Praying for Peace Proves That Our Prayers Always Work

peace sign in petals
Image by Engin Akyurt from Pixabay

Few of us are immune to images of human suffering hitting the news like what we have been seeing in Ukraine. Yes, I'm sure some will dismiss them as some sort of false flag nonsense, but I'm ignoring those people for now. Among the rest of us, some people will inevitably resort to prayer. They will want the suffering to end, so they will pray for peace.

Let's set aside the problems with praying to the same gods that allowed the suffering in the first place. It should be clear by now that religious believers do not recognize this as a problem the way atheists do. Instead, let's consider the practice of seeking divine intervention to end suffering. What are the possible outcomes of this practice? How will religious believers interpret each possible outcome?

If the suffering were to come to an abrupt end, those who prayed would rejoice. They would conclude that their gods had intervened at their request. Prayer led to peace. If the suffering came to a gradual end (which is almost always more likely), they'd react in the same way. Once again, they'd credit their prayers for the peace. I don't know about you, but that realization strikes me as an important one.

And what if the suffering didn't end? Doesn't that seem unlikely, though? I mean, it will end eventually, won't it? And when it does, this will also be confirmation that prayers were effective. We'd still have prayer to thank for the peace. Even if the conflict went on for a decade, we'd hear about "mysterious ways" or it all being part of a divine plan. What we wouldn't hear about would be the failure of prayer.

The power of prayer falls into the category of unfalsifiable claims. We can (and have) tested it via science. While it hasn't fared well, this hasn't been a problem for the prayerful. Why? They'll explain away any evidence that doesn't support their claims. They have already concluded that prayer is effective. No amount of evidence will change that. In science, an unfalsifiable theory is a poor one. That isn't the case in religion.