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Editor's Correspondence
June 24, 2002

Must Science and Religion Be Separate?

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):1421. doi:

In a recent commentary, Chibnall et al1 criticized medical studies that use remote, intercessory prayer. One basis for their criticism was that God should not be tested, and the authors cited several biblical scriptures to support this claim (ie, Exodus 17:7 [all Bible references herein are to KJV], Deuteronomy 6:16, and Luke 4:12). These verses indeed seem to warn against testing God. Accordingly, in Luke 1:18, Zacharias is punished by being muted after he asks God for a confirming sign. However, in Judges 6, Gideon asks for and receives 3 confirming signs from God without negative consequences. Furthermore, several biblical verses even seem to invite direct or indirect testing of God through use of the words "prove" or "try." Consider Malachi 3:10 " . . . and prove me now herewith, saith the LORD of Hosts . . ."; 1 John 4:1, " . . . but try the spirits . . ."; 1 Thessalonians 5:21, "Prove all things . . ."; and finally Romans 12:2, " . . . that ye may prove what [is] that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God." Thus, the message of the Bible does not seem absolutely clear with regard to testing God. Even if several reasons exist for criticizing remote, intercessory prayer studies in medicine, biblical admonition should probably not be among them.

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