The Instigator
jar2187
Pro (for)
Winning
10 Points
The Contender
KeytarHero
Con (against)
Losing
8 Points

Is Prayer Insufficient?

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 5/12/2011 Category: Religion
Updated: 6 years ago Status: Voting Period
Viewed: 2,331 times Debate No: 16469
Debate Rounds (5)
Comments (24)
Votes (4)

 

jar2187

Pro

I will argue that prayer is insufficient to determine the change in outcome of any situation.

First, what is prayer?
The Groiler's Encyclopedia of Knowledge describes prayer as "the process of addressing a superhuman being or beings for the purpose of praise, adoration, thanksgiving, petition, penitence, and so on". Obviously, this definition is a littler narrow. While it is generally held that prayer is reserved for superhuman, here on out rendered as supernatural, entities, it is possible to pray to a human, an animal, insect, plant, rock, artificial object, and so on. However, the term ‘prayer' will be difficult to asses if we broaden its definition, so we will locate it solely to the supernatural in our debate.

The Webster – Merriam Dictionary and Thesaurus define prayer as "a supplication or expression addressed to God or a god" and as "an earnest request of wish". Many believers who pray simply combine the two propositions, so that they may earnestly address a request or wish to God or a god. I don't see anything wrong with this. Whether or not god(s) exists in order to be prayed for is not the issue. However, many believers believe that prayer can be used to change oneself, others and even one's circumstances. In extreme cases, most believe that prayer can affect the very fabric or our perceivable reality. This is the argument that I would like to challenge.What is the case against it?

There are several cases I can make against it, in this narrative:

Irrelevant Conclusion: Most believers, before they have prayed, will believe that prayer will work based on what they've been told.
My family/pastor/friend/Bible/St. Paul/Jesus say that prayer works, therefore it works.
Obviously, each of these members could be wrong.

Begging the Question: Most believers believe that their sources regarding prayer are reliable and have no need to test it for themselves.
I believe my family/pastor/friend/Bible/Paul/Jesus when they say that prayer works, and I know because they said it.
Each on of these entities could be mistaken, if not lying.
Why would they lie?
To get you to believe them…

Hasty Generalization: Consider though that a believer does pray. One could say prayer has worked once. Therefore it must work.
I pray once and I got something, therefore I will get something every time I pray.
Of course, this may not be true for subsequent times. The first may not even be the result of prayer. It would be a hasty generalization to consider that the chance of one correct prayer leads to a successful result each time. Yet, this may not have been a case of prayer working. It may be a simple coincidence. This may lead to several similar mistaken premises…

Fallacy of False Cause: A believer could say…
I prayed for rain and then it started raining. Therefore my prayer worked.
In fact, rain very well could have occurred without the believer praying for it. And the several people who did not pray for rain still experienced the rain. What makes us think that it wasn't their lack of ability to prevent the rain that caused it to rain?

Post Hoc Ergo Propter Hoc: "After this, therefore because of this." A believer could say…
After I prayed it rained. Therefore, my prayer caused rained to fall.
Same objection as above. Certain elements of the weather could have been brewing before the prayer was fashioned.

Cum Hoc Ergo Propter Hoc: "With this, therefore because of this". A believer could say…
Every time I pray for rain during the rainy season, it rains. Therefore my prayer causes it to rain.
It usually rains during the rainy seasons anyways. And correlation does not imply causation. There must be a solid connection. These all follow the same structure…

Affirming the Consequent: That is, where the conclusion affirmed before the premises solidified.
If I pray for X, X will happen. X happened. Therefore, prayer works.
The incorrectness should be self-evident by now. There are other ways in which X could happen.

Ambiguity: In many cases prayer is vague, both in cause and effect. How can we accurately assess that prayer actually changed oneself, the other or even one's circumstances?

The problem is that ALL prayers have at least one of these fallacies, if not all. And only one of them is needed to undermine the sufficiency of prayers. Thank you.

Sources:
Wikipedia, Fallacy
Wikipedia, Prayer
Webster's-Merriam Dictionary and Thesaurus
Grolier's Encyclopedia of Knowledge
Introduction to Logic v. 11, Copi and Cohen
KeytarHero

Con

I would first like to thank my opponent for issuing this challenge. I look forward to our discussion.

"I will argue that prayer is insufficient to determine the change in outcome of any situation."

So it seems to me that in order to adequately support my view and clinch the debate, I need only find one situation in which prayer is sufficient to determine the change in outcome. It seems to me that you are assuming God exists for the sake of this argument, so I will turn to the Christian holy book, the Bible (the book I personally put faith in). There are many things the Bible says about prayer, but let's look at one in particular. Let's look at 1 John 1:9: "If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness." In this situation, prayer is definitely enough to change our circumstance from one of harboring sin in our heart to being cleansed of all unrighteousness. I have proven that there is at least one case in which prayer is sufficient to change a circumstance.

Now let's look at the alleged fallacies my opponent has given.

Irrelevant conclusion
If you're going to assume that God exists, then Jesus cannot lie. Jesus is God (John 1:1, 14). Therefore, if Jesus says that prayer works, then prayer works. Also, the others you mentioned were acting under inspiration from God (2 Timothy 3:16). Therefore, when they wrote the Scriptures, they could not have been wrong because God would not have allowed them to be wrong. Not only that, but we have numerous examples given in the Scriptures that prayer works.

Begging the question
Jesus did not have to lie to get followers. He practiced what He preached, He even went to the cross and rose from the dead, leaving behind many witnesses. Jesus was not a liar. Neither were His followers, especially acting under inspiration from God in composing the Scriptures. Also, it is not accurate to say believers don't test it for themselves. Many believers pray and receive answers to their prayers (the ones that don't really aren't praying correctly – probably praying with an improper motivation (e.g. greed or envy)).

Hasty generalization
This is true that believers might mistake answered prayer for something that may have happened anyway. But then there are Christians who experience something that just couldn't be coincidence, such as receiving money from an unknown source at a time they really need it, when they weren't expecting it. God can work mighty miracles, but there are many things which prevent us from receiving it (one of the most obvious being that we simply don't ask, or God doesn't hear us (due to unconfessed sins), or other reasons – it's important to know what the Bible actually teaches on prayer).

Fallacy of false cause/Post hoc ergo propter hoc/Cum hoc ergo propter hoc/Affirming the consequent
I don't know all believers, and I doubt you can say that the only time a believer prays for rain is during the rainy season. I live in California and we experienced a drought for many years. I'm sure there were believers praying for rain during that time. I can't say for sure. But I do know there were believers in the Bible who prayed for rain and received it. For instance, Samuel prayed for rain during the wheat harvest season to destroy their crops as divine retribution for their sins (1 Samuel 12:17, 18). In 1 Kings 17, there would be no rain at all unless Elijah prayed for it.

Ambiguity
Here you are assuming someone's motivations behind their prayers. For instance, I have been praying for a job and now I have job opportunities popping up. Many believers are grief stricken and pray for comfort; they receive comfort. Many believers pray for healing, and people are healed. There are very specific prayers which are answered.
Whether prayers may or may not have at least one of these fallacies is irrelevant. For instance, what if the only fallacy it has is that "it may have just been coincidence." Who are you to say God didn't answer the prayer, unless you are already starting from a premise that God doesn't answer prayer? That's no way to find truth.

On top of that, I have shown at least one instance in which prayer is definitely sufficient.
Debate Round No. 1
jar2187

Pro

I thank my contender for taking up my challenge and participating my debate. He has taken time to consider his position and thought out his reply...

“It seems to me that you are assuming God exists for the sake of this argument”
I’m not.

“If you're going to assume that God exists, then Jesus cannot lie. Jesus is God (John 1:1, 14). Therefore, if Jesus says that prayer works, then prayer works.”
Not only did I not assume that God exist, but I am not assuming that Jesus is God. I’m not assuming that the Bible is infallible. I’m not assuming that Jesus cannot lie because the Bible says so. I’m not assuming that prayer works without demonstration. I’m not assuming that prayer “just works”. This is practically begging the question and irrelevant conclusion.

“Jesus did not have to lie to get followers.”
Irrelevant.

“He practiced what He preached, He even went to the cross and rose from the dead, leaving behind many witnesses. Jesus was not a liar. Neither were His followers, especially acting under inspiration from God in composing the Scriptures.”
My opponent is begging the question…

“Many believers pray and receive answers to their prayers …”
How does my opponent know that it was the result of prayer? My opponent is begging the question…

“…there are Christians who experience something that just couldn't be coincidence, such as receiving money from an unknown source at a time they really need it, when they weren't expecting it.”
Which may have happened anyways. Besides, since my opponent did not mention that they prayed for this money, which only further illustrates my point…

“I don't know all believers, and I doubt you can say that the only time a believer prays for rain is during the rainy season.”
I’m don't. Still, it is irrelevant.

“In 1 Kings 17, there would be no rain at all unless Elijah prayed for it.”
This begs the question. Specifically, how does my opponent know this, and why should anyone believe it? Furthermore, it is unclear as to whether or not it was going to rain. My opponent is stating “evidence” after the fact, which is a form of False Cause, Post Hoc [1][2].

“Here you are assuming someone's motivations behind their prayers.”
What prayer is without some type of motivation? It is irrelevant regardless.

“I have been praying for a job and now I have job opportunities popping up. Many believers are grief stricken and pray for comfort; they receive comfort. Many believers pray for healing, and people are healed. There are very specific prayers which are answered.”
This is an example of motivations behind one’s prayers.

“I have shown at least one instance in which prayer is definitely sufficient”
My opponent has remarkably shown nothing but has further illustrated my points. Extend my arguments. Thank you and I thank my opponent for his rebuttals…


Source:
[1] Fallacy: http://en.wikipedia.org...
[2] Non-Sequitur: http://en.wikipedia.org...(logic)
[3] Fallacies: http://www.unc.edu...
[4] Post Hoc: http://www.nizkor.org...
[5] Post hoc ergo propter hoc: http://en.wikipedia.org...
KeytarHero

Con

I thank my contender for issuing this challenge. However, upon reading his round two rebuttal it seems that he is not taking this issue very seriously. He has taken a few lines from my argument and claimed “irrelevancy” when I was, in fact, answering the objections he was raising, and also claiming “fallacy” when, in fact, there was none. If my contender is not going to take this debate seriously, then I see little point in continuing. He admitted from the get-go that I have taken time to consider my position and think out my reply. I would ask the same courtesy from my contender.

He claims he has not assumed God existed for this argument, yet in his opening remarks he was indicating that prayer, for the sake of this argument, was to a supernatural being. He seems to be agreeing, for the sake of argument, that prayer is heard by a supernatural being. If you’re going to assume that God does not exist, then this topic is meaningless. You should really be arguing about whether God exists or not (for if He exists, He can answer prayer), or whether or not God actually answers prayer.

However, the topic raised is whether prayer sufficient to determine the change in outcome in any situation. My contender proposes that it is not; I propose that it is. As I stated in my round one argument, if I can find one situation in which prayer is enough to affect an outcome, then I have clinched the debate. I did so in my first round argument.

“Not only did I not assume that God exist [sic], but I am not assuming that Jesus is God. I’m not assuming that the Bible is infallible. I’m not assuming that Jesus cannot lie because the Bible says so. I’m not assuming that prayer works without demonstration.”

Then the topic we’re debating here is meaningless, according to your description. We should be arguing about whether God exists, which is not in the scope of this debate and would derail it substantially.

“Irrelevant.”

Jesus not having to lie to gain followers is perfectly relevant. You made the claim Jesus could have lied to get followers. I was responding to your objection.

“My opponent is begging the question…”

Which question am I begging? Are you sure you’re not confusing it with “raising the question”? As I mentioned, we have eyewitness accounts that Jesus did these things.

“Besides, since my opponent did not mention that they prayed for this money, which only further illustrates my point…”

My entire argument was about Christians praying for these things. It was a given. Must I be absolutely specific with you? I don’t want to insult anyone’s intelligence here, so I didn’t feel the need to mention it.

“I’m [sic] don't. Still, it is irrelevant.”

Let me give you the definition of irrelevant, since you seem to keep misusing the word: “not relevant; not applicable or pertinent.” [1] My rebuttal is relevant to your arguments made.

“This begs the question. Specifically, how does my opponent know this, and why should anyone believe it? Furthermore, it is unclear as to whether or not it was going to rain. My opponent is stating “evidence” after the fact, which is a form of False Cause, Post Hoc.”

I know this because we have an account of it. Elijah said it would happen before it happened, which lended credibility to the fact that he was a prophet of God. No one who was around at the time doubted because Elijah spoke of it before the fact. Are you going to tell me the Civil War never happened, because I can tell you about it after the fact? Again, my opponent does not wish to argue whether prayer is sufficient; he wants to argue whether or not there’s a God, and/or that He answers prayer which, again, is outside the scope of this debate. I have proven my opponent’s proposition to be false as I have shown a situation in which prayer is sufficient.

“What prayer is without some type of motivation? It is irrelevant regardless.”

It is not irrelevant. You claimed that prayers are vague, when in fact, most prayers are quite specific and these same believers receive what they ask. Again, I refer you to the definition of irrelevant.

Friends, I think I have already conclusively shown that my opponent is not arguing his premise. Also, I have proven that the premise he proposed is false. Additionally, his entire argument consists of taking one or two sentences from my arguments, claiming irrelevancy or fallacy, with no evidence whatsoever to back up his claims. I would ask that my opponent put some actual effort into his next round argument.

[1] http://dictionary.reference.com...
Debate Round No. 2
jar2187

Pro

I thank my contender (for I’m the instigator) for participating in this challenge. I am taking this challenge seriously, as he is. Regardless if he doesn’t like the responses, the answers still fit his rebuttal…

“He claims he has not assumed God existed for this argument, yet in his opening remarks he was indicating that prayer, for the sake of this argument, was to a supernatural being.”
That doesn’t mean that we need to/should assume that a supernatural being actually does exist out there to be prayed to. It just means that the prayers are being asserted, so to speak.

“He seems to be agreeing, for the sake of argument, that prayer is heard by a supernatural being.”
Incorrect again. See above, to my first post, where I state “Whether or not god(s) exists in order to be prayed for is not the issue.” Neither, prayed to…

“If you’re going to assume that God does not exist, then this topic is meaningless.”
No, because we are talking about whether an outcome is affect by prayer, not if God exists to answer them and somehow just make them come true. Besides, as we all know, ‘supernatural does not equal God’.
“You should really be arguing about whether God exists or not (for if He exists, He can answer prayer), or whether or not God actually answers prayer.”
Maybe some other time, OK? Later, OK…

“We should be arguing about whether God exists, which is not in the scope of this debate and would derail it substantially.”
I think my opponent wants this to be a debate about the existence of God, to prove that there is a God that does answer prayers. And I won’t let him derail this discussion beyond the scope of this debate.

“Jesus not having to lie to gain followers is perfectly relevant.”
What does following Jesus having followers have to do with whether prayer affects the outcome?

“You made the claim Jesus could have lied to get followers. I was responding to your objection.”
And he still could of. And rather than just take my opponent’s word and say “WOW! Jesus never lied!”, I chose to say it was irrelevant. Whether or not he lies does not mean that he answers prayers, or that prayers are answered, or that prayer affects the outcome of events.

“As I mentioned, we have eyewitness accounts that Jesus did these things.”
I’m sure you say this. But the book only mentions that there were eye witnesses. Why should the book be believed on its own merit, when the book itself could be called into question? Irrelevant, regardless. We’re not talking about eyewitnesses of Jesus’ supposed miracles. We’re talking about whether prayer is sufficient to determine the outcome of a situation.

Let me give you the definition of irrelevant, since you seem to keep misusing the word: “not relevant; not applicable or pertinent.””
Thanks. So what? I know what the definition means.

“My rebuttal is relevant to your arguments made.”
A few are. The majority aren’t. This wasn’t.

“I know this because we have an account of it.”
So my opponent claims. Is his source reliable? Him even continuing to ask this will derail the debate further…

“Elijah said it would happen before it happened, which lended credibility to the fact that he was a prophet of God.”
“Wow, did Elijah really say it was going to rain on a specific day and it did?! WOW! His prayers must have caused it! WOW!” No. This is just another example of False Cause. Even I could say that it will rain on some specific day. Even I could wave my hands in the process, all mystical like, to “make it” rain. And if it does, so what? Coincidence, perhaps. Would it have rained even if Elijah did not uttered some incantation? Probably. There is nothing to say that his prayer actually caused it. And prayer alone is insufficient to determine the outcome of this situation.

“No one who was around at the time doubted because Elijah spoke of it before the fact.”
We don’t have to believe it just because they do.

“Are you going to tell me the Civil War never happened, because I can tell you about it after the fact?”
What is my opponent talking about? My opponent didn’t predict through prayer, so it’s irrelevant.

“You claimed that prayers are vague, when in fact, most prayers are quite specific…”
Vague in cause and effect, not (necessarily) in motivation.

My opponent has misunderstood the debate, and is trying to argue too narrowly. I’m not arguing about whether prayer can determine if the one being prayed to exist. Nor am I arguing whether a situation recorded says that a prayer worked. I’m arguing, more succinctly, whether prayer is sufficient to determine the outcome of the situation. And there is nothing to determine that it does not fall for at least one of these fallacies.

I thank him for his considerable efforts, for he has presented his best. And that is all that I ask for. Thank you.

KeytarHero

Con

Again, I wish to thank Jar for issuing the challenge of this debate.


“That doesn’t mean that we need to/should assume that a supernatural being actually does exist out there to be prayed to. It just means that the prayers are being asserted, so to speak.”


In that case, you should have been more clear in your opening statement. For I contend that if God exists, then He certainly answers prayer and prayer is sufficient to change any situation. However, if no supernatural being exists, then obviously praying to said deity would have no effect. Therefore, the focus of this issue has been lost.


“I think my opponent wants this to be a debate about the existence of God, to prove that there is a God that does answer prayers. And I won’t let him derail this discussion beyond the scope of this debate.”


If you had been reading my response closely, you would see that I indicated I did not want to derail the debate. I don’t want this debate to be about the existence of God, because that’s not what was asserted. However, in a debate about whether or not a supernatural deity answers prayers, then the existence of the supernatural deity should be assumed. If there’s no deity to answer prayers, then obviously those prayers won’t be answered.


“What does following [sic] Jesus having followers have to do with whether prayer affects the outcome?”


I might ask you the same question, since you brought it up. My response was relevant to your objection.


My opponent seems to think responding to his objections is irrelevant, so I will stop there. I have given examples in which prayer is enough to change things. I could leave it at an impasse, for it’s really my word against his. He has not given evidence that prayer has never been answered, just like I really have no empirical evidence that prayer has worked. I might ask him why he thinks all those fallacies proves that prayer *doesn’t* work, for he has no proof that even though a prayer was answered, there’s another explanation. He can’t prove that it *wasn’t* God answering those prayers.


So now allow me to leave you with a more secular example. I have shown that there is a religious occurrence where prayer is sufficient to change the outcome of a situation. However, most people, even atheists, recognize there’s comfort in religion. Even if no god exists, one may still find comfort in religion and therefore if they pray for peace, they will receive it because they believe that God (or another god) will hear and answer their prayer. Therefore, prayer is definitely enough in a situation such as this, even if there’s no god to answer.

Debate Round No. 3
jar2187

Pro

I thank my opponent again for his rebuttals. First things first…

“…you should have been more clear in your opening statement.”
And I was. In my opening, I state “Whether or not god(s) exists in order to be prayed for is not the issue.” Still, “…many believers believe that prayer can be used to change oneself, others and even one's circumstances.” Prayer doesn’t just have to just be to a supernatural being just because one believes that it should. A prayer could be an earnest wish (as I’ve also stated above), and even a wish to a supernatural “force”. We shouldn’t assume that my opponent’s god exist and therefore this is enough to make prayer sufficient just because he believes it does. This is a matter for another debate...

“… in a debate about whether or not a supernatural deity answers prayers…”
No, it’s not about whether or not a supernatural deity answers prayers. It’s about whether a prayer is sufficient or not to determine the outcome of a situation.

“What does following [sic] Jesus having followers have to do with whether prayer affects the outcome?”
“I might ask you the same question, since you brought it up. My response was relevant to your objection.”
The following was an example demonstrating a logical fallacy. Still, with this example, I don’t assume that Jesus cannot lie, that Jesus is God or should be considered as God, that Jesus existed even as people say he has, etc…

Now...

“He has not given evidence that prayer has never been answered, just like I really have no empirical evidence that prayer has worked.”
This article shows that prayer itself was insufficient to determine the outcome on health patients [1]. This article came to the same conclusion [2]. This article goes so far as to say that prayer has no actual effect – and this is from a theologian. Indeed, sometimes prayer can have the adverse conclusions [4]. If prayer is just positive attitudes, then this article [5] shows that optimism does not improve health. Some studies on prayer being sufficient to determine the outcome of a situation turn out to be fraudulent [6][7]. Religious sources that say prayer is sufficient to determine the outcome of a situation are questionable (the Bible, The Qu’ran, the Book of Mormon, etc.). And even still, we have the fallacies…

“I might ask him why he thinks all those fallacies proves that prayer *doesn’t* work, for he has no proof that even though a prayer was answered, there’s another explanation.”
There's no proof to say that "a prayer was answered". Regardless, this isn't the issue. Prayer isn’t sufficient to determine the outcome; it’s not the issue if prayer works or not. For every scenario in which we attribute to prayer, we could equally find yet another scenario in which the outcome could be attributed elsewhere. What we thought was prayer could have been another cause. This is logically possible. The logical fallacies show exactly how we could have been mistaken. And all prayers could have been mistaken, since it is logically possible that situations attributed to prayer could fall under another cause which could be explained by at least one of these fallacies. Might prayer work? Can science prove prayer? Is there a God that exists to answers prayers? Are prayers being answered? Or is prayer just superstition? None of these are the issue. Can prayer itself sufficiently determine the outcome on virtue of its own merit? No.

“He can’t prove that it *wasn’t* God answering those prayers.”
Nor do I have to, since the debate isn’t about a God existing to answer prayer, as my opponent and I have affirmed. It’s about whether prayers themselves are sufficient to determine the outcome.

“However, most people, even atheists, recognize there’s comfort in religion.”
Not all atheists recognize this. I don't. Even Christians can recognize that prayer doesn’t provide comfort [3][4][8]. This is a very limited view on prayer. Regardless, not everyone who prays for peace gets it [8]; peace can be derived through meditation or even clearing one’s mind. Sometimes, “peace” just comes to you for no reason. How do we know that prayer is the cause of the peace, when the peace they received after they prayed could have come from another source that they were unaware of? From a source that they mistakenly give credit to prayer itself? We don’t. Why? Prayer offers no method to sufficiently determine any outcome of the situation [9]. Thank you.

Sources:
[1] A prayer for health: http://www.boston.com...
[2]Power of Prayer Flunks an Unusual test: http://www.msnbc.msn.com...
[3] Faith-Based medicine: http://www.nytimes.com...

[4] Faith in Prayer Kills Children: http://www.livescience.com...
[5] Study: Optimist does not improve cancer: http://www.usatoday.com...
[6] A prayer before dying: http://www.wired.com...
[7] The Columbia University ‘Miracle Study’: Flawed and Fraud: http://www.csicop.org...
[8] Prayer ‘no aid’ to heart patient: http://news.bbc.co.uk...
[9] Study of the Therapeutic Effects of Intercessory Prayer (STEP) in cardiac bypass patients: a multicenter randomized trial of uncertainty and certainty of receiving intercessory prayer.: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov...
KeytarHero

Con

Again, I wish to thank my opponent for the challenge issued in this debate.

“…many believers believe that prayer can be used to change oneself, others and even one's circumstances.”

Actually, all believers should believe that. This is because we believe in a God who answers prayer, and who has the power to change our circumstances and situations. This is the same God who created the universe and who created us. Being able to manipulate the universe He created doesn’t seem like such a stretch.

Jar said, “A prayer could be an earnest wish (as I’ve also stated above).” Irrelevant. Allow me to quote you from your opening definition of prayer: “However, the term ‘prayer' will be difficult to asses if we broaden its definition, so we will locate it solely to the supernatural in our debate.” For the purposes of this debate, a “wish” will not do. The debate, indeed, is whether or not a supernatural force, or God in my case, actually answers said prayers.I submit that my opponent’s case rests solely on semantics, and on trying to argue in such a way that it is impossible for his contender to win. For truly, if there is no supernatural being to answer a prayer, then it logically follows that prayer would have no effect, aside from granting the one praying peace or comfort (as I indicated in my last round, which is another example of a prayer changing someone’s situation). In the same way only a living person can grant a request I ask of him, only a supernatural being could grant a prayer I pray.

The following was an example demonstrating a logical fallacy.”

Actually, it was not a logical fallacy, any more than saying my dentist might be lying, so I have no need to actually floss my teeth. He may have been lying, but He may also have been telling the truth. You gave no proof that He was lying, therefore you cannot assume that.

Regarding the articles you listed, you have made a grave fallacy of your own. You are assuming the only prayers said are ones for healing. It doesn’t matter if prayers for healing are answered or not. I know of people who were miraculously healed through prayer, but even so there is debate even amongst Christians whether or not we can expect miraculous healings. This is irrelevant, since all Christians believe that prayer works and we believe that all Christians should pray and make their requests known. Citing many sources to disprove one example of prayer is dishonest.

On top of simply wanting things to change, the Bible says there are certain qualifications which one must meet in order for their prayers to be heard or met. We must pray with no sin in our heart (2 Chronicles 7:14, Psalm 66:18). Also, we must pray in faith; in other words, praying believing we will receive it, not just hoping that we will (James 1:6-8). Also, we must pray selflessly, not just to fulfill our lusts (James 4:3). Any of these reasons could be why a believer’s prayer is not answered. Prayers must be unselfish, believing they will be met and with no sin in our heart that has not yet been confessed.

“Regardless, this isn't the issue. Prayer isn’t sufficient to determine the outcome…”
I think my opponent doesn’t even know what he’s trying to prove with this debate. I have shown examples in which prayer is sufficient to determine
the outcome, and even shown why some prayers may not be answered.

“How do we know that prayer is the cause of the peace, when the peace they received after they prayed could have come from another source that they were unaware of?”

How do we know prayer isn’t the cause? You have not given sufficient reason to explain this. If someone prays and instantly receives peace, I think it’s a safe bet it’s because they prayed. It would be a cop-out to claim it was from some other source simply because you can’t accept the source it came from.

I look forward to our last round.
Debate Round No. 4
jar2187

Pro

I thank my opponent for the last round of this debate.

“Actually, all believers should believe that.”
Should? All believers should believe the way my opponent believes? Believers does not equal Christian. I’m not just talking about his god, nor am I arrogant enough to assume that all people who believe should believe that they should pray to his god.

“This is because we believe in a God who answers prayer, and who has the power to change our circumstances and situations.”
I’m not talking about just Christians. Again, prayer does not have to be to a god, nor even my opponent’s god.

“Jar said, “A prayer could be an earnest wish (as I’ve also stated above).” Irrelevant…For the purposes of this debate, a “wish” will not do.”
Of course it can. My opponent’s problem is that he can’t see that prayer does not have to be answered, or even answered by his god. Furthermore, this is not what the debate is about. It’s not about whether or not a god exists to answer prayer. But my opponent is ignoring this, because he has no other way to argue.

“The debate, indeed, is whether or not a supernatural force, or God in my case, actually answers said prayers.”
My opponent can not get past the idea that prayers must be, and need to be, answered by someone, and that this someone is his god, whe it doesn't have to be…

“For truly, if there is no supernatural being to answer a prayer…”
Then it could be force a supernatural force that is not a being. Again, my opponent is merely assuming that it must be all about his god, when that’s not necessarily the case.

“You gave no proof that He was lying, therefore you cannot assume that.”
Do I know that Jesus was lying when he said that prayers will be answered? No. Does that mean that Jesus wasn’t lying when he said that prayers will be answered? No. Can I assume that Jesus was lying. Yes, just as much as my opponent can assume that they wasn't.

“Regarding the articles you listed, you have made a grave fallacy of your own. You are assuming the only prayers said are ones for healing… Citing many sources to disprove one example of prayer is dishonest.”
Nope, I know people pray for reasons other than health. But the articles listed are examples of prayers that were insufficient to determine the answer. Regardless of whether or not they were for healing, they were still prayers. Prayer follow the same format and fall for the same insufficiency. One example is all that is needed to prove my point. What you pray for is irrelevant. Still, my opponent affirms that prayer is insufficient, especially if it is healing...

“On top of simply wanting things to change, the Bible says there are certain qualifications which one must meet in order for their prayers to be heard or met. We must pray with no sin in our heart (2 Chronicles 7:14, Psalm 66:18). Also, we must pray in faith; in other words, praying believing we will receive it, not just hoping that we will (James 1:6-8). Also, we must pray selflessly, not just to fulfill our lusts (James 4:3). Any of these reasons could be why a believer’s prayer is not answered…I have shown examples in which prayer is sufficient to determine the outcome, and even shown why some prayers may not be answered.”
So then if someone doesn’t get something that they wanted, they just weren’t praying correctly? That’s a pretty simplistic cop-out answer. But are these the qualifications for prayers to be met? Great, now we have a way to see how. But wait, prayer can’t be tested? Then the methods my opponent listed are irrelevant, redundant and insufficient to determine the outcome. And do these methods even determine how to pray correctly? No. These methods are worthless, except to. You really can’t even determine how much “sin is in someone’s heart” or if someone really, really wanted the thing that they prayed for or if prayer is used to selflessly to fulfill lust, and so on, and so forth, etc.

“How do we know prayer isn’t the cause?”
We don’t and we won’t know if prayer is or isn’t the cause, according to my opponent’s standards, especially if we decide to leave it at that (i.e. the qualifications). That’s because even the methods for prayer are insufficient. They’re not enough. Prayer is insufficient to determine the outcome.

“It would be a cop-out to claim it was from some other source simply because you can’t accept the source it came from.”
It’s not about not wanting to accept prayer. I would if it were sufficient to determine the outcome of the situation. It’s about not limiting your options solely to prayer just because you believe that it work, even though it has a method that is insufficient to determine the outcome.

I thank my opponent for this remarkable debate. Thank you.
KeytarHero

Con

Again, I thank my opponent for taking the time to debate this issue.

I believe I have sufficiently shown that my opponent’s entire argument rests on semantical arguments and trying to create an environment in which the person arguing against it simply cannot win. The resolution to this debate is that “prayer is insufficient to change the outcome of any situation.” In order for this to be false, I must only supply one case which disproves the resolution. I have, in fact, supplied to. A religious one, in which simply praying to God for forgiveness will result in that forgiveness, and a secular one, in which a believer who prays to God for peace, whether there is a God to hear that prayer, will still result in peace because that believer believes he or she is being heard. Prayer is sufficient in both of those situations.

I will respond to a few more of my opponent’s objections here.

“Should? All believers should believe the way my opponent believes?”

I never said that. I don’t believe exactly the same as anyone else. But anyone who believes in a God who answers prayer should also believe that God answers prayer. It’s simple logic. I was also speaking from a Christian perspective. Anyone who believes in the God of the Bible should believe that He answers prayer.

“Of course it can.”

No it can’t, as per your original definition. The definition that you established was for prayers to “the supernatural.” Not wishes.

“Nope, I know people pray for reasons other than health.”

Yet, those are apparently the only prayers you can argue against. People pray for any number of reasons, and there is debate even amongst Christians whether or not miraculous healings occur today. It would have been more convincing if you had found “evidence” against prayers that every Christian believes works, instead of just one that not every Christian believes in. I doubt this can happen, because you can’t very well prove that someone was actually praying, and you can’t disprove that a healing, or any other answered prayer, came about through that prayer.

“So then if someone doesn’t get something that they wanted, they just weren’t praying correctly?”

That’s exactly right, and it likely also accounts for why so many prayers don’t seem to be answered. I have had prayers answers, and I know people who have. God tells us how to pray correctly. If the God of the Bible is real, then He’s the one answering prayer and He’s the one who has told us how to have our prayers answered.

-Conclusion-

It is obvious that the Instigator really didn’t have a firm resolution, since he has gone back and forth on just what prayer actually is (even going against his own definition of it), and trying desperately, through semantics, to establish an argument that shifts in such a way that I could not possibly argue against it.

Again, I wish to thank the Instigator for this debate, and thank the readers for considering the arguments given.
Debate Round No. 5
24 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 10 records.
Posted by KeytarHero 5 years ago
KeytarHero
Thank you, Reformed. I don't mind if I lose, so long as I lose honestly and not because people simply disagree with my position.
Posted by KeytarHero 5 years ago
KeytarHero
Amveller: vote bomber.
Posted by ReformedArsenal 6 years ago
ReformedArsenal
Other debates are not submissive for evidence... this site is far from impartial or scientific.
Posted by jar2187 6 years ago
jar2187
Who necessarily has the Burden of Proof?: http://www.debate.org...
Posted by RoyLatham 6 years ago
RoyLatham
I think Pro has the burden of proof whether or not Con points to it. If the debate ends without Pro ever making a case to prove the resolution, then Con wins.
Posted by RoyLatham 6 years ago
RoyLatham
Kinesis, urbandictionary.com gives nine definitions for "mutha." One of them is "buddy."
Posted by ReformedArsenal 6 years ago
ReformedArsenal
BoP = Burden of Proof. In a formal debate (Life real structured judged debate) it belongs exclusively to Pro. On this site, it usually rests with the instigator, since he is BOTH... it definitely belongs to him. Essentially it means that the one with BoP is obligated to prove their position, while the opponent is only obligated to cast doubt on their argument. Look at my debate with KJW about "Who is God??/" to see what I mean.

In this instance, he is the one making assertions (Prayer is insufficient, all the ways people prove prayer works are fallacious, etc), but you didn't question his argument... you went on the defensive. Instead, you should have forced him to prove that the assertions he is making are true.
Posted by KeytarHero 6 years ago
KeytarHero
Reformed, I'm pretty new to debating in an official capacity like this. What's the BoP, and how did he shift it? I'll try to avoid that in the future.
Posted by ReformedArsenal 6 years ago
ReformedArsenal
This debate is stupid. Pro/Instigator shifted the BoP immediately... and Con allowed him to. So disappointing.
Posted by Kinesis 6 years ago
Kinesis
'However, you can be a mutha' and in that capacity have authority over socalpinko'

Intriguing. I've searched the omniscient repository of human knowledge (teh interwebz) and yet cannot find a pertinent definition of "mutha". What is this mutha' of which you speak?
4 votes have been placed for this debate. Showing 1 through 4 records.
Vote Placed by Ricky_Zahnd 5 years ago
Ricky_Zahnd
jar2187KeytarHeroTied
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Total points awarded:30 
Reasons for voting decision: this was way too long for something that seemed open and shut from the beginning. pro could have made himself better understood by using concrete examples earlier, but his argument stands regardless.
Vote Placed by ReformedArsenal 5 years ago
ReformedArsenal
jar2187KeytarHeroTied
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Total points awarded:07 
Reasons for voting decision: Countering Amveller's vote bomb.
Vote Placed by Amveller 6 years ago
Amveller
jar2187KeytarHeroTied
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Reasons for voting decision: Jar wins because prayer is just talking to yourself :)
Vote Placed by Cliff.Stamp 6 years ago
Cliff.Stamp
jar2187KeytarHeroTied
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Reasons for voting decision: This debate seemed to cycle in later rounds, 3 maybe 4 would have been sufficient. Pro also seemed to throw out fallacy and irrelevant too easily and did not maintain BoP. 1 pt to Con.