Is there a God?
Reliable information for those asking life's big questions
Comments on pages on healing miracles in the Life section.
In 1988, a study by Randolph C. Byrd used 393 patients at the San Francisco General Hospital coronary care unit (CCU). Measuring 29 health outcomes using three-level (good, intermediate, or bad) scoring. Byrd concluded that “Based on these data there seemed to be an effect, and that effect was presumed to be beneficial”, and that “intercessory prayer to the Judeo-Christian God has a beneficial therapeutic effect in patients admitted to a CCU.A 1999 follow-up by William S Harris et al. attempted to replicate Byrd’s findings under stricter experimental conditions, noting that the original research was not completely blinded and was limited to only “prayer-receptive” individuals (57 of the 450 patients invited to participate in the study refused to give consent “for personal reasons or religious convictions”).Using a different, continuous weighted scoring system – which admittedly was, like Byrd’s scoring, “an unvalidated measure of CCU outcomes” – Harris et al. concluded that “supplementary, remote, blinded, intercessory prayer produced a measurable improvement in the medical outcomes of critically ill patients”, and suggested that “prayer be an effective adjunct to standard medical care.
In 1998 Fred Sicher et al. performed a small scale double-blind randomized study of 40 patients with advanced AIDS. The patients were in category C-3 with CD4 cell counts below 200 and each had at least one case of AIDS-defining illness.The patients were randomly assigned to receive distant intercessory healing or none at all. The intercession took place by people in different parts of the United States who never had any contact with the patients. Both patients and physicians were blind to who received or did not receive intercession. Six months later the prayer group had significantly fewer AIDS illnesses, less frequent doctor visits and days in the hospital.
A book published by an An Irish Nun; Sister Briege McKenna provides us with convincing proof of the healing power of healing directed prayer including fascinating photos of a child dying from Leprosy who was instantly cured in South America in her book entitled; Miracles Do Happen.
Hi Catherine, thanks for that information. I was aware of the studies (see my page Studies of intercessary prayer) but not of the book. I will look it up.
Other fascinating and well documented healing techniques are those provided by healing masters such as Adam McLeod (Dreamhealer)and Eric Pearl (see THE HEALING MATRIX a documentary) When these well documented healings are considered in light of amazing faith healers of the past like ; Sister Briege McKenna and Baptist Evangelist Kathryn Kuhlman as verified by Dr H Richard Casdorph along with double blind studies of the placebo effect. These facts should help us understand how the faith and perceptions of the patient play a fascinating role in quick recovery of an individual who expects a treatment or even an a placebo operation to effectively heal a serious medical condition.
We might then also consider that 2,000 years ago that Jesus was simply attempting to instruct humans how to stimulate and increase their Faith in our human ability to heal ourselves through His intercession when he declared “According to your faith be it to you.” Those who debunk sincere healers wreak havoc by intentionally seek to destroy human “FAITH” in our God-given ability to heal ourselves and heal others by simply knowing and believing that we can.
Thanks for this further information. But I don’t think Jesus or Richard Casdorph would agree that it was all about “Faith in our human ability to heal ourselves”, although I think that is important. I think some things are beyond our abilities, and then (as well as all other times) we need God.
I’m in need of healing for several conditions.If God wants to heal me it is perfectly all right with me.If Jesus wants to send down His love and shine on me, then I am willing to receive.So I ask you God the Father and Jesus the Son , touch me and heal me so that I be made whole free from illness and disease.Let me be one of your miracles.I thank you and praise you for this healing.
unkleE, I love your website, I found it from Travis R’s.
I wanted to say, the EKG you show in this post does not demonstrate ventricular fibrillation which is what defibrillation is used to treat. You said, “Thus the ECG shows some activity, but it is readily diagnosed as VF.” This is not true, I know this because I am a doctor. The EKG clearly shows heart attack, and the records here indicate defibrillation multiple times, so it seems that he was not dead per se. Rather his heart muscle which was not getting blood, the muscle was “gasping for air and nutrients” so to speak, was causing abnormal conduction and this was needing to be corrected multiple times by defibrillation. This does not mean that his brain was not getting blood flow, even though his heart was not functioning to capacity and he was likely unconscious, his heart might still be able to pump just enough blood up the carotids to keep him alive until treatment worked.
Now, I am not saying that God did not save his life because of prayer. I think miracle can easily mean an unlikely recovery with religious significance. I hope this comment is helpful for you!
Hi Brandon, thanks for your kind comments, and for this information. I have told the story as accurately as I know, but I am happy to have details corrected if I have understood them wrongly.
My reading of the story was that the first stage of his heart attack was VF (48) minutes, when the defibrillator and manual CPR were both used, and then 37 minutes of asystole when only CPR was used.
1. Are you saying that before the VF, there was a state, shown by the first ECG chart, which was less severe that fibrillation?
2. Or are you saying that his heart was still receiving some blood during this first 48 minutes, but not during the next 37?
I didn’t think his own story indicated #1, but I did think it indicated #2. If my re-telling suggests no blood to the brain for both periods then I need to correct that.
I’d appreciate any help in getting it right. Thanks.
You say it is unusual to believe that the fact that evil exists is evidence for God unless God is evil. That is nonsense. I know that evil evil exists, I know that good exists. I believe God is all good and created all there is. I also know that He created free will which results in the abilty to choose God or reject Him. It is the rejection of God that is the root of evil, not God Himself, unless you want to argue that the bestowal of free will was an evil act.
Hi Phillip, thanks for visiting and commenting. I can’t recall where I said that, but I do think that the existence of evil is a difficulty for believers. Not enough reason to stop believing, but still a difficulty (for me at least). But I agree with you that much of the evil in the world is a result of the gift of free will.
Sorry, this test is a logical fallacy. It forces one to first accept God can exist before asking you to decide whether X or Y is more likely to occur – which of course doesn’t make any sense.
“Was Usain Bolt more or less likely to break the 100m world record with or without magic shoes?” Answer: More likely with magic shoes. Therefore magic shoes exist?
You are asking people to compare the likelihood of God deciding to create the universe or do something else, with the likelihood of say, a vacuum fluctuation creating enough matter to form the universe. I can’t really fathom God not creating a universe, if he existed. But then the likelihood of him existing is near zero – hence the former supposition does not determine the latter.
Those perhaps less knowledgeable of science will of course assume a universe by any other means would be a tricky thing to do, yet that is the ignorance you are relying on. Vacuum fluctuations have been observed and with infinite amounts of time the probability of our universe coming about from nothing becomes highly probable. One might say “that sounds crazy!!” but any crazier than a man in the sky conjuring it up out of magic? No, it’s observed science not unobserved conjecture.
Yet the question still protects itself; at best one can say that the universe coming into existence is just as likely to occur without a God as with one – sort of like saying “oh, it’s 50/50!” which is nonsense.
The question forces one to pretend that a God 100% exists in order to compare the scenario to him not existing. In reality we need to appreciate a being complex enough to create the universe has to be MORE COMPLEX than the universe itself. If one agrees that the universes existence without God is highly improbable, one must agree than something existing that is more complex is EVEN LESS PROBABLE.
So the questions really should be phrased not “is X more or less likely if God exists or not?” which bypasses the improbability of God entirely and “can X occur without God?”
The answer is yes it can.
With the observed science in front of us, we would compare that to a GOD EXISTING, not a God creating the universe if he did exist. God’s existence being far too implausible, and the observed science being far more probable, one can safely assume the explanation with the smallest leap of faith to be correct.
Evolution for example: many simple steps over vast amounts of time leading to complex life. That works. God magically making all the animals? The mechanics of that is practically insane, not just fathoming how he did it but fathoming the existence of such a being at all. Hence, the probability of God is so small, in possession of a far more probable explanation it can pretty much be dismissed as an answer.
The test is clever – philosophical even, but for the reasons above it has no credibility in measuring the probability of God. Happy to discuss further,
Hi Ryuco, thanks for visiting and commenting. I appreciated what you say and how you said it, but I find I disagree with you about several things.
1. I am very interested in your Bayes Theorem comment about magic shoes, for I think that is an interesting test case. But I think the Usain Bolt example has many factors and many possible theories which complicate matters. So to discuss it properly, I think we need to know what exactly is the theory you are arguing for/against and what exactly is the new evidence.
2. “It forces one to first accept God can exist before asking you to decide whether X or Y is more likely to occur”
I agree that someone has to think that it isn’t logically impossible for God to exist before one can use Bayes Theorem, but that isn’t a big ask – most people believe God’s existence isn’t logically contradictory, though perhaps you have a proof that it is? But we don’t assume that God does exist. Bayes Theorem just tests the hypothesis that God exists vs the hypothesis that he doesn’t. No assumptions.
3. “Vacuum fluctuations have been observed and with infinite amounts of time the probability of our universe coming about from nothing becomes highly probable.”
I think this statement is quite mistaken. Vacuum fluctuations don’t occur in nothing, but in a quantum vacuum, which actually contains energy and “fleeting electromagnetic waves and particles that pop into and out of existence”, and it exists in space and time. This has little relationship with the universe coming into existence out of nothing – no space, no time, no energy, no quantum field or vacuum. Very different!
4. “If one agrees that the universes existence without God is highly improbable, one must agree than something existing that is more complex is EVEN LESS PROBABLE.”
And how do you define complex?
If two explanations are equally likely, then we rightly choose the less complex one to investigate first, but these two explanations are not equally likely. I think this argument, though often used, is incredibly weak and I’ve never seen it justified. I would be interested to see what you think.
“God’s existence being far too implausible, and the observed science being far more probable”
I don’t see anywhere that you’ve shown that God’s existence is implausible, and the only science you’ve mentioned (evolution) is irrelevant (biology has nothing to do with cosmology). The stuff about the vacuum fluctuation is not science but hokum when applied to a state of nothing.
I am too quite happy to discuss these matters further. Thanks for the discussion so far.
Thank you for replying. It is always good to discuss these things, even if we do disagree. I hope I can be successful in getting my point across to you and look forward to further discussion. Following on from your points, lets look at the logical fallacy of your God Test first. Perhaps we can separate the emotional element of this by examining only at the validity of the test, and not at the existence of God; i.e. my successful demonstration that the test is a logical fallacy does not deny the existence of God, only that the test is invalid.
You seem unsatisfied with my ‘Magic Boots’ example, so lets use another in way of demonstrating the tests logical failure.
First, lets agree that the test can be simplified to the following question:
“Which scenario is the universe more likely to exist: (a) In an environment where God exists or (b) in an environment where God does not exist?”
I will start by recontextualising the question then demonstrating why this is a logical fallacy.
“Which scenario are children more likely to receive presents at Christmas: (a) In an environment where Santa Claus exists or (b) in an environment where Santa Claus does not exist?”
So we imagine a world with Santa. We don’t question the likelihood of Santa – the question does not allow you to do that – however unlikely Santa’s existence may be, it is not applicable to the question. By design, Santa Claus gives presents to children at Christmas. It is incredibly difficult to imagine an environment where Santa Claus exists but does not give children presents at Christmas. Okay, it’s not impossible, but what one knows about Santa, one would deem it highly probable that he would act in the way we expect of him and bestow children with gifts.
Now we imagine a world without Santa. Now you’d imagine it still possible for children to get presents at Christmas – most likely from their parents. But without Santa and his traditions, perhaps we would not bestow our kids with gifts on this day? Perhaps we’d forget? Or could not afford it? Many doubts spring to mind but importantly MORE doubt than the near 100% certainty of scenario A, an environment where a gift giving jolly man is real.
So, the answer to the posed question would be ‘A’ – children are more likely to receive presents at Christmas in an environment where Santa Claus exists. Following through with the logic of your test, the conclusion would therefore be that Santa Claus exists.
This is logical fallacy because the question forces you to imagine scenario A to be true. It says no matter how unlikely Santa’s existence is, just imagine he’s true for a minute and make the following assessment whether a particular event will happen or not. It then uses the proposition that it would to confirm his existence! Big fail.
Let’s apply the tests logic to another example:
“Which scenario would I be more likely to see the tooth under my pillow swapped for a coin? (a) In an environment where the Tooth Fairy exists or (b) in an environment where the Tooth Fairy does not exist?”
The question forces us to unconditionally accept the existence of the Tooth Fairy to make the assessment. We first imagine an environment, however unlikely, where the Tooth Fairy exists. It’s difficult to imagine from what we know about the Tooth Fairy that she would not replace teeth with coins – for that is her job. So we would say, even if we doubt her existence, that if she did exist, teeth being swapped for coins would be almost 100% certain.
Examining scenario B, we run into more difficulty. That’s not to say teeth being swapped for coins wouldn’t happen – but would parents be as meticulous and stealthy as the Tooth Fairy? Wouldn’t they be more likely to forget, or not want to, or unable to afford it, or not even think for a second to do such a thing without the Tooth Fairy tradition? One would be quite correct in ascertaining that teeth being swapped for coins is more likely to happen in scenario A. EVEN THOUGH teeth ARE swapped for coins in scenario B! Following the logic of your God Test through, we would conclude because the teeth-coin swap is more likely in scenario A, the Tooth Fairy exists. Another fail.
We can apply this logic to many more examples:
“Would my wish be more or less likely to come true if the lamp I was rubbing was (a) magic or (b) not magic?” Wishes CAN come true (by coincidence, drive, ambition etc) but a magic lamp would certainly help! Conclusion: in (a) it’s more likely, thus magic lamps must exist.
“Would I be more or less likely to unidentifiable flying objects in the sky if (a) aliens existed or (b) aliens did not exist?” (a), therefore aliens must exist.
And finally, as you are probably getting the picture by now;
“Would Usain Bolt be more or less likely to break the world 100m record if (a) he had magic boots or (b) magic boots did not exit?” (a), therefore magic boots must exist.
Now to answer your question:
“I agree that someone has to think that it isn’t logically impossible for God to exist before one can use Bayes Theorem, but that isn’t a big ask – most people believe God’s existence isn’t logically contradictory, though perhaps you have a proof that it is? But we don’t assume that God does exist. Bayes Theorem just tests the hypothesis that God exists vs the hypothesis that he doesn’t. No assumptions.”
As I have shown, it is not about whether or not one assumes Santa, the Tooth Fairy, magic lamps or God to be logically impossible – whether you are a believer in them or not, the questions in the God Test do not discriminate or care; you are simply asked to unconditionally accept for one moment that X exists, and then make your assessment whether or not an event in this imagined scenario would or would not occur. What is relevant here is that the question is illogical, not the belief in God or magic lamps, though personally I’d say those too are illogical for reasons perhaps not best discussed in this post which is probably long enough as it is.
Perhaps too a discussion on vacuum fluctuations and the state of nothing (in my view, there is no such thing as ‘nothing’ – ‘nothing’ is mathematically equal to something minus something, which is what our universe is, an equal amount of positive and negative energy netting zero) would be best left for another time – the important thing to remember is that, however improbable it may be as an answer to our universes existence, it’s possible, and more probable that conjuring an even more complex system into existence in order to explain ours.
The real thing to consider for now, is that the God Test is a logical fallacy and simply does not work – it’s just a set of leading questions which ignore’s probability rather than assesses it. That’s not to say God does not exist, just that this test does not succeed in determining him probable.
I hope this finds you with the amiability intended and look forward to hearing your response and perhaps discussing other items in our debate another time.
Hi thanks for the detailed reply.
“So, the answer to the posed question would be ‘A’ – children are more likely to receive presents at Christmas in an environment where Santa Claus exists.”
I think you have posed the argument wrongly, that is why I asked you to define the argument better. In this example, the hypothesis is that Santa Claus exists (or not) and the new data is the presents kids receive, or don’t. But over the world, more kids don’t receive presents than do, so we would legitimately conclude that Santa doesn’t exist. Same with the tooth fairy example. But we can only see this if we define the terms.
Now I agree that the Usain Bolt example is trickier. Here the hypothesis is (I presume) that Usain has magic boots that make him run faster. The new data is …. what? That he runs fast? That is old data, but let’s look at the case before Bolt had won a race. Then, you are saying (I think) Bayes Theorem calculates that because Bolt wins his next race, it becomes more likely that Usain has magic boots?
I’m not sure about this, but here’s my first thoughts.
There are many possible hypotheses as to why Bolt runs fast – e.g. he is naturally fast, he has better training, he takes steroids, he fixes the races, he eats spinach, he has magic earrings, etc. So maybe, his winning does increase the probability of magic boots, but it also increases the probability of all those other hypotheses too. So then we have to examine things further.
Examining all the hypotheses might give us reason to prefer some over others. We might do tests on the boots, get Bolt to change boots, or get someone else wears his boots, etc. But in the end, it would be wrong to assume the magic boots hypothesis was the only and therefore best explanation.
But with God and the universe, we only have the one hypothesis and its negation, so it is reasonable to test using Bayes Theorem. That’s as far as I’ve got so far.
It’s Saturday night and I’m going away in the morning (just one overnight) so I haven’t had time to work out exactly what’s wrong, but I’ll think some more. Again, that’s why we need to define terms. Your first two counter examples didn’t work, but I’m still not sure about this one. Meanwhile, you might like to read up on Bayes Theorem and see if you can state the Bolt argument more precisely.
“the important thing to remember is that, however improbable it may be as an answer to our universes existence, it’s possible”
I’m afraid that’s not so. Quantum fluctuations have nothing to do with “nothing” – they only have to do with a quantum field. So no-one has shown any way that creation from nothing is possible. You may be interested in these blog posts by a Astrophysicist – On Nothing and More sweet nothings. Don’t worry about the parts you don’t understand (I certainly don’t understand it all), but the parts you can understand should give you an idea why the quantum fluctuation is a far cry from “nothing”.
“I hope this finds you with the amiability intended “
Yep, I really appreciate your genial approach, and I hope I can be as courteous. I’ll catch you in a couple of days.
It would seem it is your incorrect preconception of ‘nothing’ which is the barrier to your acceptance of vacuum fluctuation as a suggested theory of the Universe, rather than the theory itself. I would suggest a read of ‘A Universe From Nothing’ by Lawrence M Krauss who articulates the theory far better than I. What I would offer as a starting point though, is that if one accepts that absolute nothing is impossible, then one can appreciate how observed fluctuations of matter within vacuums could quite happily be a theory of the universe. I could also offer the argument that imagining a universe where absolute nothing is impossible, is easier to do than imagining a universe where a being more complex than the universe itself exists. It would also be worth remember that, the absence of a concrete theory does not confirm the existence of God (I’m sure you are familiar with the argument of “The God of the gaps”) and whatever amount of evidence or observation is lacking for The Big Bang Theory, is far multiplied in Creationist theory. A 95% complete scientific model should not be disregarded because of the missing 5% in favour of a different theory which lacks any evidence at all.
But again, I think this is all rather academic to the problem of the test which I think we have a better chance of finding agreement than the creation of the universe!
You say the Santa and Tooth Fairy examples fail to demonstrate your test uses fallacious logic – I don’t think they do.
The point to remember is how the question is posed. In a universe where Santa exists, kids would more likely receive presents. You can’t refute that. I’m only asking you to measure one imagined universe against another with no consideration of the credibility of either universe. The fact that some kids don’t receive presents is neither here nor there – if Santa existed he would do his best to bestow gifts and such a universe would see more gifts than a universe without him. That is all that is needed to demonstrate the logical fallacy of asking one to imagine a scenario where God exists and a scenario where God didn’t. Our preconceived notions of God, even if one is not religious, is that God is a creator – I do not believe in God but, when asked to pretend I do for one minute, and then consider whether or not he would create the universe, is exactly the same as being asked to pretend Santa exists and imagine consider whether or not he would give gifts to children at Christmas. The answer to both is of course, “yes he would” for it is the design of Santa and the design of God, even if those designs are as imaginary as unicorns or Leprechauns or fairies or magic boots.
If I am being asked to suspend my disbelief in Superman for example, could I imagine him being able to fly? If I am to suspend my disbelief in ghosts can I imagine them being able to walk through walls? If I am to suspend my disbelief in God, can I imagine him creating the universe?
It simply doesn’t work as a model of proof. But then I think the problem is bigger than that.
Our biggest hurdle It would seem, is your reluctance to accept other theories for the creation of the universe as valid and therefore wrongly assume we only have one theory – God – with which to test. I find it hard to understand how you are willing to disregard any theory if it has holes, except Creationism. That might be a good starting point for you – Creationism has many, many flaws and fallacies; you do not disregard this as a theory – maybe you should be honouring scientific theory in the same way and at least consider the universe has more than one theory of its existence.
But as it stands, merely suggesting that as it is near 100% likely that should God exist, he would create the universe, therefore he must exist, is rather absurd.
Moving on, another thought occurred to me regarding the test and returns to something I mentioned earlier regarding preconception. Even I, an atheist, fell for it – when one is asked to imagine God, one instantly assumes a God who would indeed create the universe. Why?
Why not imagine a God who wouldn’t create the universe? That would be a fair assumption when you think about it. Our understanding of God, whether one believes in God or not, is that he is the creator. What if we imagine a God who isn’t? A God who can’t create a universe, or doesn’t want to. Is that harder to believe? I don’t think so. Follow that on, what if one were to imagine a God existing, not creating the universe but the universe still coming into existence by other means? In essence, the only thing tying God and the existence of the universe together is our preconception of God – remove that and they are pretty independent of each other; one could exist without the other and have nothing to do with each other.
What it boils down to is that it is only religion which directs us to believe a creative God. The questions within the test actually cannot account for preconception – one has to use evidence to accurately assess whether God would create the universe or not, and the existence of the universe is not logical evidence that he would; another logical fallacy: it’s like saying God existing is evidence for whether he exists or not! One cannot suggest that, because the universe is here and the universe can only be created by God, God must have created it and therefore must exist! That’s the fallacy of circular reasoning if ever I saw it!
Plenty to think about there but I fear we are edging toward the inevitable – I will have to explain and defend scientific theory while you will have to explain and defend creationism and neither of us will succeed in convincing the other one is right.
What I surely can help you with is understanding my position, just as I understand yours. When presented with theories of how the universe began, you are at the very least asking me to imagine something as improbable as a vacuum fluctuation or an infinite Big Bang – Big Crunch model, or a multiverse continuum, or universes giving birth to new universes through blackholes, or the many theories that use logic and observation to endorse, when you ask me to consider a being so advanced, so magnificent, so complex and so magical as God, creating the universe with his hands, listening to our prayers, interacting with the world, knowing everything and every when, existing for eternity and requiring no creation event himself.
As you appreciate, I would argue this explanation more unlikely than anything science has suggested and that brings us back to the God Test. One’s disbelief is relevant and you cannot ask people to suspend that when looking into the probability of his existence.
Thanks for the reply. But I think we are maybe going round in circles. You say near the end that you understand my position, but i think you don’t. So rather than try to argue at cross purposes, let me try to at least clarify.
1. Creation from nothing via quantum fluctuations is not a scientific theory. I don’t know if you read the references I sent, but I have seen quotes from other scientists, even one from Krauss himself, admitting that his book doesn’t really start from nothing but from something.
Eminent cosmologist Martin Rees says in ‘Just Six Numbers’: “Cosmologists sometimes claim that the universe can arise ‘from nothing’. But they should watch their language, especially when addressing philosophers. We’ve realised ever since Einstein that empty space can have a structure such that it can be curved and distorted. Even if shrunk to a ‘point’ it is latent with particles and forces – still a far richer construct than the philosophers’ ‘nothing’.” It is noticeable that when he endorses Krauss’s book, it is as a description of creation from “a hot, dense state” and he describes Krauss’s writing on creation from nothing as “fascinating speculations”
Physicist Luke Barnes, in his blog Letters to Nature, calls Krauss’s work “sophomorically irrelevant”. Prof David Albert (who has qualifications in both quantum physics and philosophy) says in a review of the book, that none of these appearances of particles “amount to anything even remotely in the neighborhood of a creation from nothing.”
Jerry Coyne (not a cosmologist but a committed atheist scientist) reviews the book, quotes David Albert at length, and supports his criticisms of Krauss.
Finally, Krauss himself has admitted it is ““disingenuous to suggest that empty space endowed with energy … is really nothing””
So really, it is all flim flam. Krauss has offered nothing that explains creation from nothing, and I really think you need to read a lot more on that topic. Thus when you mention my “reluctance to accept other theories for the creation of the universe” I have to say – show me one, Krauss doesn’t have one, and I haven’t seen any.
2. I think you still don’t understand Bayes Theorem, and I encourage you to read up on it and express your theories on Santa and God in Bayes Theorem terms.
2.1 Take your Santa argument. You say “if Santa existed he would do his best to bestow gifts and such a universe would see more gifts than a universe without him” Exactly! And we don’t see all that many children with Christmas gifts, certainly not ones that look like Santa has give gifts to all. Your example proves the opposite of what you want it to prove, but it can only be made clear if you define your statements in Bayes Theorem terms.
2.2 Likewise with God. The arguments mean nothing until you define terms. For example, you say:“Why not imagine a God who wouldn’t create the universe?” Bayes Theorem doesn’t deal with imaginations, it deals with definitions and hypotheses. If we define God as the creator of the universe, then we test whether a universe such as we have would be more likely under the hypothesis that such a God exists or the alternative hypothesis that such a God doesn’t exist. There is no imagining any more than there is an assumption, just testing alternative hypotheses. Until you understand this I fear we will continue to talk at cross purposes.
So can I please suggest you read the Coyne blog post and the Luke Barnes blog posts and read the references on Bayes Theorem (if you haven’t done so already) and then take some notice of them in preparing any response. Thanks.
This is my point, though. Your understanding of ‘nothing’ is the issue here – ‘nothing’ is actually something, there is no such thing as absolute nothing. You’ve misunderstood a lot of what you source. But this is irrelevant, as I have said – I was just initially offering forth an alternative explanation to demonstrate the logical flaw in your tests assumptions; perhaps I should have used something that would require less debate! As I have said, I could quite happily defend vacuum fluctuations but we really don’t have the space for me to teach you about something you do not understand and I genuinely don’t see it being relevant to the main arch of the conversation. Forget vacuum flux, for the purpose of this conversation there are hundreds of theories, scientific and not-so scientific which attempt to explain our existence; google is a fine method for finding them rather than me wasting space listing them all here, or falsely showing favour with one over another by selective examples. We move on.
I do understand Bayes (with respect, it’s not difficult), and think it is fundamentally flawed when being applied to something of this nature. It simply does not follow that if atheists are wrong, Christians are right. Or that if Christians are wrong, atheists are right. They could both be wrong; on what basis are all other Gods, universe ideologies, philosophies excluded (You seem to have taken vacuum fluctuations to heart; it was just an example)? They can’t with any credibility and so the issue cannot be cast as an either/or proposition. To do so employs a false dichotomy.
the whole test relies on this a-priori 50% probability towards God’s existence, because you the author has dismissed any other explanation for the existence of the universe; it is either God, or no God – uncertainty is 50-50, there is either a God or there isn’t, a 50% starting point for each, which is a fatal skewing of the numbers.
You’re a-priori 50% probability of God’s existence is akin to the following logic:
The universe was created by God or not, therefore there is a 50% chance that God created the universe
= All men are either called Fred or not, therefore there is a 50% chance that any man is called Fred
As you see, it is fallacious to assume something is 50% on the account it is either true or it isn’t, so therefore 1 in 2.
One could argue that by starting with incorrect premises (50% a-priori probability of Gods existence) your conclusions have a 100% probability of being incorrect!
Perhaps the transference of the logical fallacy has not been helpful. Let’s return it to God’s existence and ask you for perfect impartiality.
Let’s assume you exist in Universe A. In Universe A, the probability of God existing is 1%. The probability of God creating the universe if he did exist, is 100%. The universe exists, therefore Bayesian probability suggests the probability of God is 100%.
Let’s assume you now exist in Universe B. Here, the probability of God existing is far better, let’s say 67%. The probability of God creating the universe if he did exist is still 100%. The universe exists, therefore the Bayesian probability of God’s existence is still 100%.
Here I highlight that, with extraordinarily different data you end up with the same result, drawing us to the conclusion that Bayesian probability is struggling for validity here. It is simply failing logically, because the initial conditions have no effect on the calculations, rendering the calculations utterly meaningless. As anyone would agree, a machine that infers the same answer with different data input is broken!
Let’s move onto the Santa example. I guess it isn’t perfect but at risk of repeating myself it is only the logical fallacy I am asking you to appreciate – enough kids get gifts at Christmas for the comparison to be made and the point to stand: like the God test, the Santa Test asks you to assume the existence of Santa in order to run the assessment. This is a logical fallacy.
Next you claim “Bayes theorem doesn’t deal with imaginations”, but here it does as I have demonstrated, and that is the fundamental problem. It asks you to imagine an existence, however unlikely, with a God and then asks you to assess the probability of him creating the universe. It is the latter probability you then use to assess the initial ignored probability! Sorry, that’s circular reasoning and a logical fallacy as explained.
Next you say if we define God as the creator of the universe, one cannot assume a God that doesn’t – I agree, and this is the logical fallacy. Our preconception of what God is, defines our answer without mathematical reasoning, reinforcing the false dichotomy. Until you understand this very simple concept I agree – we are going around in circles or at least, maybe you aren’t willing to accept my point as it rather spoils your entire argument? I don’t know but it’s a pretty simple concept I’m asking you to acknowledge, I’m beginning to struggle to understand why you keep ignoring it?
In summary, The God Test relies on a 50-50 a-priori probability of Gods existence which is a false dichotomy even before you get into the premise that the test forces you to ignore the actual probability of God in favour of answering the probability of what an improbable entity like a God would do should one exist!
But your refusal to accept there is any other explanation for the universe is really what is our biggest problem here, and that I’m afraid is what harms your credibility. Perhaps this discussion has nowhere left to go?
All the best,
Hi Ryucoo, it seems we are making some progress. I believe we have clarified one matter, but there is still misunderstanding on the other.
1. Creation from nothing.
You say “‘nothing’ is actually something, there is no such thing as absolute nothing”. This makes your view clear it seems. Let’s clarify terms as you see them:
“absolute nothing” = no thing at all, no space, time, matter or energy. But this doesn’t exist and cannot exist according to you.
“pseudo nothing” = quantum vacuum = space, time, energy and potential for particles, but no actual particles.
It is clear then that Krauss’s book should (on your definitions) be called “A universe from pseudo nothing”.
We are still left with the question “why is there something rather than absolute nothing?” What would be your answer to that?
And also the question: “how do you know there is no such thing as absolute nothing?”
2. Bayes Theorem and God
I’m sorry but I think you still have some mistaken views about Bayes Theorem.
“enough kids get gifts at Christmas for the comparison to be made and the point to stand: like the God test, the Santa Test asks you to assume the existence of Santa in order to run the assessment. This is a logical fallacy.”
This isn’t true. You can start with any prior probability you choose. When I did a miracles calculation (see Miracles and probability: the adventures of a maths nerd), I assumed 1 in a million.
“Here I highlight that, with extraordinarily different data you end up with the same result, drawing us to the conclusion that Bayesian probability is struggling for validity here”
This is because you have misunderstood Bayes Theorem. You have based this on a 50/50 prior probability – an assumption which neither Bayes nor I make.
“enough kids get gifts at Christmas for the comparison to be made and the point to stand: like the God test, the Santa Test asks you to assume the existence of Santa in order to run the assessment. This is a logical fallacy.”
I’m sorry, but this is wrong on both counts. (1) You haven’t defined your hypothesis nor your criteria for judging. I have done both and shown that the argument produces the opposite result to what you claim. If you disagree, please state your hypothesis and criteria. (2) Bayes doesn’t ask you to assume anything. It asks you to formulate a hypothesis and then test it against the converse of the hypothesis. Scientists do that all the time. There is no assumption and no logical fallacy involved.
” Our preconception of what God is, defines our answer without mathematical reasoning, “
No, the hypothesis we are testing determines the result. There is no preconception involved. If it makes you feel better, we could choose to test the hypothesis that no God exists and healings are by chance. The contrary hypothesis would be that God exists and heals. We would still be comparing the same two hypotheses, we have just stated them in the opposite order.
3. Alternative hypotheses
“your refusal to accept there is any other explanation for the universe is really what is our biggest problem here”
Again, this is a mistake. I am happy to consider and test any hypothesis. Re the universe, very few hypotheses have been suggested. I can think of three: (1) that God created it, (2) that it appeared out of nothing, and (3) that it has always been there. Can you think of any others?
Obviously I am happy to discuss (1). We have been discussing (2) for sometime, and I have argued that Krauss hasn’t even addressed this option, because he is discussion creation from pseudo-nothing. It seems instead that he, and you, are actually proponents of (3) – there has never ever been absolute nothing, always pseudo nothing which is really something. So you should be arguing that the universe has always existed.
Re miracles, I only know two hypotheses, that God did it or they are natural occurrences. I have considered and analysed both. Your objection to my argument from miracles, so far at least, stems from a misunderstanding of Bayes Theorem, prior probability and setting up a hypothesis to test in particular. Can I suggest you read a little more so you understand these matters?
Well, I wouldn’t really call it ‘pseudo nothing’. ‘Nothing’ is really a metaphysical concept; actual physical nothing doesn’t exist – we’ve never observed it, measured it, created it or found evidence for it or even evidence that it is required or could ever exist – much like God! Nothing is exactly the same as the sum of something minus something. Mathematically, there is no difference between 0 and 1-1. Whether you understand the basis of vacuum fluctuations or not, you can’t escape it as a theory. In a vacuum, the closest to ‘nothing’ believed possible (and let’s face it, it is pretty much nothing!) Go to the deepest darkest region of space, find a cube inch in which no particles exist, surround it by perfectly reflecting material to block all frequencies of light, so that there is no matter and no energy within the volume, and you will still measure particles popping in and out of existence, as the space flirts between 0 and +1 + -1, at which the quantum level it matters not which form it is; it’s essentially both.
So, within our best idea of what nothing is, we witness something coming from that nothing. Your notion of ‘pure nothing’ is just words, just an idea – it has no rationality to it – it doesn’t exist as far as we can tell and it doesn’t need to; even the most fundamental mathematics agree. Your argument is against it is based on an ideal you can’t prove, so it’s rather unhelpful we continue discussing something you don’t (or refuse to) understand – as I have politely said a number of times.
“This isn’t true. You can start with any prior probability you choose.”
No. This is where your understanding is confused – probably because this theory isn’t yours and you are unfamiliar with it at a deeper level. If I am being asked a question based on the prior premise that something is either true or not true, with no value assigned to either, this is a 50-50 a-priori probability.
You are asking me to imagine:
1) That there is a God – now would he create the universe?
2) That there is not a God – would the universe still be created?
In neither (1) not (2) are any values being considered when assuming God exists or God does not exist, therefore they are being presented as equal – which is a 50-50 probability.
Same as the Santa Test. You may think you’ve foiled the example because “not all kids get presents at Christmas” but as I said and continue to prove, it doesn’t matter. As an example of a 50-50 a-priori probability, it’s perfect. I’m asking you to not first consider the likelihood of Santa but imagine Santa existed (then assess kids getting gifts), then imagine Santa not existing (then assess kids getting gifts), as if the two scenarios were equally likely, 50-50. It is unfair of me to do so, as in one scenario, a separate event is more likely to happen, no matter how unlikely the initial scenario itself is to be true. The fact is, there are more than just Santa and Not Santa scenarios which explain the event and every scenario has a different, unequal probability – not 50-50.
It really is quite straightforward, I’m a little confused by your difficulty to understand it. Anyway, the 50-50 probability is a false dichotomy and being asked to assign a probability subjectively after being forced to assume 50-50, to ascertain an actual value on what you have already been forced to accept, is circular reasoning. Hence, it’s a pretty useless test and my demonstration of it’s failure holds – no hypothesis or criteria are required to show what I have shown.
“we could choose to test the hypothesis that no God exists and healings are by chance. The contrary hypothesis would be that God exists and heals. We would still be comparing the same two hypotheses, we have just stated them in the opposite order.”
Sigh. You are doing it again. You are creating an a-priori 50-50 probability – the hypothesis that God exists and healings are by chance VS the hypothesis God exists and heals. This test would have the same outcome; the logical fallacy at the start, the forced assumption that either is equally likely in a binary proposition would skew the result so as to render it meaningless.
“I am happy to consider and test any hypothesis. Re the universe I can think of three: (1) that God created it, (2) that it appeared out of nothing, and (3) that it has always been there. Can you think of any others?”
I can think of perhaps 10-20 more, and I am sure there are probably thousands. I recall one from the Mesopotamian era which stated a sick hunter vomited up the Earth and the Sun and the stars after catching no animals in the empty sky! But I’m glad you acknowledge at least 3 – this is all I need you to accept in order to render your test a fallacy. See, once you have admitted there are more scenarios than God or Not God (so more than two scenarios) I’d imagine it won’t be as difficult for you to make the next step and accept it is not a 50-50 probability and therefore the test is fallacious.
In order to decide if God exists or not, you ask whether the universe would more likely exist if (a) God existed or (b) God did not exist? Without the consideration of likelihood being applied in imagining (a) or (b), and in the absence of (c ), (d), (e) , (f) etc. it’s a meaningless question. It’s just not 50-50.
I think it is you who needs to read more, my friend.
Hy Ryucoo, it’s been a bit of a struggle, but we have got somewhere, even if you’re trying to avoid admitting it!
You agree that the quantum vacuum isn’t truly nothing, but “the closest to ‘nothing’ believed possible”. But that’s not “nothing”, which is what you initially said. So according to you now, the universe came from something.
This should have been clear to you by logic. For if, as you say, “actual physical nothing doesn’t exist”, then obviously no universe could have come from it!
And that “closest thing” actually has enough energy to produce not just “a few particles popping in and out of existence”, but actually the 1080 baryons that make up about 5% of the universe plus all the dark matter and dark energy that make up the remaining 95%. That’s a lot of matter to be produced by something close to nothing!
Look, I’m going to stop discussing Bayes Theorem. This has become a game – me saying you don’t understand it, you saying the same back at me.
It is clear that you don’t understand prior probability, which can be assigned any value and is not necessarily 50/50. I suggest you read this summary, and the definition “A prior probability is an initial probability value originally obtained before any additional information is obtained.” I originally used 1 in a million not 50/50 and I can show you the calcs.
It is also clear that you don’t understand that we can either test the hypothesis that “God exists” or the counter hypothesis “that God doesn’t exist” by Bayes Theorem, and this doesn’t imply a 50/50 assumption. Look at the Triola paper, Example 3, and there’s nothing about 50/50, you’ll see that other probabilities are assigned.
I’ll leave it at that. I’m sorry, but I really see no point in discussing while you are unwilling to read up on this.
Hi. Sorry, I don’t share your confidence that we are getting anywhere as you don’t seem to understand why your Test assumes a 50-50 a-priori probability, which really is the sticking point here.
Let’s leave vacuum fluctuations alone at this point as it is clearly something you are not particularly open to considering and it seems you have a rather confused take on the theory that no amount of casual conversation will overcome. As I have said, discussing this theory is not my intention for posting on this thread and I think we are getting a bit side-tracked from the main issue, the logical fallacy within your test.
At risk of repeating myself and frustrating you, I implore you to take in what I say without just responding “no it isn’t” – your test may force preconception but it would be nice if you considered my point without first denying its truth.
No matter what you source or what you say, you cannot escape the fact that the following question assumes 50-50 probability:
Which scenario would the universe be more likely to exist (a) IF GOD EXISTED or (b) IF GOD DID NOT?
One would measure the probability of the universe existing in scenario (a) against scenario (b). NO CONSIDERATION OF THE LIKELYHOOD OF EITHER SCENARIO A OR SCENARIO B IS TAKEN INTO ACCOUNT, meaning they are presented as EQUAL: so 50-50. You can’t escape that fact.
If I say in scenario (a) it is near 100% likely the universe would exist, that would score greater than in scenario (b) where we know the universe is less likely to have come about – so we wrongly deduce that God is MORE LIKELY to exist because we are not considering the likelihood of scenario (a) or scenario (b) in the question and all other scenarios are omitted from consideration. It’s very, very, simple. Show me WHERE the question considers these likelihoods? Where does it ask you to assume God’s existence is MORE or LESS likely than God not existing? Where does it ask you to consider that the universe could have arisen in a multitude of ways which would render the 50% scenario of the universe existing without God a false probability? Don’t provide me with any more sources, just answer the question! The fact that it is a false dichotomy omits the fact that under the umbrella of scenario (b), God NOT existing, there are a multitude of theories which, even if you incorrectly assign them equal probability, would make (b) MORE likely:
:et’s say Big Bang, Pulsing Bang, Multiverse, Blackhole, vacuum fluctuation, eternal universe, whatever – that’s 6 theories. In total 7 that God is just one of, which would mean (wrongly) assuming equal probability prior to assessment, scenario (a) scores 14.29%, while (b) scores 85.71%. BUT THE QUESTION DOES NOT ASK AT ANY POINT FOR YOU TO CONSIDER THAT. It asks WHICH SCENARIO IS THE UNIVERSE MORE LIKELY TO EXIST – A or B? So no matter how unlikely scenario A is to begin with, because the universe is more likely to exist within it, it is wrongly motioned the more likely scenario by circular reasoning! That’s a logical fallacy!
Let’s use something imagined by example. I found evidence the other day that a giant purple bear called ‘Universe Bear’ might exist. The Purple Universe Bear’s sole occupation is MAKING UNIVERSES IN THE EXACT CONFIGURATION WE SEE NOW.
Let’s use your test to evaluate the purple Universe Bear!
Q: Which scenario would the universe more likely exist – (a) One where The Purple Universe Bear existed or (b) one where The Purple Universe Bear did not?
You can’t apply any more calculations to this. This is the question and it must be answered (a) or (b). What is your answer?
Allow me to predict the answers and expand on this example:
As The Purple Universe Bear’s SOLE REASON FOR EXISTANCE is to produce a universe in THE EXACT CONFIGURATION OUR UNIVERSE IS, that makes it 100% likely our universe would exist if he existed. A = 100%. B on the other hand, is less likely – even God isn’t guaranteed to create the universe no matter how high the chances are that, if he did exist, he would, and in the exact configuration we see. EVEN IF YOU WRONGLY deduced B is also 100%, the results of the test would demonstrate that the probability of The Purple Universe Bear’s existence is 50%!!! How can that be, I JUST MADE HIM UP!
No amount of source material or insinuating that I don’t understand escapes this. By simply asking anybody to (1) assume something exists and make an assessment and then (2) assume something does not exist and make an assessment, you are forcing a false dichotomy that it is either ONE or THE OTHER, a 1 in 2 choice, of equal probability.
One last go at trying to get through to you, please indulge me. Let’s pretend for one moment that I have just found 100% concrete evidence that God does not exist. Forget what it is, for this hypothetical situation let’s just accept that it is ABSOLUTELY certified – the whole world reads it, accepts it and that’s that – no doubt, no quibble : God does not exist and NEVER COULD HAVE EXISTED; proven.
Let’s take the test again, with this new information.
In which scenario would the universe be more likely to exist – (a) if God existed or (b) if God did not exist?
Well, it still remains that IF God existed, he would create the universe 100% (or thereabouts depending on your subject understanding of God) EVEN THOUGH HE DOESN’T EXIST AND NEVER COULD HAVE EXISTED. We know that with evidence of him not existing at all, the universe would also equally exist without him, 100%. Follow through the test to its conclusion and we surmise that EVEN THOUGH HE 100% DOES NOT EXIST AND 100% NEVER COULD HAVE the probability of him existing according to the test, because it is a logical fallacy, is still at least 50%! Even you must admit that is crazy.
I’m not even trying to argue with you that God does not exist. I don’t believe he does but I’ve never once made that my point – it’s obvious by your site it would be a lost cause my trying to convince you otherwise. So there is no need to be defensive. The test isn’t even your own, it is based on Stephen D Unwin’s – The Probability of God, a universally panned book for the very same reasons I am discussing here – so there is even less reason to take it personally. I’m merely stating that the test is a logical fallacy and have done exceptionally well patiently explaining it to you in more ways than I ever imagined I could! Maybe I just need to accept that you aren’t willing to listen and just be satisfied that many who visit your site showing a little more acumen than you will understand where I am coming from.
It’s been fun,
Hi Ryucoo, I’m sorry, but I meant what I said. I really don’t see any purpose in discussing these matters further. I’m sorry because you have been courteous and friendly, and from that viewpoint discussion has been enjoyable.
But you have convinced yourself that an “almost nothing” with enough energy to produce this enormous universe is somehow close enough to true nothing, despite what the scientists and philosophers say, and then you claim without offering evidence that true nothing cannot exist, and don’t seem to see that this makes the claim “a universe from nothing” even more contradictory.
And you still don’t understand Bayes, judging by your statements, and you don’t seem willing to read up on it. Which is a pity, because your original question of Usain Bolt’s magic shoes is an interesting matter I’d like to discuss, but until we are both on the same page about Bayes, this isn’t possible.
So I’ll forgo any further reply and thank you for your courtesy.
Sounds to me like you realise defeat and are avoiding answering my questions by pretending I’m the one who doesn’t understand. That’s not very courteous of you.
I don’t know how many times I need to tell you I’m not here to talk about vacuum fluctuations before it sinks in. Your personal speculative and subjective opinion on the metaphysical concept of ‘nothing’ does not interest me and has no bearing on the validity of the theory nor my real intention for visiting the comments here: the logical fallacies of your God Test.
I’ll leave you with another chance to redeem your credibility by answering the questions you have so far been keen to avoid:
1) A Purple Universe Bear’s sole function is making universes in the exact same configuration our universe has. In which scenario would the universe more likely exist – (a) One where The Purple Universe Bear existed or (b) one where The Purple Universe Bear did not?
2) Evidence is one day found that 100% refutes the existence of God and determines it absolutely impossible for him to ever have existed. Please state in percent the chances of a universe existing in the following scenarios (a) If God existed and (b) if God did not exist.
I’ll take another refusal to answer, or dodge of the questions as an admission that you are wrong and your test is indeed fallacious.
I am really enlightened by going through the experiences of various people. I am a stanch believer in God, highly religious and pious. I am suffering from Sciatica and several other ailments since 11 years. I am a Hindu by birth born in a highly orthodox family. I have a very strong belief that there can be only one supernatural spirit (God) who controls the entire universe. I am looking upon all religious faiths and the Gods they pray are one and the only one. Though I am praying to all the faiths ardently to give me relief from all my ailments with tears in my eyes, God has not responded to my prayers. At times I get a doubt that whether God really exists. I am afraid that I should not become an atheist. Please advise me how I should pray to the Lord to get his blessings, get cured of my ailments and be at peace.
After having read the comments it is evident that you are just as guilty of presupposition as you claim of the poster. You allege that UnkleE’s article forces one to assume that the existence of God is possible and then chastise him for this. (albeit very tactfully). But your argument from the beginning exhibits that your stance is from the standpoint that God cannot exist. This is a common issue I have seen with this argument on the existence of God. One side (generally) atheists chide believers that believing in God is a fallacy and then commence to downplay all evidence that the Christian presents to support his/her belief out of hand. I dare say that you are merely trolling on this site.
UnkleE’s article was the presentation of miraculous healings. Your initial statement does not even mention the subject matter presented. You do not present an argument against the evidence presented, but instead enter into a completely different line of thinking. If UnkleE’s supposition of the existence of The Almighty can be disproven, then you should try to do so by refuting the evidence that you possess against these healings. My expectation is that you lack any evidence to the contrary. The only thing presented was theory of one possible way that the universe came into existence without the aid or will of a deity. That is not evidence to disprove God’s existence. You know that.
The only thing you have done (and I suspect purposefully) was to cause this thread to go off topic. You merely wanted to bring doubt into the minds of the people that found this blog to be helpful and may have helped to renew their faith. It is fine if you do not agree with opinions of this poster; however, if you are going to argue the proof is incorrect you should come with in-kind examples…not discussions on cosmology that you opine to disprove the need for God.
Your most recent post was incredibly nonsensical. Such hypotheticals are just stupid. A “Purple Universe Bear” you are clearly grasping at straws. My personal opinion is that you, like me, in times past have been injured spiritually or emotionally and you blame God. You are angry and you are trying desperately to convince yourself that He does not exist. Perhaps you read about these miracles and became panicked at your lack of belief and just started lashing out to re-convince yourself that you haven’t made a mistake.
I think you need to first figure out which religion you are going to choose. This is clearly a Christian site, so you know the answer you are going to get here: that God, the Father of Christ Jesus, is the one true God. You will need to accept Christ Jesus as your Savior and pray through Him. I truly hope you find relief from your pain. But I am in no position to tell you that your prayers will be answered with a “Yes.” If you accept Christ Jesus you will need to keep your faith no matter what, even in disappointment.
Hi Adrian, thanks for both your comments. You are right that the discussion did go off topic, but that is sometimes difficult to avoid. I have the ability to move the discussion to another page with a more appropriate theme, but I didn’t do that, though I still could. Thanks for replying to S V PADMANABHAN for somehow that had slipped through without my replying.
Hi SV, I’m sorry I didn’t reply earlier. I’m glad you believe there is one true God, and I think you can pray to God whatever religion you are, and he will hear you. But I believe God is interested in more than our health, so while I believe he can heal you and hope that he will choose to do so, I think he wants more. I think he wants you to know him and follow his ways.
You face some interesting questions. If there is only one God, then all religions that believe in one true God are talking about the same being, but are they all telling us truthful things about him? Are the things that Hindus say about God and the gods the same as what Muslims or Christians say? If not (as seems clear to me) then who has the truth, or the most truth?
What do you think?
Hi Quick, your comment seemed to relate to the Probability of God test, but my link was wrong, so I moved it to that part of the comment section, and will respond to it there. Thanks for commenting.
First and foremost, it was believed that the brain could not survive without oxygen for more than 5 minutes without brain damage. There is documented proof that men have held their breath underwater for more than 17 minutes without oxygen and remained conscience without any brain damage.
There are drugs in Haiti that can render the heart beat so low that it cannot be detected, and when the drug wears off, they wake up with restored heart beats.
it could be that these men that “died” and were revived may have had a heartbeat that was undetectable.
Furthermore, there’s the placebo affect. It is a chemical or physical response in our body to what we believe and speak. This is a Universal law, not necessarily a Christian one b/c healings transcend all religions. .
There is an apparent cause and affect law that is ignited when more than one person gets together believing in one thing. There is supernatural movement when people believe in something, good or bad.
The body has an ability to heal itself…and what we believe has a major part in the outcome.
Hi Johnny, thanks for your comment.
No doubt the brain can survive longer than we sometimes think without people being able to detect heart or brain activity. But in some of these cases, high-tech medical equipment is used to verify that the brain has flatlined and the heart has stopped, and that is a little different.
Are you really confident that every last one of the healing stories can be explained in a naturalistic way?
“There is an apparent cause and affect law that is ignited when more than one person gets together believing in one thing.”
If that was so Johnny a gaggle of witches could kill their enemies from afar. It doesn’t happen.
Moreover healings at places like Lourdes cannot be divorced from the context of their surroundings and what occurred there.
A good book to read is Journey To Lourdes by a Nobel Prize for Medicine winner, Alexis Carrell.
Hi Philip, thanks for visiting. Does this indicate you believe genuine miracles happen at Lourdes?
Yes, I do believe genuine miracles have happened at Lourdes. So did the Independent Medical Tribunal which found more healings miraculous or unexplainable than the Catholic Church. So, also did ex atheist Alexis Carrell who I mentioned previously.
All evil is a consequence of the gift of free will. If one had no free will one would always do God’s will, which is never evil. Departure from doing God’s will is evil in itself. We are called to do God’s will but to do it freely, of our own volition.
G’day Philip, thanks for that. I have looked at the Lourdes healings and written them up.
good article about healing with miracles.
Just last week I spotted a full sized American Bald Eagle sitting on a lamp post just above my head. As an animal activist I was aware that the bald eagle is no longer endangered. Still it remains rare to spot an eagle just sitting there in a well-traveled and commercially developed area. I determined my encounter with the eagle to portend a message of global importance; further confirmed when I casually mentioned seeing the bald eagle, to two completely different acquaintances; each individual interestingly responded that he had recently spotted a full sized South American condor.
For additional details about how awakening Christ Consciousness relates to the ancient Incas prophecy about seeing the Eagle and the Condor go to my link below.
Hello children of God…What is the load/burden of life that you are carrying? Are you sick, confused, rejected, depressed, stagnant or barren? Jesus is calling you to bring the burden of your life to His feet and He will give you permanent solution. Life in this world is but a short time but life after death is everlasting. If you choose Christ today, It will be life of everlasting joy, if not it will be life of everlasting torment sorrow and tears. There is time now for you to accept Christ as your Lord and personal savior either old or your. For more prayer, healing, confession, marriage issues, HIV/AIDS and assistant or what so ever you can write your prayer request through this Email: firstname.lastname@example.org (OMEGA FIRE MINISTRIES.. OFM).
A strong or powerful faith in “something” appears to be a good reason to cause healing. I do believe that healings transcend all religions. Perhaps belief in the doctor’s word is sometimes enough for a patient to “hope” and recover. It appears to be some kind of chemical change in the patient’s body that positive thoughts bring about. Placebo? Well, maybe. But having said that I still fail to understand how healing happens when the patient himself/herself cannot participate in the healing process. Lets just say that a patient is too incapacitated to even hear the prayers being said. In South India, a Hindu family have in their possession four silver coins believed to be from among the 30 pieces of silver paid to Judas Iscariot by the Jerusalem temple priests to betray Jesus to the Romans. How these coins today happen to be in India is an odd story involving St. Thomas the Apostle’s visit to India. A growing number of Roman Catholics as well as other people today pray before these coins and claim miraculous healing of all kinds of diseases. In most cases I have seen groups holding hands around the patient and praying while someone administers water (in which these coins have been immersed) to the patient. I feel what really is happening here is that when a number of people gather with one focus on one object or desire, the universe somhow conspires to make it happen. Thus the healing.
Hi Prasad, thanks for commenting.
Of course the other possibility is that God really did heal some of those people, because he is willing to heal us even when we aren’t right in all our beliefs and behaviours.
I believe in divine healing
Hi Paul, we are agreed! 🙂
I am in need of a healing for many health conditions and some are very serious and even doctors are confused and are using me as a test rabbit but I know God Jesus is the only one who can fix them all. In our heavenly father’s name
I will pray too that you receive what you need, and that the doctors will not be confused.
Curious why we feel that miraculous healings (I define these as directly influenced/performed without human intervention and therefore by God alone) are a contributor to a belief in God. We can certainly believe in God without them. But a more fundamental question is why we ask for miraculous healings? Generally we are in some sort of pain, or have some need (i.e. financial or emotional) and what we want is for that discomfort to cease. God should not be treated as a vendor of gifts; do we need this show of benevolence to “enhance our belief” or our “faith”? Then we are basing such belief on a weak tenet. It seems more appropriate for us to understand that God is all-powerful and we should not presume upon God to come to our aid because we are inconvenienced.
Hello again Jack, thanks for reading several pages and choosing to interact.
I don’t think we can “presume” on God to come to our aid, but I think he sometimes does that anyway. If he has the power to help us, why not ask?
And I think if he does sometimes heal in a way that is very unlikely to have happened naturally, or via medical science, then that logically strengthens our belief that he’s there. I suppose a philosophical baby might think the same. Every time the child’s mother appears and feeds them, their confidence that mum will keep feeding them must grow.
unkleE – thanks for replying. If there were a king with both the ability to be infinitely benevolent and infinitely manevolent, would we be so ready to simply make requests because we know that this king has such power? Reasoning that the king would want to or would even have given any consideration to, whatever circumstance has compelled us to ask seems (at least) naive to me, and at most, presumptive. I (sadly) have not seen with my own eyes (as far as I know anyway) what is labeled a miracle or miraculous healing, but have only heard of them. Do I believe they are possible? I do. Do I require them in order to k ow that God exists? No. Do I believe that God wants to bestow that benevolent side upon us? I truthfully do not know – I can not say why God would have such an interest in doing so, particularly to myself, but generally, to any of us.
I think all your comments are reasonable, if we assume we know nothing about this God. But if the God who made the universe is also the God who Jesus taught about, then we have more information. Christians believe, and I believe, that God wants us to ask him for things. I don’t think that means we’ll get all we ask for, and maybe if we ask for the wrong things we won’t get many of them. And certainly I sometimes wonder why he doesn’t give us more of what we ask.
But I think the evidence that he gives us some of what we ask is good. I have not experienced anything that I would say was a clear miracle, though I have seen and experienced things that I think probably were God acting in my life and the lives of others around me. I think all this accumulates to good evidence.
But on top of that, there are many people who believe they have experienced or observed a miracles of healing after prayer to the christian God – about 300 million people it is estimated. Most of those stories are unverifiable, but some have been investigated very carefully and they stand up to scrutiny. Maybe not proof, but certainly good evidence.
I don’t require these miracles to believe in God either – in fact I believed in God for many decades without having investigated any of them – but now I have investigated them, they add strength to the reasons I believe.
As for why God would have an interest in being benevolent, I think we can draw a parallel to human parents. There are many reasons why parents have children, not all of them good reasons no doubt, but the main one I think is to give the gift of life and to nurture and love that life. That child will be a financial drain on the parents, he or she will take lots of time and energy and patience, and will lead to loss of sleep and freedom for many years. It isn’t logical in many ways, but still parents do it. I think God does it for similar reasons – to give the gift of life, to show love and to give us something that is meant to be good.
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