A day after the Sutherland Springs tragedy, the District Attorney strode onto national television beseeching all of us to pray. Which begged more than some questions.
Exactly what was she importuning us to pray for? Progressives might have pressed their mournful, heavenward fingers together pleading to God for stricter gun-control laws; NRA advocates against Progressives exploiting the calamity by lobbying for stricter gun-control laws . Others might have prayed for a permanent end to mass murders or for improved vigilance in the detection of dangerous, deranged psychopaths or simply for the emotional welfare of the victims' families or for God-knows-what. Which is kind of the point. God might just get vexed by the bewildering variety and sheer volume of requests, many at odds with each other. Maybe the District Attorney should have been more specific about what exactly should constitute the content of those prayers. You think? (The grotesque irony here is that a fundamental activity of those churchgoers was...prayer.)
Other questions rear up: Can a high volume of prayers nudge God toward a favorable verdict? Will God conduct a kind of referendum, sorting out and adding up prayer ballots, then grant the invocations of the winning collective will ? Can a yearning crowd act as a kind of Occupy-Heaven movement? Even if all the assembled prayers were identical, does the multitude of prayer really count?
And now onto the Big Question. Does prayer work? First of all, does anybody really believe that the efficacy of Christian prayer hasn't already been tested through scientific research? Does anybody believe that if the conclusions proved that prayer actually yielded favorable outcomes, that the clergy wouldn't be all over it like, well, an omniscient, ubiquitous, full-service Diety? If you happen to still be one of the anybodies, I refer you to Richard
Dawkins's book, The God Delusion, in which he points out that all reported studies of the prayer potency turned up a virtual dead heat, In every variation of workup , no difference emerged between holy supplicants and non-supplicants--whether the test subject prayed in self-interest or in the interest of others. Fact is, in one category, it turned out that the outcome minutely favored subjects who did not pray.
But--some would argue--what if the prayer research had been misdirected--that Judeo-Christian dogmas have been barking up the wrong theistic tree? If so, it would behoove science to test the prayer potency of the other monotheistic belief systems, maybe even stretch further to every other known faith including the 47 separate religions practiced on the island of New Guinea. Which brings up another potential quandary. What if just one of the religions won the Power-of-Prayer Sweepstakes?. Like being able to bet on a horse race that just ended, wouldn't we all then be compelled to voluntarily join the proven winner. Probably some would and some wouldn't. Many of those who regard themselves true believers would continue to--in the face of contradictory evidence-- steadfastly, obstinately cling to their reserved seats in their respective houses of worship. Don't buy my speculation? Think it slaps the face of rationality? Think about this. About 35% of American still believe in Donald Trump.
But what about the millions upon millions of the planet's rational inhabitants who would convert to what could now be safely reckoned as the True Faith. The economic chaos, the social upheaval, the logistical turmoil, the geopolitical welter,etc. is unimaginable. Makes you wonder that maybe the world is better off hanging onto its hundreds of disparate religions and sects, don't you think?
Right now I'm asking myself if this blog has really convinced an even a tiny trace of true believers to refrain from heeding the District Attorney's fervent petitioning. Frankly, I don't think it has a prayer.
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