The Raving Theist

Dedicated to Jesus Christ, Now and Forever

Disheartening

April 1, 2006 | 22 Comments

Prayer doesn’t help heal heart bypass patients, concludes a $2.4 million study to be published in The American Heart Journal next week. I covered this issue a few years back after Duke Medical Center study reached the same conclusion regarding prayer’s effect on angioplasty patients. Don’t have much to add here, but maybe these “disheartening” results just represent some specific divine prejudice against cardiological disorders. God might be picky — after all, we know that He hates amputees. So why not throw another $100 million into finding out whether He’s more favorably inclined to help those with rabies, emphysema, hepatitis, diabetes, epilepsy, leukemia, Alzheimer’s esophagitis, hydrocephalus, dermatitis, obesity, gonorrhea, diverticulitis, neuralgia, asbestosis, enuresis, spondylitis, osteomyelitis, rhinitis, laryngitis, eczema, halitosis, chlamydia, AIDS, retinoschisis, rubella, osteoporosis, flatulence, diphtheria, endometriosis, yersiniosis, arthritis, rosacea, pancreatitis, tapeworm, sciatica, indigestion, encephalitis, hypothermia, tendinitis, anemia, glaucoma, neurofibromatosis, influenza, vertigo, acne, rickets, elephantiasis, hemophilia, typhoid (etc. etc.)?

No, I wouldn’t contribute anything. However, I might give a buck or two to find out why “humanism” is identified as a disease on the site I consulted to compile the list above. Perhaps the Templeton Foundation, which funded the heart bypass study, is conducting another experiment on the effects of subliminal suggestion.

Comments

22 Responses to “Disheartening”

  1. "Q" the Enchanter
    April 2nd, 2006 @ 1:25 am

    Or God is simply taking a dim view of those who would participate in or conduct such a presumptuous study.

  2. "Q" the Enchanter
    April 2nd, 2006 @ 1:25 am

    Or God is simply taking a dim view of those who would participate in or conduct such a presumptuous study.

  3. "Q" the Enchanter
    April 2nd, 2006 @ 1:25 am

    Or God is simply taking a dim view of those who would participate in or conduct such a presumptuous study.

  4. Jean-Paul Fastidious
    April 2nd, 2006 @ 4:59 am

    It’s simple. God gave those people heart attacks as punishment for disobeying His dietary and exercise rules. Why would He help them avoid their just punishment?

    The proper study protocols should have been to pray for God to grant the patients the strength to use their free-will to ask themselves how best they can repent for having displeased God so much. I’m sure that would have shown objective positive results. They’re just going to have to do the whole thing over.

  5. Eva, Mod.
    April 2nd, 2006 @ 12:11 pm

    of course, it failed because the people praying were not “true christians” or belongedto the wrong church or something like that.
    it would be awesome to see lutherans saying that among them, prayer actually works, but not among, for example, presbiterians- to try to prove that their dogma is superior and actually brings them closer to god.

    or some crap like that.

  6. The Judge
    April 2nd, 2006 @ 12:23 pm

    The Humanism link is no longer working – maybe it was a typo?…

  7. phalsephrophet
    April 2nd, 2006 @ 12:56 pm

    Anyone surprised that the religious are still in denial about the results? Had it gone the other way, it would have been the definitive answer that prayer works.

  8. Lily
    April 2nd, 2006 @ 1:32 pm

    Oh puhleeze. And how, exactly, would one design a study that could track any supernatural intervention? What a stupid waste of money. And the religious are not in denial about the results. We are laughing our posteriors off at the notion that one could study such a thing and understand whether God intervened, and how. We keep telling you over and over again that we can pray for what we want but God may say no. Or He may act in a way we cannot see.

    The skeptics alluded to in the article were right.

    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.

    This was a waste of tax payer dollars. And I am not mollified knowing that millions are wasted every year in bogus “scientific studies”.

  9. Andrea
    April 2nd, 2006 @ 1:52 pm

    Oh puhleeze. And how, exactly, would one design a study that could track any supernatural intervention?

    One would design a study exactly the way they did… by comparing a non-prayed-for group to a prayed-for group. How would you conduct the experiment – if the results cannot be identified, then how are you supposed to know when god intervenes at all?

    And do you also laugh your posterior off, as you so delicately put it, when god says “no” to relatives you pray for?

  10. Andrea
    April 2nd, 2006 @ 2:46 pm

    This study really irritated Anita Phillips, according to the Columbus Ledger-Enquirer. Doctors couldn’t cure her cancer, which to her means she was told to “go home and die.” But she’s not mad at god anymore – Phillips realized that since she is in fact alive (treatments are working now), god didn’t say “no” to her like he sometimes does to Lily.

    Phillips didn’t state exactly how she recovered from her stroke in January, but presumably she didn’t see doctors as she claims to be a “walking testimony that God works.”

  11. Mister Swill
    April 2nd, 2006 @ 2:53 pm

    Greg Saunders (thetalentshow.org) wrote about this study and mentioned this footnote in the article from which he quotes:

    Patients in the three groups had similar religious profiles and most believed family and friends would be praying for them. The researchers didn’t attempt to curtail those or the subjects’ own prayers.

    “With so many individuals receiving prayer from friends and family, as well as personal prayer, it may be impossible to disentangle the effects of study prayer from background prayer,” co-author Manoj Jain, from Baptist Memorial Hospital in Memphis, Tennessee, said in a statement released by Columbia University Medical Center yesterday.

    Saunders calls it “backtracking,” but I’ve got to say that Jain makes an important point. What (s)he mentions is a serious flaw in the study. Imagine if this had been a study of a new vitamin supplement and the results indicated no difference between those taking the supplement and those in the control group. Now imagine the study had a footnote saying that the friends and family of the people in the control group were bringing them doses of the supplement being tested. Kind of invalidates the study and leaves us knowing nothing new about the effectiveness of the supplement, doesn’t it?

    Look, It’s never seemed to me that prayer has any basis in reality, but if we’re going to subject it to scientific study, then we have to adhere to the same rigorous scientific standards we should expect from the study of anything else. Otherwise all we’re doing is speculating.

  12. Lily
    April 2nd, 2006 @ 3:04 pm

    Very well stated, Mr. Swill. Pay attention, Andrea.

  13. Tom
    April 2nd, 2006 @ 3:45 pm

    “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.”

    It seems to me that this is only partially right. If the study had yielded positive results — if, in other words, the prayed-for subjects showed a significant tendency toward recovery as opposed to un-prayed-for subjects — then it would have been strong evidence that prayer’s efficacy most likely stems from something natural, even if its source lies beyond current scientific knowledge. As the “skeptics” said, the supernatural, by its very nature, would not be detectable by science, since science is a tool for assessing the natural world. If the study yielded positive results, then it could be concluded that some natural phenomenon is at work.

  14. Andrea
    April 2nd, 2006 @ 4:19 pm

    Ok Mister Swill, let’s ask Anita Phillips what she did after her stroke. If Phillips went to the doctor, then she cannot say that god aided her recovery without first identifying what would have happened in the alternative.

    Tom is right – not knowing all the answers now does not mean that there’s no answers in the natural world. If Phillips relied solely on prayer – no doctor appointments or new medications – then we can conclude… that doctors and medicine didn’t aid her recovery.

    Don’t be so quick to credit the supernatural whenever you don’t feel like diving deeper into the unknown. Complacency may be easy but it doesn’t cure cancer.

  15. "Q" the Enchanter
    April 2nd, 2006 @ 4:54 pm

    The tests are a waste of time not because the supernatural is “beyond the reach of science,” but because it is well within the reach of science, and has effectively been falsified innumerable times.

  16. "Q" the Enchanter
    April 2nd, 2006 @ 4:54 pm

    The tests are a waste of time not because the supernatural is “beyond the reach of science,” but because it is well within the reach of science, and has effectively been falsified innumerable times.

  17. "Q" the Enchanter
    April 2nd, 2006 @ 4:54 pm

    The tests are a waste of time not because the supernatural is “beyond the reach of science,” but because it is well within the reach of science, and has effectively been falsified innumerable times.

  18. Jason Malloy
    April 3rd, 2006 @ 12:04 am

    Clearly we need 900 fucking more million dollar studies on this urgent and serious topic.

    I wonder if prayer can help eradicate the religious cancer?

  19. conleythorn
    April 3rd, 2006 @ 8:28 am

    The efficacy of prayer is proven annually on the “World Day of Prayer,” when all Christians invoke in concert J, M & G’s mercy on the sick and starving. Is there a noticible decline in tragedies immediately following that event? I’ve not bothered to check. -Thorngod.

  20. hermesten
    April 3rd, 2006 @ 9:21 am

    Lily: “We are laughing our posteriors off at the notion that one could study such a thing and understand whether God intervened, and how.”

    Mister Swill: “Look, It’s never seemed to me that prayer has any basis in reality, but if we’re going to subject it to scientific study, then we have to adhere to the same rigorous scientific standards we should expect from the study of anything else.”

    Lily: “Very well stated, Mr. Swill. Pay attention, Andrea.”

    I think Lily may have quite a bit of laughing to do, but really, is she creating her own reality like her hero, the Chimp, or is Lily just the RA Nom de Plume of Scott McClellan? And does anyone doubt, that if the study had showed positive results for prayer, no flaw would have prevented Lily, and her ilk, from trumpeting the results as scientific proof that prayer works?

  21. Mister Swill
    April 3rd, 2006 @ 3:24 pm

    And just to be clear, I should mention that this study does conclude that there is no advantage to having an organized congregation pray for someone’s well being. And that the study offers absolutely no evidence in favor of the effectiveness of prayer in general.

  22. Tenspace
    April 4th, 2006 @ 12:20 pm

    Lily said, “We keep telling you over and over again that we can pray for what we want but God may say no. Or He may act in a way we cannot see. ”

    So, God is Probability. But you can’t accept that your life, your parents lives, your children’s lives, will be dedicated to worshipping a number set.

  • Basic Assumptions

    First, there is a God.

    Continue Reading...

  • Search

  • Quote of the Day

    • Fifty Random Links

      See them all on the links page.

      • No Blogroll Links