A look at the clash of reason with religion, conspiracy and other widely-held beliefs.
When I take some aspirin because I am sick and in a lot of pain, there is no way to tell just by my personal experience that the aspirin actually helped. It may have had just a pseudo-pill affect or maybe my pain would have gone down without the aspirin. This is particularly the case as taking aspirin has never taken me from being sick in bed to actually feeling better. At best I have felt like I was in a little less pain. I am not suggesting that people not take aspirin. My point is that anecdotal evidence is worthless for any meta-issue including whether God or a milk bottle is actually going to listen to my prayers. I am a theist; just not the sort of theist that believers that God would likely interfere in world events for the private benefit of an individual, particularly if it was simply a matter of that person asking nicely. The moment I believe that God would give someone a thousand bucks because that person prayed for it, I must also hold God responsible for saying “wait” to all those people who died in the Holocaust and every other major disaster in human history. This would mean a satanic God, a certain game over for me.
"When I take some aspirin because I am sick and in a lot of pain, there is no way to tell just by my personal experience that the aspirin actually helped." True - if you just take it once! If you take it several times and compare how you fell to not taking it several times then you could tell from personal experience. There is also the experience of millions of other people. Added to how we know aspirin works it's a pretty rock solid case. This is not true for prayer.
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Copyright Ed Baker