Saturday, September 15, 2012

How to Pray: The Foundation

Chipmunk face
My parents have been trying to sell their old house for about a year. Six to eight parties have shown interest in the property, and finally, someone has decided to buy it. There's a closing date set and everything!

Of course, on the announcement, the comment show up:
That is absolutely fantastic! An answer to prayer! So happy for you both! Now you guys can get on with *Living*!!
The sentiment is correct, however, it's an answered prayer? It's a decent house in a rural area. There was never a chance it wouldn't sell - it was more a question of time. It was a self-fulfilling prophecy. It would have happened whether there was a God violating the free will of the buyers, or not.

I don't understand why this doesn't occur to these people.

What's odd is that it also involved a practice of burying a small statue of St. Anthony upside down next to the for-sale sign. Why? Because people swear by it - they swear it helps them sell the house faster. Naturally, there's no statistical analysis.

Believers are weird.

Related to the topic of prayer, I've been examining a website that talks about how to pray correctly, etc. I've been going through the sections of this page and analyzing them.

Today's topic is "How to Pray: The Foundation".

The section begins:
You must first begin a relationship with God. Imagine some guy named Mike decides to ask the president of Princeton University (whom Mike doesn't even know) to co-sign a car loan for him. Mike would have zero chance of that happening. (We're assuming that the president of Princeton is not an idiot.) However, if that same president's daughter asked her dad to co-sign a car loan for her, it would be no problem. Relationship matters.
I can see that. I'd point out that there's a severe category problem here, though.

In the first category, we have real people with real cars and real loans establishing real relationships with other real people, and one can have real conversations that have real objective manifestation.

In the second category, we have real people with invisible undetectable non-manifesting souls establishing invisible undetectable relationships with invisible undetectable non-manifesting entities, with conversations that appear to be cast into a void with no response, all over the idea that this invisible undetectable non-manifesting soul is somehow in peril, somehow.

I get the supposed mechanism, but let's not kid ourselves about the degree to which it's imaginary.
With God, when the person is actually a child of God, when the person belongs to God, he knows them and hears their prayers. Jesus said, "I am the good shepherd. I know my sheep and my sheep know sheep listen to my voice. I know them and they follow me. I give them eternal life and they shall never perish; no one can snatch them out of my hand."4
I don't think it's particularly right to say that the child "belongs" to the parent. The parent is the guardian of the child, and responsible for raising it, but the child isn't property. I wouldn't be so pedantic, but it seems to be an important detail - I think.

Otherwise, this paragraph is referring to a Bible quote, which seems to be only used to say "see, I didn't make this up."
When it comes to God then, do you really know him and does he know you? Do you have a relationship with him that warrants God answering your prayers? Or is God pretty distant, pretty much just a concept in your life? If God is distant, or you're not sure that you know God, here is how you can begin a relationship with him right now: Getting Connected [was a link].
I don't know if I know him and he knows me. How can we tell? How can we tell in a way that excludes the possibility of delusion?

I followed the "Getting Connected" link, in the hopes this question would be answered.

Principle One: God loves you and offers a wonderful plan for your life. [Bible quote and such]
Alright... didn't really answer my question. I'm trying to figure out how to establish a non-delusional relationship with this entity. So far, what we've got is "God loves you".

Principle Two: All of us sin and our sin has separated us from God.
Well, that's the way he set it up. He's the one who decided he couldn't tolerate imperfect people, and who supposedly created a tree in the Garden of Eden and he knew that Adam and Even would eat the fruit, and he knew he was going to toss them out, and he knew they were going to sin.

What bothers me about this "sin" concept is that it's not morality. Sin is what offends or defies God's will. This has nothing to do with what's right or wrong. There are some "sins" I would agree match up with morality, but other sins I think are immoral as concepts. For instance, the greatest and unforgivable sin is to deny the holy ghost. Oh no! Thought crime!

I get accused of being an atheist because I want to be a sinner. Well, no. I'm a sinner because I'm ignoring these stupid rules and am trying to be moral and intellectually honest.

So far, we have "God loves you" and "Sin separates us from God".

Principle Three: Jesus Christ is God's only provision for our sin. Through him we can know and experience God's love and plan for our life.
We deserve to pay for our own sin. The problem is, the payment is death. So that we would not have to die separated from God, out of his love for us, Jesus Christ died in our place.
It's bits like this that convince me that Christianity is pure evil. Sure, if I am speeding on the highway, I deserve to get a ticket. I then pay that ticket, and move on with life. According to Christian doctrine, the default sin I'm guilty for is being born and/or some combination of the primitive savage concept that I'm guilty for the things my ancestors did (aka "original sin", in this case).

What I don't deserve for speeding is to be executed by the police on the spot. I don't deserve to then be resurrected, kept alive and tortured forever. For speeding? For being born?

Well, I've already gone on at length about how putrid I find these concepts, so I won't rehash them again. I digress.

Principle Four: We must individually accept Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord.
Okay, so that's how we establish a relationship. We feel all guilty about things that supposedly piss off an invisible undetectable non-manifesting entity, imagine that we have an invisible undetectable non-manifesting brainless mind copy of ourselves that's in danger from an invisible undetectable non-manifesting problem, and then pretend that we've having a relationship with what would otherwise be considered an imaginary friend - and *poof* relationship established.

Then our prayers will start to appear to work, as though no biases, priming or other psychological factors aren't now in play.

So the answer is no. They haven't provided a means for establishing a relationship with God that is distinguishable from delusion.

I'm totally surprised by that.

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