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Prayer Not Effective Shown By Experiment


hereticzero
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I've been working on expanding my understanding of many things lately and one book I am reading sheds a lot of good light on problems between the Christians and non believers. I am referring to the book, 'The God Delusion', by Prof. Richard Dawkins. In his book on page 87, Dawkins comments on an experiment of prayers offered for people undergoing open heart surgery.

 

There were no special events resulting from prayer for two groups that did not know someone was praying for them:

The results, reported in the American Heart Journal of April 2006, were clear-cut. There was no difference between those patients who were prayed for and those who were not.

In fact, the results proved less favorable for those who knew they were being prayed for:

Those who knew they had been the beneficiaries of prayer suffered significantly more complications than those who did not.

To me, this adds proof to the on-line experiment of praying to a jug of milk. You have just as much of a chance seeing prayer answered praying to a jug of milk as you do to an invisible sky daddy.

 

God is such a joker! Anyone have reasons why God would not help someone with a bad ticker when they do not know someone is praying for them, yet he screws around with those who knows prayer is being asked on their behalf? I think I believe Dawkins answer that they were perhaps stressed out or 'performance anxiety.' This definitely shows to me that prayer causes anxiety. If I needed heart surgery, I would not ask for prayers and if someone wanted to say a prayer for me, they can do so from the waiting room. I want my time to strengthen my self-resolve to see this surgery through to the end and not depend on a miracle that will not happen.

 

I forgot, God delights in the suffering of his flok, this is how they know they are well-blessed is by trials and persecutions. God will not give them more than they can handle! So, take an upright man, healthy, no arrests in his life, always goes to church, takes care of his family and his retired mother. The man is so much a blessing to his family that God has to screw with the man and his family just to prove a point? Life is just too good for him so God smites him with a heart attack. Then to make matters worse, God screws with his anxiety levels because everyone is praying for the man. The man probably dies from the anxiety. That is faith in action!

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These quotes discuss whether prayer has an effect on the one prayed for. I believe the results of prayer and meditation practices like Tonglen happen in the one sending out.

 

Prayer and meditation are self-transforming. There is a long-term study that shows the transforming power of giving in the giver. This article suggests that that generativity is related to actually believing one is making a difference. However, I recently took a course on Crisis & Emergency Risk Communication which suggested that in crisis, people find meaning by making some kind of contribution, and do benefit from even symbolic gestures, like those who put flags in their yards and windows after 9/11.

 

I have personally found tremendous inner healing through compassion meditation. I breath in the thoughts and images and feelings I associate with loving kindness, and then I breath out to someone who is struggling in my life, or with whom I am in struggle, the thoughts and images and feelings I associate with compassion.

 

This brings me tremendous peace, and is transforming me, slowly, into a less angry, more open, more loving, and more accepting person. I'm sure many people who perform this type of meditation or prayer believe they are really sending out this spiritual energy. I do not believe I am actually sending waves of compassion to anyone, but I do believe that I am transforming myself into a more compassionate individual, and that will have an effect on those around me.

 

Phanta

Your type of meditation does well for you but what does it do for someone that needs a sandwich or heart surgery? Does it help them not be hungry or does it miraculously heal them? I also like to meditate. I have my own style of meditation and place to meditate. If I were to sit and meditate the day away it makes me feel better and helps me focus on problems at hand but does little to resolve the crisis in my neighbor's life, how does your meditation help them?

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I don't have the link either but it has been posted here before. The study was to show that altruism is something that is built-in to people. Which is contradictory to the biblical concept that people are really selfish (the study didn't mention the bible stuff of course).

 

mwc

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I believe my meditation only helps them indirectly, so far as it transforms me into someone who is more available to support them in a very human, non-miraculous way.

 

I just want to say I thought that was an excellent statement, Phanta. That is the best result we can do with meditation - human transformation.

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Guest QuidEstCaritas?

I read that part of "The God Delusion" also, which is a very strong reason not to believe.

 

If prayer is ineffective when passed through the rigors of a blind study like that, then one has to ask some pretty tough questions about the nature of the alleged "God" one is praying to.

 

As far as what Phanta is saying, it sounds correct. Doing things like meditation has good effects for oneself and indirectly helps others because oneself is at peace and therefore able to be calmer and more attentive.

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Speaking from my own experience, I never really found praying to God to be all that comforting. Whenever I prayed, I was always worrying if God was going to answer my prayer or not. Then, when my prayer wasn't answered, I was always worried that God must have been angry at me for committing some sin. Then there were those questions as to why God allows suffering in the world which eventually led to my own deconversion. There could be some positive benefits from inward meditation like Phanta brought up, but to me prayer seems like an out-dated means of achieving it. I also don't understand why God made prayer a commandment anyway. If God is all-knowing, shouldn't God already know what our needs are ahead of time? So, why pray for something God already knows you need?

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But if we humans get a chemical goodie in our brains when we willingly give to others, it seems to me that we are incapable of pure altruism. We are still goodie-driven, even if it is not the kind of reward our culture tends to focus on (money, stuff, sex, etc.), and even if, for many, the reward is probably not consciously perceived.

It's been shown you get the same type of chemical goodie for these other items as well (ie. sex/porn, shopping and on and on). The brain dispenses these little treats for you all the time. So all things being equal you might say there is really nothing, or perhaps very little, you do that is "pure" in the sense you're saying it.

 

Is there evidence for some basic model for altruism in place across culture and time?

In what sense?

 

The research showed (all this from memory so I hope I'm not getting it wrong) that people are altruistic but only to a point. When it reaches that point then they stop. It becomes counter-productive. So there's essentially a "battle" between being selfish and selfless. Being selfish is needed for self-preservation but the study showed it wasn't necessarily the "primary mode" that people operate in. We tend to try to be selfless first but if we perceive we're being taken advantage of we "switch" to being selfish.

 

Is human unconsciousness regarding receiving a reward significant? In other words, now that I have scientific proof that I am getting a goodie, does it effect my motivation, the quality of the gesture, or the benefit to me?

Hmmm. I see what you're saying but in order to test it I would imagine they'd have to find test subjects that don't kick out the reward (or find a way to inhibit it). I don't think that's happened. I would imagine they'd become indifferent.

 

What do humans or cultures or families that value altruism (and the unconscious inner reward associated with it) over other systems (like Ayn Rand's objectivism) yield that is different from those that revere those other systems, if anything?

I wouldn't know on this.

 

mwc

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Buddhists who don't believe in a god know meditation is good for you. Just spending ten minutes a day in peace and quiet and not doing anything can help.

 

as to prayers, some 153,000 people suffer and die on the average day and tens of thousands of them are babies and young children. We can assume that many parents pray that their child or baby does not die, with no results. Yet on christian forums, there are always people who claim that god helps them everyday in lots of little ways.

 

God's decision: Let's see. I can save a baby's life or I can help that person by turning some traffic lights green so they do not get to work late. No contest. The traffic lights it is.

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Guest QuidEstCaritas?
Speaking from my own experience, I never really found praying to God to be all that comforting. Whenever I prayed, I was always worrying if God was going to answer my prayer or not. Then, when my prayer wasn't answered, I was always worried that God must have been angry at me for committing some sin. Then there were those questions as to why God allows suffering in the world which eventually led to my own deconversion. There could be some positive benefits from inward meditation like Phanta brought up, but to me prayer seems like an out-dated means of achieving it. I also don't understand why God made prayer a commandment anyway. If God is all-knowing, shouldn't God already know what our needs are ahead of time? So, why pray for something God already knows you need?

 

Lookup "The Relaxation Response". It's TM without the religious garbage.

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