A certain Michael Lemonick, of Time Magazine wrote the followig in his Blog:
Is Prayer useless?
My colleague Sora Song has just posted to our DailyRx blog about a new study showing that anonymous prayers from a remote location has no effect, at best, on post-bypass-surgery complications–and that it actually makes those complications worse if the recipient of the prayers knows for sure they’re happening.
It would be tempting for militant nonbelievers to declare that prayer has therefore been proven worthless, but that would be unfair, on several levels. First, the people who ran the study–a mix of medical doctors and clergy–looked only at the effect of prayers offered by strangers to the patient. But they didn’t forbid prayers by family members or friends. Maybe those did have an effect; the study didn’t address that question. Second, the prayers were specific requests for a speedy recovery–but many believers think that sort of prayer is inappropriate, that God shouldn’t be treated like the genie from Aladdin’s bottle. Maybe some of the patients would have been aghast at such prayers if they’d heard them.
And finally, prayer could just be ineffective in the situation under study–when the prayers are remote and anonymous. In person, delivered by loved ones, they might work a lot better, either because God is actually there and listening, or because, as some of the doctors suggested, because they’re calming to the patient’s mind. Reducing post-operative mental stress could very plausibly reduce complications, with no God involved.
The bottom line for me is that science isn’t the best method for addressing spiritual questions, any more than religion is the way to get at the workings of the natural world.
Blah blah, there is no Atheist in a Fox Hole.