October 20, 2006

Proving Prayer Is Hooey

Here is a pretty good attempt at showing how prayer is ridiculous. Well, ridiculous if you think God answers prayers.

The video originates from the site Why Won't God Heal Amputees. Lots of good stuff there, and its sister site, God is Imaginary.

Again, I will take a realist approach to prayer. I can see where prayer could benefit a believer. Lets call it The Little Engine That Could phenomenon. There are a few studies out there that indicate that ones mood and optimism could affect the healing process, or even help with longevity if a disease is terminal.

Here is an interesting article on how fear could have a hormonal affect that causes cancer.

One's emotion is often linked to illness recovery and even frequency of illness. This leads me to believe that believers have an advantage over Realists when it comes to combatting illness.

Now I know there was a study recently which implied that knowing that people prayed for an ill person didn't help the ill person at all. The problem with this study was that it required ill people to think strangers were praying for them. It isn't the same as knowing loved ones are praying for them.

There are even studies that show that regular church goers live longer than non church goers and non believers. Here is one.

Giving up reality and fooling myself for a couple more years of life just doesn't appeal to me. Maybe when I get sick, just the idea of friends and loved ones praying for me will give the satisfaction to fight whatever I wind up with. Maybe believers still serve a function.


  1. Exellent video BEAJ!

    Hummmm.....? Does that mean that I have to throw away the picture of Lance Armstrong that I carry with me for luck in one of my jersey pockets when I race?

    Oh no, and I have so much "faith" in it!

    No seriously, I think praying sucks and it's not for intelligent people. Neither is superstition.
    The picture of Lance Armstrong that I carry is not for luck, it's for encouragement.

    Love your site BEAJ!

  2. All the holy rollers always say "my prayers were answered" when something good happens...if it's something bad, however, he's trying to "teach us something". Why can't they just say something like, "hey, Jesus must've been in a shitty mood today, he didn't answer my prayer".

    Liked the video - I'd love to see a few people watch that video, now THAT'D be some real entertainment. heh heh heh...

  3. why do you assume if you don't get what you pray for G-d isn't answering your prayers, maybe the answer is no.

  4. Bunny,
    Why do you spell G-d's name with a hyphen?
    Orthodox Jews are very careful to not spell out G-d's name when translated. If I were to spell it out, and you were to print it and then throw it into the garbage, we would both be guilty of disrespect to G-d's name. When writing in Hebrew in holy Scriptures, we are especially careful. When a Torah scroll (which for example contains G-d's name in Hebrew) is no longer fit to be used, we do not throw it away, we bury it.

    I also think some reform Jews don't use the "o" in God either.

    Yid, according to the NT, the answer is always yes. But I see no evidence God exists period.

    Lisa, they should show this video in churches, since many of the flock want ID taught in science as an alternative view. This view about praying should be known to them.

    HC, inspiration may be a positive affect to praying as I noted in my post. It may help people with diseases. It is the thought that counts.

  5. But in the OT the answer isnt always yes. Abraham Prays to G-d not destroy Sodom. Moses prays to be let into the Holyland , Saul prays for forgiveness.....

  6. Yid, God always says no when it comes to amputees praying for their limbs to grow back.

  7. I always thought god's answer to Job, when Job asks him to appear and explain all that has befallen him -- Where were You when I created the heavens & the earth? -- indicated that god could, if he so chose, answer one's prayers.

    But it was up to him and him alone to decide.

    If I'be butchered Job beyond belief (get it? beyond belief? Cause it's all about . . .oh, never mind), please accept my apologies.

    And set me straight.

  8. I pray you are right, because I don't pray often.

  9. I always thought that God saying, “Where were you when I created the heavens and the earth?” was explaining to Job what an insignificant dweeb Job was. God was doing all sorts of God stuff like appearing as a pillar of flame and shouting thunderously and generally causing mayhem to win some bet with his gambling buddy Old Nick. Job shows God that just because you can do what ever you like doesn’t mean it’s right. God then significantly ‘matures’ as a being and is somewhat humbled by Job’s demeanour. The book of Job is the most un-Biblical book in the Bible – my favourite.
    As the biblical story progresses God evolves as a being.

    I always used to ask the faith healers, why is God so mean to amputees? Never got a good answer. Now I don’t see how an ideal can regrow a limb – could fix a bad attitude or a psychosomatic problem though.

  10. Interesting video.

    There have been proper studies on prayer that have shown it's ineffective. In this one some of the groups that were prayed for were even worse off.


    And some shameless self-promotion:

    I just wrote a post on prayer. I think it has benefits apart from getting stuff from God. It can work like meditation and can be therapeutic. IMHO.

  11. BJ, I linked the study in my post. And again, I agree that there could be a placebo affect that helps someone either praying or someone knowing that loved ones are praying for them.

  12. Yes, god says no to prayers. What I find ironic is he says yes about the same amount of times as a lucky horseshoe will! I think I'll stick with the lucky horseshoe. That way if the answer is No at least I have a horseshoe.

  13. I have recently written about a double-blind prayer-healing study performed entirely after the patients had been cured or died. It did indeed show a small positive correlation between being prayed for after the fact and your chances of surviving.

    The last page of the paper is partially reproduced here:

    I think that the author is being facetious when he suggests that praying for patients who already recovered is a cost effective and worthwhile treatment.

    Well... I hope he is being facetious

  14. I hope that somewhere along your life you can find the intensity of the grace of God. I'm so sorry you are not one of us who can experince that prayer and faith are the most wonderfull things you can have. And even though we don't deserve it God is always watching us. If I do not have hands is not because God doesn't love or help me. Read the Bible you will find the answer of life. God Bless You!!