RE: [asa] God disproven by science?

From: Dehler, Bernie <>
Date: Tue Apr 21 2009 - 17:43:10 EDT

Sure Louise, I'd like to see your notes and powerpoint. (I love powerpoint slides... nice outlines and to the point.)

Here's another twist.

This claim was made at the last ASA conference by a speaker- and I frequently hear other Christians make it:

"If we had the faith of those in less developed countries, we'd see the miracles that they do."

Apparently, we don't see so many miracles in the USA because of our lack of faith. If this is all true, and there were more miracles, that could be scientifically studied. Thoughts on that? Is this a crazy theological claim: "Less developed countries see more miracles because of their greater faith." ?

Louise said:
"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!" "

Is that like the devil planting dinosaur bones just to confuse us? ;-)

By the way, the argument boils down to "Prayer changes things." When it comes to healing, is it true or not? If it is true, why isn't it measurable?

From: [] On Behalf Of Freeman, Louise Margaret
Sent: Tuesday, April 21, 2009 2:21 PM
Subject: Re: [asa] God disproven by science?

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 there'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 17:43:39 2009

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