WICHITA, Kan. – Police in Kansas say a 57-year-old man lived with the body of his dead fiancee for several days, praying she would be brought back to life.
KAKE-TV reports the man told officers he was praying for divine intervention to bring his fiancee back to life. He was taken to a hospital for a mental evaluation.
The story says that they don’t suspect foul play, but I find this story equally disturbing as if there might have been. If you have someone who believes so strongly in the power of prayer that they continued to pray days after her death (to the point that people were complaining about the smell!), how willing would that person be to seek out medical care for someone who was critically ill?
This story demonstrates the harm in magical thinking – it prevents you from seeking out real answers, instead turning to mysticism and superstition. I’ve had a terrible series of tension headaches and migraines over the last few days, and after mentioning it on Facebook, was told by a particularly religious person that they would pray for me to be well. Although I appreciated the sentiment, the statement struck me as patently ridiculous. We live in an age of modern medicine, and perhaps a better response would be to suggest some extra strength ibuprofen, or my prescription migraine drugs? There is no convincing evidence that prayer works, even via a psychological effect.
I must admit that there are no clinical studies which have examined the capacity of prayer to resurrect the dead. Perhaps the Templeton Foundation would be willing to fund me attending the morgue daily to pray?