13 August 2020

Do prayers get results ?

 Two guys sitting together in a bar in the remote Alaskan wilderness.

One of the guys is religious, the other's an atheist.

The two are arguing about the existence of God with that special intensity that comes after about the fourth beer.

The atheist in a fleeting moment of vulnerability says "Look, it's not like I don't have actual reasons for not believing in God. It's not like I haven't ever experimented with the whole God and prayer thing. Just last month I got caught away from camp in that terrible blizzard and I was totally lost and I couldn't see a thing and it was 50 below and so I tried it. I fell to my knees in the snow and cried out 'Oh God if there is a god I'm lost in this blizzard and I'm gonna die if you don't help me now.'"

In the bar the religious guy looks at the atheist all puzzled: "Well then you must believe now" he says "after all here you are alive."

The atheist just rolls his eyes: "No man, all that happened was a couple of Inuit happened to come wandering by and they showed me the way back to camp."

(From David Foster Wallace, Commencement Speech, Kenyon College, 2005, https://youtu.be/OsAd4HGJS4o?t=161)


Does the atheist's experience in the blizzard prove that prayers are answered or not?

How can the same experience mean totally different things to the atheist and the believer?  

Is it possible that belief, meaning & interpretation actually precede the evidence?

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