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Post #1258023

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1-Dec-2018, 9:25 PM

Puggo - Jar Jar’s Yoda said:

RicOlie_2 said:

Puggo - Jar Jar’s Yoda said:

RicOlie_2 said:

Puggo - Jar Jar’s Yoda said:

RicOlie_2 said:

Puggo - Jar Jar’s Yoda said:

Ok, thanks for pointing out the clarification, and sorry for directing my comment specifically to you. I’ll change my “YOU” to point towards a larger swath of zealous missionaries, you specifically not necessarily included. (although some of your other posts do seem to fit the 2nd sentence - that is, being the lucky bearer of ultimate truth).

Thanks, and apologies, as I realize some of my posts were unclear. And I do in fact believe I am the (very) fortunate bearer of ultimate truth…I wouldn’t be Christian if I didn’t.

BTW, this is exactly why science is not a religion. Scientists do not claim to know the truth; they only argue what they believe to be the current best explanations for things, given the limitations of available measurement technology. Being proven wrong is how science advances. By contrast, religion claims absolutely to know the truth (sometimes in spite of measurements and scientific reasoning), and those truths are immutable - like axioms in a mathematical system.

Certainly, but we don’t claim to know the truth about absolutely everything either. Out of curiosity, what scientific reasoning and measurements do you think contradict Christianity (and specifically Catholicism)?

Well, for one, the power of prayer. Scientific studies have repeatedly failed to find any evidence that prayer has any effect whatsoever, while Christianity (and other religions) insist that it does.

I’m curious to know what they looked at specifically in those studies. In Catholicism, we believe a number of things about prayer that may not have been taken into account: (1) prayer is primarily about conforming one’s will to God’s will, not about obtaining favours, (2) intercessory prayer is more effective when one has conformed oneself to God’s will (because one is not praying for something that contradicts God’s will), and (3) that means that if someone decides to pray to God all of a sudden because they need help, God might not answer that prayer because they aren’t really asking because they have faith in a friend, but because they want to avoid pain and suffering.

That being said, I’m not sure I can refute that argument. I will say, however, that if we think of the way a human parent might seem inconsistent to a child, it can be easy to see why God might seem inconsistent from a limited human perspective. For instance, a kid might ask their mom if they can have a friend over on a certain day, and the mother might say no (for example, because she won’t be home and doesn’t feel comfortable leaving another person’s kid with their babysitter), despite having encouraged the kid to be more social and invite friends over more often. It seems inconsistent to the child, but perfectly reasonable from the point of view of the mother.

Regarding your first paragraph, I don’t think that any of that is measurable, so science would have nothing to say about it. That’s convenient – by always couching things in ways that aren’t measurable, religion is thus able to demand faith. And this is why I have a hard time understanding how anyone would go about choosing from amongst the hundreds of religions – all of them require faith, and none of them offer anything tangible on which to give confidence in that faith. Thus most people follow the religion in which their parents raised them, or whichever religion they happen to be exposed to. Isn’t that odd, given that God is supposedly everywhere, one of the religions is supposed to be correct, and yet religions are so localized?

Regarding your second paragraph, I agree with you. However, I don’t think that has anything to do with scientific study of prayer. Studies haven’t shown that the effects of prayer are inconsistent. Rather, science has yet to find any effect whatsoever.

This scientific article does a good job explaining the difficulties involved in the scientific study of prayer:

It also indicates that all studies to date have been inadequate. Note that the data are far from conclusive. It mentions studies in which the group that was prayed for did in fact show significant improvements compared with the group that was not prayed for (fascinatingly, one study did this with bush-babies). That doesn’t necessarily rule out a placebo effect though.

Wikipedia also has a pretty good article on this, overlapping a lot with the one I mentioned above. Here’s a link to a section on a study that found prayer to have positive effects on people undergoing treatment for AIDS:

I think whether prayer is efficacious or not involves too many variables, including many that cannot be quantitatively measured, and as such, I doubt science will ever be able to answer the question.

I understand why you might think this “convenient,” but I don’t think Catholicism is beyond the reach of science. We have things like Eucharistic miracles which can and have been scientifically analyzed. Reason can also be used to determine whether certain philosophical aspects of a given religion make sense or are probable. Then, there is the testimony of hundreds or thousands of people who claim to have had direct experience with the divine (and which, as far as I can tell, is much more reliably documented in Christianity than in other faiths).

As for religions being localized, I don’t think that’s true of Christianity anymore. See (the Catholic Church is a bit more localized, but if Orthodoxy, which is almost identical, is included, we’ve got most of the world covered).