TED Conversations

Michelle Rosenthal

social worker, Dr Susan Smith McKinney Nursing and Rehabilitation Center

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Does saying prayers for world peace help create world peace? How?Is there a way to do an experiment to answer this question scientifically?

Is there any benefit of praying to God for help & guidance in achieving the extraordinary goal of creating world peace in a nonviolent manner? Does it help people to focus their mind on what is needed to be done to create a lasting world peace if they pray for the knowledge of how to attain world peace and the power to carry it out?

Does it help more if a person prays for peace and takes actions toward creating peace as well?

Are actions & prayer more powerful than just one without the other? Could this be tested in a 90 day experiment with three 30 day segments where the subjects try all 3 variations: Praying and taking actions, only taking actions, then only praying to see if they notice any differences.

Although there may be no way really to tell or quantify the effect of or benefit of prayer what is your sense of the power and effectiveness of combining prayer with action toward attaining an insurmountable goal of peace on Earth?

Can humans ever achieve world peace while we are alive on Earth? Can Praying for God to help humanity actually work in helping us attain peace?

Many people are unsure if God exists at all, & if so they wonder if God hears and answers our prayers. Many people wonder if prayers have any effect at all. Various people may believe strongly one way or the other while others have no idea of the answer.

Some may question if God created the Universe or did it evolve on its own. Our conception of the evolution of the universe may go back to the big bang but we still have no answer to the question of how did the bang start and how did and do the miracles in the universe, the earth and nature really take place.

Do you think it has any effect if we thankful to God for the wonders of life & ask God for help with all of our problems in life or not?

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    Nov 16 2011: You really have to unpack your questions further. We know from our studies of the mind that the action of thinking has an effect on the body and that different states of the brain can create different feedback loops to the body. Some kinds of thoughts and actions create highly pleasurable feedback and that this can inspire a person to take different actions than they would have otherwise taken.

    I suspect that if you were to research the topic you'd find data that helps you get a picture of the type of people who experience pleasurable releases of oxytocin and other brain chemicals during prayer. If you wanted to do research on the topic I'd suggest starting there and then compare that data to any research on the likelihood of people taking simple action (like recycling a plastic bottle for example) after saying or hearing a prayer.

    Don't be too surprised though if you find it that it hurts the chances of a positive action outcome to have a subject pray first.

    Incidentally, Sam Harris who has I believe two TED talks has done a lot of good research on the scientific underpinnings of belief in the brain.

    As so the balance of your question, Jiminy Cricket was wrong.
  • Nov 26 2011: Our entire existence is nothing more than a thought.

    Thus, the idea of a God, is simply a thought, but a powerful one.
    With it, we see flowers that others can not only see, but can
    pick up, smell and enjoy. That's how powerful thought is.
    And we see what others think.
    We just don't know whose thought we are really seeing, experiencing
    or perhaps even having.

    So, since everything is psycho-somatic, then it
    would have to be possible to pray (think) and have something happen.

    However, the majority of humans believe in hope and hope is a false concept.
    Sadly, humans worship lies and false concepts to their own detriment and the detriment
    of others.

    We have to act. That is the only thing that can break the power of thought, or enhance
    the meaning of a thought, for thought is an awareness and in one sense is not a reality.

    Humans have knowledge of all things. So, we have the answers. We need the action.
    For those of a religious bent, and I do mean 'bent', Atom and If've had knowledge of all
    things except one. They gained that one, but they didn't lose the others, so we now
    have it all. We need to remember, then act in what we know, not what we are told to
    believe, told to think and told to say, which leads to doing what we are told to do.
    Conversely, we don't believe what we are told not to believe, think or say,
    which leads to not doing what we are told not to do.

    There is no God that is going to come out of the clouds and save us. Hope will not do it and
    neither will faith. Doing will do it, and nothing less than 'what to do', comes from within us, if
    we can but access the real truth within us that isn't clouded, distorted, diluted, hidden or
    usurped by embedded lies from false moral codes, and religious shame and guilt that is used as
    a baffle system to confuse us and leave us where we are today: a baffled lot!
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    Nov 20 2011: I listed several ideas in a blog if anyone would like to check them out: http://www.internationalpeaceandconflict.org/profiles/blogs/a-blog-of-all-my-blogs-and-contests-and-scholarships
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      Nov 19 2011: Dear Ed, Thanks for sharing this information with all of us! Michelle
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    Nov 17 2011: "The hands that help are better far than lips that pray." Robert Green Ingersoll

    Actions are just about the only things that have consequences. Beliefs have consequences but only if they are manifested into some sort of action.

    There really is a difference between hoping or waiting for something to happen and actually doing something to make something happen.

    The answer clearly is no in terms of prayer.


    In terms of world peace that would be nice but I think there would need to be some sort of unifying principle(s) that can connect people together. Otherwise we will continue to be balkanized.
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      Nov 17 2011: Hi Orlando, Thank you for your response. Then what is (are) that kind of unifying principle(s) that you are referring to and how do we get people to connect over them! Michelle
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    Nov 17 2011: Is anyone game to perform the a 4 month/week/day experiment on some one or on them selves to see the impact of prayer and actions on peace. I for one will try it. Today 11/17/11 is my day number one. I will pray for peace and take actions to create world peace for 30 days. I then will just take actions for peace the next thirty days from 12/17/11 - 1/17/12 with out saying the corresponding prayer and for the final 30 days from 1/17/12 to 2/17/12 I will just pray. I will keep a log and let you know my results if I can figure them out! There are many universal prayers for peace that are listed on the internet. I will use a different one each day. Is any one interested? Would anyone want to help participate in this experiment in any way you would like. You may suggest ideas, analyze the results, prepare a questionnaire or survey. You may become a subject or a experimenter Lets have fun with this and see how we can help add to world peace which is the main point really of doing this. http://www.internationalpeaceandconflict.org/profiles/blogs/my-4-month-experiment-in-creating-world-peace-take-it-with-me-or Michelle
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      Nov 17 2011: Hi Ed, Thanks for responding and where can we find that experiment you are referring to? Even if other experiments were done before new experiments on the same subject can still be useful and fun to do. I am sure the experiment that I suggested is different in many ways as compared to any previous experiment on the topic. Besides which each person who tries it may find out first hand their own answer to the question rather than just reading about someone else's experiment on the topic. There are 7 billion people on Earth and I am sure we will have 7 billion slightly different feelings and thoughts about this topic either way. Michelle
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    Nov 16 2011: Any effect?

    Of course it has an effect, at least on the person praying.

    But there is no global effect, praying for peace won't help achieve it.
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      Nov 17 2011: Every thousand mile journey starts with ONE STEP at a time.
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      Nov 22 2011: Chris, How about if everyone in the world prayed for peace ?
      And I love Francis of Assisi's prayer
      "Lord make me an intrument of your peace
      Where there is hatred let me sow love..."
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    Nov 16 2011: In Arabic 'OM' means - Mother.

    To put a mundane 'practical' explanatory, positive intention, thought and action of course creates a mind that is focussed toward receiving and experiencing the benefits and best experiences in life. That person then feeling good interacts with others in an uplifting way - and they too feel good to be around. Joy is shared and so is misery.

    To focus on the negative experience on life - to hold onto that requires emotional energy and results in fears of recurrence.

    In answer to the rest of your statements - if you really desire to analyse the nature of conscious energy you might like to explore qantum physics. There was a new age movie out called 'What the Bleep' that had with the DVD set some really comprehensive interviews with physicists who attempted to explain some of the concepts you seek and also describe the issue they had when they tried to put a 'mind control' analysis or 'test' the nature of consciousness at micro cosmic level.

    For me the only proof I require is manifest when I experience the benefits of living in meditation and when I step out of my mindfulness and middle path.
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      Nov 16 2011: Check out Thich Nhat Hanh and Engaged Buddhism if you haven't already.
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    Nov 16 2011: To sum it all up - no.
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      Nov 17 2011: Hi Sabin,
      I am curious about how do you know specifically that the answer is no? Have you ever tried an experiment to see for yourself! I have just set up a blog about an experiment I am trying on myself. It is at
      http://www.internationalpeaceandconflict.org/profiles/blogs/my-4-month-experiment-in-creating-world-peace-take-it-with-me-or Would you want to try it for a day, week, month or so to see for your self if your answer is accurate or not. I am not saying you are wrong or that you are right. You maybe or may not be the correct. Is the best way to tell to try an experiment? What do you think? I do not know the answer one way or the other myself. Do you think it is worth your time to try it? If not you may want to check out my comments on my blog. I am not trying to lead anyone to believe one way or the other. I am just trying to set up an informal fun experiment that may result in our taking positive actions toward creating peace! What do you think? All tedsters may respond too!
      Michelle