Preconceived belief – the only way Prayer works
As I am examining WordPress’s “Latest Posts” section I note an interesting blog entry entitled “Does Prayer Really Work?”. Interested, I followed the link and read the article. Apparently a woman suffered a stroke with partial paralysis and her husband (as well as her friends and church members) began a campaign of prayer to beg the All Mighty to heal her of her sickness. The husband then asks the question “Does Prayer Really Work?” and describes how his wife’s recovery progressed dramatically and immediately declares that “Yes! PRAYER REALLY WORKS!”
This is an excellent example how people will ask a question that they honestly have no intention of seeking an honest answer for. They will be intellectual dishonest with themselves simply to maintain the facade of their beliefs. While the husband received the desired results there is no logical reason why prayer would be the source of those results. As a matter of fact, the only rational and obvious reason that the wife recovered as well as she did is through human innovation and ingenuity. Researchers developed methods and medicine to aid in her recovery, Doctors were educated and trained to diagnose and treat her illness, and nurses, aids, and therapy staff worked diligently and effectively to help her recover as much function and mobility as they could. And finally the strength and will of the wife herself would also prove crucial in how effective all that medical talent would have on her.
At best Prayer offers only a calming effect for people that have been indoctrinated into thinking that it somehow helps them. A simple placebo of the mind that they have been convinced works. Many studies have been performed on prayer that consistently show it as having the same success rate as flipping a coin (and in some cases having a detrimental effect). One would think that if prayer were truly effective you could easily see a distinct difference between people who believe and pray and people who do not believe and do not pray. The reality is that believers and non believer both experience the same amount of successes and failures when it comes to anything. Regardless if you are praying for something as frivolous as a winning sports team or something as serious as the health and well being of others, the fact remains that the results are left to circumstance and the nature of probability, not prayer. Some people make amazing recoveries, surviving staggering odds, and persevere through mind boggling hardships that are far outside the bounds of what is called “normal” and it is simply because we expect to see these occasional long shots.
If you look at Prayer from another point of view you discover that the very notion of prayer would be impossible with a creator who is deemed as Omniscient or Omnipotent (all knowing or all powerful). Assuming for the moment that god does exist – wouldn’t the very act of prayer suggest that one was unhappy with the way god set up the universe? Doesn’t “god have a plan”? If people ask for things through prayer then they are in effect telling god that they aren’t happy with his plan and want him to change it. Also, if god is all knowing, then wouldn’t he already KNOW what your prayer is, negating the need for you to even pray? When you really start to think about how prayer works with gods and such, you really start to see how silly the whole thing appears.
So how could someone make the claim of prayer working in these circumstances? Prayer was the only thing that WASN’T required in order for the wife to recover. If its a matter of faith, then what is the need for doctors and medical personnel in the first place? Shouldn’t god be watching over his own? And if god is answering prayers and healing people, why is it he always heals things that humanity can handle fine on their own. “Why doesn’t god heal Amputees“?
The honest and simple answer here is that there is no evidence that prayer works. Religious believers simply ascribe things to a god in order to self-fulfill their own preconceived notions of what they believe their god can do. If someone prays for something and it happens to come true then they claim god granted their prayers. If it does not come true then they claim either god has not answered it yet or “god words in mysterious ways” and has denied the prayer. The circular logic of this is obvious. But how is it that someone can so willingly turn a blind eye to the obvious? Faith, or more accurately stubbornness.