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scientifically inexplicable, apparently supernatural things occur, but not to atheists

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 7/10/2015 Category: Religion
Updated: 3 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 885 times Debate No: 77508
Debate Rounds (3)
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scientifically inexplicable, apparently supernatural things occur, but not to atheists. these are apparent miracles.

please show something that happened to an atheist, that would have been called an apparent miracle had it happened to a religous person, because of its scientifically inexplicable nature.
no semantics pleas

what are thought of as miraculous events are heavily documented and readily available. there are tons of examples for theists, in previous debates i shown them. most credible people dont dispute hat things appear to be miracles, just that they claim there's alterative explanations. im not going to do a bunch of work to find them when it's readily available. . someone can see with no retinas even though this seems scientifically impossible etc, just to use an example. here are some documented miacles, and things that are inexplicable.

here is a list of incurable illnesses that have been cured, and medically documented...

lourdes is a religious place where many healings are said to occur. they have an organization set up to examine them (similar to the congregation for saints that the catholic church uses, but said to be even more rigorous)

an organization from the catholic church that does similar investigations

their criteria...
For a cure to be recognised as medically inexplicable, certain facts require to be established:
The original diagnosis must be verified and confirmed beyond doubt
The diagnosis must be regarded as "incurable" with current means (although ongoing treatments do not disqualify the cure)
The cure must happen in association with a visit to Lourdes, typically while in Lourdes or in the vicinity of the shrine itself (although drinking or bathing in the water are not required)
The cure must be immediate (rapid resolution of symptoms and signs of the illness)
The cure must be complete (with no residual impairment or deficit)
The cure must be permanent (with no recurrence)

The steps to verify the claims...
Approximately 35 claims per year are brought to the attention of the Lourdes Medical Bureau. Most of these are dismissed quickly. Three to five each year are investigated more thoroughly, by drawing up a Medical Bureau, comprising any doctors who were present in Lourdes at the time the apparent cure took place (this is the rationale for all members to notify the bureau of their visits to Lourdes).
The Medical Bureau investigates the claim, by examining the patient, the casenotes, and any test results (which can include biopsies, X-rays, CT scans, blood test results, and so on).
If this conference decides that further investigation is warranted, the case is referred to the International Lourdes Medical Committee (abbreviated in French to CMIL), which is an international panel of about twenty experts in various medical disciplines and of different religious beliefs. CMIL meets annually. A full investigation requires that one of its members investigates every detail of the case in question, and immerses him/herself in the literature around that condition to ensure that up-to-date academic knowledge is applied to the decision. This
may also consult with other colleagues about the case.
This information is presented at a CMIL meeting. Also present at the meeting are the head of the Lourdes Medical Bureau and the Bishop of Tarbes and Lourdes (currently this is Nicolas Brouwet). The cured subject is not normally present.

medically documented of incurable illessness..... what more would you require of me? that is a sincere question, not rhetorical
i will keep looking for studies and such, and may redebate you. if i deem it necesssay, if you do too good of a job as devil's advocate.
at a certain point, it is more the profound skeptisicms of the person, who needs to see it with their own eyes. than it is the lack of documentation etc.

the common objection of atheists and skeptics is that things just happen to occur by probability, that a genetic deviance, or random chance etc has caused it to happen to them. (that's how evolusion occurs, someone with a genetic deviance getting their genes prominent in the population)

but I don't see these things happening to atheists.
I see plenty of evidence from chrisitans and to a lesser extent other religious folks. but I don't see it from atheists etc, why is that? they might claim that it's just not as newsworthy or interpreted that way given the lack of religious context etc.
but you'd think there's at least be noteworthy evidence, or something, at least, that shows it happens to atheists etc

also, even if i acknowledged that they may occur, it would be extremely very small percentage wise.
as of now i'd be happy with just couple or a few examples.

ive shown some examples happening to theists, it shouldnt be hard to find some happening to atheists.


The motion before us is that "scientifically inexplicable, apparently supernatural things occur, but not to atheists".

I propose that this motion is false; whilst it is obviously true that science can't explain everything that happens (sometimes for want of sufficient evidence), I suggest that there is no measurable difference between the experiences of the devoted and the godless.

My opponent speaks much of Lourdes; I'd like to look into the numbers involved a little bit, since unlikely things do happen (such as me winning the lottery) and are more likely to happen when we involve big numbers (it wouldn't be so incredible that I won the lottery if I bought 10 million tickets).

More than 6,000,000 people visit Lourdes each year [1]; from this vast set of visits, about 35 cases get reported to the Lourdes Medical Bureau for consideration as miracles [2]. From these 35, 30 or more are normally dismissed very quickly. From the 5 remaining, 2 or 3 may be further investigated by the International Lourdes Medical Committee (CMIL) and perhaps 1 case per year pronounced "medically inexplicable". Occassionally the Catholic Church will then pronounce a given case as not just "medically inexplicable" but a full-blown miracle. Let's say, therefore, that this is at a rate of about one miracle every three years... or something like one in 18,000,000 visits. Now, when we bear in mind the proportion of people who are ill and visit Lourdes only to pray for healing and who are likely to attribute any improvement in their condition to their pilgrimage, I think that we can all agree that 1 in 18,000,000 is not a particularly impressive statistic.

Indeed, one would expect that there would be at least one "miracle cure" in a sample of 18,000,000! The human body is an enormously sophisticated thing which is remarkably good at healing itself; for Pro to be able to make the slightest case that Lourdes creates miracles for the devout, Pro would need to demonstrate to us that the background level of "miracle cure" in, say, the average hospital, was statistically significantly less. This is a burden of proof issue and I ask that the gentle reader not be fooled by Pro's attempt to shift the burden of proof - for Pro's case to be successful, they must demonstrate that the religious experience better healing than the irreligious.

By the by, there are PLENTY of cases of "miracle" cures in and outside of religious settings; we've all heard of somebody claiming to have cured their own terminal cancer by adopting some mad fad diet... a quick search for "cancer", "juicer" and "cured" on your favourite search engine will yield many claims of miracle cures that are quite independent from any religious context; I could list a dozen other forms of quackery and woo-woo that turn up all of the time in relation to miracle cancer cures (amongst other ailments).

Even if we limit our search to people who "naturally" make a "miracle" recovery, we find that there is a very large number of people who have been diagnosed with terminal cancer and given months to live who have survived for decades and even gone into remission... this is no miracle, it's a simple fact of life - and whilst we understand an awful lot about cancer, we don't understand everything (not by a long shot) and we certainly don't understand the subtelties of the human immune system. Consider Dr. Kelly Turner's research [3]; whilst Dr. Turner is not invoking any mystical component (and specifically denies that faith helps), I wonder whether she may not be making it clear enough that there doesn't need to be any lifestyle change (although I don't deny that these may help) - what percentage of patients who are given months to live have simply been given the wrong prognosis by the medical profession? I assume that most rational people will accept that we don't understand everything about cancer and that amongst 18,000,000 people who had been told they had 3 months to live, at least a few of these would be an example of a wrong prognosis (rather than a miracle cure) - that is to say that even if the doctor knew all of the latest research and current best methods for determining prognosis for cancer patients, our human understanding of this disease and its relationship to the immune system is not complete.

"Miracle" cures do happen (no magic need be invoked to explain them), but they happen as frequently to atheists as to Christians, as to Muslims, as to Buddhists, as to Devil worshippers... or even as to juicer-fanatics.

Final thought: if the motion were true, what would be the mechanism by which it worked? I assume (but would rather have my opponent come clean and be clear on the point) that Pro's explanation is that God works miracles... if this is the case, how come He hasn't cured any amputees by restoring their limbs? Would Pro have us believe that there is rock-solid evidence of genuine miracle-working in terminally ill (or so-diagnosed) cancer patients but not a single amputated-limb-restoral? What would be God's motivations and/or limitations to cause the one but not the other (even accepting the wild postulation that there is a god)?

Debate Round No. 1


i had a simple request. for the opponent to show something that would be called a miracle happening to atheist had it happend to a theist. con instead says i have the burden of proof. but, from the beginning i asked for the shift to go the other way, and burden can be shifted in the rules. besides, it shouldn't be hard, if there are these phenomenons happening to atheists. just give me an example or two, preferrably three, and id shut my mouth.
sure, con did point out cancer remission. but cancer remissions are medically known.

lastly, con asks about growing limbs. i might suppose that the mirical need have a bit of questionable nature to it, to retain an aspect of faith.


I do not believe in miracles or the supernatural... fortunately Pro created this debate with the word "apparently", which suits me just fine. It is no surprise that we hear more about the sort of thing that might seem like a miracle from those in the supernatural camp; there is, of course, nothing demonstrably miraculous that has ever been shown to be true - but those invested in religious faith or their particular favourite brand of woo like to make big of stories about ghosts, past lives, crystal healing, spiritual healing, messages from the other side, miracle cures, etc.

I repeat that there is an inherent (and unalienable) burden of proof for Pro to provide reliable evidence that miraculous things actually happen to the faithful AND that such things do not naturally occur, with special emphasis on showing that atheists have shorter life expectancies because they never have wonderful miracle cures happen to them; I suspect that Pro will not be able to live up to this burden because the claim is patently ludicrous - but it does follow from the debate's title.

Pro would like to shift the burden of proof to me to disprove the assertion so, to be fair, I'll shoulder some of that in providing the specific sort of evidence that Pro requests; note that I have already mentioned terminally ill cancer patients making remarkable recoveries and even achieving remission and decades of life where doctors had written them off to a few months' of life remaining. It is interesting that Pro concedes that recovering from terminal cancer is "medically known" and, therefore, can be written off as non-miraculous. I'd like to know what hoop Pro would like me jump through, though, specifically: if recovering from terminal cancer cannot be seen as miraculous but regrowing amputated limbs is asking too much (Pro's defense that God will only perform second-rate miracles so as to leave much to faith is laughable at best), what sort of thing would Pro accept? Well, let's look at the examples that Pro has given and find their match, that seems like a path to a resounding win that even Pro would have to accept.

Pro did not, in fact, give any examples! Sure, there were some examples in the one link that Pro provided that worked... I guess I should start there. Dr Richard H. Casdorph wrote a book in the seventies that is now out of print, not mentioned on Wikipedia and can be purchased for the princely sum of one cent from Amazon [1]. For me to take this as a valid and important source of evidence is asking a bit much, but I'll play along...

Dr. Casdorph provides 10 examples in his book and these are neatly summarised in Pro's link. The first example is a miracle recovery from cancer, which I am now led to believe is inadmissable by Pro - you can't have your cake and eat it!

The second example is a recovery from rheumatoid artherirtis; even Dr. Casdorph admits that spontaneous remission is relatively commonplace - the miracle here, apparently, is the speed with which this recovery happened and the best evidence we have for the speed of recovery is reported by the patient, Elfrieda Stauffer (not mentioned in Pro's link), herself... and this is obviously subject to the placebo effect, quite independently of the strong pressure from her devout husband, their congregation and the organisers of the "healing meeting". I won't even waste the gentle reader's time offering a hundred examples of spontaneous remission from RA, since even Pro's staunchest ally, Dr. Casdorph, agrees that they are not unheard of.

Example the third: Marie Rosenberger had a malignant brain tumour; she had surgery but not all of it could be removed - at first, it started growing back but then somebody said the right magic prayer to the right deity, Pro would have you believe, and it slowly disappeared. Okay, so... are there any examples of atheists who have malignant brain tumours that spontanously disappear? Sure are! Does Pro really need me to find evidence of self-identifying atheists who have experienced this common-enough remission? That wouldn't be fair, since "malignant tumour" = "cancer"... but it's safe to say that there have been tens of thousands of such occurrences in atheists...

I'm getting bored now. I'm not going to go through all of the other examples in this painstaking way (I'm putting way more effort in here than Pro, who is simply linking to a poor summary of the works of an evangelical doctor from nearly half a century ago).

I maintain that Pro hasn't come anywhere close to meeting their burden of proof; nor has Pro made it clear precisely what we are to be talking about (why link to examples where the plurality are cancer-related and then dismiss my argument about cancer because it's "medically known"!?).

Here's my challenge for the final round: Pro, pick one, two or three specific examples of "miracle" cures in theists and I'll demonstrate either the likely falsity of your miracle claim or examples of similar "miracles" in atheists. Note that this is going to be harder for me because atheists do not generally make a big song and a dance of their lack of blind faith, nor do they go out of their way to claim miracles where there are none. The Catholic Church, on the other hand, spends lots of its ill-gotten gains searching for miraculous stories (as either Pro's or my first round makes clear) to bolster its supernatural claims... but it's obviously an investment that they are prepared to make, a "lost leader" that they will recover in the years to come from the gullible followers who gladly pay a tithe to mother church.

Pro, can you not see the irony of telling me that I haven't provided a valid example when you have not done so yourself? It's YOUR debate... YOU are the one making claims... YOU are demanding to be the arbiter of what will or will not count... so it's ONLY FAIR that you give an example of a miracle theistic cure to set the bar and let me know exactly what I've got to find an example of. I'd really rather that you picked one for the final round, that way we can explore it in the detail that such a claim would deserve.

Just out of interest, though... if you really do believe the line you fed us about God not wanting to pull an A-grade miracle because it would not leave room for that most noble of virtues, blind faith... if you really do believe that then don't you realise that you've essentially boxed yourself out of winning this debate? You are essentially admitting that any miracle you can find will have an element of doubt about the miraculousness... which leaves me to wonder how you could possibly hope to win, unless you can show that faith healing initiatives work better than chance alone, or that theists with terminal illnesses have measurably better life expectancies than atheists with similar diagnoses (and I double dare you to try to do that!).

Debate Round No. 2


i note that con still hasn't shown an example, which was requested from the very beginning.

to respond to con's request, here is something that looks miraculous from that link.

10) Delores Winder: Osteoporosis of the Complete Spine.

"Mrs. Delores Winder presents us with an unusual case of severe, chronic, disabling pain secondary to Osteoporosis, which her physicians tried to relieve by five different spine operations. The patients symptoms had begun early in 1957. By 1962 she had worn a full body cast or brace of some sort...although at the time of her healing she was in a light weight full body plastic shell. Although she did not believe in instant miraculous healing she attended a lecture by Miss Kulhman in Dallas on August 30. 1975. She was miraculously healed beginning with a sensation of heat in both of her lower extremities.She has been resorted to full health, wears no brace or support, takes no medication and has completely normal sensations in the lower extremities. This is unusual because the spinathalamic in the spinal cord had been interrupted on both sides, and in such cases the resulting numbness is usually permanent."


Delores, oh Delores!

There's the Delores story and it is really compelling... at first glance. However, we can see from the story that she did have multiple corrective surgeries which corrected her spinal posture; the real problem, apparantly, was the hang-over from the percutaneous cordotomy (which sounds like medically induced paralysis from the video) - which Sid Roth (and Delores herself) seem keen to emphasise. Again and again, we hear how nobody in the history of the World has anybody recovered from the terrible, burning, invasive and irreversible effects of the percutaneous cordotomy.

I admit that I myself when researching the example was completely taken in by the LIES. The video also talks about how nobody performs the attrocious and barbaric practice of percutaneous cordotomy any more.

Now, my attitude all changed when I did some research on percutanous cordotomies:

It turns out that, counter to Mrs Winder's repeated lies (sorry, I mean claims):

1. Percutaneous Cordotomies do not affect motor skills (they target pain nerves not motor nerves).
2. Percutaneous Cordotomies are regularly carried out today
3. Percutaneous Cordotomies are mostly successful (80%)
4. "Serious side effects are extremely rare, affecting less than 1% of patients. "

Finally, it's fairly well known that if one area of your brain dies, the natural neuroplasticity of the human brain often allows another part of the brain to step in and do the job of the affected tissue. It is not what I would call miraculous that Delores found that she was regaining some sensation in a leg that had hitherto been permanently numb (but completely under her control - she could walk but often had to watch her leg whilst doing so).

So, where's the miracle here? Even by Pro's quoted passage:

"This is unusual because the spinathalamic in the spinal cord had been interrupted on both sides, and in such cases the resulting numbness is usually permanent."

That doesn't say "this is miraculous", nor does it say that numbness is "always permanent". The author is aware that sometimes the numbess goes away. In other words, Pro has yet to give us a SINGLE credible example of a miraculous healing of a theist. Now, if I haven't provided a single example for an atheist either, you might be tempted to think that we are even... but in the context of the debate, this isn't so: I claim that there is no such thing as a miracle and that anything apparantly miraculous that can happen to a theist can happen to an atheist, so you wouldn't expect me to be able to show any genuine miracles... and I think the lying Delores is a perfect example of why theists are fundamentally dishonest when they stretch the truth to bolster miracle-claims in support of their supernatural beliefs... and how so many gullible people can believe the lies, in this case including Pro. The difference between theists and atheists is not their medical prognoses, it's the degree to which they lie and bleat on and on about miracles.

What would be fair is for me to either disprove Pro's positive claims or to provide examples of atheists with equally miraculous recoveries. This, I posit, I have done.

If you want direct evidence that atheists (and mormons, and devil-worshippers, in short all people) can recover from Percutanous Cordotomies, look here:;- you'll find that the procedure is not all that Sid Roth and Delores Whiner cracked it up to be.

So, we've looked at cancer and at percutanous cordotomy... and we've found that in every example that Pro gives, atheists are as capable of being restored to health as are theists. Pro's case lies literally in tatters. We've only looked at 6/10 of the cases that Pro provided in detail, but have come to a resounding conclusion that there is no evidence to suggest miracle-healing of theists by divine intervention... none at all. There may be better evidence that Pro omitted to include in this debate... but on the basis of Pro's examples, I urge gentle the voter to find that Pro has not done sufficient to carry the motion.

Scientifically inexplicable, apparently supernatural things do occur, but they occur to theists and atheists alike. And we've really not seen any good examples here today. I'd be happy to have another debate, Pro willing, when Pro's had a chance to find some better example[s].
Debate Round No. 3
5 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 5 records.
Posted by AndyHood 3 years ago
@Mr Josh

I'm not sure what you mean... I'd say that this debate is worded in a way that it's pretty much impossible for Pro to win ;-) !
Posted by MrJosh 4 years ago
This debate is worded to be pretty much impossible. Unexplainable things happen all of the time, but it is the believers who have their own (often contradictory) explanations as to what is considered "apparently supernatural."
Posted by ChickenBakuba 4 years ago
If Saul was an Atheist, I would have accepted.

But no, he was a Jew.

At least he turned into Apostle Paul...
Posted by ChickenBakuba 4 years ago
I've seen this Debate b4 :/

He wants to Debate this topic again?
Posted by Donderpants 4 years ago
Sounds like the Placebo effect to me.
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