Thursday, April 27, 2006

CBN on the effectiveness of prayer

Harvard Medical School recently released a study showed that prayer did not have any beneficial effect on the participants, patients recovering from heart surgery. The Christian Broadcasting Network, in its CBN News program, called the study into question, focusing on previous studies that appeared to show that prayer did have a measurable benefit.


Gailon Totheroh, CBN Science & Medical Reporter (voiceover): Many people thought the [Harvard] study would answer scientifically whether God intervenes through prayer. The huge study looked at outcomes for various heart patients; some were prayed for, some were not. Patients who received prayer actually fared worse than those who didn't get the special prayers. The researchers were puzzled.

Dr. Jeffrey Dusek, Ph.D.: When we designed the study, we had thought that individuals who were receiving intercessory prayer would fare better than those that did not.

Totheroh: Why didn't prayer work in this new study? Some say you can't put God in a box and study Him. Others say the researchers didn't pick the right people to pray for the sick. And remember, not all prayer studies turn out negative. ...
I'll go with the first explanation. If God were quantifiable, there would be no role for faith. If you ever prove the existence of God, then you will have disproved religion.

Of course, I personally prefer a deeper explanation yet: God is not interested in the day-to-day minutiae of individual lives. He doesn't micromanage the universe; He allows the Laws of Nature to take care of the details. That's why God allows bad things to happen to good people. God isn't the white-robed grandfather figure up in the sky, looking down on His creatures and deciding from moment to moment whom to smite and whom to bless; that sort of theology has no place past nursery school.

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