Wednesday, April 04, 2012

Are all prayer studies negative?

Are all scientific prayer studies negative in their results? Apparently not.

35 comments:

Matt said...

But it seems like the ones that could be used for evidence other than prayer just gives people a positive attitude would be remote prayer. Basically, pray for people without telling them you're doing it and see if that shows signs of doing anything. Look at study 24.

Heuristics said...

I looked into this a few years ago, my conclusion was that most of the studies on the subject showed a small benefit to the prayer group as compared to the control group, a few studies showed no difference and very rarely was there a study that showed praying to be a negative effect.

A quick overview of the top results again appear to be in line from what I remember.

http://scholar.google.se/scholar?q=intercessory+prayer

unkleE said...

I too have made a study of this (Studies of Intercessory Prayer), and found that of about 20+ studies, about two thirds found a positive response, and about one third did not, though this included the most comprehensive study.

But I also think this is perhaps the wrong question and wrong methodology. Yes God may help people in small ways to recover, but the bigger question is whether prayer is ever answered in big ways with genuine healing miracles. That is a much harder question to answer, because it doesn't depend on statistics and can't be set up into an experiment. For even if 1000 cases of prayer don't lead to a miraculous healing, if the 1001st does lead to a clearly unusual and arguably miraculous healing, that is useful information.

And I think on that question, we have some very good information showing that healings do sometimes occur - see Healing miracles and God - even if this isn't nearly as often as we'd like.

BenYachov said...

Yes there are prayer studies with both "positive" and "negative" results and I believe they are all bullshit.

First they are not true "prayer" experiments since they don't conform to the Theology of Prayer. They are at best "Make a wish" experiments.

Second God is outside of Time, foresaw every prayer that has even been uttered. By a single act of will has already chosen which He will answer and which he will ignore. So unless you can read God's mind you can't predict with any accuracy when He says yes and with any frequency or pattern.

Science Experiments test physical regularities within reality. God sustains and directs reality so how can He be experimented on coherently?

Classic Theism rules! Enough of this Cosmic Santa Clause nonsense.

BeingItself said...

"Classic Theism rules!"

Only in the mind of the ignorant.

When are you going to grow up and make your beliefs pay rent?

Crude said...

Only in the mind of the ignorant.

Holy crap, BI! You're a classical theist now?

When are you going to grow up and make your beliefs pay rent?

Bwahaha. 'Pay rent.' The only rent Cultist of Gnu beliefs pay would be Myers' and Coyne's. Quick, go buy a T-shirt with a big, stupid A on it. ;)

BeingItself said...

Crude and Ben,

Classical Theism, as outlined by Ben's above comment, is indistinguishable from atheism in terms of anticipated experience. ('Atheism', as I use it here, meaning lack of belief in Classical Theism.)

For The Classical Theist, there is no circumstance under which you would be able to determine that your belief about God is false.

Then why do you believe it? You shouldn't. Slice away the dross. Or, as Eliezer Yudkowsky says, if your belief does not pay rent, evict it.

Papalinton said...

"By a single act of will has already chosen which He will answer and which he will ignore."

Why?

BenYachov said...

>Classical Theism, as outlined by Ben's above comment, is indistinguishable from atheism in terms of anticipated experience. ('Atheism', as I use it here, meaning lack of belief in Classical Theism.)

Yes that is true in a sense. So what?

>For The Classical Theist, there is no circumstance under which you would be able to determine that your belief about God is false.

God is not something that is provable by empirical investigation but by philosophical argument. Get over it Gnu! Your fundamentalist Scientism presuppositions can’t be proven true or false by your own standard of “proof” yet you believe it? Why?(Of course whatever answer you give won’t be a scientific one).

OTOH just because you can’t prove Classic Theism false or true with some dumb arse “prayer experiment” doesn’t mean you can’t disprove it. You have to make a philosophical case against it. This requires learning philosophy which fundie Gnus don’t do because their atheism is for low brow un-evolved knuckle draggers. It’s for rebellious teenagers who prayed for a pony & didn’t get one. In short it’s for the stupid.

BenYachov said...

>>"By a single act of will has already chosen which He will answer and which he will ignore."

>Why?

Elaborate? Are you asking why a timeless being need only make one act of will(which is pretty much like asking why does 2+2=4) or are you asking me to give you the motives of The Deity in which case I can't possibly know that?

Or are you attempting a Troll move where you will tack on a "why?" to every answer or explanation I give you just for the sake of being a dick?

BeingItself said...

"Yes that is true in a sense. So what?"

So now deploy Occam's Razor. Methinks you are on the verge of finally getting it.

BeingItself said...

"You have to make a philosophical case against it."

See above.

BenYachov said...

>So now deploy Occam's Razor. Methinks you are on the verge of finally getting it.

Occam's Razor assumes empirical phenomena as an explanation. Your invoking of it presupposes the very Scientism fallacy that I reject and you refuse to defend philosophically.

http://www.thepublicdiscourse.com/2010/03/1174

http://www.thepublicdiscourse.com/2010/03/1184

Surely you have something better to give me then this warmed over neo-logical positivism AG Flew himself rejected at the height of his Atheism?

Talk about both a non-starter and a category mistake.

BenYachov said...

No matter how you slice it BI you will have to learn philosophy and meet me on philosophical ground.

I reject empiricism as a standard for knowing God. No matter how you try to smuggle it in I will catch it & reject it.

Make a philosophical case. Some suggestions to help you out.

Read Anthony Kenny for some standard basic polemics against Aquinas. Learn to argue for either Nominalism or conceptionalism over and against realism.

Do something interesting other then bore the shit out me with your warmed over anti-ID polemics.

BeingItself said...

"Occam's Razor assumes empirical phenomena as an explanation."

No, it doesn't. You are hopeless.

BenYachov said...

>No, it doesn't. You are hopeless.

So you are reduced to John Cleese type responses?

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kQFKtI6gn9Y

What is the point of you Gnu?

BeingItself said...

Ben, read Sagan's "The Dragon in My Garage" chapter. Yelling "learn philosophy!" does not exempt you from being criticized for believing idiotic things.

BenYachov said...

More Scientism!

Citing another variation of the FSM or Tea Pot argument by an Atheist non-philosopher isn't convincing either and your anti-philosophy Scientism based Atheism is still for the intellectually and mentally inferior.

Also is does not exempt you from being criticized for making idiotic non-arguments.

Crude said...

Classical Theism, as outlined by Ben's above comment, is indistinguishable from atheism in terms of anticipated experience. ('Atheism', as I use it here, meaning lack of belief in Classical Theism.)

Not at all. At best you mean "Under classical theism, there's no expectation that God answering prayer is going to be empirically demonstrable". But A) empirically demonstrable is not the only standard, B) it's not the appropriate standard in this case, and C) most importantly, classical theists do not reason to God from "answered prayer".

Then why do you believe it?

Because of the arguments and evidence in its favor, of course. And I differ from Ben - even theistic personalists have better arguments than atheists do. Hell, even flat out pagans do.

Atheism, or at least materialist atheism, is at the bottom of the intellectual gutter.

Ben, read Sagan's "The Dragon in My Garage" chapter.

I don't think it's in The Dragon in My Garage, but I seem to recall Sagan A) Explicitly denying he was an atheist, B) remarking on the lack of evidence for atheism, and C) regarding atheism as, really, quite stupid.

If Sagan were around today, he'd be denouncing the Cult of Gnu.

Papalinton said...

"Are you asking why a timeless being need only make one act of will ........"

What's a timeless being?

Papalinton said...

"I reject empiricism as a standard for knowing God. No matter how you try to smuggle it in I will catch it & reject it."

Just as Dawkins so eloquently noted, the god delusion.

Just as the Hitch so tellingly noted, ""What can be asserted without evidence can also be dismissed without evidence".

Just as Daniel Dennett so insightfully notes, “ One reader of an early draft of this chapter complained at this point, saying that by treating the hypothesis of God as just one more scientific hypothesis, to be evaluated by the standards of science in particular and rational thought in general, Dawkins and I are ignoring the very widespread claim by believers in God that their faith is quite beyond reason, not a matter to which such mundane methods of testing applies. It is not just unsympathetic, he claimed, but strictly unwarranted for me simply to assume that the scientific method continues to apply with full force in this domain of truth.

Very well, let's consider the objection. I doubt that the defender of religion will find it attractive, once we explore it carefully.

The philosopher Ronaldo de Souza once memorably described philosophical theology as "intellectual tennis without a net," and I readily allow that I have indeed been assuming without comment or question up to now that the net of rational judgement was up. But we can lower it if you really want to.

It's your serve.

Whatever you serve, suppose I return service rudely as follows: "What you say implies that God is a ham sandwich wrapped in tin foil. That's not much of a God to worship!". If you then volley back, demanding to know how I can logically justify my claim that your serve has such a preposterous implication, I will reply: "oh, do you want the net up for my returns, but not for your serves?

Either way the net stays up, or it stays down. If the net is down there are no rules and anybody can say anything, a mug's game if there ever was one. I have been giving you the benefit of the assumption that you would not waste your own time or mine by playing with the net down.”

― Daniel C. Dennett, Darwin's Dangerous Idea: Evolution and the Meanings of Life

Crude said...

Linton,

One reader of an early draft of this chapter complained at this point, saying that by treating the hypothesis of God as just one more scientific hypothesis, to be evaluated by the standards of science in particular and rational thought in general

Except, Linton, both Ben and other classical theists are entirely at home with the hypothesis of God being evaluated by rational thought. Hence their arguments, their metaphysics, and more.

As usual, you quote without comprehending what you're quoting, or without comprehending very much at all.

BenYachov said...

So your question wasn't really serious.

Noted but further proof of the intellectual inferiority of the Gnu Atheist is the tendency to substitute ridicule for rational argument.

Dennett knows he can't make a coherent philosophical case for his Scientism nor can he even begin to make a scientific case for it.

So he tells irrelevant stories laced with rhetoric to like minded persons & hopes Atheists and Theists with IQ larger than 3 will grow tired of it so he can declare victory.

Tedious.

Papalinton said...

"Except, Linton, both Ben and other classical theists are entirely at home with the hypothesis of God being evaluated by rational thought. Hence their arguments, their metaphysics, and more".

No they aren't and no they don't. Otherwise the god hypothesis would have been determined a long time ago to be none other than an extrapolation of the father figure of childhood, a psychological manifestation of the human propensity for projection and teleology even onto the most mundane of human experiences. It is commonly called 'wish fulfillment'. Everything theological is at best a 'make a wish' undertaking [pun intended].

BenYachov said...

>No they aren't and no they don't.

Yes we are and yes we do.

If it's so irrational "teacher" I challenge you to explain why Aquinas 5 ways are wrong.

That is assuming you have ever read them outside of Dawkins amateur distortions.

Put up or shut up.

Your silence only proves me right.

Gnus are mentally and intellectually inferior.

Your version of Atheism isn't just for idiots it's for f***ing idiots.

Crude said...

And so, Linton bloviates, saying much while saying nothing.

As ever, this sums him up well. ;)

Papalinton said...

"If it's so irrational "teacher" I challenge you to explain why Aquinas 5 ways are wrong.
That is assuming you have ever read them outside of Dawkins amateur distortions.
Put up or shut up.
Your silence only proves me right.
Gnus are mentally and intellectually inferior."

Aquinas's five ways? Give me a break.

From Andrew Fakemam over at debunking christianity:
"I realize the question is about the United States, but this paper (http://www.equalityhumanrights... ) has some interesting statistics on the decline of religion in England. Table 7, for example, shows that 55.3% of respondents age 18-25 claim "no religion", while only 22.1% of respondents age 65+ claim "no religion" (a change of roughly 6% per decade of age). And, while someone might argue that people simply become more religious as they get older, the declining rates of religiousness and church attendance over the past few decades says that it's a real decline -- 34.4% of all respondents in 1985 claimed no religion, while 43.4% of all respondents in 2008 claimed no religion (a change of roughly 4% per decade). Table 11 also has some interesting numbers on the percentage of people in 1990 and 2008 who "believe and always have" (declining), "believe and didn't before" (a small percent), "don't believe and did before" (increasing), "don't believe and never have" (increasing). The numbers show that people are three times as likely to say that they "don't believe and did before" than they are to say that they "believe, but didn't before".

That site again: http://www.equalityhumanrights.com/uploaded_files/research/briefing_paper_1_religion_or_belief.pdf

Oh Well. I guess people are just voting with their feet.

BenYachov said...

So you can't explain why the 5 ways are not valid.

Paps you are as useful as a condom machine in the Vatican. *

*Got that one from RED DWARF season 10 is coming!

BeingItself said...

Ben,

From the Unmoved Mover Argument: "Now whatever is in motion is put in motion by another."

That is false. It is based on Aristotle's mistaken folk physics.

The "Five Ways" all have premises which are either empirically false, or are just naked assertions.

As the overwhelming majority of philosophers recognize, The Five Ways fail.

BenYachov said...

>That is false. It is based on Aristotle's mistaken folk physics.

Sorry no "Motion" which is a poor translation of the greek word "Motus" denotes "change" you are confusing it with "momentum".

You are confusing a metaphyical discription of being with a physical discription of mechanics.

Parmenides held the same mistaken folk physics as Aristole yet he denied the "change" the "motus" was real. He denied our senses gave us a realistic view of reality.

Stop bullshiting BI you have been to Feser's blog. You know the score. Good luck proving Aristotle was making a scientific mechanistic discription here.


>As the overwhelming majority of philosophers recognize, The Five Ways fail.

Yet I have never read a response to the above points made by modern Essentalists and Neo-Aristotilians.

Motion means "Change" not "momentum" get over it Gnu.

Anyway arguing about the exegesis of Aristotle's meaning is irrelevant to the brute fact if "motus" is understood as "change" the 5 ways succeed.

BenYachov said...

Whatever is Changing is Being
Changed by Something Else’:
A Reappraisal of Premise One
of the First Way

by DAVID S. ODERBERG


http://www.reading.ac.uk/AcaDepts/ld/Philos/dso/papers/Whatever%20is%20Changing%20is%20Being%20Changed%20by%20Something%20Else.pdf

BeingItself said...

Ben,

Please state the premise and give support for why the premise is true.

BenYachov said...

BeingItself,

I already gave the URL use copy/Paste put it into your browser's URL & stop being such a Yutz.

BeingItself said...

Ben,

Why do you always run and hide when I request that you actually make an argument?

Coward.

BenYachov said...

It takes little effort to read the essay if you are really interested in an argument.

Which we both know you are not.

Gnus are mentally & intellectually inferior Atheists.