Thursday, February 24, 2011

Florida Man Raised from the Dead by Praying Cardiologist

What do you make of this sort of thing?

22 comments:

Walter said...

He was brought back to life by faith, prayer, and one more try using conventional medicine.

In other news a man found that prayer combined with $3.50 allowed him to receive a Starbucks coffee.

Sorry, I couldn't resist. The miraculous tale would have been a little more exciting if prayer caused the man's heart to start beating again without the defibrillator.

Crude said...

Or would we just hear about how diagnoses are mistaken all the time, and it would be more impressive if... Etc, etc.

unkleE said...

The fact remains that an expert medical team with all the equipment they needed couldn't revive the man, and the expert heart surgeon pronounced him dead. Yet after prayer, the man revived, with minimum extra intervention.

No-one can prove it wasn't natural causes, but anyone with eyes to see would have to conclude that it was plausibly a miracle.

Leah said...

It'd be more convincing if it had been picked up by non-Christian news sites. Or if there was more than one man's testimony. Where are the morgue employees? Or the reluctant technician who administered the miraculous final shock? Wouldn't these people want to be interviewed about what they witnessed?

--Leah @ Unequally Yoked

Ana said...

" The miraculous tale would have been a little more exciting if prayer caused the man's heart to start beating again without the defibrillator. "

I can understand Walter, I too think it would have been more intriguing if the man revived without the use of a medical shock.

However, unkleE makes a legitimate point. Human causes, multiply attempted, weren't effective to revive the man until after the doctor's prayer. A supernatural cause superintending the doctor's prayer and consequent action, would be a form of a supernatural intervention.

An atheist brought this resurrection story of a Nigerian man to my attention. I thought it was really interesting: “Concerning the resurrection of Daniel Ekechukwu”

Roffle said...

It makes me confused? I'm confused as to why this is evidence for the effectiveness of prayer.

Rare things happen, sometimes they are accompanied by prayer and sometimes not. In order to see if the prayer has an effect, you need to keep track of the misses. When this is done, studies have shown that the effect of prayer is indistinguishable from chance. This does not bode well for the proposed effect and this story does not change that conclusion.

Matt said...

Interesting stuff. While I think I agree with Walter's comment I wonder if stories like this have any implications for consciousness. How dead does a body have to be before recovery can't be done naturally.

Rob R said...

good grief, the guy had no heartbeat for over 40 minutes. We are well into brain damage territory there. It is very reasonable to conclude this was a miracle.


I found a couple of interesting points from this story on the near death experience. One was that the guy had a guardian angel named Bob.

The other was that he was present at a funeral that actually never took place. I think this speaks to the fact that Near Death experiences, while they involve veridical perceptions, they also have a symbolic aspect to them.

Tim said...

There are many resurrection stories out there -- especially from places where the body is not immediately taken from the family preventing loved ones from praying over the body for a miracle.

The same blog from which Dangerous Idea found the story being discussed here has also covered several other resurrection stories that can all be found on the page Resurrection Miracles

Warren said...

Would it be pedantic to point out that, if true, these are actually cases of resusitation (a la Lazarus) rather than resurrection (a la Jesus)?

cl said...

For what it's worth, I'm favorable to these types of things as evidence. From a scientific standpoint, as a general rule, I'd say their credibility increases in proportion to the evidence. I can't wait to see the results of the AWARE study, and I'm also eager to see how accurate my predicted responses from both sides are. If the results are unfavorable, I suspect many atheists will tout this as the "nail in the coffin" for NDE. However, if the results are favorable, I suspect many of these same atheists will decry the tests as "inconclusive" or "less than methodologically sound."

Warren,

"Would it be pedantic to point out that, if true, these are actually cases of resusitation (a la Lazarus) rather than resurrection (a la Jesus)?"

Pedantry wouldn't be my concern, at least not at this point. My first concern would be positive evidence for the truth claim, because as it stands, it appears to be bare assertion.

Tim said...

Warren, what's the difference?

If you equate resurrection with coming back to life and never being subject to death again like Jesus and as Christians believe will happen to them, then I would agree with your analysis.

If you are referring to length of time dead, however, keep in mind that Lazarus and some of these other people brought back to life were dead for days at a time just like Jesus.

Russ said...

Isn't it odd that miracles occur in cases where our only certainty is that none of us reading the story have enough detail to accurately assess the situation? Isn't it more odd yet that they do not occur where we can assess the situation clearly as in a missing limb?

In this instance we are in a good position to say we do not know what happened. We are in an especially good position to know that we lack sufficient information to justify calling it a miracle. It's quite unfortunate that this man didn't pray for world peace. It's just as unfortunate that one would think that this man's version of a god would do this while ignoring the billions of daily Christian prayers asking for the world's hungry to be fed. Then, too, this same god apparently allows tens of thousands of people to die of malaria even as it makes Virgin Mary statues weep lubricating oil.

I've been personally investigating miracle claims by the religious for more than forty years, but not a single one of them has merit beyond exposing the claimer's ignorance. So numerous are the miracle claims by Christians that if they were true we would see them. What's more, most Christians do not believe other Christian's miracle claims. Most protestants, for instance, laugh at weeping statues just as loudly as I do.

unkleE said...

Leah said: "It'd be more convincing if it had been picked up by non-Christian news sites."

It was, though the reports are not always on the web now. I followed this story from much closer to the event, and found a number of secular news reports, including an interview with the patient. You can see some of these here.

I think there can be no doubt this event happened as described, and that something extremely unusual happened. How we interpret the event will depend more on our presuppositions than anything else.

I too have been following up these sort of claims a little, and there is very good evidence for a number of them. It raises an interesting question for non-believers (I am not being snide, just raising the question): will Hume's (possibly refuted) arguments make even claims with very good evidence impossible to believe? If so, then such nonbelievers shouldn't say there is no evidence for belief, only that there is no evidence they could accept.

Anonymous said...

Leah,

It was picked up by Non Christian News:
http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=-2334132798216105638#

Russ said...

unkleE,
You said, "I too have been following up these sort of claims a little, and there is very good evidence for a number of them."

I know several Christians who have witnessed "miracles" on the job. However, they all are honest enough to admit that what they saw was in fact not miraculous. In dire emergencies routine things - hooking up EKG leads, EEG leads or connecting pulsimeters and blood pressure cuffs - are regularly forgotten or hurriedly done incorrectly. In the wrong hands such an error could become another miracle claim when these circumstances are corrected.

When life is on the line practical life-preserving concerns are of the highest priority. Stopping blood loss, for instance, is more important than making a thorough assessment of the patient's physiological state. When vital signs have stopped the only priority is gettting them restarted or getting the patient onto life support. In this situation vital signs are measured in binary: it's either on or off. In the frenzy to kickstart the vital signs precise details of what transpired are lost.

In the case of the Florida man, they say he walked into the emergency room and collapsed and the response team went to work on him. They will no doubt have breathed for him with a respirator of some kind. They may have intubated him as they would during surgery. They will have assisted circulation one way or another to keep tissues oxygenated. Their claim is that after a half hour of CPR, they gave up, declared him dead and then, as if just following a hunch, decided that a quick prayer and another defibrillation would be just the right thing. But, if prayer is known to be causal, why screw around with the charade of thirty minutes of CPR beforehand? Why not just pray, defibrillate and get on with other patients? Or why not just pray and have things all hunky-dory? If prayer truly works reliably, why not just dispense with hospitals, and transport the afflicted directly to a mosque or a Baha'i temple or a Scientology Church or a Christian Science healer? Well, we all know prayer isn't reliable at all, so we use what is known to work, science.

Those of us on the outside do not know anything about the Florida situation. But, we do know that prayer is not causal. If prayers caused things to happen the world would be a very different place. We have Christians asking in prayer for their least favorite world leaders to be assassinated. We have Christians praying for their particular sect to have world domination. We have Christians praying for peace, for the world's hungry to be fed, and to win the lottery. If these things are observed to happen will believers be able to demonstrate that it was their prayer that caused it? Can they show that the event happened only because they put it on their prayerfully-delivered wishlist? The answer is "no" in both cases and believers don't actually rely on prayer. They know it doesn't work.

Russ said...

unkleE,
If the man's heart was truly restarted after more than thirty minutes, it was not the prayer that caused it. The cardiologist knew it wouldn't work, that's why he didn't use it at the beginning. My guess is that if circumstances were at least close to what the doctor described then the heart muscle was to some extent rested after its half hour of downtime and so was able to carry on with that last defibrillation. If the prayer occurred at all, its appearing to have been answered was an irrelevancy. Defibrillators work in India and China, too, without invoking the divine intervention of one or more of the Christian gods. If someone prays to Vishnu and has a recovery can it be the prayer that caused it since Christians claim there to be exactly one god, theirs? Do you agree that in that instance, it was not the prayer that caused it? Yet, that man from Mumbai might insist that it was in fact the prayer to Vishnu that forced the desirable outcome. Can you prove him wrong, given that yours is the one and only god, the one and only power in the universe which can answer prayers?

I think it's far more likely that the good doctor's intuition kicked in justifying one more shot with the zapper and the rested heart was able to carry on. Of all the things from which miracles are imaginatively fabricated the inherent uncertainties of human physiology make for some of the more interesting claims. Yet, miracles derive most commonly from a predisposition to want them. When a religious cancer patient survives longer than the oncologist's failed prediction, it's hailed as a god-affirming miracle. When they're given six months, but die next day, it's also a failed prediction, but it isn't hailed as a god-affirming miracle.

woodchuck64 said...

This is no ordinary praying Cardiologist. This is a praying, preaching, Holy-Spirit-wielding, demon-exorcising Cardiologist.


"Fifteen young people came out of the crowd and lined up on the platform behind me. I walked toward the young man who was first in the lineup on the left and before I was halfway to him, I held up my hand to pray for the blessing of boldness to fall on him and fell backward, slain in the Spirit. I did not feel anything myself. But it was as though I had a force field around me, because with my next steps toward the second in line, he went down. Then the third, the fourth. These weren't "courtesy drops", as one sometimes sees at Pentecostal meetings. These teenagers went out. (In a peaceful way--the falling of the Holy Ghost usually brings a profound peace.) Every person in that line went over peacefully until I reached the fifteenth. He fell over, but then he started manifesting demons, writhing and slithering on the ground, growling, yelling, and screaming. I bent down to him and commanded the demons to come out in Jesus' name."

(Raising the Dead, p. 142.)

Anonymous said...

Russ,

"Most protestants, for instance, laugh at weeping statues just as loudly as I do."

Well of course they would. If the truth claim of the Catholic Church were to be validated by miracles then Protestantism would be the incorrect belief.

Anonymous said...

Russ,

"Can they show that the event happened only because they put it on their prayerfully-delivered wishlist? The answer is "no" in both cases and believers don't actually rely on prayer. They know it doesn't work."

Prayer is not guaranteed to work because more educated believers know that God is under no obligation to intervene or to intervene in the way we want Him to intervene. This is a common atheist fail point. For example some people turned away from God because they did not receive a pony for Christmas despite praying really hard.

The man who looks only for signs as proof of God's existence in my view is only hoping to comfort his ego. It's not given that morally good and devout believers will not suffer, let alone those who expect God to do parlour tricks for them.

Anonymous said...

Russ,

"My guess is that if circumstances were at least close to what the doctor described then the heart muscle was to some extent rested after its half hour of downtime and so was able to carry on with that last defibrillation."

This is a less likely scenario. I would entertain it had the CPR process being going on and chest compressions were pumping the oxygenated blood to the heart. However, as is, the body was left alone for at least several minutes and no effective circulation or oxygenation was occurring. The heart muscle could not rest and regenerate its ATP because there was no blood to bring in oxygen and the remaining anaerobic metabolism would have generated so much lactic acid which would make successful defibrillation less likely. Also unless they teach nonsense in US medical schools, it was not his doctor's intuition. I would not have defibrillated this man.

"If the prayer occurred at all, its appearing to have been answered was an irrelevancy."

The man prayed and was moved to try to defibrillate again. Had he not prayed he probably would not have defibrillated him again. I would certainly not have attempted again after leaving the dead body unattended for whole minutes. I certainly would not have defibrillated ASYSTOLE.

"Defibrillators work in India and China, too, without invoking the divine intervention of one or more of the Christian gods."

And it's not to say that the Christian God (only one of them), would not have saved a good Taoist or Buddhist either.

"If someone prays to Vishnu and has a recovery can it be the prayer that caused it since Christians claim there to be exactly one god, theirs?"

If someone trully seeks the truth they will find God. It doesn't matter what they call Him. That's not to say that a Christian should pray to Vishnu instead but a man who only knows Vishnu may be saved by God.

"Do you agree that in that instance, it was not the prayer that caused it?"

No. It seems to me that a natural miracle could have occurred. The man prayed and on a material level perceived an external entity asking him to defibrillate the man again at a time where conventional teaching and current ACLS guidelines recommend leaving the patient alone. He's been declared dead. The perception may have been entirely in his mind, but there is no reason to suggest that this is not how God works. Of course the unbeliever will deny this and damn himself.

"Yet, that man from Mumbai might insist that it was in fact the prayer to Vishnu that forced the desirable outcome. Can you prove him wrong, given that yours is the one and only god, the one and only power in the universe which can answer prayers?"

No. God is not obliged to answer prayers and when He does answer them they may not be answered in the way our weak selves would want them answered. Please try to conceive this whole thing on a more abstract level. Thanks.

BTW please try to be courteous. Christians only have one God, not gods. Thank you.

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