Ep 146: Is there power in prayer? | Bigger questions

Ep 146: Is there power in prayer?

Critics say it's useless and unnecessary. These stories indicate otherwise.
Speaker(s): 
Sameh Maurice
Bible reference(s): 
Matthew 5.43-44
Date: 
Sun Dec 1st, 2019
Miracles
Love and peace
prayer
power

Critics of prayer say it's useless and unnecessary. Yet in this remarkable and uplifting conversation we hear some profound and powerful stories of the effect of prayer in a hostile environment.

Our guest: Dr. Sameh Maurice is the senior pastor of Kasr El Dobara Evangelical Church, the largest church in Egypt and the largest evangelical Arabic-speaking church in the world.

This Bigger Questions conversation was recorded at Belgrave Heights Convention during Easter Convention 2019.


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Comments

''Is there power in prayer?''

Do gods intervene in the lives of humans when they are asked to?
Well .... what do you think, really? :)

Thanks for the question - it's a good one. According to the Christian message, God can intervene in the lives of humans. However this is not a direct relationship. We touch on this question in the podcast - near the end. Would be keen to hear what you think. Thanks for the message.

''According to the Christian message, God can intervene in the lives of humans''

Except that there is no evidence to support this assertion - none whatsoever. So the question remains, why bother?

Thanks for the assertion, but unfortunately there is evidence. Check out the podcast. I'm wondering why you don't at least consider the evidence that was brought? 

No evidence was brought, merely claims.
I presume you know the correct definition of evidence?
For example, the bible claims that Yahweh flooded the entire world.
Of course evidence informs us that this is not the case so it remains a claim.

That's an interesting division of what 'evidence' is. By stating that you immediately rule out and form of personal testimony as 'evidence' and hence undermine the legal system. How can a legal prosecution proceed if it were considered that personal testimony was only a claim and not admitted as evidence. No conviction could ever be made!! Sorry, but I think that's too narrow and I suggest you reconsider what you accept as 'evidence'

A claim made in court remains a claim unless it can be verified
It is not evidence.
The bible claims the world was flooded. Do we consider this text in Genesis to be evidence?
No, of course not.
Would a court of law accept this claim without evidence to support it? Of course they wouldn't. It would very likely be laughed out of court.And rightly so,

"A claim made in court remains a claim unless it can be verified"

Just wondering if you're a lawyer? Personal testimony / eyewitness testimony is considered evidence in a court of law. That evidence of course is open to cross-examination, but it is still evidence.

Ah, so in fact we are talking about unsubstantiated evidence,
Which is generally considered to be no more than a claim.
And of course we are not in a court of law.
Furthermore, such a form of evidence is taken under oath.
Was the chap’s claim made under oath?
Not that I am aware of (you certainly did not say and I am inclined to believe you do not conduct podcasts under such conditions. Please correct me if I am wrong)
Also, he did say/imply there was more than one incidence of a patient coming back from the dead.
Is there a risk of the claimant perjuring himself and being punished for it ? No, of course not.
And yet, you did not cross-examine him and ask him for one shred of evidence to support his claim/testimony.

If I told you I went fishing in a small row boat and my best friend climbed out and walked across the water to the shore to fetch a flask of coffee we had left behind, would you automatically accept my word for it?
I wouldn’t bet my house that you would.
How about the miracle claims from other religions, some of which are claimed to have been witnessed by hundreds if not thousands of people.
Are you aware of Saitha Sai Baba?

A quick look at Wiki …
''Legitimate expert witnesses with a genuine understanding of legal process and the inherent dangers of false or misleading testimony refrain from making statements of fact. ''

Thus the person on your podcast can be deemed to making an unsubstantiated claim.
Is it possible your inclination to accept without any form of follow-up whatsoever – something one would generally expect any normal rational person to do – have anything to do with the fact you are a Christian?

By the way, you still don’t seem to retracted your accusation of stating I accused him of being a liar.
As a Christian, you are warned against making such false accusations, yet you seem to be stubbornly avoiding addressing this point.
I think it only the right thing to do Robert, don’t you?

Thanks for the detailed comment, I'm very sorry for the delay in responding (but have been out of the office and away from Internet).

No, I completely accept that we weren't in a court of law, so your comments there are completely valid. However it would be interesting what he would say if we were in a court of law wouldn't it? 

This then raises the most curious element of your comments, you seem intent on arguing that his witness to these remarkable events is utterly unreliable (for the only reason it would seem that these things don't happen i.e. an a priori commitment to not believing him) and then you wish to retract my claim that you are saying he's a liar. I just can't quite reconcile this. You really do seem to be claiming that he is lying about these claims - how can I interpret otherwise? If he's not lying then what is he doing? I agree a Christian is not make false accusation, but I really can't see how the accusation is false. Please explain to me how you are not actually accusing him of lying - i.e. promoting something that is clearly not true (and he knows it). Unless perhaps, something really did happen to cause him to believe that dead people came back to life!

Thanks for the comments.

"A claim made in court remains a claim unless it can be verified"

Just wondering if you're a lawyer? Personal testimony / eyewitness testimony is considered evidence in a court of law. That evidence of course is open to cross-examination, but it is still evidence.

Personal testimony based on 'fact", based on first hand witnessing of a murder, a crime, a physical event, is something quite different from the personal testimony where one sees an event and deduces that such and such 'must' have happened. As in, he came back from the dead, so Jesus "must have intervened" as part of the process. You could as well say 'Satan must have intervened" or his long dead mother came back from the grave "to breathe life into him". Any circumstance can count. But it ain't eye witness accounts, only eyewitness deduction.
If you saw a brick fall from a tall building and hit a passerby, you would have serious proof that the brick was not thrown or manifested itself magically just in time to coldcock the guy in the street. However, if you suddenly saw a brick drop from the heavens (in a manner of speaking), and knock the man senseless, you would have to do some serious deducing. Was it thrown? Did it come loose from a wall? Were the gods out to get this guy? Did the Devil do it?

I would say that if the man was surrounded by surgeons and physicians in a hospital setting, and his heart stopped beating and then started again, God had little to do with it, but the surgeons surely did. Why not just give credit where credit is due instead of ascribing all things to the Invisible Surgeon.

That's an interesting division of what 'evidence' is. By stating that you immediately rule out and form of personal testimony as 'evidence' and hence undermine the legal system. How can a legal prosecution proceed if it were considered that personal testimony was only a claim and not admitted as evidence. No conviction could ever be made!! Sorry, but I think that's too narrow and I suggest you reconsider what you accept as 'evidence'

''Is there power in prayer?''

Do gods intervene in the lives of humans when they are asked to?
Well .... what do you think, really? :)

''We have seen signs, wonders miracles , people raised from the dead ...
''You've seen people raised from the dead?''
''Yeah, yeah .. kidney transplants, People in the intensive care died clinically, and um, and Jesus appeared to them and brought them back to life.....''

Are you really sure you want to read what I think about this?

Really?

I have a pretty thick skin, but are you saying that Dr. Maurice is a liar? He seems to be astounded by what he has seen as well.

Why do you dismiss his experience so easily? Surely it must be considered some form of evidence?

A claim is not evidence. Jesus appeared and raised a dead person? Really?

Though I do not know you from a bar of soap, I would not credit you you with being so credulous.
Surely you are not for one second suggesting that his tale holds any veracity?

I consider myself a sane, reasonable person, but I have no reason to doubt his claim. Why would he lie about it? 

Perhaps it's our presuppositions that are different. If you assume there is no god, then of course you'll scoff. But I have a slightly different perspective.

I did not say he lied about it - that was your suggestion.
I said he made a claim. An unsubstantiated claim.
Did he provided any evidence? Nothing that was mentioned.
Perhaps you know if some evidence to verify his claim? If so, please tell me what it is.
''If you assume there is no god,''
I do not assume anything.
My perspective is governed by evidence. As an atheist I have no belief in gods, not your god or any other. This lack of belief is based solely on the total absence of evidence.

I did not say he lied about it - that was your suggestion.
I said he made a claim. An unsubstantiated claim.
Did he provided any evidence? Nothing that was mentioned.
Perhaps you know if some evidence to verify his claim? If so, please tell me what it is.
''If you assume there is no god,''
I do not assume anything.
My perspective is governed by evidence. As an atheist I have no belief in gods, not your god or any other. This lack of belief is based solely on the total absence of evidence.

I actually think you did claim he lied. He made a claim, which he believed to be true. Yet you claim that the claim did not happen, how does that not therefore make him a liar? 

No, Robert I did not say he was lying as he could simply be reporting something he was told.
Surely you understand what hearsay is, yes?
So this doesn't spiral into ad homs, perhaps an apology is due?

So,it's a straightforward question: Are you aware of any evidence that verifies his claim, Robert?

How do you know he didn't see this with his own eyes? I was under the impression this was what he saw himself. What kind of evidence would you want? Is personal testimony not enough (and a person who was once dead, who is alive - I think that's a pretty objective standard isn't it?)

''How do you know he didn't see this with his own eyes? ''
I don't know, but he didn't say he did either.
Read the text or listen to his words carefully.

It is reasonable to expect that any rational person would ask for evidence of such a claim.
Once again, what evidence do you know of to verify the claim.
And I would appreciate a retraction of your accusation that I called him a liar. Thanks,

Sure, evidence is reasonable, but the point I keep making is that the evidence he has seen and witnessed and shared still requires explanation. I think I suggested that the evidence of a dead person who is now alive is reasonable evidence? Would that be reasonable? You haven't actually explained what you would expect as evidence?

I'm intrigued why you want me to retract the claim of you saying that he is a liar - for it seems to me that you are accusing him of lying - i.e. he claims something happened and you're doubting that it really did happen, which would indicate that he is claiming an untruth - which would make him a liar would it not? I'm not sure which link in this chain of logic is faulty? Thanks for the comments. Nice to have a robust discussion.

''Sure, evidence is reasonable, but the point I keep making is that the evidence he has seen and witnessed and shared still requires explanation''

Indeed it does.
However, why would anyone other than a Christian consider that a person claimed to be clinically dead was resurrected by the character Jesus of Nazareth, who incidentally was claimed to have appeared at the person's bedside?
Of course, this in itself tern opens up an entire body of questions, not least of which would be how did this person know this was the character Jesus of Nazareth?

''I'm intrigued why you want me to retract the claim of you saying that he is a liar''

There is a world of difference between lying and making a claim in the belief that what he has been told is true.
Perhaps you are unaware of this?
I am more than willing to extend the benefit of the doubt to you in this case and hope that once you realise this you will then understand I was not accusing him of lying and you might then feel inclined to apologise.

Why would he lie about it?

Is lying omitting the doctors and nurses and the defibrillator?

He might very well believe down to his toes that such a thing is not only possible, but probable. And he makes his assumption, perhaps, because he trusts in an invisible deity to breathe life into a temporarily dead person, but discounts totally the skill of the doctors, and the possiblity that the man's heart did indeed stop beating, and he was revived by the doctors present. Or it started up of its own accord. it does happen. and oh, that magical defibrillator. What miracles it can perform. =)

''I'm intrigued why you want me to retract the claim of you saying that he is a liar ...''
No, Robert, you're not ''intrigued'' at all, and your sarcasm is not lost.

Not withstanding your busy schedule, Robert, I am somewhat disappointed , yet not entirely surprised that,for someone who professes to be a Christian where humility is claimed to be a hallmark of such that you lack the integrity to offer a simple apology for asserting I called Maurice a liar.

well done!

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