The Lessons of Every Day Experience

The people of Israel understood that God would speak to them through a variety of means. They expected to hear from God as their priests taught and interpreted the law of Moses, and their prophets brought the word of the Lord to warn and exhort them. But they also recognised that God would speak to them through the lessons of every day experience. These lessons were captured in compact, memorable sayings, or proverbs, passed down from the wisest among their elders. Thus a collection of such sayings is to be found among Israel’s sacred books. We know it today as the book of proverbs. 

© Introduction to Proverbs TNIV The Books of The Bible.

Within the context of Sola Scriptura… Should we expect to and if so, how should we discern God working through every day experiences?

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About Craig Benno

I'm an average aussie guy who has lived perhaps a not so average life.
This entry was posted in Proverbs, Wisdom Literature and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

11 Responses to The Lessons of Every Day Experience

  1. tildeb says:

    Now that is great question.

  2. tildeb says:

    I sincerely hope others respond to this question because I think it is central to what truly informs faith and, as such, requires close attention to be able to differentiate between experiences that support the god hypothesis and experiences that do not. If there really is a way to differentiate, then this is very important. If there isn’t, then that too is highly relevant.

  3. Craig Benno says:

    Good observation there Tildeb.

    In my more recent post about Francis Collins; world renown scientist – he makes the point in the video in how his research as a geneticist continues to point him towards the existence of a creator and not away from it.

    The issue of differentiating though is made more difficult between what you would accept as an acceptable basis for the differentiating to what perhaps I or another believer would.

    For instance its most likely you would discount the effectiveness of prayer and see any answer as a co-incidence and not providence…plus as already previously discussed – your world view disallows you any idea of spiritual / demonic involvement – despite what ever that experience may be.

    The question then is to ask, if as a scientist / atheist your actually willing to open your mind to the possibility of the involvement with God and therefore its possible there is a god / God.

    • tildeb says:

      Because you mention efficacy of prayer, I thought I’d best send along a few tidbits that belie your assertion (you’ll note these results are not based on how I personally feel about the claim but honest studies into prayer’s efficacy:

      * Abbot NC, et al. Spiritual healing as a therapy for chronic pain: a randomized, clinical trial. “…there were no statistically significant differences between healing and control groups…“
      * Astin JA, et al. The efficacy of distant healing for human immunodeficiency virus–results of a randomized trial. This one is especially relevant, since it has Elisabeth Targ’s name as one of the authors! “Distant healing or prayer from a distance does not appear to improve selected clinical outcomes in HIV patients…“
      * Aviles JM, et al. Intercessory prayer and cardiovascular disease progression in a coronary care unit population: a randomized controlled trial. “As delivered in this study, intercessory prayer had no significant effect on medical outcomes after hospitalization in a coronary care unit.“
      * Benson H, et al. Study of the Therapeutic Effects of Intercessory Prayer (STEP) in cardiac bypass patients: a multicenter randomized trial of uncertainty and certainty of receiving intercessory prayer. This study actually showed a reverse effect: “certainty of receiving intercessory prayer was associated with a higher incidence of complications“!
      * Cleland JA, et al. A pragmatic, three-arm randomised controlled trial of spiritual healing for asthma in primary care. “Spiritual healing does not appear to have any specific affect [sic] on patient asthma related quality of life.“
      * Gaudia G. Searching in the Darkness: About Prayer and Medical Cures. “We scientists make a great mistake when we agree that there may be value in investigating the potential of prayer as a cure.“
      * Harkness EF, et al. A randomized trial of distant healing for skin warts. “Distant healing from experienced healers had no effect on the number or size of patients’ warts.“
      * Hobbins PG. Compromised ethical principles in randomised clinical trials of distant, intercessory prayer. “…many studies did not meet basic ethical standards required of clinical trials of biophysical interventions, making application of their results ethically problematic…”
      * Matthews DA, et al. Effects of intercessory prayer on patients with rheumatoid arthritis. “Supplemental, distant intercessory prayer offers no additional benefits.“
      * Matthews WJ, et al. The effects of intercessory prayer, positive visualization, and expectancy on the well-being of kidney dialysis patients. “The effects of intercessory prayer and transpersonal positive visualization cannot be distinguished from the effect of expectancy.“
      * Sloan RP, et al. Science, medicine, and intercessory prayer. “…these studies claim findings incompatible with current views of the physical universe and consciousness…“
      * Walker SR, et al. Intercessory prayer in the treatment of alcohol abuse and dependence: a pilot investigation. “Intercessory prayer did not demonstrate clinical benefit in the treatment of alcohol abuse…“
      * Wirth DP, et al. Complementary healing therapies. Once again, in this study the opposite effect was observed: the people being “healed” got worse: “Results showed significance for the treated versus the control group but in the opposite direction from that expected.“

      My mind is fully open to what can be shown to be probably true, probably correct, probably accurate. It is also fully open to what has been shown to be probably not true, probably not correct, probably not accurate.

      • Craig Benno says:

        I notice you didn’t include the various studies such as done by John Hopkins into cardio vascular patients where the patients who were prayed for exhibited 10% more clinical improvement then did the group which didn’t.

        Also you have consistently failed to engage with the stories of individuals who have experienced miracles…such as the one I recently experienced and linked to here https://craigbenno1.wordpress.com/2011/02/06/3-stories-of-miracles-for-finances/

      • tildeb says:

        If you could post the citation for this, I would appreciate it.

        As for the financial ‘miracles’ you list, I can think of many possibilities rather than an interventionist supernatural agency. But my point here is to reveal the difference in approaching an explanation: Are you trying to explain how these examples could have been otherwise or are you simply using them to offer what looks like support to your beliefs? Is it not possible, for example, that you are subject to miscounting your pocket change, or that the machine producing change malfunctioned? Is it not possible that the person who used the machine earlier left money in the return tray? As these possibilities so slight that you honestly think the best reasonable explanation is that an interventionist supernatural agency created money and then smuggled it into your possession? Is that really the most likely explanation, the best one you can come up with?

        Again, let’s be clear on intentions with these claims:

        The big difference between religion and science is that science posits theories based on evidence and then does everything it can to try and disprove them, whereas religion posits theories – presented as truths – not based on evidence and then does everything it can to protect them from being questioned or disproved.

        It seems to me that you are not trying at all to disprove your ‘miracles’ but granting them full exemption from an honest attempt to find other reasonable explanations.

      • Craig Benno says:

        Tildeb.

        I find your question about loose change rather insulting… but its normative for your line of reasoning and to be expected. But to restate the steps I took that morning.

        1.) I emptied my wallet onto the table. It only has two money compartments in it.
        2.) I clearly only had 2 * $5.00 notes in it.
        3.) I looked in my car and around the house for more money…with out finding any.
        4.) I put every thing back in my wallet.
        5.) I then decided to break tradition and not buy myself a slurpee to have with the boys; for I only had enough to get them one each and a paper.
        6.) At the checkout when I opened my wallet to pay; sitting with the notes were 2 new shiny coins that were not there before.

        7.) Call it what you will – I call it a miracle.

      • Craig Benno says:

        Some citations on the results of prayer within the medical field.
        http://www.cengage.com/custom/enrichment_modules/data/Why_Prayer_Could_be_Good_Medicine_Hales_Parade.pdf
        http://www.arthritis.org/the-power-of-prayer.php

        http://www.medicinenet.com/script/main/art.asp?articlekey=50874 note in this article that it shows there is a 14% higher survival rate of religious patients over non religious patients.

      • tildeb says:

        This is the result of the MANTRA study whose preliminary results so intrigued author by Hales in your first link here Results? No efficacy.

        Your second link says “A study led by Herbert Benson, MD, director of the Mind/Body Medical Institute and associate professor of medicine at Harvard Med­ical School, Boston, examined the benefits of prayers given by strangers, so-called intercessory prayers. Researchers studied 1,800 cardiac patients over 10 years and found that these kinds of prayers provided no benefit to patients awaiting heart bypass surgery. In fact, 59 percent of the patients who knew they were receiving prayers actually experienced more post-operative complications than those who did not.”

        I’m not sure why you linked to it, other than it make the obvious point that many people say that they feel better if they pray. But that doesn’t show efficacy. That shows well known placebo effects.

        Your third article links back to the first and re-lists some of the intriguing data that led to the MANTRA study being done in the first place that concluded no efficacy.

        You seem to think that articles written by columnists are a legitimate citation. They are not the citations needed to link to a study. This is painfully obvious by linking to the ones above that start off with promising and interesting data, which is then specifically addressed in double blind studies that are peer reviewed (good science). It is the result that matters and not the claims that lead up to these studies being done and the results are clear: prayer has no efficacy beyond placebo. (In the efficacy of prayer, for example, more than 2.5 billion dollars of public money has been spent to show no efficacy. This is 2.5 billion dollars that could have been better spent elsewhere and perhaps make a real difference in medicine.)

        People make claims all the time. Writers report these claims all the time. But are the claims true? This requires disciplined science and this is why good studies matter. Their results matter. And they matter far more than any reported claims. Let’s differentiate between the two, and keep claims at the bottom of the heap until such a time that they meet critical review.

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