Tuesday, December 8, 2009

I got your beaker right here

There have been scientific studies that conclude prayer has little or no affect?

First let me just say that just because were Christians, God owes us nothing. Let me tell you what prayer does Scientist boy. When I pray to God I'm simply acknowledging that he is God, that he is control and that he is sovereign. I'm showing respect for his greatness, it's a sign of worship. I'm admitting my dependence on him. I'm showing that I am thankful and grateful for all he has done.

Besides I'm commanded to do so. (1st Thess. 5:17). I don't look at God as a Genie in a bottle to grant my every wish. And I don't know how we can say prayer doesn't work because people who have faith don't get any more "healed" then skeptics? I pray for skeptics just about every day. Who knows that the "sick" Atheist in a hospital bed somewhere doesn't have a Christian Granma or friend praying for them?

The Bible does say that God doesn't necessarily answer prayers that are Insincere (Matt. 6:5) or selfish (James 4:3) or your because your to proud(Luke 18:10-14) or unbelief or you have unconfessed sin in your life.

When your having a bad day or week or whatever, instead of asking God to make things better, we should ask him to give us the wisdom and or strength to get through these trials?

Atheist friend, try this tonight before you go to bed, close your eyes and say "thanks God, Amen". See what happens, and during the next scientific study maybe they will include a poll and your answer to the question of whether God hears your prayers or not will surprise even you?

Late, feeno


  1. If I were a theist, I think it would be pretty arrogant to ask God for anything, although "wisdom and strength" are probably acceptable (as are other things like peace, acceptance, humor, appreciation, etc). Of course, I think it's pretty natural to cry out for any form of help when confronted with illness, let alone death. If there are gods, I'm sure they've come to terms with our pleas.

    I'm also reminded of a quote by Oscar Wilde: "When the gods wish to punish us, they answer our prayers."

  2. Ginx,

    Good thoughts, thanks for the input.

    Great lookin' dog.

    Late, feen

  3. What of "Ask and it will be given to you"?

    If the only purpose of prayer were to tell God He's almighty (i.e. tell him what He already knows) then why pray for someone or something? The last time you were in church, how many times did your preacher say, "We ask God..."? Why is the basic format of a prayer that of a request?

    Sorry, but surely when most Christians pray they want something from God, and God is supposed to at least consider giving it to them.

    The studies of intercessory prayer may not have disproved God because of all the different possible explanations of why He apparently did nothing, but they were still golden opportunities for God to actually provide some evidence for Himself. If He's there, he passed them up.

  4. LX

    Good question. Maybe I forgot to mention that I do pray to God all the time for "things". But when I don't get those things I must be mature enough to realize that what I'm asking for is not in my best interest. Am I asking for those things for my glory or the Lord's. Am I praying that his will be done, not mine.

    Seek ye first the kingdom of God, then all these other things will be given to you.

    Did you ever hear back from our boy the "Seer"?

    Late, feen

  5. Feeno,

    More and more studies are going to come out like this one. It is bound to happen. More people are openly atheist, and many of them are very educated.

    Irregardless, whatever you may pray for, the scientific method is pretty precise. The parameters of the study were clearly outlined. And, to be honest, this study should be a threat to mainstream Christians. Right now, from a scientific perspective, this study is a finding lending credibility to the theory that prayer is ineffective. The more findings similar to this, the more solid the credibility. And, when there is enough evidence, it will become fact. Which means that faith based ideas will continue to diminish unto the territory of "nonsense", and will gain no recognition within our educational system, our political systems, and out lobbying systems.

    Christians, especially, need to be a little more aware of this. They already feel that their stranglehold on our public space is being taken from them.

  6. I will give an example.

    When HIV first showed up, people dealing with these patients had to have full body coverage with any type of contact. However, with further research, and consistent findings, gloves are all that is required now.

    The same will happen with prayer. Eventually, it will be removed from hospitals, etc, when there are no therapeutic benefits within the research.

  7. No, Peter apparently scarpered after your very good suggestion for a test prediction.

    A lot of prayers aren't for the glory of God or the glory of the person who's praying. What Christians want from God is often help for other people. Please watch over my son in Iraq, please show my Hindu friend the error of his ways, please send comfort to those who lost loved ones on 9/11 and so on.

    That kind of prayer, intercessory prayer, is usually the subject of the scientific studies. The best-known study used recovering cardiac patients as the targets of directed prayers.

    In other words, the studies focus on prayer at its most selfless, and it still has no discernible benefit. God's will be done, apparently, but too bad for the cardiac patients.

  8. Lol I just find it funny that Christians are quick to write off any scientific study that goes against God, but anytime ANY type of study gives some sort of credibility to the idea of God, they jump all over it! Let me ask you, feeno, if they had done the same study and found that prayer did have an effect, would you have written this same entry? Or would you be parading it around as irrefutable proof of God's existence?

    The other thing you mention in your comment above is that sometimes God doesn't give you what you want. This reminded me of this video. The guy's voice is kind of annoying, but give it a watch and see what you think.

    Peace out sauerkraut (or whatever that expression is lol),

  9. Bet these kids sure tried a fair bit of (extremely honest prayer),even though seems our friend feeno`s mindset is stuck on the deluded indoctrinated type thought, that supposedly really all it takes is for people to pray and bingo! things will likely simply happen.


    Kids like this continue to suffer in this world simply because so called "charatable" folks like feeno and all their faithful friends are quite happily willing to keep the delusion of god believing existing on this planet.

    Im sure feeno and his friends will still be far to busy feeling all wonderful about the old lady around the corner they helped.Or thinking about the afterlife salvation browny points they earned and hope to receive, for the money they gave towards building some school or hospital or something.

    The fact that continuation of these god beliefs, might be doing more damage than good "overall" in this world.Most likely doesnt even register or get much depth of thought from these religiously inspired blissfully oblivious folk.No! why bother considering the overall picture thats being far far to charatable ,much more good feelings are able to be harvested by fiddling the books with some very creative type accounting.By suggesting their particular little churches actions be equated to the genral calculations of whether overall continuation of superstitious god beliefs is actually good or bad for our planet as a whole.

    Ask them why they think god allows these things to happen, even when its most very certainly likely these kids surely (DO)!! pray with all their little wee hearts and hope for god to help.

    The so called "Charatable" christians would still much rather settle back in their warm fuzzy feelings of such devine godliness and think no! gods were still involved somehow and simply allowing it,than ever bother or honestly care enough to finally stop for once for even one second! and start using their brains and common sense to see and realize gods simply obviously dont ever really come into these equations.

  10. Feeno -->"When your having a bad day or week or whatever, instead of asking God to make things better, we should ask him to give us the wisdom and or strength to get through these trials?"

    Yeah feeno ..Cant you hear god screaming!!...hes sayin mayday! mayday!! feenopolis ,have wisdom my son!!... and for cripes sake have strength!!... stop believing in those silly god ideas of ancient "uneducated" barbaric superstitious cave men.

  11. To the lovely and bewitching TB 13,
    You may be right, before Christs return we will have a falling away.(2 Thess. 2:3)

    Intercessory prayer is certainly a practice I both would accept as well as dish out.

    Jeff, You asked "if they had done the same study and found that prayer did have an affect, would you have written this same entry"? Uh, no.

    Gandasouras Rex
    Believe it or not I have never done anything in my life for "brownie points". (well, at least when God is concerned).

    Also Gandy, if I quit believing in God that's not gonna stop Hurricanes and Tsunami's. There is a lot of suffering in the world for sure. But why do you think the values taught in the Bible make it worse. Galatians tells us if we are living like we should be, we'd have love,joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self control. That don't sound to bad.

    Dueces Mooses, feeno

  12. Why not sacrifice a goat or chicken? I hear that works well.

  13. Oy vay. This was EXACTLY as hard a typing the words [study showed that prayer helped effective] into a common search engine and simply reading that which popped up.

    "Prayer results are just as amazing in human studies. In a 1988 study by Dr. Randolph Byrd at San Francisco General Hospital, 393 coronary care patients receiving prayer with their medical care suffered significantly less congestive heart failure, fewer cardiopulmonary arrests, used fewer antibiotics and diuretics, and had less pneumonia."

    "In a 1998 study at California Pacific Medical Center, a double-blind study revealed profound effects from “distant healing prayer” with advanced AIDS patients. They survived in greater numbers, got sick less often, and recovered faster than those not receiving prayer."

    "An amazing study published in the Journal of Reproductive Medicine showed how prayer could help even those who did not know they were being prayed for. The study was conducted at Columbia University in New York City on women having difficultly becoming pregnant. They found that even though the women did not know they were being prayed for, 50% of the prayed-for group became pregnant as opposed to only 26% of the control group that was not prayed for."

    Let the hand-wringing/hand-waving begin.

  14. I'd rather just point to something, thankyou JD. Incidentally, there's a word for dismissing responses before receiving them.

    This piece points out the flaws in the study by Dr Byrd, including a major one which Byrd admitted: he has no idea how many other people were praying for the subjects outside of the designated intercessors.

    Ginx, Gandolf, care to take the other two?

  15. Got the second one. See here, near the bottom of page 2.

    - The 1998 CPMC trial was too small to be conclusive.
    - Even in the hospital's defensive response to allegations of fraud, they admitted they had no way to check the data because of the black crayon method used in the double-blinding.
    - The intercessors used were from a wide range of religions and even included some shamans. In theory, only one faction could have been effective. Even if one was, there's no way to know which.

  16. Heck, I'll do it all myself. The last one's the juiciest.

    The Journal of Reproductive Medicine withdrew its prayer study after one of its authors was convicted of fraud. Among many other transgressions, he'd been caught posing as a doctor.

  17. Yes, there it is. Search engines are usually not the way to go. I typed the same words and before he found that one, there was five that said that it was not effective. But don't worry, he chose to include words like double blind and control group to make it look as though his source was feasible.

    Well, if people believe that prayer works, then they have no business seeing a doctor, or encouraging their loved ones to pursue treatment for things like cancer, trauma, etc. If that is what they think, if they feel qualified to criticize research findings, then they should not use the benefits of science and stick to praying to solve all of their health problems. If I were sick, I know that I would have no business, or inclination, going to a church or praying for help. Would never happen.

    LOL- that will never happen. Because, deep down, they all know that this is not enough.

  18. feenobbly -->"Gandasouras Rex
    Believe it or not I have never done anything in my life for "brownie points". (well, at least when God is concerned)."

    Well dang ,and yet i always seem to feel like i often find myself trying to explain to you.We humans actually have no need of any god belief, for humans to still keep on being charitable towards each other.If faith ceased to exist,there is no need or evidence to suggest charity should need to cease also.Altruism and charity was already around, a long time before faith beliefs evolved.

    Sorry i was just giving you a little stick about the browny points aspect of christianity.But plenty of folks of faith are often simply far to busy feeling so good about themselves for what good them and their particular christianity is supposedly doing for us,but blindly they just as easily discount situations religions also cause like with what happened to those kids as well as what myself and many many others have also experienced.

    So what you saying is because there will still be Hurricanes and Tsunami's etc,that equals we should then just still keep suffering through people idiocy of god belief also ?..What kinda reasoning is that?

    Feeno -->"But why do you think the values taught in the Bible make it worse. Galatians tells us if we are living like we should be, we'd have love,joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self control. That don't sound to bad."

    Ahhh some good old Galatians aye, wooo hoooo .Bring out all the frilly cozy bits !

    But what about all the rest of scriptures like the Exodus 22:18 "Thou shalt not suffer a witch to live",that was used to have these kids treated so badly.

    You can turn a blind eye to the fact all you like feeno,but the fact remains like it or not your bible has been the cause of continued mega suffering for thousands and thousands of years now....Simply because people like you keep the belief alive.

    It maybe makes you feel better to simply try to not admit it,but the fact remains to do so is to sanctify the pain these little children even had to suffer even in the year 2009 because worldwide faithful folks like you keep trying to make these excuses.

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  20. SmartLX and Tinkbell if prayer was actually honestly so useful to cure people etc,it would already be being used everywhere by now wouldnt it.... But its not

    How silly that faithful folks still try these tricky games of trying to fool people.

  21. Make that kind of argument, Gandolf, and you smoke out the conspiracy theories about materialist scientists trying to suppress evidence of the effectiveness of prayer and therefore the plain existence of a specific god.

    Besides, prayer is often used to cure people. Just not successfully.

  22. JD Curtis,

    As SmartLX already pointed out, the studies that show an effect of prayer tend to have faults with their methodology. Then again, to be fair and honest, so do the ones that show no effect. Prayer is a pretty tough thing to nail down in a scientific study, primarily because it is difficult to control who prays for someone. We can't force family members, friends, etc. NOT to pray for their loved ones, so even if prayer did have an effect, most studies would probably have the effect drowned out by "noise", so to speak. In addition, we can try to "standardize" the type of prayer spoken, but some might argue that doing so would make the prayers less meaningful, since they're scripted.

    However, I do have a summary of a study bookmarked that had a fairly decent methodology. As mentioned, there are some trade-offs to the rigid structure used, but at any rate, it's a good study.

    Also, I have a book by David Myers (a Christian psychologist) called "A Friendly Letter to Skeptics and Atheists", and in it he has a chapter on prayer studies that I thought was really good. If you can find a copy, I'd recommend checking it out.


    You say that "God doesn't owe us anything", "God's not a genie", "God doesn't necessarily answer prayers" because of a variety of factors, etc. But then you say that IF prayer studies showed an effect, you wouldn't have posted that stuff. This suggests to me that this is an after-the-fact rationalization of why prayer studies shouldn't show effects, rather than an actual belief in what you say.

    If I did a prayer study that showed an effect, would you still say, "Well maybe that's just a fluke, because God is not a genie and he doesn't always answer prayers, and God doesn't owe us anything"? If not, it seems you're setting a double standard. Anything that proves God is used as evidence, but anything that doesn't prove God is written off as useless.

  23. Thanks Jeff. That's the "best-known study" I mentioned earlier.

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  25. Feeno-

    I think you're trying to have you're cake and eat it too.

    You open by explaining what Feeno thinks prayer means to Feeno. And although that's contemplative and nice... that's not the definition of prayer according to the Christian faith.

    Then you follow up giving examples of prayer according to the Christian faith, which I find to be slightly askew from your personal definition.

    Also, you seem to miss the point of the scientific studies done on prayer. It is those pious individuals of most righteous practice which swear that prayer works as the Bible (or holy teachings of other similar faiths) state as a literal truth, i.e. that prayer is God being a 'handicrafter' and altering reality as we know it, or at least influencing the reality we know, to get destined outcomes.

    Scientifically, this sort of prayer, e.g. the second type of prayer you speak about, should be testable. The first prayer, the personal meaning and form of meditation is merely subjective, and so no objective analysis outside of a brain scan will tell you anything more than you already know--that is to say, if you believe in something, then we can see functionally on the natural level the mechanics of that, but it won't change your belief in it.

    So I think you have forced two separate definitions of prayer to mean something else entirely, and I know the likely reason many Christians do this. They don't want to admit that the second type of prayer isn't scientifically viable, because a disproof to prayer would be a large deterrent to the belief in an all wonder working God. Nonviable means non-disprovable, which to me means non-argument.

    But falling back on the first type of prayer is a futile tactic for believers also, because it's not quantifiable. If, for example, I said that I meditate, which is the same as the first part, ergo God works wonders in my life, the second part... then you'd know that these two are NOT the same thing. They're separate definitions I've conflated for the desired effects/outcomes of prayer. They're not definitions on the possible outcomes of what is most probable or most likely to be the case.

    And I think the idea of prayer is simply wishful thinking, and scientific study or no, probabilities dictate that certain chance events will happen in your favor on occasion whether or not you expected it. Now ask yourself this question: Is someone prone to believing in the mysticism of miracle and prayer truly going to stop to objectively analyze the statistical probabilities of said event(s)? Or is it more likely that they will let their propensity to be superstitious guide their thinking on the subject? Well then, that's favoritism and selective bias--and so not at all reliable.

    Either way, the fact of the matter is, every prayer worth talking about, the miraculous sort of prayers and the life enhancing wonder prayers, have been part of the second category: testable. And when tests of been run, there is good evidence that prayer is completely bogus.

    So you can put your faith in some philosophy or carefully worded theology which gets around the issue at hand, or you can put your faith in the reality of the situation, but do so at your own risk; reasonableness often ensues. :p

  26. T-Vick

    Very nice response, and I see how you could get that impression from me. But I could have just said "prayer works" and tried to find studies that supported my argument. But Then we all end up talking in circles. (not that we don't anyways?)

    The truth is, there is no power in prayer.... the power comes from the one we pray to. And He is all powerful.

    Also, I would challenge any Christian to keep a journal for one year and list all their prayer requests, then go back over them some time later and see just how God works. After all it should be left up to those who have put their faith in God to critique him? (maybe, but what the hell do I know?.

    Thanks for the responses, I really like your site and like to leave comments. But you will notice when you write them lengthy sermons my attention span gives way about half way through.

    Montana plays for the National Championship next week. Good luck. feeno

  27. Yeah, every once in a while I have to throw something academia onto my site. It's simply meant to challenge those who want to take the debates seriously.

    As much as I love a good chin wag, there is only so much you can say in short blurbs which will actually convince people. I find that in the longer essays I can include much more relevant information which is case specific in support of my views. It's the one thing many atheist websites don't do. Many times I just see people arguing themselves into circles until their thoughts have all knotted up into some henious pretzle-like formation, and the point is lost, and no new ground is broken.

    I think my atheism is sustainable through various critiques of religion, but the support is highly important and that's why I give full footnote and endnotes for those who want to seriously investigate what I am saying instead of just taking my word for it.

    And preaching is what one does when they have an idea which lacks support but they want to use rhetoric to the best of their ability to convince people to take that leap of faith.

    With the amount of evidence I supply, I wouldn't classify my longer essays as pastoral writing, but rather, religious criticisms.