Saturday, March 17, 2007

Question On Prayer

Consider for a moment these passages from the Gospels where Jesus offers assurance in no uncertain terms that prayer will be answered...

But thou, when thou prayest, enter into thy closet, and when thou has shut thy door, pray to thy Father which is in secret; and thy Father which seeth in secret shall reward thee openly.
Matthew 6:6

Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you: for every one that asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh findeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened.
Matthew 7:7-8

Or what man is there of you, whom if his son ask bread, will he give him a stone? Or if he ask a fish, will he give him a serpent? If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children, how much more shall your Father which is in heaven give good things to them that ask him?
Matthew 7:9-11

If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children; how much more shall your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to them that ask him?
Luke 11:13

Therefore I say unto you, All things whatsoever ye pray and ask for, believe that ye receive them, and ye shall have them.
Mark 11:24

Jesus answering saith unto them, Have faith in God. For verily I say unto you, whosoever shall not doubt in his heart, but shall believe that those things which he saith shall come to pass; he shall have whatsoever he saith.
Mark 11:22-23

If ye have faith as a grain of mustard seed, ye shall say unto this mountain, Remove hence to yonder place; and it shall remove; and nothing shall be impossible unto you.
Matthew 17:20

Again I say unto you, That if two of you shall agree on earth as touching any thing that they shall ask, it shall be done for them of my Father which is in heaven.
Matthew 18:19

Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that believeth on me, the works that I do shall be do also; and greater works than these shall he do; because I go unto my Father. And whatsoever ye shall ask in my name, that will I do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If ye shall ask any thing in my name, I will do it.
John 14:12-14

Yet is there anyone who can honestly say that they experience such reliability and consistency of God granting that which they ask for? And if not, then why not? There are too many passages to support the belief and expectation that God will, in fact, answer prayer as promised.

I can think of two possible answers and there certainly may be others. First, it may be that the Gospels and perhaps the book of Acts belong to a different dispensation than the one we are living in now. Just as the Old Testament or Old Covenant is a different dispensation, a dispensation of the law which has been superceded by the New Testament or New Covenant - a dispensation of grace. If this is the case, then the passages above applied specifically to those Jesus spoke to and not to future generations of believers. This would explain why I don't move mountains.

While this may be the case, I'm reluctant to believe it is so as otherwise I'm hard pressed to understand the point of prayer for contemporary believers including Paul and his exhortation and example as found in the epistles (also belonging to the present dispensation). The second possibility is that there is a relationship that exists between the degree of one's spirituality, that is, the degree to which they are indwelled by the Holy Spirit and, as a result, the faith they possess, and the reality of God answering their prayers. Interestingly, I believe we are blessed with the presence of the Holy Spirit through sincere and constant prayer to the Father in a total, selfless desire to be possessed by His Spirit.

If this is so, then I suspect such individuals, rare though they may be, are so in tune with the will of God that the passages above are a reality for them. Less blessed folk simply wouldn't recognize it. But even this thought seems to be contradicted by the first verse quoted above from Matthew 6:6

Of course, if any of our readers have another answer to this question, feel free to respond via the Feedback page.

The Pursuit of Truth

Henry Waxman personifies the dispassionate search for truth in his polite and probing questioning of the woman who wrote the law concerning what constitutes "outing" covert agents. When the witness responds to his questions the congressman takes the opportunity to sit back and learn and to let the nation be edified by the witness' expertise ....

Okay, I'm fantasizing. Check out the video for yourself at HotAir.


Cheney Variant of BDS

Someone named Michelle Cottle at The New Republic argues that Dick Cheney is losing his grip, probably because of his heart disease. Cottle's article is the typical mean-spirirted stuff we've come to expect from the administration's critics, marinated, however, in faux compassion.

If you read it then you have to read Charles Krauthammer's devastating reply. In fact, just read Krauthammer's essay. It's a masterwork of polemical rebuttal. If Cottle reads it she might be ashamed to ever write anything so silly again.



Physicist Paul Davies, the author of many fascinating books on cosmology and the origin of life, has come up with a novel explanation for how the universe could be so exquisitely fine-tuned for life without having to invoke the dread concept of a Creator God. Davies hypothesizes that the precise calibrations of dozens of cosmic parameters were set during the Big Bang by a phenomenon called "retrocausality":

If retrocausality is real, it might even explain why life exists in the universe -- exactly why the universe is so "finely tuned" for human habitation. Some physicists search for deeper laws to explain this fine-tuning, while others say there are millions of universes, each with different laws, so one universe could quite easily have the right laws by chance and, of course, that's the one we're in.

Paul Davies, a theoretical physicist at the Australian Centre for Astrobiology at Macquarie University in Sydney, suggests another possibility: The universe might actually be able to fine-tune itself. If you assume the laws of physics do not reside outside the physical universe, but rather are part of it, they can only be as precise as can be calculated from the total information content of the universe. The universe's information content is limited by its size, so just after the Big Bang, while the universe was still infinitesimally small, there may have been wiggle room, or imprecision, in the laws of nature.

And room for retrocausality. If it exists, the presence of conscious observers later in history could exert an influence on those first moments, shaping the laws of physics to be favorable for life. This may seem circular: Life exists to make the universe suitable for life. If causality works both forward and backward, however, consistency between the past and the future is all that matters. "It offends our common-sense view of the world, but there's nothing to prevent causal influences from going both ways in time," Davies says. "If the conditions necessary for life are somehow written into the universe at the Big Bang, there must be some sort of two-way link."

In other words, since causality is not limited by the laws of physics to only one direction, it's theoretically possible, Davies argues, that sentient life was able to somehow reach back to the Big Bang and calibrate the forces of physics and the expansion rate of the universe and a host of other values. Billions of years later intelligent beings would arise which had the ability to retroactively create their own universe.

This sounds bizarre even for a cosmologist, suggesting as it does the notion that the universe is the creation of its own inhabitants. Davies' theory is interesting, however, for what it implies. First, it's a tacit admission by Davies that the universe is inexplicable apart from having been tinkered with by an intelligent mind, and second, it illustrates the philosophical contortions some people will put themselves through in order to avoid the conclusion that the intelligent agent responsible for the universe is God.

HT: Telic Thoughts


The Battle of Diyala

As American and Iraqi pressure mounts in Baghdad insurgents and al Qaeda fighters are fleeing the city for other refuges. One such destination is a city named Diyala, but coalition forces are not permitting them to find a haven there. Bill Roggio gives us an update on the Battle of Diyala.