I came across another story of an apparent healing miracle recently, so I investigated it.
A doctor recovers after all hope is lost
A 39 year old doctor in country Western Australia had a heart attack in 2008. Recognising the early signs, he went to the clinic in the town he was driving through, had an ECG which confirmed what was happening, then collapsed. The two doctors and nursing staff present worked on him with a defibrillator and CPR, but after an hour and a half, his pulse had flat-lined and the doctors decided there was no more they could do.
About then his wife arrived after driving the 60 km from Kalgoorlie where they lived, and she was invited to go into the resuscitation room and say goodbye. She held his cold hand and prayed a simple prayer asking God for a miracle.
Immediately after she prayed, a weak heartbeat and brain activity returned. The doctor was transported to Perth Hospital and placed on life support equipment. The specialists there didn’t expect him to live, and certainly not without severe brain damage
And yet, several days later, he recovered consciousness, gradually recovered without brain damage, and three months later returned to work as Kalgoorlie Hospital.
The interesting thing about this case is that the doctor retained the relevant documentation, has published it on the web, and freely made it available to me.
Check out the detail
I have written the full story up at Dying doctor recovers after prayer, with copies of seven of the medical tests undertaken.
So was it a miracle?
No-one can prove a miracle has occurred, because we cannot directly measure the actions of God. But we can make some fairly certain statements about this case:
- Dr Sean George had a remarkable recovery. As a doctor himself, he is able to say that a patient “being clinically dead for so long, returning to life with their memory perfectly intact and without any neurological problems at all” is virtually impossible medically.
- The recovery occurred after a medical team had given up hope of recovery, and immediately after specific prayer to the christian God asking for a healing miracle.
- The case is documented and there were witnesses.
How can we decide if a miracle has probably occurred?
For several years now I have been documenting apparent healing miracles when I have come across them. You can read a summary so far at Healing miracles and God. There I suggest that all or most of 5 criteria should be met before we can reasonably believe a miracle has occurred:
- The account of the story comes from a reputable source which provides names, time and place, and there is no reason to believe the story is a fraud, or that anyone had anything to gain by inventing it.
- The disease or injury had little possibility of natural recovery.
- The recovery must have been complete, or at least very significant, and not what might be expected from any treatment being received.
- There must have been prayer for healing not long before the healing occurred.
- There must be good independent medical opinion (backed up by documentation) that the disease was present before the prayer and not present afterwards.
This case meets every one of these criteria. So while we cannot be certain this was a miracle, it requires a lot of scepticism to say it wasn’t.
Responses of scepticism and faith
I have started coming to the conclusion that documented miracles are one of the strongest evidences that the God of Jesus is real. But it is interesting, and a little sad, how different people react to a miracle story.
Faith approaching gullibility?
Some christians believe every story they hear, even ones that sound like urban myths. It is good to have faith and to thank God for everything, but I think we all need a little natural scepticism too.
Scepticism approaching blindness?
At the other extreme, some sceptics are unwilling to even consider the evidence. Few I have met have ever examined the evidence in any detail, and most are adamant that a miracle cannot occur and so they refuse to consider the evidence (although they say their views are evidence-based).
Some have effectively made it impossible for any evidence to convince them. (Some say they’d believe if they saw an amputee’s limb grow back, but others say they’d disbelieve their brains and senses before they’d believe in God.)
Surely the best approach is to be cautiously sceptical but open to the evidence? A well-documented miracle increases the probability of believing in God, at least a little.
What do you think?
Do you think any healing miracle could be shown to be probable?
Would it change your views if it was?
Photo: Dr Sean George’s website, used by permission.