Saturday, November 16, 2013

Playing Chess with God

I remember once reading an online debate about prayer. A comment made by one of the atheists posting on the thread read something like this:

"Do you honestly believe if there was an all-knowing all-powerful God who had a 'Divine plan' in place that He could be coaxed by the words of one meager human's wishes?? Get real."

I thought about this for a minute. Put in the above context, the idea that prayer could work did seem kind of silly. But that's exactly the problem. We address the worthiness of prayer in the wrong context - a human one. God operates on a whole other level. It's not that our prayers alter His plan, it's that our prayers are integrated into His plan.

Does God Have a Plan or Not?

When it comes down to it, how can God have a set plan with a species capable of free will? Well I wouldn't so much call it a set plan as I would call it an interactive one. It's kind of paradoxical and thus hard for us humans to fully grasp, but I would compare it to a computer chess game I played as kid. I set the darn thing on "easy" and I would still almost always lose. Either I was very stupid, or the makers of the game didn't understand the meaning of the word easy. I like to go with the second explanation.

Typing harder did not improve my chances

And it's not as if I kept doing the same moves every time either. I approached the game from different angles. Sometimes I would move my horse first. Sometimes I would stagger my pawns to protect key pieces. The computer reacted differently each time. It adapted to my attacks in different ways, but ultimately always produced the same result: a victory.

The computer's adaptations were preplanned. It's not as if the games' designers reprogrammed it every time I tried something different. The program had been written and finished with long before I ever even started a single game. And yet it already knew every possible move I could make and had a preconceived reaction to each one. Even the few times I won, it was because the program allowed me to do so because of the setting I selected.

In the same way God has a preconceived plan that reacts to every single move we make, including whether or not we pray. That doesn't necessarily mean He reacts the way we want Him to because He's looking at the bigger picture no human can see. He's aiming for the ultimate victory, but prayers are being taken into account.

Does Prayer Work or Not?

It's kind of telling that the most frequent question that atheists ask when philosophizing about prayer's effectiveness is of course: do prayers get answered? All those who pray regularly can probably attest to the fact that the wishes expressed through prayers are sometimes granted and sometimes not.

If there is a God as I contend, this would mean He only lets prayer work some of the time. Why would He make prayer only semi-effective? Wasn't it supposedly His idea in the first place?

by Jason Lander
What kind of operation are You running here, God?

Well, we may not think prayers always work, but that's only if we think of prayer as a tool for getting wishes granted. God sees the purpose of prayer as something far greater. He sees it as a means to draw you closer to Him by communicating frequently, as a way of helping you grow through humility paradoxical as that may be.

It's a way to show you He's boss so that you can have faith in Him, realize the whimsical nature of this world, relax and relinquish control. After all what leads to wars more than man's desire to control his surroundings?

Besides what kind of child would a parent raise if they gave that child everything he asked for? Sadly most of us know a person or two who answers that question.

by Tuftronic10000
You know who you are, Rupert Winslow!!

When God answers one's prayers it can help us be grateful for His love. When He does not it can make us humble. For me, I felt like if I did not continue to communicate with God after being denied a request, I would prove that all I cared about was getting my wishes granted.

In a sense I was shamed into keeping contact with God. God knows us better than we know ourselves. He knows how we will react to His actions, and of course not only ourselves, but all the other seven billion people in the world all of whom He takes into consideration. That makes His plan more layered than any computer programmer could even conceive. However though He knows us, He does not control us...

What About Pain and Suffering?

It's funny to me that atheists often claim the reason some people believe in religion is because humans always look for patterns and therefore they make sense of the world by imagining there's a God. I would say it's just the opposite: the reason some people have become atheist is because humans always look for patterns and since they cannot make patterns of God's work because it is above them,  they assume that means there aren't any and He doesn't exist. If God created this world and loves us why  is there so much pain and suffering? Crazy talk, does not compute, must not be true.

But to understand the algorithms at work in God's plan, we would have to be gods ourselves. To think that our puny brains could make sense of it all is to greatly underestimate what's going on. What can help, though, as far as making sense of the things we can't understand is to remember that this world is really nothing more than a test. The more we understand that, the easier dealing with suffering gets.

Also, the plan is interactive. That is the reason He gave us His word, the Bible - a set of instructions to help us put his plan into action. If people truly followed the Bible there would be no rapes, murders, and wars. How can we kill our fellow man and then blame God?

God is doing everything He can, but we are all cogs in this machine that must play our part. If a cog malfunctions the machine will adapt, but no cog is without purpose. Any cog that does not function affects the game. Not all is lost, just some is lost. But God will adapt as always. So make the right moves with God's assistance and through the REAL power of prayer and you might just win the game.

by Jinx!
One of these days, Rupert Jr., one of these days...


  1. A good read for those who want to understand God's purpose in us. Let's make our move with God's assistance :-)

  2. I believe in God and in the divine origin of our souls. Therefore I believe in prayers that are our monologue to God.


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...