Thursday, February 15, 2018

Here I opened wide the door, darkness there and nothing more

A militant atheist writes:

AND it is also vital that Christians are educated on the evidence-based reasons why non-Christians are confident that Christianity isn't true. The real question about faith is, does the Christian have markers in place that would let them know that their faith has been misplaced.

Steve responded:

And what would lower [your] confidence level that Christianity isn't true? On a scale of 1-100...

Back to the militant atheist:

Steve Hays thank you for asking. I get asked this question a lot and my answer is always that if someone prayed for my paralyzed sister in the name of Jesus (can only move her eyes and mouth, she's on a feeding tube due to MS) and I see her immediately jumped up and was healed (with the accompanying regaining of muscles mass). My confidence that Christianity is true would rise from below 1% to over 90%. I still wouldn't be certain but my confidence would be very high. What would lower your confidence Christianity is true Steve?

To which I said:

Why does it have to be your sister? Why not someone else's sister? Or brother? Or mother or father? And so on. It's not as if your family is the only family in the entire world let alone throughout history.

Militant atheist:

Because I know the situation with my sister first hand, have see the deterioration first hand over many many years. I have seen the feeding tube with my own eyes. I have tested the fact that she is completely paralyzed myself. I've seen the 50 lbs of muscle mass disappear. Now if you Patrick, were to pray for my sister in Jesus' name and she jumped out of bed and ran around ... I don't care how big a skeptic one is, this would increase my confidence. Wouldn't that be an absolutely amazing thing to see?


all this proves is you have an unreasonably high standard. That's fine, I suppose, you're allowed to have whatever standards you want for yourself. However, let's not pretend that's a reasonable standard in general.

Militant atheist redux:

Patrick Chan yes you are right, I do have high standards. I disagree with unreasonable however. I think your standards to believe in Hinduism would be as high as mine for Christianity.

Me part deux:

Why not just have the same standard for everything? Why not just use reason, logic, evidence, and so on to evaluate any claim (whether about Hinduism or Christianity or whatever else)?

I say you have unreasonably high standards because you will only accept a "miracle" if it's your sister. Even though I'm sure you've met a lot of other sick people. Even though I'm sure you have at least heard of other sick people and have no good reason to doubt these stories (say) from your friends, from doctors, etc. That's your prerogative to be so picky about the evidence that you will only grant the evidence if your sister is healed. But that's not a reasonable standard.

Hi, it's me again:

As far as documented miracle claims (attested by physicians), here are a couple of examples posted on a weblog:

Militant atheist at the gates:

thanks for this. I'm reading it now, but can you do me a favor? You read it as well, but picture this couple as East Indian and Hindu. Then let's read it together with out collective skeptical hats.

ok I finished reading the article. Now Patrick, if you can imagine this couple as East Indian, and both them and the doctor Hindus, what doubts would you have about this article?


I don't see what their race has anything to do with it.

Anyway, these are real world examples. I'd be happy to read an "East Indian and Hindu" example that's attested by physicians too.

El ateo militante:

One of the best ways to lower bias is to remove one's desire for it to be true. This is why I am asking for Patrick to imagine this same scenario but for a Hindu couple.

Right back at me:

1. This shows your own bias toward me because you assume I have a "desire for it to be true". However, what makes you think I have a "desire for it to be true"? I never said or implied I did.

2. Besides, my desire for something to be true or false is immaterial to the evidence for the case itself.

3. Also, this cuts both ways. What if you have a "desire" for it to be false?

4. Finally, why pretend like this is a different case than the case presented before us? Why not just take the case as it is? There's no need for hypotheticals or imagings when there's a real actual case before us. If you have a similar case from an "East Indian" and "Hindu" that's attested by physicians, then go ahead and post it, and I'll read it and evaluate it. Just evaluate it on a case by case basis. That's normally how reasonable people operate.

Old atheist is new atheist:

ok. I just wanted to make sure there was no bias from either side. Now are you willing to express any doubts about the article you posted?

Sacré bleu:

I don't grant there's no bias on either side. You're obviously a militant atheist.

Springtime for Facebook and atheism:

do you have any doubts at all about that article?

Ma va:

Here's a better point as the person noted in the weblog post: "The Vanderhoofs and the physicians are presently alive so presumably anyone can contact the parties for more information if they are interested."

Harald Hefter, February 2005
Prof. Dr. med. Dr. rer. nat. Harald Hefter
Medical Director, Department of Neurology,
University Hospital Düsseldorf, Germany

Devin Zimmerman, M.D., February 2005
South Bend Neurology, South Bend, Indiana

The atheist strikes back:

Patrick Chan hopefully I can express my doubt in a way that you won't become defensive. He was diagnosed with Myoclonus, extreme fatigue and poor short-term memory. He was treated with Dival Sodium. He got better. The dosage was reduced. He still suffered from a major lack of memory of the time of his stay in the clinic.

Return of the me:

Actually, that's completely mistaken. Both physicians state he was diagnosed with Creutzfeld Jakob Disease (CJD). For all intents and purposes CJD is a fatal disease.

Don't believe me? Just Google. For example:–Jakob_disease

In addition, myoclonus is a symptom of CJD. Mycolonus is not the disease itself.

Atheist misadventures in debating:

you could be right, but in the article you posted, no where does it say he was diagnosed with CJD. It just says the existence of the new version of the Creutzfeld-Jakob-Disease was very likely.

Quoth the doctor, evermore:

"Our American colleagues joined our suspected diagnosis [of CJD] and also waived on brain biopsy probably due to the clear clinical picture and the very poor prognosis."

Atheism: into darkness:

Patrick Chan correct, it says suspected diagnosis.

Sense and sensibility:

It also says "due to the clear clinical picture". In other words, the neurologists were quite certain it was CJD based on the clinical picture. A brain biopsy would've been overkill. In any case, I cited the contact information of the physicians above. You could contact them and ask them yourself.

In addition, a brain biopsy at that point would've arguably lacked compassion given how rapidly the patient was deteriorating.

This atheist's logic has become ill:

yes, and it got better with a simple drug.

Requiem for an atheistic dream:

There's no curative treatment for CJD. The drug (Depakote aka valproic acid) is an anticonvulsant. It's meant for symptomatic relief of his myoclonus or muscle spasms (myoclonus is a symptom or sign of CJD). It's to palliate the patient as he deteriorates so that he doesn't suffer as much as he dies.

If you don't believe me, read this from Harvard Med:

"CJD cannot be cured, but some of the symptoms can be treated. Narcotics may be used to relieve pain, and anticonvulsant drugs, such as clonazepam (Klonopin) and valproic acid (Depacon, Depakene, Depakote), may be used for muscle spasms. Research studies are looking into other drugs that may be helpful."

Retorted atheism:

ok. But you're assuming he had CJD to being with. Like I said, that is not clear from the article, and misdiagnosis happen all the time. What we do know, is he got better at the same time he took a simple drug. Now it could be god that worked slowly over 1.5 years, or maybe it was the drug. Which is more likely to you?

Me, finis:

As I said, you're free to contact the neurologists yourself if you doubt their clinical acumen and judgment and ask them for their rationale and reasoning for why they "misdiagnosed" CJD in this patient.


  1. A nice tidy systematic destruction of “muh skepticism”

    1. I'm pleased to see Blake is pleased! :-)