Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Let's Not Be Christian Psychics

Yesterday, I wrote about how psychics may be able to believe that they are telling people the truth. I also told you about some techniques that you could use if you wanted to do the same thing. Given the idea that anything any random occurrence that appears to have a pattern must have an external influence, these techniques will always work to “reveal” psychic phenomena. But we don’t want to become psychics. Personally, I see them all as performers, some of whom believe their own press. But the bigger danger is that we may attempt to apply these same techniques to Christianity.

Some atheists would tell us that the logic of Christianity is just as flawed as that of the psychic. Allow me to demonstrate. Ten people are diagnosis with a disease that we know has a mortality rate of 60%. In other words, we would typically expect six of the ten to drop dead from the disease. But we start praying. After we’ve prayed, it is discovered that one was misdiagnosed and he doesn’t have the disease. Five of the patients survive the disease and four drop dead. It must be God, right? Well, it could be, but no statistician would even blink if you told him those results. But usually it involves an even smaller sample. One person is diagnosed and the church prays about it. If the person finds out he was misdiagnosed, we attribute that to God answering our prayer. If the person drops dead, we say that God chose not to answer our prayer. If we aren’t careful, our thinking concerning God looks very much like the thinking of a psychic concerning ghosts.

If our only argument for Christ is based on answered prayer in the midst of unanswered prayer, we don’t have much of an argument. Before we can look at that situation, we first need to know that the assumption that God is and God is a rewarder of those who diligently seek him is acceptable. The proof of that is all around us. The atheist would have us believe that the Universe formed from completely random events. In this, they are similar to the psychic. The psychic says that no pattern is ever random. The atheist says that everything, even patterns that look like they have an outside influence, is random. Neither extreme has any basis in fact. A better understanding is that order exists because someone put it there, but not everything we perceive as being ordered as significance. The fact that we have plants and animals should be enough to tell us that God put them here, but a cloud that looks like a rabbit probably isn’t a sign from God.

Once we can take God as a given, we can then look at how he answers prayer. Given how powerful he is, it is reasonable to accept that God knows every prayer. If he answers prayer at a rate that is right in line with what is typical, it tells us something about God, but it is no longer a basis for saying God doesn’t exist. Whereas, if all we have is the rate at which prayer is answer then it would have to come into play. But it becomes an interesting question as to why God would answer prayer at a statistically insignificant rate. In one study, people actually did worse in the group that had people praying for them. It could be that God didn’t want to dignify the study with a response.

Whatever the case, we don’t have to rely on randomness to prove God. We see God in the order of the Universe, not the randomness. The order is so abundant that is can’t be attributed to randomness. Let’s not be like the psychics and draw upon whatever comes to mind, but let’s do as the scripture says and test the spirits to see if they are from God.