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Healings Scientific Study


Brian 2.0

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This may be impossible to test, but it seems to me that it could (this is just a general outline)

Hypothesis: Receiving a Priesthood Blessing can increase your chances of surviving a medical ailment when compared to not receiving a blessing.

Experiment: Collect enough data of people who are sick with a specific disease with one data set who has received a priesthood blessing and another data set has not. See if there is any statistical difference between the group in regards to recovery/death rates.

If this experiment could be done, do you think there would be a higher recovery statistic to the data set that had a blessing?

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This may be impossible to test, but it seems to me that it could (this is just a general outline)

Hypothesis: Receiving a Priesthood Blessing can increase your chances of surviving a medical ailment when compared to not receiving a blessing.

Experiment: Collect enough data of people who are sick with a specific disease with one data set who has received a priesthood blessing and another data set has not. See if there is any statistical difference between the group in regards to recovery/death rates.

If this experiment could be done, do you think there would be a higher recovery statistic to the data set that had a blessing?

If the experiment was to be done, the receiver of the blessing should not be made aware that they are being "tested" in the experiment. For the receiver's blessing is based on "faith" and setting up an "experiment" to see if blessings are indeed miraculous only shows a lack of faith which possibly would negate the blessing.

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If the experiment was to be done, the receiver of the blessing should not be made aware that they are being "tested" in the experiment. For the receiver's blessing is based on "faith" and setting up an "experiment" to see if blessings are indeed miraculous only shows a lack of faith which possibly would negate the blessing.

I agree. The data would have to be gathered post medical event (asking either the surviving patient or someone close to the the deceased). The people should not know they are being tested.

At this point obviously it's just more of a thought experiment. But I would think that if you believed in the healing power of priesthood blessings that you would have to say that the data set who received blessings would have a higher recovery statistic than the data set that did not.

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If the experiment was to be done, the receiver of the blessing should not be made aware that they are being "tested" in the experiment. For the receiver's blessing is based on "faith" and setting up an "experiment" to see if blessings are indeed miraculous only shows a lack of faith which possibly would negate the blessing.

I think the giver of the blessing would have to be unaware of it as well, otherwise he is using his priesthood for a purpose it was not meant to be used for and thus would, imo, render his authority null and void.

If priesthood blessings are real, then having one side of the equation invalid would likely have some influence on the entire equation even if the Lord intervened solely on behalf of the faith of the receiver. And I think any priesthood holder who agreed to participate in the study to prove the effectiveness of priesthood blessings has some issues with pride at the very least even given he had no doubt in the blessings himself and that might affect the blessing as well.

Also simply the manner of the giver of the blessing could possibly have an effect of the receiver's faith in that blessing as the receiver could pick up on subtle clues that the blessing was not a 'typical' one.

If priesthood blessings are not real expressions of God's influence, then it is still possible that they have a placebo effect and my reservations above about the giver's manner influencing the receiver's reception would still stand.

So the only 'valid' way of setting up the study is to do it by comparing people involved with patients with similar stages of disease where one had received a blessing and another hadn't.....honestly I don't think one could get a close enough comparison without questioning the individuals involved about their personal level of faith and how they perceived that faith and its involvement in their lives as well as their personal expectations about priesthood blessings at the time of the blessing....which questioning would invalidate the blind aspect of the study as to be accurate it would have to take place close in time to the blessing and thus most likely prior to any significant healing plus any healing or lack of it might have an effect on the individuals' faith so later projections would be skewed, so one is in a catch-22 even if one assumes that God would be okay with the setup to test Him.

IIRC, there has been at least one study comparing the recovery rate of those who were prayed for and those who were not, but I am not sure how they could guarantee that someone somewhere was not praying for the individuals in the nonprayer group. If you are interested, I believe the results of that study was---if my memory serves me right----no difference, but if anyone is going to use that as evidence for anything be sure and look up the study yourselves because I could be 100% wrong.

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A big problem is the fact that no two people are ever ill in the same way. Two people with the same malady, who receive the exact same treatment, often react differently. One may get better while the other does not.

I prefer to look at the question philosophically, by asking why the request of a mortal would ever have the power to change the mind of an omniscient god, and convince him to cure a person he didn't previously intend to cure.

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I like the philosophical question and this it's worthy to discuss. But I disagree that the scientific question cannot be answered.

If the data set is big enough, personal variation and anomalies even out and you can analyze the data. You should be able to test it's effectiveness similar to how you could test the effectiveness of a medical drug.

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A big problem is the fact that no two people are ever ill in the same way. Two people with the same malady, who receive the exact same treatment, often react differently. One may get better while the other does not.

I prefer to look at the question philosophically, by asking why the request of a mortal would ever have the power to change the mind of an omniscient god, and convince him to cure a person he didn't previously intend to cure.

A Priesthood blessing (no matter how "righteous") will never over-ride the Will of our Omnipotent G-d.

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A big problem is the fact that no two people are ever ill in the same way. Two people with the same malady, who receive the exact same treatment, often react differently. One may get better while the other does not.

I prefer to look at the question philosophically, by asking why the request of a mortal would ever have the power to change the mind of an omniscient god, and convince him to cure a person he didn't previously intend to cure.

As far as the LDS understanding of the concept goes, that's not the right question to ask.

In LDS belief, prayer is not a request for God to change His will. It's an attempt to get the will of the person making the request in line with God's and to ask for blessings which God is already willing to give but which must be requested first.

So, perhaps the question could be, why does God desire us to ask for certain blessings before He is willing to give them. As i said though, as far as mormons are concerned, your question is moot because it doesn't accurately reflect the process of prayer, or requesting blessings.

:)

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I am a firm believer that God helps those who help themselves.

Modern medicine is a wonderful thing. Avail yourself of it, do not depend on the Lord for healing.

I fear the whole idea behind "Testing God" or "Tempting God" would turn out badly.

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This may be impossible to test, but it seems to me that it could (this is just a general outline)

Hypothesis: Receiving a Priesthood Blessing can increase your chances of surviving a medical ailment when compared to not receiving a blessing.

Experiment: Collect enough data of people who are sick with a specific disease with one data set who has received a priesthood blessing and another data set has not. See if there is any statistical difference between the group in regards to recovery/death rates.

If this experiment could be done, do you think there would be a higher recovery statistic to the data set that had a blessing?

The problem is that there are three kinds of people when it comes to Priesthood Blessings. Unless you can identify which category someone is in, it would be impossible to do a study.

The three kinds of people are:

1. People whom God isn’t going to heal. No matter how much praying or blessing you do, it’s their time, and God will take them or allow them to finish their lives with some sort of disease or discomfort.

2. People who are going to get better. Whether or not they get a prayer or a blessing, they’re going to get better. God doesn’t need any encouragement to save them.

3. People whom God might heal. Apparently, there are people who have some illness, malady, or discomfort (even life-threatening ones), and God will intervene only if certain people do certain things. It might be prayer (maybe, a whole bunch of people have to pray, or just a few), it might take fasting (again, a whole bunch or maybe just a few), it might take priesthood power (maybe a lot of faith and worthiness is needed on the part of the blessor and/or blessee, or maybe not so much), or it might take being on the prayer roll in a Temple.

Such a study would have to be huge, with many, many participants to make the data set as large as possible. Ideally, you would have several authentic priesthood holders performing one set of blessings, and non-priesthood holding actors performing another group of blessings.

But ultimately there are so many confounding factors and inconsistencies in LDS beliefs about such blessings that you would never be able to form a falsifiable theory to start with. For example, even if someone were given a blessing by a non-priesthood holding actor, it would be possible for their faith to "make them whole", even without the priesthood.

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A Priesthood blessing (no matter how "righteous") will never over-ride the Will of our Omnipotent G-d.

So what value is it? Just to make people feel as if they are doing something?

A truly omniscient, omnipotent deity will do what he/she/it already had planned, no matter what is requested and by whom.

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I like the philosophical question and this it's worthy to discuss. But I disagree that the scientific question cannot be answered.

If the data set is big enough, personal variation and anomalies even out and you can analyze the data. You should be able to test it's effectiveness similar to how you could test the effectiveness of a medical drug.

I highly doubt you could get a large enough data set to account for not only differences on the physical side, but differences on the faith side as well.

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Here's another question:

Since the placebo effect is undoubtedly real and most likely plays a part in the outcome of Priesthood blessings (in addition to the real effects of the Priesthood), should we try to take into account what the likely contribution of the placebo effect is when judging the value of Priesthood blessings?

For example, there are certain ailments that respond much better to a placebo effect than others. When judging the value of Priesthood blessings, should we take this into account? Do we already do this to some degree?

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I like the philosophical question and this it's worthy to discuss. But I disagree that the scientific question cannot be answered.

If the data set is big enough, personal variation and anomalies even out and you can analyze the data. You should be able to test it's effectiveness similar to how you could test the effectiveness of a medical drug.

Yes, but how would you interpret the variable of "god's will"?

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Yes, but how would you interpret the variable of "god's will"?

Precisely. God is not some impersonal force to be manipulated--a cosmic vending machine where one can plunk in a coin and select from the blessings s/he wishes. He is a loving, all-wise, and all-knowing Parent. As such, He's the master of the details and therefore tailors His responses to each circumstance, altering His responses as circumstances change. It's the same principle which explains why, when I used to ask my mum for a lolly, sometimes she gave me one, and sometime she didn't. Sometimes she gave me one when she didn't give my sister one, and sometimes she gave my sister one whilst telling me no. And sometimes she gave me one when I didn't even ask for it, and sometimes she gave me two when I asked for one.

I think I understand why people sometimes wish God were a giant machine or a force like electricity; I sometimes felt the same way about my parents when I wanted to be able to manipulate their responses. Thankfully, though, He's not...and therefore there's no way to account for the variable of His wisdom.

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By stating priesthood blessings on occasion heal the sick that otherwise would not be healed you are making a statement about empirical facts that in principle could be studied scientifically. But I would not enroll people in a study. What I would do is take a look at medical records for hospitals/medical centers in heavily LDS communities. For example Provo's population is 88% LDS. Given the strongly skewed demographics it is highly likely patrons of medical facilities that service Provo are also predominately LDS. Given this fact many of them if not most will likely get priesthood blessings addressing any serious medical illness they have. By looking at medical records in predominately LDS communities you will most likely pick up those LDS with a serious illness that received a priesthood blessing. Since those with a serious illness likely visit the hospital as well as get a priesthood blessing. It would be a simple matter to compare cure rates for hospital patrons in predominantly LDS areas to areas that are not predominantly LDS and see if there is a statistically significant difference. This approach gives you a very large sample set i.e.(all patients in LDS areas versus all patients in non LDS areas). Plus it controls for things like are the participants aware they are in a study? Of course none of them would be aware all they did was get sick visit the hospital and ask for a priesthood blessing not necessarily in that order. You could also control for the placebo effect by focusing on diseases for which it is known the placebo effect is significantly reduced if active at all like certain serious cancers for example. Also since your two groups are both receiving medical care both groups would have the placebo effect in play and hence it would largely be controlled for. You would have to control for things like smoking and drinking rates which is certainly doable perhaps by examining cure rates for diseases in which smoking or drinking are thought to play no role. Or by filtering medical records for the non LDS hospital patrons on the basis of smoking or drinking habits i.e.(only include those who don't drink or smoke). Smoking or drinking habits are also common questions when admitting to a hospital or seeking medical care.

The underlying logic is simple if priesthood blessings increase the cure rates of disease this should be reflected in the medical records of hospital patrons that are predominately LDS that is they should show cure rates greater than non LDS hospital patrons who did not get a priesthood blessing. In fact many hospitals explicitly ask your religion on admittance so you could further filter hospital records to ensure one group is only LDS and the other group is not.

Now you could argue God using his infinite foreknowledge knows a study like this is going to take place and will not cure those LDS who visit hospitals since he does not like being "tested" this of course is an extremely problematic position.

This type of test in no way treats God like vending machine or assumes all LDS who get blessings will get healed. It simply asks the question are cure rates for LDS patients higher than cure rates for non LDS patients? If priesthood blessings on occasion truly heal the sick that otherwise would not be healed the answer to this question should be yes.

Best,

Uncertain

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A Priesthood blessing (no matter how "righteous") will never over-ride the Will of our Omnipotent G-d.

So what value is it? Just to make people feel as if they are doing something?

The value of a priesthood blessing is in assisting people to tap into the will of God via their faith--remember that God respects our agency and will not tread on it--and in revealing that will to them, providing comfort and peace.

As I've shared in this forum before, I was as a missionary called upon to give a priesthood blessing to the grandfather of a woman whom I had earlier taught. Her family had given her endless grief over her conversion, but one of her elder sisters had relented and agreed that allowing the Elders to give a blessing couldn't hurt, so the two of of them rang us one night to let us know that they would be travelling up to the hospital the next evening for this purpose. That gave my companion and me 24 hours to prepare ourselves, and we prayed mightily and fasted in the hope that we could be instruments, not only in saving this man's life but in revealing God's power to this very non supportive family.

As we prepared, I felt the Spirit of the Lord rest upon us in a significant way, and I was fully prepared to walk into the hospital room and command the unconscious but suffering man to be made whole. I had that much faith. My companion annointed, and then it was time for me to seal the annointing. I laid my hands on the recipient's head, spoke the opening formalities, and then stopped. In a way I still can't adequately explain, I 'saw' the man's impending death and clearly understood when it would happen. I had no idea what to do next. The words I had saved up in my mind all had to do with healing, not death. What does one say to a dying man? The silence worried my companion, who started tapping his fingers on the backs of my hands to urge me to proceed. Inside, I was praying like mad: 'Father, what do you want me to do since he's going to die?'

Then the inspiration came. I blessed him that he would pass away peacefully, surrounded by his loving family--all of whom lived about 300km away--and that he would be free from the agonising pain he'd been experiencing up til that time.

When we'd finished, the four of us stepped out into the corridor, and the non-member sister asked, 'What the hell was that? N---- told me that you were going to heal him. Instead you blessed him that he'd die peacefully.' I tried to explain something about the will of God, but it was awkward. Then her demeanour changed, and she asked, 'When is he going to die?' For some reason, she thought I'd know that--in retrospect, I'm still impressed by her trust!--and, miraculously, I did. I told them that they had exactly one week and encouraged them to gather the family and get them to the hospital on the appointed day.

Amazingly, the entire family responded to this request and travelled up to the hospital to be there the following week. As they surrounded the bed of their loved one, he passed away peacefully as promised. The member granddaughter rang to tell us...and to inform us that the nurses had said that they'd stopped the morphine injections the night we'd been there because her grandfather had stopped writhing in pain. He was still unconscious when he passed away, but he was comfortable and at peace.

The blessing my companion and I gave in no way altered the will of God, but it did reveal it and connect people with it, and THAT was a tremendous blessing to everyone involved. I talked to the member granddaughter just a few months ago. After many years, none of her family members have ever become members of the Church, but they all ceased giving her grief over her choice to become a Latter-day Saint. My companion and I were even invited to the funeral and treated as special guests of honour. In the end, all of our righteous desires were granted, but they were granted according to the Lord's wisdom, tailored to this specific situation.

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In fact many hospitals explicitly ask your religion on admittance so you could further filter hospital records to ensure one group is only LDS and the other group is not.

When I was working in America, I had a housemate who'd joined the Church whilst working in a town in Colorado which had a sizable LDS minority. He was a respiratory therapist who had previously worked in Chicago. Because of his job, he worked primarily with patients who passed away. In his new assignment, he noticed, he said, a significant difference in the way certain people died, and in the way their families responded to their deaths. In short, he said he'd never before seen such peace surrounding death. Being in the room with these patients and their families felt holy to him. Intrigued, he starting checking their records and discovered that those whom he'd observed pass away with such peace in the room were all LDS.

When the missionaries finally knocked on his door, he asked them to come in. 'I want to know why you people die so well,' he'd said. The poor Elders were freaked out at first, thinking they were about to be called upon demonstrate.

I have no idea what the cure rate for LDS patients might be. After all, everyone dies eventually. But it was this friend's strong opinion that being a member of the Church and having access to priesthood blessings signficantly affected the 'peace rate.'

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By stating priesthood blessings on occasion heal the sick that otherwise would not be healed you are making a statement about empirical facts that in principle could be studied scientifically. But I would not enroll people in a study. What I would do is take a look at medical records for hospitals/medical centers in heavily LDS communities. For example Provo's population is 88% LDS. Given the strongly skewed demographics it is highly likely patrons of medical facilities that service Provo are also predominately LDS. Given this fact many of them if not most will likely get priesthood blessings addressing any serious medical illness they have. By looking at medical records in predominately LDS communities you will most likely pick up those LDS with a serious illness that received a priesthood blessing. Since those with a serious illness likely visit the hospital as well as get a priesthood blessing. It would be a simple matter to compare cure rates for hospital patrons in predominantly LDS areas to areas that are not predominantly LDS and see if there is a statistically significant difference. This approach gives you a very large sample set i.e.(all patients in LDS areas versus all patients in non LDS areas). Plus it controls for things like are the participants aware they are in a study? Of course none of them would be aware all they did was get sick visit the hospital and ask for a priesthood blessing not necessarily in that order. You could also control for the placebo effect by focusing on diseases for which it is known the placebo effect is significantly reduced if active at all like certain serious cancers for example. Also since your two groups are both receiving medical care both groups would have the placebo effect in play and hence it would largely be controlled for. You would have to control for things like smoking and drinking rates which is certainly doable perhaps by examining cure rates for diseases in which smoking or drinking are thought to play no role. Or by filtering medical records for the non LDS hospital patrons on the basis of smoking or drinking habits i.e.(only include those who don't drink or smoke). Smoking or drinking habits are also common questions when admitting to a hospital or seeking medical care.

The underlying logic is simple if priesthood blessings increase the cure rates of disease this should be reflected in the medical records of hospital patrons that are predominately LDS that is they should show cure rates greater than non LDS hospital patrons who did not get a priesthood blessing. In fact many hospitals explicitly ask your religion on admittance so you could further filter hospital records to ensure one group is only LDS and the other group is not.

Now you could argue God using his infinite foreknowledge knows a study like this is going to take place and will not cure those LDS who visit hospitals since he does not like being "tested" this of course is an extremely problematic position.

This type of test in no way treats God like vending machine or assumes all LDS who get blessings will get healed. It simply asks the simply question are cure rates for LDS patients higher than cure rates for non LDS patients? If priesthood blessings on occasion truly heal the sick that otherwise would not be healed the answer to this question should be yes.

Best,

Uncertain

Thank you, Uncertain... your comments are exactly what I was getting at. It all started for me when I asked a friend of mine if the recovery rates along the Wasatch Front would be higher than the nationwide average due to the amount of Priesthood Blessings. We talked about it forever and came to the conclusion that the data is there for that analysis, we are talking about facts, but gathering all of it to be able to analysis it may be another story.

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The problem is that there are three kinds of people when it comes to Priesthood Blessings. Unless you can identify which category someone is in, it would be impossible to do a study.

The three kinds of people are:

Quote

1. People whom God isn’t going to heal. No matter how much praying or blessing you do, it’s their time, and God will take them or allow them to finish their lives with some sort of disease or discomfort.

2. People who are going to get better. Whether or not they get a prayer or a blessing, they’re going to get better. God doesn’t need any encouragement to save them.

3. People whom God might heal. Apparently, there are people who have some illness, malady, or discomfort (even life-threatening ones), and God will intervene only if certain people do certain things. It might be prayer (maybe, a whole bunch of people have to pray, or just a few), it might take fasting (again, a whole bunch or maybe just a few), it might take priesthood power (maybe a lot of faith and worthiness is needed on the part of the blessor and/or blessee, or maybe not so much), or it might take being on the prayer roll in a Temple.

Those 3 kinds of people don't make anything impossible to what I am suggesting to study. If there is a group of people that God DOES heal in response to a priesthood blessing, then that group will show up on statistical level.

In regard to your groups (I split #3 to avoid "might" since that means 2 separate groups):

1) People whom God isn't going to heal despite all spiritual efforts: That would be the same for people getting blessings or not getting blessings so that group is irrelevant

2) People who are going to get better: That would be the same for people getting blessings or not getting blessings so that group is irrelevant

3A) People whom God will NOT heal BECAUSE people didn't ask/pray/fast/blessing/having enough faith/Temple roll but would have if they had done one or more of those things

3B) People whom God WILL heal BECAUSE people DID ask/pray/fast/blessing/have enough faith/Temple roll

If group 3B actually exists (and group 3A, one cannot exist without the other), then it should show up on a statistical level if the data could be collected.

If that statistical advantage is found, then more work would have to be done to test between blessing only vs. praying only vs. blessing and praying, etc.

BUT if that statistical advantage is NOT found then you would have to conclude that NONE of the "ask/pray/fast/blessing/have enough faith/Temple roll" had any effect on the chances of recovery.

The other option is that the advantage is so statistically small that that it would fall into the the margin of error for the experiment.

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It all started for me when I asked a friend of mine if the recovery rates along the Wasatch Front would be higher than the nationwide average due to the amount of Priesthood Blessings.

According to the latest five-year average (2003-2007) from the CDC, Utah has by far the lowest death rate from cancer of any state in the US. This of course can be mostly explained by Utah having the second-lowest incidence of cancer to begin with. It would seem that the blessings of embracing the Restored Gospel are not just limited to priesthood blessings.

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According to the latest five-year average (2003-2007) from the CDC, Utah has by far the lowest death rate from cancer of any state in the US. This of course can be mostly explained by Utah having the second-lowest incidence of cancer to begin with. Clearly, the blessings of embracing the Restored Gospel are not just limited to the priesthood blessings.

I'm not saying that they are limited to priesthood blesings, but if you can quote the CDC study to show God's blessings in action, then it also could be possible to use a study like I suggested to figure out the efficacy of Priesthood blessings on recovery rates.

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According to the latest five-year average (2003-2007) from the CDC, Utah has by far the lowest death rate from cancer of any state in the US. This of course can be mostly explained by Utah having the second-lowest incidence of cancer to begin with. It would seem that the blessings of embracing the Restored Gospel are not just limited to priesthood blessings.

Is that also why the state consumes the largest amount of internet porn? :)

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