investigating modern miracles

An interesting person is gaining popularity at the moment. His name is Todd Bentley.

A Google or YouTube search (which I’ve not had time to do) should provide very ‘interesting’ material.

Apparently, 25 (or so) people have been ‘raised from the dead’…

A few thoughts:

  1. If this stuff is really happening, then for Bentley’s sake (not to mention God’s) get it on tape!
  2. Don’t complain when people like me want evidence that people really had cancer or were really dead (the biblical story of Lazarus being raised includes the detail that he was beginning to stink – that’s dead).
  3. Don’t complain when I remain hesitant to accept these reports if no evidence is given.
  4. I hear of ALL KINDS of such things happening all over the world, and I’m prepared to believe that it’s not ALL nonsense; but for crying out loud, somebody do some investigation! Wouldn’t it be great to have it!?

20 thoughts on “investigating modern miracles”

  1. go well on Sunday night, man. I’ll try to listen!

    (for those in the Auckland area, the frequency is 99.8, and the show is from 9pm – 11pm)

  2. For those outside the Auckland area, but still in NZ in places we broadcast – frequencies are on the website.

  3. Cheers. It was a good show. I did my utmost to be balanced and not present too strong a bias as my aim wasn’t to discredit anything but to encourage people towards investigation etc.

    … and I am playing this out a little more seriously. I have requested the documents from the ministry they claim support many of the healings they have reported.

  4. Let me know if they actually bother trying to back up their claims (and of what quality the ‘evidence’ is)…

  5. Miracles are real..i’ve seen it happened in my life. God is alive and is at work! Just open your heart to Him and watch Him work!

    If there’s any questions or comments please write at yonatan_r09@yahoo.com

    God Bless

  6. J I L,
    Thanks for the comment! If you can, and are able would you mind sharing what kind of miracles you’ve seen?

  7. Todd Bently is a fraud, just like all faith-healers.

    An exhaustive investigation has indeed been done of these loathesome con-artists that prey on the desperate and fearful.

    The Faith Healers
    By James Randi.
    Foreward by Carl Sagan.
    Published by Prometheus Books.

    This book will make any honest person angry.
    Very angry.
    It’s tells you how they do it.
    The history of it all. The money they make.
    The agonising stories of their victims etc.
    Please buy it. Get informed. Information is the best defence against flim-flam artists.

    Faith healers have no morals. It’s all about the cash.
    The authorities do nothing to stop them.

    Church organisations must also take some of the blame for not tackling these parasites head-on.

    Oddly enough, William Dembski went to see Bently.
    He came away disappointed.

    I don’t like Dembski much but nobody deserves to be cheated, not even him.

    http://www.uncommondescent.com/off-topic/off-topic-faith-healing-wheres-the-evidence/#comment-292446

  8. Hi Cedric. I used to think the same as you when you say “faith healers have no morals” but I’ve changed my mind a bit recently.

    I think that most people honestly believe they are doing the right thing. Even with people like Peter Poppoff who blatantly have deceived people into thinking they had a direct line to God it wouldn’t surprise me if they were (at least on some level) thinking they were doing what was best.

    This sounds like a defence for their behaviour. It’s not. The fact is they are deceiving people and causing a lot of disenfranchisement and pain. But I think that in most cases they have deceived themselves first to think that what they are doing is either real or at least beneficial in some other way.

    The reason I raise this point is that lots of people judge the truth of a person’s message by gut feelings and most people are easily swayed by someone who they see as genuine.

    If we say that so-an-so a faith healer is a deliberate con-artist with no morals and is therefore a fake but someone observes that they are in fact seemingly very genuine and, in their own way, highly moral then we will have lost the argument at the first hurdle.

    The best bet (in my ever-changing opinion) is to directly target the fact that people claim miracles without sufficient evidence. Often the best way to test what constitutes “sufficient evidence” is to ask them whether they would accept the same claim from someone of a different religion. But even this falls on its face from time to time when the believer considers that the world is full of miracles but that all that aren’t from God are performed by Satan. *sigh*

    I’ve had Randi’s book on my list for a while now – I must grab it next time I’m in a good bookshop! Have you read Demon Haunted World by Carl Sagan yet?

  9. “Have you read Demon Haunted World by Carl Sagan yet?”

    Oh yes. Loved it.
    I’m only sorry it took me so long to actually get off my behind and actually buy it.
    I’m a notorious procrastinator.

    “…if they were (at least on some level) thinking they were doing what was best.”

    Yes, Randi mentions something of the sort in his book.

    “…But even this falls on its face from time to time when the believer considers that the world is full of miracles but that all that aren’t from God are performed by Satan. *sigh*”

    Oh yes. Tis true, is that.

    I feel very frustrated when I talk about faith-healers.
    Forgive my passion on the subject.
    Few subjects make me so furious.
    Flogging is too good for them.

  10. Damian,
    A helpful distinction I picked up in a ‘New American Alternative Religions’ class in the states was that between ‘deceivers’ (those who know they’re deceiving people) and ‘deceived deceivers’ (those who believe their own deceptive message)…

  11. Dale, yes, that’s a good way of describing it. I think that most people who deceive people are in some way justifying it to themselves. (This might be just the culture I live in combined with my optimism though)

  12. I agree. I personally would classify Benny Hinn (and almost certainly Todd Bentley) as a ‘deceiver’ (I think he knows he’s a fraud), yet I imagine that he has some way of (as you say) justifying it to himself… Then again, maybe the millions and the celebrity lifestyle is motivation enough for him?

  13. I don’t know. Even Hinn and Bentley might be genuine. It pains me to say it though.

    I used to smoke and I can kind of understand how a person can continue to do something they know is bad for them (or others) and yet find a million justifications that allow you to continue to live with the cognitive dissonance (that word again) that that causes.

    Perhaps Hinn and Bentley know they are frauds but I would argue that if they do it’s in a nicely partitioned part of their mind that they suppress most of the time. I really don’t think that most humans could function if they didn’t have some kind of justification for their beliefs or actions.

    Perhaps that’s the only difference between a psychopath and the rest of us; that they are content to know that they are doing harm and require no justification for it?

    Psychology. Meh.

  14. Interestingly, Hank Hannegraaf (the ‘Bible Answer Man’ – whom I used to love, but now have a few more quibbles with, and wish would change his nickname!), who has repeatedly exposed people like Hinn, has reported personal phone conversations with him where Hinn apologised to Hannegraaf and ‘admitted’ (probably not the best word) that what he was doing was wrong. There is also a Hinn conversation with Pat Robertson where Hinn admits to theological errors (i.e. the ‘little Gods’ doctrine), etc.

    I actually think Hinn has loads and loads of cognitive dissonance, and could possibly be quite stressed at times…

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