Zimbabwe Elections

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Wandapec (April 01, 2008, 15:54:02 PM):
At the risk of preempting the outcome of the Zim elections - any bets that if the MDC win we will be hearing nothing but "our prayers have been answered". Most of the people will forget that for nearly 10 years now their prayers haven't quite been getting through! :) (Not that chatting to an imaginary boogey man by talking to yourself was going to help anyway!)

I guess most of these people would, as PZ Myers puts it, fit into the target audience for this book.
ArgumentumAdHominem (April 01, 2008, 18:05:00 PM):
... we will be hearing nothing but "our prayers have been answered".

I love discussing prayer. I can't remember where I read it (I thought it was at http://www.godisimaginary.com/ but I can't find it there) but there was a simple argument about the logical contradiction of prayer. I loved it. It went something like this...

Why pray for rain? What is your intention when you pray for rain? There are only a few possibilities:
God is perhaps forgetful. You are simply nudging him to remind him that he's forgotten to send the rain. No? I didn't think that you'd like that one.God is fully aware that he did not send rain. It is part of his plan. This is god's method of controlling the aphid population so that next year's crop is not ruined by these nasty insects. Are you saying that you have a better plan than him? No? I didn't think so.God is fully aware that he did not send rain. Not sending rain is a "test of faith". He is waiting until a few more people believe in him and when the number of prayers hits the magic number then the rain will come (or perhaps he is waiting until you really mean it - pray harder). No, I didn't think you'd like that either.[ETA this one, saw it in a blog comment]Satan is actually causing the drought, proving that god is not omnipotent and the most powerful deity. Didn't think you'd like that one either.
There are no other explanations for god's actions in this case. Why are you praying?

I did find this example mentioned in this blog post about Georgia praying for rain.

I remember when I was attending church the different kinds of prayers that we had. There was one occasion where one of the tea ladies (quite frail) was home in bed (under doctor's orders) sick with severe bronchitis or flu or similar and the call came from the pastor to pray for her speedy recovery. Then there was another occasion when a family member of one of the congregants had N-stage cancer and was unlikely to survive the month and we were called upon to pray for the family's strength at that trying time. Why weren't we praying for her speedy recovery? Of course now I know the answer, because statistically it is more likely that god will save the mildly ill and ignore the prayers of the terminally ill.

I guess most of these people would, as PZ Myers puts it, fit into the target audience for this book.

This is a great post from PZ, thanks for the link. The comments had me in stitches too.

I remember once, not many years ago, I was watching TBN (yes, I still do from time to time, it's great for simple exercise in Philosophical studies, you can point and interupt with "circular logic" or "argumentum ad odium" or similar - but not for more than an hour or your head will hurt trying to keep up) and an American evangelical preacher was relating the story of his "friend", a preacher from Johannesburg (grabbed my interest, but Johannesburg was probably selected because it is far enough away not to be investigated) who was present when a man's prayer for proof was answered.

The story went that a man, disillusioned with his faith, had prayed to god for a sign, proof of his existence. He climbed the bell tower ... I'm not sure how many churches I've seen in Joburg with bell towers, I'd say none, the ones I have seen have been mostly modern and angular steeples without an actual bell and certainly no way to get up there - perhaps old catholic/anglican churches have bell towers but I'm not sure how many catholic priests hang around with evangelical protestants. So, he climbed the bell tower and really really prayed for a sign, and while he was up there the preacher's wife, so full of the spirit of the lord did a cartwheel infront of the church. The man in the bell tower exclaimed "Hallelujah" and ran down to relate his story to the preacher. The preacher asked his wife why she did that and her answer was "I don't know, it just felt right".

But why I was particularly interested in this story was the reason why the American preacher had told the story. He had concluded that this was an example to everyone, that everyone should use this as a lesson that god does provide proof and that his congregants should not need to ask for proof themselves.

Quite convenient.
Mefiante (April 01, 2008, 20:19:13 PM):
Recommended for Zimbabwe is an immediate and radical Bobectomy… ;)

Upon success of the above procedure, it will be good that god never answers certain prayers.

'Luthon64
slowcheetah (April 02, 2008, 09:01:32 AM):
Prayer: How to do nothing and still think that you are helping.
Tweefo (April 03, 2008, 10:01:31 AM):
I now see the MCD won. How do you get a country back on track? A inflation rate of over 100,000%. I don't know what it is going to take but it ain't going to be prayers. If this was a private business it would have gone bankrupt long ago and some other business would be in place by now. Only the owners / investors / leaders would have suffered. A free marked (and a real democracy) works like evolution - the survival of the fittest.

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