Friday, April 07, 2006

Whatever You Do, Don't Pray For Me

Oh, I am on cloud nine, people. A group, The John Templeton Foundation, funded a study about prayer. I don't know too much about their group, and they're a touch vague in their mission statement, but it looks to me that they are interested in studying religion with science.

It is the Foundation's purpose to stimulate a high standard of excellence in scholarly understanding which can serve to encourage further worldwide explorations of the moral and spiritual dimensions of the Universe and of the human potential within its ultimate purpose.
It's like - I'll have an order of Christianity with a side of Scientology, please! Anyway, I'm all for studying religion using the scientific method. In fact, this is the first instance I can think of where a Christian group has actually set out to do this, and gasp! released the actual results.
The study of more than 1,800 heart-bypass patients found that those who had people praying for them had as many complications as those who did not. In fact, one group of patients who knew they were the subject of prayers fared worse.
Can you even fathom the significance of that sentence? No, no, not that prayer is useless; that was patently obvious. No, that a religious group would release data which undermines one of the most basic tenets of their faith. It would be tantamount to the Pope coming out and showing us Jesus' dried up old bones they've been hiding in the Vatican's musty basement all these years. Oops! Looks like that resurrection thing was a smidge exaggerated.

In Slate a few days back, William Saletan took a humorous look at the possible explanations for these results, most of which are lame excuses being proffered by Christians. They range from God being too busy to get to healing those people within the time frame of the study to God resents being told what to do – He'll damn well heal who He wants, when He wants. Not to mention, hey, God doesn't like taking tests. What omnipotent being does, am I right?

The irony here is that all of those excuses continue to undermine the existence of God whether they like it or not. At least the God they are praying to now. If they are following all these rules that everybody has written for them to follow and God doesn't do anything, then why are they doing it? To whom are they praying? It doesn't matter why He didn't answer your prayers. What matters is that He didn't. And if this part of your faith is wrong, what else might be wrong? The whole endeavor falls in on itself like a house of cards. That book of yours was handed down from generation to generation in the oral tradition. Finally, it was written down by some guy, translated about a million times, and twisted and transformed to reflect the wishes of the tyrant in charge at that particular time. Even if there is a God, do you really think the Bible is the literal word of God straight from the horse's mouth, so to speak? Pray on, my brother. Pray on.

By the way, I have inside word that one of the patients was gay, which may have undermined the entire study. We mustn't forget - Fags die, God laughs. Wicked sense of humor, that Guy.

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