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#848814 - 04/03/05 12:03 AM Let Us Pray
yhabpo Offline
Full Member

Registered: 05/22/04
Posts: 489
After overcoming the inconvenience of losing the email that contained my password, I'm happy to be posting again.


Judith Hayes
(The Skeptical Review)
http://www.infidels.org/library/magazines/tsr/index.shtml

Not only Christianity, but most religions, urge prayer. Prayer is a practice that cannot survive the harsh spotlight of logic.

The three most often cited reasons for prayer are worship, confession, and petition. (Differences exist. Choose your experts.)

The most popular form of prayer, petition, poses some complicated problems. At first glance, asking a god to do something or other seems perfectly logical. Who better to ask? But the only way that such asking makes sense is if there is a chance that you might receive a positive response. What would be the point of having billions of prayers offered beseechingly to a god who never intended at any time to answer a single one of them?

A more pointless, time-wasting, soul-draining exercise is difficult to imagine, and a god who would demand such a practice would have to be sadistic. Such bait-and-switch tactics are difficult to attribute to any god, even the one who sent the Flood. On the other hand, if prayer is encouraged because there is a chance that requests will be granted, you run headlong into the unavoidable requirement to explain the seemingly capricious nature of some of these boons.

For example, a high-school student prays that he will pass a math exam even though he hasn't studied for it, and when he does pass, he attributes this to God's intervention. Most religious leaders would agree with this. (Differences exist. Choose your experts.) But if it is true, we are faced with a god who answers a single petition from a single person in the matter of a 10th-grade algebra test, but who chose to ignore the millions of prayers for liberation from concentration camps during World War II. There is a selection process at work here that is extremely difficult to grasp.

According to the "Lord's Prayer," people are supposed to ask, "Give us this day our daily bread." Why? If you ask, will it be done? If it won't be done, why should you ask? Since war and famine have brought death by starvation to many True Believers, this asking for daily bread seems pointless. If starvation happens to those who ask as well as to those who don't, then the explanation for starvation must lie in factors wholly unrelated to the asking. In other words, asking God for your daily bread has nothing to do with whether or not you'll get it. So why are you supposed to ask for it?

Likewise, prayers of thanksgiving intrinsically impute to God complete control over your well-being. If you thank God for the food on your table, you are saying that he put it there. A necessary component of this premise, the other side of this coin, is that if there is no food on your table, God is responsible for that, too. The power to give necessarily includes the power to withhold. When you thank someone for a gift, it is because you understand that he or she had the choice of not giving it to you but chose to do so anyway. Thanking God for your food, then, is the same as saying thank you for not withholding food. You are offering thanks for not being allowed to starve.

Just as it would make no sense to thank your neighbors for a much needed rain shower, since they could not have played any role in producing the rain, so it would make no sense to thank God for the food on your table unless he definitely plays a role in getting that food to your table. And if he does, we are presented with the vexing question of just how he chooses to feed some while starving others. If the choice to put food on your table is God's, then the choice not to put food on someone else's table is also God's. So, then, why doesn't God feed all of us?

Starving babies are an awkward consideration on Thanksgiving Day, as we sit down to sumptuous turkey dinners, but if God puts the turkey on your table, he withholds it from countless others. Why? If God feeds only "his own," that would mean that the babies of those other than his own could starve without his caring, a heartless proposition. It would also mean that his own have never starved, which is certainly not true. Nor can it be said that all atheists starve

So how does God decide whom to feed? This question of God's priorities cannot be sidestepped if his participation in daily events is posited. If God has the power to feed all of us but chooses not to, his reluctance must be explained in a way that is compatible with his purported omnipotence (all-powerfulness) and omnibenevolence (all-goodness). No one has yet managed to proffer such an explanation.

Trying to explain starvation by saying that "God helps those who help themselves" is a cruel, callous way to regard victims of crop failures from floods, drought, or pestilence. And what about the babies? How can babies help themselves?

Likewise, trying to explain starvation by saying that we just can't understand the ways of God is a contradiction of all the rest of Christian doctrine. Christians claim to know precisely how God wants his "children" to worship, how they should pray, how they should dress, what they should eat, how they should address their elders and so on, implying quite clearly that God's ways are indeed understood. But questions about the terrible reality of starved-to-death babies are met with vague shrugs as if such trivia did not need to be understood.

But someone must accept responsibility for the haunting specter of starving children. If food production and distribution on this earth are solely the result of human activities, with no participation by God, then giving thanks to God for food is a misplaced, meaningless gesture. He has done nothing to deserve thanks, and we alone must answer for the cruel inequities. If, on the other hand, God does participate in the process, then you should give thanks to him for your chocolate bars and imported cheeses, and he has a lot of starving babies to answer for.

All this talk of starvation is of course representative of and interchangeable with all human conditions. Whether you are considering illness, injury, persecution or whatever, if you pray for deliverance from any of them, the results will be the same as with starvation--random and inexplicable.

So let's consider again prayers of supplication. Ending world hunger, a most admirable request, has yet to become a reality, in spite of countless prayers. So people are encouraged to pray, instead, for more easily achieved goals, like having Aunt Helen get over her cold soon, or for the kids to do well in school, or whatever. Football players actually get on their knees and thank God for touchdowns. In a world that contains starvation, disease, murder, and rape, such mundane considerations trivialize the role of a supposedly omnipotent god. For every "miraculous" recovery by a seriously ill person that is attributed to God, there is a seriously ill person who is prayed for but dies anyway. Soldiers are prayed for and die, and soldiers are not prayed for but live. Bad things happen to good, prayed-for people, bad things happen to bad people, good things happen to bad people and good things happen to good people. In other words, the laws of probabilities are quite clearly in control here.

All things are not made well for those who trust in God, and life can be very pleasant for those who do not. If judged only by the results that challenge the laws of probabilities, then the power of prayer is nil.

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#848815 - 04/03/05 12:10 AM Re: Let Us Pray
markjpcs Offline


Registered: 08/31/04
Posts: 3170
Loc: Wisconsin
Good post yhabpo.
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#848816 - 04/03/05 01:39 AM Re: Let Us Pray
ycul Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/23/04
Posts: 1402
Loc: U.K.
Excellent post yhabpo.

What are your religous affiliations btw?
_________________________
How now, brown cow.

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#848817 - 04/03/05 03:47 AM Re: Let Us Pray
Sweep88 Offline
Full Member

Registered: 02/27/05
Posts: 190
Loc: Ohio
And the reason for this post is?? What exactly are you trying to accomplish?
_________________________
I try to live, love and laugh as much as I can every day, because every day may be my last

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#848818 - 04/03/05 06:18 AM Re: Let Us Pray
pianojerome Offline
9000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/01/05
Posts: 9868
Good post, Yhabpo.

This is an excellent question, which has been raised many times (not surprisingly), and the author of this article has provided many articulate points.

I'm going to think this over.
_________________________
Sam

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#848819 - 04/04/05 01:01 PM Re: Let Us Pray
kluurs Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/24/02
Posts: 3739
Loc: Chicago
A spiritual life comes from recognizing that life may not provide all that a person requires.

we pray for wisdom and strength beyond our own.

We pray to give thanks - not so that we may garner more, but so that we appreciate what we have - even if things are taken from us. Our asking for daily bread is thanks as much as petition.

We pray that others may be given God's wisdom and grace.

We pray that we may be an instrument of God's will - not that we can control God's will which seems to be a supposition of the author above.

Back when Christianity was in its infancy, people did not pray that punishments such as starvation or murder would not come to them - but prayed only that they might be worthy of such - that their suffering was redemptive.

I'm not a worthy teacher, practioner or even writer - all I can say, is prayer comes from faith. As C.S. Lewis noted, "I pray because I cannot help myself."

K

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#848820 - 04/04/05 01:04 PM Re: Let Us Pray
Auntie Lynn Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/07/04
Posts: 1105
Loc: San Francisco, CA
Let us pray for some GOOD news for a change - I am sick to death of these interminable death watches...

Thanks...

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#848821 - 04/04/05 01:54 PM Re: Let Us Pray
bcarey Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/14/02
Posts: 3378
Loc: North Carolina
"Let Us Pray", that trolls whatever their motive for invading us will go away before Jolly does his "there are no athiests in a fox hole" line.

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#848822 - 04/04/05 01:59 PM Re: Let Us Pray
apple* Offline


Registered: 01/01/03
Posts: 19862
Loc: Kansas
\:D
_________________________
accompanist/organist.. a non-MTNA teacher to a few

love and peace, ├Ľun (apple in Estonian)

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#848823 - 04/04/05 04:13 PM Re: Let Us Pray
Sweep88 Offline
Full Member

Registered: 02/27/05
Posts: 190
Loc: Ohio
Yhabpo.....I'll ask again...what EXACTLY do you want from this post? You did it for a reason. Whats the bottom line here?? WHAT EXACTLY are you hoping to accomplish??
_________________________
I try to live, love and laugh as much as I can every day, because every day may be my last

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#848824 - 04/04/05 04:29 PM Re: Let Us Pray
yhabpo Offline
Full Member

Registered: 05/22/04
Posts: 489
You silly person, the motive is "deconversion." I hate to see wasted brains.

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#848825 - 04/04/05 04:45 PM Re: Let Us Pray
Tom--K Offline
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/27/03
Posts: 5934
 Quote:
Originally posted by Sweep88:
Yhabpo.....I'll ask again...what EXACTLY do you want from this post? You did it for a reason. Whats the bottom line here?? WHAT EXACTLY are you hoping to accomplish?? [/b]
Yhabpo wants to show us how easy it is to know the price of everything and the value of nothing.

The whole piece misses the true value of faith. It's not about food or clothes or things of any sort-- as a matter of fact the main message of JP II was just the opposite of Y's post. Faith doesn't make you rich or full or even happy. Suffering is a vital part of faith.

But faith gives you the joy of life everlasting, which is quite different than anything mentioned in the article.

Thanks Yhabpo, your post was a sad piece of writing as I have ever read.

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#848826 - 04/04/05 04:48 PM Re: Let Us Pray
KlavierBauer Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/06/02
Posts: 3773
Loc: Boulder, Colorado
Wow, that post was so articulate...

It was like... articulate and stuff.

I think most first year philosophy students have tackled more complicated concepts than God's Will and Free Will.
_________________________
Outlive Yourself - Become an Organ Donor

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#848827 - 04/04/05 06:01 PM Re: Let Us Pray
Troyboy Offline
Full Member

Registered: 05/21/03
Posts: 52
Loc: Ct
 Quote:
After overcoming the inconvenience of losing the email that contained my password, I'm happy to be posting again.

... Prayer is a practice that cannot survive the harsh spotlight of logic.
...sigh... I was initially optimistic about my recent appeals to our Creator, but perhaps the author is correct; as hard as I prayed, Boston lost to the Yankees in the season opener, and now you've found your password.

All part of my "...brutal re-education", Yablo?
_________________________
go Red Sox!

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#848828 - 04/04/05 06:06 PM Re: Let Us Pray
yhabpo Offline
Full Member

Registered: 05/22/04
Posts: 489
 Quote:
But faith gives you the joy of life everlasting
It doesn't.


 Quote:
Wow, that post was so articulate...
I saw some cult-like ritual where the head declared, "let us pray," and the rest answered, "we're praying." I found the masses' exercise in brainwashed liturgy to be quite disturbing, thus I did a Google search for an appropriate article. I agree that the article is a bit juvenile, considering the "starving babies" and all, but I approved it for the Piano World audience. Philosophy students need not decry, KlavierBauer.

 Quote:
All part of my "...brutal re-education", Yablo?
I'm joyed that I am "reaching" people.

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#848829 - 04/04/05 06:11 PM Re: Let Us Pray
Jolly Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/20/01
Posts: 14051
Loc: Louisiana
 Quote:
Originally posted by yhabpo:
You silly person, the motive is "deconversion." I hate to see wasted brains. [/b]
Son, you're a waste of bandwidth.
_________________________
www.coffee-room.com

Over 1,000,000 posts where pianists discuss everything. And nothing.

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#848830 - 04/04/05 06:12 PM Re: Let Us Pray
KlavierBauer Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/06/02
Posts: 3773
Loc: Boulder, Colorado
Your admission that it was indeed juvenile is all I and the others needed to see.

Speaks volumes actually.
_________________________
Outlive Yourself - Become an Organ Donor

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#848831 - 04/04/05 06:19 PM Re: Let Us Pray
Tom--K Offline
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/27/03
Posts: 5934
Enough of him.

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#848832 - 04/04/05 06:23 PM Re: Let Us Pray
Troyboy Offline
Full Member

Registered: 05/21/03
Posts: 52
Loc: Ct
 Quote:
Enough of him.
Amen.
\:D
_________________________
go Red Sox!

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#848833 - 04/05/05 03:27 AM Re: Let Us Pray
Sweep88 Offline
Full Member

Registered: 02/27/05
Posts: 190
Loc: Ohio
yhapbo...

Is that what you're going to say to Jesus Christ before he casts you into the lake of fire? You're walking on SERIOUS eggshells my friend. It's not too late for you to claim your own salvation. I say this as a caring warning.

"Those professing themselves to be wise become fools"......Jesus Christ
_________________________
I try to live, love and laugh as much as I can every day, because every day may be my last

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#848834 - 04/05/05 08:50 AM Re: Let Us Pray
Luke's Dad Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/28/03
Posts: 1426
Loc: Mid Atlantic
 Quote:
Originally posted by yhabpo:
You silly person, the motive is "deconversion." I hate to see wasted brains. [/b]
I'll pray for you.
_________________________
Purveyor of Yamaha, Petrof, Pearl River, and Kohler & Campbell pianos.

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#848835 - 04/05/05 08:58 AM Re: Let Us Pray
sarah_blueparrot Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/18/04
Posts: 808
Loc: Bristol, England
I quite like his posts, actually. They give an in-depth point of view that is different from most others' around here.
_________________________
Every time you play a funeral march, the devil grabs a soul.

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#848836 - 04/05/05 09:01 AM Re: Let Us Pray
ycul Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/23/04
Posts: 1402
Loc: U.K.
Same here Sarah. There's nothing I like seeing more than a few good reasons for the non-existence of a compassionate God aswell.

Edit: You forgot to answer my question Yhab.
_________________________
How now, brown cow.

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#848837 - 04/05/05 09:04 AM Re: Let Us Pray
sarah_blueparrot Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/18/04
Posts: 808
Loc: Bristol, England
 Quote:
Originally posted by ycul:
Same here Sarah. There's nothing I like seeing more than a few good reasons for the non-existance of a compassionate God aswell. [/b]
Exactly, at least it's a different argument than the evolutionary one of atheists :rolleyes:
_________________________
Every time you play a funeral march, the devil grabs a soul.

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#848838 - 04/05/05 09:13 AM Re: Let Us Pray
tcmod Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/26/04
Posts: 862
Loc: NC
The irony is that his post would inspire a true Christian to pray for his soul and that he would find God.

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#848839 - 04/05/05 09:16 AM Re: Let Us Pray
KlavierBauer Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/06/02
Posts: 3773
Loc: Boulder, Colorado
yeah, that article was so in depth with such profound logic as:
"God doesn't exist because I prayed and it didn't happen".

I'm surprised that in so many millenia nobody's stumbled onto this truth yet!
_________________________
Outlive Yourself - Become an Organ Donor

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#848840 - 04/05/05 09:19 AM Re: Let Us Pray
kluurs Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/24/02
Posts: 3739
Loc: Chicago
 Quote:
Originally posted by sarah_blueparrot:
I quite like his posts, actually. They give an in-depth point of view that is different from most others' around here. [/b]
No argument. Yhapbo is different - grew up in a different world than most of us. I would like to understand how his views were formed.

Ken

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#848841 - 04/05/05 09:41 AM Re: Let Us Pray
KlavierBauer Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/06/02
Posts: 3773
Loc: Boulder, Colorado
ahhh, I secretly like his/her posts as well.

While we may not agree on a lot, he is typically fairly articulate and well thought out.
_________________________
Outlive Yourself - Become an Organ Donor

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#848842 - 04/05/05 12:55 PM Re: Let Us Pray
Moonbat Offline
Full Member

Registered: 10/21/04
Posts: 265
Loc: Bristol, England
 Quote:

yeah, that article was so in depth with such profound logic as:
"God doesn't exist because I prayed and it didn't happen".

I'm surprised that in so many millenia nobody's stumbled onto this truth yet!
I'm afraid your man appears to be made of straw.
_________________________
Entia non sunt multiplicanda praeter necessitatem

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#848843 - 04/05/05 12:59 PM Re: Let Us Pray
KlavierBauer Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/06/02
Posts: 3773
Loc: Boulder, Colorado
*vigorous nod*
_________________________
Outlive Yourself - Become an Organ Donor

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