[Editor’s Note: This post is part of a series in which New Directions in the Study of Prayer grantees reflect on their interdisciplinary conversations about the study of prayer. The series began with Charles Hirschkind’s “Cognition and Culture, at it Again!“.]
For me the most telling point in the exchange about interdisciplinary dialogue is Charles Hirschkind’s reference to Thomas Kuhn, who by forever smashing our innocent faith in the impartiality of scientific findings, restored other kinds of inquiry to a somewhat more equal footing. Journalistically speaking (which is the only platform I have): Hip hip hooray for Kuhn, he’s a jolly good fellow! He gave us back a thousand colors.
Our skepticism when it comes to academic findings about prayer is of course heightened by the nature of the subject itself and by the fact that any finding is so prone to being immediately seized upon and politicized by believers and nonbelievers.
That academics are politicizing the subject in their own way and with such fervor is a nice sidelight, speaking again journalistically. And, if you’ll pardon me for saying so, it does seem to come from somewhat the same psychological place.
So what all this amounts to is just another story of human nature. We all have our Gods and we all protect them fiercely. But luckily, the universe of the mind is limitless. There’s room for everybody’s object of adoration. (Arguably, of course.)