Monday Musings for February 12, 2018

Good morning, Musers,

Today’s questioner wanted to know if we can prove that healings in response to prayer are miracles and not a placebo effect that we might receive from the positive aspects of prayer. The short answer is we can’t… not like she’d like to do it. But the real answer is that we can’t really prove anything that’s not of this world. So, my question becomes, is that really our job?

Now, you’d think that a person like me who’s interested in apologetics would be all about proving stuff. But we in the trade know better. We collect data, give evidence and prepare cumulative cases for or against a position. But even if these are compelling, they prove nothing… not in the terms that many Christians would hope… as if faith were a right triangle.

What’s interesting, though, is that we are not the only people who have faith. Even the hardest physicalist atheist has faith in his presupposition that nothing extra-physical exists. So, can we call that faith… and mean it to be sort of like ours? What else would you call it when a person risks eternity by subscribing to a proposition he can’t prove this side of death? That’s the same thing we do. That’s faith.

Now… it’s not biblical faith, of course. We have God’s word and the Holy Spirit, so it’s not a level playing field… but is it? God requires neither of these in Romans 1:18-20. He says that there’s enough information within the physical world to make a decision about God’s extra-physical attributes… and so much so that if they miss it, they are justifiably condemned!

The placebo effect in medicine is well documented. But so aren’t apparent miracle healings in response to prayer. They are different phenomena, of course… and the miraculous healings are rare compared to placebo healings. But both of these are set apart in that they have no physical cause. The placebo effect is the result of a person’s attitude about a medicine that they did not ingest, and the salvation effect is the result of a person’s attitude about God.

All people have faith… but not all faith is equal. So for once, a TV commercial has it right: What’s in your wallet? Because that’s all you can spend.

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