Victoria NeuroNotes

Into the Gray

Something To Think About


“To say “God made me win,” also means, “God made the other guy lose.”

That comment on shelldigger’s post “Things Aren’t Always As The Seem“, was made by Jeff, a.k.a. inspiredbythedivine1.

It reminded me of this meme.

Prayer Advantage

Here’s something else to think about:

The largest and most scientifically rigid study on prayer to date, costing $2.4 million dollars, was paid by the John Templeton Foundation and the Baptist Memorial Health Care Corporation of Memphis. The study, named STEP (Study of the Therapeutic Effects of Intercessory Prayer), investigated patients undergoing coronary artery bypass surgery at six major U.S. medical centers.

Three congregations were recruited to do the praying. One Protestant and two Catholic monasteries. They were given the names of the patients. The majority of the heart patients believed in the power of prayer. They were evenly split into three groups.

One group received no prayers. A second group received prayers after they were told that they may or may not be prayed for. Patients of the third group were told that others would be praying for them starting the night before surgery, and continuing for two weeks after surgery.

The three congregations used the same intercessory prayers—asking the Christian god for “a successful surgery and a quick healthy recovery with no complications”. After 30 days, researchers went through the results.

The results:

Patients who knew that others were praying for them fared worse than those who did not receive such spiritual support, or who did but were not aware of receiving it. The doctors found increased amounts of adrenalin, a sign of stress, in the blood of patients who knew they were being prayed for.

 “We thought that the certainty of knowing about the prayers of outsiders would reduce complications that accompany bypass surgery, but the results were paradoxical.” ~Dr. Jeffrey Dusek, an instructor in medicine at Harvard Medical School

So, in essence, the effectual fervent prayer of the so-called righteous believer does not availeth much. If it did, prayer would be as illegal as steroids in sports, and heart patients would get better, not worse, after intercessory prayer.












Author: NeuroNotes

Victoria predominately blogs about religion, and the brain's role in religious type experiences.

96 thoughts on “Something To Think About

  1. It’s the same as surviving a car wreck and thanking God for sparing you. Too bad the other driver died, though. If God saved you, he let the other driver die.

    Liked by 3 people

  2. It’s a great study but still people think muttering to an invisible being will cause this entity to change its mind and make them better.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Yes god saved me from alcoholism…but if I start drinking again, is God letting me drink myself to death? God got me a job, but if I get fired dud god get me fired?

    Liked by 2 people

  4. Something occurs to me. I am acquainted with people that will give God credit for trivial things. I have seen more people than I can count thank God for doing something trivial. However, when I am in a conversation with someone about beliefs, I have yet to encounter a single believer that says that they believe that God works like that (at least at this point in time). Is it all some act? Do they say it simply because others say it? Do they just not think about it until it is actually questioned?

    It seems like people are trending toward thanking God for their talent rather than for the specific win, but those that excel are always those that put effort into it. When you look at what the miracles of the past were said to be compared to what people give credit to God for now…well, it’s pathetic. No one was even that surprised when Jesus supposedly woke from the dead. I doubt any early Christians would be impressed by God finding someone a parking space. I imagine the human-built car would be far more impressive.

    Liked by 5 people

  5. What a capital idea! Ban praying in all sports. When the objections come, say: “It works, doesn’t it?”

    Liked by 2 people

  6. Oh wow, they were actually worse? I remember reading about prayer studies before and most just showed no effect, but that’s kind of hilarious to think it could make things worse.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Seriously, right? The difference wasn’t a high percentage, but still, it says a lot about the other two groups as well. There was no different between the one group who was informed that they may or may not be prayed for and the group who wasn’t prayed for.


  7. Actually, I can understand why they would feel worse knowing that people were praying for them. When I was in church and people prayed over my depression, I’d feel stressed and ashamed because… well, I knew that the depression simply wasn’t going to be spirited away. I also knew that they would place the blame for me not getting better squarely at my feet, not their precious God’s.

    And that was the beginning of the end of my faith right there…

    Liked by 1 person

    • “I also knew that they would place the blame for me not getting better squarely at my feet, not their precious God’s.”

      Exactly, Tony.

      Liked by 2 people

    • I wonder if result is similar to that of studies that show that black people and women, who do fine on math tests under ordinary circumstances, will do slightly worse when told they are part of a study to determine whether or not black people/women are bad at math. The fear that they’ll screw up and make their group look bad will make them screw up. There’s a term for that, which I can’t remember.


  8. Great post, this thanking God stuff has always been a one fingered salute to people who work in the emergency wards and rescue services when the recovered victim’s first words are “Thank God for saving my life”.

    I have had some dialog lately with Young Earth Creationists who literally and very strongly thank God or blame Satan for everything good and bad that happens but these people have the most anti-Christian bigoted and discriminative accusations directed at normal people from any ideology I have ever encountered.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Hi Shields, welcome, and thanks for your comment. YECs are completely detached from reality. They willfully chose to remain unlearned, and in the process contribute greatly to the suffering of others, both within their tribe and outside of it.


  9. God saved me from being raped. Guess he hated those gals he let get raped. Praise god. He’s a dick, but praise him because….well..because..GOD!!! and because…AMERICA!!!!! $Amen$, God damn it!

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Good post, Victoria! It reminds me of the beginnings of my doubt. I have a friend on Noseybook who put (a few years ago) – “I ran 9 kilometres today! Thank you Jesus!” I remember thinking, “You twit – thank yourself; you’re the one who sweated your guts out!” Of course, I didn’t comment. . . 🙂

    Around the same time, another (minister) friend of mine had a meme on there about Christopher Hitchens, who had just died. It was something to the effect of, “Bet he’s roasting in hell now!” – I remember thinking what a hateful, nasty thing that was to say, coming from a religious person. (for that matter, it really wouldn’t matter who said it) I DID comment on that one, and lost a Noseybook friend. Ah, well.

    Liked by 1 person

    • One thing I have learnt since blogging on some of these religious websites that some of these so called godly people are at a new level when it comes down to nastiness, and from my experience some of these YEC are so hateful of certain people in our society it really makes my skin crawl.


    • Hey Carmen — thanks.

      That is disgusting about what that preacher did. About your friend on Noseybook who ran the marathon: I am always amazed how believers are so quick to come across as belittling their own achievements and giving credit to a deity. But underneath the faux humility, what are they really saying?


      • Victoria – you mean to say that crediting Jesus with personally guiding you through a 9km run may not be all that humble and may in fact be the absolute pinnacle of arrogance, narcissism and self-centeredness? LOL
        “Starving kids in Africa? Screw you guys! I gotta make sure Sally runs that 9 km in good time today!”
        This runs back to the theme I pointed out to Wally about a month ago, when I was still commenting on CS’s blog. God’s track record is perfect. Under NO circumstances, can God be blamed for anything bad that happens. He is only allotted credit when the good things happen. Head’s he wins, tails, he wins again.
        I honestly don’t think people like that mean to be hateful or stupid or arrogant, but that they just don’t think about what it is that they are saying. Key word being think. They don’t think. That’s why they find themselves believing in what they believe and saying what they say because they don’t think about it.

        Liked by 2 people

        • “but that they just don’t think about what it is that they are saying.”

          I agree.


          • In a nutshell, they think that pain and suffering brings you closer to God, that is why starving people are left to die and that was a principle of that so called nun called Saint Teresa.

            Liked by 3 people

            • The saint from Calcutta was hardly a saint. She was, in fact, one of the biggest con-artists of our time. And as I’m sure you are aware, while hundreds of thousands horrifically suffered, unnecessarily, she made sure she had the best of the best medical care for herself. Former employees of Mother Teresa’s order stated that Teresa refused to authorize the purchase of medical equipment, and that donated money (millions) was instead transferred to the Vatican Bank for general use, even when it was specifically earmarked for charitable purposes.

              Liked by 3 people

              • And on top of all that, she looked like Yoda’s mother.

                Liked by 1 person

              • The mere sight of that ghoul gives me the heebee-jeebees. And what’s worse, people call her a saint and think she was this wonderful person who helped all of these pour unfortunate souls. The biggest PR con job of the century. She wasn’t a friend of the poor and unfortunate, she was an advocate for poverty and openly admitted that she saw Christ in the “broken body”. This of course, only applied to OTHER people because when she was sick, there was no expense spared flying all over the world to the most renown doctors in their specialized field. She was a fraud and a fanatic and I for one say good-riddance. People like her, this world does not need,

                Liked by 1 person

              • Yes she basically purchased her sainthood from the Vatican. I suspect she was following directions from God because the bible shows us he too has initiated suffering and definitely was the biggest con-artist of all time.


            • As evidenced by this anecdote from Mother Teresa, herself:

              One day I met a lady who was dying of cancer in a most terrible condition. And I told her, I say, “You know, this terrible pain is only the kiss of Jesus–a sign that you have come so close to Jesus on the cross that he can kiss you.” And she joined her hands together and said, “Mother Teresa, please tell Jesus to stop kissing me.”


              Liked by 3 people

        • In my time I have run more marathons than I can remember. I have also ran a few Comrades Marathons ( +/- 90kms).
          The only time I invoked god was one time at a watering hole sponsored by Avis (?) where a couple of the women employees had been having fun with a hose and wet T-Shirts were everywhere.
          At 35kms into a marathon this is exactly the type of thing a bloke needs to put a smile on his face and get him to run the last 7.2 kilometres. 🙂
          Thank you Jesus!

          Liked by 3 people

  11. Pingback: Something To Think About | Scotties Toy Box

  12. I decided to spare you the disappointment of praying for your blog. The best plug ins trump a good prayer. Thank god for those!

    Liked by 1 person

  13. Dr Richard Carrier notes that sometimes there are what appear to be remarkable answers to prayer, something that is really unlikely, like a one in a million type chance. But then he points out that there are 300 million people in the U.S, if they all prayed then there would be about 300 such ‘miracles’ each year purely based on the laws of probability. For this very reason something which has a very small chance of occurring without ‘God’ cannot ever be used as evidence of a miracle.

    So I therefore conclude that for us to be sure something is a miracle then it really needs to be something that is naturally impossible, such as the amputee arm growing back.

    Needless to say this reasoning suggests that ‘God’ providing a convenient parking place is really quite laughable as evidence of the efficacy of prayer.

    Liked by 1 person

  14. “So I therefore conclude that for us to be sure something is a miracle then it really needs to be something that is naturally impossible, such as the amputee arm growing back. “

    I agree. Peter, your comment reminded me of this:

    Liked by 2 people

    • Among the most interesting stories is that of Charles Templeton the former evangelist who became an atheist. He said he twice laid hands on people and they experienced remarkable healing, one was from cancer. On both occasions he did not expect the person to be healed but they were.

      His view was that something was happening there that he did not understand and he thought science could do well to consider it further.

      I found Templeton’s story interesting because his Christian experience went well beyond that of most Christians yet in the end he could no longer believe. So he concluded that ‘experience’ was not sufficient to overcome all of the questions he had and cognitive dissonance.

      Just because we don’t understand something does not mean it is supernatural.

      One of the questions I have asked myself is, what should I conclude if some parts of the Bible appears divine, but some of it appears to be in error? My biggest fear is uncertainty.

      But I seem to be burning my bridges with ‘God’ on other blogs at present.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Templeton probably realised that the law of averages says he will appear to cure a percentage of his clients unless of course he only ever laid his hands on only two people. Another answer could be the remarkable results from the placebo effect. The placebo effect is part of the human potential to react positively to a healer. The power of positive thinking is not a new subject, however it is one area in science we have yet to understand what exactly happens in the brain.


      • Peter, when I was attending church, there were people with cancer who went to healing services and then went into remission. But in all those cases, they eventually came out of remission and died. I’ve read about spontaneous remission, also called spontaneous healing or spontaneous regression, and although it’s not common, it happens in all cultures, whether belief in a god exists or not.

        “Spontaneous remission, also called spontaneous healing or spontaneous regression.

        Well said.


  15. Faith healers are as criminal as bogus doctors, however there are always those stupid people who will follow them and donate all the money they can because they actually think God works through these faith healers, and in a way this is true because this is just another delusion that contributes to the biggest scam in history.

    Liked by 1 person

    • “Faith healers are as criminal as bogus doctors”

      Absolutely. I wouldn’t call these people stupid who seek out these healers, often as a last resort. Many if not most are desperate. Also, there is a good bit of research on the causes of the placebo effect.

      You might like this excellent documentary, especially parts 3 and 4 that explain the neurological and psychological underpinnings of the placebo effect, as well as certain psychological profiles and childhood backgrounds of the faith healers.


      • Victoria, I just had a look at the video, it makes a very strong case against miracles. The tragedy is seeing the people who cling to a belief that they have been healed when clearly they have not. You can see how much they want to believe. Unfortunately I suspect when they eventually acknowledge they were not healed they will somehow blame themselves, and not the fraudster faith healer.

        Many years ago I read one of Benny Hinn’s books and lapped it all up. Though in recent years I had my doubts about Hinn. However Bonke, he was one of my heroes of recent times. Only a couple of years ago I had given various people a copy of his autobiography as a gift. Though interestingly a person had mentioned to me two years ago when Bonke visited Australia he had no impact, it seemed he could only really achieve result sin Africa.

        Liked by 1 person

        • “Unfortunately I suspect when they eventually acknowledge they were not healed they will somehow blame themselves, and not the fraudster faith healer.”

          Indeed. As I mentioned to Shields, this was brought to light in Derren Brown’s video “Miracles for Sale”, which resulted in a 14 year old dowsing herself with gasoline and setting herself on fire after she was told by the faith healer that the reason she wasn’t healed was because she had some secret sin in her life. She died. 😦

          I have the video queued to the 32:15 minute marker. You only need to watch about 2 minutes or so.


          • A few years back I went along to a signs and wonders crusade where Evangelist Eddie Coe performed ‘Signs and Wonders’. I don’t know the long term result but at the time it seemed odd to me as the evangelist was a very ‘rough’ package, not smooth and slick like Benny Hinn. I wondered how God could work through such an obviously flawed person, but he seemed to get results. So even in 2011 when I was most deeply immersed in religion and ‘was on fire for the Lord’ I had some some questions about whether what I was seeing was really supernatural or not. The following is a testimony from one person at the meeting.

            I notice that he did seem to gravitate to a certain type of person, I might say people who seemed a bit emotionally fragile. I wonder now if he had a good sense of who could be manipulated.

            He spent a lot of time asking for money and that just put me off. I seemed to be the sort person he had no interest in.

            Liked by 1 person

      • Thanks Victoria, I checked out the video and I really felt for those desperate people who clung onto faith healers as a last hope. I am at a loss though after they have recovered from all the hype as to why they cannot learn from what is a 100% failure rate in miracles and cease donating all their hard earned money to these con-men who obviously appear to enjoy great life styles. It is like they are permanently on another planet or still under the hypnosis and have not come out of it. This has very little to do with God or faith it is just the vehicle used for delivery of this bullshit.

        Liked by 1 person

        • “It is like they are permanently on another planet or still under the hypnosis and have not come out of it. “

          Yes, they are still under the spell of hypnosis. In the documentary, cognitive neurscientist Michael Persinger states:

          “Effective speakers, people who can manipulate crowds, have similar characteristics. So when you look at the Bonnke’s, the Hinn’s, the Hitlers, the Nuremberg rallies, the operations are very similar.”

          You have these groups in the kind of ecstatic states, a kind of expectancy state, then you have the individual come out, the speaker who will coordinate all these experiences among the mass of people. This person must be a kind of orchestra leader to maintain his great orchestration of cognitive experiences. As the speaker begins to give the message, the people are full of emotion — full of imagery.

          It’s a feeling of being one with everyone in the group.

          These images take on tremendous personal value because of the elevation of the opiates. Because of the groups state of ecstasy, and within the gathered crowds, you see the features of these opiate releases. They may cry. Individuals sway. You get the smiles, a mild glow, like a mild drunken state. These experiences are associated with mild electrical changes deep within the brain.”


          Shields, thanks for taking the time to watch the documentary. The couple in that story who lost their son was gut-wrenching to watch. It is amazing what people can get away with in the name of religion. These con-men literally get away with 2nd degree murder, as was the case with my late husband and many, many others who were taken advantage of during an extremely vulnerable time in their lives. Derren Brown, in his video, “Miracles for Sale”, also reveals some examples of people who died as a result of committing suicide or stopped taking their medication after coming in contact with these “godly” scammers.


  16. “Then Peter replied, ‘I see very clearly that God shows no favoritism.'” Acts 10:34, NLT

    “For God does not show favoritism.” Romans 2:11, NIV/NLT

    It seems like they’ve NEVER opened their book to read what it actually says. 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

    • Ron, it often seems that way. If one takes the Bible seriously, they end up having to focus on one set of scripture and ignore the rest because of the numerous contradictions.


      • Wait for the context claim. You will never win the argument until someone is prepared to consider that the Bible might not be a divine work. Until then any excuse under the sun will be advanced to explain black equals white. I have learnt this over the last six months to my immense frustration. That is why I am starting to move into the ‘angry’ camp.

        Liked by 1 person

        • “Wait for the context claim. You will never win the argument until someone is prepared to consider that the Bible might not be a divine work.”

          Oh, indeed. They, of course, tend to assume that we never studied the bible extensively for ourselves. I was prepared for the onslaught of accusations because of my dealings with clergy and elders who couldn’t give me a straight answer to my questions — quoting scripture like “lean not on your own understanding” or Isiah 55:8 “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways.” I was a very studious Christian, and they knew it. So they tried to make me feel like I just wasn’t “mature” enough in the “Lord”, and to keep on praying for “illumination”. Apologists are very transparent.

          Btw, I heard that you got snow in your neck of woods this weekend.


      • Agreed! But how does one ignore reality? It’s fairly obvious that we don’t all start life on a level playing field; so “God is no respecter of persons” (a recurring sermon when I went to church) is soundly refuted by common experience. It boggles my mind that grown adults could blissfully ignore such a glaring contradiction.


  17. Brilliant! And those that knew fared worse That is a real peach! I love it.
    ”Oh, god no …. don’t pray for me for chissake!!”

    Now, can you do me a favour you super duper clever person?

    Have a word with Wally here about the detrimental effects his fundamentalist religion has on people.


    • I posted. It’s awaiting moderation. Ark, I think you are aware that what I shared will not make a damn bit of difference to those who are not able to face their mortality (death anxiety) and need to believe that there is an eternity of bliss awaiting them. I just wished their beliefs, primarily dealing with penal substitutionary atonement, didn’t have such a negative impact on children, who basically have no voice and are at the mercy of adults who are still, themselves, children on a psychological level.


  18. LMAO — did you know it takes 100 units of faith to heal someone?

    Now, please make your check payable to…

    Liked by 2 people

    • What’s sad about this hysterical non-sense is that it isn’t satire and it’s not meant to be funny. Ugh!

      Liked by 2 people

      • In all the years I was a Christian, I never heard about this methodology. Whats even sadder is how this will fuck with a believer’s head. I’ve heard a many a preacher say that prayers weren’t being answered because of some secret sin in a person’s life, or they just didn’t have enough faith, and that’s so incredibly cruel. But this guy has managed to measure faith in units. Unfuckingbelievable.

        Liked by 1 person

    • For a while I thought it was a parody, then I realised that the guy was serious.

      But when you really analyse the message, it is just providing another excuse for why prayer does not actually work. It is our fault because we don’t have enough faith.

      Liked by 2 people

    • But if their god is omni-present, it shouldn’t matter if the anti-faith people are in the same house. Wherever they were, god would be there as well, and thus their anti-faith would be draining god’s powers. With so many strong anti-faithers about (I’m sure I contribute about negative one billion faith units on my own), it would make it impossible for god to answer a single prayer. I just killed 7 future prayers by writing this, and you just killed 5 more by reading it! My very existence makes the prayer of every believer on the planet utterly futile! So mighty is my disbelief that it renders ‘god’ impotent. Indeed, I must be a slayer of deities! Gods are nothing but pixies from Neverland and no amount of clapping can save them from my un-faith! So sayeth this creepy white-haired dude, so sayeth we all!

      Liked by 2 people

      • I love it! No wonder we are the most hated group of people on the planet. We make the mighty gods impotent. *giggles*


        • Atheists and Iron Chariots:

          The LORD was with the men of Judah. They took possession of the hill country, but they were unable to drive the people from the plains, because they had chariots fitted with iron.
          Judges 1:19


      • Public Memorial Held for Stream’s John Paul Jackson

        Jackson, founder of Streams Minstries [sic] International, died Feb. 18. He was 65. His wife, Diane, released a letter on behalf of the ministry about his passing. . . . The letter goes on to say, “Despite the heartfelt prayers from those closest to him and many of you around the world, my husband, John Paul, went to be with the Lord.”

        OMG! You killed John Paul! You Bastard!! 😦

        Liked by 1 person

        • But surely it is for the best – he has gone to his eternal reward

          So our negative faith actually helped him get there sooner. The bastards were those praying to keep him here on the sin infested earth.

          Liked by 2 people

          • Yes. I’m always amused when those who preach the joys of a heavenly afterlife embrace every earthly opportunity to avoid going there.

            Liked by 1 person

            • Isn’t that the truth. There was a study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association in 2013. Here’s what they found:

              Compared to those who reported a lower level of spiritual support, terminally ill patients who reported “high spiritual support” from religious communities were over two and half times more likely to receive some form of aggressive — and expensive end-of-life (EoL) service (like being put on a ventilator or pursuing additional chemotherapy), and five times more likely to die in a hospital ICU in their last week of life as opposed to choosing hospice. They were also the least likely to have Living Wills.

              Furthermore, patients who self-reported the highest levels of “religious coping” during their final days were 11 times as likely to receive aggressive EoL treatments and 22 times more likely to die in the ICU compared to those with lower levels of religious coping.

              The study’s findings on these religious community-supported patients’ ICU death rates showed, channeling that faith-based will to live into aggressive medical care isn’t effective — and it contributes to wasteful health care spending to the tune of $6oo billion dollars annually.

              In other words it appeared that those with the highest religious coping weren’t in any hurry to go to heaven.

              Liked by 1 person

  19. Thought you might like this:


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