Into My Baths, O Lourdes

Question from Jacob:
Hey, have you ever heard of Lourdes, probably? In any case, how do you explain the alleged scientifically proven miracles that happen there every year?

Answer by SmartLX:
Yes, I know of Lourdes and its magical healing spring water. It is just that, relatively pure potable water that comes through in the grotto in the Sanctuary of Our Lady of Lourdes, France.

Anywhere associated with the Virgin Mary (“Our Lady”, owing to claimed visions of her in Lourdes in 1858) is miracle country for Catholics, so sick Catholics come in their thousands to bathe in the grotto. Some get better, and credit their holy bath. Others don’t, and generally keep their mouths shut about it. None of the recoveries are scientifically attributable to the Lourdes experience, because the water has no discernible effect besides cleansing and hydration (not to mention the possible transmission of viruses and bacteria from the thousands of other sick people) but correlation is as good as causation when you want something to be true badly enough. Scientific proof of any miracles is definitely only alleged at this point.

Nasir Siddiki, Jesus, and Shingles

Question from Spivak:
I would love to know your impression of this video, do you believe it?

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m1DL9ANF-m4

Answer by SmartLX:
For those who don’t feel like watching, Nasir Siddiki claims that he called out to Allah and Muhammad for help as he was dying of an extreme case of facial shingles combined with chicken pox. Jesus answered instead, he got better, and after 90 minutes in the shower his blisters were all gone and he doesn’t have a mark on him. (To save you a search, shingles leave scars and bad shingles leave bigger scars.)

That’s a straight-up medical miracle, for which there is no evidence presented but his own testimony. He does name the hospital, Toronto General, so this would be on record there if anyone has the ability to check, but doctor-patient confidentiality probably makes that difficult. I do note that the only appearance by his doctor is via the guy playing him in the re-enactment.

To establish an impossible cure there has to have been evidence that the illness existed, and was as severe as described, in the first place. Here’s a relevant story I don’t get to tell often: a Native American healer named Bobby Runningfox once touched my friend’s abdomen and announced that he had cured a small cancer. It had not been detected before his act, and whether he was genuine or not one would not expect to detect it afterwards. So as far as anyone can say, he touched my friend and did nothing.

The other similar claim that comes to mind is the minor character in Monty Python and the Holy Grail who accuses a suspected witch: “She turned me into a newt!…I got better.”

There’s another interesting angle on Siddiki which has nothing to do with the medical aspect, brought up by this video. A Muslim has gone through another video where Siddiki tells the same story, and attempted to debunk the claim that Siddiki was actually a Muslim before the event. This responder does the same with many such “ex-Muslim” videos, and frankly appears to be reaching in some parts, but perhaps someone more familiar with Islam can say if there’s anything to it.

Package Deal: NDE (claim) + Miracle Cure (claim)

Question from Halil:
Do you think this proves miracles?
http://orthodoxinfo.com/death/miracle_russia.aspx

Answer by SmartLX:
If you’re going to give me nothing but a link, Halil, I will respond in kind with a nice in-depth thread on the Skeptics Society forum dedicated to this particular claim. Many, many problems with it. Respond to the criticisms from the other page if you want to advocate this as a miracle.