PZ Meyrs has a nice little post about the (in)efficiency of prayer. What I love about it is that it shows up Rick Perry’s inane religiously inspired ideas as being just as idiotic as many say they are. Here, praying for rain had no effect on the drought in Texas. If anything, one could conclude that it made things worse. Perhaps they just weren’t doing it right and that made God upset which caused him to make the drought worse. Of course, this wasn’t a scientific study so it is really meaningless. Still, if the power of prayer were really as strong as Christians make it out to be, you’d think that by now there would be obvious, undeniable evidence for it. The fact that there isn’t, and that any supposed results, positive or negative, are purely subjective, seems to suggest that prayer isn’t effective.
There have been several well know studies on the effect of prayer. One looked at the effect of prayer on the recovery of cardiac patients and found no evidence that being prayed for had a positive effect on the outcome of the patient’s condition. In fact, the study showed that those who knew they were being prayed for actually had worse outcomes than those who didn’t know. There was no difference between those who didn’t know they were being prayed for and those who were not prayed for at all. This study indicates that prayer offers no benefit, and in the cases where people knew they were being prayed for, could actually cause harm.
The reality is that scientists can run a thousand rigorous studies on prayer that show that there really is no effect, and Christians will always find excuses and rationalizations to support their view that prayer really does work. The fact is that all the evidence in the world against the prayer being effective means nothing to those of faith. Faith trumps evidence and truth every step of the way, which is why religious faith is so insidious is its ability to keep people enslaved under the yoke of misbelief. It is one of the main reasons that the U.S. is quickly losing its scientific and technological superiority to places like Europe and China. When your faith makes you suspicious of science, makes you push for teaching religious faith in the guise of science in public schools, makes you abandon one of the best hopes of fighting disease since the invention of antibiotics, then you will soon find yourself living in a second world economy dependent on other countries for your technology.
If we continue on this track, the U.S. will become an completely consumer driven economy where almost every technology and most goods will come from outside the U.S, leaving us completely vulnerable to the fluctuations in fortunes and whims of other nations. Our economy has always been the bedrock of our ability to promote our power and to lead the word in almost every important field imaginable. Surrendering our lead in science and technology to the ineffectiveness of religious faith will only being about the weakening of our economy and our decent into irrelevancy in the world.