The Power of Prayer

Can positive thoughts, such as prayer, heal? This question has been a controversy, splitting people into two camps, the ones who say it's foolish because science can't prove it vs the ones who say it's a matter of faith.

This story on NPR points to some science that seems to be saying "Yes, it can."

Gail Ironson, a professor at the University of Miami, an AIDS researcher, "measured viral load, which tells how much of the virus is present in a person's body, and immune cells called CD-4 cells, which help fight off the AIDS virus. Ironson says over time, those who turned to God after their diagnosis had a much lower viral load and maintained those powerful immune cells at a much higher rate than those who turned away from God."

Apparently, an increase in spirituality can have a measurable beneficial effect.

Next we have a new question: Can positive thoughts, such as prayer, heal another person? Just as before, this controversial question splits us into two camps, the doubtful scientists and the faith-filled believers.

The NPR story offers the tantalizing story of the Love Study, a scientific experiment done with couples to see if the positive thoughts of one person, say the husband, can have a measurable effect at a distance on the wife.

Apparently, they can. The scientists, however, are at a loss as to how to explain it.

I'll offer one. In my recent posting on Embodied Cognition, I mentioned the idea that the human mind may be a field that encompasses the entire body (not just the brain) and extends out from the body.

Just as we can extend our hand to touch another person, can we extend our mind-field to touch the mind-field of another?

Posted by Terrence Seamon, May 23, 2009

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