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Orlando Humanist Association Message Board › Do you really think prayer will help? We don't have a prayer if we don't.

Do you really think prayer will help? We don't have a prayer if we don't.

Jairo M.
Winter Park, FL
Post #: 712
There once was a wise sage who wandered the countryside. One day, as he passed near a village, he was approached by a woman who told him of a sick child nearby. She beseeched him to help this child.

So the sage came to the village, and a crowd gathered around him, for such a man was a rare sight. One woman brought the sick child to him, and he said a prayer over her.

“Do you really think your prayer will help her, when medicine has failed?” yelled a man from the crowd.

“You know nothing of such things! You are a stupid fool!” said the sage to the man.

The man became very angry with these words and his face grew hot and red. He was about to say something, or perhaps strike out, when the sage walked over to him and said: “If one word has such power as to make you so angry and hot, may not another have the power to heal?”

And thus, the sage healed two people that day.
A former member
Post #: 173
A skillful selfless action is worth more than any amount of prayers.
Jairo M.
Winter Park, FL
Post #: 719
It is unskillful to compare the two [A skillful selfless action versus prayers] when one is the source of the other.
The skillful selfless action starts with a prayer that is otherwise known as a noble intention.
For example, Mother Teresa of Calcuta may have made the prayer to God to guide her to help those who are hungry and dying. This prayer led to the skillful action of helping those in need. There may have been some selfish needs to be met, but she kept praying in order to make her intentions more pure. So that is an example of the two and how they work together and are not to be made one superior over the other.

When we act and we ask ourselves what our intention is, we can pray that it be for the benefit of others.
So while we are in this unskillful state of non-enlightenment, we can at least pray, while doing the act, that we do this for the benefit of others. But upon further examination, if this prayer does not jive with our intentions, then we will sense that we have alot of work to do before we can call our act skillful.
Ben Forbes G.
Kissimmee, FL
Post #: 131
I agree with Luis... Moreover, prayer is almost always utterly futile, ignorant, and pointless (unless it leads to or motivates something useful or good enough to outweigh its pathetic supplication, weakness, intellectual cowardice, and ontological idiocy). devilish

Jairo, the "sage" in your parable is really a fool, who should have learned that correlation does not imply causation.
Jairo M.
Winter Park, FL
Post #: 721
Ben-Forbes, them there are fightin words again.

Jairo, the "sage" in your parable is really a fool, who should have learned that correlation does not imply causation.
I will have to look up correlation and causation because they are not in my limited vocabulary.
"Correlation does not imply causation" is a phrase used in science and statistics to emphasize that correlation between two variables does not automatically imply that one causes the other (though it does not remove the fact that correlation can still be a hint, whether powerful or otherwise"
Okay let's plug in to the formulas and see if I can catch a falsity.

  • A may be the cause of B. In our case, the Sage's prayer may be the cause of the healing.
  • B may be the cause of A. The healing may be the cause of the Sage's prayer.
  • some unknown third factor C may actually be the cause of both A and B. The women calling the sage may be the cause of the Sage praying and the child healing.
  • there may be a combination of the above three relationships. For example, B may be the cause of A at the same time as A is the cause of B (contradicting that the only relationship between A and B is that A causes B). This describes a self-reinforcing system. The Sage's prayer causes the healing, while the healing causes the Sage to pray.
  • the "relationship" is a coincidence or so complex or indirect that it is more effectively called a coincidence (i.e. two events occurring at the same time that have no direct relationship to each other besides the fact that they are occurring at the same time). A larger sample size helps to reduce the chance of a coincidence, unless there is a systematic error in the experiment. The Sage just happened to be praying while the child was healing on its own terms.

A major goal of scientific experiments and statistical methods is to approximate as best as possible the counterfactual state of the world.[13] For example, one could run an experiment on identical twins who were known to consistently get the same grades on their tests. One twin is sent to study for six hours while the other is sent to the amusement park. If their test scores suddenly diverged by a large degree, this would be strong evidence that studying (or going to the amusement park) had a causal effect on test scores. In this case, correlation between studying and test scores would almost certainly imply causation.

Okay we could have the sage scream at the child that it is stupid and will probably die soon. Then wait a while and see if the child heals. Then we could have the sage do the opposite to the child's identical twin who is suffering the same illness. The sage would give the child prayers telling the child that he/she has the power to heal itself. The sage would pray as follows:
"Dear Mind, Body, and Soul of _________ {pronounce the name of the child who is ill, so she can hear it}, I love you. You have the power to heal yourself. I know you can do it. I command you to heal yourself. Do a good job. Thank you. Thank you. THank you. [in those thank yous, you are thanking three distinct personalities, the child, the Universe or God, and sage]"

But that's not all. The sage must also place hands over and near the areas that are hurting on the child. The sage should then pray as follows:
"Dear Mind, Body, and Soul of my hands, and of light, and of {a sacred syllable corresponding to that part of the body}. I love you all. I know that you can heal this child's illness. I command you to heal. Do a good job. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you."

So you see, Ben-Forbes, prayer is powerful. It directs mental intention to the souls of the cells of the body. Sometimes we become ill because we subconsciously elect to be ill. This prayer makes suggestions to get the ill person to let go of that intention to stay ill and so it starts the process of healing. It allows the mind, body and soul to heal itself.

Now I ask, which would you rather have around your ill child, the sage with the prayers of healing, or the sage that curses the child?

Ben Forbes G.
Kissimmee, FL
Post #: 134
You present a false choice and attack merely a straw-man of my argument...

Obviously, it is not only humane, but also wise, to be as positive as is reasonable with the sick (while facing reality when necessary), since there is evidence that positive patient attitudes and mental drive to heal can beneficially influence health outcomes, yet this does not prove any powers of prayer since numerous control experiments have been done which disprove that...

I call it both cruelty and ignorance to seriously believe that many sick people "become ill because we subconsciously elect to be ill" - and anyway that remote possibility (which would have been a significant detail) was omitted from the original parable - i.e. nowhere did it say that the child was anorexic, addicted, etc.

Admittedly, positive thoughts and hopes are certainly "harmless" in most cases (and may even help). This is not to say, however, the we should give people false hopes through prayer by invoking ignorant superstitions and supplicating ourselves before imaginary gods or spirits. There is no evidence for souls, miracles of faith healing, etc. To believe in such things is to ignorantly mistake mere coincidences for causal relationships and ignore cases in which the hoped for correlations do not occur.

Most importantly, I would obviously prefer to have around my ill child (if I were already a father) a competent and experienced physician (preferably several), to implement the most progressive Western medicine available combined with appropriate Eastern, herbal, or homeopathic therapies that have been scientifically proven to be effective (or at least soothing), where possible. Prayer is powerless and a futile waste of time... As Elvis put it: "A little less conversation, a little more action please." For perhaps the most damning possible indictment of how abjectly pathetic and useless prayer is in the face of sickness, read La Peste ("The Plague") written by the brilliant atheist and French philosophe, Albert Camus.
A former member
Post #: 8
Jairo makes a pretty interesting point. As already discussed, positive mental attitude and a good outlook can improve health so I think that if prayer provides that for someone, encouragement, then yes it can be helpful. However, I want to be clear that it helps only because the words put the person's mind in the right spot, not because a higher being is actually intervening.
Jairo M.
Winter Park, FL
Post #: 724
The power of prayer should lead to the ultimate positive mental attitude. I pray that you perfectly understand the purpose and source of prayer. "Prayer" is often mistakened to be directed at an external power. That may work for kindergarden level minds, but you have outgrown it, and expect more out of prayer. There is no internal and there is no external to real prayer. There is only the mind, and that is what you pray to. You pray to your own mind, or better known as your true self, or root mind of clear light, that which is immortal. The divine in you. Namaste.

Conceive of your mind as a wish fulfilling jewel of unlimited power. Now be careful what you wish for. It may come true. Thoughts become things.

Now what is the ultimate [superior] wish? If you only had one wish, what would you wish for that would bring the greatest joy to your life? The wish that all sentient beings become perfectly enlightened. That wish is superior to any other wish imaginable, better than the wish to become the richest in the world, better than to become conqueror the world, better than to become a god, and so forth. What could bring greater joy and meaning?
A former member
Post #: 175
Prayer is a product of our mind (a mental construct). Our mind guides our actions.
Only our actions impact the course of world. The word does not unilaterally change its course to "fulfill" our prayer requests.

Skillful, selfless thoughts are practical for the world, because they tend to produce skillful, selfless actions, which create a favorable environment for the creation of skillful, selfless thoughts, which in turn tend to create skillful, selfless actions, etc.

A prayer is not necessarily skillful or selfless.

What we need is ACTION!! (skillfull and selfless only, please)
Jairo M.
Winter Park, FL
Post #: 743
When you pray to a "higher power" you are actually connecting with your own true and higher Self. You are praying to that Noumena which is your spirit and asking it to grant your wishes. [Others may call it The Universe, others may call it The Subconscious Mind, whatever you want to call it, whatever works for you at that time, understand that it is all directed at your Wiser Self that is connected to powers beyond the comprehension of science, so Luis can call it the Noumenon and he is correct. Others may call it Allah and they are correct. It's only words that point to something we cannot comprehend but know that it works. We can't comprehend how our cell phone works but we use it anyway.]

You may verbalize or you may visualize, but still it is a prayer, it is a thought. And thouhts become things is a Law as real as the Law of Gravity is to a ball that we throw. We throw thoughts and they are acted upon by the law "thoughts become things" And so if you believe that there are no such things as spirits, fairies, faith healing, and so forth, then for you, they won't appear, because your thoughts create your reality.
There is no evidence for souls, miracles of faith healing, etc. To believe in such things is to ignorantly mistake mere coincidences for causal relationships and ignore cases in which the hoped for correlations do not occur.
.... For perhaps the most damning possible indictment of how abjectly pathetic and useless prayer is in the face of sickness, read La Peste ("The Plague") written by the brilliant atheist and French philosophe, Albert Camus.
wrote Ben Forbes.

Still the brilliant Albert Camus only focused on the despair and wrote about that, but another author could have written a novel about the same Plague, but with an attitude of praising prayer; looking at the situation from the cup half full perspective; still based on the same situations and peoples. Remember that the temperature in a room may be the same for the people in it, but each person will perceive and react to it differently. That shows that our perception creates our attitude and our novel. Camus chose to see that prayer was useless in those circumstances and ignored evidence of the usefullness of prayer.

Remember the Law of the Universe that created each and every one of our's reality: Thoughts become things. If we think passionately enough, these thoughts will drive us into action effortlessly, so don't think that thinking [and hence prayer] does not involve action.
Watch Mike Dooley. He can explain it quite well.

But my thoughts may be falling on deaf ears that have developed filters to remove such ideas, so not everyone will get this. But for those who do, I congratulate you and am confident that you will make all your dreams come true.
Thank you,
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