Faith healing is a recovery from injury or illness that defies the natural order of things. It is thought to be miraculous–unexplainable by conventional, earthly means, and impossible by any possible reckoning. And Christians do love this idea.
One can see why. Disease and injury are largely processes we don’t fully understand yet, and they can be so devastating–and we can feel so powerless before them–that one can hardly blame a desperate mind for latching onto divine explanations or reaching out for any help possible to help when trouble strikes. And there isn’t much more that seems as obvious as a divine healing; these sorts of events are often touted as “proof” of a god’s existence and care for his people.
It’s no exaggeration to say that the more extreme the denomination of Christianity, the more its adherents love the idea of faith healing–and the more of these healings they both “name and claim” and say occurred. I was a Pentecostal and married to a guy who wanted to be a preacher, so you can guess that I saw a lot of these supposed healings in my 10-ish years in the denomination.
Not one of them was actually real.
Not even one.
Not even close.
Sometimes the people involved were just suffering an excess of wishful thinking; more often these “miracles” were the product of deception or distortion.
Nothing’s changed since my deconversion.
Faith healing is a scam. Those who say they can do it are either deluding themselves or shamelessly deluding others. These supposed miracles demonstrate neither evidence for any gods’ existence nor such a being’s care for his or her people. All it does is remind those with ears to hear of just how strange it is that this religion–headed as it is by a god whose activities and actions should be painfully obvious and measurable on a constant basis–seems to have so many debunked myths and lies floating around its waters–so much noise to signal.
On May 20th, 2015, Charisma News reported that a preacher named Robby Dawkins, while giving a guest sermon in Northern England, resurrected a man who died during his service. Oh, it was simply giddy, breathless stuff, if the preacher (who is no relation to Richard Dawkins, apparently) said so himself:
“What I saw was a strong demonic presence over him. His head was contorting and looked to me like it would almost twist, as well as his jaw, face and hands contorting,” Dawkins recalls. “They were drawn up towards his chest and neck. It seemed every muscle was at an extreme strain in his body. He was jerking and twitching severely.” Dawkins wasted no time responding. He rushed over to Catlow, put his hand on his chest and forehead. Dawkins started binding demonic powers and commanding his body to be loosed in Jesus’ name. He did not see immediate results. In fact, Catlow started turning blue as the life-and-death drama escalated rapidly. “His lips turned from purple to blue-black. It turns out there was a doctor right beside me and he started praying with me,” explains Dawkins, pastor of Vineyard Church in Aurora, Illinois. “Several people started gathering around. We laid him on the floor and began to rebuke the spirit of death.”
But thank goodness a TRUE CHRISTIAN™ was on hand! Unlike the meaniepie-times-infinity American Airlines people who wouldn’t let him resurrect a guy who died during a flight, the church people recognized his true abilities and let him bring this poor guy back from the dead. Don’t imagine he was all puffed-up and vainglorious, however. You see, he’d seen people resurrected on videos before (and we know that these are never, ever, ever, ever faked or completely disreputable to anybody with eyes), but he’d never done it himself and he was kind of nervous. What if his faith wasn’t strong enough? Oh but his fears were groundless, you’ll be happy to hear. He “rebuked the spirit of death,” whatever that is, and “began to declare the resurrection life of Jesus Christ over him,” whatever that might be.
The man woke up!
CHECKMATE, ATHEISTS! EXPLAIN THAT!
The person who wrote this article for Charisma interviewed Dawkins as well. Jennifer LeClaire has previously written books about “Jezebel spirits,” whatever those are, and advising Christians on “developing your prophetic voice,” because nothing says “it’s all coached” quite like books telling the gullible exactly how to do something that’s supposed to be spontaneous. In this interview (and the follow-up piece, “What’s Stopping You From Raising the Dead in Jesus’ Name?”), we learn that Dawkins makes repeated claims that “a doctor” was on hand to prove that he’d really raised Matt Catlow from the dead during that fateful service.
If Christians read that article, they will come away with the utter conviction that a real live gin-yoo-wine miracle occurred here.
And they’ll be completely, utterly, catastrophically wrong.
Jennifer LeClaire is an amazingly shitty journalist, and she is either one of the most gullible and overly-trusting Christians on the planet (and let me tell you, that is a tough competition with entries rolling in by the hour) or she is greatly deceiving others. She presents Dawkins’ account completely without any critical assessments at all. When he does not ever name the “doctor” on hand, she doesn’t even ask about his identity or credentials–and certainly doesn’t ask that doctor for corroboration for the account. In fact LeClaire didn’t ask anybody at all about it, not even the “healed” guy or his family, nor the pastor at the church that hosted Dawkins that night. As far as she’s concerned–and as far as she wants her readers to be concerned–Dawkins is 100% legit.
But she’s wrong. This “miracle” is yet another in an endless, eons-long list of equally-fake “miracles.”
Matt Catlow’s sister has gone on record saying that this magic healing did not actually happen that way at all, and she’s written a Facebook post detailing exactly what did happen, and refuting Dawkins’ assertions completely:
Regarding the ‘death’… what Robby is telling everyone is not true. It has since been MEDICALLY proven that Matthew had suffered an epileptic seizure which often can display similar signs of someone dying. TWO nurse family friends of ours both had their hands on Matthew throughout and not once lost his pulse. So no, Matthew did not die. The preacher from inglewhite church [sic] has been so thrown by all of this that on Sunday just gone he stood at the front of church and apologized to his congregation for allowing Robby into their church. The doctor who was also there is said to be apologizing to them next week for all the pain caused through this unbelievable encounter that he had given and the shock that all this had been broadcast on Facebook by this coward of a man who will not face up to the actual truth.
She goes on to say that Dawkins even got her brother’s name wrong too. (Doesn’t that seem like something somebody would want to get right if they’d really done something that important to/for/with them?) It doesn’t sound like this miracle man’s been in touch with the family at all–which is something I’d consider natural for someone who really thought he’d brought about some sort of miracle for another person. This isn’t like the Lone Ranger, where after doing some town a great favor the dude jumps up on his white horse and rides off into the sunset, leaving a pretty schoolmarm in his wake. We’ve got the internet and telephones and all kinds of ways he could keep in touch. But he doesn’t seem to have done that. Maybe he didn’t want to know what happened afterward. I can’t really blame him. A lot of the rah-rah around these “miracles” depends massively upon not getting overly curious afterward about what happened to their recipients. You’d be shocked to know how many Christians I’ve run into who have reported seeing similarly super-dramatic miracles during visits to other countries or churches but who were similarly incurious about follow-up. It’s not hard to understand why.
Let me be clear here: we didn’t actually need her account to know that this miracle claim is false. Just Robby Dawkins’ own description makes it perfectly clear that his victim was actually going through a seizure, but even if we didn’t have that specificity of information we’d know that it’s not true because every single element of his account hits all the known notes of faith-healing flim-flammery.
Faith healing is a personal skill just like reading horoscopes or “talking to the dead.” There are distinct tricks to it. It’s a skill that can be learned, honed, and trained. Here’s a Cracked.com article discussing exactly how one young man did exactly that in his career as a faith healer. Famous debunker Darren Brown, in that YouTube link I gave earlier here, shows precisely how such tricks as “leg lengthening” and “curing blindness and deafness” work. These tricks rely upon people’s innate desire to believe. Take a look at these materials and then go re-read his account, and you’ll see that Dawkins has learned those techniques very well.
And I’ve got to ask: why are these tricks necessary if the Christian god is that totally eager to meddle in his followers’ lives and bestow miracles upon them? What would happen if Christians got wise to these psychological tricks and refused to buy into them without ample evidence? What would happen if they refused to tolerate the scam artists and charlatans in their midst, and gently took their self-deluded brethren in hand to stop them from spreading lies by accident?
These fakes get exposed faster and faster, it seems, and every single time, Christianity’s image gets further tarnished. There are few miracles so unbelievable and non-credible that Christians won’t embrace them to their bosoms and proclaim them from the rooftops as PROOF YES PROOF that their god is real and truly does meddle in their lives. And every time they do this, people get turned off further and further from their faith system. I don’t want to belong to a religion that lies to itself or others, and I don’t think many others do either. Worse, as these fakes get exposed, their own people start wondering–as I did many years ago–why their religion seems to boast so many fakes and so few truly real miracles.
Frankly, I’m thankful that these miracles are fake. I’m actually glad that we’re on our own and that no gods appear to be doing anything special with regard to people’s health and fortunes.
The alternative would be, in my opinion, far worse.
What Real Faith Healing Would Mean For Humanity.
The main alternative to fake miracles is a deity that bestows his meddling on some people but not all; that allows some babies and children to die in utter agony while “saving” a few others; that allows conjobs and thieves to flourish behind his churches’ podiums while allowing good people to go down in financial flames for trusting those conjobs and thieves; that has no rules whatsoever that he follows regarding exactly who gets what meddling from him–no rhyme or reason, letting his followers come up with dozens of guesses drawn straight from the cat’s ass about why he didn’t help someone who should, by all their logic, have been helped; that selectively cures a few people of dread diseases while letting all the rest rot in their own juices; that rescues some people from horrific fates while letting all the rest die or suffer; that ignores the serious needs before him in order to find someone else a set of car keys or cure someone’s mild acne before a big date; and the litany of horrors and cruelties incumbent in the Christian view of miracles just goes on and on and on, a sickening drumbeat of inconsistencies and bizarre priorities that most Christians themselves do not even see because they’ve been wrapped in miracle-culture their entire lives.
When someone fails to achieve a miracle, then the blame can always be laid upon that person or others who messed everything up–just like Robby Dawkins himself blames an airline crew for not letting him pray over a dead passenger, because his god requires certain incantations and magical hand gestures like laying on of hands to do his miracles and can’t do the miracle (or refuses to, because he’s such a bastard that way) if a Christian prays quietly in his seat for a miracle but must showboat around with loud thundering proclamations and gestures, and like countless of my friends and I got blamed (and often even blamed ourselves) for our own failure to be blessed with miracles of various kinds. There is always a way for a motivated and sufficiently blinkered mind to find blame for a failed miracle that keeps the Christian god’s reputation pristine and unsullied, and the miracle culture intact and functioning for the next claimant.
I would ten times rather there be no divine miracles at all, and only an endless succession of charlatans, snake-oil salespeople, and swindlers pretending that these miracles happen to make money off gullible sheep and revel in their adulation, rather than a god who does miracles the way this religion claims they’re being done.
And since that seems to be the case anyway, I’m content with putting my hope and faith in stuff that is real and has a chance of happening rather than deluding myself with wishful thinking. Life makes a lot more sense this way than it did while I wore those blinkers.
Other stuff I’ve written about miracles: