Question from Kaye:
I am doing a research on the concept of healing. I was wondering do atheists believe in the concept of healing? Not weird or religious or fanatic…just plain everyday healing that may or may not be explained.
Answer by SmartLX:
What heals a body, more often than not, is the body itself. Doctors can help, but in the end the human body is at the mercy of its own immune system and other regenerative processes, such as skin regrowth and bone knitting (no, that’s not the medical term for it).
Beyond the capabilities of the body alone, there’s a lot that physicians and “healers” can do to effect real healing. They can help physically by removing dangerous tissue, binding broken limbs, cooling a fevered forehead and so forth. They can help through chemistry by administering medicine and drugs, and regulating a patient’s diet. They can help psychologically by encouraging a positive outlook in the patient, which is known to affect internal processes.
The kind of healing which apparently falls outside of these two categories is the “miraculous recovery”, where a person recovers from an injury or illness normally beyond the body’s own capabilities without medical help. If it’s really happened (which, in many instances, is a question well worth asking), there must be a reason, and this is where different people are tempted to insert their favourite god or other supernatural entity.
To an atheist, the most likely reason for super-healing like this (again, once verified as having actually occurred) is something natural but unknown to the chronicler: some unique property of the subject’s physiology or body chemistry, prior treatments or preventative measures, added time for recovery, etcetera. Just thinking that there aren’t any supernatural agents at work doesn’t mean assuming that one knows every phenomenon that can affect a human body. Medical science may one day benefit greatly from what we presently don’t know, based on its progress so far.
If you have a particular healing story in mind, comment and re-tell it for us to discuss.
Question from Kaye: