Why Use Medicine If Prayer Works?

On the controversial post “Nurse Suspended for Prayer Offer,” boomSLANG posted a comment that I thought was very perceptive:

Nurse: “Would you like me to say a prayer for you?”
Me: “Feel free. Now I’d like to ask you a question… why did you go through all the necessary medical training if you believe that prayer can heal people?”

As I’ve said before, even believers don’t believe that prayer works. When religious people get sick, they don’t usually go to a faith healer. They go to a doctor.

If prayer worked, a nurse would be in the prayer business instead of the nursing business.

  • C

    If the pope get a shot, the believers will just sit down and pray or they would want the best phd doctor avaliable to save him?

  • Cafedave

    Is it that simple, though? Prayer has an emotional benefit for the person hearing the prayer: that kind of benefit would go beyond the effects of medicine.

  • Matt

    @cafedave

    So you are saying that its not actually the prayer that works (i.e. God intervening), but that hearing nice words makes someone feel warm and fuzzy and therefore heal faster?

  • Jabster

    @Matt

    I would see no reason that prayer could not be just as effective as doctors being given more time to actually spend with a patient, friends and family showing an interest etc. The only problem I have with prayer is if it’s used instead of proven medical treatments.

  • Matt

    @Jabster:

    I understand your position and agree that someone taking an interest in you feels good and may make a person more comfortable, optimistic, and positive in their outcome.

    But I would argue that this is not because the prayer is causing god to intervene, it is instead because someone is taking time for you. Thats the distinction I am making.

    When religious individuals hear “prayer is effective” the concusion that is reached is: it is because god had something to do with it.

  • Elemenope

    As I’ve said before, even believers don’t believe that prayer works.

    Many believers believe that prayer is a necessary, but not sufficient condition for healing. As far as I know the only major sect that approaches believing it is sufficient condition are the Christian Scientists. And even they leave room for the providence of God, even if they don’t leave room for modern medicine.

    So you’re caricaturing quite a bit here. In the sense that you mean “works”, most Christians would readily argue that the Bible indicates it doesn’t work, and that there are other things at play. See, for example, the Book of Job, as the paradigmatic lesson that faithfulness and prayer are not sufficient conditions for earthly happiness.

  • Somegreencat

    We have all probably heard of the times that praying instead of going to doctors has failed. It would probably be helpful if more people would pray then go to the doctor since that would give the doctor more time for us that don’t expect any help from invisible friends. Right now I have a great uncle that is dying and wonder how many think that by praying they are helping to keep him alive, even though he is in a coma and not expected to come out of it. Myself I would be more inclined to pray that he would find peace since he has lived a good life and what more can you ask for.

  • mikespeir

    I’m an atheist, but I have a part-time job cleaning a local Assemblies of God church. Every week they publish a printed list of prayer requests. This is a single sheet of paper covered, front and back, with “needs.” There are probably always a couple of hundred items.

    There’s a small space on the back called “Weekly Praise List.” It purports to report answered prayers. Usually, the space is blank. Sometimes there are one or two items. One unusual week there were four. They never report anything extraordinary. (“Sister Jones was released from the hospital; “Brother Smith’s Army son got assigned to Alaska instead of Iraq;” stuff like that.)

    What boggles my mind is how the congregants can look at this list week in and week out without it ever once occurring to them that, “That light pole across the parking lot can say yes, no, or wait with the best god ever dreamed up.”

  • anon

    I think most people believe that prayer helps in whatever way is lacking from our earthly attempts to heal. Ie. It fills in the voids and compliments rather than be the only response.

    I think most people think both effort and prayer is needed for healing to occur. Most people also don’t think critically about statistical analysis though… oh well. If it makes them happy, why knock it?

  • http://thebeattitude.com theBEattitude

    Placebos work. Prayer or sugar pills, take your pick.

  • http://strawdog.wordpress.com/ strawdog

    Good question!

  • boomSLANG

    Mikespeir: “There’s a small space on the back called ‘Weekly Praise List.’ It purports to report answered prayers. Usually, the space is blank. Sometimes there are one or two items. One unusual week there were four. They never report anything extraordinary.”

    Regarding “answered prayers”—-many Christians will assert that the success rate for “answered prayers” is 100%, in that, the “answer” is sometimes simply a “no”(how convenient).

    Furthermore, the concept of “distant healing” raises other questions, as well. For instance, if we’re talking the Christian biblegod, then this being presumably already knows your needs/desires/”wish-list”, etc., per its “omniscience”/”omnipresence”. Thus, what reason would this being have for making you “ask” before taking action? The absurdity is compounded when we look at the notion that “God” already knows, a priori, what “answer” you’ll get, anyway. Remember, if said being knows the future set of events, then it has limits on whether or not it can even employ its supposed “mercy” or “kindness”, etc., because its *own* decisons are pre-determined.

    With the exception of a placebo effect, it is simply unreasonable to hold that “prayer” has any use outside the mind.

    Anon: “If it makes them happy, why knock it?”

    Again, many people have spent(wasted) huge portions of their lives believing that they could “bargain” with “God”; that this being was actually hearing them when they’d resort to the ritual known as “prayer”. Many times(if not most), the deconverted harbor anger which is directed inward, this, for all the years of allowing themselves to be so gullible. Thus, when/if a well-meaning person comes along and offers to say a “prayer”, it is basically like ripping off a scab. To a nonbeliever, superstition is superstition. To a believer, superstition is the “other guy’s” religion.

    In other words, the Christian must compartmentalize.

    Imagine—-how about if a hospital employee asked a patient(who happened to be Christian) if they could swap-out their gold chain and cross for a necklace with a lucky horseshoe on it instead?… or better, how about if they asked the patient if they could say a “prayer” to the Almighty Allah? I’ll wager that the patient would “knock” those ideas, despite it makes the one offering, “happy” to do so.

  • dr.R.

    Of course, if you think about it, praying to an omniscient / omnipresent god does not make any sense. I think people do it because it gives them a suggestion of control in what would otherwise be an overwhelming situation. Will your son be sent to Irak or Alaska? The decision is not in your hands, but by praying maybe some people get the idea (maybe I should say the illusion) that they can influence the outcome.

    Prayer, in other words, is superstition.

    Nurse: “Would you like me to say a prayer for you?”
    Me: “Would you like me to explain to you why that is a waste of time?”

  • Elemenope

    Of course, if you think about it, praying to an omniscient / omnipresent god does not make any sense.

    It only doesn’t make sense if you make a gigantic assumption about the nature of thought. Namely, in order for prayer to an omniscient God to be incoherent, you have to endorse a Mental Realist perspective; simply, that thoughts exist and thus coherent knowledge statements can be made about them.

    A mental elimitavist, a fictionalist, or a contructivist could easily argue that mental objects per se do not exist, and our conception of mind is merely a useful fictional account that explains physical behavior (like actions, utterances, etc.). Under such a view, an omnipresent God could no more know what is in a person’s mind than he could know what a ‘square circle’ would look like. In this case, the physical act of verbal prayer is what creates the physical object that God can then take awareness of and act upon.

  • http://stuffgodhates.com/ God

    Because I decide whether or not the medicine ‘takes.’ No one gets healed without My Say-So.

  • boomSLANG

    “….in order for prayer to an omniscient God to be incoherent, you have to endorse a Mental Realist perspective; simply, that thoughts exist and thus coherent knowledge statements can be made about them.”

    Okay, sure, we can always hypothesize “solipsim” or that our “thoughts” might not even exist. Fair enough. It seems to me, however, that revealed “Truths” such as “the Bible”, were more than likely(if not certainly) written under the pretense that man’s “thoughts exist”. That said, it is precisely the language found therein; it is precisely the definitions that the Christian seeks to qualify as “Truth”, that contradict. If “thought” and “logic” exist – and if the definitions that the Christian assign to their deity stand…i.e.. a being who knows the future set of events, Absolutely – then “praying” to said deity is nonsensical. Again, unreasonable “faith”.

  • Elemenope

    Okay, sure, we can always hypothesize “solipsism” or that our “thoughts” might not even exist.

    One has nothing to do with the other, and so I’m not sure what the point of this juxtaposition is.

    It seems to me, however, that revealed “Truths” such as “the Bible”, were more than likely(if not certainly) written under the pretense that man’s “thoughts exist”.

    Truths can be revealed only in the form that the receiver can understand them. Otherwise, they are not revealed, almost by definition. We possess many analytical tools that the ancient Hebrews did not possess, and so their way of writing down or describing their experiences of deity may be defective only because their language or philosophical development did not include certain concepts. You can work only with the tools you have, after all.

    …and if the definitions that the Christian assign to their deity stand…i.e.. a being who knows the future set of events, Absolutely…

    As I pointed out the other day, many Christians believe that God only knows subjunctive futures (the set of all possible futures) and perhaps even the probability that any given one will be realized. That view is perfectly coherent with intercessory prayer.

    What a great number of you are missing is that omniscience is perfectly coherent with free-will and intercessory request so long as you posit a *willful* deity, i.e. one who makes choices (which the Christians most certainly believe). In such a case, a deity may choose to restrain His own power, say, to allow free will of other beings to exist, in which case His power to alter events can be set to be contingent upon human acts or events. For example, He could choose to make his manifest power contingent upon a certain class of act (like prayer) or a certain class of actor (like the faithful). Just because you have power doesn’t imply you must use said power.

  • http://knowitall.wordpress.com/ gmcfly

    Grief is something we tend to forget or push aside, but if you or someone you know has been diagnosed with a terminal illness, or has experienced serious loss of function, you know that the emotional aspect has major effects on your quality of life. And offering emotional support either through talking or giving encouragement, or expressing your concern via prayer, is reasonable and commendable. It doesn’t take the place of evidence-based treatment, but neither does treatment take the place of emotional support. And both are part of treatment of the whole patient.

    And to the patient in the hypothetical interaction above, you may think you hit one out of the park, but people in healthcare see snarky, irritable, and demanding patients every day. And it’s not gonna buy you more than a couple of eyerolls back at the nurse’s station.

  • http://None Clyde

    [Paraphrase]
    To pray is to ask that the laws of nature be annulled on behalf of a single petitioner who, by his or her own admission, is unworthy. [Author unknown]

  • krucz36

    I’d say that evolution has effectively selected for people who choose medicine over exclusively using faith healing.

  • boomSLANG

    Me: “Okay, sure, we can always hypothesize ‘solipsism’ or that our ‘thoughts’ might not even exist.”

    Elemenope responds…”One has nothing to do with the other…”

    I didn’t say that one has something to do with other.

    Continues…”…and so I’m not sure what the point of this juxtaposition is.”

    If I implied they were related, is was unintentional.

    Nonetheless, similar to how we can hypothesize that “thoughts” don’t exist, I could hypothesize that a race of purple spacemen created us yesterday, and planted the illusion of the distant past in our brains, and it could not be disproven, in an Absolute sense. After all, anything is “possible” with “faith”. In any event, I hope for sake of argument that we can argree that “thoughts exist”, otherwise, these exchanges would be pretty pointless, IMO.

    Elemenope: “Truths can be revealed only in the form that the receiver can understand them. Otherwise, they are not revealed, almost by definition.”

    Agreed; ‘seems self-evident. And that’s another discussion in itself. My point, however, was that (intended) revealed “Truths” – whether successfully “revealed”, or not – were written under the pretense that “thought exists”. Simply that.

    Elemenope: “As I pointed out the other day, many Christians believe that God only knows subjunctive futures (the set of all possible futures) and perhaps even the probability that any given one will be realized. That view is perfectly coherent with intercessory prayer.”

    So, there are some Christians who believe that their biblegod only knows all the possible outcomes, and perhaps only the “probability” that one of them will be realized. I find that idea interesting; I’ve never met a “Christian” like that.

    Notwithstanding, “many” *other* “Christians”(most of the ones I encounter) believe that biblegod knows the future set of events, Absolutely, and subsequent to this “knowledge”, they believe their biblegod can make “predictions” based on that ability. It is the latter group whose definitions/attributes of their “God”, contradict. In their case, biblegod cannot *know* its future choices, Absolutely, unless free agency is limited. If it changes its “mind” sometime between now and the “known” future, then it obviously didn’t know what its Ultimate choice would be to begin with. Such “thoughts” contradict–assuming “thought” exists, of course.

    Elemenope: “What a great number of you are missing is that omniscience is perfectly coherent with free-will and intercessory request so long as you posit a *willful* deity, i.e. one who makes choices (which the Christians most certainly believe).”

    Perhaps there’s an angle I’m overlooking—but for now, I disagree. I would argue that it is precisely a “willful” deity that makes “omniscience” impossible(provided that “omniscience” is defined as Absolute knowledge of the future, including, knowing every single choice it “will” make, in advance)

    Elemenope: “a deity may choose to restrain His own power, say, to allow free will of other beings to exist, in which case His power to alter events can be set to be contingent upon human acts or events.”

    In order to be a personal, “willful” being who can make decisions, etc., you have to be able to comtemplate/weigh-out the available senarios as they occur. If you know the future, including your Ultimate choices, a priori, and Absolutely, then you forfeit that ability. After all, “God” cannot “change” what it already *knows* it will/will not do.

    If said being knows it will “restrain” its “power” on March 4th 2068, then that future event is unchangable. It cannot decide differently between now and then, or it never knew the future to begin with.

  • dr.R.

    I happen to like realist perspectives.

    In such a case, a deity may choose to restrain His own power, say, to allow free will of other beings to exist, in which case His power to alter events can be set to be contingent upon human acts or events. For example, He could choose to make his manifest power contingent upon a certain class of act (like prayer) or a certain class of actor (like the faithful). Just because you have power doesn’t imply you must use said power.

    … Auschwitz …

  • Elemenope

    Darn HTML tags.

  • Elemenope

    Nonetheless, similar to how we can hypothesize that “thoughts” don’t exist, I could hypothesize that a race of purple spacemen created us yesterday, and planted the illusion of the distant past in our brains, and it could not be disproven, in an Absolute sense.

    The two aren’t even close to comparable. Fictionalism is a way describing thoughts that avoids the problematic notion that these objects we posit (“thoughts”) are like physical objects that can be manipulated in similar ways, when in fact we have no evidence whatsoever that mental objects, if they exist, have propositional form, obey logical rules, or can even take predicates and values. Only when they come close to output (forming a proposition) do we have some reason to reify them, and even then only contingently.

    People who tend to think of the mind as a physical phenomenon are particularly fond of fictionalist representations of thought, since there doesn’t seem to be anywhere for “thought objects” to live and take predicates in a universe of mere matter.

    It’s a well thought-out proposition, and comparing it to a hypothesis that “a race of purple spacemen created us yesterday” is sort of a bad joke.

    Notwithstanding, “many” *other* “Christians”(most of the ones I encounter) believe that biblegod knows the future set of events, Absolutely, and subsequent to this “knowledge”, they believe their biblegod can make “predictions” based on that ability.

    Which leads to the obvious though buried proposition that people who have belief structures often suck at making them consistent. People, by-and-large, do not think too hard about what they believe, or consume other people’s thoughts on the topic. This goes back to the pluses and minuses of having a priestly/scholarly class in the first place. On the one hand, having a group of people whose job it is to do your thinking for you on certain topics makes holding a belief less costly. On the other hand, skipping through the thinking process right to the conclusion deprives people of functional understanding, and so invite error.

    Judging “Christianity” as a coherent system on the basis of the average Christian’s beliefs and arguments is strawman-tastic.

    If said being knows it will “restrain” its “power” on March 4th 2068, then that future event is unchangeable. It cannot decide differently between now and then, or it never knew the future to begin with.

    If God is omnipotent, couldn’t he have the power to create a superpositional universe? “I ordain that, At time X at position Y, A or B or C shall occur”. God could take a subjunctive space and use his power to reduce the number of residents without reducing it to simply *one* resident (which makes it no longer subjunctive).

    Your counterargument assumes that God’s decision occurs in a temporal space. And even if it does, if God is capable of hypercomputation, then He is not restricted from holding mutually contradictory propositions at any given moment, so long as the contradiction is resolved before the next moment realizes.

    Also, omnipotence implies the ability to restrict omniscience. A deity could prevent the consequences of not knowing any given temporal event from being pathologically destructive to the notion of omniscience by voluntarily restricting Himself to finite subjunctive knowledge. In other words, His ability to know other events that are contingent on the event in question, he need only know the subjunctive possibilities of how the event will resolve. Such knowledge would allow him to exclude impossibility “I know what won’t happen at place X at time Y”, but not know certainty outside the finite subjunctive set that He Himself has restricted Himself to.

    … Auschwitz …

    Funny you should mention. There is sizable bunch of Judaic and Christian theological thought surrounding the consequences of catastrophe that were spurred by the experience of the Shoah. The most prominent among them is the “Death of God” movement, which argues that the experience of the Shoah definitively forecloses the possibility that God is any longer an active participant in the world.

  • boomSLANG

    Elemenope: “It’s a well thought-out proposition, and comparing it to a hypothesis that ‘a race of purple spacemen created us yesterday’ is sort of a bad joke.”

    You know, people hold all sorts of beliefs, that personally, I too, feel pass a “bad joke”—from invisible, conscious beings who create people out of dust, to talking snakes, to Truth-containing tablets buried in a hill, to Thetans, to 99 virgins in Paradise, to chasing Jesus in the wake of a comet….and on, and on, and on—all of which can be held(and *are* held) on “faith”. Honestly, if the belief that “Allah” wants all non-Muslims dead, and if you help see this through you will get 99 virgins in paradise, could be disproven, I think it would be disproven by now. And personally, I don’t find the notion any less silly/more reasonable than my “purple spacemen” analogy.

    ______________________________________

    I appreciate the time you put into hypothesizing a “superpositional universe”, etc. What I’ve come up with, is this: If the “God” you are hypothesizing cannot get its own Will met without limiting, or “restricting”, its own powers(even temporarily), then this is still a philosophical conundrum, IMO. I simply do not believe that the “God” that you’ve gone to great lengths to defend is the deity that the Christian philosophy, nor its redactors, had in mind. I do not believe in any such “God”, and at this point, I guess we will just have to agree to disagree.

  • http://rationalchristian.wordpress.com Andrew C

    My view would be that “prayer” has no special powers. Prayer doesn’t cause miraculous hearing. Prayer is simply talking to God, who then has the option of acting or not acting.

    I am of the opinion that with or without prayer, God will do what God is going to do. The purpose of prayer is not so God knows what we want – He already knows that. Instead, it is like talking about your problem to a friend. Your friend may not help you with the problem, but just talking about it can be good for you.

    Humans have minds and medicine. Failing to take advantage of them, whether God exists or not, is a dumb decision. while I believe God is capable of miracles, depending on a miracle in any given situation is a poor decision.

  • Jabster

    @Andrew C

    “while I believe God is capable of miracles, depending on a miracle in any given situation is a poor decision.”

    So to your mind how does god decide when to perform a miracle and when to let things carry on as there are — I’m taking it as read that you presume ‘nature’ carries on as it is unless god intervenes. Oh and this isn’t a ‘gotcha’ question; as a life long non-believer I find to interesting to hear believers thoughts on their own religion and how they reconcile what I believe are internal contradictions.

  • zachattackgo

    I once watched a video about how praying to god is the same as praying to a gallon of milk.

    He answers in “Yes, no, or maybe.”
    Therefore, the predicament is that if it DOES happen, you say god did it. If it DOESN’T, you say “It wasn’t important enough” or “He has his reasons.”
    The video maker showed the SAME logic could be applied for a gallon of milk, replying in YES, NO, or MAYBE.
    I wish I could find that vid.

  • Keviefriend

    Daniel,
    In reading this, especially the passage where it points out that even these wackjobs KNOW that prayer doesn’t work, it reminded me of a post from last week:

    The moral is, of course, that even Christians know that prayer doesn’t work against reality. So stop praying and cover your garden.”

    It’s too bad that in order to get these people to realize that they’re wasting time (and therefore life) with religion, we have to be so repetitive. However, I enjoy the stories, and often wonder what I’d bitch about if there were no more religious nuts, bad employers, republicans or bad drivers (or all of the above all in the same person!). Perhaps I’d be reduced to reading “Readers Digest” and “Highlights for Children” and listening to music instead of left wing talk on the car radio again (which would delight my passengers!).

  • http://whyareyousofat.wordpress.com McBloggenstein
  • cello

    @ elemenope,

    Judging “Christianity” as a coherent system on the basis of the average Christian’s beliefs and arguments is strawman-tastic.

    I strongly disagree with this and think this is your bias at work, after all, the scholarly are the people you read and deal with daily. Not so much with the rest of us. (And I might say I think this represents an elistist attitude….which I have been around this bend before with others who argue elitism is a good thing – but I’d disaree on that too.)

    If only the scholarly classes voted, I might agree. But in practical terms, we have to deal with what the average Christian beliefs. To *not* consider what the average person believes would be IMHO negligent and, as I already mentioned, elitist.

  • Elemenope

    If only the scholarly classes voted, I might agree. But in practical terms, we have to deal with what the average Christian beliefs. To *not* consider what the average person believes would be IMHO negligent and, as I already mentioned, elitist.

    I see your point. For most practical purposes (e.g. how the average Christian behaves, socially, politically, etc.), I agree completely.

    But the argument was about whether the Christian God itself can be a coherent concept. That ends in actual argumentation to which the average Christian’s beliefs (because they are ill-equipped) are distractions at best. Coherence is, to say the least, a technical concept, and one with which most believers are unconcerned.

  • http://mt_space.blogspot.com moppo

    For over 30 years I practiced “spiritual healing” and never could make a living from it. And I never knew anybody else who got rich off that kind of practice. The little money I did make was from faithful church people who believed they should support the practice, or from people too timid to complain they weren’t healed, or from people who simply wanted a dial-a-friend. (Yes, there are a lot of lonely, hurting people who just want someone to say nice, positive things and express some love to them.)

    But aside from the theological issues, a strong reason I stopped that kind of quackery is that there’s no money to be made in it because spiritual healing simply does not work. If it did, it would be the hottest industry in the world. There would be millionaire spiritual healers. IPOs would spring up like mushrooms over every latest wrinkle in prayer technique or practice. Apologists for spiritual healing explain the vacuum by citing the evil materialism of opponents, even while they often admit that medical practitioners are sincere and humanitarian. In other words, most people who rely on or practice medicine just aren’t spiritual enough.

    And yet, in spite of – or even because of – their greed, there would be a spiritual healing industry larger than modern medicine. Sheer pecuniary interest would make converts of atheists and those billions of vulgar materialists – just as they now invest in the oil and defense industries, that while they do so much damage still have huge markets for their products.

    But there’s no such investment opportunity. Spiritual healers are pretty much loners, cultivating groups of followers who have more faith in them as shamans than in the spiritual “science” they purport to practice. And I’m not talking about the flashy televangelists who mesmerize millions with their obviously tricked up displays of faith healing. I’m talking about “professional” solo entrepreneurs, like I used to be. And even ordinary folk who offer to pray for sick people, such as the nurse in this article.

  • Pingback: @Randem » Blog Archive » Make the Voices Stop

  • http://www.thinkatheist.com/profile/Johnny Johnny

    I think you’re right on that most believers will not risk their life believing prayer alone will work. Or even risk their garden as you illustrated in the recent article about your mother.

    The true shame is that there are still those who risk their life and health waiting for prayers to be answered. And even more sickening is that people risk their children’s lives because of their beliefs.

    http://www.time.com/time/nation/article/0,8599,1877352,00.html

    http://www.the1585.com/oneamonth.htm

  • http://knowitall.wordpress.com/ gmcfly

    I think we’re so caught up in this false straw man of “wicked nurse who prays INSTEAD of giving health care.”

    But care is multifaceted. Diseases bring on emotional pain in addition to physical pain. Ideally you want to treat all of the patient’s suffering, to be an empathetic care provider.

    Nowadays providers who are sued or risk their jobs over expressions of caring, find that it’s just not worth it to care about their patients. Just get patients in and out.

    Prayer may not make logical sense, but neither do many things that people do when they are grieving and dealing with their impending death.

    Here we can all sit on our high horses and say, “Well that’s just a waste of time.” But that’s like talking to a chronic pain patient and saying, “Well, it’s irrational to give more Vicodin to an addict, so I’m cutting off your pain meds.”

    YOU try living with that pain, with nothing else to help you.

    Sorry for the rant, but I just want to make the point that laypeople sometimes don’t really understand all the pressures that nurses and physicians face. Just like a nurse would not really understand the pressures faced by a district attorney, or a middle-school teacher. So let’s all cut each other some slack.

  • Pingback: Matt Brammer » Blog Archive » How Much Credit Do We Give The Spirit?

  • Jabster

    @gmcfly

    “Prayer may not make logical sense, but neither do many things that people do when they are grieving and dealing with their impending death.”

    That wasn’t the problem that was raised … it’s when the attention is unsolicted that a problem arises. You may say is not logical to find it offensive to offer to pray for someone but some patients will – is that a professional approach to take? In the NHS there all already provisions made for religious view points and practice but the aim is to protect vulnerable people from having religious views ‘forced’ on them. If the nurse in question had been asked to join in prayer this is allowed – this is not what happened and to compound this she had been warned about her behaviour before in handing out prayer cards.

  • Pingback: “Prayer hotline… please hold.” – Rationality Now

  • http://luckyatheist.blogspot.com Michael Caton

    Coming a little late to the discussion here, but I’ve said elsewhere that for someone who thinks prayer actually works (even the comforting placebo effects discussed above), then you must think Western medical education is horribly irresponsible for not including prayer as part of the curriculum – health care providers are then leaving patients twisting in the wind by neglecting prayer. Same argument goes for insurance companies – why isn’t “amount of prayer” included in the risk factors that the adjusters use to determine your premium?

    In general, I find that when you pin beliefs on material outcomes, especially monetary ones, you can get more instructive responses. That’s when the moral rubber meets the road. Similarly, I’ve ended a lot of debates by offering a wager.


CLOSE | X

HIDE | X