The October MNA Meeting

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At the member meeting held at Southdale Library on October 18th, Minnesota Atheists were treated to a lecture by Dr. Hector Avalos titled: “Can Science Prove Prayer Works?”

Dr. Avalos discussed the difficulties involved in creating and maintaining a controlled study involving prayer. How, for example, can a study account for random prayers being offered by unknown individuals? How would it be possible to take into consideration someone’s prayer that all people on Earth get well, or that only some people get better? Even more confusing is the fact that some individuals might purposely pray that harm befalls people of certain religions.  And, really, shouldn’t god be a kind of ‘Super Doctor;’ one who shouldn’t even need to be asked in the first place?  

Dr. Avalos also noted that results attributed to a god’s saving power are likely to have other possible causes once a little research is performed. For instance, god, if indeed he does save some people from plane crashes, seems less capable of saving those who are involved in airplane crashes that occurred when the plane falls from higher altitudes, instead of when it is close to landing or take-off. Dr. Avalos also pointed out that crash-test dummies survive phony wars at the same rates as real soldiers in real wars, provoking the question: does god save dummies? In the matter of faith-healing, Dr. Avalos, himself a former ‘healer,’ performed a healing in which his skillful manipulation of an audience member’s legs affected an apparent ‘cure.’  

In the end, Dr. Avalos concluded that, no, science can not prove that prayer works and, even if it could, we would still be left with the question of which god did the healing. This point was made clear by citing Bhagavad Gita 7:22, wherein the Hindu god Krishna claims he alone performs healing, no matter which god a human worships.  

The Board of Directors also thanked three members for their work in the organization over the past year. Awards were given as follows:  

  • For his service photographing members at our events, the Board of Directors of Minnesota Atheists recognized Richard Trombley with the 2009 Atheist Snapshot Hotshot Award.  
  • For his perseverance, resourcefulness and service editing our newsletter, the Board of Directors of Minnesota Atheists recognized James Zimmerman with the 2009 Atheist Pen Award.  
  • For her on-air and off-air service to the Atheist Talk radio and podcast program, the Board of Directors of Minnesota Atheists recognized Stephanie Zvan with the 2009 Atheist of the Airwaves Award.
Photo of Bjorn presenting the certificate to James.
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