This blog is maintained on behalf of the Amy Foundation for the purpose of tracking the best Christian journalism we find on the Web. Our posts regularly identify those news articles or opinions in the mainstream media that represent good faith-based writing and example them for other Christian journalists.

Friday, April 07, 2006

A Great Topic (but no scripture!)

A recent study released by researchers at the Mind/Body Medical Institute near Boston made big news this week. As the New York Times reported, “Prayers offered by strangers had no effect on the recovery of people who were undergoing heart surgery, a large and long-awaited study has found.”

This serve as an excellent opportunity to discuss Christianity and personal faith in mainstream media, and writer Jeffrey Weiss for the Dallas Morning News took advantage. On Thursday, April 6, 2006, he wrote the following opinion, titled “More proof that science, religion don't mix”:
Serious efforts to combine science and religion all too often produce train wrecks. I offer two recent examples.

One came across right after I finished last week's Peek: The ballyhooed study on intercessionary prayer for people who had heart bypass surgery. A generic prayer was offered for one group and not another. Some people were told they’d be prayed for, others were told they might or might not.

Not only did the prayers not seem to have any benefit. But those who were told they would be prayed for had greater medical complications than those who were not. Not only, therefore, did the study not "prove" what some folks
hoped – that prayer heals – but it indicates that something about prayer may actually hinder healing. …
Read more >>>
Jeffrey went on to explain how science and religion often end in a “null hypothesis” with science unable to prove the validity of spiritual tenets. I appreciate his insight and applaud his writing.

Unfortunately, Jeffrey’s piece would not qualify for the Amy Writing Awards, if it was published in newsprint, because it did not include identifiable scripture. There was plenty of opportunity. Jeffrey derived several of his arguments from the book of Matthew. He even sited it as a reference, but the quotes he used were not scripture.

It is not hard to find an appropriate passage. For example, I talked with a psychometrician friend who thoughtfully responded to taking a scientific approach to an expressly theological issue. Instead of dithering on the quantitative particulars, which he is qualified to do, he questioned the validity of performing such tests of God’s supernatural ability. “Can we measure God’s performance,” he wonders. “Didn’t Jesus warn us, ‘Do not put your God to the test’” (Matthew 4:7).

Good job, Jeffrey. Keep up the good work! We look forward to reading one of your columns as a 2006 Amy Writing Award entry later this year.

Submitted by
Bruce Umpstead


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