Sunday, July 17, 2005

oh, lord...

A scientific study finds that prayer does not work. What does a believer say to a finding like that, I wonder? Maybe something like,
"Well, you can't just get everything you pray for, you know. Prayer's not like writing to Santa. You can't just pray for a Mercedes-Benz and you'll get one."*
Believers can always dismiss scientific studies as "trivialising the religious experience", as one critic puts it in the Herald story.
"How do you define a "dose of prayer?" asks the critic. So how do they define it in the study? Is it time-limited? "You have five minutes to pray. Your time" When you think about it, the study's "religious representatives" are praying for the health of complete strangers. So surely their message can't be much more than a fairly straightforward, "God, I was wondering, could you please look after this bloke's health? He's a top bloke, actually I don't know that much about him, but do you think you could give him a break, please Lord? That'd be great. Thanks. Oh, did I mention you're a top bloke? Cheers, thanks a lot."
Realistically, it couldn't take more than a minute, could it? I mean, what's to say?

*Thanks to the pointer from the saint. The actual words are:
"Prayer is not a penny in the slot machine. You can't just put in a coin and get out a chocolate bar. This is like setting an exam for God to see if God will pass it or not."
-The Bishop of Durham.