily admit that determining what ought to be done can be difficult - but that doesn't mean that the concept of good is a human concept. On the flip side, if goodness is simply a human concept then what ought to be done in a given situation is completely up to me and me alone. I don't buy into that and I bet if a study was done it would show that goodness is not defined by me, by you or by any individual or group. If it's not defined by anyone or any group then let's just get rid of the whole concept and make life simple.
Pre-adolescents don't make the distinction between self-serving and 'moral' actions.

Keagan, R. (1986). The Child Behind The Mask: Sociopathy as Developmental Delay. In W.H. Reid, D, Dorr, J.I. Walker, & J.W. Bonner (Eds), Unmasking the Psychopath: Antisocial Personality and Related Syndromes (pp. 45-77). New York: Norton.

Seriously, look up any developmental cognition research for the last 100 years. Go take a gander at some of the translated works by Vygotsky.

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Tenspace wrote
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Victus wrote
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Lurker wrote
Regarding prayer, I prefer the Scrappleface interpretation of the evidence.
They didn't get the results they wanted, so they claimed "Godidit". That's not an interpretation, it's a cop-out from people who didn't get what they wanted.
I'd rather just look at the Scrappleface article as what it was meant to be: satire. Lurker was making a joke. (I think, considering in the same issue it was claimed that Apple has a cure for AIDS, but it requires proprietary medicines).
I have learned never to underestimate the ability of theists to interpret things in an unrealistic manner, so long as it suits their irrational beliefs.

"When science was in its infancy, religion tried to strangle it in its cradle." - Robert G. Ingersoll
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Old 06-22-2006, 01:30 PM   #39
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Regarding prayer, I prefer the Scrappleface interpretation of the evidence.
They didn't get the results they wanted, so they claimed "Godidit". That's not an interpretation, it's a cop-out from people who didn't get what they wanted.
I'd rather just look at the Scrappleface article as what it was meant to be: satire. Lurker was making a joke. (I think, considering in the same issue it was claimed that Apple has a cure for AIDS, but it requires proprietary medicines).
All good comedy requires an element of truth. Do you see it in the article?
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Old 06-22-2006, 02:06 PM   #40
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They didn't get the results they wanted, so they claimed "Godidit". That's not an interpretation, it's a cop-out from people who didn't get what they wanted.
I'd rather just look at the Scrappleface article as what it was meant to be: satire. Lurker was making a joke. (I think, considering in the same issue it was claimed that Apple has a cure for AIDS, but it requires proprietary medicines).
All good comedy requires an element of truth. Do you see it in the article?
From your point-of-view, yes.

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Old 06-22-2006, 04:05 PM   #41
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So, Lurker, you're (finally) saying that prayer and good are your evidence for Christianity?
Is that it? Honestly?
That suprises me - with all the posting you've done here, with all the 'look at yourselves' insertions, with all the 'we see it differently' insight, I am, honestly, very surprised that something as obviously subjective and self-serving as "prayer and good" are all the evidence you require to construct not only an entire world-view, but to accept something as convoluted as Christianity.



Oh, wait, no I'm not.
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Old 06-22-2006, 07:36 PM   #42
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About the prayer efficacy study:
Lurker, the study found there was no significant difference between heart surgery complications between a group that was prayed for, and one that wasn't. You cited that satirical article that says "Humans fail to manipulate God." All of the following interpretations are consistent with the data:

1) God doesn't exist, so prayers do nothing.
2) God never intended to help the people in the experimental group, and prayer didn't change his mind.
3) God would normally help people that are prayed for, but purposefully didn't help this experimental group to show that he can't be manipulated.

Obviously I believe #1. Which do you believe? Because I have to say, with #2, that doesn't speak very highly of God. I mean, heart surgery complications? That's pretty serious. If God doesn't listen to prayers about that, what DOES he listen to? Because there are a lot of worse things than that going on in the world.

#3 is almost as bad. If he WOULD usually, or sometimes help people who are prayed for, the fact is that he WAS manipulated by the researchers - into spitefully showing he can't be manipulated. It would seem to be similar to a teenager who refuses to eat dinner to prove to his parents that they can't control him.
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Old 06-22-2006, 09:34 PM   #43
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So, Lurker, you're (finally) saying that prayer and good are your evidence for Christianity?
Is that it? Honestly?
That suprises me - with all the posting you've done here, with all the 'look at yourselves' insertions, with all the 'we see it differently' insight, I am, honestly, very surprised that something as obviously subjective and self-serving as "prayer and good" are all the evidence you require to construct not only an entire world-view, but to accept something as convoluted as Christianity.



Oh, wait, no I'm not.
Victus said ineffective prayer and evil are evidence against God so why can't I claim the opposite as evidence for God. Seems that I can. If my argument is not any good then his is equally worthless.

And, I said 'just two for now' which means there's more so you can go back to being very unsurprised.
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Old 06-22-2006, 10:52 PM   #44
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The question being, I think: does prayer, by itself, actually effect physical reality in any meaningful way?
I'd say it moves people toward aligning their lives and their character with what God wants it to be - which is a good thing.
You'd be talking about the "make me a vessel of your will" brand of prayer. A very strange sort of psychosomatic self-manipulation that is. The prayer breaks down as follows:

1. "Help me be what you want me to be."
But "what you want me to be" is interchangeable with "what I want to be," presuming that the praying individual wants to be what their god wants them to be. So the prayer is really:
2. "Help me be what I want to be."
And because "be what" refers to "behave how" and not "attain the profession," the prayer is actually:
3. "Help me behave how I want to behave."

So really, the prayer is about the individual's own personal weakness and inability to behave themselves in a particular manner because they perceive themselves as weak and incapable of behaving themselves in that particular manner.

This is a classic example of a "self-fulfilling prophecy." If you want to discriminate against homosexuals, oppress women, and enslave people, then at least have the backbone to own the behaviour as your own instead of blaming it on a being you can't even prove exists.

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The process of sanctification is demonstrated in a physical way by the way we think and act.
So prayer affects one's own behavior. I already said that, and demonstrated why it's entirely psychosomatic.

The prayer "God, please let me be happy today" does not persuade any kind of supernatural agent into making the individual happy; the individual believes so, and so psychosomatically allows themselves to be happy, or even makes themselves happy, as a result. No supernatural intervention is involved.

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I'm sure the next disagreement between us will be about 'what God wants it to be'.
I disagree that that would be our next disagreement.

I can't disagree because the phrase "what god wants" is meaningless to me; I have seen no evidence that suggests that the particular creature you describe with the word "god" exists, so I couldn't possibly begin to discuss what a being that doesn't seem to exist would want.

atheist (n): one who remains unconvinced.
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Old 06-23-2006, 12:05 AM   #45
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Victus said ineffective prayer and evil are evidence against God so why can't I claim the opposite as evidence for God.
Because the opposite isn't true.

Scientifically valid studies have shown prayer to be totally ineffective when patients are unaware, and only as effective as placeboes when they are (if that). Prayer is not effective.

If God is truly omnipotent, omniscient, and benovalent, shouldn't we expect there to be no 'evil' in the world? There is 'evil', so God is either none of the before mentioned adjectives, or does not exist. That, or you can accept that God is a sadistic child with an antfarm.

The traditional God of christianity does not fit the evidence. If you maintain that God exists, then you appear to be worshipping the wrong one.

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