I've blogged previously on the recent prayer study. Turns out someone else is considering the results seriously: The Deity in the Data By William Saletan.
Saletan is not my favorite writer, but credit where credit is due. The article is uneven; he starts out as though the study showed prayer had no effect. In fact, of course, the study seemed to show that prayer was harmful. He finally touches on the theological implications of toxic prayer, so he gets full credit.
I've been wondering how the Satanists and religious fundamentalists would spin this - were they to take it seriously. I suspect neither would have any trouble. For the fundamentalists this is very biblical -- "don''t measure God" (though wouldn't they expect the scientists to suffer rather than the patients?). The Satanists would suggest another deity should have been consulted.
It's a bigger challenge for believers in a benevolent omnipotent God. I'd love to know what Ratzinger is thinking ... Probably that the results are spurious (which is also what I believe, and I'm sticking to that story ...)
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