Faith Healing and Holy Feelings

Question from Jesper:
Hi, I really hope you guys can help me with this. I’ve been talking to some Christians from a local Christian youth group. They told me their reasons why they were Christians, I was a bit unsure of what to say to them, and I’d hoped you guys can give me some rebuttals to these arguments.

1. One that they all pointed out was faith healing. For example one had his hand injured at one time, then 5 others came to him and asked if they could pray for him, afterwards he could no longer feel the pain. Another guy came with the story about a 10 year old who had broken his legs, I don’t know for how long they had been broken. But after a prayer he no longer needed his crutches to walk.

2. The second one I heard was that millions of people around the world had felt and experienced God.

Hope you guys can give me some rebuttals for them, that would be most appreciated.

Answer by SmartLX:
For starters, the reasons they’ve given you are not actually the reasons why they’re Christians, or at least #1 isn’t. They were already in the youth group when they prayed for the guy’s hand, and you don’t join a group like that unless you already believe. Chances are they learned about the “millions of people” while in the group as well. This is stuff they use to convince others, but it’s not what convinced them in the first place; all it did was reassure them that they were right. I don’t think they’ve really told you anything at all about their own journeys to faith, so it’s still something you could pursue with them.

Anyway, let’s look at faith healing first.

Pain fades if the issue causing it is resolved or mitigated, regardless of whether it’s resolved by medicine, painkillers or the body itself. All pain that isn’t chronic goes away at some stage. If the guy’s hand pain went away too quickly for ordinary bodily functions to explain, it’s possible that the communal prayer session had a hypnotic and/or a placebo effect. Same with the leg guy; if pain was the only reason he walked with crutches, he might not need them after convincing himself he’d received divine relief.

Pain is highly subjective, given that it’s nothing more than a feeling. Not until 2011 were scientists hopeful of finding a reliable method to measure the amount of pain a person is in without being told, and there’s been little or no news since then. Therefore, any medical recovery which boils down to pain relief literally cannot be proven to any decent standard. It’s not really evidence for anything, especially when it’s part of an undocumented anecdote.

More generally, faith healing and specifically the healing power of prayer have not shown any significant beneficial effect, and can in fact be harmful. In one major study, patients who knew they were receiving prayers did worse than either those not receiving prayers or those receiving prayers unknowingly, perhaps because they felt there was pressure on them to “perform”. A well-known study which did support faith healing turned out to be co-authored by a man posing as a doctor.

All too regularly there are reports of people, mainly children, dying of treatable illnesses because they received prayers instead of treatment. If faith healing is real, God’s selection criteria suck. And if you’re not supposed to rely on it in place of real medicine, then what is it for?

Finally, most of the devastating sarcasm in Tim Minchin’s wonderful song Thank You God can be applied to any faith healing anecdote, including these two.

As for the second claim, I can sum up my response by adding a few words to it: Millions of people around the world have felt and experienced what they believed to be God. This feeling or experience can be anything from a full in-person conversation with God incarnate on the chair opposite them…to a voice in your head…to an inexplicable feeling of power or happiness…to practically nothing, remembered later as more than it was. The possible natural causes for each of these experiences are countless, which is probably why there are so many of them.

Another reason why they seem so common is that people only talk about them when they happen. If people mentioned every time they had prayed and not had a religious experience, the times when something did happen would seem like a drop in the ocean. Think about it: if a billion Christians each prayed three times a day, that’d be a trillion prayers a year, and that might not be too far off the actual number. A few million strange experiences hardly register on that scale.

One more point is the fact that these experiences can apparently be caused by mutually exclusive gods. Tribesmen all over the world have extraordinary experiences while dancing and praying around campfires, with and without the use of hallucinogenic drugs. Hindus have ceremonies where they put themselves into trances to be possessed temporarily by gods like Shiva. If only one true god is really causing these feelings and experiences, why is he/she/it using them so often to convince people that rival gods are real?

5 thoughts on “Faith Healing and Holy Feelings”

  1. Hello my name is Sally and this is the first time I learn about this blog and I didn’t know if I have the right to comment on anything as I’m a muslim girl but will if I found out you sent me a message saying that you deleted this comment and don’t want me to ever post anything in this blog, I’ll understand it.

    I read about those guys who say we felt god or the holy ghost live in us and that person was unable to give any response and you know why because he/she is ignorant. I was like that too in that time when I wished to be a Christian. Did you try to read the gospel of porn, the book that sings glory songs, praises and declarations about women’s vaginas and breasts taste like “wine” and sisters can lust after their brothers and take them to “bed”! Literally!–oops I mean the Bible?

    The best defense is attack and what more best than attacking with the enemy’s weapons?

    I have, in my journey of studying the Bible, found out so many corruptions, false facts, confusing verses And words war; ex: all Christians believe Jesus was crucified and then you have so many verses that says otherwise. Shocking non? I never give any empty statement. I’m saving all the “important” verses in a bloc note if any one want them just ask them from me.

    And the jackpot: Just ask them of one verse that says clearly: Jesus says: I’m God, worship me; they wouldn’t because there is no verse like that and if they give any verse from the Gospel of John tell them if this Gospel was valid then why the verse Jn 5:7 was thrown as fabrication in the new testament? And also who is this John guy because the scholars in Christianity say he died more than 100 years before his book was written. Oh sorry; I know, I know, the holy ghost manifested in the dead body to write the gospel.

    There’re so many more questions that you can make a Christian speechless if you just studied their book. A teacher in the Bible and Hebrew never talked to me after my questions and they weren’t even half what I have. He thought I’m dump and will accept anything because I don’t understand Hebrew. Well I disappointed him 😉

    You don’t need to read what’s next or accept it, I’m just sharing with you my knowledge.

    As atheist you say there is no God, and as a Muslim we say there is no God but God. So you already believe in half what we believe so I only need to show you that there’s God.

    Let’s say I put in front of you a machine that no one ever saw before you and I asked you how will it work, of course you wouldn’t know, so who knows? You will say: the creator, the inventor, the producer, … that guy who fabricated it will know, isn’t?

    So when this machine will be known by the public, of course we will need a manual. In a way the manual will help us understand this machine as it also in another way prove that this guy is the one who invented it. Because let’s say the inventor gave us this manual and it had nothing to do with the invention, are we going to believe he was the one who invented it? I wouldn’t.

    Let’s study about how the world was created from the point of view of this manual; the Quran:

    “Moreover He comprehended in His design the sky, and it had been (as) smoke: He said to it and to the earth: ‘Come ye together, willingly or unwillingly.’ They said: ‘We do come (together), in willing obedience.’ So He completed them as seven firmaments in two Days, and He assigned to each heaven its duty and command. And We adorned the lower heaven with lights, and (provided it) with guard. Such is the Decree of (Him) the Exalted in Might, Full of Knowledge. (The Noble Quran, 41:11-12)”

    “Do not the Unbelievers see that the heavens and the earth were joined together (as one unit of creation), before we clove them asunder? We made from water every living thing. Will they not then believe? (The Noble Quran, 21:30)”

    The Arabic word for “sky” in Noble Verse 41:11 above is “samaa”, which is the same word used for “heaven” and “Universe”. Since the 7 heavens didn’t exist yet (because the seven firmaments or heavens were mentioned in the next Noble Verse 41:12), then this CLEARLY MAKES the “samaa” be referring to the Universe, since the heaven was the entire Universe when GOD Almighty “comprehended in His design the sky”. He then later divided it into seven firmaments or heavens.

    Anyway, as we clearly see above in the Noble Verses, Allah Almighty initially created the Universe or the “samaa” with smoke (Dukhan). Dukhan in Arabic refers to the smoke coming from fire, which is always HOT GAS.

    A new star forming out of a cloud of gas and dust (nebula), which is one of the remnants of the “smoke” that was the origin of the whole universe. (The Space Atlas, Heather and Henbest, page 50) Allah Almighty said: “Then He turned to the heaven when it was smoke…(The Noble Quran, 41:11)” The Noble Quran on the Origin of the Universe Only Islam claims that the universe was originated from Dust and Hot Gas, or Smoke.

    Now as to Noble Verse 21:30 above, according to the Big Bang Theory, the Universe experienced an unbelievable explosion from the hot gases that were forming it, which caused the Universe (which consisted of the ball of gases) to split and expand. The Earth was separated then from the gaseous mass that was forming the Universe. The gases according to the scientific articles below in this article made “the universe be consisted of compact ball of hydrogen — protons, neutrons, electrons, and their anti-particles — plus radiation. There were not differentiated planets, stars, suns, galaxies. Five billion years ago, the compact hydrogen soup blasted apart with huge force, matter was hurled in all directions, and the universe doubled in size. This expansion of the universe is still going on.”

    It is really interesting to know that the Big Bang Theory suggests that the Universe is still expanding until today, because this is EXACTLY what Allah Almighty also claimed in the Noble Quran:

    “And the firmament, We constructed with power and skill and verily We are expanding it. (The Noble Quran, 51:47)”

    Also, since Allah Almighty didn’t have any names for the explosive gases (such as hydrogen) 1400 years ago, He summed them up by calling them “smoke (dukhan)”, which is literally a hot gas. Smoke is also ball-shaped and compacted together while it is hot and in the air. This description perfectly fits what the big bang theory suggests from the shape of the “compact ball” of gases that formed the Universe.

    Let us look at what Allah Almighty said about the “Cosmic Crunch” Theory:

    “The Day that We roll up the heavens like a scroll rolled up for books (completed),- even as We produced the first creation, so shall We produce a new one: a promise We have undertaken: truly shall We fulfill it. (The Noble Quran, 21:104)”

    Notice here how Allah Almighty Said that He will ROLL BACK the heavens like a scroll rolled up.

    They have discovered only 8 years ago; that the Universe is flat! The best way the NASA scientists could describe the Universe is “like a sheet of paper,” which Allah Almighty has already described 1,400 years ago to a goat herder and illiterate Bedouin and Shepard, our beloved and blessed Prophet Muhammad, Peace, Mercy and Blessings be upon him. Ameen.

    it is important to know that Prophet Muhammad peace be upon him had also talked about the “Cosmic Crunch” Theory by predicting that the Sun around the time of the Cosmic Crunch’s occurrence would rise from the West and set in the East due to a change in our orbit’s rotation. Who knows, perhaps the “Cosmic Crunch” would cause the Earth to flip upside down, which would cause the sun to rise from the West and set in the East, or perhaps it would change the rotation of the sun and its planets all together.

    “The Day ye shall see it, every mother giving suck shall forget her suckling-babe, and every pregnant female shall drop her load (unformed): thou shalt see mankind as in a drunken riot, yet not drunk: but dreadful will be the Wrath of God. (The Noble Quran, 22:2)”

    The earth did turn upside down before, which caused for the sun to rise from the opposite direction, because the earth’s rotation was going the opposite direction from what it used to:

    “This is not as far-fetched as it seems. The authors point to the scientific findings of physicist, Dr. Paul LaViolette, who supports this metaphysical concept in his book, “Earth Under Fire.” In that book, LaViolette shows that approximately every 13,000 years or so a catastrophe, originating in the center of our galaxy, arrives from outer space and turns planet Earth inside out and upside down so that another major cycle can begin. The last time this happened large quantities of cosmic dust entered our solar system and interacted with our sun in a way that caused it to produce greater heat, thereby ending the Ice Age.

    Furthermore, Dr. LaViolette has examined ice core samples from Greenland. They showed that periodic explosions from the center of the galaxy deposit cosmic dust (iridium) on the surface of our planet. These deposits occur in 13,000 and 26,000 year intervals, suggesting that the pulse from the center of the galaxy is somehow linked to the cycle of precession.”

    So the big bang theory that you just discovered about was already mentioned in the Quran 1400 years ago as it was mentioned how the earth is not flat and how the moonlight is a reflected light and how the child is created in the womb, the cycle of water, and so many scientific fact are already mentioned in the Quran and I have verses for each statement and whoever want to debate about the truthfulness of the Quran is welcomed.

    Only the inventor write the manual and only a book like the Quran can be from a the Creator; allah.

    PS: English is my third language and even if it’s no excuse for my mistakes, I apologize and ask from you to ignore them.

    PS2: my email is: sayure@live.fr => I don’t know if I have the right to publish it but well,

  2. Hi Sally. Of course you’re welcome to comment here, everyone is.

    Firstly, Christians are welcome to argue against your criticisms of the Bible, but I’m not about to. It’s nice to see a response to Christian apologetics from a Muslim perspective for a change.

    The “There is no God” comparison has been around for a while. Atheists have a similar one for believers: a Muslim or a Christian is already an atheist when it comes to Thor, Jupiter, Ahura Mazda, Poseidon, Shiva and all the other gods throughout history except for one. We just go one god further.

    Responding to claims of scientific foreknowledge in the Quran is a lot easier than it used to be, thanks to YouTube user TheIslammiracle. Each of the published videos in the “Quran Miracle Debunked” series tackles a specific claim very effectively. For instance, here is the video which rebuts your claim about the expanding universe, and here is the one about the Big Bang theory.

    Incidentally, if you’re going to copy and paste claims like these from other sites like this one, you might as well just write links to the other sites instead.

  3. Just curious – came across this article.

    For curiosity sake I went to one of the ladies events in Australia. She is a missionary and is identified as one of those healing evangelists. I have to tell you it really shocked me what happened, & really rocked what I belived was true. Quite suprised she didnt ask for money!

    Any way I tried to find any documented healing on test subjects and found this article.

    Thanks

    https://scholarworks.iu.edu/dspace/handle/2022/14131

    1. Thanks Ben. Keep in mind that just because she didn’t ask for money at the event doesn’t mean she didn’t solicit donations at another time, or at least accept what was offered.

      Haven’t seen that study. Results seem contradictory to the one I linked in the article. Perhaps a meta-analysis is available somewhere.

    2. I wonder why they had to go to rural Mozambique to do this study?

      Just so everyone knows, this study was “From the Department of Religious Studies, Indiana University, Bloomington, IN; Nashville, TN; Johannesburg, South Africa; and Department of Theological Studies, Saint Louis University, St. Louis, MO.”

      I noted some objectivity issues immediately. For one: “Subjects were recruited prospectively at Charismatic Protestant meetings cosponsored by Iris Ministries (headquartered in Pemba, Cabo Delgado, Mozambique) and Global Awakening
      (headquartered in Mechanicsburg, PA), at four locations in Mozambique. The site was selected because Iris leaders are widely reputed among Pentecostals globally as “specialists” in praying for those with hearing and vision impairments—especially
      during village outreaches in rural Mozambique.16”

      From the article: “Due to time constraints, hearing thresholds were measured
      for all subjects only at 3 kHz in each ear separately instead of across the whole frequency spectrum; we took additional measurements as time allowed.”

      The entire article was found here: http://www.docvadis.es/jorge-cordero/document/jorge-cordero/estudio_de_los_efectos_terap_uticos_de_la_oraci_n_de_intercesi_n_proximal_en_discapacidades_auditiva_y_visual_en_la_zona_rural_de_mozambique/fr/metadata/files/0/file/Study_of_the_Therapeutic_Effects_of_Proximal.5.pdf

      Judge for yourself.

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