Monday, June 24, 2013

Answers in silence?

In our Sunday paper today, two questions to Billy Graham were featured. I'll be reviewing the first one today, and the second will follow tomorrow:
Sometimes God gives us wisdom to solve our own problems

DEAR BILLY GRAHAM: How do I know if God even listens to my prayers? I have a lot of problems, and I’ve asked God repeatedly to take them away, but nothing ever changes. Maybe God doesn’t care. — L.W.
DEAR L.W.: You may find it hard to believe right now, but God is even more concerned about you and your problems than you are. This is why the Bible says, “Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you” (1 Peter 5:7).

It’s often been said that God answers our prayers in one of three ways: Yes, no, and wait. There is much truth in this, because God knows our needs far better than we do. Sometimes, for example, we want him to do something for us, but our prayers are self-centered or thoughtless, and God says “No” because He knows our motives are wrong. Or sometimes God says, “Wait! Not yet!” — because he sees the whole picture, and he knows what’s best for us, both now and in the future. And sometimes, of course, God says “Yes.”

But I’ve discovered that God sometimes answers our prayers in a fourth way: By showing us how to solve the problem. In other words, sometimes we become the answer to our own prayers! We always want God to solve our problems instantly, but sometimes God wants us to deal with them on our own, as he gives us wisdom.

I don’t know what problems you’re facing right now, but God does and he wants to help you overcome them, because he loves you. Pray for wisdom … seek advice from people you trust … and then, little by little, do all you can to solve them. The Bible says, “I will go before you and will level the mountains” (Isaiah 45:2).
Talk about a non-answer! The claim that God answers prayers as either 'yes', 'no', or 'wait' is a rather useless one with no explanatory power. Think about it, if these are the possible results we are supposed to expect, then you've only manufactured a situation that is designed to claim success. The problem with the argument offered is that the very same argument can be made for any deity. God of no God, the law of averages tells us that sometimes our 'prayers' will be answered, and sometimes they won't. On sometimes the answer we were looking for may come along later on.

But all you've done is offer a universally worthless explanation. If a Muslin offer the same yes/no/wait explanation, they'd feel that they justified Muslim prayer. Same with a Hindu believer. They pray and claim the same yes/no/wait answers. So surely Ganesha is provably answering their prayers as well. The same claim can be made for every single religion, with the same results. So it does nothing to show Christian prayer to be effective. But there's more.

What if I pray to my cat? I ask him to help me with a problem in my life and can expect the same three answers of yes/no/wait. Statistically, the answer may present itself, or it may not. Additionally, after I ask my furry god (well, he acts like he is at least) for help, I may not get a solution right away, but a week later, the problem may be solved. So is my cat actually answering my prayers? Hopefully you said no, otherwise you're probably a bit loony. Yet Billy Graham's answer tells us that I should bow down before my cat and build a shrine in his honor. Such it to uselessness of the yes/no/wait argument.

Then Graham offers a fourth possibility, but falsely attributes it to God. This is one of the greatest disservices Christianity places on human responsibility... or rather takes from it. He says that God may also choose to grant you the strength to solve your problem(s) for yourself. But it is wrong to claim that God gave you the strength. In reality, you had it inside you all along. We are often stronger and capable of more than we may give ourselves credit for. There's no need to thank a god for hard work that you did. You dug deep and found the solution. No thanks to a deity, but thanks to you're own inner strength and determination.

So don't fall into worthless explanations, and answers designed to trap you into believing falsehoods. Dig deep and be your own champion. Don't settle for convenient lies, and instead strive for the truth, as that is what will truly set you free.

-Brain Hulk

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