August 19, 2006

UK Police Turn to Prayer to Solve Crimes

When I first ran across this story, I thought it had to contain a misprint. Examples of this sort of religious idiocy are so common in the U.S. that it is hard to be surprised anymore. But this one actually took place in the UK.

The Christian Police Association is providing churches with crime details and asking them to pray for breakthroughs on various unsolved crimes. My favorite part of the article is that the advocates of this program, called Prayer Watch, say that they expect skepticism. Then a representative of the Lincolnshire Christian Police Association is quoted as saying, "I know that praying can make a difference in my work, but it's all a question of faith."

Huh? If you know it, prove it. Knowledge is about reason and has nothing to do with faith. You can believe something on faith, but this sort of belief has nothing to do with knowledge. In fact, if you had evidence to support your belief, no faith would be involved.

This is quickly becoming my primary problem with Christians - they mistake faith-based beliefs as knowledge. The efficacy of prayer in solving crimes is an empirical question. The police representative's claim is a hypothesis that can be tested. Not only can it be tested, but it must be tested if it is ever to gain any more progress toward knowledge than a simply hunch.

A local citizen says, "I respect people's individual beliefs, but I think they're living in cloud cuckoo land if they think praying will solve crimes." Yep.

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