This podcast is about a topic, prayer, rather than a person so many people are interviewed.
How is this topic even important? It is pretty central to Christianity because it is directly connected with the difference between theism and Deism. We believe in a God that interacts with us and the universe rather than a God who simply set it in motion and then sits back and simply watches.
Two connections with science are made.
- Experiments testing the hypothesis that prayer has a physical effect.
- Looking at the neurological activity of people when they pray or have a religious experience.
What were the results?
- The experiments concluded that there were no effects in the double blind tests they used. But valid complaints were made that the double blind test meant that those who prayed had no connection to the people they prayed for and even less connection to the words of the prayer scripts they read.
- There were identifiable brain states that occurred during prayer. The frontal lobe decision making part of the brain was more active and the part of the brain aware of our location and environment was not active. In short, our attention was turned inward and shutting off distractions we become more actively involved in part of us which directs our life and gives it meaning.
It was mentioned that some of the people participating in the second type of study came to the conclusion that our religious experiences was just brain activity. These kind of comments make me laugh. It is like saying our books are just paper and people are just meat. And why do people say things like this? They are excuses to see no value in things. For sociopaths and psychopaths, “people are just meat” is a poor excuse to treat people like meat. Such comments about brain activity are likewise an poor excuse to treat the beliefs and experiences of others as nothing of value. Both are not only the height of arrogance and intolerance but they are a demonstrable example of willful ignorance – seeing no more than what you want to see.
To be sure, everyone is free to value what they choose, and so I would find no fault in people if they simply said they find no value in football, reality tv, rap music, religion, science, or whatever… Time is life and it is precious, so we MUST choose what we are going to do with it and nobody can or should make such choices for us. No excuses for our choices are needed. Though since I have included that example of sociopaths and psychopaths, I must add one additional consideration in a free society that our liberties must end at the same liberties of others. If you do not value others then you are free to live alone and minimize your interaction with them. You cannot be allowed the freedom to treat them like meat.
The only other thing I can say is that I resonated with the comment regarding why we pray, to say that Jesus did this and He did it a lot.