There is a certain attitude among the cognoscenti that rather irks me. You see, I am highly skeptical of extraordinary claims, and I do most certainly believe that they require extraordinary proof. If you tell me that you can read minds, predict the future, start fires through intention, etc., I (and James Randi, who will pay you much more than I can scrape together) would like a controlled demonstration. Nonetheless, I do see the failings of rationalism and scientism, and skeptics can be brazenly dismissive of those whose experiences do not follow the supposedly logical line, whatever that may be.
The functioning of the human mind is incredibly manipulable and biased (see Kahneman and Tversky, winners of the Nobel Prize, on this point), and this includes the minds of rationalists, logicians and scientists. The scientific method was devised to help eliminate bias (although it functions rather poorly in this regard, way back to the fudged data of Gregor Mendel and his pea plants). Yet even with this tool, i.e., the scientific method, bias and error are routine. Supposedly, peer review will triumph over poorly conducted research, but this is a rarity. Most scientific disciplines tend to operate under a rather hidebound consensus that is very reluctant to admit new data. One must be as skeptical of grandiose claims made for science, logic and rationality, as one is of the efficacy of prayer. Too, humans do not do well in thinking of future consequences - most are focused on immediate reward, and this bias poisons the fruits of scientific inquiry.
Of course, religious believers are the most common target of the rational cadre, whose membership cards boast vaguely anarchic slogans like, "No gods, no masters." Never mind that Margaret Mead produced this saying on one of her contraception pamphlets: that her supposed anthropological work in Samoa was a steaming, ideologically-driven pile is notwithstanding. Now, I could discuss the horrors of ideology, especially when connected to the ideas of purity and transcendence (the thousand-year Reich, the various workers' paradises, Jim Jones) until the cows come home. Unfortunately, rationalists do not view themselves as being susceptible to these ideas or to their psychological underpinnings. It might detract from their view of themselves as superior, logical beings (which, in fact, the human state does not permit). Naturally, religious people are dismissed as stupid, and as intellectual failures. I have been asked many times, "How can you say you're a skeptic if you believe in G-d?" I had to return my rationalist membership card, even though its slogan was "Party Hearty!" Nonetheless, I see many skeptics and rationalists as invested in the ideas of science and rationality, with little actual understanding of either. They have faith in science and rationality to provide needed answers. I wish they were right.
Now, do I believe that the C2C Friday night prayer group has demonstrable effects? No, I do not. But neither do I believe that praying for the ill is wrong. If I were terribly ill, I would not object if people I knew prayed for me. I'd like it even better if they visited me. I would feel supported and cared for, much more than from an anonymous prayer vigil by anonymous audience members on some random radio show. Is that irrational? As Ivan Karamazov exclaims, "If G-d does not exist, then everything is permitted." Is permitting everything in the name of Rationalism or Science rational, then? Mind you, it wasn't the Vatican or the Elders of Zion behind the horrific eugenics debacles of the 20th century. Scientists believed sincerely that Native Americans and Blacks should be sterilized in large numbers to preserve the dubious claims of 'racial hygiene.' I cite this only because Rationalists, while pointing out the horror, which nobody denies, of religious fanatics can't seem to come to grips with Stalin or Mao, who were by no means niggardly in their killing or in their pursuit and killing of religious believers. I don't think this debate has much merit. Tit for tat does not bring us to an understanding of the real causes of humanity's inhumanity to humanity - uh, rationally, I mean.