June 18, 2006

Praying for Cures: Faith as Treatment

I've always been more than a little bothered by the idea of parents denying medical care to their children because they'd prefer to rely on faith. Naturally, Christians are quick to claim that they would never do this and that faith healing is not something mainstream Christians endorse. This article in the Miami Herald suggests that seeking relief through prayer may be more common that some would like to admit.

The article describes a "faith-healing ministry" in Florida. Far from being a side-show attraction, "They come seeking help for blindness, breast cancer, depression and back pain." Think this is just a bible belt thing? According to the article, this ministry belongs to the International Association of Healing Rooms, an organization based in Seattle which claims over 10,000 volunteers and 417 branches around the world.

My favorite quote from this article reflects a telling tone that we've seen before: "Studies examining the effect of prayer on healing have been inconclusive, and some have shown no effect at all." Some have shown no effect at all? Amazing! It seems like the author is puzzled how this can be the case even though the science is fairly clear that well designed studies of the healing effects of prayer show no effects.

When I read things like this article, I am reminded of two things. First, there are a lot of stupid people out there. Second, even smart people may believe stupid things when they failed to learn critical thinking skills.

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