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Templeton announce new prayer study. But what about their old one?

Templeton just announced a new study on the effects of prayer on those who do the praying. Above is part of the blurb. But, as you can see, they also suggest testing for the effects of intercessory prayer on those prayed for, on the other hand, is a scientific and theological 'dead end'.

In fact, the effects of prayer on others can be scientifically investigated. Indeed, it has been. In a huge Templeton funded study!

In 2006 Harvard professor Herbert Benson performed a "Study of the Therapeutic Effects of Intercessory Prayer (STEP)" It used 1,802 coronary artery bypass surgery patients at six hospitals. Using double-blind protocols, patients were randomized into three groups. The members of the experimental and control Groups 1 and 2 were informed they might or might not receive prayers, and only Group 1 received prayers. Group 3, which served as a test for possible psychosomatic effects, was informed they would receive prayers and subsequently did. Complications of surgery occurred in 52 percent of those who received prayer (Group 1), 51 percent of those who did not receive it (Group 2), and 59 percent of patients who knew they would receive prayers (Group 3). There were no statistically significant differences in major complications or thirty-day mortality.

What if the study had shown strong evidence for the effects of prayer (which it might have done)? Then, as Dawkins points out, this would have been hailed as a scientific and theological breakthrough - it would have been 'trumpeted from the rooftops'. But Templeton didn't get the result they were after. Now they declare such studies are a waste of time - a scientific and theological dead end. Why, then, did they fund it?

Of course, the study wasn't a dead end. This was good science, properly done. And Templeton should get credit for that.

This and other research has revealed not only an absence of evidence for the beneficial medical effects of intercessionary prayer, it's also revealed pretty good evidence for the absence of any such effect.


Pwter (Oz) Jones said…
do you have a linky dinky to the Templeton announcement?
My Google-fu needs its chakras re-aligned!
Peter (Oz) Jones said…
(This might be a duplicate post)

do you have a linky dinky to the Templeton announcement?
My Google-fu needs its chakras re-aligned!
Edwardtbabinski said…
Heck, what about the five million dollar Templeton study into NDEs, and the less than supernatural evidence they were able to discover, as admitted by the leaders of the study:

"Many people claim that NDEs either prove that supernaturalism is true, or give us good reason to abandon physicalism and adopt supernaturalism. We don’t agree. Even if there isn’t a specific physical explanation for every NDE, we argue that given the progress of science and the complexity of the human brain and of consciousness, we can still give you a blueprint for providing physical explanations. The details might need to be filled in differently for different experiences, but it’s basically a blueprint."

They argue, for example, that “there is room to doubt that the subjects of near-death experiences really had these experiences at the time it seemed to them that they had them. … It is possible, and seems quite likely, that we will come to find out that our current methods for measuring brain activity are shallow, capturing only activity above a certain threshold. This raises the possibility that we may come to find out that our current methods are unable to capture all brain activity, or even all brain activity relevant to conscious experience. We may come to find out that some of those patients whom we thought had lost all brain function in fact had brains functioning at a level undetectable by our current methods.” Physical explanations of NDEs are not only significantly more likely to be true than supernatural explanations, but that they are also capable of being deeply attractive and inspiring, Mitchell-Yellin says. “No part of our view in any way denigrates religious belief or a belief in the afterlife,” the philosophers conclude. “We fully recognize and respect religious beliefs, and we are deeply cognizant of the hope that religion, and the doctrine of the afterlife, in particular, offers to many. … Our aim has been to call into question a particular route to religious beliefs and beliefs about the afterlife, namely, one that appears to NDErs as evidence for, or even proof of, the reality of the afterlife. … (O)ur view is compatible with fully embracing the hope that religion can offer in the face of death. We are convinced that what people really want is genuine hope – hope based in true explanations, not wishful thinking.”
RoBoTeq said…
At best, this study could only prove that sometimes the answer to prayers is "no".
It is not that prayer was ineffective, but that the understanding of the results of prayer are beyond our understanding.

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