Worlds & Time

Monday, May 30, 2016

Praying for you & Free Will

I saw someone pull the old "I'll pray for you" to an gynecologist the other day on Twitter, and one of the videos I was watching on YouTube (I can't recall which one, sorry) had been talking about God's position on free will.

Generally, most of the Christians that I've talked with have insisted that God doesn't interfere with human free will.  There are a couple of reasons why they have to argue that, both Biblical and related to the problem of evil.  After all, if all evil in the world is caused by the fall of man, and Christians have salvation in Christ, one might expect God to intervene to protect Christians or perhaps the innocent.

Spoiler alert, that doesn't happen.

If everything is the fault of free will, including death and disease and etc., then that allows Christians to side step the issue of what God could be doing while still blaming humans. Humans brought any pain and suffering on themselves and others, and any interference in that would somehow meddle with free will, somehow.

Also, just to point out, the belief that god doesn't interfere in free will is explicitly contradicted in the Bible.  God hardens Pharaoh's heart multiple times, preventing him from making reasonable choices in the face of the plagues that Moses is bringing down on his people.  And just to note that these choices are directly linked to the possibility of Pharaoh's salvation.  If he believed the miracles that he was witnessing first hand, he might have decided to worship the god of the Bible.

I suppose I should also point out that faith instead of knowledge being required for salvation is also murky.  After all, if early Christians witnessed the miracles of Jesus of Nazareth, they didn't need to have faith in him, as Christians today will define the concept. 

So, ignoring Pharaoh, if God really doesn't interfere in free will, what exactly are people asking for when they say "I'll pray for you"?  the vast majority of those people are praying to a God that they themselves don't believe will change a human's mind.  Not because he can't but because he actively refuses to do so.  So . . . they're praying for God to do something that they know he won't?  Actively praying against the explicit will of God?

There's an atheist meme, "Prayer: How to do nothing and pretend that you're doing something."  However, assuming that the people aren't pretending but actively hoping for a change, saying "I'll pray for you" is even worse, because as honestly as you might hope for a change you're also sure that it's not going to happen.

It's quite literally praying for nothing.

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