Wednesday, December 24, 2008

A Word About Religion and Faith Healing


By Stephen Ellis

Nobody asked me, but…

Some people call me an historical "scholar". In truth, I have studied history extensively, but am far from deserving the rank of "scholar". One of the problems of researching recorded history is that it does not jibe with our Bibles. I use the plural term "Bibles" because there are more than a hundred different versions of the Bible in print today. It just doesn't make sense to me that the "Word of God" should be so different in so many books.

The Bibles, however, are a source of many paranormal beliefs and occurrences.

Normally, I try to stay away from discussions of religion because, to many, it is a very sensitive subject. Recorded history does not tend to support any specific religion and, accordingly, citing historical records is sure to upset some people…and has even been known to get violent reactions in some of the more fervently religious people. Why should I go out of my way to upset someone?

Religious beliefs can be a very beautiful thing (witness Christmas and Easter) or it can be a horrible thing (witness the Christian Crusades or the present Islamic Jihads).

Yet, many of the superstitions and beliefs about Heaven and Hell, etc. are of religious origin…as are beliefs about a life after death, an immortal soul, reincarnation, numerous claims of “miracles”, etc. Don't ask me to be the one to say that Jonah was not swallowed by a giant fish, or that Noah did not restart civilization by bringing two of every species aboard his Arc, or that Jesus did not walk on water. If these are things you believe with fervent passion, so be it. Historical documentation may offer strong proof that these things never happened, but if you don’t want to hear or appreciate what the historical records show…that’s up to you. "Belief" is a very individual thing. There are still people…state leaders…in Iran and Pakistan who do not believe the Holocaust ever happened. No amount of proof is going to change their minds.

If you do not believe something, no amount of proof will ever change your mind. If you believe something, no proof is necessary.

The thing is, there are a lot of logical explanations for many of the things we have come to accept on faith alone. i.e. The “aura” discussed in several previous blogs could well be what religious leaders call an “immortal soul”. The Hindu concept of “reincarnation” could very well be the “aura” finding another body to surround.

I do have to laugh at some of the ridiculous Pentecostal Evangelists' “fire and brimstone” sermons in which they talk about the Devil and horrors of Hell. Although the concept of Heaven and Hell was mentioned in both the Old and New Testaments, the “Devil” was not created until 1308 AD in Dante’s “The Divine Comedy”. This classic poem was the first writing to create a “Devil” in charge of Hell. Dante gave him Neptune’s trident and a stingray’s tail…and the “Devil” was born.

Dante’s “Inferno” was the first description of Hell ever made. That’s why I have to laugh when Evangelists imply that the Devil and the horrors of Hell are a part of the Bible. Nonsense! These things were created a thousand years after the Gospels were written.

Another of many Evangelists' ridiculous tricks is so-called “faith healing”. This is when someone with an (ostensibly) incurable disease is brought to the Evangeist who cures them in a matter of minutes by making them repeat that they love Jesus. While more than 99% of what you see on TV is done by “plants” (actors who pretend illness), there is, seriously, a lot of merit and historical support to “faith healing”. For many years, “faith healing” was an accepted medical practice, and there are thosands of cases on record of “incurable” diseases that have been wholly cured through faith healers.

Faith healing is one of those “mysteries” of life that I will tackle in future blogs.
It’s interesting to note that when the medical profession first became a “profession” back in old England, the all-male-dominated profession passed laws prohibiting a woman from ever practicing medicine. Most faith healers, throughout history, have been women and faith healers had to go “underground” for fear of being arrested and jailed. In Spain, during the Inquisition, any woman practicing faith healing was arrested and charged with “Heresy” (denial of God) and most were put to death...after a week or two of unimaginable torture. So, the art and magic of faith-healing quietly went underground…until recently.

Now the (not-so-male-dominated) medical societies have begun to extensively research faith healing and many physicians now have faith-healer associates.

As I said, nobody asked me.

Stephen Ellis

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