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Editor's Correspondence
June 24, 2002

The Effects of Prayer: Scientific Study

Author Affiliations

Copyright 2002 American Medical Association. All Rights Reserved. Applicable FARS/DFARS Restrictions Apply to Government Use.2002

Arch Intern Med. 2002;162(12):1420. doi:

I am writing in response to the November 26, 2001, ARCHIVES article "Experiments on Distant Intercessory Prayer: God, Science, and the Lesson of Massah."1 The article seemed to be a strange anachronism reminiscent of those who argued against autopsies in medieval times, or most recently objected to study of human reproduction and genetic research.

If prayer and faith, however intangible these concepts may be, are touted to have physiological effects, then they should be subject to scientific measurement. You cannot have it both ways: claiming physical effects for prayer but demanding that these claims be exempt from scientific study because they are in the realm of beliefs. It is hard to imagine that God, the infinite creator of the universe, would feel threatened by having the physical effects of prayer subjected to scientific study! However, some of those who claim to speak for Him are clearly threatened by this prospect.

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