The Prayer Debate Rages On...

Wait, what? We're going to pray to a god who loves humans, yet designed the world in such a manner that egregious natural disasters occur? Isn't God's plan fixed, anyway, and isn't his plan a good one? Surely this earthquake was part of it? ...or is it the case that the Christian god doesn't exist?

In a what I presumed to be dead Facebook thread regarding relief efforts in Japan, I quickly objected to prayer and said "please donate to the Red Cross. Prayers do nothing." I generally would stay out of discussions like this and just link a donation link, but felt the need to add "prayers do nothing here" for reasons that I've detailed in other posts and will explain below.

Someone responded,
Actually, I make donations to natural disasters because I understand and don't take for granted how fortunate we are. Justin you're viewpoint of prayer and spirituality is completely pointless at the moment and shouldn't be a matter of discussion. It's simply disrespectful, uncalled for, and not needed at all. Conversation about is over.

I either ignored this, was busy, or somehow missed the update. Today, someone else posted,

To Justin Vacula - i think ur a loser who needs to keep his opinions to himself. people have a right to believe in what ever or whom ever they want without having to hear your stupid bs. GROW UP.

I responded,
I wasn't going to respond to this thread and might have even missed the updates from a while back. I don't know.

My view on prayer and spirituality is quite relevant here and applicable to this situation. When God/prayer/religion is a concern, moral priorities can often be misplaced, inverted, and overlooked. Take the Haitian earthquake, for example, in which people sent solar-powered bibles. How about people sending chandeliers, stained glass windows, statues, etc to devastated persons who are in need of medical supplies, food, and water?

Prayer can make one feel like something is done although nothing is done. If the Christian god doesn't exist, petitionary prayer is a total waste of time. A meta-analysis of petitionary prayer shows that it has no positive effect/ is indistinguishable from placebo/chance. Also laced with petitionary prayer is the idea of a god who created the universe who cares about humans who answers humans... This is quite a lofty claim that has so many assertions. How can we possibly provide good reason, argument, and evidence to support this?

Imagine, for example, if I posted "Eat Cheerios for the people in Japan." Imagine if I had a belief that eating Cheerios would somehow help the people and make me feel like I did something. What if millions of people believed this and some of them believed that Cheerio eating were more important than financial aid, Cheerio eating was sufficient enough, or sending money was not needed? Would you object? I see petitionary prayer and Cheerio eating to be the same - pointless. there's no good reason to suggest that petitionary prayer or eating Cheerios would help the people of Japan.

You presumably believe in a Christian god that cares so much about humans and would answer their prayers, but yet designed the universe in such a manner that allows for egregious natural disasters. Besides the problem of natural evil here, which poses an insurmountable problem to Christian belief, these beliefs are very unlikely to both be true, but yet are both contingent beliefs in the Christian tradition for a vast majority of believers. We should not expect egregious natural disasters in a universe built for humans. Imagine that there is no god...this is exactly what we would expect.

Annette, you offer nothing to this discussion but personal attacks. What good are those? You offer no argument whatsoever to support your position on this (I assume you disagree with me).

Why should one keep his opinions to himself, exactly, when we live in a pluralistic society and should encourage discussion of differing perspectives. As David Hume said, "Truth springs from argument amongst friends." I feel the need to point these things about because there's no good reason to suppose that petitionary prayer, as I mentioned, does anything for the people in Japan.

You assertion, "People have the right to believe whatever they want without hearing your stupid bs" is absurd. Are you talking about a legal right? A moral right? How, exactly, is me voicing dissent violating your legal rights? Should I not object just because I disagree or the truth might end up changing beliefs? If this is the case, you and so many others should all drop out of school, crawl in caves, and never listen to any dissenting opinions. You should regard teachers as villains and object to the educational process.

Listening to critical discussion, hearing dissent, and being able to voice your opinion in an articulate and respectful manner is part and parcel of growing up. Levying personal attacks, on the other hand, is not showing signs of maturity.