Prayer is a Superstition
The dictionary defines the word "superstition" in this way:
So let's imagine the following situation. Let's say that you have cancer. You are lying in the hospital after a round of chemo and you feel terrible. A person pops into your room with a bright smile on his face and a horseshoe in his hand. He says to you, "This is an amazing and lucky horseshoe. If you touch this horseshoe, it will cure your cancer. But I need to charge you $100 to touch it."
Would you pay the man $100?
Of course not. We all know that touching the horseshoe will have zero effect on cancer. The belief in lucky horseshoes is pure superstition.
It is also very easy to scientifically prove that the horseshoe has no effect on cancer (or anything else). The way we would do it is simple: we would take 1,000 cancer patients and split them randomly into two groups of 500. We would let 500 of the cancer patients touch the lucky horseshoe and we would leave the other 500 alone in a double-blind way. Then we would look at cancer remission rates between the two groups. What we would find is zero benefit from the horseshoe. We would see no statistical difference between the remission rates in the two groups of 500 patients.
Now let us imagine another situation. You have cancer, you have just finished a round of chemo and you feel terrible. This time, a person pops into your room with a bright smile on his face and a bible in his hand. He says to you, "There is a being named God who is the all-powerful, all-knowing, all-loving creator of the universe. I am his representative on earth. If you will allow me to pray to God on your behalf, God will cure your cancer."
You agree to the prayer, and the man prays over you for 10 minutes. He invokes all the healing powers of God, beseeching him, reciting verses of scripture and so forth. Afterwards, as he is getting ready to leave, the man says, "Oh, and by the way, God says that you should tithe 10% of your income to the church. Would you consider making a tax-deductible donation today?"
The question is: Is there any difference between the two men? Will the prayer have any effect greater than the horseshoe?
The answer is: No. The belief in prayer is just as superstitious as the belief in lucky horseshoes.
The fascinating thing is that we can prove that prayer has no effect in exactly the same way that we can prove that horseshoes have no effect. We take 1,000 cancer patients. We pray over 500 of them and we leave the other 500 alone. Then we look at cancer remission rates between the two groups. What we find is that prayers have zero benefit. We would see no statistical difference between the remission rates in the two groups of 500 patients.
In other words, we can prove that the belief in prayer is pure superstition. The belief in the power of prayer is no different from the belief in the power of lucky horseshoes.
These experiments have been performed many times, and they always return the same results. For example, this article says:
This article entitled A prayer before dying uncovers another case where a "scientific study" of prayer is unmasked as fraudulent.
It's not just prayer that is ineffective. Not even a hopeful attitude helps. According to this article:
Now here is the problem. We all know that people who believe in superstitions like rabbits' feet and broken mirrors are daft. And we know that the man with the horseshoe asking for money is a complete fraud. These facts are obvious to everyone with intelligence.
It should now be obvious that the believer's faith in prayer is just as daft, and the minister asking for donations is just as fraudulent.
This is the problem with religon. We allow daft and fradulent people to run freely in our society, spreading their superstitions and collecting their money, rather than pointing out the superstition and the fraud:
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