s a Christian I believed that my prayers were not only heard by god but that my prayers were important enough to initiate action. As with any Christian, my basis for believing this was not grounded in reality but in scripture:
Very truly I tell you, whoever believes in me will do the works I have been doing, and they will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father. And I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son.
Clearly, the quotes attributed to Jesus define prayer as a sort of tangible, telepathic request which (in Jesus’ name) will be heard and granted if the person praying has even the slightest bit of real faith. Jesus describes the amount of faith necessary in Matthew 17:20 as a mustard seed (long considered the smallest seed). That's not a whole lot of faith, by anyone's standards. However, if this amount of faith is attainable why aren't more prayers answers and more miracles performed/observed? The answers to these questions don't come easy (to a rational mind) but I'll detail the Christian thought process -- or, at least, the thought process as I understood it while I was a Christian -- and give my best answer.
n a previous post I discussed the "good enough" mentality that most Christians have regarding their faith and the infallibility of the scriptures. That post aimed broadly at the Christian faith overall but there's a sinister implementation of this mentality I'd like to address now. This post pertains to the "good enough" mentality regarding the Theory of Evolution.
Above is a Christian parody of the Descent of Man illustration from a fairly well-written Revelife article on the Christian misunderstandings of evolution. You may want to take a minute and read it. This post will still be here when you get back.
ne thing religious people cannot stress enough is that they're all about family. Their organizations even have names like Focus on the Family and the American Family Association (branded a hate group out of MS). For the most part I find this to be true so long as everyone's keeping the faith and maintaining the status quo. I can say from my upbringing (aside from corporal punishment and having no say in church attendance) that our Christian family was very tight-knit and we spent a lot of quality time together. It wasn't perfect, but it was far better than a lot of other families I've seen. Now, to clarify, some of these not-so-happy families I've seen are religious as well so it's not as though they have a corner on the market. I'm just speaking to the Christian view that family is important.
As I said, religious families are close-knit and happy so long as everyone's keeping the faith. They don't say, "The family that prays together stays together" for no reason. It's literally true. I found this out myself when I started to upset the status quo of my family and I was made to feel like an outcast. My family's treatment of me was mild compared to what some people endure at the hands of their religious parents, grandparents, and siblings.
hen I was a Christian it seemed like everything I saw pointed to the truth of god's existence. I had the Bible, my parents' word, my Sunday School teachers and preachers, any number of books and pamphlets, and nature itself bolstering my faith. I felt like I had good reason to believe what I did and I didn't even have to look for evidence: everything was evidence!
That is, until I actually started examining my beliefs and my reasons for holding them. What I found was not that the evidence for god was strong, but that I was willing to accept pretty much anything as evidence so long as it adhered to my preconceptions. Those things that didn't conform to my beliefs were simply ignored without any thought at all.
was always taught as a child that god was in charge. He was the ultimate authority, the first and last word on any subject, and the law. He took orders from nobody and had nobody to whom he had to answer. God made the laws of nature and he could break them any time he wanted. There was absolutely nothing he couldn't do. Then I read the Bible.
At many points in the Bible god is seemingly forced to take some kind of drastic action to intercede in his creation and at every one of these points he chooses (or must choose) the most elaborate, ineffective, and sometimes flat-out silly means. It seems that every time he has to step in and take action he's constrained by the Hollywood villain code of monologuing and setting up a trap that's just way too complex to work. Here are some examples: