December 9, 2011

Let Me Be More Explicit ... (Part Two)

"In the pages that follow, we want to shine the spotlight on a remarkable woman who had a remarkable journey toward healing. Was she skeptical about people who claimed to have special powers? Absolutely. Until ..."
Thus begins one of the stories in the recently published book “Miracles Are For Real” by James Garlow and Keith Wall – a collection of stories that I, as an inveterate skeptic, would normally treat with a high degree of suspicion as being potentially distorted, exaggerated, or completely fabricated.

Only this time, something is different. In this case, it’s a story which I had the unique opportunity to test with an unusually intense level of scrutiny. Whereas other times I would only hear of these supposed miracles after the fact, this time I was able to fully observe the relentlessly deteriorating condition of this woman for four years prior to the “miracle”. I was there to take in all the sights, sounds, and emotions connected the “miracle” event itself. And I’ve spent the last 8½ years testing the completeness and permanence of this claimed healing. You see, the “remarkable woman” described in Chapter 7 of “Miracles Are For Real” is my wife.

June 8, 2011

Let Me Be More Explicit ... (Part One)

You’ve probably seen the cartoon of two scientists standing at a blackboard full of equations, in the midst of which are the words “then a miracle occurs …”  Pointing at these words, one scientist says to the other, “I think you should be more explicit here in step two.”

On June 8, 2003, I was a witness to an extraordinary event that many people have called a miracle.  At about 10pm that evening, my wife Vonna, who had been deemed “permanently disabled” from a highly aggressive and rapidly advancing form of crippling Multiple Sclerosis, felt a sudden surge of heat through her body, a few hours after being prayed for at our church by a so-called “faith healer”.    She woke up the next morning to the astounding realization that that the disabling symptoms that had plagued her on a daily basis for the previous four years, were suddenly nonexistent. The day that I'm writing this marks eight years since every trace of an incurable and incapacitating disease instantly vanished, never to return.

Upon hearing of this story, the authors of a new book (to be released in October) called "Miracles are for Real" decided to investigate, and have included a chapter on what happened.  That's remarkable in itself, because I’m always skeptical of stories like this.  My first inclination is to wonder how much of the story is fabricated, distorted, or just delusional.   So how did I handle it when I suddenly had to deal with the evidence on a firsthand basis?  Did a skeptical, scientifically-minded person like me have to resort to a “then a miracle occurred …” explanation?   Well, in response to the cartoon, let me be more explicit …

February 22, 2011

One Hump, or Two?

I’ve recently begun participating in the pilot run of a discussion group called “Skepsis”.   The goal of Skepsis is to encourage openness and dialogue among atheists, agnostics, and believers, in an atmosphere of healthy skepticism which, in its purest form, simply means “exploring truth claims from all angles”.   (For more on skepticism, see my earlier post, “The View from the Skeptic Tank”.)

In the introduction to this eight-week