Monday, December 23, 2013

Twas the Night Before Christmas

Twas the night before Christmas, and all through the house
Not a creature was stirring, not even a God.

Well, that's my rendition of the poem anyway, but it leads into the topic of my next post. Over the next couple of days millions of Americans will attend church to honor the birth of Christ, sing some songs and say a few prayers. However did you ever really think about whether God can hear you pray? Let's find out.

If God really does exist and let's say that he lives in heaven which is located outside our known universe, then how could he possibly hear our prayers? Even if our sound waves could travel across the universe (they don't) then it would take roughly 10,000,000,000,000,000 years for your prayer to reach God traveling at the speed of sound, and that's likely a gross understatement since the universe is constantly expanding. So you would long be dead and decayed by the time God got to hear your prayer.

If it's argued that God exists closer to earth, say outside the earth's atmosphere somewhere else within our universe, well there would be another problem. There is no such thing as sound in empty space. Set off a firecracker in empty space it would not make a noise. Sound requires a physical medium (air, ground). So there is no way an entity existing outside the earth's atmosphere could hear our prayers. Even if there was a way God could hear us pray from his location outside earth, there would be so much noise from everybody else talking that our prayers would be drowned out by all the excess commotion, kind of like trying to listen to someone talk when a loud band is playing at a bar and others are singing.

If it's argued that God is here on earth all around us, well I'm not buying that either. We know the weight of the earth's atmosphere and its composition precisely. God = energy and energy = mass (remember Einstein's equation E = M * C^2). If God was all around us then there would be excess mass in our atmosphere that is unaccounted for. However, that is not the case since we can account for every micro-gram. Therefore, God can not be all around us either. Moreover, if he was all around us here on Earth then there would be other issues like why would he let millions of innocent children starve each year, but that's another post for another time.

So really, there is no physical way God can hear our prayers even if God existed. However, if it can be shown that there is power in prayer, then maybe God has a way that we just can't explain with known physics just yet. So let's see if praying really works, after all Jesus said in Matthew [21:22] that "Whatever you ask for in prayer with faith, you will receive." So let's see if Jesus is telling the truth.

First we can look at scientific studies, like that performed by the Cochrane Collaboration Group, who in 2010 performed a meta-analysis of all peer-reviewed medical trials to determine the effects of prayer on people with health problems. Their results showed that praying had no effect on the death rates or recovery rates of patients who had serious medical issues. What was more shocking was the authors suggestion that no further money be spent on determining the effectiveness of prayer ever again.

So where else can we look to see if prayer works. How about Professor William Lane Craig? He is one of the world's foremost Christian apologists and has probably debated in favor of the existence of God over a hundred times. What is interesting is that in all of his debates, not once did he use the power of prayer as evidence for the existence of God. If prayer really worked, he'd be all over it like a fly to honey using it to his debating advantage for sure. The fact he is silent on the subject of the prayer in his debates is telling.

There is one sure way you can find out whether prayer is effective. Simply pray that none of our military troops will be killed in battle in the middle East and pray that no Christians will ever get killed again by a natural disaster like a tornado, hurricane or lightning. You know neither of those prayers will ever come true even if they were blessed by the Pope.

For those who still believe the power of prayer despite the evidence against, then here's a simple challenge. If you really believe that God answers prayers, then there should be no need to carry health insurance, life insurance and homeowners insurance. Just think of how much money you can save through the power or prayer. Of course no sane person would do this because they know deep down praying has no impact on anything that happens on this planet.

In summary, there's no physical way God can can hear our prayers and there's no evidence that God is answering our prayers, contrary to the words of Jesus. So I say skip the church, skip the prayers, save the time, save the donation money and don't worship a liar and a fraud, even on Christmas.

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