In my Thirties, my Chinese-Australian medico and family friend told me about a small team of local doctors who had gone to the Philippines to observe a faith healer at work. The video they had made there confirmed, on their return, what they had seen. As my friend said to me, “What we observed is impossible; yet it happened.” As we agreed, a real experience cannot be denied.
Then, a Polish immigrant friend of mine took his Israeli wife to a Filipino faith healer. The healer provided a cure beyond the hitherto capacity of her doctors. This friend, also a medico, could not also believe what he had seen the healer do. He went back later to have his ‘tennis elbow’ cured successfully.
Both the Chinese and Polish doctors observed the identical procedure. This involved removing some whitish substance from within the body. A woman I knew in my district had a comparable experience with a visiting Filipino ‘thumbnail’ healer.
However, in my reading about such ‘faith’ (psychic) healers, I came across a report of a noodle being removed from the inside of a Swiss client. All such procedures involved a brief prayer by the healer. Little or no blood was lost. And the patient suffered no pain.
In another case I read about, somewhere in South America (Argentina?), a healer with a great local reputation opened up a patient’s middle. Instead of some whitish substance being removed, a stream of fiery red ants was seen to climb out of the open body, walk down a leg of the bed, cross the floor, and march out of the door in single file into the open.
While infallible professional sceptics might have a ‘fun time’ about the noodle and the ants, are these more improbable than other repeatedly reported acts of healing by those commonly referred to as ‘thumbnail’ surgeons?
Is healing by faith any more than the extreme end of the spectrum of healing, beginning with pills and potions, progressing through self-cure by positive thinking and visualisation, and finally to intervention by spirit healers?