Score one for godless science. In the largest study of its kind, Harvard researchers tested whether prayer would affect the recovery time of patients getting heart bypass surgery. They had three Christian groups pray for "a successful surgery with a quick, healthy recovery" for specific patients. Then they waited 30 days.
Prayer, they determined, had no effect on healing. Even worse, those who were told that they were being prayed for had a slightly higher rate of complications.
I was talking with Barbara Bradley Hagerty, NPR's religion correspondent, and she says the study raises bigger theological questions than scientific ones. How would one know if God's will was to help these people get better? How can an all-powerful creator — if you believe in him — be tested in a double-blind study?
And I would add, what's up with only using Christians?
Hagerty, by the way, is writing a book about the intersection of science and faith and how science is trying to study spiritual experiences. But she says, "Don't expect any answers."