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Logic & Scientific Philosophy

The Power of Prayer – Aidan

A few months ago, Michele Bachmann urged Americans to kneel before God for 9/11 to ask for aid in protecting the country on this day of judgement.

Let’s dissect the logic in her argument:


Prayer stops terrorist attacks

Terrorist attacks happen

/The amount of prayer is insufficient to stop terrorist attacks.


This form is valid in that it can be applied in different situations and still work.  The problem is that the argument is not factually correct.  We do not know objectively whether prayer has the ability to stop or enable something to happen.  In addition, this argument falls victim to the single-causation fallacy where we assume things happen for a single reason.  Because the premises are not factually correct, the argument is not sound despite it being valid.

I think this argument comes from the politician’s want to appeal to the Christian voter base of America.  In asking the Americans to pray to a god the majority of them believe in for an event that the majority of them agree is bad, frightening or mournful, she would be able to round up support in either her campaign or that of the party she supports.  Being so blunt in asking Americans of different faiths, beliefs and ideologies to support the ideals of a single group in official governmental status is bound to create some backlash and tensions between supporters and non-supporters.  This sort of behaviour could create a society in which the people are so split it enables a non-secular two-party  stalemate to remain the status quo.



2 thoughts on “The Power of Prayer – Aidan

  1. If you break the form down into its base, you roughly get:

    A stops B
    B happens
    Therefore there is no B


    Prayer stops terrorism
    Terrorism exists
    Therefore there is no Prayer

    The strongly religious Michelle Bachmann is saying there is no prayer, or (Christian) religious presence and that is why terrorism, specifically 9/11 happened. Bachmann is trying to imply that America’s lack of faith is what burdened them with the 9/11 attacks, therefore we should start to prayer. What I find erking is that the solution to the American stereotype of terrorism in the name of Islam, is Christianity. Isn’t America suppose to be the land of the free… freedom to practice religion. Fight religion with religion? Fight fire with fire? There is validity; however, no soundness as the premises cannot be proven that there is a direct correlation.

    I understand where Bachmann finds justification, aside from her religious beliefs, to say this. There’s a very wide bible belt that strongly believes that prayer has an influence on events that unfold. There is an appeal to her statement that is not politically, nor philosophically correct. America is a melting pot, with many religions other than Christianity, such as Judaism or even Islam, To say that THE way to stop terrorism is prayer is should in fact offend America. Not just Christians were lost in the 9/11 attacks.

    Posted by julieisafriendofmine | September 27, 2013, 6:01 pm
    • Thanks for really clearing up my post, Julie. The form you suggested is much simpler. I like how you mention that the only way to fight Islam is with Christianity. What strikes me most is that fundamental Christianity has had more of a presence in American politics in the last 10 or 20 years than ever before yet the non-religious group is the fastest growing group these days. I think it may even be a backlash towards the growing group that the status quo sees as a threat.

      Posted by Aidan C | September 28, 2013, 10:59 pm

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