Podcast #63 – Efficacy of Prayer

It’s the p-p-p-p-power of prayer!  Or not.  We look at several anecdotes that point toward the efficacy (or inefficacy) of intercessory prayer, including:

  • The tragic cases of two teenage girls (one in TN, one in KY), both of whom suffered terrible injuries.  One recovered (more or less), the other is maimed for life.  Both were the beneficiaries of  the prayers of hundreds.  Why did God heal one and snub the other??? We’ll give you a hint: the answer can be found at www.whywontgodhealamputees.com.
  • The Miracle of Colwich Man – A Kansas man was healed after thousands of parishioners prayed to the late Father Emil Kapaun, a Korean War hero who’s currently under “skeptical” investigation by the Vatican for possible sainthood.
  • The Case of the Shriveling Glacier – Faithful Catholics in the Swiss towns of Fiesch and Feischertal have prayed for centuries that God protect them from the wintertime advance of the Aletsch Glacier.  Now the Aletsch is rapidly receding due to global warming, so now the townsfolk are seeking the Pope’s permission to reverse the prayer.

Science has a few things to say about prayer.  Okay, actually science only has one thing to say: it don’t work.

  • Study of the Therapeutic Effects of Intercessory Prayer (STEP) – The American Heart Association published the results of a double-blind study on the effects of prayer on patients undergoing heart surgery. Those who were told they would be prayed for–and were actually prayed for–actually did worse than those who were not prayed for.
  • A Governor’s Prayer for Rain (scroll down to find the article) – Skeptic magazine publishes a statistical study of Georgia Governor Sonny Perdue’s controversial prayer-for-rain organized on the steps of the state capitol in 2007.  Conclusion: Sonny’s God is a penurious God.
  • Does TM reduce violent crime? – The World Peace Project claims that Transcendental Meditation en masse actually reduced violent crime during a six-week period in 1993–guaranteed to “less than two parts per billion.”  Skeptico thinks not.

Plus: The Voyage that Shook the WorldCreation Ministries International has just released a $1 million documentary that insists Charles Darwin was a fantasy-prone nebbish and pathological liar who cherrypicked his data to crank out that addle-brained Theory of Evolution.  Plus Darwin was a racist.  Local skeptic/freethinker Douglas Scott joins us for the critique.  You can read John’s extensive review here or visit the movies official website.


Dragon*Con is coming soon!  September 4-7 in Atlanta, to be exact.  American Freethought will record a live podcast at 11:30AM, Saturday, September 5th with the Skeptics Track.

We (meaning John and David and respective redheads) will also be attending the Star Party at Agnes Scott College in Decatur, GA on Thursday, September 3rd.  The Star Party is organized by the Atlanta Skeptics, will feature dinner, drinks, an opportunity to chat with Phil Plait (Bad Astronomy) and Pamela Gay (Astronomy Cast podcast), and stargazing through the Bradley Observatory telescope.  Proceeds go to the American Cancer Society in honor of the late Jeff Medkeff (Blue Collar Scientist).

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Visit us online at AmericanFreethought.com.  We post new content (nearly) every day!

David is podcasting new episodes of Secular Nation. AtheistAlliance.org/podcast.

Interested in science fiction?  Then check out John’s other online project, SciFiDimensions.com.

Theme music by Body Found.

Recorded August 19, 2009.  Hosted by John C. Snider and David Driscoll.

To listen to this episode click here.

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