Originally Posted by Clifford
It is good to hear from you. But there are conflicting reports, and many facts left unsaid, so it is difficult to evalutate the meaning of the article you linked. It is particularly curious that Dr. Koenig gives contrary statements concerning the effectiveness of prayer. The article you cited reports he said this:
Dr. Koenig, director of Dukeís Center for Spirituality, Theology and Health, and the author of several authoritative books on faith and healing, says a striking study published in the Southern Medical Journal last year demonstrated that prayer has a remarkable effect on patients with hearing and visual deficiencies. After prayer sessions, 'They showed significant improvements based on audio and visual tests,' Koenig says.
Whatís more, he says, 'The benefits of devout religious practice, particularly involvement in a faith community and religious commitment, are that people cope better. In general, they cope with stress better, they experience greater well-being because they have more hope, they're more optimistic, they experience less depression, less anxiety, and they commit suicide less often.' He adds, 'They have stronger immune systems, lower blood pressure, and probably better cardiovascular functioning.'
In the largest study of its kind, researchers found that having people pray for heart bypass surgery patients had no effect on their recovery. In fact, patients who knew they were being prayed for had a slightly higher rate of complications.
Dr. Harold G. Koenig, director of the Center for Spirituality, Theology and Health at the Duke University Medical Center, who didn't take part in the study, said the results didn't surprise him.
"There are no scientific grounds to expect a result and there are no real theological grounds to expect a result either," he said. "There is no god in either the Christian, Jewish or Moslem scriptures that can be constrained to the point that they can be predicted." Here we have a direct and total refutation of the other statement attributed to him!
Within the Christian tradition, God would be expected to be concerned with a person's eternal salvation, he said, and "why would God change his plans for a particular person just because they're in a research study?"
There are many problems with the whole study. There is no indication that any specific prayer was answered by an agent like the God of the Bible. On the contrary, the results look more psychological - people feel better when they have faith in God and it's natural that their bodies would respond. This is made clear by Dr. Koenig himself, who said "prayer or meditation" helps patients. And what about different religions? Does "God" answer the prayers of Muslims and Hindus in the study?
Bottom line: There is not a single word in the study that suggests there is a God that actually answers prayers, such as restoring missing limbs or healing from cancer, which is what we would expect from the things promised in the Bible.