Re: [asa] God disproven by science?

From: Freeman, Louise Margaret <>
Date: Tue Apr 21 2009 - 17:20:47 EDT

Having twice lectured on the topic of prayer studies (along with Bible codes
and near0death experiences) to our college's science and religion honors
colloquium, I'd have to agree with your speaker regarding evidence from
clinical trials of intercessory prayer: effects are modest at best, not
frequently replicated and no large, well-controlled study has shown any
effect on death rate, presumably one of the measures the patients and
pray-ers care most about.

For me, the major problem with trying to investigate prayer in a clinical
setting as you would, for instance, a drug, is that the physical mechanism
by which the drug works (known or unknown) implies that the effects will be
repeatable. If the same bacteria is in physiologically similar patients,
the same dose of antibiotic should be similarly effective in killing it.
God, as a presumably free-will agent operating through an unknown physical
(or perhaps unknowable "supernatural") mechanism can choose to answer
prayer differently even if circumstances, from our human perspective, are
practically identical for both patients and petitioners.

Or, as one of the students put it last spring, "if I were God and people
were doing a prayer study with me, I'd just mess with them!"

Any more here might cross the line into "essay" , but if anyone is
interested in my lecture notes or Powerpoint slides I am happy to share.

Louise M. Freeman, PhD
Psychology Dept
Mary Baldwin College
Staunton, VA 24401
FAX 540-887-7121

-----Original Message-----
From: "Dehler, Bernie" <>
Cc: "" <>
Date: Tue, 21 Apr 2009 12:55:14 -0700
Subject: [asa] God disproven by science?

At my next meeting an atheist (former Christian) will try to explain why the
Christian God (not deism) can be disproved. His main argument is that if
such a God really existed, we'd see the marks in real life, but there is no
detectable supernatural intervention. For example, studies show that prayer
has no effect on healing what-so-ever (any study to the contrary is
scientifically flawed, he says).
And short comments to that (no essays please)?
The flip-side I see is that if there was scientific evidence for God, then
it would no longer be a matter of faith. So there's no way you can have
both faith and science, unless science is unable to test the hypothesis. If
the hypothesis is that God answers prayer, the claim is that the statement
can be scientifically proven false through studies.
I suppose thereā€˜s the argument for changed lives- by the power of God.
But still- what about prayer for healing?
(James 5:15 ISV) And the prayer offered in faith will save the person who is
sick. The Lord will raise him up, and if he has committed any sins, he will
be forgiven.

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Received on Tue Apr 21 17:21:38 2009

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