Proofs that prayer doesn't work.

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Proofs that prayer doesn't work.

Unless of course the goal is talking to yourself, prayer doesn't work.

We review the following article at the beginning of show 15 featuring Amanda Bloom. You can download that show for free right here.

Quote:

Long-Awaited Medical Study Questions the Power of Prayer
Published: March 31, 2006

By BENEDICT CAREY

Story from New York Times and all over web. Prayers offered by strangers had no effect on the recovery of people who were undergoing heart surgery, a large and long-awaited study has found.

And patients who knew they were being prayed for had a higher rate of post-operative complications like abnormal heart rhythms, perhaps because of the expectations the prayers created, the researchers suggested.

Because it is the most scientifically rigorous investigation of whether prayer can heal illness, the study, begun almost a decade ago and involving more than 1,800 patients, has for years been the subject of speculation.

The question has been a contentious one among researchers. Proponents have argued that prayer is perhaps the most deeply human response to disease, and that it may relieve suffering by some mechanism that is not yet understood. Skeptics have contended that studying prayer is a waste of money and that it presupposes supernatural intervention, putting it by definition beyond the reach of science.

At least 10 studies of the effects of prayer have been carried out in the last six years, with mixed results. The new study was intended to overcome flaws in the earlier investigations. The report was scheduled to appear in The American Heart Journal next week, but the journal's publisher released it online yesterday.

In a hurriedly convened news conference, the study's authors, led by Dr. Herbert Benson, a cardiologist and director of the Mind/Body Medical Institute near Boston, said that the findings were not the last word on the effects of so-called intercessory prayer. But the results, they said, raised questions about how and whether patients should be told that prayers were being offered for them.

"One conclusion from this is that the role of awareness of prayer should be studied further," said Dr. Charles Bethea, a cardiologist at Integris Baptist Medical Center in Oklahoma City and a co-author of the study.

Other experts said the study underscored the question of whether prayer was an appropriate subject for scientific study.

"The problem with studying religion scientifically is that you do violence to the phenomenon by reducing it to basic elements that can be quantified, and that makes for bad science and bad religion," said Dr. Richard Sloan, a professor of behavioral medicine at Columbia and author of a forthcoming book, "Blind Faith: The Unholy Alliance of Religion and Medicine."

The study cost $2.4 million, and most of the money came from the John Templeton Foundation, which supports research into spirituality. The government has spent more than $2.3 million on prayer research since 2000.

Dean Marek, a chaplain at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn., and a co-author of the report, said the study said nothing about the power of personal prayer or about prayers for family members and friends.

Working in a large medical center like Mayo, Mr. Marek said, "You hear tons of stories about the power of prayer, and I don't doubt them."

In the study, the researchers monitored 1,802 patients at six hospitals who received coronary bypass surgery, in which doctors reroute circulation around a clogged vein or artery.

The patients were broken into three groups. Two were prayed for; the third was not. Half the patients who received the prayers were told that they were being prayed for; half were told that they might or might not receive prayers.

The researchers asked the members of three congregations St. Paul's Monastery in St. Paul; the Community of Teresian Carmelites in Worcester, Mass.; and Silent Unity, a Missouri prayer ministry near Kansas City ? to deliver the prayers, using the patients' first names and the first initials of their last names.

The congregations were told that they could pray in their own ways, but they were instructed to include the phrase, "for a successful surgery with a quick, healthy recovery and no complications."

Analyzing complications in the 30 days after the operations, the researchers found no differences between those patients who were prayed for and those who were not.

In another of the study's findings, a significantly higher number of the patients who knew that they were being prayed for ? 59 percent ? suffered complications, compared with 51 percent of those who were uncertain. The authors left open the possibility that this was a chance finding. But they said that being aware of the strangers' prayers also may have caused some of the patients a kind of performance anxiety.

"It may have made them uncertain, wondering am I so sick they had to call in their prayer team?" Dr. Bethea said.

The study also found that more patients in the uninformed prayer group 18 percent suffered major complications, like heart attack or stroke, compared with 13 percent in the group that did not receive prayers. In their report, the researchers suggested that this finding might also be a result of chance.

One reason the study was so widely anticipated was that it was led by Dr. Benson, who in his work has emphasized the soothing power of personal prayer and meditation.

At least one earlier study found lower complication rates in patients who received intercessory prayers; others found no difference. A 1997 study at the University of New Mexico, involving 40 alcoholics in rehabilitation, found that the men and women who knew they were being prayed for actually fared worse.

The new study was rigorously designed to avoid problems like the ones that came up in the earlier studies. But experts said the study could not overcome perhaps the largest obstacle to prayer study: the unknown amount of prayer each person received from friends, families, and congregations around the world who pray daily for the sick and dying.

Bob Barth, the spiritual director of Silent Unity, the Missouri prayer ministry, said the findings would not affect the ministry's mission.

"A person of faith would say that this study is interesting," Mr. Barth said, "but we've been praying a long time and we've seen prayer work, we know it works, and the research on prayer and spirituality is just getting started."

Here's a youtube video from our friends at godisimaginary.com:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BH0rFZIqo8A

Here's a thought from honorary Squad member, the Infidel Guy:
What is the purpose of prayer? What can a finite being on Earth possibly tell an omnipotent, omniscient deity that he doesn't know already?
1.) Humans can't change God's mind for he has a divine plan and is unchangeable.
2.) Prayer can't change God's mind.
3.) Prayer doesn't change anything.
(Prayer may make you feel better emotionally, but it doesn`t change God`s mind.)

Stop talking to your ceiling, prayer doesn't work.

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20vturbo
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Pikachu wrote:

Pikachu wrote:

20vturbo wrote:
you would need to study the bible, the history, all the people who passed down the stories, ect ect.
Perhaps you should read more closely yourself before you make such pronouncements of others. Or are you reading it with rose colored glasses on? I have read the bible 12 times and here's what i found:

Is all scripture inspired by God?

Yes

  • [2 Tim 3:16] All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness:
No
  • [1 Cor 7:12] But to the rest speak I, not the Lord: if any brother hath a wife that believeth not, and she be pleased to dwell with him, let him not put her away.
  • [25] Now concerning virgins I have no commandment of the Lord: yet I give my judgement, as one that hath obtained mercy of the Lord to be faithful.

 

 

I never said I knew everything about the bible, history, languages, ect…but that doesn’t change that I know I need to read the bible with all the other factors/context in mind to understand it.

 

As for the passages above here is one explaination:

"This is a case of over-interpretation. Paul does not say that what he writes is not inspired by God; merely that the Lord has not commanded what Paul says. Paul was almost certainly inspired by God in each word he spoke (preached) following his conversion (cf. 1 Cor 2:4,7,13; 1 Thess 2:13). --RS

I'd also note that in 1 Cor 7:10, Paul could be citing an actual tradition from Jesus' earthly ministry, while in verse 12 he is not. Thus, he is not saying the teaching is not inspired from God, only that it didn't stem from the teachings of Jesus when He was on earth. 2 Cor could merely mean that Paul was not speaking as Jesus would when He was on earth. But this doesn't mean that the Spirit is not speaking through him."

 

 


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20vturbo wrote:

Regarding the issue of Paul being historical, I can't help but wonder what possible reason could there be for not saying that he was real? After all, we have a number of documents which shaped an early religious movement in a massive way, claiming to be written by "Paul", an otherwise unknown figure, and then we have even more writings (such as the Pastorals etc.) which were not written by him but claim to be. Surely the simplest explanation is that there was indeed a guy called Paul who was important in said religious movement? Besides the internal evidence that the writer was a Jew well trained in Hebrew thought, and the split between Jews and Christians occurred in the first century, so that Christianity was basically a gentile religion by the second century.

Regarding the "No Jesus" theory:

(a) Christianity was originally a Jewish, not Hellenistic movement. Contrary to what "no Jesus" people I have read say, the writings of Paul do not attribute deity to Christ. The most credible interpretation is that originally Jesus was seen as a human Jewish Messiah by a certain group, and over time as the movement Hellenized, he came to be seen as God.

(b) What about the Ebionites? I haven't seen how the "no Jesus" theory can explain this first century movement.

 I have no idea why your bringing paul into the discussion. God could have written the Bible. Jesus could have written a Bible. Obviously neither of them did. The Bible was written by Man and is full of error. So the real question is why did God or Jesus let man write the Bible in his own words with no divine inspiration at all?

God had no time to create time.


20vturbo
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Pikachu wrote: Regarding

Pikachu wrote:

Regarding the issue of Paul being historical, I can't help but wonder what possible reason could there be for not saying that he was real? After all, we have a number of documents which shaped an early religious movement in a massive way, claiming to be written by "Paul", an otherwise unknown figure, and then we have even more writings (such as the Pastorals etc.) which were not written by him but claim to be. Surely the simplest explanation is that there was indeed a guy called Paul who was important in said religious movement? Besides the internal evidence that the writer was a Jew well trained in Hebrew thought, and the split between Jews and Christians occurred in the first century, so that Christianity was basically a gentile religion by the second century.

Regarding the "No Jesus" theory:

(a) Christianity was originally a Jewish, not Hellenistic movement. Contrary to what "no Jesus" people I have read say, the writings of Paul do not attribute deity to Christ. The most credible interpretation is that originally Jesus was seen as a human Jewish Messiah by a certain group, and over time as the movement Hellenized, he came to be seen as God.

(b) What about the Ebionites? I haven't seen how the "no Jesus" theory can explain this first century movement.

 

I'm sorry I am no bible scholar...I'm not sure what you are talking about? I'd love to see if I can find you some answers but you'd have to take it slow for me.

Pikachu wrote:

I have no idea why your bringing paul into the discussion. God could have written the Bible. Jesus could have written a Bible. Obviously neither of them did. The Bible was written by Man and is full of error. So the real question is why did God or Jesus let man write the Bible in his own words with no divine inspiration at all?

There are many different explanations/theories for why God didn't write the bible. Do we know for sure why he didn’t write it...not that I am aware of, but there are sound theories.


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20vturbo wrote: There are

20vturbo wrote:
There are many different explanations/theories for why God didn't write the bible. Do we know for sure why he didn’t write it...not that I am aware of, but there are sound theories.
My theory is simple. Then your imagination doesn't show very much imagination. Quite clearly you can - by saying that you cannot imagine it the opposite thought has popped into your head. You can imagine it - if you can't then you don't have an imagination. Which is not possible. Of course the thought that you dislike - that Biblical documents were written in an age absent of God to inspire people - has now been shoved into a darkened recess.

God had no time to create time.


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cslewisster wrote: I'd

cslewisster wrote:

I'd disagree with your Biblical interpretation though I don't have the time to go into depth with why. I honestly don't feel like doing it right now.

Here is the exact quote:

"Matthew 18:19-20 (King James Version)

19) Again I say unto you, That if two of you shall agree on earth as touching any thing that they shall ask, it shall be done for them of my Father which is in heaven.

20) For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them."

 

You can do the interpretation dance all you want but i think the words are pretty plain.

"Again I say unto you, That if two of you shall agree on earth as touching any thing that they shall ask, it shall be done for them of my Father which is in heaven."

The prayer studies where many more than two are gathered have shown results no better than chance.

Bottom line, folded hand do not help!


cslewisster
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BGH wrote: cslewisster

BGH wrote:
cslewisster wrote:

I'd disagree with your Biblical interpretation though I don't have the time to go into depth with why. I honestly don't feel like doing it right now.

Here is the exact quote:

"Matthew 18:19-20 (King James Version)

19) Again I say unto you, That if two of you shall agree on earth as touching any thing that they shall ask, it shall be done for them of my Father which is in heaven.

20) For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them."

 

You can do the interpretation dance all you want but i think the words are pretty plain.

"Again I say unto you, That if two of you shall agree on earth as touching any thing that they shall ask, it shall be done for them of my Father which is in heaven."

The prayer studies where many more than two are gathered have shown results no better than chance.

Bottom line, folded hand do not help!

 

Damn you I said I didn't want to talk about this, YOU JUST KEEP SUCKING ME IN!!!!! I'll put it simply, I don't think that this passage is talking about prayer.

The Greek word used is συμφωνέω it means agree, in every passage that it is used in the New Testament it means agree, never prayer. I think that this passage might have something to do with the passage before it dealing with ecumenical discord. I don't think that that this passage is an island unto itself which is the problem with your interpretation.

You're not taking the passage in with what's going on in the rest of the chapter. It doesn't make any sense that Christ would just be talking about Ecumenical issues and all of a sudden he's like "Oh yeah!!! BTW, if ya'll get together and pray, whatever you want to happen, will happen", and then he just goes right back to talking about disputes in organizations (presumably the church).

 
But what’s obvious to me is that this passage is not talking about prayer, there is a Greek word for prayer and it's NOT in this passage. 

(Why do I have to dispel bad interpretations of scripture from Christians and Atheists?) 

 

ttdm.blogspot.com


todangst
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cslewisster wrote: (Why

cslewisster wrote:

(Why do I have to dispel bad interpretations of scripture from Christians and Atheists?)

 

Because your interpretations are based on your own biases, which differ from the biases of other.

 

"Hitler burned people like Anne Frank, for that we call him evil.
"God" burns Anne Frank eternally. For that, theists call him 'good.'


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todangst wrote: Because

todangst wrote:

Because your interpretations are based on your own biases, which differ from the biases of other.

But my "biases" don't want that passage to say that this is dealing with excommunication and it honestly doesn't make ANY sense there. 

ttdm.blogspot.com


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20vturbo wrote: Pikachu

20vturbo wrote:
Pikachu wrote:

20vturbo wrote:
you would need to study the bible, the history, all the people who passed down the stories, ect ect.
Perhaps you should read more closely yourself before you make such pronouncements of others. Or are you reading it with rose colored glasses on? I have read the bible 12 times and here's what i found:

Is all scripture inspired by God?

Yes

  • [2 Tim 3:16] All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness:
No
  • [1 Cor 7:12] But to the rest speak I, not the Lord: if any brother hath a wife that believeth not, and she be pleased to dwell with him, let him not put her away.
  • [25] Now concerning virgins I have no commandment of the Lord: yet I give my judgement, as one that hath obtained mercy of the Lord to be faithful.

 

 

I never said I knew everything about the bible, history, languages, ect…but that doesn’t change that I know I need to read the bible with all the other factors/context in mind to understand it.

 

As for the passages above here is one explaination:

"This is a case of over-interpretation. Paul does not say that what he writes is not inspired by God; merely that the Lord has not commanded what Paul says. Paul was almost certainly inspired by God in each word he spoke (preached) following his conversion (cf. 1 Cor 2:4,7,13; 1 Thess 2:13). --RS

If he was inspired by god, then what's the point of clarifying that what he's writing is not commanded by god?

Do you want to think this one over and try again? 

"Hitler burned people like Anne Frank, for that we call him evil.
"God" burns Anne Frank eternally. For that, theists call him 'good.'


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cslewisster

cslewisster wrote:
todangst wrote:

Because your interpretations are based on your own biases, which differ from the biases of other.

But my "biases" don't want that passage to say that this is dealing with excommunication and it honestly doesn't make ANY sense there.

Your biases DO want to solve the problem, however. The bias on the atheist is to see problems.

What matters then, is who has a non arbitrary method of determing accurate interpretations. And you yourself concede that you disagree even with theists...

Which means that at least some theists clearly are not using no arbitrary methods of interpretation.... 

"Hitler burned people like Anne Frank, for that we call him evil.
"God" burns Anne Frank eternally. For that, theists call him 'good.'


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cslewisster wrote: But my

cslewisster wrote:

But my "biases" don't want that passage to say that this is dealing with excommunication but it honestly doesn't make ANY sense there.

 I just wanted to turn that and into a but. It's late and I messed it up.

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FROM OTHER

FROM OTHER THREAD

cslewisster wrote:
darth_josh wrote:

Or you would prefer they not count the misses. right?


No I would honestly like to see a comprehensive study done where they took into consideration things like religious belief of patient/prayerer, length of time prayed for, amount of people praying…etc. It has nothing to do with me wanting them to count the hits and "not count the misses". I would never say that we could test their "level" of faith. That seems ridiculous to even me, a stupid theist; I would never advocate such idiocy. My point; there are better manners in which to conduct the test. I much prefer a full study than to have anyone tout around a half-assed study. Which is why I'd say that I'd like to see a bigger, more in depth study done before I'd draw any conclusions.


darth_josh wrote:


What if, just if, we didn't waste our time and money trying to disprove the power of prayer and spent it on ACTUAL MEDICAL RESEARCH???



I'd love to see more funding go towards medical research, but this isn't what this study was for was it? The study was to see what the effects of intercessory prayer are.
Even if praying did show improvement, it wouldn't prove divine power was involved simply because there's no evidence of divinity. There would have to be something else involved.

People who think there is something they refer to as god don't ask enough questions.


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AiiA wrote: Even if

AiiA wrote:

Even if praying did show improvement, it wouldn't prove divine power was involved simply because there's no evidence of divinity. There would have to be something else involved.

No causal argument can be made for the supernatural, its oxymornic. The only claim that could potentially work would be a miracle claim, which is a claim for acausality (i.e. magic) , where the laws of physics are overturned, but even this is highly problematic, seeing as it requires that one make a certain claim about what the laws of nature are....

 

"Hitler burned people like Anne Frank, for that we call him evil.
"God" burns Anne Frank eternally. For that, theists call him 'good.'


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Yes.

Yes.

I should have said " There would have to be something natural involved"


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AiiA wrote: Yes. I should

AiiA wrote:

Yes.

I should have said " There would have to be something natural involved"

 

Actually, that is how I read your post. I was just clarifying. 

"Hitler burned people like Anne Frank, for that we call him evil.
"God" burns Anne Frank eternally. For that, theists call him 'good.'


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cslewisster

cslewisster wrote:
NinjaTux wrote:

It not only didn't help, but letting them know cause them more pain. Way to go Jeebus...

I think that that was actually considered to be a statistical anomaly by the study.

 

Also the abstract of the study does not break down the specific faiths, time spent praying...etc, so honestly I'd rather hear from a first hand source that is certain that this is the study.

 

http://www.rationalresponders.com/forum/sapient/atheist_vs_theist/747

How's a newspaper article on it.... I would be willing to bet that most of the difference was not statistically significant (thereby meaning equal).  the difference in the informed group is fairly well explained in the article, and since there isn't a god it only makes since that the observed effects of the study were RANDOM.  I would expect prayer to make no difference what so ever ( positive of negative), and it didn't. 

No Gods, Know Peace.


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AiiA wrote: Even if

AiiA wrote:

Even if praying did show improvement, it wouldn't prove divine power was involved simply because there's no evidence of divinity. There would have to be something else involved.

Agreed, but if a study were to show that prayer does not help it wouldn't be proof against a divinity either.

ttdm.blogspot.com


aiia
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cslewisster wrote:

cslewisster wrote:
AiiA wrote:


Even if praying did show improvement, it wouldn't prove divine power was involved simply because there's no evidence of divinity. There would have to be something else involved.



Agreed, but if a study were to show that prayer does not help it wouldn't be proof against a divinity either.
As I said there is no evidence of any divinity, so why* try to prove anything is affected by begging to divinity (what prayer is) when the problem lies with proving there is a divinity?


A similar method of reasoning would be to study what effect a group of people who are imagining themselves floating through the air would have on heart patients, when there is no evidence that anyone floats through the air.

* I can think of one reason and that is to establish the illusion that there is divinity. 

People who think there is something they refer to as god don't ask enough questions.