Psychologist Albert Ellis, President of the Institute for Rational Emotive Therapy, is not impressed with “scientific evidence for prayer.” He believes that “patients who get better after praying do so because faith bolsters their immune system, not because a personal God actually intervenes. Echoing Sigmund Freud, Ellis has quipped that religion is ‘equivalent to irrational thinking and emotional disturbance.’”
Ellis cannot be disputed in those cases which can be explained by the placebo effect. Not all healings, however, fall into that category. There are instantaneous organic healings that could not possibly result from the power of suggestion.
Furthermore, we have controlled experiments where neither the researchers nor the subjects knew which group was the object of prayer. Thus no placebo effect could be involved. One recent study conducted by psychiatrist Elisabeth Targ, clinical director of psychosocial oncology research at California Pacific Medical Center in San Francisco, involved “20 severely ill AIDS patients randomly selected….” Half were “prayed for” by “20 faith healers….” No one knew who was being prayed for, yet the results were encouraging enough “to warrant a larger, follow-up study with 100 AIDS patients.”
Typical of the “healers” used in the study was the Eetla Soracco, who “draws on Christian, Buddhist, and Native American traditions.” Obviously, what she calls “Christian” is not biblical or she would find it to be in serious conflict with “Buddhist and Native American traditions.” With such a mixture of beliefs on the paer of the “faith healers” involved, any resultant benefits could not be attributed to any particular “god” or religion.
Clearly the results could not be attributed to the patients’ “faith.” Nor could the results have come from a power projected by those who prayed, since they knew neither the identity (other than names) nor location of those for whom they prayed. There had to be intelligent direction, and from a nonhuman source.
Harvard Medical School professor Joan Borysenko says: “We’re already whole. Our own core self, our higher nature…has always been complete and always will be. What we need to do is use our struggles as a pathway back to that most important part of ourselves….” Borysenko’s explanation doesn’t ring true. Why must we struggle to get back to what we already are? And why were only those patients selected for prayer involved in such a struggle?