Saturday, April 01, 2006

Prayer Kills!

All right. I have to admit. I've been laughing ever since I read this article about the alleged "Power of Prayer" in the march 30, 2006 online edition of the Chicago Tribune.

I especially loved this little passage:

"In fact, the researchers from Harvard Medical School and five other U.S. medical centers found—to their bewilderment—that coronary bypass patients who knew strangers were praying for them fared significantly worse than people who got no prayers. The team speculated that telling the patients about the prayers may have caused "performance anxiety," or perhaps a fear that doctors expected the worst."

For some time now I've been telling my religionist friends that there were major problems with those studies which supposedly prove a scientific connection between health and the alleged power of prayer. I doubt if this will change their minds--people tend to be a little egotistical when it comes to death. They either can't or won't admit the basic truth that death means dead, that when your brain dies everything you die--but it's nice to see that some of the pseudo science out there is finally being questioned and put to the test.

Not that I believe that prayer has the power to heal or to kill, but just think about the ramifications if it this particular study are true. How should we respond to our devout friends who ask that we include them in our prayers? If praying for them to get better proves detrimental should we pray for them to die? Or should we compromise and just pray for painful, permanent disability? I really want to do the right thing by them, but if doing what they want--playing into the fantasy of a psychologically maladjusted big daddy in the sky--is actually harmful to them, should I tell them that I will pray for them or gently tell them that I consider such behavior more appropriate to chimpanzees and orangutans.

On the other hand this might just be a very effective weapon. Think about it. We could send get well cards to tyrannical dictators, informing them that we will pray for them. No more wars, no more border conflicts. Just a sudden spike in the number of despots who are passing away from bizarre, undiagnosable causes. But then there's the down side. Can you imagine the sight of devout fundamentalists from all across the face of the earth--hate-filled religious fanatics actually praying for the well being of others in the hope that those others would suddenly and inexplicably keel over from unknown causes. Why, the combination of hate coupled with insincere best wishes would eradicate human kind in less than a week.

Luckily there isn't anything to this baloney besides high hopes, delusions, and a foolish desire to live on forever.

And now, if you'll excuse me. I just can't stop laughing.


PS No wonder I recovered from my bout of cancer last year! I told my friends and relatives to stop praying and meditating for me. That is so damned cool!

Have a good weekend



Lily said...

I saw a few stories about this- I figure people are just trying to care when they say they will "pray for" people. Can;t hurt to be loved! :)

Hope all is well with you guys around these parts, and best wishes!

Advocate1 said...

I knew we were in trouble in the late 1970s when Jimmy Bakker started to do on air prayer sessions for ailing viewers on the PTL (Pass The Loot) Club. My favorite was the night that he...

Well, it's better to describe it.

Jimmy was seated at the desk. Tammy Faye was seated in the first chair beside the desk. There was a huge stack of opened letters situated on the corner of the desk. Jimmy was opening more letters. They were prayer requests from people with various illnesses. The dialoge that night went something like this. "Dear Lord, please heal this woman's cancer! Dear Lord! Please heal this woman's liver disease! Dear Lord, please heal this woman's hemorrhoids." The audience didn't turn a hair. I immediately cracked up. The idea that someone actually requested an on air prayer for an itchy asshole when they could have just as easily ploppped down a couple of bucks for some Preparation H struck all of us as hysterical. Some of us literally rolled around on the floor in fits of laughter, and the sight of Tammy Faye sitting there, with an expression of manic elation combined with happy tears on her face only made the scene more hysterically funny. To this day I can't help but wonder if this was a serious request or if someone played the damned fools for the idiots they were.

On another note, I should point out that Trevor (Enlightenment) and his son (Brandon) are two of the best friends that I have ever had. They're more like family than friends, the joke being that they're more like my sons than my best friends. Watching him go through chemo and radiation was a unique experience to say the least. The part that irritated me the most was that these so called "good Christian" neighbors were perfectly content to send cards of good wishes. Others, however, send hate letters. "THIS IS YOUR PUNIHSMNENT FROM GOD--REPENT!" No signature, natch.

Between the hate mongers and the brain dead, the only people who were willing to get their hands dirty on a frail, nauseated cancer patient were atheists and agnostics, and nonchristians in who PROVED their love through actions not words. AT no point did any of these Bible thumpers show up to ask if they could watch the kids, or walk the dogs, or if they could help Rachel clean the house, or offer a drive to the doctor. Just prayers and expressions of hate which were about as useful as a bucket full of rancid shit. We had a good look at how shallow the Christian community in this neck of the woods really is and it was NOT impressive.