Nov 132006

Daniel Dennett, The Austin B. Fletcher Professor of Philosophy at Tufts University in Massachusettes and author of widely read Darwin’s Dangerous Idea, has apparently had a serious heart problem requiring major surgery. Dennett discusses his brush with death in this essay entitled Thank Goodness!!!. (Don’t miss the photo!!)

Let me state right up front that I wish Dr. Dennett well and a full and speedy recovery. However, I can’t help but notice the irony in his essay when he writes:

Still, I excuse those who pray for me. I see them as like tenacious
scientists who resist the evidence for theories they don’t like long
after a graceful concession would have been the appropriate response.
I applaud you for your loyalty to your own position — but remember:
loyalty to tradition is not enough. You’ve got to keep asking
yourself: What if I’m wrong? In the long run, I think religious
people can be asked to live up to the same moral standards as secular
people in science and medicine

I have to wonder why, in his near brush with death, why didn’t Dr. Dennett live up to his own admonishment and ask himself “What if I’m wrong?” (seems like it might have been a good time to ask!), instead of remaining loyal to his atheistic tradition? And given that tradition, where does this high moral standard religious people ought to live up to come from in the first place?

Please, get well Dr. Dennett, because your epiphany doesn’t quite seem complete yet!

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15 years ago

why didn’t Dr. Dennett live up to his own admonishment and ask himself “What if I’m wrong?”

That was my thought when I read that article. Within a millisecond I remembered that double standard is the norm for Darwinists.

I also find it strange that Dennett was so easily overcome by such a simple study as this.

For another, we now have quite solid grounds (e.g., the recently released Benson study at Harvard) for believing that intercessory prayer simply doesn’t work.

This study certainly is not conclusive. Most importantly these conflicting studies completely lack the theological understanding of prayer. Prayer is not a chemical formula whereby mixing two agents together you are guarantee to get a certain result. God is the object for which the prayer is addressed and He is sovereign. He is not a robot or computer program that is required to respond in a particular manner as long as certain buttons are pushed. Also the person making the prayer and the receiver of the prayer are integral parts of whether the prayer is answered or not. The prayer of a righteous man prevaileth much. Is the person making the prayer a righteous man? Even if the prayer is offered by a righteous person there is no guarantee that the prayer must be answered. Do the people receiving the prayers fall within God’s plan that they be healed? Do they deserve to be healed? Only and omnipotent and omniscient God would be able to determine if answering any prayer is in the interest of His plan for humanity.

I would think a man of Dennett’s stature would have more informed and critical thinking on a matter such as this, before being so convinced that intercessory prayer is of no effect. Or is this evidence of Dennett’s own atheistic bias affecting his ability to cogent reasoning? How does that saying go? “There is no one more blind than those who refuses to see.” I think this fits people like Dennett pretty well.

where does this high moral standard religious people ought to live up to come from in the first place?

I suspect this is just atheist figure of speech. There is no moral standard in Atheism, only contemporary communal agreements. To borrow a quote from my other blog,
If chance
be the Father of all flesh,
disaster is his rainbow in the sky,
and when you hear,
“State of Emergency!
Sniper Kills Ten!
Troops on Rampage!
Whites go Looting!
Bomb Blasts School!”

It is but the sound of man
worshipping his maker.

So do not be alarmed when you see things like this. It is nothing more than the Darwinian atheists and agnostics worshipping his maker.

15 years ago

As far as I can tell, none of the studies on the efficacy of prayer are valid for the simple reason that there is no way to control all the variables. The biggest uncontrollable variable is that there could be one or dozens of people not part of the study engaged in prayer for one of the study subjects. There is no accounting for that in these studies.

If Dr. Dennett has a full and complete recovery from this surgery, no doubt he will attribute all of it to the skill of the doctors and medical team that worked on him. But how could he ever be certain that the efficacy of their efforts were not aided and guided because someone, somewhere was praying for him? At root, Dennett mistakes magic for miracle and completely overlooks that God often works through the ordinary stuff of life. Dennett simply chooses not to see it. Like all atheists, his atheism isn’t based on evidence that is or isn’t there, but how he chooses to see and interpret the evidence that is there.

15 years ago

You make a good point. Miracles are intervention of the natural laws by God. We can’t put God in a test tube. That doesn’t mean we can’t have any knowledge of miracles. It just means that it is rare. Miracles by definition are acts of God stemming from outside of our three dimensional space and time. This is at least possible if one is to accept the possibility of string theory and multiverse. According to string theory other universes can exists in extra dimensions. It is also theorized that these other dimensions can interact with our spacetime. A miracle in that sense is nothing more than a cause emanating from outside of spacetime, for which the effects are felt in our dimensional existence.