I don’t know, but if Satanists pray and the study is designed to measure the effects of prayer then the experiment ought to take that into account. Otherwise the experiment is suspect for allowing multiple variables and/or using an invalid control group. Dr. McKenszie is correct that an absolutely perfect control group is not required, but in this case it’s hard to even have a baseline to know to what degree the experiment was contaminated.
You just can’t forbid prayer for a particular group of sick people. Some little second grader in Oklahoma is going to blurt out that he wants God to heal all the sick people, and there goes the control group.
And there goes the whole point to attempting to study phenomena that provide us with no physical signs of their existence! The I.D. proponents do not bother to develop a theory of how supernatural forces work in our world, and remain undetected, and neither does a prayer study that is hoping for similar gaps in natural explanations (It’s a Miracle!). I read somewhere recently that Templeton is now funding a study of OOBE’s by placing pictures near the ceiling of hospital recovery rooms, and asking the patients who describe floating out of the body to identify the pictures. If the study isn’t a fraud, there will be no tangible results, just like the prayer study!
But if you want to know what really frustrates skeptics and naturalists, it’s the fact that the people attempting to prove all sorts of pseudoscience are totally uninterested in developing a theory of how a supernatural phenomena functions and interacts with our world…..all we get is some babbling about quantum consciousness and alternate dimensions! The last person to try to develop a scientific theory of mind/body dualism was Rene Descartes…..and that was a long, long time ago!
Even by offering this explanation for possible reasons why prayer might fail, do you realize that you are promoting a dualist version of Christianity, where the followers of Satan have equal mojo to the Christians?
Yeah. I thought that would make the comment extra funny in this forum. It’s not like skeptics believe in God more than in Satan, is it? If the study is not about prayer per se but instead about Christian prayer then it helps illustrate my point about the different theologies connected to prayer.
From my experience, it’s the pentacostals who believe Satan is equal to, or more powerful than God, since he is omnipresent—he’s always lurking 24/7, just looking for an opportunity to lure them into sin, if he’s not omnipotent, he’s pretty damn close to God, considering all of the bad things that evangelicals ascribe to Satan’s power—so, you’re concerns about Satan interfering with the prayers of Christians aren’t that far out of line, since modern evangelicals are also preaching a dualistic religion.
The harm caused by fools who believe in an all-powerful Satan is found in the persecution and murders of witches that are occuring all across the continent of Africa now. This is a modern day reliving of the persecutions that went on across Europe during the dark ages, when the Christian Church was stamping out local religious practices and terra-forming Europe to replace the indigenous cultures with JudeoChristian patriarchy.
Perhaps you’ll be disappointed that I don’t deal more extensively with your complaint about prayer above, but I don’t perceive that as the point of the thread (“scientific realism”). Rest assured that theologians of all stripes have wrestled with the issue and have come up with a number of theological hypotheses.
Theologians are in the business of coming up with complicated, convoluted excuses for the Problem of Evil in the world, and why it doesn’t fit their conception of God. It may satisfy the believers looking for a little reassurance, but there is too wide a gap between their omnimax god and the state we find the world in, which is better explained by the absence of supernatural, controlling forces.
Scientific realism is a general philosophical principle that we are capable of understanding the world we live in if we apply controlled, scientific testing of theories and claims. Maybe there are some things in this world that are out of our ability to comprehend, but imaginary concepts will never be studied in any real scientific study.