Jump to content


What's with the ads?

Photo
- - - - -

Praying for somebody?


143 replies to this topic

What's with the ads?

#101 Carol in Cal.

Carol in Cal.

    Qualified Bee Keeper

  • Members
  • PipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 16832 posts

Posted 17 August 2017 - 11:21 AM

 

 

 

If by participation you mean prayer, I don't understand this. Why is it a privilege to participate in something that has no guaranteed outcome?

 

Because God is so awesome, so much bigger and wiser and broader in scope that we are.  Yet we are granted the privilege to be able to approach Him directly.  Kind of like being granted a permanent audience with royalty, but way better.


  • LarlaB, marbel, MercyA and 1 other like this

#102 Catwoman

Catwoman

    Beekeeping Professor

  • Members
  • PipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 29619 posts

Posted 17 August 2017 - 11:25 AM

And what about horrible things happening that are not caused by humans?
My cousin died a slow, torturous, horrible death from ALS. The disease robbed her of her ability to execute her free will, and she watched herself lose all her faculties while retaining a clear mind. I can hardly imagine anything worse.
An entity that inflicts such a curse on a human cannot be well meaning and all powerful at the same time.


I'm so sorry about your cousin. :( My uncle passed away from ALS, and it was just as you described. He put on such a brave face but I can't even imagine how horrible it must have been for him to go from being so strong and active to just wasting away, and it was awful for his loved ones to watch him decline and suffer and not be able to do anything about it.

#103 EKS

EKS

    Qualified Bee Keeper

  • Members
  • PipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 14308 posts

Posted 17 August 2017 - 11:29 AM

Have you seen this?  http://www.nytimes.c...ay.html?mcubz=0



#104 Carol in Cal.

Carol in Cal.

    Qualified Bee Keeper

  • Members
  • PipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 16832 posts

Posted 17 August 2017 - 11:36 AM

I'm so sorry about your relative with ALS, Regentrude.  That must have been horrible.

 

I don't see God as causing that on any level.  I see Him as mourning it alongside of us.  After all, Jesus wept with grief when Lazurus died.  Then He raised him from the dead.



#105 MBM

MBM

    Hive Mind Queen Bee

  • Members
  • PipPipPip
  • 3593 posts

Posted 17 August 2017 - 11:54 AM

CS Lewis has written about suffering in his book The Problem of Pain. Other have, too, but his book helped me the most of the ones I've read.


Edited by MBM, 17 August 2017 - 11:59 AM.

  • LarlaB and maize like this

#106 MommyLiberty5013

MommyLiberty5013

    Don't Let the Lipstick Fool You

  • Members
  • PipPip
  • 615 posts

Posted 17 August 2017 - 12:35 PM

To a person who is questioning faith, the Book of Job is horrifying. Job is used as a pawn in a power game between God and Satan. I do not wish to believe in such a cruel god.
 

I can understand this point very well. From a personal perspective, in my senior year of college, I was in the pits of despair - let's just say that suicide was on the table. None of my friends knew this. But they did know that I was new in my faith (I always believed, but never took a relationship with Jesus on for myself until Junior year of college). Without knowing my struggles, my roommate recommended that I read Job. I devoured it one night in about 2 hours. A lot of it I was like, "Huh?"

 

But it framed for me one thing: my position of thinking God and Satan were two equals in a cosmic battle with us little humans caught in the middle was incorrect. I had this idea of human whack-a-mole. God would raise us up only to have Satan mash us down and on and on and on. I perceived God and Satan like I pictured the Yin and Yang symbol - two equal but different and opposing forces of good and evil.

 

It is true, God is good and Satan is evil. But, it was here that I realized they aren't equals. Satan, in fact, is a created being who was made by God. As are the demons. They are lesser. Satan and the demons are simply fallen angels who rejected God's authority and wanted to go their own, defiant way. God, being a God of free will, said "fine" and cast them out of Heaven to the earth. But He put them on a leash...their time is limited (in a PP here I discussed the end when the Jews return to their Promised Land and Satan and his lot are finally cast into outer darkness). On this leash they are also limited in what they can do, when, where and to whom. For this reason, the Book of Job is the authoritative book of Scripture on spiritual warfare. Satan could do nothing to Job unless God approved it. Satan's whole goal was to get Job so upset that He denied God. Though Job struggled, he never did that. At the end, God redeemed everything in Job's life. WHY did the family have to die? That is tough isn't it? I do not honestly know. The picture I see here, is a triumph. It also shows the reality that Satan has a leash. It demonstrates that when we cling to God, though a lot of loss can occur and pain too, He does redeem us - sometimes He redeems us in this life and eternally. Sometimes He only redeems us eternally and we do suffer still in this life.

 

Scripture also says that, "Our struggle is not against flesh and blood [people], but against the rulers, against the authorities, and against the powers of this dark world [Satan's current domain], and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms [not Heaven, but basically the unseen places unknown to humans]." Ephesians 6:12. Emphasis, mine. The concept is that dark ideologies - espousing hatred (we recently know a few from current events), dark physical places (have you ever physically felt a scary oppression over a location or home?), and even some diseases and illnesses likely have an evil spiritual element to them. Some of the latter are just failing biology as age sets in. Others are spiritual.

 

To tie this back to prayer - to pray is to go to spiritual battle against evil. - We pray against hatred. We pray over places. We pray over people with disease and illness. This is giving a covering of GOOD.

 

There are verses from Daniel 10, which say, "Then he said to me, 'Do not be afraid, Daniel...your words were heard, and I have come in response to your words. But the Prince of the Kingdom of Persia was withstanding me for 21 days, then behold, Michael, one of the chief princes came to help me..." A being comes to Daniel in response to Daniel's cry for help (prayer). But this being explains, I would have been here sooner, but I was detained in battle with the Prince of Persia (typically means an evil entity that had a stronghold over Persia). Michael, another angel comes to battle too and the angel with Daniel can finally come.

 

I can probably go on and on. In short, Prayer is battle too. It is the primary weapon, we as Believers have, to shine lights into the darkness.

 

 

 

 


  • RegGuheert and MercyA like this

#107 MommyLiberty5013

MommyLiberty5013

    Don't Let the Lipstick Fool You

  • Members
  • PipPip
  • 615 posts

Posted 17 August 2017 - 12:49 PM

And what about horrible things happening that are not caused by humans?

My cousin died a slow, torturous, horrible death from ALS. The disease robbed her of her ability to execute her free will, and she watched herself lose all her faculties while retaining a clear mind. I can hardly imagine anything worse.

An entity that inflicts such a curse on a human cannot be well meaning and all powerful at the same time.

I would kindly point out that without the Resurrection of Jesus and the after life, in your world view, you may render the whole dilemma of omnipotent and at the same time, benevolent, moot anyways.

 

The Resurrection and the afterlife with Jesus in Heaven are the primary good demonstrations of God's GOOD character, good nature, and righteousness as the perfect father and judge. By cutting out the Resurrection and eternal life in Heaven with Him, you systematically dismantle God's primary goal for us humans, which is to be WITH us (He loves His creation) forever.

 

​Therefore all that remains is a confusion with a seemingly unanswerable question.

 

Add back the possibility of Jesus' Resurrection and the afterlife and a lot more makes sense about the nature and character of God. Without these two important points, the entire Bible falls apart as really, it is the story of God's redemption of the world, in the face of an evil foe, through a Chosen People.



#108 regentrude

regentrude

    Qualified Bee Keeper

  • Members
  • PipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 26005 posts

Posted 17 August 2017 - 01:04 PM

Thank you for taking the time to type such a long response. It is very interesting to read your perspective. 

 

In my view God created everything, including me, to accomplish his purpose – not for my purpose.  Since he created me, I belong to him.  I'm beholden to him. I’m his servant. He can do anything he likes to me, including deciding my time on Earth is at an end and remove me at any time. 

 

That is a very depressing view.

 

While God demonstrated his omnipotence through creation, he also demonstrated his benevolence in his gift of free will to his imagers – humans. 

 

How does free will agree with the paragraph in the first quote? If God can do whatever he likes, I do not have free will.

 

What totally amazes me when I hear questions like this, is the total disregard for the fact that we live in a Fallen world caused by our own free will through the temptation of evil. It’s not the ideal that God first created.  His love, desire for a human family, and gift of free will came at a price--one that he pointed out at the very first when he told Adam and Eve not to eat of the fruit of the tree of good and evil or they would surely die. Our punishment was the loss of immortality and living in a cursed world. So yes, in a cursed world there are going to be diseases, wars, mass destruction, murders, depravity, natural disasters, and deaths for both the Christian and the unbeliever. God is no respecter of persons in that regard. However, out of benevolence and love, through his omniscience he planned in advance for our eventual disobedience. He planned for a way to save us through his own monumental sacrifice. Again, we were given a choice – accept his gift or not.  There would be no third opportunity.

 

There are consequences for rebellion. God can’t be held responsible for our choice to constantly rebel and disregard his laws.  When you disregard the laws of our government, you are punished accordingly. Would you abolish this for your own personal gain?  When your children misbehave, they are, I assume, punished in some fashion in an effort to correct that behavior.  Is God, as our creator, any less of a parent to his children?

 

When my children misbehave, I do not impose cruel arbitrary punishment - I prefer natural consequences. I also would not punish one child for something a sibling did. If I disobey the law, I hope in a just society my family is not punished for my transgressions (that would have been the case in the totalitarian regime I grew up under.)

 

I have never understood the concept of original sin. If every human carries this from birth and has to be punished for it, the creation is faulty. If humans are punished for the sins of their forefathers, the system is arbitrary.

 

 


Another thing you may contemplate….Is death the final frontier?  We are all appointed to die at some point. It's inevitable regardless of age. Is it the worst that could happen? For a Christian, the answer should be no. In some ways, death, regardless of the method, would be relief from suffering and joy to be entering into Heaven with our Lord. It’s all a matter of perspective.

 

Thanks for bringing up this point; I was going to raise it, too.

Death is certainly not the worst thing to happen; there are far worse things over which death would be preferable - even for an atheist.

But my question is: if heaven is such a great and joyful place, why do Christians seek to prolong their life on Earth? Why undergo painful medical treatments, if death means just a short while of separation from  the loved ones before joining them in eternal joy? Shouldn't Christians be eager to depart this life sooner rather than later, if heaven is such a wonderful place?

 

Thanks again for taking the time to compose such a thoughtful response. I found it very interesting.


Edited by regentrude, 17 August 2017 - 01:05 PM.

  • Frances and fraidycat like this

#109 RegGuheert

RegGuheert

    Hive Mind Queen Bee

  • Members
  • PipPipPip
  • 3575 posts

Posted 17 August 2017 - 01:31 PM

If God can do whatever he likes, I do not have free will.

That statement is a non sequitur fallacy.  Just because God has free will and he can do whatever he likes it does not follow that you do not have free will.  You can choose to think whatever you like and to try to do whatever you want.  Of course you may not always succeed, since others (including God) have free will, as well.  There are also physical laws with which we all must contend.


  • MercyA likes this

#110 regentrude

regentrude

    Qualified Bee Keeper

  • Members
  • PipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 26005 posts

Posted 17 August 2017 - 01:36 PM

That statement is a non sequitur fallacy.  Just because God has free will and he can do whatever he likes it does not follow that you do not have free will.  You can choose to think whatever you like and to try to do whatever you want.  Of course you may not always succeed, since others (including God) have free will, as well.  There are also physical laws with which we all must contend.

 

I should have included the words "to me", as in the phrase to which I was responding. If God can do whatever he likes to me, then no, I do not have free will.

A kidnapping victim to whom her captor can do whatever he likes does not have free will. Or if we want to split hairs she can have "will", but has no agency - her theoretical free will does not do her any good.


Edited by regentrude, 17 August 2017 - 01:38 PM.

  • fraidycat, Sadie and Pawz4me like this

#111 RegGuheert

RegGuheert

    Hive Mind Queen Bee

  • Members
  • PipPipPip
  • 3575 posts

Posted 17 August 2017 - 01:40 PM

I should have included the words "to me", as in the phrase to which I was responding. If God can do whatever he likes to me, then no, I do not have free will.

A kidnapping victim to whom her captor can do whatever he likes does not have free will.

So you think a running back does not have free will because the linebacker tackled him while he tried to execute his plan to run to the goal line?  Nonsense.  That just means that the linebacker is not omnipotent, NOT that he does not have free will.
 


Edited by RegGuheert, 17 August 2017 - 01:41 PM.


#112 Pawz4me

Pawz4me

    Hive Mind Level 6 Worker: Scout Bee

  • Members
  • PipPipPipPipPip
  • 9621 posts

Posted 17 August 2017 - 02:02 PM

So you think a running back does not have free will because the linebacker tackled him while he tried to execute his plan to run to the goal line?  Nonsense.  That just means that the linebacker is not omnipotent, NOT that he does not have free will.
 

 

That analogy doesn't work for me at all. Both players start from an equal place of power and authority. Such is not the case of God (if you believe) and man. Nor is it the case in the analogy Regentrude gave, where a kidnapper would have more "power" than the victim. Hers is the much better analogy IMO.


  • mamaraby, bibiche, fraidycat and 1 other like this

#113 regentrude

regentrude

    Qualified Bee Keeper

  • Members
  • PipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 26005 posts

Posted 17 August 2017 - 02:06 PM

So you think a running back does not have free will because the linebacker tackled him while he tried to execute his plan to run to the goal line?  Nonsense.  That just means that the linebacker is not omnipotent, NOT that he does not have free will.

 

The analogy does not apply because the linebacker cannot do to the running back whatever he wants. They engage in a very specific, limited situation that is governed by rules (which I neither pretend nor care to understand).


Edited by regentrude, 17 August 2017 - 02:06 PM.

  • mamaraby, bibiche, fraidycat and 1 other like this

#114 RegGuheert

RegGuheert

    Hive Mind Queen Bee

  • Members
  • PipPipPip
  • 3575 posts

Posted 17 August 2017 - 02:27 PM

The analogy does not apply because the linebacker cannot do to the running back whatever he wants. They engage in a very specific, limited situation that is governed by rules (which I neither pretend nor care to understand).

Again, this is a non sequitur fallacy.  Even if the linebacker could do whatever he wants in terms of controlling the running back, that does NOT mean that he would exercise his will in such a way to as to restrict the running back.  In fact, the linebacker could choose to give the running back complete freedom to do as he pleases.
 



#115 WoolC

WoolC

    Hive Mind Level 3 Worker: Honeymaking Bee

  • Members
  • Pip
  • 196 posts

Posted 17 August 2017 - 02:32 PM

As I hope I stated clearly earlier, I am not looking to "poke holes into people's faith", but trying to understand how believers think about prayer: why they pray, what they think it does exactly, how they reconcile it with the slim likelihood of receiving the desired outcome.
I have received several thoughful responses where people took time to explain how they think about prayer and how they wrestle with the problems that arise, and I appreciate that.

As I also said, I do not believe in eternity and do not believe in Jesus as the literal son of God, but from decades of being a Christian I am familiar with the concepts.


I haven't read through the entire thread yet so someone may have mentioned this already, but in Orthodox Christianity there is an idea that prayer is like sending arrows into your own heart. The words that I pray I'm trying to internalize and live out. In his book, Beginning to Pray, Anthony Bloom challenges Christians to pick even just one or two phrases from their morning prayers and try to earnestly live them out in that day. An example from my morning prayers would be the phrase, "O Lord, grant me to greet the coming of the day in peace, help me in all things to rely upon your holy will." On a grumpy morning when my kids are bouncing off the walls it's a lot easier to keep my cool and parent gently when I keep repeating this phrase and try to live up to it. So while my prayers are absolutely about worshipping God and taking time to recognize Him throughout the day, it is also about shaping me into His image, which is my goal.

Concerning intercessory prayer, I also think this has a kind of benefit for the one who prays. I pray for my MIL daily though we have a strained relationship and it helps me to love her despite the current circumstances at play. I believe God does answer intercessory prayer, but certainly not always in the way we would want, or in our timing. I think that is an entirely different question though, as others have said, about the problem of pain, evil and free will.
  • Patty Joanna, teachaheart, regentrude and 1 other like this

#116 MommyLiberty5013

MommyLiberty5013

    Don't Let the Lipstick Fool You

  • Members
  • PipPip
  • 615 posts

Posted 17 August 2017 - 02:40 PM

I should have included the words "to me", as in the phrase to which I was responding. If God can do whatever he likes to me, then no, I do not have free will.

A kidnapping victim to whom her captor can do whatever he likes does not have free will. Or if we want to split hairs she can have "will", but has no agency - her theoretical free will does not do her any good.

A kidnapper/victim scenario makes sense in a human-to-human context. One person's free will usurps someone else's. We see this as parents too as we relate to our children - they too have free will, but it is often usurped by our own. Often the kidnapper or parent's will is due to their own human selfishness - the kidnapper's for money/ransom and/or for some heinous act. The parent's need for control, or maybe not wanting to go or do what the child wants. Kidnappers always use their free will for evil. Parents mostly use their free will for good. And some parents, also use their free will for evil (if they are cruddy, horrid parents).

 

I trust that God always uses His free will for good, though we may never see the outcome. We often try and take a human lens and set of understandings and apply them to a bigger being. I am saying we should try to understand this being, but human attempts are often too feeble and limited by space and time. We may try all or lives to come to understand Him more, and still we may come up knowing very little. Is this cause to give up, though? Even the Apostles lamented how little they understood at the ends of their lives and these were men who walked beside Jesus.

 

There are a lot of mysteries in the physical world we have yet to unravel. Personally, DS4 had that seizure at the end of July. DH and I are astounded by how little is actually known about the human brain and its complexities. We are much further than we were decades ago, but there is much progress to be made. Imagine if doctors and researchers just gave up. The presence of mystery and the hidden should not be a deterrent to sticking on and learning more.

 

The more confusing God is, the better, IMHO. He leaves us in search and there is always hope that we would meet Him in new ways we never expected. I like that there is someone bigger than all that I see and hear.

 

Anyway, I appreciate your questions and thoughts. I am not sure if I am helping though.



#117 EmseB

EmseB

    Empress Bee

  • Members
  • PipPipPip
  • 3004 posts

Posted 17 August 2017 - 02:49 PM

I am a Christian that doesn't believe in free will as it's commonly described. I believe God is the sovereign author of creation, exists outside of my understanding of time and space. I have agency and in my finite mind make choices and do what I believe is my own will, but I don't believe anything exists outside of God's will, ultimately. The best way I've heard it described, as far as how I am about to go on with my life, is looking at the entire story of redemption through, and how I personally can live in light of that. The answer, is not, in my mind about denying the existence of an author because parts of the story are very dark.
  • VaKim likes this

#118 regentrude

regentrude

    Qualified Bee Keeper

  • Members
  • PipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 26005 posts

Posted 17 August 2017 - 02:51 PM

 in Orthodox Christianity there is an idea that prayer is like sending arrows into your own heart. The words that I pray I'm trying to internalize and live out. In his book, Beginning to Pray, Anthony Bloom challenges Christians to pick even just one or two phrases from their morning prayers and try to earnestly live them out in that day. An example from my morning prayers would be the phrase, "O Lord, grant me to greet the coming of the day in peace, help me in all things to rely upon your holy will." On a grumpy morning when my kids are bouncing off the walls it's a lot easier to keep my cool and parent gently when I keep repeating this phrase and try to live up to it. So while my prayers are absolutely about worshipping God and taking time to recognize Him throughout the day, it is also about shaping me into His image, which is my goal.

Concerning intercessory prayer, I also think this has a kind of benefit for the one who prays. I pray for my MIL daily though we have a strained relationship and it helps me to love her despite the current circumstances at play. 

 

oh, I completely agree with prayer benefitting to the praying person - be that one's own prayer, or intercessory prayer on behalf of another. This makes perfect sense to me and does not even require belief in a deity.


  • Frances, fraidycat, Sadie and 1 other like this

#119 Minniewannabe

Minniewannabe

    Hive Mind Level 6 Worker: Scout Bee

  • Members
  • PipPipPip
  • 2988 posts

Posted 17 August 2017 - 02:52 PM

For me it has been a no brainer. My life sucked before I accepted Jesus. My life skyrocketed into a better planet after I accepted. I have been fortunate in that I need no more explanation than that.

I do hope your own struggles and questions are resolved. I do know that when I have prayers that are not answered to MY satisfaction, God usually reveals why at some point down the road. And, I have always been thankful. Now I have learned to just pray that God's will be done. I know He's got this.
  • Carol in Cal., onelittlemonkey and MercyA like this

#120 regentrude

regentrude

    Qualified Bee Keeper

  • Members
  • PipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 26005 posts

Posted 17 August 2017 - 02:54 PM

There are a lot of mysteries in the physical world we have yet to unravel. Personally, DS4 had that seizure at the end of July. DH and I are astounded by how little is actually known about the human brain and its complexities. We are much further than we were decades ago, but there is much progress to be made. Imagine if doctors and researchers just gave up. The presence of mystery and the hidden should not be a deterrent to sticking on and learning more.

 

The more confusing God is, the better, IMHO. He leaves us in search and there is always hope that we would meet Him in new ways we never expected. I like that there is someone bigger than all that I see and hear.

 

I see a fundamental difference between the two.

As a scientist, the one thing I have to postulate is that humans have, in principle, the ability to know the natural world. Without this basic premise, science could not operate. We have to assume things are knowable and have rational explanations.

 

But God declares himself as principally unknowable, beyond human reasoning. That makes it  like a race with an ever moving goal post and the certainty that you will never arrive.


Edited by regentrude, 17 August 2017 - 02:58 PM.

  • bibiche, fraidycat, Sadie and 2 others like this

#121 RegGuheert

RegGuheert

    Hive Mind Queen Bee

  • Members
  • PipPipPip
  • 3575 posts

Posted 17 August 2017 - 03:06 PM

But God declares himself as principally unknowable, beyond human reasoning. That makes it  like a race with an ever moving goal post and the certainty that you will never arrive.

Dark matter and dark energy are, by definition, unseen, yet many in the scientific community believe that they exist because other beliefs they hold dear would fall apart without their existence.  Perhaps you believe in these things unseen?  Perhaps you even teach your students that they should believe in these unseen things, as well?  If so, do you stress to your students that belief in such things is like an ever-moving goal post given the belief is purely blind.



#122 regentrude

regentrude

    Qualified Bee Keeper

  • Members
  • PipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 26005 posts

Posted 17 August 2017 - 03:13 PM

Dark matter and dark energy are, by definition, unseen, yet many in the scientific community believe that they exist because other beliefs they hold dear would fall apart without their existence.  Perhaps you believe in these things unseen?  Perhaps you even teach your students that they should believe in these unseen things, as well?  If so, do you stress to your students that belief in such things is like an ever-moving goal post given the belief is purely blind.

 

This is a competely different issue. Dark matter and dark energy are called so because we presently do not have a way to see them; we can currently only infer their existence based on certain phenomena. But there is nothing about dark matter/enegery that would make it fundamentally unknowable or beyond human understanding. We approach dark matter from the premise that, in principle, this is something we can investigate. Just because we do not have knowledge at the present time does not mean we can never know.

 

In contrast, God is self proclaimed unknowable and beyond human understanding. Two completely different things.

 

ETA: since Theologians seem to make a distinction between unknowable and incomprehensible, maybe "unknowable" should better be "incomprehensible". See my later post a 3:45pm)

 

Btw, I do not teach my students to "believe" in unseen things. I teach them that, if we accept certain theories to describe a phenomenon (because they produce verifyable predictions), we can infer the existence of certain things we cannot directly observe. It may also be that the theory we use is faulty, and that through a different model we can describe and explain the world without those things.

There are lots of things we cannot see, but whose existence fits in the framework of our theories which in turn predict reproducible results. Nobody sees electric fields - but we understand them well enough through indirect observation to harness them for applications. We do not see gravitation; we conclude it exists based on observations that can be explained by its existence. And only very recently we observed gravitational waves for the first time - nobody had seen any, yet their existence had been inferred because they fit the theory.

 

Science has predictive power. Religion does not - as the discussion in this thread clearly highlights. It would behoove us not to mix the two.


Edited by regentrude, 17 August 2017 - 03:46 PM.

  • RegGuheert, bibiche, fraidycat and 1 other like this

#123 MommyLiberty5013

MommyLiberty5013

    Don't Let the Lipstick Fool You

  • Members
  • PipPip
  • 615 posts

Posted 17 August 2017 - 03:25 PM

I see a fundamental difference between the two.

As a scientist, the one thing I have to postulate is that humans have, in principle, the ability to know the natural world. Without this basic premise, science could not operate. We have to assume things are knowable and have rational explanations.

 

But God declares himself as principally unknowable, beyond human reasoning. That makes it  like a race with an ever moving goal post and the certainty that you will never arrive.

I agree 100% with your assessment about science and rational explanations.

 

I would define terms or clarify them for the remainder of your post.

 

Scripture does not define God as "unknowable." On the contrary, Scripture says things like, "They do not know Me." Or, "I do not know them," with God being the "Me" and "I." Or, there are phrases like, "Come to know the Lord." All the uses should have us conclude that He is knowable otherwise none of it makes sense grammatically or for faith.

 

Someone can still be knowable and be mysterious, quiet, seemingly distant, or even beyond human reasoning. Yes. It is true, some aspects of God are too big for the human mind to "get" some of which we discussed already like "free will" versus "predestination."

 

God does not and has not declared Himself as "unknowable." He is bigger than us in every way - more perfect, more loving, more creative. All of our good qualities (made in His image) are exponential in Him. But this vastness is not the same as not being known. 

 

Ultimately, and I know many do not share my perspective, God is a person. I approach Him like I do another person and spend time getting to know Him. On the matters over time, with which I have wrestled (and there have been some), I found that humans only can be so helpful in answering questions.

 

People often ask of another person, "What is s/he like?" I can do my flailing best to answer that question, but what a person is essentially asking is this, "What is it they are all about? What's their essence?" Well, the best answer would actually be for me to direct that person asking the question to meet the person for oneself with all one's preconceived notions striped away in order to give a fair assessment.

 

Some doubt always has a place in faith. Faith is not the absence of doubt, it is belief in spite of it. Doubt is not a reason to fear one can not know God either. He welcomed Thomas (whom we call Doubting Thomas) to reach out and touch His hands and His side. We are all welcome to do so too.  


  • MercyA likes this

#124 fraidycat

fraidycat

    Qualified Bee Keeper

  • Members
  • PipPipPipPipPip
  • 7513 posts

Posted 17 August 2017 - 03:44 PM

What totally amazes me when I hear questions like this, is the total disregard for the fact that we live in a Fallen world caused by our own free will through the temptation of evil. It’s not the ideal that God first created. His love, desire for a human family, and gift of free will came at a price--one that he pointed out at the very first when he told Adam and Eve not to eat of the fruit of the tree of good and evil or they would surely die. Our punishment was the loss of immortality and living in a cursed world. So yes, in a cursed world there are going to be diseases, wars, mass destruction, murders, depravity, natural disasters, and deaths for both the Christian and the unbeliever. God is no respecter of persons in that regard. However, out of benevolence and love, through his omniscience he planned in advance for our eventual disobedience. He planned for a way to save us through his own monumental sacrifice. Again, we were given a choice – accept his gift or not. There would be no third opportunity.

Let us also not forget, which many conveniently do, that God is not the only unseen entity in the picture. We are at war, and have been since the beginning, with the forces of evil. We can sit and discuss God and his perceived “failings” all day long, and yet, those who want to castigate a God they don’t believe in are silent about Satan. How does that work? I suggest that you can’t even begin a conversation about the antithetical notion of a benevolent God allowing such atrocious acts like the Holocaust without also discussing what role Satan has to play in the drama unfolding in the supernatural world. That is a discussion that usually produces the sounds of crickets in the audience. “Well,” they say, “we don’t believe in Satan.” Then you shouldn’t be discussing God either. You either believe in the supernatural or you don’t. You can’t understand what is good unless you have bad to contrast with it. Similarly you can’t have God without Satan and evil.

There are consequences for rebellion. God can’t be held responsible for our choice to constantly rebel and disregard his laws. When you disregard the laws of our government, you are punished accordingly. Would you abolish this for your own personal gain? When your children misbehave, they are, I assume, punished in some fashion in an effort to correct that behavior. Is God, as our creator, any less of a parent to his children?

Another thing you may contemplate….Is death the final frontier? We are all appointed to die at some point. It's inevitable regardless of age. Is it the worst that could happen? For a Christian, the answer should be no. In some ways, death, regardless of the method, would be relief from suffering and joy to be entering into Heaven with our Lord. It’s all a matter of perspective.

Prayer is a form of communication with God–not just “asking” for things. We pray to thank God, praise Him, and sometimes just to talk and feel close to Him as a form of comfort. Does this mean he doesn’t already know what we are going to say? No, but according to scripture, he wants the fellowship, as illustrated throughout the Bible. Prayer is much more than what it is made out to be.

If, as you say, you are serious about wanting to gain insight into such a huge topic and to properly understand the role of prayer in our lives, you need to have a proper understanding of God’s plan for his creation, Satan’s opposition to God’s plan, and our role within the scope of both. To that end, I suggest you read Unseen Realm by Dr. Michael Heiser. It would be quite the eye-opener. I’m sure there are other authors out there that can address prayer more directly, but I’m not familiar with all of them and, to be honest, I find a lot of them filled with “fluffy, feel good” information rather than the real meat behind the meaning of prayer. As my DD says, “Heiser is the meat that I want.” Other articles that may be of interest:
· Imprecatory prayers
· God and Disaster
· Miracles and Unbelief

It shouldn't amaze you. When one is questioning faith, mechanism, prayer, benevolence, omnipotence, et al. One should never assume that the questioner takes the creation and fall story of the bible at face value. That just adds many more questions to the mix. Many, many more.

Regentrude, I do not believe in any organized religion. What I DO believe in is *energy* that can neither be created nor destroyed. As such, I believe in the power of energetic vibrations to help (high vibration) or hinder (low vibration) and that we are all connected. For illustration purposes, I'll use tension that can be felt in a room if you walk in after an argument has just ended - yes there can be visual or audible cues - but I also *feel* the tension in my own body. That is a more concrete example, but it's most often much more subtle than that.

So, while I do not pray to any god or other being, I believe in my own power to "do good" by adding positive vibes to "The Universe" and/or particular individuals. I do not believe that my power is "all powerful", but that every little bit helps. Therefore, I partcipate in meditations and/or visualizations of "sending good vibes" out for the benefit of others. In my case, my visualizations are of different colors of light - health/healing for me is yellow, peace is purple, strength is red, etc. - that I beam out of me, and surround the other person with. How "successful" my vibes are depends on many factors, but I have had people contact me "out of the blue" to say they were in a situation, then thought of me and just felt calmer or wondered what I would say/do as their friend and got an idea to fix something. Or sometimes, they just got the urge to say hello. It is then that I'll tell them I was sending them 'good vibes', or not. LOL Sometimes I just say "that's great."

So, for me personally, my mechanism is "raising the vibrational energy" of my loved ones via our universal interconnectedness, but it's more than just "good thoughts". If that makes any sense. My intention is to add benefit directly to the recipient in whatever way I can, no need of a middleman.

I don't know if this adds anything to the conversation since the question was specifically about prayer, but I'll put it here anyway as someone who partcipates in some sort or ritual or practice with the intention to hopefully help others.

Edited by fraidycat, 17 August 2017 - 03:53 PM.

  • happi duck and Pawz4me like this

#125 regentrude

regentrude

    Qualified Bee Keeper

  • Members
  • PipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 26005 posts

Posted 17 August 2017 - 03:45 PM

I guess we are having a semantics issue between Incomprehensible and (un)knowable. I apologize if I have not used the proper terms. As a scientist, when I refer to nature being knowable, I mean it is comprehensible

 

Scripture does not define God as "unknowable." On the contrary, Scripture says things like, "They do not know Me." Or, "I do not know them," with God being the "Me" and "I." Or, there are phrases like, "Come to know the Lord." All the uses should have us conclude that He is knowable otherwise none of it makes sense grammatically or for faith.

 

Even in this thread, many mention that it is not possible to understand God's will. I think any attempt to reconcile the conflict between incomprehensible and knowable boils down to semantics. What does it mean to "know" without understanding?

The doctring of incomprehensibility requires that God be incomprehensible in order to be God. So if by "know" you mean partial, faulty knowledge without comprehensive understanding, fine. That was not what I meant, and I will amend my previous post.

 

 


  • fraidycat likes this

#126 RegGuheert

RegGuheert

    Hive Mind Queen Bee

  • Members
  • PipPipPip
  • 3575 posts

Posted 17 August 2017 - 03:52 PM

In contrast, God is self proclaimed unknowable and beyond human understanding. Two completely different things.

 

I'm not sure where you got this idea.  The Bible clearly states: "For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse:  Because that, when they knew God, they glorified him not as God, neither were thankful; but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened.  Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools. And changed the glory of the uncorruptible God into an image made like to corruptible man, and to birds, and fourfooted beasts, and creeping things." KJV Romans 1:20-23

 

In fact, you can derive from first principles and knowledge of science the very existence of a God with exactly the characteristics described in the Bible.  The idea that the universe is self-created violates physical laws (such as the Law of Cause and Effect and the Second Law of Thermodynamics) which have been know for hundreds of years.  For instance, if Entropy of the Universe is always increasing, then how did the Entropy get to be as low as it is today?

 

God reveals himself through both specific and general revelation.  You must corrupt science in order to NOT see God.  There are many, many examples of this.  One is within Big Bang theory when timelines start after zero time, because what happens at zero time point directly to a Cause.

 

Simply put, your belief in things like Dark Matter and Dark Energy does not stand on ground nearly as firm as the believe many have in the God of the Bible.
 


  • VaKim and MercyA like this

#127 FaithManor

FaithManor

    Empress of the Flaming Bees, Order of the Spork

  • Members
  • PipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 16177 posts

Posted 17 August 2017 - 04:32 PM

I like Mother Teresa's take on what prayer can do:

 

“I used to pray that God would feed the hungry, or do this or that, but now I pray that He will guide me to do whatever I'm supposed to do, what I can do. I used to pray for answers, but now I'm praying for strength. I used to believe that prayer changes things, but now I know that prayer changes us and we change things.”

 

The Peace Intention Experiment, where people have meditated for peace, has had interesting results. Prayer may be similar.

 

http://www.theintent...peace/about.htm

This is what I believe. After all we have suffered the last three years and seeing things "from the other side" so to speak, I can honestly say that I have abandoned belief that god miraculously intervenes in a physical way in the world because I can't reconcile the circular reasoning it takes to believe that. But I do believe that the Holy Spirit gives peace, comfort, strength, and perseverance for what we face, help me understand myself and that as I gain insight into self and change, I become a better person who hopefully keeps improving on "Love your neighbor as yourself", "judge not".

 

So I see prayer as a means to connect with god and be changed for the better, become calmer, centered, more focused, and more motivated to work for good in this world. Please change me so that I can do better for others. If I say that I am praying for someone, what I am really doing is remembering them, using prayer as a reminder that I need to check in and see how they are doing, find out if there is something I can practically do to alleviate suffering, be a show of support, friendship, love. It isn't because I think that God will, based on my prayer, intervene in a mysterious or miraculous way in their life.


  • Frances, happi duck, regentrude and 3 others like this

#128 regentrude

regentrude

    Qualified Bee Keeper

  • Members
  • PipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 26005 posts

Posted 17 August 2017 - 05:41 PM

I'm not sure where you got this idea.  The Bible clearly states: "For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse:  Because that, when they knew God, they glorified him not as God, neither were thankful; but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened.  Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools. And changed the glory of the uncorruptible God into an image made like to corruptible man, and to birds, and fourfooted beasts, and creeping things." KJV Romans 1:20-23

 

Incomprehensibility doctrine. 

 

Isaiah 55 8-9: For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.

 

Romans 11:33 Oh, the depth of the riches of the wisdom and knowledge of God!    How unsearchable his judgments,

    and his paths beyond tracing out! “Who has known the mind of the Lord?

 

Job 36:26How great is God--beyond our understanding! The number of his years is past finding out.

 

 

In fact, you can derive from first principles and knowledge of science the very existence of a God with exactly the characteristics described in the Bible.  The idea that the universe is self-created violates physical laws (such as the Law of Cause and Effect and the Second Law of Thermodynamics) which have been know for hundreds of years.  For instance, if Entropy of the Universe is always increasing, then how did the Entropy get to be as low as it is today?

Entropy is a measure of disorder. The highly ordered state at the big bang is associated with a very low entropy, and the entropy has increased  to its current value because spontaneous natural processes increase entropy. 

 

The question of the origin of the universe is a very interesting one. The difference between science and religion is that religion posits  this origin to be an incomprehensible God who is beyond human understanding, while science acknowledges that we currently have no idea about the singuarity, but does not postulate an incomprehensible cause.

 

 

You must corrupt science in order to NOT see God.  There are many, many examples of this.  One is within Big Bang theory when timelines start after zero time, because what happens at zero time point directly to a Cause.

 

Simply put, your belief in things like Dark Matter and Dark Energy does not stand on ground nearly as firm as the believe many have in the God of the Bible.

 

I have explained before that I do not "believe" in dark matter or dark energy.

 

Also, the existence of a cause of creation does not imply that this creator also answers people's prayers and provides resurrection and afterlife. As I stated earlier, I have no issue with a creative force - but this tread is not about creation. It is about prayer.


Edited by regentrude, 17 August 2017 - 05:42 PM.

  • mamaraby, bibiche, fraidycat and 1 other like this

#129 regentrude

regentrude

    Qualified Bee Keeper

  • Members
  • PipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 26005 posts

Posted 17 August 2017 - 05:44 PM

This is what I believe. After all we have suffered the last three years and seeing things "from the other side" so to speak, I can honestly say that I have abandoned belief that god miraculously intervenes in a physical way in the world because I can't reconcile the circular reasoning it takes to believe that. But I do believe that the Holy Spirit gives peace, comfort, strength, and perseverance for what we face, help me understand myself and that as I gain insight into self and change, I become a better person who hopefully keeps improving on "Love your neighbor as yourself", "judge not".

 

So I see prayer as a means to connect with god and be changed for the better, become calmer, centered, more focused, and more motivated to work for good in this world. Please change me so that I can do better for others. If I say that I am praying for someone, what I am really doing is remembering them, using prayer as a reminder that I need to check in and see how they are doing, find out if there is something I can practically do to alleviate suffering, be a show of support, friendship, love. It isn't because I think that God will, based on my prayer, intervene in a mysterious or miraculous way in their life.

 

Thank you. This makes perfect sense to me.



#130 regentrude

regentrude

    Qualified Bee Keeper

  • Members
  • PipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 26005 posts

Posted 17 August 2017 - 05:45 PM

I want to thank everybody for sharing their perspectives. It is very interesting to see the different views.

I also want to thank everybody for keeping this a (mostly) friendly discussion without attacks.


  • TheReader and MommyLiberty5013 like this

#131 Carol in Cal.

Carol in Cal.

    Qualified Bee Keeper

  • Members
  • PipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 16832 posts

Posted 17 August 2017 - 06:07 PM

 

 

Even in this thread, many mention that it is not possible to understand God's will. I think any attempt to reconcile the conflict between incomprehensible and knowable boils down to semantics. What does it mean to "know" without understanding?

The doctring of incomprehensibility requires that God be incomprehensible in order to be God. So if by "know" you mean partial, faulty knowledge without comprehensive understanding, fine. That was not what I meant, and I will amend my previous post.

 

There is the revealed will and knowledge of God, and there are aspects that we don't know, that are unrevealed as of yet.  We hope and expect to understand these completely in heaven.   As we are told in I Cor., "For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face.  Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I have been fully known."

 

We don't understand God's will in that we don't always know (separate from revelation) WHY He does or does not do something.  But we know His attributes, and we know His revealed will, which is that all would be saved and come to the knowledge of the truth. 

 

Back to prayer itself, the way I see the problem of evil is--God doesn't cause it, and He doesn't owe it to us to enable us to sidestep all of the the results of it.  However, he does choose to do so at times, for which I am grateful.  But 'He is not a tame lion'.  It's not like a machine where you put in a coin and get a drink. 


  • marbel likes this

#132 Mary in VA

Mary in VA

    Hive Mind Queen Bee

  • Members
  • PipPip
  • 900 posts

Posted 17 August 2017 - 06:19 PM

And what about horrible things happening that are not caused by humans?

My cousin died a slow, torturous, horrible death from ALS. The disease robbed her of her ability to execute her free will, and she watched herself lose all her faculties while retaining a clear mind. I can hardly imagine anything worse.

An entity that inflicts such a curse on a human cannot be well meaning and all powerful at the same time.

 

I could answer with all sorts of Bible quotes and a theological knowledge, but I really can't formulate all of those now because the thoughts don't flow and I can't see through my tears as I write this. My dear, dear husband was diagnosed with ALS in May, although I've believed since January that the diagnosis was coming. It's horrifying and I feel as if I am caught in a nightmare. I asked his permission to talk about the effects of ALS on him on this forum, because it is personal to him and us.  Many people don't know that a percentage of people with ALS have cognitive problems; you always hear about how they suffer while "retaining a clear mind."  My dh is losing word recall, he has problems reasoning and holding conversations.  He had to stop working right after the diagnosis because he is an attorney and couldn't do that anymore. At this time this is much harder to bear than the physical weakness. I lost a part of him before I even knew it was going. This could progress to full dementia. Physically he can't lift his arms above his head or put on his jacket.

 

We do not know why the Lord allowed my dh to have ALS. But we don't feel it is "unfair."  There are so many terrible things in this fallen world, death, disease, violence, suffering, etc.  I have never felt immune to any of it.  Maybe because my dad died when I was 13, I have always known bad things can happen at any time.  I just know that the Lord is with us in it.  And that's why I pray.  I pray for wisdom in making the decisions we need to make, for strength to help my dh and to be the wife he deserves (even in my fear), for mercy that my dh can avoid the most horrific parts of this disease (and strength to endure if he must), for surrender of my desire to control things - to trust the Lord with them, and for the Lord to be glorified in this. I believe life here is fleeting and we don't know how we are being used in the Lord's plan, but that there is a purpose. Many people would probably call me deluded, but I can personally say that in all my weakness and fear in the last 8 months that I have never felt the Lord closer to me. 

 

It will be a long road and I know there will be times when I may waiver in my faith, so I pray for strength in my faith too. 

 

There are so many things that have happened over the last 8 months that shows me the Lord is right here with us. There are people who have told me they are praying for healing. Do I think  the Lord could heal my dh? Certainly, but I don't think that is His purpose in this. I am not praying for healing. That in no way makes me think God is not benevolent. I believe God is good and benevolent, but I can't see the bigger plan God has for my dh's life, my life and my children's lives.  My trust is in Him to figure that out.

 

Mary


  • Carol in Cal., Minniewannabe, MercyA and 1 other like this

#133 Tammi K

Tammi K

    Suddenly Morally Degenerate

  • Members
  • PipPipPip
  • 2920 posts

Posted 17 August 2017 - 06:20 PM

I'm not much of a praying/believing person at this point in my life, but even before when my faith was greater, my prayer would always be that the person in need had the strength to face what they needed to face.

 

Even as a Christian, I could never understand asking God to heal someone.  

 

Now, I just tell people I'm thinking of them.


  • fraidycat likes this

#134 RegGuheert

RegGuheert

    Hive Mind Queen Bee

  • Members
  • PipPipPip
  • 3575 posts

Posted 17 August 2017 - 07:14 PM

Incomprehensibility doctrine. 

 

Isaiah 55 8-9: For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.

 

Romans 11:33 Oh, the depth of the riches of the wisdom and knowledge of God!    How unsearchable his judgments,

    and his paths beyond tracing out! “Who has known the mind of the Lord?

 

Job 36:26How great is God--beyond our understanding! The number of his years is past finding out.

That doctrine says that we cannot comprehend God's wisdom, knowledge, judgments, greatness or eternal character.  Yet the scripture and proof of his existence and character are laid out for all to see.  God's CHARACTER is clearly laid out in the Bible.

 

I often cannot comprehend those things about women, but I can tell lots about them by observation! :tongue_smilie:

 

Entropy is a measure of disorder. The highly ordered state at the big bang is associated with a very low entropy, and the entropy has increased  to its current value because spontaneous natural processes increase entropy..

You say that as if that is somehow different from what I said.  Here is what I said:  "For instance, if Entropy of the Universe is always increasing, then how did the Entropy get to be as low as it is today?"  It seems you believe that a massive explosion resulted in a highly ordered universe.  Of course that's nonsense, since we know that explosions do not create order, but massive disorder.  There are lots of measurements that indicate the Big Bang theory is bunk, but of course those are not taught to students in public schools.

 

The question of the origin of the universe is a very interesting one. The difference between science and religion is that religion posits  this origin to be an incomprehensible God who is beyond human understanding, while science acknowledges that we currently have no idea about the singuarity, but does not postulate an incomprehensible cause.

As discussed, above and below, we know the characteristics of the God who created the Universe.  Science has no credible story about the origin of the Universe which is not directly contradicted by measurements.  But many cling to belief in the Big Bang in a desperate attempt to not acknowledge the existence of God.

 

I have explained before that I do not "believe" in dark matter or dark energy.

Likewise, I do not "believe" that God is omnipotent, omnipresent, omniscient, infinitely intelligent, eternal, Creator of the Universe.  These I can derive from observation of the Universe.  I've provided the link to the support for those conclusions.

 

Also, the existence of a cause of creation does not imply that this creator also answers people's prayers and provides resurrection and afterlife. As I stated earlier, I have no issue with a creative force - but this tread is not about creation. It is about prayer.

Prayer is covered in detail in Special Revelation.  As I have explained, pain and suffering are the result of God allowing for free will, which you have misconstrued to be free agency.  No one here has postulated anything about free agency here.  That was a straw-man argument that you made up on your own.


Edited by RegGuheert, 17 August 2017 - 07:15 PM.


#135 regentrude

regentrude

    Qualified Bee Keeper

  • Members
  • PipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 26005 posts

Posted 17 August 2017 - 07:18 PM

I could answer with all sorts of Bible quotes and a theological knowledge, but I really can't formulate all of those now because the thoughts don't flow and I can't see through my tears as I write this. My dear, dear husband was diagnosed with ALS in May, although I've believed since January that the diagnosis was coming. It's horrifying and I feel as if I am caught in a nightmare. I asked his permission to talk about the effects of ALS on him on this forum, because it is personal to him and us.  Many people don't know that a percentage of people with ALS have cognitive problems; you always hear about how they suffer while "retaining a clear mind."  My dh is losing word recall, he has problems reasoning and holding conversations.  He had to stop working right after the diagnosis because he is an attorney and couldn't do that anymore. At this time this is much harder to bear than the physical weakness. I lost a part of him before I even knew it was going. This could progress to full dementia. Physically he can't lift his arms above his head or put on his jacket.

 

We do not know why the Lord allowed my dh to have ALS. But we don't feel it is "unfair."  There are so many terrible things in this fallen world, death, disease, violence, suffering, etc.  I have never felt immune to any of it.  Maybe because my dad died when I was 13, I have always known bad things can happen at any time.  I just know that the Lord is with us in it.  And that's why I pray.  I pray for wisdom in making the decisions we need to make, for strength to help my dh and to be the wife he deserves (even in my fear), for mercy that my dh can avoid the most horrific parts of this disease (and strength to endure if he must), for surrender of my desire to control things - to trust the Lord with them, and for the Lord to be glorified in this. I believe life here is fleeting and we don't know how we are being used in the Lord's plan, but that there is a purpose. Many people would probably call me deluded, but I can personally say that in all my weakness and fear in the last 8 months that I have never felt the Lord closer to me. 

 

It will be a long road and I know there will be times when I may waiver in my faith, so I pray for strength in my faith too. 

 

There are so many things that have happened over the last 8 months that shows me the Lord is right here with us. There are people who have told me they are praying for healing. Do I think  the Lord could heal my dh? Certainly, but I don't think that is His purpose in this. I am not praying for healing. That in no way makes me think God is not benevolent. I believe God is good and benevolent, but I can't see the bigger plan God has for my dh's life, my life and my children's lives.  My trust is in Him to figure that out.

 

 

Mary, you and your husband and your family are in my thoughts. I am glad you have your faith to sustain you in this difficult time. May it bring you comfort.


Edited by regentrude, 17 August 2017 - 07:26 PM.

  • Mary in VA likes this

#136 regentrude

regentrude

    Qualified Bee Keeper

  • Members
  • PipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 26005 posts

Posted 17 August 2017 - 07:26 PM

You say that as if that is somehow different from what I said.  Here is what I said:  "For instance, if Entropy of the Universe is always increasing, then how did the Entropy get to be as low as it is today?"  It seems you believe that a massive explosion resulted in a highly ordered universe.  Of course that's nonsense, since we know that explosions do not create order, but massive disorder. 

 

 

I am refering to the singularity, not to the state after the explosion. Since I am not a cosmologist, I would have to study up on details.

 

I have no desire to debate this with you further.

I have tried to conduct this conversation respectfully. I have not called anybody's thoughts "nonsense", nor used terms like "bunk" or "cling to a belief in a desperate attempt to...". Language like this is not in the spirit in which I would have hoped to converse here.


Edited by regentrude, 17 August 2017 - 07:27 PM.

  • bibiche and fraidycat like this

#137 RegGuheert

RegGuheert

    Hive Mind Queen Bee

  • Members
  • PipPipPip
  • 3575 posts

Posted 17 August 2017 - 07:45 PM

II have tried to conduct this conversation respectfully. I have not called anybody's thoughts "nonsense", nor used terms like "bunk" or "cling to a belief in a desperate attempt to...". Language like this is not in the spirit in which I would have hoped to converse here.

No, of course not.  In the end I have to conclude that your OP was disingenuous.

 

Here's a good example of that:

 

How can God be both omnipotent and benevolent?

Either he can intercede and chooses not to, which makes him not benevolent, or he is benevolent, but incapable which makes him not omnipotent. It cannot be both ways. 

To which I respectfully responded:

 

It seems you define "benevolent" as preventing all pain and suffering.  But the logical conclusion is that if an omnipotent God prevented all pain and suffering, then that would mean that no one had free will.  Without free will, no one could love God.

 

No, God created humans with a capacity to love him (or not) and to be loved in return.  But that means that we *must* have the capacity for free will, otherwise our love is completely illusory.  But that free will allows us also to sin and to create pain and suffering in the world.

 

God's benevolence is seen is giving us the free will to love him and others while also providing for the forgiveness for our sins.

 

(And, yes, I understand that many Christians believe that we do not have free will.  I am not one of them since I believe that means God is the author of sin.)

You then twisted the concept of "free will" into "free agency" because you are unable to acknowledge that the above is entirely consistent view of God's character which shows that "omnipotent" and "benevolent" are NOT mutually exclusive.  I guess you feel that twisting others' words is the appropriate way to carry on such a discussion.

 

It seems you really should include "JAWM" in the title of this thread.  As such, it is really just another thinly-veiled attack on Christianity and another attempt to establish "science" as the ultimate source of truth.  Yet you beg off when that idea does not hold up under scrutiny.


  • unsinkable likes this

#138 regentrude

regentrude

    Qualified Bee Keeper

  • Members
  • PipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 26005 posts

Posted 17 August 2017 - 07:53 PM

My sincere thanks to everybody who shared their views about prayer. I appreciate your time, patience and graciousness in discussing this with me. It was very interesting to me to hear so many different perspectives and view points, and reassuring to learn that some of you wrestle with the same questions.

Thanks also for the literature recommendations. 

 

I have no interest in being personally attacked and will leave this conversation. Thanks everybody who was gracious and kind.

 

 


  • fraidycat, 38carrots and MommyLiberty5013 like this

#139 MommyLiberty5013

MommyLiberty5013

    Don't Let the Lipstick Fool You

  • Members
  • PipPip
  • 615 posts

Posted 17 August 2017 - 08:13 PM

No, of course not.  In the end I have to conclude that your OP was disingenuous.

 

Here's a good example of that:

 

To which I respectfully responded:

 

You then twisted the concept of "free will" into "free agency" because you are unable to acknowledge that the above is entirely consistent view of God's character which shows that "omnipotent" and "benevolent" are NOT mutually exclusive.  I guess you feel that twisting others' words is the appropriate way to carry on such a discussion.

 

It seems you really should include "JAWM" in the title of this thread.  As such, it is really just another thinly-veiled attack on Christianity and another attempt to establish "science" as the ultimate source of truth.  Yet you beg off when that idea does not hold up under scrutiny.

 

I have respected your points on all this. But I have not concluded the OP's post was disingenuous. Several people, I believe, pointed to some real information as well as correctly established terms, definitions, and arguments' positions. Some of these things went unaddressed in the course of the discussion - a whole host of mine did. I too had a brief focus on the fact that "omnipotence" and "benevolence" are not mutually exclusive.

 

I have to step back and ask myself if that is "bugging off" or just not willing to go there online with strangers. I think it is the latter.

 

OP doesn't have to "go there" either. The initial question was on prayer and the conversation took several twists and turns none of which she was under obligation to entertain, but she did. I think considering her stance on the matter, she took a risk asking all of us for input. I am not offended in the least if she did not want to "go there."

 

I also do not see this as an attack on Christianity. Objections, or the absence of responses when presented with a solid argument, are mainly unanswered questions or even the uncomfortable possibility that one may be incorrect and something needs reevaluation. It is not our job or duty to rub anyone's nose in that. I too have had people on here do that to me in other threads, and it is very disheartening and hurtful. We aren't here to put people under our Internet thumbs.

 

I would also wonder what you aimed to get out of this conversation here. A change of mind or heart by the OP? That is likely not going to happen over the Interweb. Hopefully with the book recs and the nice posts here, the OP can make some informed reading and study choices.
 


  • RegGuheert, TheReader and fraidycat like this

#140 38carrots

38carrots

    Hive Mind Queen Bee

  • Members
  • PipPip
  • 1011 posts

Posted 17 August 2017 - 09:37 PM

No, I don't do everything for my children, and there are consequences for actions and choices - but I will step in to prevent them from grave harm.

 

Maybe harm is a matter of scale and perspective. If souls exists and are immortal, then death and even physical suffering might not be seen as "harm."

 

Maybe having their own country was more important for the Jewish people (in the grand scheme of things and in the context of eternal soul) than being saved from the Holocaust in a miraculous way.

 

I really don't know. I'm just thinking out loud.


  • MercyA likes this

#141 xahm

xahm

    Hive Mind Queen Bee

  • Members
  • PipPip
  • 824 posts

Posted 18 August 2017 - 07:51 AM

I have no issue with a creator.
I also understand the benefit of prayer for the person who prays. I think there is great value in it for summoning personal strength, finding wisdom, spending time in contemplation and introspection - independent of whether one actually believes in the existence of a deity or just meditates.

My question was specifically about the mechanism how people believe praying for somebody else is effective.


I can get OK with a god who does not make everybody live to a ripe old age. But I cannot muster much adoration for a God who does not want peace for the beings of his creation.
I heard the agency argument before, but it sounds like an excuse. If he could feed but doesn't, he's not benevolent. If he wants to but can't, not omnipotent.


I've been busy or sleeping and haven't been able to reply before now. I haven't read all the other replies, so there's a good chance I'm going to repeat what some people have said and completely contradict what others have said.
I honestly don't think, when I pray for someone else, that my prayers are going to change anything about that person. I pray for others the way I talk to my husband about friends I'm worried about. I'm in a relationship with God, so I talk to him about all sorts of things. There may on rare occasion be a miracle that solves a problem I was praying about, and that's exciting as I feel part of being something bigger. Not because I caused God to do anything but because I was praying attention and got to bear witness.

God does want peace for us, but he's concerned primarily about eternal peace. That is the world's biggest cop-out if it isn't true that we have eternal souls, but thoroughly expected if it is.
He also wants good for us on this earth, and that's where our agency comes in. When my kids ask why kids get sick and die, I tell them we don't really know, but I believe that God has given us what we need to solve the problem, but we waste time and money and resources. Choosing sin so we have to spend money on prisons and wars instead of scientific research and healthy food for everyone, for example. While God is omnipotent, he is bound by logic. He can't make people who have the power to choose and at the same time always prevent them from choosing bad things.
I look to the Lord's prayer. Yes, we all him to meet our daily needs, but we also ask that his will be done on earth as it is in heaven. To me, this reminds us of two things: 1 His will will eventually be done for sure, so we can be at peace. 2 there are things I can do to do God will on earth, and I should be doing that.
I hope these replies help and don't offend those with a different view on prayer.
  • Carol in Cal. likes this

#142 xahm

xahm

    Hive Mind Queen Bee

  • Members
  • PipPip
  • 824 posts

Posted 18 August 2017 - 08:05 AM

I see a fundamental difference between the two.
As a scientist, the one thing I have to postulate is that humans have, in principle, the ability to know the natural world. Without this basic premise, science could not operate. We have to assume things are knowable and have rational explanations.

But God declares himself as principally unknowable, beyond human reasoning. That makes it like a race with an ever moving goal post and the certainty that you will never arrive.


I'm not a scientist, but I see things in a similar way. I think one of the great gifts God gave us is a knowable world. In that way having miracles be very infrequent helps us have a chance of knowing the world. When we see a rock fall, we don't have to guess whether it was acting according to natural forces or whether God was playing catch with someone.
The Bible does say that we see God dimly now, but in the future we will see him face to face and know him.
  • Carol in Cal. and Minniewannabe like this

#143 Saddlemomma

Saddlemomma

    Hive Mind Worker Bee

  • Members
  • PipPip
  • 1491 posts

Posted 18 August 2017 - 09:16 AM

Thank you for taking the time to type such a long response. It is very interesting to read your perspective. 

 

 

That is a very depressing view.

I don't think it's depressing. If we accept that God is creator, then we are the created and must accept we have the ultimate authority over us. I liken it to the structure in Downton Abbey.  Think of God as Lord Grantham. His servant, Mr. Bates, serves him with respect and, I believe, love, even though he is just a servant.  However, even though Mr. Bates is a servant, he may choose to leave service and go his own way.

 

 

How does free will agree with the paragraph in the first quote? If God can do whatever he likes, I do not have free will. You would still have the free will to rebel against God and/or choose not to serve him, just like Mr. Bates above.  God doesn't want robots.  He wants to be in fellowship with his creation. While he has the power and authority to do away with us, (think flood here), he also has mercy and love for his creation.  He is long-suffering of us with extraordinary patience.  He will let us choose to serve him or not.  While, in the end, the penalty for rebelling against him is steep, it is our choice to do so.

 

 

When my children misbehave, I do not impose cruel arbitrary punishment - I prefer natural consequences. I also would not punish one child for something a sibling did. If I disobey the law, I hope in a just society my family is not punished for my transgressions (that would have been the case in the totalitarian regime I grew up under.)  What many confuse in this situation is the belief that our sense of justice is better or superior to God's.  This is a very unintentional arrogance on our part.  Do we have the omniscience to understand and see the future of how the future generations of one's family will act? Maybe God punishes the future generations of a family because he already knows/sees the path they will travel.  How do we know whether or not, if by punishing the future generation or two, the family will finally make the correct turn towards righteousness.  We don't know because we are not omniscient. In addition, there is another entity at work in the world--the antithesis of good. The influence of evil is alive and well in the world.  Evil was a natural consequence of allowing free will.  However, God counted it as a necessary evil in order to allow his creation the free will to choose rather than having robots who would be incapable of a real relationship with him. Apparently, for God's purpose and with his abilities to see the future, this was the best plan going forward.  I have the faith to believe he knows best how to achieve his overall plan to restore Eden as it was meant to be from the beginning while preserving his desire to gift his creation with free will.

 

I have never understood the concept of original sin. If every human carries this from birth and has to be punished for it, the creation is faulty. If humans are punished for the sins of their forefathers, the system is arbitrary.  I don't subscribe to the notion of original sin from Adam being carried to the future generations.  Romans 5:12 plainly states that we inherited death from Adam; not sin.  However, once we, as humans, were removed from God's presence and sacred space (Eden) we can't help but sin.  No one is perfect; no, not one.  No one is righteous on their own.  This is why God, in his infinite mercy had to have a plan to redeem us through the most perfect, spotless sacrifice.  Jesus's sacrifice washed us in his blood to cover our continuous sinful nature.  As a follower of Christ, my sin is covered and I try to restrain sin and temptation, but alas, I'm still not perfect and will sin until the end but the stain is invisible to God because of Jesus.

 

If you are interested in delving into the misinterpreted notion of "original sin", here is an in depth study of Romans 5:12.  This one part of the study specifically addresses the supposed "sin nature" inherited from Adam

 

Thanks for bringing up this point; I was going to raise it, too.

Death is certainly not the worst thing to happen; there are far worse things over which death would be preferable - even for an atheist.

But my question is: if heaven is such a great and joyful place, why do Christians seek to prolong their life on Earth? Why undergo painful medical treatments, if death means just a short while of separation from  the loved ones before joining them in eternal joy? Shouldn't Christians be eager to depart this life sooner rather than later, if heaven is such a wonderful place?

The reason to stay is to accomplish our part of God's plan. I feel one part of God's plan for my life is to homeschool my DD and prepare her for the world as a strong Christian who will defend the faith. There may be more, but I'm not certain of what that is.  I may never be aware of my full contribution or if I've accomplished my part until it's completed.

 

I'm ready to go whenever God calls, but I'm also human and in my flesh, I'm afraid of HOW I'll go.  Let's face it, no one really wants to suffer, but we're called to follow Christ's example.  It terrifies me and I wonder, will I be able to bear it if I have to?  We in America have no concept of real suffering (other than disease). When I read in Voice of the Martyrs about the suffering of those in the 57 countries where Christians are actively being persecuted in horrible ways, I can't but admire their strength and perseverance in Christ.  It's like nothing I can imagine.  Would I be as strong and resilient as they are?

 

I also am very selfish (a sin) in wanting to see my DDs marry and have children of their own, or settled and fully on their own in their chosen life paths. While one DD is approaching 27, my youngest is only 14.  I, in my selfishness, feel she's too young to be without her mother and I still have things to teach her.  For all these reasons, while one foot longs to be with Christ in Heaven, the other is somewhat firmly planted on solid ground in this world until God calls.

 

Thanks again for taking the time to compose such a thoughtful response. I found it very interesting.

You're very welcome and I hope you find the answers you're looking for.

 


Edited by Saddlemomma, 18 August 2017 - 09:17 AM.

  • MercyA likes this

#144 Carol in Cal.

Carol in Cal.

    Qualified Bee Keeper

  • Members
  • PipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 16832 posts

Posted 18 August 2017 - 12:11 PM

 

 

However, my question is what you think the actual prayer for somebody else accomplishes beyond making the person feel good that she has community. If you pray for somebody to find a job, or get well, do you believe that will actually make God give that person the job or the healing?

 

Respectfully, on reflection, I think this might be the wrong question.

 

The right questions are What can God do?  And, Does prayer make Him do what you want?

 

The answer to the first is, God can do anything.

And to the second, no, it would be presumptuous to assume that we can force Him to do anything, but He does invite us to pray, and He does hear our prayers, and sometimes, not always, He allows Himself to be influenced by them.  So aside from all the other values of prayer, like aligning ourselves with and reminding ourselves of Him, and being supportive of others, prayer sometimes does change God's mind.