Prayer Research

Hosted byConnie Willis

Prayer Research

About the show

Bill Sweet joined Connie Willis (email) to discuss scientific tests he has conducted on the effects of prayer. He began his studies in the 1970s with father and son team Bruce and John Klingbeil – Christian Scientists who formed a research group named "Spindrift." In one experiment, they isolated diseased or weak plants and had people pray for their recovery. Sweet said that they found that "goal-directed" prayer did not have as much of an effect as "non-goal directed prayer." Sweet believes that an expressed goal did not allow the plants to heal themselves in a natural way, which turned out to be more effective over repeated trials. In applying this to the wider world, he thinks that non-goal-directed thought happens "when we’re inspired" and that this may indicate that perhaps "our goals limit us from what we could have" if we can have less ego in our prayers.

A surprising effect that Sweet and his lab partners noticed was that no matter how strong the intention from goal-oriented practitioners, if they were interested in a negative outcome (such as killing the plant in the experiment) it was never as effective as the non-goal oriented individuals who prayed and concentrated on a positive course of events. This led him to believe that it is impossible to pray or wish for negative outcomes that do not have a specific goal. Sweet feels that one of the main secrets of effective prayer is to keep your goals secret. He suggested to literally pray in a closet, or somewhere else where no one will see or hear you, and to "share your goals with God or the Divine Mind" with no specific steps specified.

In 1993, the Klingbeils were found dead in an apparent double suicide. Sweet stated that "they didn’t believe in suicide" and had not acted in a way that indicated they were despondent. He believes that they were somehow influenced or forced into it and feels that the culprits may have been another, shadowy group who felt that the Spindrift research was "stepping on their toes," or that the source was simply coming from some sort of "demonic realm." He recalled that his mentors made a prediction in the 1980s that our civilization would be "heading for another dark ages, but it will be a technological dark age." In conclusion, Sweet expressed his view that "the future is unknown, but we hope it will go in a spiritual direction."

Starchild Skull Update

First hour guest, Starchild Skull expert Melanie Young reported on the latest news and imminent DNA testing of the mysterious and famous 900-year old skull. Young recounted the story of how the skull was found in the 1930s by a teenage girl who was visiting a small village in northern Mexico. The skull was attached to a skeleton on which "every bone was deformed," and its hand was resting on the hand of a full-sized and normal skeleton of a woman. Testing has revealed that both skulls were from individuals who had Native American DNA, but from different tribes. Young says that the deformed skull is the same size as that of a five-year-old child, but much more dense and hard to cut than normal human bone. Samples from the skull are currently being analyzed at a lab that specializes in extracting DNA from archaeological sites. Within six more weeks, Young expects them to find if there is any viable material left to work with.

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