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The Forum > Article Comments > The power, or not, of prayer > Comments

The power, or not, of prayer : Comments

By Brian Baker, published 27/1/2011

Drought and floods: did prayer completely fail? Or was it an overwhelming success?

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Pericles wrote:
<<Atheists do not "leave society helpless" against evil. Their lack of belief in a deity has absolutely no impact on their ability to tell right from wrong, good from evil, and love from hate.>>

Blind Freddy could tell you that atheism not only impairs people's ability to distinguish right from wrong but undermines people's willingness to do so. What would be the point, other than feeling good about yourself or showing off. Atheism leaves society defenceless against evil.
Posted by grateful, Friday, 25 February 2011 9:17:52 PM
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On the contrary grateful, it is religion which leaves people defenceless against evil.
I would suggest the essence of moral behaviour is the principle of reciprocity; treating others the way you would like to be treated. Although just about all religions would like to claim this principle for their own, it has been espoused by philosophers for thousands of years, and requires absolutely no divine intervention.
It is a simple rule for people to live with other people.
Compare this to the theist who declares: "without God, why should people be nice to each other?"
IOW, where the moral atheist obeys the principle simply because it is the sensible, logical and ethical thing to do, these 'fundamentalists' obey the Word of God only because they're afraid of divine retribution.
What happens when such people lose their faith?
You (Grateful) would claim their loss of faith leaves them 'defenceless against evil'. In truth, they never had any defence, since they lacked that basic empathy, that ability to put themselves in another's shoes, in the first place.
And where does that empathy come from? I would say it comes from accepting that we have peers; that we are all equal despite our differences, and that our opinions are no "better" or "worse" than the opinions of others -to an 'impartial' observer (such as a putative God, if you will).
No theist can ever achieve this egalitarian impartiality, simply because -by definition- they favour fellow believers in their own superstition.
Posted by Grim, Saturday, 26 February 2011 9:28:01 AM
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Hi again Grateful, on the matter of evolutionary theory, it is quite natural that we would share more DNA with our ancestors than with chimpanzees, as we did not evolve from chimps; they branched from our evolutionary line millions of years ago, and their DNA has slowly diverged from ours ever since.
It's basically the same as a hypothetical situation where I have a cousin (perhaps several times removed) who is to all intents and purposes a 'pure' aboriginal, while I am -to the casual observer- pure 'white'; and bearing no resemblance to each other whatsoever. We could both trace our heritage to common great great great grandparents, but for one reason or another one line consistently chose black breeding partners while the other line chose consistently white.
In such a situation we would have stronger links to our common ancestors, than to each other.
Posted by Grim, Saturday, 26 February 2011 9:48:51 AM
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Grim you say:
<<On the contrary grateful, it is religion which leaves people defenceless against evil.>>

Perhaps you have misunderstood what i have said. Consider the following example. In Islam, alcohol is prohibted. A praticing Muslim will not drink. This protects the individual and the wider community from the evils associated with alcohol. Adopting atheism would mean being free from this obligation and thus opening the way for the evils associated with alcohol.

In one of my previous posts i provided the example of Laura Booth (sister-in-law to Tony Blair who recently converted to Islam). She described giving up alcohol thus: <<And, as it happens, giving up alcohol was a breeze. In fact I canít imagine tasting alcohol ever again. I simply donít want to.>>

http://www.alazhartouba.com/index.php/en/videos/video/806-qi-love-islamq--lauren-booth-a-british-journalist-and-sister-in-law-of-former-british-prime-minister-tony-blair

This illustrates the impact on belief. The impact of atheism is the opposite (as for example in the case of Ms Booth before her conversion, as it was for myself and most Australians, particularly the young). Indeed it is accepted wisdom that "prohibition doesn't work".

Would you care to respond?

Re:evolution. My position concerned the methodology. Please read my 2nd last post if your interested.
Posted by grateful, Saturday, 26 February 2011 11:39:38 PM
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Hi Grateful,
perhaps you misunderstood me.
Or Perhaps you should apply your 'null hypothesis' to the matter of alcohol, since you start with the axiom that alcohol is evil, despite the fact that millions of people all over the world imbibe regularly, without becoming antisocial. On the other hand, there are innumerable instances of teetotallers -including Muslims- who are as abrasive, abusive and opinionated as the worst Aussie Bar Room Philosopher.
Perhaps beginning with a null hypothesis would demonstrate that the evil lies not in the drink, but in the hearts and minds of men (and women).
As to your views on evolution, I thought I had addressed them; perhaps I should try to make it even simpler.
If I were snowy white, and knew beyond any shadow of doubt that I had a coal black cousin, the only way I could possibly know we were cousins would be if I could trace our lineage backwards to a common ancestor.
If a common ancestor was 50:50, we would know he was only one generation from a black/white joining. The more divergent our genes, the further back the common ancestor must be.
If we thought we shared 99% of our genes with chimpanzees, and later found it was only 95%, this would simply mean the common ancestor was further back than we first imagined.
When you get right down to it, the science v. religion thing is really about prophecy. In science, a theory is held to be good if it allows for accurate predictions. Currently, the most valued theory is quantum mechanics, because the accuracy of predictions has been outstanding; despite the fact that few -if anyone- really understands quantum mechanics at all.
It's hardly a coincidence that religious tomes are based on the writings of 'prophets'.
Or that religion is being relentlessly replaced with science.
Likewise, the theory of evolution is held to be good, because it also allows for accurate predictions.
Posted by Grim, Sunday, 27 February 2011 8:58:57 AM
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The point about alcohol is illustrated with the following recent article

(http://www.smh.com.au/nsw/dangerous-underage-drinking-on-rise-20110211-1aqjp.html)

<<EVERY day in NSW, on average, three children get so drunk they require an ambulance, figures obtained by the Herald reveal.

In one year, paramedics were called more than 1000 times to treat alcohol-related problems such as violent vomiting and loss of consciousness in people aged under 18 - most of whom required hospital treatment.

The child was 12 or younger in at least 16 of those cases, according to an analysis of call-outs provided by the NSW Ambulance service.

Advertisement: Story continues below The under-18s treated between July 2009 and June 2010 made up about 10 per cent of the overall numbers treated for alcohol sickness, a spokesman for the service said.

The figures, which do not include call-outs for indirect alcohol problems such as falls or fights, were a frightening ''tip of the iceberg'', said Mike Daube, the director of the McCusker Centre for Action on Alcohol and Youth.

"It's even more worrying than it looks, given that it is only the very worst cases - those children who are utterly, disastrously drunk and at immediate risk," he said. "What kind of a society are we turning into where children under 12 are taken to hospital in an ambulance because of their drinking?"

Per capita alcohol use was at an all-time high, and research shows 80 per cent of alcohol consumption among 14- to 24-year-olds was done dangerously.>>

In my opinion its not too much to ask for adults/parents to abstain so they do have the moral authority to guide their children to productive lives, making for a civilised culture.

Re: evolution. thank-you for your opinion, although i have no idea whether you're in a position to know what you're talking about or are basing your words on someone who does. In any case, it was a side point.

all the best and salaams
Posted by grateful, Sunday, 27 February 2011 8:22:15 PM
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