Does faith healing actually work?

1/29/2008 | 6:16 PM | Evolved Rationalist

Ever wondered why people supposedly get out of their wheelchairs and run about on stage during a healing crusade; but no one has ever regrown an amputated limb?

There are a few possibilities:

1. God is not omnipotent. Regrowing an amputated limb is beyond what he can do. (Remember, this is the same 'god' who flooded the whole earth, parted the Red Sea, created humans from dust, etc). This obviously does not make sense even if you look at it from the theological side.

2. God refuses to regrow limbs due to reasons that we, being humans, are not supposed to comprehend. As the popular apologetic argument goes: We cannot understand god's ways. Most Christians that I have spoken to simply love using this cowardly cop-out. It certainly saves them the trouble of thinking, as most Christians lose their rational minds after some time.

Notice that this runs contrary to the Bible:

(Matthew 7:7) Ask, and it will be given you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For every one who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened. Or what man of you, if his son asks him for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a serpent? If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask him!

(Matthew 21:21) I tell you the truth, if you have faith and do not doubt, not only can you do what was done to the fig tree, but also you can say to this mountain, 'Go, throw yourself into the sea,' and it will be done. If you believe, you will receive whatever you ask for in prayer.

3. God does not want to be too obvious. He prefers to remain mute and deaf; thus ensuring that thinking, rational people would have no reason to believe. In the end, he deliberately sends all these people to hell. Sadistic, isn't he?

4. God is imaginary, and the faith frauds healers are simply deluded/deliberate charlatans.

Why, then, are so many people supposedly 'cured'? There must still be miracles to account for, right?


1. Some faith healers are plain frauds. Peter Popoff pretended to get messages from god while his wife was whispering through an earpiece backstage. She got her information from cards that the audience fill out when they attend. In the incredibly credulous atmosphere of his crusades, the audience fell for it hook, line, and sinker. This fraud was exposed in the 1980's by James Randi.

2. Some alleged cures have involved mistaken diagnoses that required no cure at all in the first place.

3. Psychosomatic illnesses respond positively to psychological manipulation. This never works in the case of amputated limbs.

God is imaginary and faith healing is bunk. This is the most logical explanation when we consider psychosomatic illnesses as opposed to amputated limbs.

4. In the excitement of an evangelical revival, the reduction of pain due to the release of endorphins often causes people to believe and act as if they have been miraculously healed (Nickell 1993).

5. The desire to be cured can relieve stress and bring about the effects of the power of suggestion; and testimonies are often exaggerated to please god, the healer, or simply to demonstrate that they are full of credulity faith. Nevertheless, the desire to be cured can sometimes bring adverse effects. One cancer patient at a Kathryn Kuhlman faith-healing performance was asked by Kuhlman to remove her back brace and run across the stage. She claimed her cancer was cured, but then died two months later after X-rays showed that a "cancer-weakened vertebra had collapsed due to the strain placed on it during the demonstration" (Nickell 1998).

6. Some serious ailments (etc. cancer), are unpredictable and may undergo spontaneous remission.

7. Failures are sometimes blamed on the patient for not having enough faith, or too much doubt.

8. Many patients refuse to admit that they have not been cured as they are ashamed that they "lacked faith".

9. Many cures have been attributed to the placebo effect, not divine intervention.

To fully comprehend the lunacy of faith healers, the following is an excerpt from the transcript of what Benny Hinn said on Paul and Jan Crouch's TBN television program (Praise The Lord, Trinity Broadcasting Network, October 19, 1999).

Here, Benny Hinn claimed that people would be raised from the dead in front of the television. Are we supposed to believe that this man can actually heal? Where are all the dead people that were raised from the dead? God must have forgotten his promise to Benny Hinn, or the man was merely lying. You decide.

[start of excerpt]

Benny Hinn: But here's first what I see for TBN. You're going to have people raised from the dead watching this network. You're going to have people raised from the dead watching TBN. It's not going to be a Benny Hinn saying "Stretch your hands." It's going to be your average teaching program, your normal Christian program that's blessing the church. There's going to be such power on these programs people will be raised from the dead worldwide. I'm telling you, I see this in the Spirit. It's going to be so awesome. Jesus I give you praise for this -- that people around the world -- maybe not so much in America -- people around the world who will lose loved ones, will say to undertakers, "Not yet. I want to take my dead loved one and place him in front of that TV set for 24 hours."

[end of excerpt]

So far, nobody has been raised from the dead by Benny Hinn or any of the other faith frauds. Wouldn’t raising someone from the dead show non-believers that there must be something to this god business after all?

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