Problems with Prayer (Part 2)

Please check out Part 1 of this post.

As I have discussed in the first part, the concept of prayer does not play well with the concept of an omniscient, omnipotent, omnibenevolent god.  The next two points will deal with using “answered prayer” as evidence for a god’s existence.

II.  Consistency

I know that Calvinists will disagree with the premise of this point.  So, if you are a Calvinist reading this, skip on to the next point.  The god that Christians try to portray is a personal god who loves all people equally and wants all men to be saved.  If this is true, why the inequity among answered prayers?  Why isn’t god consistent in answering prayers?  It’s almost as if it is up to chance!

There are other examples, but I think the best question is… “Why won’t God heal amputees?”  I think this is a very fair question.  I hear people often praising God for healing their cancer or some other sickness, but why are amputees being ignored?  I think the following excerpt from gets it exactly:

No matter how many people pray. No matter how sincere those people are. No matter how much they believe. No matter how devout and deserving the recipient. Nothing will happen. The legs will not regenerate. Prayer does not restore the severed limbs of amputees. You can electronically search through all the medical journals ever written — there is no documented case of an amputated leg being restored spontaneously. And we know that God ignores the prayers of amputees through our own observations of the world around us. If God were answering the prayers of amputees to regenerate their lost limbs, we would be seeing amputated legs growing back every day.

Isn’t that odd? The situation becomes even more peculiar when you look at who God is. According to the Standard Model of God:

  • God is all-powerful. Therefore, God can do anything, and regenerating a leg is trivial.
  • God is perfect, and he created the Bible, which is his perfect book. In the Bible, Jesus makes very specific statements about the power of prayer. Since Jesus is God, and God and the Bible are perfect, those statements should be true and accurate.
  • God is all-knowing and all-loving. He certainly knows about the plight of the amputee, and he loves this amputee very much.
  • God is ready and willing to answer your prayers no matter how big or small. All that you have to do is believe. He says it in multiple places in the Bible. Surely, with millions of people in the prayer circle, at least one of them will believe and the prayer will be answered.
  • God has no reason to discriminate against amputees. If he is answering millions of other prayers like Jeanna’s every day, God should be answering the prayers of amputees too.

Nonetheless, the amputated legs are not going to regenerate.

What are we seeing here? It is not that God sometimes answers the prayers of amputees, and sometimes does not. Instead, in this situation there is a very clear line. God never answers the prayers of amputees. It would appear, to an unbiased observer, that God is singling out amputees and purposefully ignoring them.

III.  Confirmation Bias

We all have weaknesses in our thinking.  We are all prone to biases.  One such bias is confirmation bias.  Confirmation bias is the tendency to favor information which “confirms” what we already believe while ignoring information which contradict that belief.

This bias is clearly evident in Christians who use their answered prayer as proof of their god’s existence.  If it is reasonable to believe that the Christian god exists because their prayers get answered, then it should also be reasonable that the Muslim god exists when a Muslim’s prayer is answered.  The same would be true of a Hindu of Buddhist.  Yet, these gods are mutually exclusive.  Not all of them can exist, but it is possible that none of them exist!  I think this is the more reasonable explanation.

Lastly, if answered prayer proves god exists, shouldn’t unanswered prayer prove god does not exist?

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One thought on “Problems with Prayer (Part 2)

  1. Hi Marlowe. I found your site while browsing. Why won’t God heal amputees? Fantastic question. That website and that question really rattled my faith. I remember over 20 years ago sitting in a Calvary Chapel ‘afterglow’ service. Pastor Skip was asking for ‘praise reports’ (lingo for stories of answered prayer). We all told our stories, and Skip was eager to hear more. One guy, who I don’t remember being in the congregation before started to tell his praise report. He was a soldier recently deployed in the Gulf War. He told us that a buddy of his had his hand blown off in some kind of IED planted along the road. He grabbed his friend’s bloody wrist and prayed for instant healing – and what do you know – that hand grew back! Right before his eyes!! A regenerated limb from one of our vets!!

    Pastor Skip’s reaction? Did he say Praise God? Thank You Jesus? More answered prayers?

    Nope. He basically said, “Look at the time! We better close this afterglow service tonight.” Pastor Skip did not believe the guy’s story about a regenerated limb. Neither did I. I doubt anybody did. I learned a lesson that night – we do not believe in actual miracles. We believe God can only heal the mundane. It was nearly 20 years later before I asked again ‘Why won’t God heal amputees?’ And I remembered that guy in the afterglow service.

    Like

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