Study Concludes Intercessory Prayer Doesn’t Work; Christians Twist the Results

I was reading an article in Christianity Today and one of the paragraphs made me do a double-take. I couldn’t believe anyone was actually writing it… it was incredible how much fact-twisting was going on.

First, a bit of background.

It’s no surprise that prayer can have a positive effect on those who believe in it. If you pray, it can relax you and make you feel better. If you know others are praying for you — that others care about you — you feel better and your body might actually respond to that positivity. None of this has anything to do with a god answering (or even listening to) the prayers. It functions more like meditation. Prayer can have a calming, healing effect for those who buy into it.

But what happens when others pray for you and you are unaware of it? To no atheist’s surprise, this has never been shown to work.

This idea has been tested repeatedly — usually, the studies have flaws. And even when the results show that the intercessory prayer has no effect on anyone, those who believe in it will look at the hits and ignore (or rationalize) the misses.

Three years ago, a multi-million-dollar, controlled, double-blind study was conducted to test intercessory prayer.

The Study of the Therapeutic Effects of Intercessory Prayer (STEP) found two major results:

1) “Intercessory prayer had no effect on recovery from surgery without complications.”

2) “Patients who knew they were receiving intercessory prayer fared worse.”

Fared worse?! Even I was surprised by that. So were many Christians — this didn’t sit well with them.

This new article from Christianity Today, though, offers a rationalization I’ve never heard before. You can tell they’re really straining to find a silver lining…

Ironically, STEP actually supports the Christian worldview. Our prayers are nothing at all like magical incantations. Our God bears no resemblance to a vending machine. The real scandal of the study is not that the prayed-for group did worse, but that the not-prayed-for group received just as much, if not more, of God’s blessings. In other words, God seems to have granted favor without regard to either the quantity or even the quality of the prayers. By instinct, we might selfishly prefer that God give preferential treatment to those who are especially, deliberately, and correctly prayed for, but he seems to act otherwise.

True to his character, God appears inclined to heal and bless as many as possible.

So the fact that the prayers had no effect on the sick? Don’t think about that, say Gregory Fung and Christopher Fung, the authors of the article. Instead, they want you to consider that prayer works because the un-prayed-for people didn’t die a horrible death.

That’s one way of ignoring the evidence when it’s staring you in the face.

There’s gotta be a perfect analogy for this somewhere. What comes to mind?

  • Alan E.

    True to his character, God appears inclined to heal and bless as many as possible.

    But shouldn’t it be possible for a god to heal them all?

  • David D.G.

    Sheesh. Faith-based intellectual dishonesty knows no bounds.

    ~David D.G.

  • Zygrot

    I don’t think you need an analogy. This is a typical apologist stance; Steal/apply credit to god.

    This is a twist on that, finding credit where there is none, but still not new or surprising.

  • http://None Sean

    How about this analogy:

    Christianity Today is like a really stupid person who is the bane of humanity’s existence.

    : )

  • http://www.thewarfareismental.info cl

    I am not an atheist.

    That IP can’t be validated is also no surprise to (reasonable) theists, and I agree with you that CT’s rationalization fails. However, I’m a bit disappointed that so many people who claim to be scientifically minded still believe a scientifically-credible prayer study is even possible. Prayer is request, not compulsion – so by its very nature, prayer can be either granted, denied, or postponed. Contrast those cold and stark difficulties to the inviting warmth of empirical investigation into natural processes – which is the thrust of science, by the way.

    Prayer is related to faith. How do we quantify faith? How do we know one or more of these “Christian” intercessors weren’t among the many whom the Bible describes as saying, “Lord, Lord” but are without faith, or anti-Christians attempting to purposely skew the results? How can we know that any positive results in the prayer group were the result of the intercessors as opposed to other people praying in other places around the world that may or may not be focusing specifically on subject(s) in the prayer group? Do all prayer studies accurately control for the fact that every instance of a prayer study increases the likelihood of positive results by chance? For these and many other reasons we’ve only begun to touch upon, I believe so-called “prayer studies” are not scientifically credible. Anyone who has evidence otherwise is welcomed to share it. I submit the following link for those who would like to know my position more thoroughly:

    On Atheists & Blind Faith, Or, False Arguments 27, 28 & 29: Why Prayer Studies Are Not Credible

    For those interested in a book-length argument that agrees with mine – written within the last ten years and by a credible, skeptical physician – I suggest Blind Faith: The Unholy Alliance of Religion and Medicine, Richard P. Sloan, Ph.D.
    (St. Martin’s Press, 978-0-31234-881-6)

  • Wendy

    It reminds me of a Family Guy scene: Brian is sitting in a bar, depressed and drinking his face off. A beautiful woman is sitting next to him.

    Brian: Woah. Tho..Those are some HUGE boobs!! ‘N, ‘n you know what’s great about them? That you don’t have that blue vein that some of the bigger ones get.

    *woman splashes drink in his face and storms off*

    Brian: WHAT?? I said you DON’T have that!!

  • chancelikely

    cl:

    If this and other prayer studies showed a small but statistically significant improvement among the prayed-for compared against the control group, would you be saying “Prayer studies don’t work”?

  • medussa

    So, let’s see if I understand the logic:
    whether you are prayed for or not makes no difference in the outcome, and that is further proof of god?
    SO, the fact that my fundamentalist family prays for me every day to see things their way will have no effect whatsoever, and that is further proof of god?

    What exactly is the point then? I am so confused.

  • http://jewmanist.com Rose

    Not surprised that they would twist results like that. Anything to make prayer seem functional. Maybe all those who weren’t prayed for were, but they didn’t know? How about that?! LOL!

    Or perhaps, they were praying to the wrong god, or wrong version of someone else’s god. The Flying Spaghetti Monster works in mysterious ways. Oh crap, now, I’m going to be punished by The Invisible Pink Unicorn for saying that…uh oh…

  • http://www.thewarfareismental.info cl

    Of course not, chancelikely.

    Although they’re not discussed here (that I’m aware of), other prayer studies have shown “small but statistically significant improvement among the prayed-for compared against the control group,” and I equally deny the scientific credibility of these published, peer-reviewed studies. This is all discussed in the linked post.

  • http://reanhouse.blogspot.com Sarah

    I wonder if the ones who knew they were being prayed for got worse because they felt pressured to get better and it stressed them out thus making them worse.

    Or maybe god just likes messing with people. After all, it’s FAR more important for those cursed atheist scientists to look like goobers than for sick people to actually be healed. Amirite?

  • Jeff Satterley

    How do we know one or more of these “Christian” intercessors weren’t among the many whom the Bible describes as saying, “Lord, Lord” but are without faith, or anti-Christians attempting to purposely skew the results? How can we know that any positive results in the prayer group were the result of the intercessors as opposed to other people praying in other places around the world that may or may not be focusing specifically on subject(s) in the prayer group?

    These problems are present in ANY scientific study done in the real world. How do we know that drug X caused symptom Y to disappear, and not something else the subject did? We don’t keep people in a bubble, their behavior varies wildly. That’s why scientists use large samples and statistical methods to show how likely it is that positive results are just a coincidence.

  • http://sporkintheeye.blogspot.com Spork

    cl shows the exact thinking I have seen from most theists:
    a) if something good happens, it is proof of god’s glory
    b) if something bad happens, it is never god’s fault (or there is some good underneath it… someone dies a horrible death and “god called them home”)

    It is foreign to me to never be able to look at any event skeptically.

    Okay cl, let’s say this is flawed thinking. How exactly would one scientifically test prayer? How would one test the difference between a request to god and a request to the invisible blue snake that lives behind the clothes in my closet?

    Surely you can agree that the invisible snake in my closet is fiction and surely there is a way to test my requests towards it.

  • CC

    “…its very nature, prayer can be either granted, denied, or postponed.”

    Great cop-out, used for centuries when prayer doesn’t give the answer one wanted from God. Jesus said ask and you WILL receive, not ask and you may or may not receive, depending upon how you respond to the stipulations (as I was recently told). If you tell that mountain to jump in the ocean, it will do it…or not, or postponed, etc., etc., etc.

  • http://universalheretic.wordpress.com/ Vic

    I have always believed that the reason that the group that knew they were being prayed for fared worse is because they got cocky (knowing God was looking out for them) and were lax in following doctors orders.

    The study was could have been done better, though. They should have had a group of people not being prayed for and taken care of by a doctor, and another group of people being prayed for and not given any medical attention at all. It would give their god something to do and take out any and all scientific possibilities as to their condition.

  • http://miketheinfidel.blogspot.com/ MikeTheInfidel

    cl said:

    How do we know one or more of these “Christian” intercessors weren’t among the many whom the Bible describes as saying, “Lord, Lord” but are without faith, or anti-Christians attempting to purposely skew the results?

    This is not relevant. The Bible verse you are quoting says that not all who cry “Lord, Lord” will be saved, not “have their prayers answered”.

    There is, in fact, a set of verses which do indicate that God is compelled to comply with all requests made in prayer.

    You’re right, though. The studies are not scientifically credible. This is because “prayer” is an ill-defined concept which creates no observable phenomenon differentiable from that produced by non-supernaturalistic practices, such as meditation. There is no indication that there is a phenomenon there to study at all.

    cl also said:

    prayer can be either granted, denied, or postponed

    And thus, the target of the prayer is entirely irrelevant and claims that this study or any other (or any faith) supports the idea of prayers being answered by a specific agent are nonsensical.

  • http://mylongapostasy.blogspot.com ATL-Apostate

    Ugh. Several problems with this, but the biggest IMO is that this study came out THREE YEARS ago, and CT is just now getting around to talking about it. In three years, this is the best they could do? Sad.

    cl:

    Intercessory prayer (IP) should be able to be validated or rejected in a scientific study. You can frame it in the form of a scientific question. “Does intercessory prayer show a demonstrable effect in patient outcome?”

    You then determine what outcomes you are going to measure, then you create a control group and an intervention group. Ideally the participants and investigators are blinded to the intervention or lack thereof. This sort of thing is done with drug studies all the time, and STEP attempted to duplicate this.

    The fact that the STEP study doesn’t demonstrate causality does not weaken it’s true conclusion (regardless of how the authors spun it) that IP does not work. Causality is next to impossible to prove in ANY scenario. The best we can hope for are associations, risk ratios, correlations and probabilities.

    I don’t subscribe to the non-overlapping magisteria school of thought. Either saying magic words to invisible sky-daddy has a measurable effect, or it does not. We can measure the effect, or lack thereof, even if we can’t detect the undetectable sky-daddy. STEP shows, there is essentially NO effect, thus making the case AGAINST IP stronger.

    For me, holding an opinion or belief that is unfalsifiable (e.g. I have a magic friend who can answer my prayers) is irrational and untenable.

    Also, Dan Barker has a great analysis in his book, godless.
    At least, I think it was Barker. It may have been Hitchen’s “god is not great,” or Dawkins “the god delusion.” Hell, I can’t remember now. Better read ‘em all, just to make sure.

  • http://religiouscomics.net Jeff

    I agree with cl that proper prayer should be about things that cannot be falsified. Then the smarty-pants scientists won’t be able to show that it doesn’t work.

    Pray for things like the following:
    1. That your grandmother will get into heaven.
    2. That you will get into heaven.
    3. That your own faith will increase over time.
    5. That the demons that haunt you won’t be able to take over your soul.

    Avoid praying for such things that wouldn’t happen if the atheist world-view were correct.
    1. Don’t pray for amputated limbs to grow back.
    2. Don’t pray for water to turn into wine.
    3. Don’t pray that you can walk on water.
    God simply doesn’t do these kinds of things.

    It is OK to pray for little favors as long as you don’t participate in a statistical study and as long as you don’t keep records of the things you prayed about that didn’t come true. Make sure that the little favors are things that could happen in the normal scheme of things. Whenever one of these prayers eventually does comes true, view it as evidence of God. A simple example would be to pray for “heads” when flipping coins. Ignore the “tails”. When “heads” comes up, say “God be praised”.

  • magdalune

    If the world goes on as if God had not “intervened” by either healing according to or ignoring intercessory prayers, then what is the point of God?

    The reason why they do prayer studies is because the Bible tells Christians that they will be able to heal in Jesus’ name. These studies show that either 1) that promise has passed or 2) even the most faithful do not have enough faith.

    As an extraordinary God, it is not out of line for observers who are not believers to require extraordinary evidence. If the world is “business as usual” with or without him, he is not an extraordinary God, and he either does not exist or does not concern himself with our world.

  • Zoo

    the biggest IMO is that this study came out THREE YEARS ago, and CT is just now getting around to talking about it. In three years, this is the best they could do? Sad.

    That’s pretty standard fare for most ‘mainstream’ media. I was learning about studies in my textbooks at college* that the mainstream media would trot out between a semester and a couple years after that as “new”. [And they'd usually get something wrong, or make a big deal about the wrong part of the study. . . but that's a discussion in itself.]

    *Granted, college texts keep up better than public school ones, but there’s still significant lag.

  • Epistaxis

    If I’m ever hospitalized, please pray for the person in the bed next to mine.

  • not completely useless

    Following on Spork’s comment about the invisible blue snake, it seems to me that there are other protocols you could use to test the efficacy of prayer.

    Why not enlist people to pray to various specific entities and compare the results? I’d suggest prayers to Yahweh, Jesus, Allah, Neptune, Ra, the moon, the teapot circling the sun, and the color purple. Do you think we’d seen any statistically significant differences? No, neither do I.

    Do you think it would convince anyone? No, neither do I.

  • Anonymous

    I think George Carlin pinned it down best: God already knows what you need, and God already knows whether or not he is going to give you what you need, whether you ask for it or not. God’s will is already set. So what the fuck is the point of praying?

  • medussa

    will do, epistaxis!

  • http://www.failingtheinsidertest.blogspot.com/ Jeffrey

    >There’s gotta be a perfect analogy for this somewhere. What comes to mind?

    It’s like a doctor in the 1700s who decides to try treating human patients by applying the bloodletting procedure to a cow. After discovering how much better it works than bloodletting the patient, he concludes that people are sick due to the bad blood in a nearby animal.

  • http://lfab-uvm.blogspot.com chanson

    That’s one way of ignoring the evidence when it’s staring you in the face.

    There’s gotta be a perfect analogy for this somewhere. What comes to mind?

    Bristol Palin as the poster-girl for how well abstinence-only sex education works.

  • Closeted atheist

    Great post!

    Forgive me for laughing my butt off. The Google-placed ad at the top of this post is for OurPrayer.org, saying “We’ll pray for you by name and need”. There’s great ad targeting for ya!

  • http://thecrashiscoming.blogspot.com XauriEL

    “My magic tiger-repelling rock must be incredibly powerful, since there are no wild tigers in the entirety of North America! Even in the places where I didn’t specifically want there to not be tigers, there are in fact no tigers!”

  • Leanstrum

    There’s gotta be a perfect analogy for this somewhere. What comes to mind?

    “The recent study showing no positive effect of homeopathic treatment actually supports the idea that homeopathy works. It’s safe to say that, during the patients’ recovery, they will have drunk water regularly. Since water has memory of what it has touched, there *must* be homeopathic remedy laced into that water, in concentrations comparable to those distributed by homeopathic doctors. Thus, the group taking an extra remedy may well have conflicted with the treatment they were already taking, whereas the ‘control’ group were actually receiving an appropriate dosage.”

  • http://unreligiousright.blogspot.com/ UNRR

    This post has been linked for the HOT5 Daily 5/16/2009, at The Unreligious Right

  • http://skeptico.blogs.com/skeptico/ Skeptico

    In other words, God seems to have granted favor without regard to either the quantity or even the quality of the prayers.

    Or in yet other words, prayer has no effect.

  • http://skeptico.blogs.com/skeptico/ Skeptico

    cl wrote:

    so by its very nature, prayer can be either granted, denied, or postponed

    - then what’s the point of praying?

    For these and many other reasons we’ve only begun to touch upon, I believe so-called “prayer studies” are not scientifically credible.

    What would be a “scientifically credible” way of doing a prayer study?

    other prayer studies have shown “small but statistically significant improvement among the prayed-for compared against the control group,”

    I wrote about the weaknesses of Byrd and Harris four years ago in my post Prayer still useless

  • Brooks

    Prayer is related to faith. How do we quantify faith? How do we know one or more of these “Christian” intercessors weren’t among the many whom the Bible describes as saying, “Lord, Lord” but are without faith, or anti-Christians attempting to purposely skew the results?

    If prayer really works, where all those healed amputees? Or are all those healed amputees false Christians? And presuming God exists, how do you know why he did or did not answer the prayers? Are you some sort of prophet that knows the mind of God? What happened to judge not lest ye be judged?

  • Aj

    I like how supposedly “reasonable” theists still go by the “God works in mysterious ways” hedge.

  • http://www.cvaas.org R.C. Moore

    cl –

    Still trying to drive readers to your blog with promises of enlightenment? Is the ad revenue that important to you? :)

    Information to others: I (personal opinion only) have not found better information at cl’s blog, though I have been driven there several times on the promise he would clarify his positions, they being too complex to state in the current discussion.

    Your mileage may vary, and if so inclined, then visit. I only mention this because I find the strategy of always forcing others to look elsewhere an interesting one, a clever way of never actually having to concede a point. I commend cl for the ingenuity involved.

  • http://www.thewarfareismental.info cl

    Most of people’s criticisms are addressed in the link. Good additions, Vic and Sarah. It seems the closer we look, the fuzzier this gets.

    Jeff Satterly,

    Would you call the three to seven “Christians” in the Byrd study a “large sample?”

    Spork,

    Way to look before you leap, make assumptions, and speak for others. That something “good” happens is not proof of God’s glory. One can’t scientifically test prayer.

    CC,

    If you think basic deduction is a “cop-out” I don’t know what to tell you. If you ask the ice-cream man for a popsicle and you don’t get one, is that proof asking people for things doesn’t work?

    MikeTheInfidel,

    It is relevant. According to the Bible, one cannot be saved without faith, and faith is a crucial component of prayer. I completely agree with the rest of your comment it seems, save for a small quibble here:

    There is, in fact, a set of verses which do indicate that God is compelled to comply with all requests made in prayer.

    Yet, one of Jesus’ final prayers went unanswered, so I say either the Bible is wrong or you need to consider the whole picture. Surely you’re not suggesting that if God were real, we could pray that God would kill Himself and such would succeed?

    ATL-Apostate,

    We can frame any question we want in scientific jargon, and I disagree with you that STEP delivered a “true” conclusion.

    Either saying magic words to invisible sky-daddy has a measurable effect, or it does not.

    While formally valid, I fully respect your right to make oversimplified arguments, and that you declare God unfalsifiable on one hand – then argue that prayer studies are credible on the other – seems contradictory. I’m familiar with the popular books you’ve mentioned, save for Barker’s.

    magdalune,

    These studies show that either 1) that promise has passed or 2) even the most faithful do not have enough faith.

    Either/or fallacy. Other reasonable options exist.

    Skeptico,

    I don’t think there is a scientifically credible way to do a prayer study. I’ll check out your post on Harris and Byrd. I agree their studies weren’t sound.

    R.C.,

    Nobody’s forcing anyone to do anything. Quit letting your emotions get in your way, as it adds nothing to rational discussion. OTOH, you’re free to assume you know why I included the link when such is neither rational nor possible. Of course you jump to conclusions and overlook the fact that including the link just might have been in the interest of cutting to the chase and avoiding redundancy.

    Lastly, there’s nothing to clarify – prayer studies are neither credible nor scientific. What point do you suggest I’m evading concession of?

  • http://www.cvaas.org R.C. Moore


    Lastly, there’s nothing to clarify – prayer studies are neither credible nor scientific. What point do you suggest I’m evading concession of?

    The STEP study is credible and scientific. It meets all criteria for results that are the same to all observers using the same protocol within a predetermined statistical variation.

    That is about as unemotional as you can get.

    You have offered no scientific evidence to the otherwise. You merely point off into cyberspace, dismissing all with a gut reaction based on your dislike for reality that conflicts with your own.

    Now that is an emotional response!

  • Pingback: A prayer guide for the faithful | 1 2 3 Religious Comics

  • Cypress Green

    Wow. The comments on CT are truly pathetic. I especially likes the one where “Satan did it!”

  • http://www.thewarfareismental.info cl

    R.C.,

    Tell the truth, though: Posting summarized arguments with links to expanded analysis is polite, scholarly and customary in blogging, right? Think Hemant wants the whole argument posted here? I don’t.

    Simply proclaiming STEP credible does not entail that you’ve reasonably addressed all or even any of my criticisms about prayer studies in general. If I hear anything new, I’ll gladly address it, but I don’t care who can piss farther and frankly, it’s a beautiful day.

    Of curiosity, do you extend your criticisms to Sloan’s work as well? Or is this another case like the Revelation thing where you’re arguing about something you haven’t really looked fully into? Now there’s an emotional comment for ya ;)

  • http://miketheinfidel.blogspot.com/ MikeTheInfidel

    cl said:

    According to the Bible, one cannot be saved without faith, and faith is a crucial component of prayer.

    So a prayer for faith would be fruitless? (Can you point me to a verse that supports the statement that “faith is a crucial component of prayer”?)

    cl also said:

    Surely you’re not suggesting that if God were real, we could pray that God would kill Himself and such would succeed?

    John 14:13-14.

    13 And whatsoever ye shall ask in my name, that will I do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son.

    14 If ye shall ask any thing in my name, I will do it.

    Yes. If God exists, and the Bible is his word, and he doesn’t lie, the conundrum you mentioned would be possible. So one of the three must be false. The most parsimonious option is that he doesn’t exist, since it makes the other two a non-issue.

  • http://skeptico.blogs.com/skeptico/ Skeptico

    cl wrote:

    If you ask the ice-cream man for a popsicle and you don’t get one, is that proof asking people for things doesn’t work?

    If that was all you did, then no. But if you compared a random number of people who didn’t ask with another group who did ask, and found there was no difference between the groups with regards to the number of popsicles obtained, then I would have to say “what’s the point in asking”.

    Which leads me to the question you didn’t answer, namely, what’s the point of praying?

  • http://hoverfrog.wordpress.com hoverFrog

    “Patients who knew they were receiving intercessory prayer fared worse.” an effect known as nocebo, the opposite (or complementary side) of placebo. The New Scientist has an article on it this week.

  • http://mylongapostasy.blogspot.com ATL-Apostate

    cl

    Prayer is only unfalsifiable if you continually make up excuses for it to remain so. STEP all but falsifies intercessory prayer.

    God is unfalsifiable, just like undetectable gremlins and invisible purple snakes. We can however, draw reasonable conclusions about the probability of his/her existence based on the available evidence.

  • http://mylongapostasy.blogspot.com ATL-Apostate

    Yet, one of Jesus’ final prayers went unanswered, so I say either the Bible is wrong or you need to consider the whole picture. Surely you’re not suggesting that if God were real, we could pray that God would kill Himself and such would succeed?

    Forget the issue of answered / unanswered prayer. The sheer absurdity of a god praying to himself to intervene and stop these humans (whom he has complete dominion over) from killing him is breathtaking. It’s like arguing with your own schizophrenic hallucination.

    And yes, if god is omnipotent, he should be able to kill himself (I know of several humans who were neither omnipotent nor omniscient, yet they were able to successfully commit suicide), unless he was full of shit to begin with… or he doesn’t exist at all.

  • http://www.thewarfareismental.info cl

    Thanks hoverFrog for your interesting contribution.

    MikeTheInfidel,

    Not to embed scripture on an atheist site or anything, but you asked: “If you believe, you will receive whatever you ask for in prayer.” -Matthew 21:22 That verse directly supports the statement that faith is a crucial component of prayer.

    So a prayer for faith would be fruitless?

    That’s one opinion. I’d say no.

    You suggest it’s logically possible for a God that allegedly cannot cease to exist to cease existing should we simply ask. I disagree, and I think you offer an either/or fallacy because you omit a valid option: Perhaps the reader is being overly rigid and literal in their interpretation of the verse? Generally, don’t read the Bible in Boolean and you’ll be alright.

    Skeptico,

    Although the question is certainly subjective, there is more than one point in asking, and one point would be that sometimes you’d get a popsicle.

    ATL-Apostate,

    Prayer is only unfalsifiable if you continually make up excuses for it to remain so.

    Incorrect. Prayer is only unfalsifiable if it cannot be falsified. I have not heard a convincing argument from you or anyone that it can, nor have I heard you explain how unfalsifiable Agency entails falsifiable action. If you can convince me with a reasoned argument I’ll gladly change my position.

    We can however, draw reasonable conclusions about the probability of his/her existence based on the available evidence.

    Omit the word probability and I’d say of course. Why wouldn’t I?

    Your subsequent comment consisted mostly of personal opinions. You apparently feel omnipotence entails the ability to do that which seems logically impossible, and I disagree.

  • Reginald Selkirk

    cl: On Atheists & Blind Faith, Or, False Arguments 27, 28 & 29: Why Prayer Studies Are Not Credible

    Except that many prayer studies are carried out not by atheists, but by theists, who actually believe they are going to work.

    The hardest part is finding someone who is willing to carry out such a study because they think it will work, and finding someone who understands how to plan and run a good clinical study. This can be either one person who is both, or collaborators who are willing to work together. The faith-based generally are not big on the scientific method.

    For example, one recent well-publicised study had one group of patients who were told they were being prayed for, and they were. They had another group of patients who were told they may or may not be prayed for, but were prayed for anyway. It would make perfect sense to have a third group, a control group who was told they would be prayed for, but actually weren’t. But it didn’t happen because the folks who organized the study felt it would be unethical to tell someone you were going to pray for them, then not do it – even though every major credible study ever done has shown no effect of intercessory prayer.

    There are many more prayer studies on the books. The Mayo Clinic, for example, ran a very well-designed and well-administered study several years before the STEP study. It showed no effect.

    Only two major studies have shown positive results:

    One by Elisabeth Targ

    and one by Columbia University.

    Both were fraudulent.

  • http://www.thewarfareismental.info cl

    They’re all essentially fraudulent.

  • http://skeptico.blogs.com/skeptico/ Skeptico

    cl:

    Although the question is certainly subjective, there is more than one point in asking, and one point would be that sometimes you’d get a popsicle.

    Not if if you compared a random number of people who didn’t ask with another group who did ask, and found there was no difference between the groups with regards to the number of popsicles obtained – which was the premise of my question. So dodge noticed. With prayer you don’t get the popsicle – you don’t any more times than if you didn’t ask. 

    Which brings me back to the question that you have ignored twice now, namely, what’s the point of praying? Be intellectually honest – answer the question.

  • ATL-Apostate

    cl

    How is a person/being/god killing himself a logical impossibility? Like I said, if a person can do it, why can’t a god?

  • http://sporkintheeye.blogspot.com Spork

    cl
    Spork,

    Way to look before you leap, make assumptions, and speak for others. That something “good” happens is not proof of God’s glory. One can’t scientifically test prayer.

    It’s hard not to have issues with the efficacy of prayer when your argument is that it can be granted, denied or postponed. That’s just silly. All outcomes indicate success. It’s like giving an award to every participant in a race. No one does that except the special olympics.

    I was just trying to differentiate the difference between your god and my invisible blue snake.

    In your response, you have effectively made the argument that praying to an invisible blue snake in my closet is a worthwhile endeavor. Thank you for making my point.

  • http://www.thewarfareismental.info cl

    Skeptico,

    If mine was a dodge, yours a Ram van. You say, “What’s the point of prayer?” That prayer even has a point is subjective, but one point of prayer is that they if God is real, prayers might be answered. Other people pray because it comforts them, and that’s the point for them. Etc. I’m already aware you think God is not real and hence there’s no point to prayer. I can’t change that. That’s about as intellectually honest as it gets. For you, there is no point in prayer. Others see points in praying. Life goes on, or does it?

    ATL-Apostate,

    Take biological death out of the picture. I don’t see how it’s logically possible for something that is purportedly eternal to cease existing. Can you explain that to me?

    Spork,

    If such is silly, do you suggest then that prayer is something else besides a request to God? Or that a request can be something other than granted, denied, or postponed?

    I’m not saying all outcomes indicate success, I’m saying no outcomes indicate anything reliable.

    Praying to an invisible blue in your closet may or may not be a worthwhile endeavor. It’s none of my business what you do in your closet.

  • http://skeptico.blogs.com/skeptico/ Skeptico

    cl wrote:

    …but one point of prayer is that they if God is real, prayers might be answered.

    Yes, they might be.  Or they might not be. (As you wrote, “so by its very nature, prayer can be either granted, denied, or postponed.”)  So I ask, do people who pray for things get these things on average more often than people who do not pray for them?

    Yes, no or don’t know?

  • Pingback: Faithist Memes, Religious Privilege, Victimization, and Bad Arguments « ZackFord Blogs

  • Brooks

    I’m still waiting for cl to explain why doesn’t God heal amputees if prayer works, but as usual the question goes ignored.

  • http://mylongapostasy.blogspot.com ATL-Apostate

    cl
    I don’t define your god, you do. If he can’t kill himself, then he’s not omnipotent. If he possesses two qualities that are logically impossible, as you have suggested (omnipotence and “eternal presence”) then your god is also logically impossible (or a big liar). Which is my point, exactly.
    There’s also the possibility that your god exists, but is either not omnipotent or not “eternally present,” or both. But then you’d have to re-define what/who god is.

    Furthermore, you say, “take biological death out of the picture.” Are you suggesting that your god is not a biological life form? Is he/she alive at all? What IS your god, exactly? If he/she is “alive” (a famous hymn comes to mind, “He Lives!” – but I digress) then it must be at least theoretically possible to die.

  • http://miketheinfidel.blogspot.com/ MikeTheInfidel

    cl said:

    Not to embed scripture on an atheist site or anything, but you asked: “If you believe, you will receive whatever you ask for in prayer.” -Matthew 21:22 That verse directly supports the statement that faith is a crucial component of prayer.

    First of all, the claim was that faith is required for prayer to be answered.

    Second, that verse says nothing at all about what happens if you pray and you don’t believe.

    You haven’t done anything to support the claim of the necessity of faith for prayer to be answered.

    cl also said:

    You suggest it’s logically possible for a God that allegedly cannot cease to exist to cease existing should we simply ask. I disagree, and I think you offer an either/or fallacy because you omit a valid option: Perhaps the reader is being overly rigid and literal in their interpretation of the verse? Generally, don’t read the Bible in Boolean and you’ll be alright.

    If you’re going to assert that it not be taken literally, you’re going to have to justify your decisions regarding what is and is not literal and metaphorical.

    If the claim is that absolutely crucial components of your god’s nature – that he is omnipotent, that he never lies, and that he answers prayer – are not to be literally accepted in conjunction with each other, I can only assume that you don’t believe them all.

    On the subject of not taking it too literally, I would also suggest that you not infer meanings that aren’t written there at all, such as that Matthew 21:22 supports the idea of faith being required for prayer to work, when it says nothing about nonbelief. Otherwise you’ll have to justify the addition of the information.

    How you can claim to know the accuracy of the bible’s descriptions of your god’s character, I don’t know. Unless you’re god, I can’t see a way you would know for sure, other than accepting the book as true in every instance, which is unjustifiable.

  • http://miketheinfidel.blogspot.com/ MikeTheInfidel

    One last thing…

    In response to Skeptico, cl said:

    You say, “What’s the point of prayer?” That prayer even has a point is subjective, but one point of prayer is that they if God is real, prayers might be answered. Other people pray because it comforts them, and that’s the point for them. Etc. I’m already aware you think God is not real and hence there’s no point to prayer. I can’t change that. That’s about as intellectually honest as it gets. For you, there is no point in prayer. Others see points in praying. Life goes on, or does it?

    Which entirely misses the point. To say that God answers prayers means one of two things:

    1. God changed his mind to grant the prayer.
    2. God didn’t change his mind; our prayer just went along with his plan.

    The obvious problems:

    1. The bible says god doesn’t change. Is this to be taken metaphorically – yet another essential component of the character of your god?
    2. If he was going to do what he did regardless of our prayer, the prayer was a meaningless gesture with no effect.

  • Polly

    @MiketheInfidel,

    Although I don’t believe there is a god of any kind, I think I can answer your comment:

    God might be waiting for his followers to ask for his help before he helps them. Either to get them to exercise their faith, or so that he will be sure to get “glory” out of it.
    After all, if he were to just heal everything in everyone willy-nilly ASAP, nobody’d notice him – so the reasoning might go. There’s be no testimony.

    I think the study clearly refutes this idea, but believers don’t pray based on the latest studies.

    • luke smith

       God knows everyone’s thoughts, he knows they need help. Why does he need them to ask him? Sounds a bit needy.

      Why is it people heal faster and live longer since we stopped relying on praying?

  • AJ

    I got sort of excited when I saw cl trying to answer some points on this page.

    Sadly, his responses have been the same intellectually dishonest rationalizations that drove me away from the church to begin with.

    And I’m still waiting for God to heal an amputee.

  • http://www.thewarfareismental.info cl

    Skeptico,

    ..do people who pray for things get these things on average more often than people who do not pray for them?

    I have no idea. My point was that prayer claims are not falsifiable and prayer studies are not scientifically credible.

    Brooks,

    I’m not ignoring anything. I’ve never seen God heal an amputee.

    ATL-Apostate,

    I don’t see how omnipotence and eternal presence are incompatible. You apparently define omnipotence as the ability to do the logically impossible. I do not. How any of that relates to the credibility of prayer studies is also beyond me.

    Are you suggesting that your god is not a biological life form?

    I’m suggesting that God > biological life.

    MikeTheInfidel,

    First of all, the claim was that faith is required for prayer to be answered.

    Correct. Do you dispute that receive is categorically synonymous with have answered? “If you believe, you will receive…” That can be reasonably translated to, “if we have faith, our prayers will be answered.” Yes? No? If not, why not?

    Second, that verse says nothing at all about what happens if you pray and you don’t believe.

    That’s correct. Other verses cover this quite well. I have to ask, though – How does any of this relate to whether or not prayer studies are credible? That was my original argument.

    You haven’t done anything to support the claim of the necessity of faith for prayer to be answered.

    There’s nothing else I can do if you deny that Matthew 21:22 supports my claim. It’s now on you to show how receive differs significantly from have answered.

    If you’re going to assert that it not be taken literally, you’re going to have to justify your decisions regarding what is and is not literal and metaphorical.

    That’s correct, and we bear the same burden with most any historical work.

    If the claim is that absolutely crucial components of your god’s nature – that he is omnipotent, that he never lies, and that he answers prayer – are not to be literally accepted in conjunction with each other, I can only assume that you don’t believe them all.

    I’ve not claimed that.

    How you can claim to know the accuracy of the bible’s descriptions of your god’s character, I don’t know.

    I don’t. But it doesn’t take much to claim the logically impossible is logically impossible.

    As far as your comments on my discussion with Skeptico, that God answers prayers does not necessarily entail that God has changed his mind. Your conclusion doesn’t flow from your premise. As for 2, perhaps people’s prayers do sometimes go along with God’s plan. Even if we grant that for sake of discussion, that doesn’t support your conclusion that the prayer was a meaningless gesture, or that it has no effect.

    AJ,

    Sadly, his responses have been the same intellectually dishonest rationalizations that drove me away from the church to begin with.

    Thanks for judging me. I submit that the whole world is pink through rose-colored glasses.

  • http://skeptico.blogs.com/skeptico/ Skeptico

    In reply to the question, “do people who pray for things get these things on average more often than people who do not pray for them?” cl wrote:

    I have no idea. My point was that prayer claims are not falsifiable and prayer studies are not scientifically credible.

    Thank you. If you pray, there is no reason to think you are more likely to get the thing you prayed for than if you didn’t pray. Apart from any psychological effects then, praying does nothing.

  • http://www.thewarfareismental.info cl

    Skeptico,

    Apart from any psychological effects then, praying does nothing.

    Be intellectually honest. You don’t know, so don’t pretend to.

  • http://skeptico.blogs.com/skeptico/ Skeptico

    cl wrote:

    Be intellectually honest. You don’t know, so don’t pretend to.

    I’m not pretending to. You agreed there was no reason to suppose praying did anything – “I have no idea” you wrote. If there is no reason to suppose it does anything,why would anyone insist it might?

  • http://www.maranathachapel.org Tim Arnold

    I didn’t have the time to read all responses, but isn’t it possible that God doesn’t respond when being tested? If we pray (even sincere prayers) knowing that it is offered in the spirit of a clinical trial to prove or disprove the efficacy of God’s intercession, its very possible God is unmoved. Jesus is recorded as saying (Matt 4:7), “it is written that you shall not tempt the Lord your God”. IOW, we should not put God to a test. No surprise to me that these studies fail to prove God’s existence. So to imagine that they disprove His existence is equally fallacious.

    • Dajuanbbbb

      Once again twisting evidence so you can have security in your belief.

      • luke smith

        @tim arnold  God was tested several times in the bible. He rained fire down onto an altar to convince the prophets of baal. He sent ten plagues of egypt. Wouldn’t that constitute proof? You obviously haven’t read you bible properly. What would God have to lose by convincing us cynics he was real and bring even more souls to him?

  • http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J3D28Ys-dp4 Atish

    The reason prayer did not work in that case is because they are not praying to God but to a human being, dead more than 2000 years ago, who never claimed to be God, nor was he worshiped in his time.

    Jesus (whatever his real and proper name, was) was a human being. Historical facts have now established that the concept of Jesus as a God and Trinity were established much later and came into Vogue during the time of Constantin.

    See this documentary aired on BBC and History Channel: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J3D28Ys-dp4

  • Michael

    Interesting. Catholics believe if THEY pray, prayers will be answered. But most fundamentalist catholics also believe that faiths other then christians who pray, their prayers go unanswered, or their prayers don’t work.

    John 14:14 Pray for anything you want, if you ask for anything in my name I will do it……ya right!

    We all know that doesn’t work but christians keep on praying. Its done out of discipline and fear.

    We all know praying is a selfish act of wanting something. I never pray, so if there is a God I am sure he would be proud of me for rolling up my sleeves and figuring lifes problems out myself rather then mumbling scripted church words selfishly wanting something to happen.

    Come on people break those religious fears and enjoy your life as it unfolds everyday.

  • Michael

    If I pray faster will I get more grace then someone who prays slowly? If I pay people to pray will more prayers be answered? If Donald Trump paid 10,000 people to pray for him sincerely, can you imagine how perfect his life would be. (LOL)

  • 1Greensix

    I personally don’t believe that prayer works, but the study of whether or not someone heals when others pray for them is kind of silly. How did the folks running the test know whether or not there were MORE people praying that the sick person would DIE than ones praying they would recover. Maybe it came down to numbers. More praying for the butthead to die, than ones praying he would recover.
    “Ooooops. Sorry, you DIE. The numbers just don’t come out in your favor. You must have pissed off more people than you thought”

  • Pili

    I didn’t need some study to tell me that prayer doesn’t work; I already knew from experience.

  • Angel

    How can the two following exists?

    “Prayer works.”
    “God’s will be done.”

    As so many have said before, if god is going to do things ‘his way’ then why do we bother praying for ‘our way’ to be done? How can you have faith that god will take care of his people yet pray for your desires?

    It’s convoluted. This is why religion is left to the minions. Mindless chatter with condescending, role-imposing, and immorality.

  • a.i.sanchez

    I love reading polls and surveys and respect studies, even the ones that are not multimillion dollar ones, but come on. What gives a guy like me faith that intercessory prayer works are two real life instances that happened in my family. I’m sure many think that I only want wholeheartedly to believe prayers said for others really works but how does one explain the Catholic Church’s system on declaring someone a saint. You cannot be declared a saint unless there is hard, scientific evidence that two miracles have been done by God through intercessory prayer by one who has passed on. Anyway, Peace out.

    • Anonymous

      What about Saint Philomena, who was removed from liturgical calendars because there was little evidence she had even existed?

  • Bob

    I think Jesus was anti religious…he compared Peter to Satan when Peter was to be given the keys of the church… Jesus even compared God to an ‘unjust judge’ in the parable of the importunate widow.. and in fact if we take stock of the story of Adam & Eve, it was the serpent that led them to partake of the ‘knowledge of good & evil’…. and where do you get this knowledge of good & evil from…yes..religion.

  • skwanderer

    One of the few things less helpful than prayer is putting your burning hair out with a hammer.

  • skwanderer

    “You cannot be declared a saint unless there is hard, scientific evidence that two miracles have been done by God through intercessory prayer”

    Link to “hard” scientific evidence?

  • Richard Wade

    a.i.sanchez,
    I’m genuinely glad that things got better for your family those two times when you or someone tried intercessory prayer.

    What you may be overlooking are the two dozen or so other times in your family when things did not get better after intercessory prayers, or the hundreds of millions of times every year when the intercessory prayers of wonderful, faithful, good, loving families are not answered, and their terrible suffering, grief and loss either stay the same or get worse.

    It’s called selection bias. We don’t remember the times our lucky charms don’t work; we remember only when we win. We don’t hear from or about families whose prayers didn’t work; we only hear about the rare times when there is a happy outcome. You’re never going to see a newspaper headline that says,
    “Local Man Prays For Miraculous Cure and Dies Anyway!”

    • luke smith

       Its so absurd it doesn’t even merit rational discussion. Did people in the holocaust not pray to be delivered? Where was God then? Was the death of innocent people part of his plan? It seems odd that people who were prayed for used to die more often in the past but now we have science that actually does something people seem to be living longer. Why were people bothering to improve medicine if prayer works?

  • Robert

    As one of the Christians who comments on this blog I thank you for your comments on prayer, however, comments on prayer from atheists who don’t believe in prayer are like someone who grew up in Hawaii trying to describe snow.

    Why do Christians pray? One reason is that it helps us maintain a relationship with God. We are to have a relationship with God and just like someone in your family, that relationship is stronger when you think of them and converse with them. God doesn’t answer verbally, but he does answer. The more you pray the more you discover what God’s will is for you, just like the more you talk with a friend the better you know them. It builds that relationship.

    We pray for God’s will to be done, we pray prayers of praise and thanksgiving, we pray for forgiveness, etc.. We don’t just pray for things.

    God will answer all prayers. Sometimes that answer is what you asked for, sometimes it is not what you asked for and sometimes that answer is delayed. But we believe that God knows what is best for us and that he has a plan and will for us that we may not know or understand. he has a different viewpoint then we do. I can tell you from experience that some of the greatest things in my life were different then what I thought I wanted and prayed for. These prayers were answered differently then I would have expected but in a much better way.

    If you don’t believe in God then you will not see the answers to prayers nor will you attribute the things that happen in your life to prayers being answered. It is simply a different world view.

    But it is a illogical fallacy to say that if you prayed for a million dollars to be mailed to you and it didn’t arrive, then God doesn’t exist.

    Mike the Infidel-

    John 14:14 is being taken out of context. Jesus is talking to doubting Thomas and describing that he is one with the Father. He is not saying that using his name in prayer means that you will get everything you ask for.

    Atl- Apostate- Saying that God is omnipotence and eternal are not inconsistent. To say that God is omnipotent is not saying that he can do all things. He cannot do things that are inconsistent with his nature. Because he is eternal he cannot destroy himself, but that doesn’t make him any less omnipotent. You are just asking him to do something that would not be logical and would go against his nature.

    • Pie

      It snows in Hawaii. 

    • Herp

      Good job completely ignoring the content of the article. You would have the same success praying to a milk jug as you do praying to god — the milk jug sometimes answers your prayer the way you want to, sometimes not and sometimes the answer is delayed. See the problem here? If things turn out the way you want them to, you say it was because you prayed. If not, it’s because god knows what’s best and you didn’t pray for the right thing. Or, if it happens 10 years later you say god answered your prayer, it was just delayed. This is nonsense. You would have the exact same effect doing nothing.

      Which is, coincidentally, what the study (that you for all intents and purposes ignored) shows.

      • Prothemas

        Exactly. 

    • Barry

      How about praying to a jug of milk (youtube)

      You can pray to a jug of milk and get the same results, yes, no or wait.

      Most Christians I know pray for things for themselves, job promotion, team win. I have somebody on my facebook who just asked everybody to pray so her house sells for lots of money.

      • luke smith

         God spent a lot of the old testament demonstrating he was real. He also made the earth shake, made people rise from their graves and the curtain in the sanctum santorum rip from top to bottom. All not recorded (strangely) by anyone other than the bible. He seems to be a bit quiet of late which is rather inconsistent. Why is that?

      • Rey D.

        If our generation (or any generation) is going to rely on religion for EVERYTHING! I’m going to continue to drive people insane with SCIENCE! Steven Hawking said “Science doesn’t prove there isn’t a God. Just that we don’t need him.” People a cripple who has given up religion is telling you to stop! You seem foolish to continue to ignore the obvious, A 14yr old girl was shot in the head (shes still alive) for wanting to go to school. The Taliban shot her because she didn’t follow their rules that women don’t go to school. She said on record that she would rather die than not be educated! That is what religion has done for us.

    • Kay Lorraine Sharp

      Your logic about them being an atheist doesn’t apply to all cases. Youre forgetting the people who were a Christian and did pray and now are an atheist, because they realized their prayers were unanswered. Part of my realization that it was all silly superstition was my prayers. I would not accept them not being answered because what I was asking for was completely god approved and desirable for me and my children and it never happened. I prayed so long and so hard and asked so many times in pure belief…and it never happened. This is how I began to journey away from that insanity, that has a built in excuse for every case of an unanswered prayer. You know why there is always a built in excuse? Because the men who wrote that crap had to cover their lies. They knew that some will live some will die, some will get rich, some will be poor, some will be killed some will kill. All those issues are neatly covered in your long line of excuses and supposed twisted scripture, to combat the grieving mother who just cannot figure out why her child died, or the heartbroken family whos child disappeared etc. They pray and they pray till their guts hurt…part of time the “prayer” is answered, and part of the time it is not. The same exact ratio as goes on in any situation.

  • craig gosling

    A more recent prayer study concerned proximal intercessory prayer, PIP. Conducted in Mozambique by Candy Brown, Ph.D., Indiana University, it supposedly indicated that the “hands on” technique, as practiced daily on TV, worked better than distant intercessory prayer, DIP. This study like the others, had numerous flaws and could not be taken seriously. Nevertheless, the faithful accepted this study as proof of prayerful healing and the existence of a deity. Skeptics rejected the study for its lack of scientific procedure. To date, no prayer study has shown that prayer works other than stimulate a placebo affect. A study with real undisputed proof would be to show prayer grows back amputated limbs. I’m still waiting for that, as are the faithful.

  • Limetrees Park

    I know this is an old topic; sorry if there’s a more recent/relevant place to post this. Anyway; I’ve been an Elementary Science Lab Teacher for 5 years and have had students tell me that “…science is against god…” and “science says that there is no god.” I have always tried to duck and cover with an answer like this: “Well, for me, I think that we’d have to perform an experiment that compares the presence of “God” vs the absence of “God.” Now, since (to my knowledge) there are no tools that measure “God” or “Divinity”, I really can’t establish two different groups or rooms or trials. I can’t say “God is in this room but not in that room,” I really can’t collect any meaningful data about that question. To say there IS a god would be invalid (no data to support that conclusion). To say there is NO god would be invalid (same problem). Thoughts? Comments?

    Prayer would have to be incredibly well-defined in order to be certain that the same variable is being tested in all of the cases (perhaps a standardized prayer like the Lord’s Prayer [either with or without the extra part at the end]). If some participants were to use spontaneous prayers while others used the Lord’s Prayer, while still others used Catholic novenas or prayer chaplets, then the results would be based on multiple independent variables (which may or may not be a problem, depending on your desire to compare different prayer types-but a new hypothesis…). Perhaps a study of the effectiveness of prayer by particular denominations or even personality types (based on available personality tests) would be interesting. Maybe even the “effect” of prayer on different personality types would be interesting as well.

  • MWP

    Praying for others is the ultimate self indulging. People pray for you as if they were actually doing something for you and then feel good about. It’s delusional. It’s about as helpful as worrying for you. I know plenty of people who have made an art form out of worrying as well. If people would spend as much time helping others as they do praying for them it would be a much nicer world. The problem is helping others requires you to actually do something.

    • Celephaith

      I disagree that praying for others is a selfish act.  I agree that it’s delusional, but I think that for the weak-minded, the idea that they’ve helped in some way is a comfort.  People who believe in prayer don’t think they’re not doing anything…they actually think they’re helping.  In the process, it gives them piece of mind and can help them cope through difficult situations, such as a loved one being sick.  We atheists do not have such comforts, so we must be mentally and emotionally stronger than believers because of it.  It is the price we pay for intellectual honesty, and most people simply find it too high a cost for what they consider little reward.  But for those of us who value intellectualism and intelligence, it is more than worth it.        

  • LJQT

    This is utterly disappointing. Christian or aethiest quit getting caught up in silly theological polls & check out the GOP polls or something beneficial. Wow, start looking into polls about our future leaders & economy then you might become a praying man. Haha! By the way, you atheists are so depressing…always griping. Bless your hearts, you are so missing out on one joyful life & afterlife with Christ.

    • Youkeepkidsinthebasement

      Herp per derp

      • Luke Smith

         Its not griping to demand proof for extraordinary claims. I feel sorry for YOU, you’re going to miss out on Valhalla

  • Mrmann1234

    When “god” cures the children suffering from Leukemia and etc….THEN ill be the first to carry a torch in his (or her..or its) name…

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100000162033380 Dave Nesbitt

     The problem is people ask God to heal someone and then take them to some doctor who fills them full of poisons

  • delite

    wow…just a shout note to say thanks to Dr. Gboco for the love spell he did for me last 2 weeks ago i really can’t believe that my ex can still show me love the way he did recently in the club and we are making preparation on getting married… it just still like a dream to me up till now i still feel like i’m dreaming that i really have my love back within four days after leaving each other for almost a year….i will keep on you to everyone..for help thanks to Dr Gboco. gbocotemple@yahoo.com

  • Joe Rogers

    Shit happened ergo Deus Vult?

  • toddyo1935

    Well, isn’t this an interesting site. One thing about people who pray for others is they are also motivated to act. Pray and act. I believe, but won’t waste my time digging it out as I have a life – that while you folks pat yourselves on the back for being wise and intellectually honest, I’d bet my 21 speed Schwinn bicycle that as a group you are the cheapest bunch when it comes to helping others in need – like Sandy, OK City, Wounded Warriors who got stuck fighting for Obama’s Muslim Brotherhood, etc.

    I was Stage 4 Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma 9 years ago. My devout Hindu doctor told me prayer, attitude and good medicine would pul me through. After a chemo/radiation regimen he pronounced me – not in remission – healed! BTW he runs one of the most successful cancer centers on the West coast and he’s a Republican, Before I got sick, he also got my son through Stage 4 Squamus cell cancer all around his buttox.

    He’s healed too after heavy radiation and chemo. During his chemo sessions he’d either be praying his Rosary oir walking around cheering up other people. He is a successful businessman who started from nothing. I made sure of that by losing my ass trying to help out in the environmental business – one filled with phonies, crooks, ignorant regulators and lawyers. and with his wife just moved into a fabulous new house of their own design, When I got sick I told the family if I could be half the man he was, I’d be OK.

    Professing to be wise, they became fools…

    • konajinx

      “Buttox”?! I call bullshit on your entire story based on that alone.

      • toddyo1935

        I hope that includes your bunch as the cheapest bunch of high binders around?

        Don’t knock what you don’t know shit about.

        • C.L. Honeycutt

          He’s not even an atheist. Good job demonstrating your bigotry by assuming that people who disagree with you are part of that which you fear and despise out of ignorance.

    • C.L. Honeycutt

      Why do all you walking Salem Hypothesis demonstrations insist on giving engineers a bad name?

      but won’t waste my time digging it out as I have a life

      You came to this site to attack people (rather bizarrely, FOUR AND A HALF YEARS after the post in question, as if you somehow can’t read dates. Again: engineers, embarrassment…), and are insinuating that they don’t have lives for doing exactly what you’re doing here, only without your spite. You may wish to read your Bible, particularly the passages about hypocrisy.

      I’d bet my 21 speed Schwinn bicycle that as a group you are the cheapest bunch when it comes to helping others in need

      Does Jesus love it when you engage in libel? Yes or no will do just fine. Apart from that it. it’s interesting that you’re too incompetent to even look at, oh, the front page of THIS WEBSITE, which disproves your bigotry and ignorant hate.

      Obama’s Muslim Brotherhood

      Thanks for admitting right off the bat that you’re a racist conspiracy theorist. Most of your ilk try to disguise it at first. Your honesty is refreshing. Christ must be so proud of such behavior from you.

      I was Stage 4 Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma 9 years ago. My devout Hindu doctor told me prayer, attitude and good medicine would pul me through. After a chemo/radiation regimen he pronounced me – not in remission – healed!

      Okay, and? Please learn that the plural form of “anecdote” is “anecdotes”, not “data”. You don’t magically trump clinical studies by not understanding cause and effect.

      Why do you think that his being Hindu or a Republican means anything at all?

      By the way, they don’t pronounce you “healed”. It doesn’t work like that. If you had a doctor who put it that way, you had a terrible doctor, and you got REALLY lucky. Thankfully, while he was being a bad doctor in at least one critical way, he was also getting you lots of modern medical care developed by people who don’t accept prayer as a remedy. Glad it worked for you!

      But… you do realize that when you claim that prayer healed you, you’re claiming that God found you more special than everyone else? You DO realize that you are making a claim to suffering from megalomania, right?

      buttox[sic]

      Jesus wept but that must be an ugly bovine.

      by losing my ass

      You have the worst luck with hooved animals, I grant you that.

      Professing to be wise, they became fools…

      Luke 6:42.

      Also Ezekiel 20:23, because you need some positive stories about ungulates after all that.

  • Ben

    How can these people still believe? Not only that, on the Christianity Today, they are all trying to explain away the blatant lack of evidence, despite Jesus POINTEDLY saying, “Whatever you ask of the Father in my name it will be done, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son.”

    Um… excuse me but did they just ask the father something in the name of Jesus and it WASN’T done? Why yes, yes they did. This only has four possible explanations:

    1. Jesus was lying.
    2. Jesus was mistaken or overestimating his pull with God (he thought he had that authority, but God didn’t actually give it to him).
    3. God doesn’t care and/or hear prayers.
    4. God isn’t there.

    There are no other explanations consistent with the belief sets in question, as far as I am aware. Christians explain it away as an ode to the tempting of God (in the desert with Jesus), however, Jesus DID BLATANTLY SAY that if you ask in his name etc etc it will be done. There is a contradiction here.

    But the real question is this: why is it that every time there is a skeptic watching no miracles occur? Hume had the right answer to this question…

  • 1BassJohn .

    Ah yes, another page full of ‘Thinkers’ trying to rationalize it all away :) It’s great to have intelligent conversation, I’m also someone who likes to thoroughly address both sides to an argument.. Though one thing I found, was that the longer I was ‘stuck’ in my mind analyzing.. I’d NEVER find out if there was any truth to this or the efficacy of Prayer, or another other spiritual method. Most people disagreeing here, I feel for.. As they have never had anything happen in their lives to reveal to them that there is something more out there. I was very cynical about all this stuff, until things continually were happening in my life from a young age, which opened the door to greater understanding.. events where no Atheist.. heck.. hardly any Christians I knew could explain because they were so stuck on ‘Religion’, and forgot to feel. How pompous are we, that we freely say “oh this cant happen, or that doesn’t exist”.. when no one seems to stop and go… ‘ok… even if 99% of it is complete and utter horse-shit… WHAT is going on here? WHY has this belief lasted through millennia?? What happened that whole volumes of books and scrolls from every culture were written about this divine force?’ C’mon people. Don’t live a one-dimensional life. There is something out there. Period. :) If anything, I feel so happy that the Universe put some metaphysical experiences on my path, to show me, and which have been proven over and over.. that there is more. That’s all I need.
    You people will be on forums the rest of your lives, and stuck in your heads wondering.. when you should be applying it. You will see for yourselves.

  • 1BassJohn .

    Ps. WOW.. isn’t it amazing how not ONE comment below has ANY dislikes? ? Hmmm… .


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