Wednesday Woo

Wednesday Woo: Christian Woo: Faith Healers

Good evening heathens and hell-bound friends and foes alike. Tonight you are going to be “treated” to another edition of Wednesday Woo: Christian Woo. My wife has been taking care of our sick daughter all week and is exhausted to say the least. So I’m stepping in again for this weeks article.

Faith healing is nothing new to Christianity or religion in general. However the role of the faith healer has taken on a completely new life with the advent of mass media. Television has allowed faith healers to put their act out there and gain an incredibly wide audience and since all of this stuff is televised, it can’t possibly be fake, right?

Let’s take a look at some of these healers…

Benny Hinn

Peter Popoff

Pat Robertson

Okay, that’s enough videos. Needless to say these men obviously have an otherworldly power that allows them to cure the blind, make the lame walk, and make lots of people fall down. Yet, each and every one of these people are nothing more than con artists, given a wide audience willing to drop hundreds of dollars for the chance of being healed.

It’s sad but I once believed in faith healing to an extent. The bible even lists it as one of the gifts of the spirit in 1 Corinthians 12.

“To another faith by the same Spirit; to another the gifts of healing by the same Spirit;” 1 Cor 12:9

Now, I say I believed in it to an extent because I never believed that Benny Hinn had any kind of power. I remember watching one of his videos as a small child and thinking, “this is like pro-wrestling, these people are not really being healed, it’s all one big act.” I asked my mother, why he didn’t just heal everyone? However, I did believe that healing was something that Christians with enough faith could do.

When I entered the ministry, I had no interest in any kind of faith healing career. Yet, I would pray over people during church services and they would claim to feel power surging through them and were healed of countless issues. None of these healings were real, and often times you had to jump through hoops to even see them as something that could require healing.

A few of my miraculous healings…

  • I cured my aunt of breast cancer, she actually had a lump removed and it wasn’t cancerous, it was benign.
  • I cured my great-aunt of colon cancer, except it wasn’t healed and about a year later she had to have a huge mass removed from her intestines.
  • I made a lame man run…..countless times….the same guy. We had a guy who would hobble in, request prayer, I’d pray and he would then run around the building. He actually just had severe arthritis and the placebo affect allowed him to run.
  • I cured a woman of her cataracts….except she had to have them removed a few months later.
  • I have cured peoples money problems
  • Healed families
  • and a plethora of other things

I want to point out that in my case, I never sought people out or claimed that I had any healing gift. In fact if you would ask me, I would claim that I knew i didn’t have the gift of healing…if I did do you think I’d walk around with severe arthritis and a wonky eye?

Anyway, I began to really question faith healing the more people claimed that I had healed them of things that I knew they were not healed from. I realized that faith healing is really nothing more than a bad placebo affect, I say bad because the placebo affect actually works. People would come forward for prayer, usually at the end of a euphoric service, they feel really good and so they imagine that their ailments are better or completely cured. Later when the euphoria wears off, the healing is gone as well.

Faith healing works in the mind of the believer, who seeks out someone to heal them. However, faith healers take advantage of this and seek these people out, putting on huge events and gathering in millions of dollars. These folks still go home and the healing wears off, their finances are harmed, and when they ask why the healing didn’t last it will be thrown back at them that they didn’t have enough faith.

The real reason though is that these people have absolutely no power whatsoever. They are charlatans and go around selling snake oil to anyone willing to buy it.

James Randi built a career debunking these scam artists with the most famous being his expose of Peter Popoff.

Dateline exposed Benny Hinn

Pat Robertson was exposed by a former producer of the 700 club.

Although one could argue that Pat Robertson was exposed when he claimed that god told him to run for president and that he would win…

Each and every time one of these people come forward and are debunked, their ministry takes a short hit and yet a few years later they are back at it once again. Peter Popoff still sells his miracle oil, Hinn still knocks people over, and Robertson continues to claim healings each and every day. How do these people continue coming back after being exposed?

Sadly, it’s simply due to the fact that their followers want to believe they are real and so they will deny any evidence against that idea. They believe in these healers because they want to believe that faith healing is possible. They grasp at any idea in which they might be cured of whatever ailment they suffer from. Unfortunately, in many cases, they will continue these beliefs until they are bankrupt or dead.

Faith healers are nothing but bullshit artists that rob from the weakest members of our society. It’s sad, it’s disgusting, but it’s something that isn’t going to go away anytime soon…

If I’m lying, then I pray that one of these healers has enough faith to call down the wrath of their god and strike me dead at this very instant!

 

Well….

 

I’m still alive…

The Diary Of My Mind

Only Survivors Live

So tonight I got a bit of inspiration while watching “The Atheist Experience.” If you haven’t checked out that show I recommend you do so as soon as possible. Anyway, onto tonight’s article about the fact that only the survivors live.

plane.jpg

Let’s say a plane crash occurs and half the people in the plane die while the other half survive. The odds of being someone who lived is an even 50%, so not great odds. However if you are giving an interview after the crash, then the odds are 100% that you survived. So the survivors tale is going to spread much more quickly than if you were one of the 50% of people who didn’t make it. Surviving a traumatic event can seem otherworldly but it’s important to remember that in any situation others were not nearly as fortunate.

cancer.jpg

To bring this to a new perspective, let’s talk about cancer. I understand it’s not a fun topic but it is something that will affect nearly everyone who reads this at some point or another. I’m sure we have all heard of people who get cancer, they get prayed for, and then they are cured of their cancer, however, many times the cure involves surgery, chemotherapy, and other medicinal routines.  Sadly though the medicinal side of this is often times negated and the cure is claimed as a miracle.

Now I’m not saying that spontaneous remissions do not occur, they do but the thing to remember is that we don’t know why spontaneous remission occurs. The other thing to remember here is that spontaneous remission occurs both inside and outside of any ideology. Sometimes the body fights back and until we have a better understanding of why this is we will just have to say we don’t know.

My problem lies in those who claim that all of the medical treatment they went through was secondary to the miracle that god performed on their body. My grandfather is a great example of this fact. About 10 years ago he was diagnosed with prostate cancer. He went through radiation and eventually had his prostate removed. Yet today, he will claim to have been healed by god of his prostate cancer…which only took having his prostate completely removed. Can’t have prostate cancer if you no longer have a prostate….right?

So the problem here is actually that he survived cancer and so his story continues to move forward. The belief in miracles is built up and many people are given false hope in regards to this problem. The story of him having his prostate removed and the year he went through radiation treatment which did nothing to stop the cancer is almost never mentioned.

So let’s say you are another person going through prostate cancer and you hear the story that my grandfather promotes. You aren’t going to hear the story of the thousands of believers who have died over the years from the disease but only those who survived. So you put all of your faith into the idea that god is going to cure you of prostate cancer. You forego cancer treatment and scoff when the doctor tells you that you need to have your prostate removed. You know in your heart of hearts that god is going to cure you because you’ve earnestly sought him and you know that the “fervent prayers of a righteous man availeth much.” (-James 5:16) Then you die and no one ever hears of your story, yet my grandfathers false story of a miracle healing from god continues on down the line.

Only the survivors live and if you are alive today it is because you have survived. Think about it…if you hadn’t survived you would be dead. It’s simple logic and yet it leads people to believe numerous fallacies about their own life.  You of course remember all of the times that you could have died and yet didn’t, you begin to build feelings around the idea that something outside of you was protecting you from harm and yet the truth of the matter is simply that you survived and are not dead.

accident prone

My own life for example:

  • I stopped breathing as a child.
  • I’ve been in numerous car accidents.
  • I fell out of a tree as a child and landed on my head.
  • I’ve had several bad infections throughout my life.
  • I drowned and had to be resuscitated by my father at around 5 years old.
  • A car hit my bicycle while I was riding it and I survived unscathed.
  • I’ve fallen off of ladders.
  • I’ve fallen off of a roof…twice on the same day.
  • I’ve survived a fire.
  • I gotten a bad electrical shock a couple of times.

This doesn’t even touch on all of the things that has happened in my life. I’m actually pretty accident prone which is a big reason why I try my best to steer clear of any type of power tool or firearm. However all of the things that I have gone through could have and do result in death numerous times per year. Now, some might say that it’s a miracle that I am still alive, yet in reality it’s just that I seem to be pretty hard to kill. I’m alive today because I didn’t die during any of those situations or the numerous others that I didn’t mention here.

So hopefully after you’ve read this article you’ll see that miracles are promoted as miracles because the people who “experience” them promote them as miracles. Then word of mouth goes around and at times the miracle can get even larger. Information is often times left out in order to make the healing appear to be more miraculous and this can lead many to have false hope for their own miraculous healing and could lead them to forgo necessary medical procedures out of that hope.

If you are here today it is simply due to the fact that you haven’t died yet. Everyone that isn’t here today is dead or they haven’t been born yet. One day you too will die. Life is far too short to put your hope in the illogical notion of a miracle.


 

If you haven’t checked out my journey from Pentecostal Minister to Atheist, check it out here. My Journey Away From Faith: Part 1

The Diary Of My Mind

Magical Thinking BS

So I thought I would jump on here and talk a little bit about something that has really been bothering me lately, magical thinking. Magical thinking is a means of elevating your own status in an effort to give a higher purpose to ones life, however, from my own experience it tends to lead people down a path to depression, sickness, and alienation from reality. In this article I’d like to touch on what magical thinking is, how it is harmful, and how one can still find purpose and joy in a life free from this style of thinking.

Magical thinking takes on many form. Many religions teach that this world in which we live is really just a proving grounds for a better life in the hereafter. Christianity also has the “Name it and claim it” crowd which teaches that if someone wants something bad enough and has faith enough, then they will ultimately be granted their want. Other forms of magical thinking include belief in “the secret,” past life fantasies, believing oneself to be an “empath,” karma, synchronicity, and many, many, others.

The key aspect of all of these beliefs is that they allow a person to believe that they are more, or superior, to the others around them. Spend any amount of time in an “enlightenment” group on Facebook and you will quickly see what I am talking about. Thousands of voices speaking about how they have reached a stage in enlightenment which only they can guide others toward. One of the funniest things you will find is that the majority of these “enlightened masters,” will claim that one must remove all aspects of ego from your life in order to reach this state,  however, what could be more egotistical than to claim that you are an enlightened master?

So why do people fall for these beliefs? As stated above, it allows a person to believe they are more than the average man or woman, and in this way they feel special. If you haven’t noticed, life can suck at times. It is in those times that we feel the worst that we are most susceptible to magical thinking. My personal conversion to Christianity came at a point when I thought that life couldn’t possibly get any worse. I could try to make my way through life or I could become a “child of god” and gain a heavenly home for myself free from all care and worry when my life ends. Simply put, it feels great to delude yourself, at least for a time, and so many are drawn into this type of thinking.

The problem in this lies with the fact that delusion can only stand if you continue feeding it. Over time, these delusions will grow and what once seemed ridiculous will now be accepted as truth. To bring my personal story back into this, my own faith grew from Christian, to minister, to healer, to prophet, to my ultimate downfall and the crushing reality of all the time wasted on these harmful ideals. Now some might say, what harm is there in allowing folks to believe whatever they want to believe?

The harm comes from the futility of these beliefs and how fragile they actually are. Many will claim that god or a force in the universe is all-powerful, can do anything, and all we have to do is remove every aspect of our humanity in order to reap the benefits of this god or universal force. When one fails to receive these gifts, it is seen as due to a lack of faith, bad karma, or that you have been too judgmental and not accepting enough of the universal will. What these feelings ultimately lead to is depression and the one thing which will pull any delusional person out of a depression is a deeper and more fantastical delusion.

In my short time in this world I have met numerous people who believe themselves to be aliens, claim to communicate with rocks, pray to unicorns, claim they can kill me with a hex, angrily condemn me for not being open to the idea of a flat earth, alien seeding, or that all the governments of the world are working together to destroy our ability to ascend to a higher plane of existence. What I have found within the depths of these beliefs is a deep sadness, a longing to find purpose where no purpose is found, a need to hide the scars of their past, and an anger for the life that they find themselves in. Find me an “enlightened master” and I will show you a human that has grasped at life for so long and felt so alienated by the world that they believed they had no choice but to delve deeply into a comforting delusion.

There is good news, though maybe not as good as some would hope. Taking off the mask of delusion that you built up for so long is not a pretty process. It involves pain, heartache, and many setbacks. Over time though you will find that life is a wondrous place filled with joys and experiences to fill a thousand lifetimes. Life will also suck at times, you’ll go through rough times and it will be up to you to bring yourself back out of it, but it is possible.

In the last several years since my deconversion, I have gone through some very rough patches. I’ve experienced depression, anxiety, fear of the unknown, and all sorts of calamities, yet I’m still here. I enjoy life and have found other ways to deal with life issues when they hit. No longer do I turn to magical thinking and a belief in something greater that will rescue me from my life, it’s all up to me now and I am doing it.

We all want to feel special and that life has some purpose yet the truth is, we are all organic matter. We are born, we live, we pass on our genes, and then we die. In order to live life to the fullest we all must find ways to add purpose and this is our greatest strength. God didn’t cure polio, a man did. The universe didn’t invent the pacemaker, we did. Literature doesn’t write itself, men and women do. Mountains are climbed, great leaps in technology and medicine are made, the chains of slavery have been broken, women attained rights, and humanity is the central character in all of these. We’ve driven animals to extinction and brought species back from the brink of that same fate. Life is what we make of it and so far humanity has done a pretty damn good job.

For thousands of years, a simple case of the stomach flu would almost surely mean death. God, the universe, and karma were completely powerless to stop the ravages that plague committed with mankind and yet we stopped it. We worked towards a goal and now the flu generally means a couple of missed days at work, some medicine, and plenty of fluids. We live in a wonderful time that our ancestors would have seen as completely magical, yet reality brought us to where we are and reality is what will take us into the future.