Sauce For the Goose and For the Gander PDF Print E-mail
Swift
Written by James Randi   

On April 16th, 2009, the Consumer Health Digest announced that the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) had issued a statement that sharply criticized "reiki," which is based on the same ancient notion that the human body is surrounded with the usual undefined "energy field" that cannot be detected nor measured by ordinary scientific instrumentation, of course. Reiki practitioners claim to be able to facilitate healing by strengthening or "balancing" this "force."

The thoroughly aroused USCCB stated that reiki lacks scientific credibility, has not been accepted by the scientific and medical communities as an effective therapy, and that reputable scientific studies attesting to its efficacy are lacking, as is a plausible scientific explanation as to how it could possibly be efficacious. Reiki, they complain, finds no support in the findings of natural science, either. So there.

Hold on. Let's re-phrase that statement, substituting another fatuous claim for the word "reiki." Let's try "prayer." It now reads:

The thoroughly annoyed JREF stated that prayer lacks scientific credibility, has not been accepted by the scientific and medical communities as an effective therapy, and that reputable scientific studies attesting to its efficacy are lacking, as is a plausible scientific explanation as to how it could possibly be efficacious. Prayer, they complain, finds no support in the findings of natural science, either. So there.

The USCCB further stated that it would be "inappropriate for Catholic institutions, such as Catholic health care facilities and retreat centers, or persons representing the Church, such as Catholic chaplains, to promote or to provide support for reiki therapy." Oh, I loudly agree, but this question I must now ask of the USCCB:

Since exactly those same qualifications apply to the notion of prayer, should not prayer come under this shadow of suspicion, and for the very same reasons...?

Thanks to Karl Black for calling this to our attention.