The numbers within the results showed only a slight partisan bent. Democrats believe prayer helps to alleviate injury or illness at a 72 percent clip, Republicans at 83 percent and independents at 78. The only really significant difference was between self-identified liberals at 65 percent and conservatives at 85 percent, with moderates in the middle at 78.
But on the flip side, a larger percentage of Americans believe that evolution as outlined by Darwin and other scientists is responsible for human life on Earth since the last time FOX polled the issue in 1999. Darwinists were once at 15 percent but are now at 21, with the Biblical tenet of creationism now embraced by 45 percent versus the 50 percent seen last time the issue was polled. The percentage of those who think that both are true stayed slightly above a quarter of respondents. There was a fifteen percent difference between Democrats and Republicans on accepting evolution, with 28 percent of Dems and only 13 percent of GOPers believing it was the only explanation.
The FOX News poll used live telephone interviews with 911 adult Americans conducted from August 29th to the 31st. The poll has a sampling error of 3 percent.
Many believe faith heals
From Correspondent Andrew Holtz
DURHAM, North Carolina (CNN) — Family doctors overwhelmingly believe that religious faith can help patients heal. Ninety-nine percent of doctors in an American Academy of Family Physicians survey believe there is an important relationship between the spirit and the flesh.
Duke University Dr. Harold Koenig is one of the many M.D.s convinced that faith can aid in the healing process.
“Of those thousands of people that I’ve talked to, a large percentage of them will just right off the bat talk about their faith,” Koenig said of his research into how people cope with serious illness. “They say, `Well, prayer helps me to cope, reading the Bible helps me, talking to God, Jesus, helps me to cope.'”
Lorene Burns is a patient of Koenig’s who suffers from Alzheimer’s disease. She is also under the watchful eye of her husband, Paul.
Paul Burns regularly reads the Bible to his stricken wife in the belief that it can only help. There is also the chance that Burns’ faith may be helping him get through the trauma of her disease.
Power of prayer?
Koenig and colleagues recently found that people who regularly attend church have half the rate of depression of infrequent churchgoers. But the poll of 4,000 people did not find any similar correlation between depression and people watching religious television programming, or those praying at home.
Doctors do not believe the effects of faith are as straightforward as, say, the benefits of a good diet. Nor do doctors think a sudden conversion during severe illness would be of the same benefit as a lifelong commitment to a religious belief.
Research in the U.S. has focused on people of Judeo-Christian faiths, leaving the effects of other spiritual beliefs unprobed and unclear.
Duke’s Koenig still relies on medicine as his weapon of choice against disease, but he does see a role for faith. Practical experience and a growing collection of medical evidence support his position.
“Patients want their doctors to address religion, because it’s so meaningful in their lives,” said Koenig. “They want their doctors to address it.”
Medical researchers say the benefits of religion may be as simple as helping the immune system by reducing stress.
But the faith of people like Paul Burns is not placed entirely in logical explanations offered by learned men in white coats.
“I think maybe God had something in mind when he put me and my wife together,” said Burns. “I think he probably felt that she needed somebody to help her.”