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The Powerlessness Of Prayer
Mean Amy must break all you "belieivers" yet another bit of bad news. When people say their prayers are with you, they mean well, but it's not going to do a damn thing for whatever the problem is. Benedict Carey writes in The New York Times of a study that shows that prayers not only didn't benefit people undergoing heart surgery, the announcement that they were having mental voodoo performed in their behalf seemed to do some detriment:

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.

Go outside and appreciate a tree. Sitting around praying is a waste of time. Just think about the people it doesn't help. An example I've given before: Your four-year-old dies horribly in an accident while another four-year-old, of the people next door, manages to live. You pray, her parents pray, what does it mean, that your prayers are shit? No, it means that life is random, and sometimes your four-year-old is sitting closer to the point of impact than the neighbors' kid. No voodoo. Just physics and maybe a faulty car seat.

Posted by aalkon at March 31, 2006 6:46 AM

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I totally agree. In fact, what I would like to say to someone who might want to say a prayer for me is "Please don't".........

Posted by: cantchasea at March 31, 2006 8:49 AM

Similarly, in a recent British TV program called "The Root of all Evil," host Richard Dawkins discussed Lourdes, home of the largest Catholic pilgrimage location in France. It was here in 1858 that the Virgin Mary is claimed to have appeared to a 14 year-old girl, and a shrine subsequently established.

Of the estimated 200 million people who have visited the shrine since its inception, the Church has "recognized" 67 miracle healings. Dawkins points out that these cases are statistically equivalent to what is expected by chance alone. He further notes that in none of the recognized cures did missing limbs regenerate, or damaged organs reform.

Posted by: Norm Nason at March 31, 2006 10:10 AM

Perhaps this would be a good time to mention a misunderstood thing: cause and effect.

Many people think that "chance" rules their life - and it doesn't.

Posted by: Radwaste at March 31, 2006 10:53 AM

A car running through a red light is the cause and hitting you is the effect. The fact that it happened to you instead of someone else or nobody at all? That's pure chance. There's no way to completely eliminate risk in your life, so you do the best you can and quit worrying about it, which is harder for some people than others. I was thinking of the kids who are obese from sitting in front of the TV all the time, eating junk food. There is a park right across the street, but their parents won't let them go play there with the neighborhood kids, because they think their kid will get hit by a car when they cross the street, or a pedophile might be lurking by the park, waiting to kidnap them. Never mind that the kid's risk of health problems stemming from obesity are much greater!

Posted by: Pirate Jo at March 31, 2006 11:06 AM

Another act to think about: When Popes are on their death-beds, literally millions of devout people pray for them. And yet, folks, 100% of Popes die anyway.

Posted by: Stu "El Inglés" Harris at March 31, 2006 3:55 PM

Pirate Jo speaks the truth. So much of our existence is dictated by blind, random, stupid luck. The most important moments in life depend on pinpoint timing -- where you are, and precisely when. A tenth of a second can be the difference between a life-ending car crash and an angry swerve, or between meeting and missing a potential soulmate. Or, as we saw in the "Miracle Lane" article, between having good enough oxygen for a chance at survival, and not having it.

But sadly, most people would rather ascribe this to the influence of some almighty being.

Posted by: Gary at March 31, 2006 9:20 PM

The power of prayer HAS indeed been proven over the centuries. By leading prayers for the flock every Sunday, con men in suits and robes (sometimes with funny hats, too!) can become flush with mucho cash that is also tax free! Jesus Christ! What a scam!

Posted by: Bill Henry at April 1, 2006 8:59 AM

Well, Amy, obviously you've never watched the 700 Club! Pat Robertson heals sick people all the time. He and some friends will close their eyes and start saying stuff like, "There's a woman in California who's just been healed of lung cancer... a man in Maine has just been healed of pneumonia..."

What do you mean, you don't believe him???? That's a man of God talking, sinner! Repent now or face eternal wrath!

Posted by: Patrick at April 1, 2006 9:42 AM

> When people say their prayers are
> with you, they mean well

Hey, that ought to count for something. seriously.

Be nice to people.

Posted by: Crid at April 2, 2006 5:15 AM

Ah, but I bet this study didn't control for the "naughty and nice factor." If you pray for someone evil and they drop dead, well, that just doesn't count...

Posted by: Kevin_M at April 2, 2006 8:23 AM

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