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Theodore A. Hoppe

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Is prayer a form of placebo or is there evidence of divine intervention in the answering of prayers?

It was recently suggested to me that I conduct an experiment on whether prayer "works." The suggestion was that I keep a journal , direct my prayers to Jesus, and keep track of whether my prayers get answered. This is hardly qualities as an experiment in a scientific sense, but it does raise interesting questions.
My question, which prompted the suggestion, was "Which god would one pray to since every religion has (or has had) a god(s)." Clearly, people pray to all gods, and they might even claim their prayers get answered.
Considering this question further seems to indicate that there must be a mental aspect to prayer, irrespective of religions.

Therefore, this is not a debate about religion, rather it is a discuss about the brain and the mind, and whether a placebo effect is a part of praying.
Why does prayer "seem" to work?
Hopefully, this debate can explore praying in a scientific way.

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    Jan 15 2013: "there must be a mental aspect to prayer, irrespective of religions."
    "Why does prayer seem to work?"

    What you were asking for in the prayer determines what the answer will be..

    A Placebo is a psychological or theraputic change, so I don't believe that placebo is the right word in regards to prayer *unless* your prayers are directly related to changes of that nature and nothing else beyond it.
    Either way..

    From an evidential standpoint prayer doesn't work and has been known to be the case.
    http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2006/04/060403133554.htm
    This is also the case for any physical test that could be conducted to verify/refute the claim.
    Quite simply, prayer from an evidential standpoint has as much effect as not performing a prayer
    and the idea that it can influence external physical life is the result of faulty reasoning, hence why any religion can pray to anyone in any way and have a popluation that claims the prayers were answered.

    From a psychological standpoint,
    You could question how any kind of placebo works or why meditation seems to work, since its largely the same logic.
    Psychological changes that take place when performing a certain action that can extend into physical internal improvements in certain circumstances... I assume thats ultimately what the prayers in question are in relation to.

    Its speculated that the brain simply has more control of healing mechanisms than we're aware of or that the act of prayer/meditation dissipates the immediate thoughts of the issues that are causing negative emotions, which may explain it, but theres no peer reviewed paper that im aware of.

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