Well, that makes it all simple … I guess I can toss that book(Wickedness) by Ms Midgley. Mr Niven offers that:

The problem of evil, for instance, has often been reduced to one and only one issue, that of unanswered prayers (see e.g. here)

Well, one can come up with a few notions, which may not be “new” but it’s unclear on why that is per se problematic.

  1. From Scripture, John 9 offers As he passed by, he saw a man blind from birth. And his disciples asked him, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?” Jesus answered, “It was not that this man sinned, or his parents, but that the works of God might be displayed in him.
  2. There is a story of a Papal representative referring to Acts 3:6 who when referring to the rich appointments in the Vatican city noted that “no longer can we say, we “have no silver and gold” … the retort as it goes is that no longer either can the representative say, “In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, rise up and walk!”
  3. When the disciples failed to cast out an unclean spirit, (Mark 9) Jesus replied, “This kind can come out only by prayer and fasting.”
  4. Genesis 1 as discussed by Kass in The Beginning of Wisdom: Reading Genesis points out that one of the lessons of this first story is that God’s universe as created is intelligible.
  5. Consider the following. A group of people in a room are trying to determine if they can communicate with a person outside of room. Some individuals think they can communicate with that outside individual. One faction in the room devises a well constructed double blind experiment to see if the communication works. The experiment “fails.” That however proves nothing meaningful, in that it assumes that the exterior entity is unaware of the experiment. Or more plainly, what does a double blind experiment mean that must needs “blind” God?
  6. Finally, examine the action of a parent. Parents do not fulfill every request of a child. Every stumble, every fall. If a parent was to catch and hand hold every matter a child faced, that child would not grow up. Augustine coined the phrase (I think), that “happy fall”.

What is the point of these items?

  1. God’s view is larger in scope than one man’s view. A person may endure hardship to bring out the good in those around him. There may be other reasons.
  2. It is often said that works of prayer are rare these days because the work of prayer matches the faith. This is not an age of faith and prayer. Likewise ascetic struggle is not common likewise the fruits of prayer are less clear.
  3. Consider a nerfed world in which every prayer is answered and no harm can be done to another. What moral development might we expect in men? What need would a man have to be good.
  4. Some offer a “scientific” study (based on unusual assumptions regarding God) proving that prayer doesn’t work. Another has a large number of individuals who witness to the benefit of a lifetime of ascetic struggle which includes numerous personal encounters with God.
  5. Finally, this notion of prayer as a mechanism to “fix things in your life which are wrong or are painful” is flawed. Prayer is fundamentally a reach for communion with the Creator, a striving for theosis … not a magical incantation to make your life materially better.

[Update: Missing link to the first quoted excerpt which was missing is now present]

Filed under: ChristianityMark O.Religion

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