Does God Exist?

For the serious discussion of weighty matters and worldly issues. No off-topic posts allowed.

Moderators: Azrael, Moderators General, Prelates

User avatar
addams
Posts: 10336
Joined: Sun Sep 12, 2010 4:44 am UTC
Location: Oregon Coast: 97444

Re: Does God Exist?

Postby addams » Tue May 31, 2011 2:59 am UTC

LaserGuy wrote:
Technical Ben wrote:Sorry DSenette, I must have missed that spoiler. So, you agree that all the scriptures covering prayer would need to be considered? Or just the ones you pick? Are all prayers in the bible answered?


I'm... confused by your response. What effects do you expect prayers to have? What effects do you expect them not to have? If you don't believe that prayers can heal people, that's fine, but you need to tell us what you think prayers can actually do.

Hi. I know that you were not talking to me.
But, it is a question that I want to answer.
In the last few days I have suggested prayer. I know! Weird.

What effect do I expect prayer to have?
1. I expect an existential relief. Like, telling a friend about a problem.
2. I expect a sense of togetherness. Like the feeling team mates get.
3. Helplessness is so very unpleasant for adults. Prayer is doing something. It may take a person's mind off how bad things are for a few minutes, while, they think of what God might do to help.
4. Prayer may have a supernatural effect. I do not know. It can't hurt for us to pray. God help us. God help us to help each other.

I was at a loss. What do we tell people to do when there is nothing that they can do? What do we do? Is that quiet time when we don't talk to anyone prayer? Is it prayer when we ask real people for help?
Life is, just, an exchange of electrons; It is up to us to give it meaning.

We are all in The Gutter.
Some of us see The Gutter.
Some of us see The Stars.
by mr. Oscar Wilde.

Those that want to Know; Know.
Those that do not Know; Don't tell them.
They do terrible things to people that Tell Them.

User avatar
doogly
Dr. The Juggernaut of Touching Himself
Posts: 5538
Joined: Mon Oct 23, 2006 2:31 am UTC
Location: Lexington, MA
Contact:

Re: Does God Exist?

Postby doogly » Tue May 31, 2011 3:08 am UTC

Recently, the state of Texas set aside a day of prayer for rain. Does anyone participating in this thread think that prayer can have an observable effect on rain?
LE4dGOLEM: What's a Doug?
Noc: A larval Doogly. They grow the tail and stinger upon reaching adulthood.

Keep waggling your butt brows Brothers.
Or; Is that your eye butthairs?

User avatar
dontthrowpooh
Posts: 38
Joined: Fri May 13, 2011 4:23 am UTC

Re: Does God Exist?

Postby dontthrowpooh » Tue May 31, 2011 3:13 am UTC

doogly wrote:Recently, the state of Texas set aside a day of prayer for rain. Does anyone participating in this thread think that prayer can have an observable effect on rain?


When was that? I live in Texas and didn't see anyone praying but I did see rain for a week... Right before it became as hot as hell.
Stop putting the Grammar Jews in ovens Grammer NAzis

User avatar
Xeio
Friends, Faidites, Countrymen
Posts: 5101
Joined: Wed Jul 25, 2007 11:12 am UTC
Location: C:\Users\Xeio\
Contact:

Re: Does God Exist?

Postby Xeio » Tue May 31, 2011 3:22 am UTC

addams wrote:What effect do I expect prayer to have?
1. I expect an existential relief. Like, telling a friend about a problem.
2. I expect a sense of togetherness. Like the feeling team mates get.
3. Helplessness is so very unpleasant for adults. Prayer is doing something. It may take a person's mind off how bad things are for a few minutes, while, they think of what God might do to help.
4. Prayer may have a supernatural effect. I do not know. It can't hurt for us to pray. God help us. God help us to help each other.
So, in short, you'd expect the same things that would happen even if there is no god. (well, except 4, but it's so vague as to be useless anyway)

addams wrote:I was at a loss. What do we tell people to do when there is nothing that they can do? What do we do?
Has nothing to do with whether or not there is a god. I'm unsure what coping mechanisms have to do with this discussion (other than a potentially viable explanation for belief in a god?).
addams wrote: Is that quiet time when we don't talk to anyone prayer? Is it prayer when we ask real people for help?
No. People have a pretty specific meaning when they say prayer...

User avatar
doogly
Dr. The Juggernaut of Touching Himself
Posts: 5538
Joined: Mon Oct 23, 2006 2:31 am UTC
Location: Lexington, MA
Contact:

Re: Does God Exist?

Postby doogly » Tue May 31, 2011 3:27 am UTC

dontthrowpooh wrote:
doogly wrote:Recently, the state of Texas set aside a day of prayer for rain. Does anyone participating in this thread think that prayer can have an observable effect on rain?


When was that? I live in Texas and didn't see anyone praying but I did see rain for a week... Right before it became as hot as hell.

Apr 23
http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2011/04 ... e-drought/
http://www.texastribune.org/texas-state ... -for-rain/
LE4dGOLEM: What's a Doug?
Noc: A larval Doogly. They grow the tail and stinger upon reaching adulthood.

Keep waggling your butt brows Brothers.
Or; Is that your eye butthairs?

Falling
Posts: 175
Joined: Mon Nov 24, 2008 4:30 pm UTC

Re: Does God Exist?

Postby Falling » Tue May 31, 2011 6:44 am UTC

collegestudent22 wrote:
LaserGuy wrote:
collegestudent22 wrote: Even Jesus prayed a prayer that was not granted - that there would be another way to salvation that didn't require his death on the cross.

Really? Because I'm pretty sure that the omnipotent creator of the universe could have come up with another way to salvation that didn't involve human sacrifice. Even I, as a lowly mortal, can think of several ways of doing so that wouldn't require a sacrifice. Like say, just forgiving everyone unconditionally. If God makes the rules, then He made the rule that says a sacrifice is required, and if He is all-powerful, then He can change that rule according to His will. If God does not make the rules or cannot change the rules, then He is, by definition, not all-powerful.


It wasn't a merely human sacrifice - but a sacrifice of God Himself. Furthermore, the Bible also indicates that God's nature is unchanging, and he made the rules based on his nature. He could change the rules, but will not. This should be pretty clear. Stop trying to treat God as a "black box" that always has the same output for a given input and has no will of His own.

God's nature doesn't change, but we can't treat him as a black box? That seems contradictory.

More importantly, back to LaserGuy's point. Don't just respond automatically, but really think about this because I used to be Christian and this is one of the things that forced me to rethink my views.

God created humans with the nature we have. He then decided that this nature was sinful and that a sacrifice was needed to make himself feel better. So he sacrificed himself... but not really. I realize Jesus would have gone through a lot of pain and suffering, but for an eternal, omnipotent being, then it's not all that impressive. None of this really makes any sense from any perspective I can see.

collegestudent22 wrote:
Whimsical Eloquence wrote:
collegestudent22 wrote:
The same goes for Logic and Math. We assume they work because they make models that seem to fit.


No, we know they work based off the axioms from which we derive their systems.


We know they work because we assume certain things that make them work? That's totally logical then.


Are you serious? Yes that's totally logical. It's logic by definition. Try proving anything without assuming axioms.

User avatar
Whimsical Eloquence
Posts: 348
Joined: Sun Dec 07, 2008 2:29 am UTC
Location: Ireland

Re: Does God Exist?

Postby Whimsical Eloquence » Tue May 31, 2011 6:42 pm UTC

collegestudent22 wrote:We know they work because we assume certain things that make them work? That's totally logical then.

It's deductively true. That doesn't make it true, unless deduction is a valid way of seeking truth. You cannot logically prove this, you have to assume it.


Deduction is a valid way of seeking truth! That's what Mathematics is! Nearly all logic is Deductive - It rests on Assumptions! Simple, self-evident assumptions, mostly definitional, about what we mean when we talk about a line or number, or space.


I typed. Text appears on the screen. Pushing 'submit' then sends it out to the server, where you can then download it. This is, by itself, a test of the principle of cause and effect. Your objection is almost identical to objecting to GR because we don't have on-site, experimental proof that it works in some distant, random point in space. Quantum mechanics is not a valid objection, because assuming something is random because you don't know the cause is faulty logic.


No. What you've proved is that your typed message corresponds to that on the screen. Indeed, they may always have that relationship. You might examine the workings of the computer and find evidence to suppose that electrical pulses occur ect., ect. You might prove absolute correspondence between the various physical phenomena - an understood relationship. But that doesn't mean one caused the other. You're making assumptions about how these phenomena work in relation to Time works, about our experience of time. It's a perfectly valid assumption for the most part but it's still an assumption that the evidence doesn't necessitate .

Furthermore, let's say that the empirical evidence alone proves a causal relationship. That doesn't give rise to some general principle that all things must have causes.
Just because x causes y in one circumstance, it doesn't prove that in all future circumstances that for every phenomena, n, there must be some cause, p.

You're not making sense. How can one use induction to apply a theory such as GR, but not a theory of causality - which can be proven by any number of actions. The only possible objection could be QM, but even then, it isn't that we know there is no cause, but that we see no cause. (It's roughly like assuming there is no cause for the wind in ages past.)


GR and all other physical laws are ones about specifics, specific models with specific data to support that model. F=ma is a specific relationship between force, mass and acceleration. Even if we supposed, (as I've said above) that we could prove Casualty in a similar way, you'd only be doing so for the specific phenomena you investigated; typing causes text on the screen. You're not making some far reaching statement that every phenomena must have a cause - it's not Induction.




The definition of change requires Time. Mathematically, it consists of a difference in some property at different points in Time. Without Time, the concept of change is meaningless, and yet you claim that change occurred.


Nonsense. Mathematics (or rather Calculus - the study of change) can have things change in relation to everything, Xs, Ts, all sorts of abstract quantities. In Economics you can change in relation to quantity. Change is just the idea that one thing alters in relation to the alteration of something else.

Something must have motivated a change from a singularly dense point to an unfolding universe. "It just happened" isn't any more logically valid than a belief in a God that exists in another time-like dimension causing it, even if you assume a priori that God does not exist.


Perhaps, and couldn't that change have occurred from within the singularly dense point? According to some specific law. I mean because it's only within that point that time exists, which by your logic (in which time is necessary for change) makes it the only place it could have happened. Outside of that point there is no time, no potential for change surely? All dimensions collapse in on themselves with the Universe.

Also my belief isn't a priori, that'd be silly. Well actually... Elements of God seem mutually self-contradictory - at least the specific elements as are usually advanced: contradictory even in the abstract.


I didn't say it does nothing. I said it isn't testable. It does quite a bit - on a spiritual, emotional, and intellectual level. I, personally, have been inspired and uplifted after praying. Rarely, however, will it do anything directly on a physical level.


Sure, but let's suppose God didn't exist for a moment. Prayer would still have an emotional affect right? So the Power of Prayer can only be taken as evidence for God if (as indeed most people who pray think) it affects the vicissitudes of the physical world then it will be measurable in the physical world, surely?
“People understand me so poorly that they don't even understand my complaint about them not understanding me.”
~ Soren Kierkegaard

User avatar
LaserGuy
Posts: 4585
Joined: Thu Jan 15, 2009 5:33 pm UTC

Re: Does God Exist?

Postby LaserGuy » Tue May 31, 2011 9:16 pm UTC

collegestudent22 wrote:It wasn't a merely human sacrifice - but a sacrifice of God Himself. Furthermore, the Bible also indicates that God's nature is unchanging, and he made the rules based on his nature. He could change the rules, but will not. This should be pretty clear. Stop trying to treat God as a "black box" that always has the same output for a given input and has no will of His own.


So.... what made God's nature the way it is? For all possible natures that he could have ended up with, why is He stuck with this particular one? Does this mean God doesn't have free will?

Technical Ben
Posts: 2986
Joined: Tue May 27, 2008 10:42 pm UTC

Re: Does God Exist?

Postby Technical Ben » Tue May 31, 2011 9:22 pm UTC

infernovia wrote:So you are saying that prayers aren't testable by human means? You know, unlike quantum mechanics, relativity etc.?

You know the outcome, that does not mean it is not testable? We know no matter what we do, time will move forward. Does this mean time is untestable? For example, we know what the results will be in this list of experiments. Does that mean the results are invalid? We know we will always get the same result for some tests, like the speed of light. Does that mean was cannot test for these constants?
So, if God has said he always fulfils his will (a constant), we can still test to see if his will is fulfilled. If it is not, then we have the negative result. So, if you prayed, and the opposite of Gods will happened, would this be a proof that a god did not exist?

The counter argument is that Gods will is undefined, thus unable to be verified by experiment. However the bible does give examples of Gods will, these are defined, and so can be tested. Wisdom for example, as ++$_ mentions it, is defined in the bible. The book of Proverbs is mainly there to give a definition. Provision for ones needs was another one mentioned in the example of prayer given by Jesus.

Another thing to keep in mind is of cause false positives and errors in testing. I don't know the names of all the types of thing to check for, but the coin toss for example is susceptible to selection bias. Someone could choose a test that came up 100% heads, just because they ran enough tests to get that result. So it would be best to avoid or remove such error from anything tested.

No where in the bible does it avoid giving a definable testable action or claim. Just as testing for the constant and calculation of GR takes time and effort, the same goes for the claims for a God in the bible.

[edit after rereading replies above]
Doogly and Laserguy. You both have pointed out perceived contradictions in the bibles description of God, or his will. That God asked for human sacrifices, where none were given in the bible. Except for the case of Jesus. The other that God changed his rules on marriage. As with the other examples and contradictions brought forward, would you like to see if those verses actually suggest a contradiction?
It's all physics and stamp collecting.
It's not a particle or a wave. It's just an exchange.

User avatar
Eebster the Great
Posts: 3486
Joined: Mon Nov 10, 2008 12:58 am UTC
Location: Cleveland, Ohio

Re: Does God Exist?

Postby Eebster the Great » Tue May 31, 2011 10:43 pm UTC

Technical Ben wrote:
infernovia wrote:So you are saying that prayers aren't testable by human means? You know, unlike quantum mechanics, relativity etc.?

You know the outcome, that does not mean it is not testable? We know no matter what we do, time will move forward. Does this mean time is untestable? For example, we know what the results will be in this list of experiments. Does that mean the results are invalid? We know we will always get the same result for some tests, like the speed of light. Does that mean was cannot test for these constants?
So, if God has said he always fulfils his will (a constant), we can still test to see if his will is fulfilled. If it is not, then we have the negative result. So, if you prayed, and the opposite of Gods will happened, would this be a proof that a god did not exist?

The issue here (even ignoring the fact that "God's will" is itself unpredictable, etc.) is that if we believe you, God's will will be done whether you pray or not. So there cannot be any difference between the groups because that would imply that in one group, God's will was not done.

So you are literally saying that praying does nothing.

Answer me this: If I pray, will anything be different than if I do not pray? Specifically, what will be different?

Once you have answered that question, you can begin thinking of a way to test this.

User avatar
uncivlengr
Posts: 1202
Joined: Fri Nov 14, 2008 10:35 pm UTC
Location: N 49°19.01 W 123°04.41

Re: Does God Exist?

Postby uncivlengr » Tue May 31, 2011 11:07 pm UTC

The ol' "god helps those who help themselves" colloquialism - in others words, "help yourself because god doesn't do anything."
I don't know what to do for you

infernovia
Posts: 931
Joined: Thu Jul 17, 2008 4:27 am UTC

Re: Does God Exist?

Postby infernovia » Tue May 31, 2011 11:11 pm UTC

Technical Ben wrote:So, if God has said he always fulfils his will (a constant), we can still test to see if his will is fulfilled. If it is not, then we have the negative result. So, if you prayed, and the opposite of Gods will happened, would this be a proof that a god did not exist?

Ok, but first this assumes that we know god's will. So, what exactly is god's will? Are you smart enough to understand it? To understand, btw, means that you must PREDICT what the future is going to hold, in a sense, you must create it, you cannot use hindsight bias to correct for your mistakes. So lets have a CONCRETE prediction of what the exitence of god would mean for the universe, and what it would mean to be without it.

Also, note that I can claim that I am god and say I can prove this by asserting that things attract other things proportional to their mass. However, the conclusion does not follow the premise, that is the latter half being true or not does not prove the former. You cannot assume that it was caused by the former statement, it could be coincidence, even if there is 100% correlation between the two.

You know the outcome, that does not mean it is not testable?

Thats the thing, you don't know the outcome. Isn't praying to god supposed to be a submission to a higher power? Whether he actually does what you wanted or what you did not want, you are not privy to the reasoning behind it, that is the definition of "higher." Thus it may as well be completely random to you. Once you start understanding the "higher power," what is it but another power you can understand?

No where in the bible does it avoid giving a definable testable action or claim. Just as testing for the constant and calculation of GR takes time and effort, the same goes for the claims for a God in the bible.

Yes, and you would do well to put the effort in to understand it. So far you have submitted to its existence without attempting to contradict it. You cannot imagine the world without god, what it is to live without it, your mind forbids you from seeing that possibility. A conversation can only occur when the two sides can imagine, that is comprehend, what the other person is saying. You start proving GR wrong only when you start accepting the weird quantum phenomena in your experiments. You cannot.

++$_
Mo' Money
Posts: 2370
Joined: Thu Nov 01, 2007 4:06 am UTC

Re: Does God Exist?

Postby ++$_ » Wed Jun 01, 2011 1:23 am UTC

Technical Ben wrote:You know the outcome, that does not mean it is not testable? We know no matter what we do, time will move forward. Does this mean time is untestable? For example, we know what the results will be in this list of experiments. Does that mean the results are invalid? We know we will always get the same result for some tests, like the speed of light. Does that mean was cannot test for these constants?

So, if God has said he always fulfils his will (a constant), we can still test to see if his will is fulfilled. If it is not, then we have the negative result. So, if you prayed, and the opposite of Gods will happened, would this be a proof that a god did not exist?
No, of course we can test for these things. However, you must design an experiment in order to do so. If you're interested in testing whether or not Jupiter has moons (just to take one example from the list), here is a test: we look at Jupiter with a telescope, and see if there are little dots near it, and we do this several times in succession to see if the dots are going around and around like they should be if Jupiter has moons. If they aren't there, then we'll reject the hypothesis that Jupiter has moons.

To take another example, if we want to see if heavier objects fall faster than lighter ones, we can take a heavy object and a light object to the top of a tall tower, and make a machine which will drop them off at exactly the same time, and see which lands first. For a control, we'll drop off two heavy objects at the same time, or two light objects at the same time, and this will tell us how accurate our dropping machine is; if the two heavy objects land at different times, then we will need to build a better dropping machine, since it is too inaccurate to give us a good result, but once we do that, we can test the hypothesis. Now, you might say, there is some air resistance. So we'll deal with the air resistance by doing the experiment in a vacuum chamber instead. Now there is no air resistance, so we can all agree that if the heavy object lands first time after time, then heavy objects fall faster, and if that doesn't happen, then they fall at the same speed.

So, can you design an experiment similar to these to test whether prayer has any effect? If not, then that is an untestable claim. Once again, we'll need a specific design; in particular, we need to know exactly what to measure (e.g. which ball hits the ground first), not some vague handwaving about "whether God's will is fulfilled or not," because we don't know how to measure that.

The counter argument is that Gods will is undefined, thus unable to be verified by experiment. However the bible does give examples of Gods will, these are defined, and so can be tested. Wisdom for example, as ++$_ mentions it, is defined in the bible. The book of Proverbs is mainly there to give a definition. Provision for ones needs was another one mentioned in the example of prayer given by Jesus.
Don't just tell us that God's will is defined. You need to tell us specifically how to test whether or not it is fulfilled.

Another thing to keep in mind is of cause false positives and errors in testing. I don't know the names of all the types of thing to check for, but the coin toss for example is susceptible to selection bias. Someone could choose a test that came up 100% heads, just because they ran enough tests to get that result. So it would be best to avoid or remove such error from anything tested.
This is not a flaw in the experimental design. Rather, this is why experiments have to be replicated. After enough replications, we'll know whether or not the hypothesis is correct.
No where in the bible does it avoid giving a definable testable action or claim. Just as testing for the constant and calculation of GR takes time and effort, the same goes for the claims for a God in the bible.
Again, I don't care whether things are definable. I care whether they are testable. Where is the test? You've told us that it takes time and effort -- those things we are willing to provide, as long as you provide a description of the test that has to be done.

User avatar
doogly
Dr. The Juggernaut of Touching Himself
Posts: 5538
Joined: Mon Oct 23, 2006 2:31 am UTC
Location: Lexington, MA
Contact:

Re: Does God Exist?

Postby doogly » Wed Jun 01, 2011 1:26 am UTC

Don't just tell us that God's will is defined. You need to tell us specifically how to test whether or not it is fulfilled.

Everything that happens had to be God's will. So, there you go. Easy-peasey!
LE4dGOLEM: What's a Doug?
Noc: A larval Doogly. They grow the tail and stinger upon reaching adulthood.

Keep waggling your butt brows Brothers.
Or; Is that your eye butthairs?

grayvsgrey
Posts: 14
Joined: Tue May 31, 2011 4:32 pm UTC

Re: Does God Exist?

Postby grayvsgrey » Wed Jun 01, 2011 4:04 am UTC

I'm a Christian and do believe that the God of the Jewish Scriptures and Protestant Bible exists, although I did not fully believe this until most of the way through my teenage years. Now, I have an (on my end) greatly reverential and awe-filled relationship with a loving perfect supernatural omnipotent Being, which is pretty dang cool when I think about it that way. I certainly don't have all the answers and I definitely don't think I'm better than others, but I do think I have a pretty sweet life because of this.

It was my personal experience with Him that convinced me, but I fully recognize that my experience and beliefs are in themselves logically insufficient to persuade others to join in my beliefs. However, I'm also a bio major (graduated, shooting for M.D./Ph.D.) and in biological systems I see evidence that points against evolution as a possibility and towards intelligent design. I don't think it is currently possible to scientifically "prove" anything supernatural (by definition), but people, including myself, ought always to be open to modification of their beliefs based on evidence (whether scientific; from historical iterature,
e.g., the Bible or Qur'an; personal experience, etc.) and respect other people's right and privilege to choose for themselves who/what to serve (a Biblical concept, btw).

Also, as a Christian I would like to very sincerely apologize on behalf of others who claim belief in my God but fail to show love and respect to others. I may disagree with most of you, but I will never hate someone whom I believe was made in the image of my God, regardless of your religious, political, social, sexual, or other beliefs.

The Mighty Thesaurus
In your library, eating your students
Posts: 4399
Joined: Wed Apr 11, 2007 7:47 am UTC
Location: The Daily Bugle

Re: Does God Exist?

Postby The Mighty Thesaurus » Wed Jun 01, 2011 4:51 am UTC

grayvsgrey wrote:It was my personal experience with Him that convinced me
Could this "personal experience" be explained by you being crazy? Or in less inflammatory language, why do you believe the source is anything but mundane?
grayvsgrey wrote:in biological systems I see evidence that points against evolution as a possibility and towards intelligent design
Could you elaborate on this?
LE4dGOLEM wrote:your ability to tell things from things remains one of your skills.
Weeks wrote:Not only can you tell things from things, you can recognize when a thing is a thing

Ceterum censeo Carthaginem esse delendam

User avatar
doogly
Dr. The Juggernaut of Touching Himself
Posts: 5538
Joined: Mon Oct 23, 2006 2:31 am UTC
Location: Lexington, MA
Contact:

Re: Does God Exist?

Postby doogly » Wed Jun 01, 2011 5:03 am UTC

And for the love of Li'or, please don't use the word "evidence" like that. That takes at least 3 sigma.
LE4dGOLEM: What's a Doug?
Noc: A larval Doogly. They grow the tail and stinger upon reaching adulthood.

Keep waggling your butt brows Brothers.
Or; Is that your eye butthairs?

Technical Ben
Posts: 2986
Joined: Tue May 27, 2008 10:42 pm UTC

Re: Does God Exist?

Postby Technical Ben » Wed Jun 01, 2011 9:35 am UTC

Sorry, not got time to reply to everything right now, but in reply to Eebster.

Eebster the Great wrote:
Spoiler:
Technical Ben wrote:
infernovia wrote:So you are saying that prayers aren't testable by human means? You know, unlike quantum mechanics, relativity etc.?

You know the outcome, that does not mean it is not testable? We know no matter what we do, time will move forward. Does this mean time is untestable? For example, we know what the results will be in this list of experiments. Does that mean the results are invalid? We know we will always get the same result for some tests, like the speed of light. Does that mean was cannot test for these constants?
So, if God has said he always fulfils his will (a constant), we can still test to see if his will is fulfilled. If it is not, then we have the negative result. So, if you prayed, and the opposite of Gods will happened, would this be a proof that a god did not exist?

The issue here (even ignoring the fact that "God's will" is itself unpredictable, etc.) is that if we believe you, God's will will be done whether you pray or not. So there cannot be any difference between the groups because that would imply that in one group, God's will was not done.

So you are literally saying that praying does nothing.

Answer me this: If I pray, will anything be different than if I do not pray? Specifically, what will be different?

Once you have answered that question, you can begin thinking of a way to test this.

1 John 5:14 notes that we must ask something "according to his will" first, then he will do it for us. Not, "he will only do his will, no matter what we ask". So, if we ask for two different things, that are both according to his will, we have two things to test against the results. If you ask for prayer 1, and always get result 1, then ask for prayer 2, and always get that result 2 instead, does this not suggest a difference?

The restriction of "Gods will" on the prayer just mean you cannot pray for an oxymoron or a paradox. You cannot pray for things that are wicked or harmful. You cannot pray for things God specifically said he would not do. But you can pray for anything else. Philippians 4:6.
I have been going to great lengths to show words and actions are defined in the bible. So, I would be happy to show Gods will is defined also.
I did not say prayer has no effect, or does nothing. I said the effect is constant. I ask again, is the fact that the speed of light is constant, prevent us from testing it? You cannot make the "opposite" happen with light, you cannot make it not travel at the speed of light. So, is it correct to say "light does nothing"? So, can you tell me, my prayer does nothing? If my conclusion here is wrong, please show me how light is an exception. I'll then go back and look at how I'm comparing these things.

You ask "What will be different", the bible clearly says there will be a difference. It does not use the excuse "anything will happen, and it will be Gods will either way". (See first point above)
I've mentioned, if you ask a plumber to do electrical work, will he give you a reply of "yes" and then do it? If you ask a plumber to do some plumbing work, and he answers "yes" and does it, is that not a different result to the previous? So, if the plumber only does his "will" in this case, does it mean it's impossible to test if the plumber exists? If you don't ask the plumber to do anything, do you expect the work to be done?

So, when I don't pray for the things mentioned in the bible, I don't get them. To the extent that, when I pray for "riches" I receive neither riches or provisions. But when I pray for Gods will of "provisions/bread" I get the things prayed for. James 4:3. As long as the other requirements are also met (Hebrews 11:6 for example, is just one of the scriptures that shows sincere action is required. Another, Isaiah 1:15, shows when praying one must be avoiding wicked action).
Is the bible avoiding giving answers to these questions you ask? Is it giving a circular, invisible and untestable "god"?

[Edit. infernovia the bible explains what Gods will is. Thus it is predictable and testable. Even Collegestudent22 posted some predictions made in the bible. Gods will is defined in the first command given to Adam for example. Would you like to check if Gods will is defined well? How can you say I cannot imagine a universe without God, do I not have to show you that I first believe my god has an effect (which I've been going to great lengths to do)? When ever I explain an opposite effect the answer is "but that's circular reasoning!" Can you imagine a universe without gravity? What does it look like?]
It's all physics and stamp collecting.
It's not a particle or a wave. It's just an exchange.

User avatar
Eebster the Great
Posts: 3486
Joined: Mon Nov 10, 2008 12:58 am UTC
Location: Cleveland, Ohio

Re: Does God Exist?

Postby Eebster the Great » Wed Jun 01, 2011 9:59 am UTC

Fine. So for probably literally the twelfth time now,

What test do you propose?

I mean a real test. What could real scientists do to measure the effects of prayer?

In addition, why have the tests already performed on the healing power of prayer given negative results?

User avatar
uncivlengr
Posts: 1202
Joined: Fri Nov 14, 2008 10:35 pm UTC
Location: N 49°19.01 W 123°04.41

Re: Does God Exist?

Postby uncivlengr » Wed Jun 01, 2011 11:28 am UTC

Technical Ben wrote:But when I pray for Gods will of "provisions/bread" I get the things prayed for.
Such as? What reasons do you have for assuming they came from a god, and not simply a product of yourself and the people around you?

A god's "will" is not testable - I think we can all resign ourselves to the fact that you will never grasp the concept of scientific testability.
I don't know what to do for you

User avatar
Azrael
CATS. CATS ARE NICE.
Posts: 6491
Joined: Thu Apr 26, 2007 1:16 am UTC
Location: Boston

Re: Does God Exist?

Postby Azrael » Wed Jun 01, 2011 12:22 pm UTC

Eebster the Great wrote:Fine. So for probably literally the twelfth time now,

What test do you propose?

I mean a real test. ...


My patience is not infinite, and this entire line of discussion has become tortuously circular. Technical Ben (and all responding to him), please allow the discussion to move on. No progress has been (... or, seemingly, ever will be) made and we don't need another 10 pages or so of the cycle.

infernovia
Posts: 931
Joined: Thu Jul 17, 2008 4:27 am UTC

Re: Does God Exist?

Postby infernovia » Wed Jun 01, 2011 1:05 pm UTC

Nietzsche wrote:When on a Sunday morning we hear the bells ringing, we ask ourselves: it is possible! This is going on because of a Jew crucified 2,000 years ago who said he was the son of God. The proof of such an assertion is lacking. In the context of our age the Christian religion is certainly a piece of antiquity intruding out of distant ages past, and that the above-mentioned assertion is believed is perhaps the most ancient piece of the inheritance. A god who begets children on a mortal woman; a sage who calls upon us no longer to work, no longer to sit in judgment, but to heed the signs of the imminent end of the world; a justice which accepts an innocent man as a substitute sacrifice; someone who bids his disciples drink his blood; prayers for miraculous interventions; sins perpetrated against a god atoned for by a god; fear of a Beyond to which death is the gateway; the figure of the Cross as a symbol in an age which no longer knows the meaning and shame of the Cross-how gruesomely all this is wafted to us, as if out of the grave of a primeval past! Can one believe that things of this sort are still believed in?


Technical Ben, here is kind of what I am talking about: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iQJrud71 ... ideo_title

Its a good video release that kind of goes through a deconversion process, and what it means to attempt to imagine your fundamental assumptions crashing down.

User avatar
LaserGuy
Posts: 4585
Joined: Thu Jan 15, 2009 5:33 pm UTC

Re: Does God Exist?

Postby LaserGuy » Wed Jun 01, 2011 1:10 pm UTC

Technical Ben wrote:1 John 5:14 notes that we must ask something "according to his will" first, then he will do it for us. Not, "he will only do his will, no matter what we ask". So, if we ask for two different things, that are both according to his will, we have two things to test against the results. If you ask for prayer 1, and always get result 1, then ask for prayer 2, and always get that result 2 instead, does this not suggest a difference?


Okay, so some people did a test of intercessory prayer in the context of healing, as we've discussed before. They found that prayer had no effect. So, does this mean that it is not God's will that people be healed? Or that prayer just doesn't work?

DSenette
Posts: 2418
Joined: Fri Mar 06, 2009 8:08 pm UTC

Re: Does God Exist?

Postby DSenette » Wed Jun 01, 2011 1:17 pm UTC

infernovia wrote:
Nietzsche wrote:When on a Sunday morning we hear the bells ringing, we ask ourselves: it is possible! This is going on because of a Jew crucified 2,000 years ago who said he was the son of God. The proof of such an assertion is lacking. In the context of our age the Christian religion is certainly a piece of antiquity intruding out of distant ages past, and that the above-mentioned assertion is believed is perhaps the most ancient piece of the inheritance. A god who begets children on a mortal woman; a sage who calls upon us no longer to work, no longer to sit in judgment, but to heed the signs of the imminent end of the world; a justice which accepts an innocent man as a substitute sacrifice; someone who bids his disciples drink his blood; prayers for miraculous interventions; sins perpetrated against a god atoned for by a god; fear of a Beyond to which death is the gateway; the figure of the Cross as a symbol in an age which no longer knows the meaning and shame of the Cross-how gruesomely all this is wafted to us, as if out of the grave of a primeval past! Can one believe that things of this sort are still believed in?


Technical Ben, here is kind of what I am talking about: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iQJrud71 ... ideo_title

Its a good video release that kind of goes through a deconversion process, and what it means to attempt to imagine your fundamental assumptions crashing down.

this is actually a question that i keep asking. what makes this account of god more correct than any other accounts of the existence of any other gods? it's not the first book ever written that mentions a supreme being...hell it's not even the last book that mentions it. the bible isn't even original content, MOST of it is the same as other books that your own religion denounces as false.
The Righteous Hand Of Retribution
"The evaporation of 4 million who believe this crap would leave the world an instantly better place." ~Andre Codresu (re: "the Rapture")

Technical Ben
Posts: 2986
Joined: Tue May 27, 2008 10:42 pm UTC

Re: Does God Exist?

Postby Technical Ben » Wed Jun 01, 2011 3:26 pm UTC

I apologise Azrael. I'll give this last reply, as others have already asked questions on my post, after you posted. I'll spoiler it for those not in the discussion.
Spoiler:
I gave an example of a test. I gave an example of an expected result. I pray, I then look for a result that matches my prayer. I can pray for any specific thing, as long as it's within a set of variables. For provisions, needs or food for example. I can test to see if these things correlate to my prayers. Correlation does not prove causation. However can I use my prediction "if I pray for something, I receive it" to form a testable prediction? With the opposite result "if the opposite to what I prayed for happens" as a proof against or a null hypothesises? If I get a positive result, continually, this is reason to consider a divine cause is it not? Then, I can go on to check further divine claims, and test for these. Such as divine predictions, knowledge or other intervention.

I was asked for an alternative theory to provide a negative test. However, I see no one providing an alternative theory for a universe with no gravity. Other than the example "we would not expect to see F = mg to be true". But, when I use the exact same example for my theory, "I would not expect my prayers to have result equal to my requests" I am told I'm using circular arguments? I really want to know where I am going wrong, but with such contradicting answers to my questions I cannot understand the reason. Is one assumption applied to other peoples theories and another assumption to the theories in the bible?

When ever I offer to define my variables, such as prayer or Gods will, I am met with assumptions that neither are definable. I ask, how can you explain to me how E=MC2 if I refuse to accept your definition of "C" or "E"? The wiki article says energy is indirectly observed? Should I conclude it does not exist because I cannot test it directly? Does applying the reasoning posted to me, to other tests in science, result in the correct answer? If not, why ask me to apply such reasoning to myself? I have only asked those who say I am wrong, why they believe so. Have I in reply told them they are wrong? Or tried to re-examine the thing in question?

There are a few here who do consistently apply the same reasoning to both sides of the argument. I can thank Mighty Thesaurus, Laserguy and collegestudent22 for giving consistent reasons for what they believe. Sorry we could not find the same view point on the main question at hand.
It's all physics and stamp collecting.
It's not a particle or a wave. It's just an exchange.

User avatar
uncivlengr
Posts: 1202
Joined: Fri Nov 14, 2008 10:35 pm UTC
Location: N 49°19.01 W 123°04.41

Re: Does God Exist?

Postby uncivlengr » Wed Jun 01, 2011 4:43 pm UTC

(I trust this is sufficiently apart from the topic of testing prayer)
Technical Ben wrote:I ask, how can you explain to me how E=MC2 if I refuse to accept your definition of "C" or "E"?
There's a difference between defining a term to represent a certain physical phenomenon that has been observed, and assuming that the phenomenon exists without any evidence whatsoever. You can't define something into existence.

You can deny the existence of light, but such a denial is wholely unjustified because its existence isn't a hypothesis, it's an observation. Einstein's equation doesn't hinge on a baseless assumption that there's this unverified phenomenon called "light" or "energy", nor did he twerk the definitions of these phenomenon to suit an assumption that E=MC2 was true.

If I were to posit the existence of an invisible aether that fills empty space, I have no evidence of such a phenomenon and it remains a speculation until I can justify it with some observation, or alternatively, provide some model which incorporates this aether and better describes other observed phenomenon than models which don't include the aether.

God hypotheses are not a result of any demonstrable direct observation, nor do they better explain any other phenomenon better than secular models. That doesn't prove that god doesn't exist, but it certainly proves that current god hypotheses are in no way scientifically justified.
I don't know what to do for you

User avatar
doogly
Dr. The Juggernaut of Touching Himself
Posts: 5538
Joined: Mon Oct 23, 2006 2:31 am UTC
Location: Lexington, MA
Contact:

Re: Does God Exist?

Postby doogly » Wed Jun 01, 2011 5:26 pm UTC

Technical Ben, your problem is that College Student is also undermining your position. Observable, repeatable effects from intercessory prayer, say at the 3 sigma level, would be a nice test of your theory. But, if you say "prayer for a thing only results in the thing if it was already part of god's plan," then it's not a test anymore. You seem to want it to be a test, but College Student is shying away from this position (rightly so, since this experiment has been done, and intercessory prayer does nothing.)
LE4dGOLEM: What's a Doug?
Noc: A larval Doogly. They grow the tail and stinger upon reaching adulthood.

Keep waggling your butt brows Brothers.
Or; Is that your eye butthairs?

DSenette
Posts: 2418
Joined: Fri Mar 06, 2009 8:08 pm UTC

Re: Does God Exist?

Postby DSenette » Wed Jun 01, 2011 6:24 pm UTC

doogly wrote:Technical Ben, your problem is that College Student is also undermining your position. Observable, repeatable effects from intercessory prayer, say at the 3 sigma level, would be a nice test of your theory. But, if you say "prayer for a thing only results in the thing if it was already part of god's plan," then it's not a test anymore. You seem to want it to be a test, but College Student is shying away from this position (rightly so, since this experiment has been done, and intercessory prayer does nothing.)

right, adding the bit about "god's will" means that any test requires you to first assume that god exists to prove that god exists (not specific to the prayer test, but to all tests)

if your test can ONLY work to show evidence of something existing by you FIRST assuming that the thing exists, then it's not a valid test for anything

"if unicorns exist then you should be able to see unicorns if you believe in them hard enough (because everyone knows that unicorns will only show themselves to true believers), otherwise they don't exist or you don't believe in them hard enough"

"if god exists then he answers prayers (but only prayers that he was going to answer whether you prayed or not since it's his will etc...), else he doesn't exist, or he doesn't feel like it"


all of those require you to already assume that the thing you're tying to prove the existence of exists for the test to go anywhere.
The Righteous Hand Of Retribution
"The evaporation of 4 million who believe this crap would leave the world an instantly better place." ~Andre Codresu (re: "the Rapture")

Greyarcher
Posts: 708
Joined: Thu Oct 18, 2007 3:03 am UTC

Re: Does God Exist?

Postby Greyarcher » Wed Jun 01, 2011 7:06 pm UTC

Nah, DSenette, the excuses are the problem. There's no assumption problem. For instance, if you can specifically pin down other variables and get a statement like "God would grant prayers of this specific type for this specific group if he existed" and you can get a statement that you should see a difference between the praying and non-praying groups, but you find no difference between prayers and non-prayers? Then no God. But making sure excuses like "Well, I guess it wasn't God's will then!" are ruled out beforehand is a pain. Hell, getting any of those statements is tough.

Technical Ben wrote:
Spoiler:
I gave an example of a test. I gave an example of an expected result. I pray, I then look for a result that matches my prayer. I can pray for any specific thing, as long as it's within a set of variables. For provisions, needs or food for example. I can test to see if these things correlate to my prayers. Correlation does not prove causation. However can I use my prediction "if I pray for something, I receive it" to form a testable prediction? With the opposite result "if the opposite to what I prayed for happens" as a proof against or a null hypothesises? If I get a positive result, continually, this is reason to consider a divine cause is it not? Then, I can go on to check further divine claims, and test for these. Such as divine predictions, knowledge or other intervention.
Spoiler:
Hmmm, not "the opposite to what you prayed for happens". Since the key is "results of praying" vs "results of not praying" you would have to find a prayer where you could measure an actual difference in results between the two--a difference that can be attributed to prayer. Like, people are statistically less likely to receive provisions if they don't pray than if they do pray.

I wonder if there isn't another problem though.

If prayers can target a group, overlapping prayers could ruin any testability. What if someone else is praying for all people to get provisions? Or an even more general example is, what if someone has a prayer like, "I pray that everyone gets whatever they want or need, as long as it is something God would will"? Unless we can definitely say that God doesn't grant general prayers for everyone's wellbeing, we can't tell the difference between "these prayer we're testing do nothing" and "all prayer does nothing". Because there could be a couple people out there praying for everyone to get everything God would grant them, messing up everything.
In serious discussion, I usually strive to post with clarity, thoroughness, and precision so that others will not misunderstand; I strive for dispassion and an open mind, the better to avoid error.

DSenette
Posts: 2418
Joined: Fri Mar 06, 2009 8:08 pm UTC

Re: Does God Exist?

Postby DSenette » Wed Jun 01, 2011 7:46 pm UTC

Greyarcher wrote:Nah, DSenette, the excuses are the problem. There's no assumption problem. For instance, if you can specifically pin down other variables and get a statement like "God would grant prayers of this specific type for this specific group if he existed" and you can get a statement that you should see a difference between the praying and non-praying groups, but you find no difference between prayers and non-prayers? Then no God. But making sure excuses like "Well, I guess it wasn't God's will then!" are ruled out beforehand is a pain. Hell, getting any of those statements is tough.

Technical Ben wrote:
Spoiler:
I gave an example of a test. I gave an example of an expected result. I pray, I then look for a result that matches my prayer. I can pray for any specific thing, as long as it's within a set of variables. For provisions, needs or food for example. I can test to see if these things correlate to my prayers. Correlation does not prove causation. However can I use my prediction "if I pray for something, I receive it" to form a testable prediction? With the opposite result "if the opposite to what I prayed for happens" as a proof against or a null hypothesises? If I get a positive result, continually, this is reason to consider a divine cause is it not? Then, I can go on to check further divine claims, and test for these. Such as divine predictions, knowledge or other intervention.
Spoiler:
Hmmm, not "the opposite to what you prayed for happens". Since the key is "results of praying" vs "results of not praying" you would have to find a prayer where you could measure an actual difference in results between the two--a difference that can be attributed to prayer. Like, people are statistically less likely to receive provisions if they don't pray than if they do pray.

I wonder if there isn't another problem though.

If prayers can target a group, overlapping prayers could ruin any testability. What if someone else is praying for all people to get provisions? Or an even more general example is, what if someone has a prayer like, "I pray that everyone gets whatever they want or need, as long as it is something God would will"? Unless we can definitely say that God doesn't grant general prayers for everyone's wellbeing, we can't tell the difference between "these prayer we're testing do nothing" and "all prayer does nothing". Because there could be a couple people out there praying for everyone to get everything God would grant them, messing up everything.

the prayer bit is irrelevant. it's about the test now.

the excuses are the assumptions. ignoring that doesn't help ben actually understand this stuff any better.

the problem here is the fact that "god has answered my prayers" doesn't count for external proof or evidence.

it's not a repeatable test, and it's not falsifiable.

this is all internal proof or internal evidence. which is fine, if that's enough to justify your own PERSONAL belief in god, that's cool. but it's NOT valid external evidence.

you cannot repeat any kind of prayer test that relies on "God's will" because, to assume "god's will" exists you have to assume that god exists.

now, if food/provisions are on the list of "god's will" (completely ignoring the bit where the bible states that you can't know god's will), then you should be able to make a test that works WITHOUT explicitly assuming god exists to start.

"if god exists then god answers prayers*, else god does not exist"
*where prayers are for food or provisions

then you should be able to have two groups of people who are sealed into separate rooms. one group prays for food, the other doesn't pray for food (and all other people on earth are barred from praying for them to get food).

IF the answer of the test is "god exists" based on the tests criteria (god answers prayers for food), then one group should receive food somehow and the others wouldn't.

that's a repeatable and falsifiable test.

you praying for god to "provide for you", and you just happening to live in a time where there are grocery stores on every corner, does not equate to repeatable and falsifiable testing.
The Righteous Hand Of Retribution
"The evaporation of 4 million who believe this crap would leave the world an instantly better place." ~Andre Codresu (re: "the Rapture")

User avatar
Azrael
CATS. CATS ARE NICE.
Posts: 6491
Joined: Thu Apr 26, 2007 1:16 am UTC
Location: Boston

Re: Does God Exist?

Postby Azrael » Wed Jun 01, 2011 8:02 pm UTC

Here's a testable claim for you:

When I moderate politely, I get ignored.


Return to “Serious Business”

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 11 guests