The Failure of Prayer (#Atheism makes the most sense)

It never ceases to amaze me how much praying is called for in our culture. The New Agers call it “sending energy” – but it’s the same thing.

Someone is having an operation and asks for prayers. Why? If prayers worked, then there would be no need for the operation. Or even any medical treatment. One could pray and prevent anything bad from happening.

We all know that’s simply not the reality. Bad shit does happen. And no one escapes this at some point (or even numerous points) during a lifetime. Sure, there are instances when prayers are done and someone gets better. That’s pure coincidence. There are just as many incidences when prayers are done and the person does not get better. It’s literally just flipping a coin. Either the person gets better or they don’t, prayers totally notwithstanding.

The great scientist Richard Feynman once said: “The first principle is that you must not fool yourself; and you are the easiest person to fool.” I know I have many embarrassing things about which I have fooled myself over the years.

When a person is hurting or having a medical crisis, what they really want is emotional support and love. Those things have nothing to do with prayer. One can give emotional support and love without saying that you’re praying for them or that you’re sending them energy.

I say things like: That really sucks. I’m so sorry you’re going through this. I love and care about you. Is there anything I can do to help? (And maybe offer suggestions.) This kind of response gives the person going through a difficult situation what they really want. Prayer, which has been scientifically proven through controlled, double-blind studies to have no better results than placebos and coin-flipping, is literally useless.

Prayer, like all things supernatural, is a prime example of fooling ourselves. Another reason I keep going back to atheism. As Ayaan Hirsi Ali said so well: “The only position that leaves me with no cognitive dissonance is atheism.”

7 responses

  1. I disagree. Prayers have been answered for many people. Just check out this link to St Jude Shrine on Facebook and read the posts. Prayers for you.

    1. Again, your claim has never been proven by generally accepted scientific methods. Good results after prayer are no better than flipping a coin; it’s pure coincidence. To believe otherwise is complete folly.

  2. Perhaps you could attach links to the scientific studies proving prayer to be useless.

  3. I agree with you on this, even though I don’t consider myself to be an atheist. But, in order to broaden your perspective check out neurotheolgy. It is the scientific study of how religion affects the mind. Also, the link to the New York Times article is a low resource. How did they expect to quantify and measure prayer?

    1. Yes, it is difficult to measure effects of prayer. But the study referred to in the NYT article tackled the problem properly. It included large numbers of people and blind controls. Any reasonable interpretation of the findings would conclude that prayer has no efficacy.

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