TED Conversations

Theodore A. Hoppe


This conversation is closed.

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.


Showing single comment thread. View the full conversation.

  • thumb
    Jan 21 2013: I think that the question is scientifically unanswerable, given that there's no way, to date, to measure divine intervention, if it should exist.

    The best thing I suppose that can be done is to compare different beliefs and see which one has the better results compared to others or if are they all the same. Maybe if they are all the same, one can come to the conclusion that it is placebo indeed, giving that the 'wrong god' wouldn't be able to answer prayers.

    But in the end, it can always be thought as placebo variations amongst beliefs.

    Sorry to arrive so late in the debate...

Showing single comment thread. View the full conversation.