This is an archive of the old Stones Cry Out site. For the current site, click here.
March 31, 2006
God Under the Microscope
A decade or so ago, I recall Paul Harvey talking about a new study. He introduced the story with something like, "And today's story with the most lasting importance may be this..." The study noted that people in a hospital who were prayed for seemed to do better and heal faster than those who weren't, even if they didn't know that they were being prayed for. It might have given me a little lift if not for the fact that it didn't seem to matter to whom the prayers were spoken. It seemed to me that trying to make God do hamster tricks would be useless at the least and counterproductive at worst. If Satan can do wonders, surely he can heal those who are prayed for in the name of a false god and game the results. Prayer is not an exact science. It's not a science at all, frankly. It's part of a relationship, it's a conversation. It's not a precise chemical reaction.
Keep that in mind when you hear this.
Prayers offered by strangers had no effect on the recovery of people who were undergoing heart surgery, a large and long-awaited study has found.
And patients who knew they were being prayed for had a higher rate of post-operative complications like abnormal heart rhythms, perhaps because of the expectations the prayers created, the researchers suggested.
Because it is the most scientifically rigorous investigation of whether prayer can heal illness, the study, begun almost a decade ago and involving more than 1,800 patients, has for years been the subject of speculation.
The question has been a contentious one among researchers. Proponents have argued that prayer is perhaps the most deeply human response to disease, and that it may relieve suffering by some mechanism that is not yet understood. Skeptics have contended that studying prayer is a waste of money and that it presupposes supernatural intervention, putting it by definition beyond the reach of science.
It's not so much that it's in the supernatural realm. It's that studying the actions of a person, God in this case, cannot be done statistically. If someone were to study you and see if you acted the same way to the same circumstance over and over, it would be trivial to foul up the outcome, intentionally or otherwise. And prayer is a matter of faith, but how do you measure or control for that? This study and others like it, regardless of the outcome, are pointless from the beginning. Its core assumption--that God or the supernatural world can be experimented on--is faulty. The article notes that other studies on prayer have shown mixed results, which is what I would expect.
In a hurriedly convened news conference, the study's authors, led by Dr. Herbert Benson, a cardiologist and director of the Mind/Body Medical Institute near Boston, said that the findings were not the last word on the effects of so-called intercessory prayer.
Indeed it isn't. That will come, however. Madeline Murray O'Hare could not be reached for comment. >grin<
As usual, Scott Ott at ScrappleFace puts it all in perspective.
“As it turns out, God was not impressed by our academic credentials, our substantial funding base, and our rigorous study protocols,” said lead researcher Dr. Herbert Benson, a cardiologist and director of the Mind/Body Medical Institute near Boston. “I get the feeling we just spent 10 years looking through the wrong end of the telescope.”
Posted by Doug at March 31, 2006 10:00 AM
Listed below are links to weblogs that reference God Under the Microscope:
» The power of prayer and the liberal war on science from The Unalienable Right
And we thought liberals wanted to keep science and religion separate. From The NY Times: Prayers offered by strangers had no effect on the recovery of people who were undergoing heart surgery, a large and long-awaited study has found. The “... [Read More]
Tracked on March 31, 2006 02:44 PM
» God Under the Microscope - Doug Payton, Stones Cry Out from The Seven Realms
... [Read More]
Tracked on April 7, 2006 12:44 PM
- That will come, however. Madeline Murray O'Hare could not be reached for comment. >grin<
You do know that MMO'H can't be reached for comment because she was kidnapped and murdered along with her son and grandson in 1995, right? Is that what the >grin< was for?
Posted by: Jon Gallagher at April 1, 2006 02:07 AM
Indeed, and one wonders what her comment would be if she could make one with what she now knows. :)
Posted by: Doug Payton at April 1, 2006 11:03 PM
"Indeed, and one wonders what her comment would be if she could make one with what she now knows. :)"
Indeed, one also wonders what your comment would be if you could make one after you were kidnapped and murdered along with your children and grandchildren. :-) :-) :-) LOL!! LOL!!1!!!!1!!!!!!!!
Posted by: s9 at April 5, 2006 02:02 PM
Making God into a scientific experiment? Before testing out the reaction two chemicals may have with each other, one would generally take into consideration all the known factors, the environment, etc. of the chemicals.
Here, as was mentioned, faith certainly was not taken into consideration. How can one measure faith? Can we look at a person and say, wow, that person sure has a lot of faith! Perhaps if they were walking on water. But I haven't seen that lately.
So yes, I agree, this study was pointless before it started. Wrong end of the telescope for sure.
By the way, the name of your site got my attention.
Posted by: Jorge at April 7, 2006 06:23 PM