Response to a Statistical Study of the Effect of Petitionary Prayer di Richard Swinburne
- Di cosa parliamo. [A large-scale statistical study purporting to show whether petitionary prayer for recovery from illness has any effect, the ‘Benson study’ was published in April 2006.
- Descrizione. groups.One patient group received intercessory prayer (for an uncomplicated recovery) after being informed that they may or may not receive prayer; one patient group did not receive prayer after being so informed; and one patient group received prayer after being informed that they would receive prayer. Individuals were prayed for by their first names only, and their identity was not known to those praying.
- Esito. Compications occurred to 52 per cent of the first patient group, to 51 per cent of the second group, and to 59 per cent of the third
- Teodicea. Although they are intrinsically bad states, pain and disability often serve good purposes for the sufferer and for others.My suffering provides me with the opportunity to show courage and patience.
- when we pray for another person, God knows far better than we do whether it will be best for that person and others affected by him,
- secular orientation of the prayer used by those praying in the Benson study 'for a successful surgery with a quick, healthy recovery and no complications'!
- Fallimenti evcellenti. After all, Christians believe that the salvation of the world was brought about partly by God's failure to answer the prayer of his Son in the Garden of Gethsemane,
- sometimes, perhaps often, it is equally good that what we should pray for should occur as it should not occur; and that God wants to interact with us by answering our requests, so long as we ask for a right reason.
- Il sentimento della preghiera. One right reason is that he prays for a particular sufferer out of love and compassion for that sufferer. In the Benson prayer study, the people praying were NOT praying out of love and compassion for the particular sufferer for whom they were praying- they did not even know who that sufferer was.
- They were praying in order to test a scientific hypothesis. Why should a good God pay any attention to these prayers?
- Analogia. Suppose that I am a rich man who sometimes gives sums of money to worthy causes. I receive many letters asking me to give such gifts. Some foundation wants to know if there is any point in people writing such letters to me - do they make any difference to whether I give money to this cause or that? I realise that on this occasion, unlike on other occasions, the letter writers have no deep concern for the causes for which they write. So of course on this occasion I pay no attention to the letters.