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#33297 - 12/27/09 10:10 AM "Faith Healers"
William Wright Offline
active member


Registered: 10/25/09
Posts: 860
Loc: Nashville
Well, another Christmas has come and gone at the Wright household. I, my wife and daughter drove up from Tennessee to Indiana to stay with my parents for a few days. I love my parents, but I know that whenever I go to visit them I’m going to be hit with an onslaught of Christianity. This visit was no exception. Among the more infamous moments: My dad reading from the second chapter of Luke before we open our presents, and my daughter getting a wonderful book for girls that, oh yes, also happened to be a devotional.

But the most annoying thing took place in my dad’s den. My dad, brother (also a Christian) and I were hanging out, talking about normal guy stuff, when my dad went to the computer and pulled up YouTube. I thought nothing of it: Maybe he’s going to show some silly baby or redneck video – you know, something light. Instead, he typed “Oral Roberts” and started playing “faith healer” videos.

I’m sure you know what I’m talking about. Roberts stands in front of a church and someone in a wheelchair comes up. He prays for the person, and the person gets up and walks like nothing was ever wrong. Then my dad played some A.A. Allen videos. I’d never heard of Allen, but his videos are every bit as compelling as those of Roberts. I’m sure that if I’d stuck around my dad would’ve gotten to Earnest Angley, Benny Hinn and all the rest of the so-called faith healers, but I left to get an M&M cookie. Those things are delicious!

My dad’s intent was obvious to me. He wanted to “prove” his Christian god’s existence through what appeared to be miracles. The thing is, he makes a decent point. Now I didn’t believe in his god then and I don’t believe now, but I’m at a bit of a loss to explain why such “faith healings” happen. Of course I realize that quite a bit of fraud occurs – but of the thousands of “faith healings” occurring throughout history, every single one of them is fake?

The prevailing theory is that the Christian god exists and is healing those people. (Nevermind that this makes God look like a complete bastard. Afterall, this would mean that there are millions of sick children all over the world that God is choosing not to heal, presumably because someone isn’t groveling before him in front of a video camera.) A variation of this theory is that these people aren’t being healed by God as Christians know him, but that something metaphysical is indeed taking place.

My theory, one that I’m sure is being studied, is that belief itself is the deciding factor – that it is the belief that one is being healed that causes the healing to occur. Of course we know that a patient’s attitude in the hospital can affect his/her outcome. Is it a stretch to suggest that such an attitude can affect one’s diagnosis on a dramatic and immediate scale? Perhaps. But if that’s not it, and if even a handful of the many videotaped “faith healings” are legitimate, then how else do you explain them?
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In Minecraft all chickens are spies.

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#33299 - 12/27/09 10:30 AM Re: "Faith Healers" [Re: William Wright]
Dimitri Offline
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Registered: 07/13/08
Posts: 3119
The first word comming to mind upon reading your question and the idea that some people might be healed due to a "faith healer" was placebo.

This effect as explained by this guy might hold credit for some small "miracles" happening within a church, at least to a certain degree. It is safe to assume that the placebo-effect cannot let a handicapped person in a wheelchair walk again as if nothing ever happened

It is also best to take a good look at the skeptic side of the story.

But as many things on television and internet which are categorised as entertainment (ie: movies, shows, documentaries,..) the bullshit-filter and border of reality/fantasy should be clear and on. Besides, almost everything on television is being acted and/or cut and pasted so it would "fit" the average joe not to think too much, with all the necessary side-effects..


Edited by Dimitri (12/27/09 10:41 AM)
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#33300 - 12/27/09 12:39 PM Re: "Faith Healers" [Re: William Wright]
Asmedious Moderator Online
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Registered: 09/02/07
Posts: 1725
Loc: New York
Seeing those faith healers makes you think don’t it? \:\)

From what I have learned regarding the issue, many of them are outright frauds, who knowingly play parlor tricks on the audience as well as plant people to pretend to be sick and healed.

Then there are the ones who find out prior to the show about the medical condition of certain audience members, by having people either fill out information cards disguised as prayer requests and or have someone from their church team mingle with the audience prior to the show to gather background intelligence on them.

After that, it’s a matter of picking those people that might use a medical device to get by, but do not totally rely on it.
For instance a person with an acute case of pain who uses a wheel chair when going about their daily business but is also capable of walking short distances.
This type of person with all the hype, music, positive religious screaming, and their endorphin’s kicking in would be a perfect candidate to hop out of the wheelchair for a short period of time and then dance around and appear as if they have been healed.

Most people who see someone in a wheel chair or on crutches will assume that such a person is totally crippled and cannot walk at all, so when they do stand up in such an environment, it might seem as a true miracle.

There have been studies that show that many of these people actually suffer further injury that presents itself days later, due to them jumping and dancing around on an injured body part.

There are events that are not so easily explained such as a cancer patient that goes into instant remission during a performance, or is supposedly healed, and the evidence is backed up by medical science. This doesn’t mean that a god’s hand had anything to do with it. The mind and power of suggestion is not fully understood. It is quite possible that our brains can heal some ailments that we do not yet understand. It is within our brain that we feel the sensation of pain, therefore if the neuro transmitters can be somehow shut off by the brain, then the pain would go away, even if the injury would not.

Although I do know of some “faith healers” who do make occasional visits to hospital with a “select” few patients, if they were truly miracle workers, then they would be just as common as doctors, which they are not.
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"The first order of government is the protection of its citizens right to be left alone."

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#33302 - 12/27/09 02:47 PM Re: "Faith Healers" [Re: Asmedious]
Jake999 Offline
senior member


Registered: 11/02/08
Posts: 2230
There was a Steve Martin movie called Leap of Faith that shows pretty much how the "Jesus Con" is practiced now and it hasn't changed much in the past many, many years.

Pre wireless communication and all but invisible ear buds, those well meaning people who help you to your seat were information gatherers who took some key notes to pass on to the "healer" or visionary who passed his messages from God... "Mary, your husband's back will be healed... PRAYYYYYYZZZZEEEE GAAAAWWWWD."

Variants include the Psychic Con... Nightmare Alley has a good depiction of it when it was in its hey day.

Never underestimate the power of telling people what they want to hear.
_________________________
Bury your dead, pick up your weapon and soldier on.


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#33305 - 12/27/09 07:45 PM Re: "Faith Healers" [Re: Jake999]
William Wright Offline
active member


Registered: 10/25/09
Posts: 860
Loc: Nashville
This is something from my past that I’ve never forgotten: I grew up in a Pentecostal church, and people there were always claiming to be healed of this ailment or that. Then there was Mary. Mary was in her forties and always sat at the back of the church with her parents. Mary was severely retarded, with the mental capacity of a toddler. Often her parents would bring her to the front to be prayed for, and the preacher would put on quite a production and the whole church would really get into it. And then Mary would leave the same way she came. Year in year out, nothing changed.

Mary’s parents were sweet, humble people who never had anything bad to say about anybody. To my knowledge, they were Christian through and through. I often wondered what they thought about the idea that just about everyone else was being healed except their daughter. I guess they found a way to maintain their Christianity despite it all. What other choice did they have – hell?
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In Minecraft all chickens are spies.

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#33306 - 12/27/09 08:07 PM Re: "Faith Healers" [Re: William Wright]
Jake999 Offline
senior member


Registered: 11/02/08
Posts: 2230
Perhaps they might have chosen the other obvious choice. Reality.

Instead, they simply immersed themselves year after year into a self accepted delusion, conning themselves into thinking they were doing something for this child that, as they got older and older, became closer and closer to the point that these people would be out of her life one day. Had they planned for her care, or simple left fate to Jesus? Jesus isn't too good with the care and nurturing of severely retarded children, being a myth and all.

Reality. It pretty much trumps faith every time.
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Bury your dead, pick up your weapon and soldier on.


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#33307 - 12/27/09 08:10 PM Re: "Faith Healers" [Re: William Wright]
Fabiano Offline
member


Registered: 09/06/08
Posts: 374
It's fascinating this power that faith healers are supposed to have, isn't it William?. It's fascinating the human mind because man is attracted by power, that's the nature of man. It's well said in TSB :

 Originally Posted By: TSB
Man needs ceremony and ritual, fantasy and enchantment. Psychiatry, despite all the good it has done, has robbed man of wonder and fantasy which religion, in the past, has provided.


You just want to believe in it and this instils the doubt in you rational reasoning. And if, after all, something supernatural would exists? Then maybe I would miss something...

But there is not such a supernatural thing. I don't say science explained everything but the placebo effect is well known, as well as the nocebo effect.

All the supernatural you'll find boils down to the effect mind can have on the body. Take the buddhist monks practising Tummo meditation. The technique consists in seeing yourself as the 3 main nadis to the point you forget you have a body. This is just a technique found empirically and which is working. But the fact the technique works does not prove anything about the explanation buddhist stick on it. And notice how strong they convince themselves : up to the point of forgetting their body!

Also, didn't you ever heard stories about men in nazi labor camps who resisted during months and one day decided it was to hard and gave up. In less than 3 days they died... This is another proof that mind can have effect on the body. In this case it's more the will to survive. But this will can be strengthed. If one don't want to die thinking to his kids or familly, it reinforces his will or if one is convinceed that it's God testing him, his will become stronger or if he thinks that giving up is betraying his "camp fellows" because they need him, it will also reinforce his will to survive.
But as soon as one think he's suffering for nothing and there is no possible escape, he gives up and dies...

And if believing that the pills the doctor gives are beneficial for the health has a significative (placebo) effect on the body, who can know what faith in a God can have as an effect. We can rationnaly think that more the faith is, more the effect is. There is a gulf between believing in a doctor's pill and the faith a religious believer can have, so I think the effect can be surprising on many aspects.

So there is just a mind and a body interracting together. The faith healer manipulates the mind and this has effect on the body.

That's all !

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#33308 - 12/27/09 08:30 PM Re: "Faith Healers" [Re: Fabiano]
Jake999 Offline
senior member


Registered: 11/02/08
Posts: 2230
That's very true Fabiano... AND in the case of little Mary and her zealous parents, THEIR faith is nothing when the problem lies in the body of the child... severely retarded... who hasn't been taught about the power of faith, or hasn't the mental capacity to process what that could entail.

So, by their very religion's dictates, those who can't or won't accept Jesus are damned. The child is damned from the start first by infirmity, then by ignorant parents, then by the predation of the religionists, since the parents place their faith it faith, rather than in common sense, by the less than tender mercies of institutionalized care after they're gone.

They spend year and year in somatized devotion to a construct of faith. The disease is a reality and is best served by engaging it on a realistic level.
_________________________
Bury your dead, pick up your weapon and soldier on.


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#33319 - 12/28/09 11:46 AM Re: "Faith Healers" [Re: Jake999]
William Wright Offline
active member


Registered: 10/25/09
Posts: 860
Loc: Nashville
By saying that Mary’s parents had to choose between acceptance of God’s decision not to heal their daughter and hell, I was of course being facetious. Part of me feels sorry for the parents, who cling desperately to faith in hope that maybe someday their daughter will be healed. Another part of me finds it all disgusting – that they allow themselves to be perpetually deluded and that America’s true pastime, Christianity, systematically reinforces this delusion on a grand scale.

Ultimately, there’s nothing I can do about it. It is not my mission to save the world. I need to focus on what’s best for me.
_________________________
In Minecraft all chickens are spies.

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#33321 - 12/28/09 02:12 PM Re: "Faith Healers" [Re: Jake999]
Fabiano Offline
member


Registered: 09/06/08
Posts: 374
I agree Jack, their faith can nothing for the sickness of the child. But may be their faith give them the strength to continue. Perhaps without it they would not have the force to feed Mary, to comb her hair,...

I say this because in a certain way I could say "Jesus saved me". Years ago I saw my friends dying by OD or suicide and girls with whom I smoked my first joints of weed falling in the hands of pimps.

In complete despair, I decided to find an exit and started to search answers, I was trying to give a sense to my life. And in this quest for sense in an absurd life, I came accross the bible and had faith. This "process" changes instantaneouly and radically the way I was looking to the world. From a nightmare I was all suddenly in a fairy tales and this enabled me to go on. Perhaps I would not be there if this wouldn't happened. Who knows ?

As I really hard worked for being "good", my life went better. I went on with my ideals and my dreams, happy to have found the sense of my life. But slowly this happiness vanished. Going on with my quest for sense, I started to have problems with sentences like "I'm the way, the truth, the life. None goes to the father if not by me" it was too sectarian for me, I didn't feel well venerating a man who said that. The rest you know, I used zen for esacping Xianity then dropped zen and after crossing a desert came accross TSB.


My conclusion: Faith can be a powerfull but I see it as an effect not a cause. It's the consequence of causes. One is contextual (being in despair & read the bible) and the 2nd individual. The 2nd cause is this "quest for sense" this "I don't know what" which pushes you to not give up. It's a hunt for self-dellusion, a question of self honesty which demands efforts, a lot of efforts to put you in question.
Is a "scarface" life realist? Do I really make it in drug business? Is a Xian life realist? Do I really want to save the world? Is a satanic life realist? Do I really want to conqueer the world ? ...

Life has only the sense you put in it. That's the outcome of my quest. But this freedom can be frightening because it's up to you to make your life and there will be nobody and nothing to blame if you fuck it up.

So let's say Mary's parents choosed their life. Up to them to see if they consider to have succeed it or if they just fucked it up! It's a question of point of view and only their individual ones matters...

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#33322 - 12/28/09 02:44 PM Re: "Faith Healers" [Re: William Wright]
Fabiano Offline
member


Registered: 09/06/08
Posts: 374
Mmmmmmh William, so there is conflict in you? A satanic part is disguted and would like to fight Xianity (or would it be the part which doesn't want to save the world (from Xians) which is the satanic one?) and another part is feeling compassion?

And if "they allow themselves to be perpetually deluded" is it not their problem? Don't you think if Xianity wasn't there they wouldn't find another way to delude themselves? Because you said it like that : "they allow themselves..." Why is it a problem for you then? Would you want to save them?

Oh no, I see you choose to "focus on what’s best for you". It's a good step... but what's best for you? Being selfish? Fucking compassion? Is it really what you want? Sure ?

Then just do it! ;\)

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#33324 - 12/28/09 04:24 PM Re: "Faith Healers" [Re: Fabiano]
William Wright Offline
active member


Registered: 10/25/09
Posts: 860
Loc: Nashville
I think we’re all selfish – that is, we make choices based on how good and “right” it makes us feel about ourselves. Even the “selfless” Christians are selfish; their decision to get “saved” is based primarily on going to heaven and avoiding hell. Some people just disguise their selfishness better than others.

So yes I’m selfish, but I don’t live in a vacuum. I am not immune to feeling for others. Your point is well taken, however. What's best for me is to look out for myself, to keep my eyes fixed on the star in the circle.
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In Minecraft all chickens are spies.

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#42905 - 09/09/10 10:40 AM Re: "Faith Healers" [Re: William Wright]
Lamar Offline
member


Registered: 02/03/10
Posts: 226
Loc: Alabama
Something I thought would be interesting to add to this discussion is the views of Christians and demonic possession. I have attended a non denominational church since I was a baby. One of their favorite religious fetishes or topics to discuss was demonic possession. Related to possession was the discernment of spirits and speaking in tounges, or a "heavenly language." Intercessory prayer which involved this heavenly language would occur when casting out a spirit. I have witnessed services where spontaneously one would immediatly start talking in the spirt and then right after an interperatation would follow from a completly different person.
I have witnessed services where one would be covered in "gold-dust" after communicating in this heavenly language. Rather odd occurances.

Our church was infamous for such occurancs in our town. People thought (and at times asked if) we worshiped the Devil hahaha.

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