The following post was submitted by Jeremy Wells, AKA the Not So Friendly Atheist, who blogs about the logical flaws in religious arguments.
Does god really heal? This is a simple question that I put to the test when I was a Christian- the results convinced me to abandon religion. One of god’s promises is that he will heal all believers that pray for it. This is one of the foundational beliefs in religious doctrine. Certainly god should honor his word in this area, but does he?
Is any one of you sick? He should call the elders of the church to pray over him and anoint him with oil in the name of the Lord. And the prayer offered in faith will make the sick person well; the Lord will raise him up.
If he has sinned, he will be forgiven. Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective. (James 5:14-16)
Many Christians claim that atheists take verses out of context, but these verses leave little room for personal interpretation. Throughout history, religious people have claimed that god is capable of healing. If the bible is the inspired word of god then this verse provides the evidence needed to support this claim. If it is valid then Christians should be the healthiest people we know and this should be evident throughout history.
During the 14th century there was a massive plague that annihilated roughly 30% of the European population; Christians had the same probability of death as anyone else. Why is this? Surely, an omnipotent god that promised healing to all that asked would have been able to answer these people’s prayers. Some might say that the 70% that survived were the true believers so I will bring this into perspective. We will examine a recent case to see if prayer is a reliable source of healing.
Many people have used prayer in conjunction with medical assistance and had “miraculous” recoveries, but this doesn’t prove the efficacy of prayer. Jesus and his apostles never took a person to the hospital and according to this verse neither should modern Christians. If prayer is truly effective then there is no need for a doctor. If a doctor can heal a person through modern medicine then prayer is futile. Recently, a story has swept across the nation that shows what happens when prayer is relied upon without the intervention of medical personnel.
The Wyland family from Oregon had complete faith in healing and put it to the ultimate test. Their newborn baby had an abnormal growth of blood vessels above her left eye and for six months they relied solely on prayer. Obviously prayer didn’t work for them and unfortunately many more children have died because of this belief in faith healing. What harm is there in faith?
Newspapers considered the family’s church to be “cult-like” and “extreme,” but they were simply following god’s word. What conclusion can we draw from this story? Either prayer works or it doesn’t; YOU BE THE JUDGE! If prayer has no effectiveness in practice then why use it? People say that religious belief gives hope to followers, but this girl didn’t need hope. She needed healing and it is apparent that god couldn’t provide it. This ailment was completely preventable by medical treatment, but now she might have suffered irreparable damage. Many people might say they have seen people recover after prayer, but the failed attempts far outweigh the subjective experiences of a few. Why would god be so inconsistent when fulfilling his promise? It appears that modern medicine yields much more consistent results. If medicine is more effective than religious belief then what does this say for the validity of faith healing?