Miracles, Exorcisms, ID and the spread of the Gospel (thinking of VJ Torley)

Astronaut Charles Duke became a Christian after he returned to Earth after being the youngest man to ever walk on the moon and after finding himself in a troubled marriage and problems with alcoholism. The Christian faith restored his marriage and brought sobriety into his life, and sometime thereafter he led a prayer meeting where a blind girl recovered her sight. Somewhere in all his life’s saga, he also became a Creationist.

One of the people who posted at TheSkepticalZone, Richard B. Hoppe (RBH), knew of Duke, perhaps even personally since RBH worked on the Apollo program intimately. When I confronted RBH about Duke’s Christianity and Creationism, RBH (normally quick to criticize Christian Creationists) became strangely silent. No one to my knowledge has questioned Charles Duke’s credibility or integrity as far a making up stories to draw attention to himself or make Christian converts. After all, he was a national hero, an air force general, an astronaut, and a successful businessman. Unlike a televangelist, there is little reason for him to make up stories of miracles.

I had the privilege of meeting Charle Duke when he spoke at a College Christian event…

But further to the point regarding miracles, Kim-Kwong Chan is the author of a scholarly work on Protestanism in China (published by Cambridge University Press, 1994). He writes about miracles in China here:

https://christianhistoryinstitute.org/magazine/article/interview-miracles-after-missions

Why is the Chinese church growing so rapidly at this time?

There are three basic reasons.

First, there is an ideological vacuum in China.

Second, Christianity provides people with an intimate social experience: love, caring, concern, and fellowship.
….
Third, there are the miracles. When I travel to the interior of China, the Christian communities all claim they’ve seen and experienced miracles.

What type of miracles?

One typical example: An old Christian woman in one village decided, after her eightieth birthday, to start preaching the gospel. She went to the village where her daughter lived and began to preach there. Some villagers who had been afflicted with various incurable diseases, like cancer, came to this woman. When she prayed for them, many were suddenly healed.

Then two more people came to ask for healing, and she prayed, and they were healed. Then three more families. After this woman left, these villagers decided her God was very good. So they abandoned their idols and decided to believe in this Jesus.

But they didn’t know how to believe. So they sent one person to nearby towns to look for a place where people worshipped Jesus. When they finally found such a church, they told the pastor, “We have 80 people in our village who want to believe in Jesus. But we don’t know how to believe in Jesus.”

After that, a new church was started. I hear such stories all the time in my travels.

How do the local government officials react?

That’s another interesting set of stories I hear. People tell me that if local officials try to harass Christians, many of them get strange diseases.

In one case, I was told that the local communist party boss couldn’t speak any longer because his tongue got stuck out; he couldn’t put his tongue back into his mouth again. After he repented and became a Christian, suddenly his tongue moved, and he could speak again. Afterwards, more people became Christians.

I don’t know if such instances are psychosomatic; I haven’t followed up to confirm each story. But I hear these kind of testimonies in most of the villages I enter.

Also, Dr. Craig Keener, professor of New Testament and history, gave a talk at Paul Nelson’s school, Biola on miracles.

Keener mentions the account of Blaise Pascal’s niece being healed immediately of blindness and Hume’s reaction to the documented incident. Keener raises some interesting philosophical questions regarding Hume’s dismissal of the miracle.

The account of Pascal’s niece is included in Keener’s two-part lecture on miracles, and a few cases of physician-documented cases of healing and dead being raised.

See:
Miracles Part 1
Miracles Part 2

Also, the number one Creationist book in 2018/2019 was about the connection of UFOs to demonic activity. President of Creation Ministries Internation, Gary Bates gives a lecture on his book and movie about UFOs, Demons, and Evolutionism:

https://www.facebook.com/watch/?v=2224727887642640

I found an account in USA today that covered police reports and social workers who dealt with a family that had encounters with demons:

https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation/2014/01/27/family-possessed-seeks-exorcism/4939953/

Christianity is spreading in China, Africa, Iran, and India partly due to miracles and exorcisms.

Now, some skeptics say they want repeatability and then they would believe such as the James Randi challenge (which I posted on here at TSZ):

James Randi’s Million Dollar Challenge, Intelligent Designer’s Elusiveness

And one might question, “why doesn’t God heal everyone.” Or “why is God so hidden, why isn’t he as obvious to our senses as the air we breathe.” Certainly, I’ve thought about those questions myself.

I believe a light switch exists because I can use it to control a light bulb. But if one could work miracles on demand like operating a light switch, and thus believe in miracles, at that point, wouldn’t one be God? Thus if prayer could reliably heal, it wouldn’t be a miracle or act of God, because the miracle would be at our whims, not God’s.

So this leads to a paradox — if miracles are at God’s whim’s not ours, and if miracles are through processes beyond our understanding and control, can we believe in them? It is far easier to believe in things we can control and understand, but could we ever believe in something we can’t control and understand — like God, Intelligent Design, etc.? I guess each individual has his opinion on these matters.

Finally, what about multiple universes, or some other naturalistic mechanism? Suppose I were that blind girl in Duke’s account, or better yet the blind beggar in John chapter 9 whom Jesus healed? If I were that blind beggar and Jesus healed me, would I look for multiverse explanations, or would I follow Jesus the rest of my life and put my faith and trust in Him rather than the multiverse. On a personal level, I would choose Jesus over multiverses.

[I thought of my friend and colleague VJ Torley as I wrote this. I hope he will weigh in.]

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109 thoughts on “Miracles, Exorcisms, ID and the spread of the Gospel (thinking of VJ Torley)

  1. phoodoo: You once again talking with zero knowledge is no surprise at all.
    I would venture to say that there is almost no one on the planet who has more knowledge of this subject than I. Do you know my job?

    Moron

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  2. OMagain:
    I swear and it should go to guano but someone condones child torture and it’s all gravy?

    That, folks, is what religion does to you.

    If you are equating all religious believers as condoning child torture, t hat seems a Trumpian overstatement though not guano worthy.

    Calling Bill a cunt is worthy on several levels.

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  3. newton: If you are equating all religious believers as condoning child torture, t hat seems a Trumpian overstatement though not guano worthy.

    No, just people like Sal, colewd and phoodoo who can’t bring themselves to say that exorcisms and unclean spirits don’t actually exist and therefore don’t need to be beaten out of (usually) children.

    No theist I know believes in such.

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  4. Flint,

    Because we do not need such a creator. We can use our brains, our methods, our curiosity. And, if we use our honesty, we can admit to what we do not know. Some of it, we might someday know, and some of it we may never know. But making stuff up as a substitute for knowledge isn’t skepticism, it’s crap.

    What do you think needing a Creator has to do with the truth of his existence? On what basis is He eliminated as the best possible explanation for our existence and the existence of the universe we live in?

    You appear to be substituting a God on the gaps argument with a naturalism of the gaps (science will eventually figure it out) argument. Do you see this differently?

    A simple hypothesis is that the item identified cannot be more complex than the creator of the item. Can you refute this?

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  5. phoodoo: Why isn’t everyone immortal? Well, according to Christian theology you can be, so why is that the question?

    Also eternity in a prison camp having your organs stolen over and over sounds remarkably unappealing…

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  6. https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07MK37K4F/ref=dp-kindle-redirect?_encoding=UTF8&btkr=1

    Successful New York psychiatrist Richard Gallagher was skeptical yet intrigued when a hard-nosed, no-nonsense Catholic priest asked him to examine a woman for a possible exorcism. Meeting her, Gallagher was astonished. The woman’s behavior defied logic. In an instant, she could pinpoint a person’s secret weaknesses. She knew how individuals she’d never known had died, including Gallagher’s own mother, who passed away after a lengthy battle with ovarian cancer. She spoke fluently in multiple languages, including Latin—but only when she was in a trance.

    This was not psychosis, Gallagher concluded. It was, in his scientific estimation, what could only be describe as paranormal ability. The woman wasn’t mentally disturbed—she was possessed. This remarkable case was the first of many that Gallagher would encounter. Sought after today by leaders of all faiths—ministers, priests, rabbis and imams, Gallagher has spent a quarter-century studying demonic activity and exorcisms throughout history and has witnessed more cases than any other psychiatrist in the world today.

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  7. https://theness.com/neurologicablog/index.php/a-psychiatrist-falls-for-exorcism/

    Speaking languages they did not previously know – that is an extraordinary claim. All Gallagher has to offer as evidence is stories. Perception and memory are incredible flawed, especially so in a highly emotionally charged situation. How long had those attending the allegedly possessed kept their vigil before the interesting stuff started to happen? How sleep deprived were they? How willing to believe?

    It’s also possible that a patient might memorize Latin phrases to throw out during one of their possessions. Were they having a conversation in Latin? Did they understand Latin spoken to them? Or did they just speak Latin?

    I have heard the claims of enormous strength before, but all (and I mean all) of the video evidence I have seen did not demonstrate this. During one exorcism taped for a TV documentary, the voiceover said that the subject displayed supernatural strength; meanwhile they were being held down by two old ladies who did not seem to be struggling.

    I have literally watched dozens of hours of exorcisms on video. They are all incredibly boring. Nothing interesting happens. No levitations.

    Here Gallagher makes his most embarrassing statement, a “friend-of-a-friend” claim for levitation. He has never seen it, but other people have? What did they see, exactly? Was the person just arching their back and bouncing off the bed?

    Sal, you are a credulous fool. But that’s also why you are an IDer.

    https://skepticalinquirer.org/2017/02/superstition-masquerading-as-science/

    Notably, Gallagher acknowledges that “I have not witnessed a levitation myself, but half a dozen people I work with vow that they’ve seen it in the course of their exorcisms.” Thus, his most impressive ostensible evidence for the existence of demonic possession again relies on secondhand eyewitness testimony. In addition to the great potential for errors in memory, might those who report witnessing levitation be unduly motivated to see it? Might they be misinterpreting another behavior, such as erratic jumping, as levitation? Indeed, Gallagher neglects to note that skeptics have debunked similar apparent episodes of levitation (“yogic flying”) among people practicing transcendental meditation, demonstrating that they reflect little more than unimpressive hops (Carroll 2011).

    https://skepticalinquirer.org/wp-content/uploads/sites/29/2016/11/SI-ND-16-14.pdf

    At some point, however, responsible psychotherapists should begin to
    explore ways in which the client may
    hold such beliefs while still functioning adaptively. In other cases, therapists
    may need to encourage their clients to
    consider alternative explanations for
    their bewildering thoughts and experiences. By endorsing a set of paranormal
    beliefs, embracing what is more akin to
    an antiscientific mind-set, and going beyond joining with the client, Gallagher sets the stage for other practitioners to
    do more harm than good. At a bare
    minimum, clients deserve mental health
    practitioners who understand the nature
    of science and appreciate the value of
    critical thinking skills, demonic possession be damned.

    The last paragraph encapsulates my point. You are further damaging damaged people unless you treat their delusion as a delusion rather then a real unclean spirit that needs to be exorcised.

    You so desperately want to believe Sal you are like phoodoo, able to be fooled by any charlatan.

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