Prayer testing not done honestly.
Prayer tested scientifically using randomized double-blinded controlled trials.
There are a great variety of results from the studies of prayer and various methods used. I will discuss a selection to discuss the results they obtained.
Of the double-blinded studies, which showed a positive result for prayer, one used patients who suffered infertility and another used patients suffering from heart disease.
The prayer experiment conducted on women at an in vitro fertilization clinic was double-blinded but to an extreme in that neither the patients nor their caregivers knew about the study. The study, where no consent was given to participate, was done in Korea. Half of the women patients were randomly assigned to believers in a distant country (from the United States, Canada or Australia), who praying for them. The interceding prayer givers were given photographs of the patients. They found that the prayer had a measurable effect and a significant effect. The prayed for patients were twice as likely to become pregnant than the control patients, who had no prayers offered for them. The findings were published in the Journal of Reproductive Medicine ( September 2001 issue).
I am very sceptical of this result, even though as a theist I should be pleased. There is one big problem with it and that is you cannot intervene in another person’s life without getting consent from them first. If you could evil people would have a field day. To do evil work they go to extraordinary lengths to deceive the person targeted or to seriously intimate them before they can try to do them harm. And everything they do hinges on the person targeted believing the lies or becoming intimated sufficiently to buckle. Though a prayer is used to do good and not evil, nonetheless a person’s free will conditions apply. You cannot do anything, whether good or evil, if the person does not give consent to it. That consent, in the case of evil work is obtained through deceit, i.e., the person doesn’t realize what they are consenting to, or it is obtained by force through the use of intimidation. However in the case of good such conditions cannot be used. You might say what about the placebo that is given in clinical practice. As far as doctor are concerned they say they are deceiving the patient because they are giving the patient some substance, usually sugar or flour, which has no “active ingredient” and thus no pharmaceutical benefit. The reason they believe this is because they do not treat ideas and beliefs as having a beneficial effect as far as health is concerned because they see a material machine, a robot whose biology is driven by linked causes. Biology is not purpose driven as far as doctors are concerned. So the idea that they give the patient, i.e., that they have been given a powerful drug that will make them well, is not considered at all, let alone as the active ingredient.
However there is another even more basic reason in the case of the doctor and the patient. A patient goes to a doctor to seek advice and /or treatment for their disease. In the very action of going to a doctor they are making an investment and if they accept the doctor’s diagnosis and proposed treatment then they have already given consent before they get the placebo. And as I mentioned above, though the doctor may see it as deceit, in fact it is the idea that counts. It is the idea of getting well that is the active ingredient, so the pills that the doctor gives are merely an anchor, equivalent to the filler in a real drug. So there is no real deception, except in the doctor’s mind and only because they see sophisticated material machines sitting in front them in their rooms and not the material aspect of a spiritual being with a mind that drives the biology.
Another study, which was also double blinded and followed scientific guidelines, was conducted on a group of cardiac patients that were to undergo for angioplasty (150 patients ). This study also found that those receiving intercessory prayer, which was also without their knowledge and thus without their consent, had fewer complications than other groups. The study was published in the American Heart Journal (November 2001 issue). Only this study had a twist to it, which makes me suspicious of this one as well. The other groups that were used for comparison included groups of patients who received “complementary therapies” or in other words some of the modern medical industry’s competition. This smacks of “you’re better off with a prayer and appeal to God than you are going to the opposition”! And most people who believe in God will pray, but as well as seeking treatment, which they hope will supplement their prayers. If they perceive the supplementary treatment not as good as the prayers then they are not likely to use it.
Another study of cardiac patients, which boasted of being the LARGEST study on the subject, claimed that “prayer can actually cause more complications“! This is one of the famous prayer experiments called the Great Prayer Experiment. It was conducted by the Templeton Foundation. In the study there were about 1,800 patients in six hospitals, who had coronary artery bypass surgery. In this study patients were randomized into three groups. The first two groups, an experimental and a control group were double-blinded so the patients only knew that some would receive prayers and some wouldn’t. Those in the third group all knew they would receive prayers. In this study there was an attempt made to standardize the prayer. The prayer-givers were only given the first names and the last initial of the patients and no photographs. Three Christian churches took part and their congregations were allowed to pray for the patients their own way, but with one condition. They were asked to include the phrase, ‘for a successful surgery with a quick, healthy recovery and no complications’ in their prayers. Some of the prayer-givers complained that it was unusual for them.
This study found no difference between those patients who were prayed for and those who were not, which is after all similar to drug trials where there are people who fare well in both groups and people who do not do well in both groups. What this study did show was a difference between those who were blinded and those who were not blinded but it went in the wrong direction. Those who knew they had been prayer for suffered significantly more complications than those who did not. The experimenters explained that these patients had additional stress, which was labelled as ‘performance anxiety’. One of the researchers said that these patients may have felt uncertain or wondering “am I so sick they had to call in their prayer team?’ I find this explanation an insult to one’s intelligence. They were in a prayer trial and knew that and had agreed to take part and knew they would be prayed for. There are other reasons that can well explain these findings. I see two possible explanations.
The problem in this and indeed all studies regarding prayer is that healing is the result of “the supernatural” and even worse God, “The Supreme Supernatural Power”. The biomedical sciences have HUGE problems even hearing the words “supernatural power”. Look at the criticism coming from Richard Dawkins, whose official scientific mission is to educate the public regarding science. Little surprise he’s an atheist. The big problem that scientists have is that they cannot explain disease in a way that could make Divine Intervention in any way possible. There is complete disagreement for any ground to exist biologically, by which prayer could plausibly, reasonably be grounds for healing. The biomedical sciences are rigidly materialistic. It’s a deadlock, a situation in which no progress can be made. An as I have discovered, it is not because they don’t believe that ideas play a big role, but because ideas brings their propaganda that “diseases can only be treated by physical means” in question. So it seems the old saying “a stick in time saves nine” is considered a solution.
Here is how that “performance anxiety” can be explained
– on “medical grounds”.
The only ones that can adversely influence the patient in the hospital is the medical staff. They could create beliefs even without posing danger because what a doctor has to say carries a lot of weight. However a toxic or greedy doctor or a doctor that wants to discredit prayer can in addition pose danger. And that danger can be concealed because it is in the form of ideas that give adverse meanings to whatever is goings on. Ideas that cast doubt about what is in a syringe can be enough to frighten and thus unsettle a patient causing anxiety. With a patient in a state of fear the nasty prayer could have even more devastating effects.
Anxiety, which is a mix of fear and worry, causes opposing signals. The heart gets signals to go fast and slow at the same time. Such conditions can have an adverse affect on the heart even for a healthy person. For someone who has undergone surgery and who has a heart problem the effects of anxiety are very serious. It could lead to complications, if the anxiety is either serious enough or lasts a long time. And I would add here that in the normal course of events, in the case of complications after surgery, we need to ask serious questions as to how they come about. The doctors certainly gain financially if the patient develops complications. Are they genuine or are they manufactured?
Here is how the “performance anxiety” can be explained
– with the involvement of their “nearest and dearest”!
Heart problems are also the result of foul game play and the abuse is usually meted out as heavy handed means of gaining power and influence over the victim. A heart attack can kill more quickly than any cancer and even if the person doesn’t die, they may need many months to recover. To see the sort of foul play that leads to heart problems have a look at my main blog here: http://kyrani99.wordpress.com/2012/02/09/heart-disease-the-games-get-more-serious-deadly/ and the following few posts. If a chief offender deems that the person they are trying to gain power and influence over is not bending to their will sufficiently, then they may create further problems. The foul games require that a belief be created and that is done with the use of fear. To cause fear in the patient the toxic / criminals brought into the vicinity of the patient need to be given access. This is always done indirectly. At the time that the chief offender, most commonly a relative, visits the patient they can potentially open the door to someone else. That someone else needs to be present in the hospital, possibly with a gun and be in an area near the patient’s ward. The patient will detect the danger but as the danger is not obvious and there is no physical evidence then they will not only feel fear but worry as well. Right there is anxiety. The anxiety can last the duration of the chief offender’s visit and even longer, if the chief offender has recruited a toxic hospital staff member. So a lot of problems can be created for the patient, enough to need further surgery.
The Prayer-giver congregations in the experiment.
It would be incomplete not to say something about the prayer-givers assigned in the experiment. It is certainly not a good thing for anyone to indiscriminately give a stranger consent to pray on their behalf. And that includes everyone because there are plenty of toxic people who join religious groups, act out as the devout and use that position to hurt others. Not everyone you meet in a church or a mosque or temple etc., is good. However the prayer-givers do not have enough information with only a first name and initial and no photograph to be able to make negative suggestions that could have any effect. Furthermore there is no relationship so there is no mental entanglement and no ESP for the patient to become aware of a toxic person’s negativity, if such a person was present in the congregations of the churches. So the prayer-givers in the three churches could not have caused the patient anxiety at all, let alone enough for the patient to suffer complications.
The mentality of a toxic spouse causes them to see their plans thwarted if the patient, their victim is placed in a prayer experiment. A chief offender, who wants to make the patient suffer, is not going to be very happy about hearing that they are being prayed for. They will see this as support and something that stands in opposition to their plans. So they can be motivated to act to extend the foul play even after the person has had surgery.
The only effect a congregation of prayer givers could possibly have is a positive one and not a negative one. However for them to have a positive effect they would have to be reinforcing what the patient wants. So a patient that knows that they are being prayed for and gives consent and further to that desires for the prayers to be effective, will gain a benefit. This means that they will get better not worse. Why that happens needs further explanation about God and creation and their interaction. So I will explain that in a later post after I have discussed the necessary conditions.
While believers already appreciate the benefits and influence of prayer, too many scientists remain unconvinced or perhaps more likely unwilling to accept it. Some are committed to a materialism is all that there is point of view. But I know that there are plenty of doctors and medical researchers, who know full well that the material reality is not all that there is and who indeed know and use ESP. There is a war on religion and God and free will and the mind as anything other than being a phenomenon arising from the material brain. The reasons for the war-path taken by science and most particularly the biomedical sciences against God etc., are the big financial interests at stake, a multi-trillion dollar industry and the status and prestige of doctors and scientists, so they deny God and thus also any role for Divine Intervention. However they can only lose the war because the Truth is undying.