August 18, 2004

Believing is Healthy is a reason to believe that even my atheist husband has to embrace to some extent. It is actually healthy to believe and pray. According to recent studies as shown on WebMD, being spiritual and religious can make you healthier and add years onto your life.

In addition, as shown in the same article, a controversial study was done on prayer done for others without their knowledge (intercessory prayer) and was found to have some bearing on the success of their recovery. And yet another article that has similar findings can be found here.

I don't know about you guys, but going to church and having fellowship with other Christian people and experiencing the presence of the Holy Spirit makes me feel better. Won't the skeptics and unbelievers be glad to know that we now have another reason to attend church and worship? :o)

Posted by Barbara at August 18, 2004 10:40 PM

It's good to see you wanting a look at some of the scientific investigations into your belief systems. Do be careful of how much credence you give to any individual study. A case in point would be the 1988 Byrd study, and possibly, but to a lesser degree the Harris study from '99. This article gives some reasons why you must be careful of individual studies. To date, there has been little scientific investigation into the effects of intercessory prayer and no consensus formed about its effectiveness. I can confidently predict that enough well controlled studies will yield no benefit from intercessory prayer qua intercessory prayer.

Interestingly, there are very strong beneficial effects from personal prayer or non-religious meditation (as mentioned in the other article), and there is quite a benefit to be had from knowing that you are prayed for - in other words, one fares better knowing that there is a community out there concerned enough for them to give their energy in that way. So I look at the question as how best to incorporate these effects into daily practice without succumbing to the associated superstitions. I think that is a worthwhile goal.

Posted by: smijer at August 19, 2004 07:56 AM

Well, I think that most people are happy religious and would be best left alone without someone always trying to deconvert them. They will be happier and healthier. :o)

Posted by: Barbara at August 19, 2004 02:07 PM

P.S.- The study on patients that benefitted from prayer was not based on the fact that the community caring for them, it was based on the belief of help from God.

Posted by: Barbara at August 19, 2004 02:09 PM