Placebo Prayer

I find scientific studies of the healing effects of prayers fascinating. Atheists like Theomorph probably harrumph and bury themselves in the latest issue of Skeptical Inquirer upon hearing the topic mentioned. 😉 (That’s just a friendly tease, Big Guy)

Comments 2

  1. steve wrote:

    I, too, find it strange that anyone would attempt to show empirically that prayer is efficacious. Not to say that I think it is not. I’m rather convinced that it is. It’s simply that it involves a necessary deceit…

    Let’s say the pray-ers should pray for some and not others: “Almighty God, please heal Patient X, but do not heal Patient Y.” This is an obvious affront to God (or any God worth worshiping at any rate)–and could not possibly result in efficatious prayer. So the pray-ers couldn’t possibly know about patients X and Y.

    If the pray-ers don’t know about Patient Y, then they have been decieved, but perhaps they know about the study in general: “Almighty God, please heal Patients X, Y, and Z, but please do not heal others of whom we’ve not been informed.”

    If the pray-ers don’t know about the study at all, then they’re being decieved. The researchers are feeding “prayer requests” somehow to folks willing to pray–and doing so under false pretenses: a “concerned” medical researcher or some such thing.

    Yeah, so the only thing surprising to me is that the study doesn’t end with fire and brimstone falling down from the sky on the researchers!

    As Theo correctly notes, Christians are taught to pray by their Lord: “Thy (the Father’s) will be done.” This is how he lived, and it cost him his life. I don’t see how you can conduct an empirical study praying this way. It’s rather an extreme case of question begging: The will of God was done–L patients improved, M got worse, and N no change. Ergo, intercessory prayer that God’s will be done was efficacious!?!?!

    My $0.02

    BTW, many blessings Funky (and your better half) on your new undetached life!

    Posted 25 Oct 2004 at 3:38 pm
  2. theomorph wrote:

    No, I find it fascinating, too. But I think that prayer as examined by science doesn’t exactly line up with prayer as described by Christian theology. Scientifically, prayer is measured by its efficacy in using the power of God to carry out the desires of people. But Christian theology is far from unequivocal on the proposition that prayer is about using God as a power tool.

    In fact, every time I have discussed prayer extensively with a Christian, I have always been told that, ultimately, prayer is more about bending your will to God’s than vice versa.

    So why do Christians keep trying to prove that “intercessory” prayer is efficacious? That’s what fascinates me.

    Posted 24 Oct 2004 at 4:32 pm

Post a Comment

Your email is never published nor shared. Required fields are marked *