First of all, I'd like to thank ExChristian for posting Gary’s testimony (http://new.exchristian.net/2010/08/god-is-good.html). This respect for freedom of speech is what differentiates sectarian communities from real free thinkers. And I find it very interesting to have such "booster shots", so that each one of us can remember how it is to think like a Christian, and why he/she left that fully-featured mental package.
I won't go into the details of my own deconversion - I have tons on articles on the subject, that I’ll post later if I find the time to translate them from French to English. All I need to say now, is that some years ago I could have written, Gary's testimony.
Indeed, I was suddenly relieved from persistent heel inflammations when I was a teenager, during a catholic prayer session in Paray-Le-Monial. Temporary relief only - the disease was actually much more serious than that, and is still slowly destroying me as of today. But anyway, it was like some shocking proof of God's existence and goodness, and this pushed me toward a very committed Christian life for the next 10 years.
I've personally witnessed, and heard about, lots of similar events, that occurred in Paray, in Lourdes, in Parisian ecumenical conventions... I saw paralytic grandmas running with their faith healer around the gathering, cancers suddenly disappearing, witnessed lots of very troubling coincidences (eg. monks always finding fully working household appliances in the streets, exactly at the moment they came out to buy one), and tons of less significant “signs”.
I need to precise that I’m an extremely (too much maybe) rational person, quite impervious to most group emotion and mental suggestions. Maybe that’s why homeopathy, placebos, and hypnosis never worked on me, and why I never felt the “presence of God” like many believers do when praying or praising. So I think I have the right to say that these events I witnessed weren’t mere illusions. They were visible, tangible, facts; and if you dig into the recent archives of miraculous sanctuaries (especially catholic ones, where inquiries are lead rather seriously), you’ll find loads of cases which are both quite proven, and unexplainable by the current state of medicine.
So are these proofs of God’s existence and goodness, like Gary concludes? I don’t think so. Here is the way I’ve come to consider the matter, after weighing it for a time.
First of all, all the miracles in the world would be unable to contrary this fact: the biblegod is a cruel, insane, narcissistic tyrant. And the 2.0 version (the Christ of protestant evangelists) or the 3.0 one (the sweet Jesus of most optimistic catholic theologians) are more subtle, but not less crazy and heartless characters.
The whole revelation tells the story of how god sends tremendous curses on humans, and then fakes loves by healing a small part of them (remember? The bronze snake in the desert? The cross put up to save a minority from eternal torture?). The same ways torturers often cure their victims, so that they last longer in pain, and can develop a stronger Stockholm Syndrome.
If an almighty entity exists in this world, it undoubtedly represents the highest level of perversion one could imagine. Luckily, the bible is so silly and self-contradictory that only ignorant barbarians may have invented it (by the way, for those who still are not convinced that this world is incompatible with a benevolent creator, just check this link: http://www.infidels.org/library/modern/mark_vuletic/five.html)
Second, there is no reason at all to make a big deal about “miracles” or “magic”. Why should consider as fictional, as lies, all what we don’t surround? The first humans on earth considered everything as divine or magic: fire, storm, sun, stars… Now we have learned how to master these natural phenomena. But why, then, should we consider that we’ve finished exploring the world we’re in? On the contrary, lots of hints tell us that we’re only at the stone age of science, especially in medicine and knowledge of human brains.
There are tons of people on earth, who have abilities we don’t understand. Mediums that can see through someone else’s eyes; or who can find a little object hidden in a whole city; atheist healers that can cure fireburns simply by putting hands on them; faith healers that do amazing jobs, certainly more because of their own powers than because of the intervention of a divine megalomaniac.
There are also tons of events we can’t explain. When one suddenly feels that a fellow is dying at he opposite side of the planet. When countless people live similar Near Death Experiences, and even witness real events during their coma (CF Moody’s books on the subject). When persons with multiple personality disorders have, or have not (depending on their current personality) a blood cancer. When someone loses his hair, simply because we gave him a fake treatment against cancer (nocebo effect). When praying about someone really seems, in rare cases, to influence his fate.
For sure, some of these people above are fakers, and some of these events are illusions or coincidences. But still, enough of them remain for us to guess it: we still have much, much left to discover in this world.
Lots of tracks exist, to answer these mysteries without a need from awkward and inhuman dogmas. Unknown behaviours of our immune system. Under-developped abilities from our brains. Forces and energies we’ve not yet measured and learned to control. Maybe, even, spiritual (or extra-terrestrial?) entities with which we still have to establish bridges.
Let’s not forget that this whole world is full of arbitrary rules. Why does matter attract matter? Why have fundamental constants these values and not others? Why sentient beings instead of purely mechanical system? Why does light behave sometimes like a particle, sometimes like a wave?
Science explains how it works, but never justifies these “why”, so let’s not consider that what we call “miraculous” now is not possible; it may perfectly be; Nature doesn’t have to justify any of its designs.
Today’s “gifted” people and “paranormal” events are what future generations will surely consider as perfectly obvious, natural phenomena. And they’ll laugh at us ignorant barbarians, who were living in a dark age where the real powers of brain over matter, and the real possibilities of this reality, were totally unmastered, and generating superstitions instead of scientific studies.
Because of all of this, I consider that “strong atheism” is one of the most stubborn religions on earth. Asserting that there is nothing except the materials and forces which we already study, that there is nothing such as conscience and soul, that there is nothing after death, that all what we call “miracles” are lies or illusions, is actually one of the most dogmatic way of thinking we could find. It doesn’t rely on much evidence, and even contradicts millions of little hints humanity encounters every day.
Dogmatism is not compatible with free thinking. So instead of pretentiously denying the existence of what we can’t explain, let’s say as the great R.G. Ingersoll. : “We don’t know”. Let’s admit our ignorance, listen to testimonies and facts, weigh them up, correlate them, study them.
We shall not immediately dismiss unusual phenomena, reject them as conspiracies, or classify them as consequences of psychotic troubles. If they’re so, we’ll eventually find it out; but by the way of reason, not of fanatic denial. Free thinkers needn’t fear Truth. At the contrary, they must be the ones with a wide open mind, able to reject cruel dogmas and lies, but also to peacefully approach events that shake the unfounded certainties it’s accustomed to.
Filed Under: Opinion