The Instigator
jat93
Pro (for)
Winning
16 Points
The Contender
Strikeeagle84015
Con (against)
Losing
3 Points

There is no valid reason to believe that prayer to God yields results.

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 7/1/2010 Category: Religion
Updated: 4 years ago Status: Voting Period
Viewed: 2,156 times Debate No: 12429
Debate Rounds (2)
Comments (11)
Votes (6)

 

jat93

Pro

God - the supernatural being conceived as the perfect and omnipotent and omniscient originator and ruler of the universe; the object of worship in monotheistic religions. [1]

Prayer - the act of communicating with a deity (especially as a petition or in adoration or contrition or thanksgiving)) "the priest sank to his knees in prayer" [2]

There is no valid reason to believe that in general, prayer to God yields results. The positive effects of meditation or the personal happiness that prayer might produce do not count as results. Results - One prays to God for something in particular, God hears the prayer, God answers the prayer and grants the one who prays what he prayed for.

[1] http://wordnetweb.princeton.edu...
[2] http://wordnetweb.princeton.edu...
Strikeeagle84015

Con

I would like to thank my opponent for this chance to debate and hope that it goes well.
Now I accept my opponent's definitions, for this debate.
So it seems to me that all I must do in order to win this debate is provide example's of win a prayer to God has yielded a result. I will present several
When I first started this debate I thought that I might cite a ton of scriptural references of prayer but then I decided that I will use times when prayers have been granted me personally and the prayers of those around me.

My Sister.
Now the first account is the story of my younger sister. When my sister was born she had a ton of medical complications, heart problems, lung problems, etc. Now all of the doctors and nurses and everybody was pretty convinced my sister was not going to make it. My mother and father prayed the hardest they have ever prayed they prayed for a long time. Somehow my sister made it, even though every medical professional said that she would die, she made it and is now alive and healthy and has never had a medical problems out of the ordinary to this day. That testifies to the power of prayer.

But let's look at some other examples

My Grandfather's Paycheck
My Grandfather had 10 children and a wife he had to provide for so as you can imagine sometimes money was a little tight around their house. One day my grandfather came home with his paycheck and he set it down somewhere then continued about dinner and all the other things he had to do that day. Eventually he remembered about his paycheck and he started looking for it. He looked everywhere in the house he tore the entire house apart because he could not find that paycheck that they desperately needed. He could not find it anywhere, so he knelt down by his bedside and prayed to the Lord, he prayed with full sincerity and immediately to his mind sprang the image of a rock in the garden, so he went out to the garden found that rock, lifted it up, and underneath was his paycheck. He never would've thought to have look there in a million years, and to this day he still has not the slightest clue how it got there, but he does know that had he not prayed he never would've found that paycheck.

My Friend
This is a personal experience of mine. I once had a friend that was in a really bad spot and I wanted to comfort her (no there was not a romantic interest), but I saying the right things have never really been my strong suit and I think I probably would've done more harm than good with what I would've said, but before I started my email to this friend I said a prayer and I asked that God would help me to say the right things to help this friend. I sat down at my computer and started typing however what I was typing wasn't what I had intended to type, however I got a strong feeling that I should write something else, so I followed that prompting and wrote a lovely email to my friend. A while later I got a response from my friend, wherein she thanked me for what I had said and told me it had really helped. Had I not said that prayer I doubt the Lord would've helped me write what I needed to.

The First Vision.
This isn't one that has happened to me or anyone I know personally but I feel I should include it anyway. Now a long time ago in the 1800's there was a boy who lived in Palmyra, New York. Now Palmyra is located in what as known as the burnt over district, so named because during the second great awaking it was one of the most heavily evangelized districts. Now this boy was really confused about which Church to join, so one day he came across a passage in his studying of the Bible
James 1:5
5 If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him [1]
Now when he saw this scripture he decided to put it to the test. So one day he went to a grove of trees nearby his house and he started to pray, as soon as he opened his mouth a power set upon him and attempted to overcome him, it bound his tongue that he could not speak. Just as he was about to surrender completely to the power, a pillar of light appeared above him "above the brightness of the sun, which descended gradually until it fell upon me." As soon as the light appeared the power did flee. He then saw "two personages who glory and brightness did exceed all description" one of them spake unto him calling him by name, pointing to the other and said "This is My Beloved Son. Hear Him!" Now this young man of 14 years of age asked which of the churches he should join, he was told none of them." Now this boy's name was Joseph Smith, and it seems to me that his prayer yielded a very real and valid result.[2]

My Prayer
This shall be my finally example of prayer. Now there was someone whom I very very much cared about, now through a series of actions and mistakes I let this person down a lot. Now she chose to not accept the Gospel and basically told me to piss off. Everyday since that one I have prayed to the Lord that he will soften her heart that she may accept the Gospel. I still have not had my prayer answered yet but I will continue to pray for her in every single prayer I make between now and when I pass on.

In conclusion I have presented a host of examples where prayers to God have yielded results and been answered even though I only needed one I still have given a host of them.

[2]Pearl of Great Price Joseph Smith -History 1:1-20 Published by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints
Debate Round No. 1
jat93

Pro

You have provided various stories in which people have prayed to God in times of need and gotten what they asked for. In your examples, it seems God's response to the prayers was always "yes." But it's also interesting that if prayer does work, and God listens, many times his answer seems to be "no." And so if one wishes to contend that despite this God does still listen, the answer as to why God said no is either that he has answered the prayer but in a way we don't understand, that sometimes the answer is no, or that God will ultimately answer the prayer but we have to wait for it. The following is a story/explanation I found that sums up the usual religious response to prayer's theological difficulties quite well -

"There's a story of a man who was at his house when heavy rains poured down, the river crested, and the town flooded. As he stood on his front porch, the neighborhood completely under water, two men came by in a rowboat. "Can we take you to safety?" one called out.

The man shook his head. "No, thank you. I have faith in the Lord and He will save me."

A little later, the waters had risen and the man was on the roof of his porch when several folks happened along in a motorboat. "Say, there, would you like to come with us?" one of them called.

"No, thank you," the man replied. "I have faith in the Lord, and He will save me."

The waters continued to rise with alarming speed, and the man soon found himself on the roof of his house. A helicopter came by and hovered overhead as the pilot broadcasted, "Let me drop a line and get you out of there."

"No, thank you," the man called back. "I have faith in the Lord, and He will save me."

The man perished in the flood and went to Heaven, where he was met at the Pearly Gates by Saint Peter. Extremely saddened and upset, the man requested to talk to God. His request was granted.

"Heavenly Father," the man cried, "I had faith in you to save me from the flood, and you didn't come through for me!"

Astonished, God replied, "What are you talking about? I sent you two boats and a helicopter!"

There's a lot of wisdom in that tale.

Many folks are of the mind that if they want something, all they need do is pray for it. And that's ALL they do, just pray. They pray for a better job to come along. They pray for more money. They pray for a mate. Then they sit back, put their feet up, and do absolutely nothing. After all, God will provide for them if they pray hard enough and long enough.

Now, I may be as far from a religious expert as you can get, but I don't think it works that way! Rewards come as a result of hard work, and of striving for a specific goal. Just the desire to succeed isn't enough, nor is dreaming. And nor is prayer alone. Prayer is supposed to be for guidance and a helping hand from God when the road gets rough or things don't look promising. It is not meant as a substitute for applying yourself. The Lord helps those who help themselves.

I recently read that God provides food for every baby bird, but He doesn't toss it into the nest. How true these words are. The world is rich with everything your heart desires, and every resource you need to survive. But you have to go out and look for them yourself. If it's a better job or more money you want, you need to work towards it. If everything is handed to you, you truly will not appreciate what you have. Humans are funny that way. We take things that come too easily to us for granted.

Daily, God gives us signs and shows us the way. The problem is, in this media-crazed society of ours, most of us don't notice the signs unless we're hit over the head with them. A sign is meaningless unless you know it's there. Guardian angels surround us at all times, helping to do God's work by indicating which path to take. You have to be aware of them, with your eyes and ears and heart. Sometimes the most obvious things aren't obvious." [1]

Now, in this case, the answer was yes - God did answer the prayer but not in the way the man wanted/expected.

A thinking person should realize that this can be said of absolutely anything, and not just God. This logic is presented wonderfully in the video "The best optical illusion in the world!" [2]

Say hypothetically that someone decides to pray to a jug of milk for 1000 dollars. Like the case of praying to God, one of three things will happen.

A check for 1000 dollars could arrive at your front door tomorrow – Look, an unexpected tax refund from the IRS! In this case, the jug of milk has answered your prayer, though in a mysterious way.

Seven weeks later, you could get a raise in your job that gives you an extra 1000 per year – In this case, jug of milk has answered your prayer. All you had to do was be patient.

Or, absolutely nothing happens. You would then ask me why, and I would tell you that we just have to trust the jug of milk. The jug of milk knows best.

Will you get down on your knees and worship the jug of milk? You probably would not. Why? You probably would not because you know that the jug of milk didn't do anything. The jug of milk didn't cause you to get any money in the mail and it definitely didn't cause you to get a raise. You would know that the jug of milk did nothing, and that anything that did happen was a coincidence.

Apply this logic to the extreme case of a cancer patient (not to get wrapped up in the "problem of evil") - The patient has terminal cancer. He prays to God and either - the patient makes a speedy recovery. God indirectly (as in he didn't come down from heaven and appear to him personally) answered the prayer. Or, the patient undergoes treatment for a long time and is eventually healed. God answered the prayer and all we had to do was wait. Or, the patient dies. In that case, God said no and because of our limited human understanding we just can't understand his answers to prayer, but we have to trust him that he knows best.

Or apply it to one of your personal cases - take your grandfather's paycheck. He lost it, prayed to God and found it - God "answered" the prayer. But what if things had worked out differently? If he had eventually found it a while later, you would have said that God did answer the prayer too, and you just had to wait a little. And what if he had lost the paycheck, never to see it again? Would you conclude that therefore God doesn't listen to/answer prayers? No - you'd say that God is listening and you know with absolute certainty that he does but his answer was no and we're only human so we can't understand his reason for rejecting the prayer. You should understand that the VERY same results that God seemingly provides would be possible with the jug of milk. Or a tree stump. Or a football. Etc.

And this applies for every single one of your examples where "God said yes" as well.

So, as we have established, according to your view God sometimes says no to prayer. There is a very popular and strong question that can be raised against this view.

Why won't God heal amputees? [3]

This question is important, because it deals with the impossible - and it cannot be merely coincedental. When a person is diagnosed with terminal cancer, there is always a chance, no matter how slim it may be, that they will recover. When a person is born without a limb, there is a 0% chance that that limb will regenerate. What does God have against amputees? Theists say that sometimes God's answers to prayers is "no." For the amputee, for some reason, God's answer is always "no." There has not been a single recorded case of a regenerated limb. Why not? Does God not want to heal them?

Simple logic proves that there is no valid reason to believe that God actually answers human prayer.
Strikeeagle84015

Con

I would like to thank my opponent for this entertaining and highly thought provoking debate.
Now it seems my opponent's argument can be divided into three sections

1.The story of the man and the flood
Establishing that sometimes you have to work for what you want in order for the Lord to help you with a prayer
2.The Milk Jug
In this contention Pro maintains that every single prayer answered is coincidence and links to this video

Pro says that this refutes every single example I gave
3. Why Won't God heal amputees question
Pretty Self explanatory Pro asks "why won't God heal amputees?"

Now the only contention that Pro gives that seems to directly clash with my position is 2. No other contention given directly contradicts what I have said. 1, I am not sure what he was trying to establish with that and it seems he was just trying to lead into argument 2. As for 3 it is completely irrelevant if I can show that God has answered a prayer to him, the question is interesting but doesn't matter if I can provide an example that God has validly answered a prayer.

1.Again, I am unclear what point Pro was trying to make with this contention as I accept that yes sometimes you do have to do your part in order to get what you want from prayer and God, he often does not just hand us things on a silver platter. i.e. In "My grandfather's paycheck" I don't think that if my grandfather had not looked throughly throughout the house for the paycheck before praying he would've found it.

2.I am going to save the best for last

3. As I proved before this was completely irrelevant

2. Back so soon wow,
So "My Sister" so even though every single doctor and nurse and medical professional said that my sister would die she still made it, jat93 says it was just purely coincidental. Fine, that could work as an explanation, Doctors aren't perfect and infallible, they are not God so okay let's say that one was coincidence.
"My Grandfather's Paycheck" okay so this one Pro again dismisses as coincidence. So even though my Grandfather would not have looked in a million years under that particular rock (they had dozens of them in their garden) and he just happened to find it right after he prayed, it was all just coincidence, just like the last one.
"My Friend" Even though I had did not put in the slightest what I was going to and I just happened to say what turned out to be the right thing my opponent contends, it doesn't matter how much evidence you present it is all just coincidence.

Now my opponent said.
"The patient has terminal cancer. He prays to God and either - the patient makes a speedy recovery. God indirectly (as in he didn't come down from heaven and appear to him personally)"
This leads me to my final example "The First Vision", I would like it to be noted that Pro has raised no contention as to the validity or truthfulness of this when he had the chance, and as such accepts it happened.
Now in this instance God did personally come down and answer this young man's question. I mean this with no disrespect but if you honestly believe that God the Father and the Son both just happen to appear to the person praying to them for guidance, and they directly answer the question the person of prayer is asking, again no disrespect but you must be daft (or an O.J. Simpson trial juror :-) ). So in conclusion I have provided an example where a prayer to God has yielded results and God has answered the prayer. This establishes the precedent the God answers prayers. Which follows that there is a valid reason to believe God answers prayers.

Just as a last parting gift these sources link to scientific studies that prayer works.
http://www.secularhumanism.org...
http://www.proofgodexists.org...
http://1stholistic.com...

I thank jat93 for this debate and hope this has been enlightening. Vote Con
Debate Round No. 2
11 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 10 records.
Posted by jat93 4 years ago
jat93
lol, how can you possible do that? seriously, even if i wanted to argue "con" for this, i wouldn't be able to. but maybe that's my fault...
Posted by tvellalott 4 years ago
tvellalott
I'd like to debate this from the Con side. Same exact wording of the resolution. Someone please challenge me.
Posted by RoyLatham 4 years ago
RoyLatham
jat93, Well, I guess you were hoping that your opponent wouldn't offer anything but anecdotes. That worked, and I scored the win for you. But that led to a much less interesting debate. Proving the resolution untrue works perfectly well to show it is not proven true.
Posted by jat93 4 years ago
jat93
roy - i guess i would have done all of that , if my argument was "there IS valid reason to believe that prayer to god yields no results" but it wasn't. if instead con had chosen to center his argument around the supposed statistical proofs of prayer as opposed to personal stories that can't be empirically proven, i'd have responded with the scientific evidence against it.. but the way i worded the resolution i pretty much just had to counter what he said.
Posted by jat93 4 years ago
jat93
i don't really get how the "first vision" example was any different than your other examples, in all seriousness. i certainly didn't accept the validity of that proof - i said "And this applies for every single one of your examples where "God said yes" as well." if valid means "well grounded in logic or truth or having legal force;" i don't know how that example carries any weight in the argument, aside from because you say it does, and there is still no VALID reason that you've provided to believe that prayer to god yields actual results. also, i don't know if you read the first of those "prayer proofs" articles you posted, but i don't even have to click it to know that it probably attempts to do the opposite - it's a secular humanist website. secular humanism totally rejects religion.
Posted by RoyLatham 4 years ago
RoyLatham
I think this debate should have focused on the scientific evidence, but Pro never cited any experimental data, and Con didn't introduce evidence until the final argument. New evidence in the final round must be discounted in a debate, because the opponent cannot refute it. Of the three references presented by Con, the first actually found prayer to be statistically insignificant, the second was a blank page (at least when I referenced it), and the third was not a scientific study. The third one gave no indications of controls, statistical significance, or the full results of all tests. It appears as if only results supporting prayer were included.

Other studies have been done. After one study of prayer effects squeaked by with a barely statistically significant result, a much large study was performed scientifically, and prayer was found to not have any effect. Separately, someone studied the health of the British Royal Family. The health of the Royals has been systematically prayed for in the Anglican Church for long time. The Royals were found to have no better health than expected. Pro should have dug up these studies and presented them early in the debate.

Con's anecdotal evidence shows confirmation bias. Only confirming cases are reported, and disconfirming evidence is ignored. The way the resolution is worded, Con had to produce good evidence that prayer worked. He did not do so, so arguments go to Pro. Note that religious people sometimes defend with an argument that God knows when experiments are being done, and chooses to have the experiments come out showing prayer has no effect. That might be to keep it a matter of faith.
Posted by Strikeeagle84015 4 years ago
Strikeeagle84015
okay that is cool with me
Posted by jat93 4 years ago
jat93
woah, my sources disappeared. i'm going to find them and re-post them here, at least.
Posted by Strikeeagle84015 4 years ago
Strikeeagle84015
So your not upset that I took this debate to?
Posted by jat93 4 years ago
jat93
haha hey not gonna lie, enjoyed last debate
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