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Prayer vs. God's Plan

muslimnomore
Posts: 369
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11/26/2013 8:15:42 PM
Posted: 3 years ago
Think about this hypothetical situation:

God created the world with a plan in mind. He want to create moral agents with free will. His plan was perfect. All the evil and suffering of this world was a small price to pay for the execution of this perfect, wonderful, impeccable plan.

Then one day little Ricky Bobby prayed to God to make him the best NASCAR driver the world has ever seen. To make Ricky Bobby a champion NASCAR driver was:
a) part of God's original and perfect plan
b) not part of God's original and perfect plan

The possible outcomes are as follows:
(a) Ricky Bobby's prayer was 'answered', because it was all part of the master plan.
(b) Ricky Bobby's prayer was not answered because it would mess up God's perfect plan.

The question that arises is: why pray?
philochristos
Posts: 2,614
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11/26/2013 8:27:34 PM
Posted: 3 years ago
That's a great question. I heard an answer one time from a Calvinist who believed that absolutely everything that happens is part of God's plan, which raised the question of why we should pray. Presumably, if God plans X to occur, then X is going to occur whether we pray for X or not. So why pray for it?

His answer was that even our prayers are part of God's plan. Imagine, for the sake of argument, that all events are causally determined by events immediately prior. In that case, every moment affects every moment that comes after. With that being the case, no event is superfluous since it is part of the whole deterministic causal chain.

Now, if God's plans are such that he is like a pool player and gets everything started in such a way that the outcome falls out inevitably according to his plan, then that would include our prayers. Say, for instance, that God intends for X to happen, but not only for X to happen but for him to cause X to happen in answer to somebody's prayer about X, which God also intends to happen. In that case, the prayer is part of the causal chain and has everything to do with why X happened.

The point being that it's a false dichotomy to say that either X happened because we prayed for it, or X happened because God planned from the beginning for it to happen. It could be both.

And we see an example of this sort of thing in Isaiah 37:15-20. In verses 15-20, Hezekiah prays that God will deliver him from the Assyrians.

Then, in 21-22, the prophet Amoz delivers a message to Amoz from God, saying, "Because you have prayed to Me about Sennacherib king of Assyria, this is the word that the Lord has spoken against him..."

Then, in verses 22-35, it explains what God is going to do to Assyria as a result of Hezekiah's prayer.

But then look what it says in verse 26: "Have you not heard? Long ago I did it. From ancient times I planned it."

So, all these things God was going to do to Assyria, he had planned long before Hezekiah prayed. Yet, it says in verse 21 that he did those things because Hezekiah prayed. So apparently, the prayer was planned as well.

Here is a copy of the sermon I heard this in, by the way:

http://www.sermonaudio.com...
"Not to know of what things one should demand demonstration, and of what one should not, argues want of education." ~Aristotle

"It is the mark of an educated mind to be able to entertain a thought without accepting it." ~Aristotle
muslimnomore
Posts: 369
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11/26/2013 8:35:21 PM
Posted: 3 years ago
At 11/26/2013 8:27:34 PM, philochristos wrote:
That's a great question.

I am an atheist and I think that is actually a good answer and a satisfactory one. Though I am sure many would disagree with me here.
Anyway, I forgot to post this video in my original post (just to give credit where credit is due).
http://youtu.be...
bulproof
Posts: 25,308
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11/26/2013 9:02:07 PM
Posted: 3 years ago
At 11/26/2013 8:27:34 PM, philochristos wrote:
That's a great question. I heard an answer one time from a Calvinist who believed that absolutely everything that happens is part of God's plan, which raised the question of why we should pray. Presumably, if God plans X to occur, then X is going to occur whether we pray for X or not. So why pray for it?

His answer was that even our prayers are part of God's plan. Imagine, for the sake of argument, that all events are causally determined by events immediately prior. In that case, every moment affects every moment that comes after. With that being the case, no event is superfluous since it is part of the whole deterministic causal chain.

Now, if God's plans are such that he is like a pool player and gets everything started in such a way that the outcome falls out inevitably according to his plan, then that would include our prayers. Say, for instance, that God intends for X to happen, but not only for X to happen but for him to cause X to happen in answer to somebody's prayer about X, which God also intends to happen. In that case, the prayer is part of the causal chain and has everything to do with why X happened.

The point being that it's a false dichotomy to say that either X happened because we prayed for it, or X happened because God planned from the beginning for it to happen. It could be both.

And we see an example of this sort of thing in Isaiah 37:15-20. In verses 15-20, Hezekiah prays that God will deliver him from the Assyrians.

Then, in 21-22, the prophet Amoz delivers a message to Amoz from God, saying, "Because you have prayed to Me about Sennacherib king of Assyria, this is the word that the Lord has spoken against him..."

Then, in verses 22-35, it explains what God is going to do to Assyria as a result of Hezekiah's prayer.

But then look what it says in verse 26: "Have you not heard? Long ago I did it. From ancient times I planned it."

So, all these things God was going to do to Assyria, he had planned long before Hezekiah prayed. Yet, it says in verse 21 that he did those things because Hezekiah prayed. So apparently, the prayer was planned as well.

Here is a copy of the sermon I heard this in, by the way:

http://www.sermonaudio.com...

Whence free will?
iamanatheistandthisiswhy
Posts: 720
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11/26/2013 9:09:41 PM
Posted: 3 years ago
At 11/26/2013 8:15:42 PM, muslimnomore wrote:
Think about this hypothetical situation:

God created the world with a plan in mind. He want to create moral agents with free will. His plan was perfect. All the evil and suffering of this world was a small price to pay for the execution of this perfect, wonderful, impeccable plan.

Then one day little Ricky Bobby prayed to God to make him the best NASCAR driver the world has ever seen. To make Ricky Bobby a champion NASCAR driver was:
a) part of God's original and perfect plan
b) not part of God's original and perfect plan

The possible outcomes are as follows:
(a) Ricky Bobby's prayer was 'answered', because it was all part of the master plan.
(b) Ricky Bobby's prayer was not answered because it would mess up God's perfect plan.

The question that arises is: why pray?

The answer is simple to me: So that you can feel good about your ridiculous beliefs. After all it makes you feel as if you are contributing something real (imaginary) to your real god (imaginary).
philochristos
Posts: 2,614
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11/26/2013 9:15:22 PM
Posted: 3 years ago
At 11/26/2013 9:02:07 PM, bulproof wrote:

Whence free will?

Calvinists don't typically subscribe to the libertarian notion of free will. We subscribe to compatibilism, which is a kind of determinism.
"Not to know of what things one should demand demonstration, and of what one should not, argues want of education." ~Aristotle

"It is the mark of an educated mind to be able to entertain a thought without accepting it." ~Aristotle
bulproof
Posts: 25,308
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11/26/2013 9:51:14 PM
Posted: 3 years ago
At 11/26/2013 9:15:22 PM, philochristos wrote:
At 11/26/2013 9:02:07 PM, bulproof wrote:

Whence free will?

Calvinists don't typically subscribe to the libertarian notion of free will. We subscribe to compatibilism, which is a kind of determinism.

In short, nowhere!