Tuesday, July 10, 2018

Faith Healing

Post 2:

            Faith healing is a “method of treating diseases by prayer and exercise of faith in God” (Merriam-Webster). Real and fake faith healers exist. The fakes are using their “divine” gift to make money or become famous. Peter Popoff was making around 4 million a year for “curing” people of their illnesses. Popoff would always know his followers’ personal information and their ailments. Instead of healing through mystical powers, Popoff was being prompted by his wife through a wireless earpiece. His wife knew the followers’ information through prayer cards that they filled out before the show. James Randi, an investigator of the paranormal and supernatural, exposed Popoff as a fraud. Even though there are deceitful con artists that use faith healing, there are some faith healings that involve divine power. In Lourdes, France, there is a spring in a grotto that many have claimed to be miraculous. Almost 7,000 cures have been recorded, but only 67 have been approved by the Catholic Church. “In 1859, Professor Vergez of the Faculty of Medicine at Montpellier was appointed to examine the cures” (The Miracle Hunter). The most famous cure of Lourdes was Louis Bouriette. He was born in 1804 and was a quarryman's laborer that lived in Lourdes. An accident in the mine caused his complete loss of vision in his right eye. “Dr. Dozous, the first Medical ‘expert’ verified this cure and in 1874 wrote this: ‘whenever an eye is injured by a flying object in an explosion, the shock engendered is always sufficient to lead to incurable blindness’” (The Miracle Hunter). Louis bathed his right eye in the spring of the grotto in Lourdes. In a short time, he was able to see with both eyes again. “In April 1860, Dr. Henri Vergez, Professor attached to the Faculty at Montpellier, and Medical Officer at the Waters of Bareges, declared as his opinion: ‘This event (the cure) possesses a supernatural character’” (The Miracle Hunter). Faith healings that seem to have no logical explanation can cause one to wonder what other miracles could happen if one has faith in God. Thomas Aquinas said, “To one who has faith, no explanation is necessary. To one without faith, no explanation is possible” (goodreads).

Lourdes grotto pictures below

Work Cited

Goodreads. “Quotable Quote.” goodreads.com. https://www.goodreads.com/quotes/344613-to-one-who-has-faith-no-explanation-is-necessary-to.

Merriam-Webster. “faith healing.” merriam-webster.com. https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/faith%20healing.

The Miracle Hunter. “List of Approved Lourdes Miracles.” miraclehunter.com. 2015, http://www.miraclehunter.com/marian_apparitions/approved_apparitions/lourdes/miracles1.html.


  1. Hello!

    So I think your post is as good as any to share/apply some of the things I've learned from my chosen book for this course: "How we know what isn't so". For starters I find your post fascinating and I particularly enjoy the quote by Thomas Aquinas at the end there! I remember learning a little bit about him in my very fist college class freshman year, which was philosophy. He was an amazing theological philosopher among many other things. Anyhow, as awesome as these miracles sound, I couldn't help but think as I was reading my book that the author would probably describe these events as "cluster illusions" and a misinterpretation of random data. I explain the cluster illusion in greater detail in my most recent post however in a nut shell it is misinterpreting the existence of a pattern due to a few handfuls of back to back events/anomalies. In the introduction of my book the author, Thomas Gilovich, describes the human tendency to have our attentions drawn to what we already believe based on "the most sensible conclusions consistent with the available evidence". It's not to say that we do it intentionally, however, if someone is to claim that they were miraculously healed by holy water and then we review the results - our attentions are naturally drawn towards those who have experienced sudden miraculous healing but not towards those who did not. That idea then becomes a "fact" in our minds based off of our experience and we hold on to those beliefs not because of an emotional stake in doing so, but because that conclusion is consistent with the information that is most available to us. The funny thing with illusions is that they "can't be eliminated by repeated examination". Instead only an objective measurement can show the discrepancies. That means no matter how many times you review the information or go over the cases, a persons brain will subject them to the same biases. Take for example St. Louis's Gateway arch, the worlds largest optical illusion. No matter how many times you look at it - the length appears greater than it's width. But in reality they are the same. Just knowing that fact doesn't change how it appears to the eye and only an objective measurement actually reveals that they are the same.

    Here take a look and measure: https://imgs.steps.dragoart.com/how-to-draw-the-gateway-arch-gateway-arch-step-8_1_000000133919_5.gif

  2. Hey Rachel,
    What a lovely post! I remember hearing about Peter Poppoff as well and how he scammed people for millions of dollars. At first I felt terrible for the people who were scammed out of their money, but then I began to think about how so many of them claimed to be "healed" by him at all. To me, this was representative of the pure strength of the human mind and how if someone wants to believe something bad enough that they can actually force their mind to make it true. It is very reminiscent of the book "The Secret". The book talks about how a certain mindset can change the interactions of the world around you. Whatever you believe is what you attract. Maybe this has something to do with faith healing as well. In general, the concept of faith healing is tremendously interesting and I think you did a wonderful job at explaining it!
    -Rocco Pantina

  3. Hi Rachel.
    This was a really interesting post! I actually have some personal experience with this “faith-healing” stuff, as my brother is a part of a church that really seems to believe in it. It’s a bit creepy to me, but I guess people will believe what they want to believe. I went along with my brother to his church for a few times because I have severe social anxiety and depression and I thought getting out and going to a group setting would help a bit, but all I was told was that if I believed in god enough, that he would “cure” my anxiety and such. Now, I don’t hold anything against anyone who really believes that their faith can heal them, but for me it was a big red flag. I didn’t suffer all my life to be told that god can magically cure me. So, I don’t have the best view on faith-healing.
    I think that spring in France is pretty interesting, though. Though if it really had healing properties, wouldn’t it be a bigger deal? Or wouldn’t sick people be flocking to the place? Makes you think.