Scrutinising My Story
How to explain the "signs and wonders" that I witnessed in my youth? What caused my friend’s curvature of the spine to heal? What was that Force which generated Holy Laughter to erupt in waves over three hundred of us? Why did my friend uncontrollably shake when being prayed for? And what made my Mum’s hands freeze for hours in one position?
Maybe I was subject to a contagious laughing fit.
Maybe my mum experienced a brief episode of muscle spasticity from stretching out her arms for too long, which cut off the blood supply and necessary oxygen content.
Maybe my friend’s spine was correcting itself anyway from the physiotherapy she had received for two years.
Maybe the doctors were wrong with their negative prognosis of her condition.
And what of her shaking? Well, crowd hysteria must have whipped her up into an adrenaline-filled frenzy.
If kids are jumping around to loud music it can cause all sorts of weird and wacky, playful behaviour to manifest.
Is that the end of the story? It is always possible to dismiss reports such as mine by claiming they arose from naturalistic causes. But you do have to question whether your alternative explanations stretch the realms of possibility even more thinly, simply to avoid deducing there may be a God behind it. Before writing-off my experiences with a range of naturalistic hypotheses, explore the likelihood of those conjectures thoroughly. For example:
I don’t accept that I was taken over by a contagious laughing-fit. It felt different in every way and I have never experienced anything like it since, even though I have engaged in many episodes of infectious giggling as a comparison. Holy Laughter was a documented-phenomenon in the 1990s emerging from the Toronto Blessing Revival. When researching this revival later in life, I discovered reports that this experience manifested in thousands of people around the world at the same time it happened to me in England. The revival blessing spread globally as foreign visitors from the Toronto Church travelled back to their home countries.
At the time of her encounter, my mum was in her 30s, with no underlying health conditions and none since. Hands becoming rigid, bodies shaking, and physical healings are all recognised manifestations of the Holy Spirit coming into contact with humans. There are accounts of similar phenomena throughout two-thousand years of Church history when revivals sporadically broke out.
Diseases which cause rigid limbs, such as Stiff-Person Syndrome and Parkinson’s Disease tend to be degenerative, not a one-time only experience with no similar symptoms over a substantial period of time. Muscle Spasticity can be caused by a black widow spider bite. Maybe every person who has experienced this phenomenon throughout Church revival history has unknowingly been submitted to an army of black widows spiders…?!!
I previously attested to my friend’s personality at the time -- she wasn’t one to act the clown for attention. At that age we were blissfully unaware of group dynamics and acting in socially acceptable ways just to fit in. Even if you could accuse some other kids in the room of being swept up in the euphoria of loud music and acting in unusual ways, we were quite ignorant of this.
It’s hard to convince someone if you’ve never experienced anything like it yourself. Particularly if you’ve already made up your mind that this material universe is all there is and so nothing supernatural (outside-of-the-ordinary) could ever happen. But if there are other dimensions (as proposed by some scientists via the Multiverse Theory) then accepting that other phenomena can occur outside the normal parameters is not so much of a stretch. If infinite other universes exist, with different combinations of Natural Laws that they abide by, then the possibilities of what can happen in those realities is literally endless. Maybe in one universe life forms can spontaneously grow back limbs or live eternally (if there is no Law of Decay/radiation); or create sustenance out of atmospheric particles (i.e. out of thin air); or organisms can fly if the gravitational pull were weaker.
Does this sound too fanciful for you? Well, some scientists propose the Multiverse Theory because they are trying to explain how a finely-tuned Universe, such as ours, could exist when the chances are astronomically small for a life-permitting Cosmos to happen by chance. This mind-boggling theory is proposed to ensure that the mathematical probabilities are not violated which attest to the unlikeliness of our universe forming by chance. Therefore, there has to be infinite possibilities of universe combinations over infinite time, in order for our unique Universe to arise randomly. If you accept this Multiverse Theory then you should be open to the possibility of all sorts of miracles occurring, as literally anything is possible in this model.
Yes, you could still argue that supernatural (out-of-the-ordinary) phenomena can’t happen in our Universe because of the Natural Laws and parameters it is governed by. But the problem with stating that infinite dimensions can never interact with each other begs the question: how do we know the Multiverse really exists? If we can’t observe it, touch it, interact with it, measure it or experience it in any way, then isn’t this starting to sound a bit like God who is rejected for similar reasons? Having said that, myself and many others claim to have experienced God personally in our lifetimes. So, you could consider this as one piece of evidence in God’s favour vs. the elusive Multiverse -- the Multiverse that exists as an abstract concept to lessen the impact from the remarkable fine-tuning discoveries of recent decades[2a].
However, if you believe that eventually Scientists will acquire the evidence to prove the Multiverse exists – firstly, this sounds a lot like a faith position (a ‘science-of-the-gaps’ hypothesis) and secondly, if proof is found, then we would have accessed the Multiverse in some way. This interaction (that enables the proof to exist) should open you up to the possibility that infinite universes could affect each other, and thus cause virtually anything to happen. If these universes aren't open to interaction then how would we have even accessed the concept in the first place? I disagree with the idea that an infinite Multiverse exists of its own accord, with no designer behind it, in order to explain away the fine-tuning we see everywhere. But I don't reject the idea of other dimensions existing. I would actually argue that we could use the labels 'Heaven' and 'Afterlife' interchangeably with the term 'dimensions/alternate realities' in order to discuss them rationally. Jesus maybe used these Biblical words because the science of the 1st Century hadn't yet made it possible to comprehend the reality of separate dimensions.
Maybe the 'supernatural' should not be considered with automatic suspicion and scepticism. I define the term 'supernatural' to mean events that can’t be explained along the lines of our Universe’s parameters, so the explanation must come from outside. Proof for the Multiverse Theory, if ever found, should enable the sceptical to realise that the existence of other dimensions discredits the commonly held belief that our material universe and its Natural Laws are the only way it could ever possibly be.
Even if you reject the belief that there is a God who can interact with His creation and instead accept the naturalistic approach of the infinite Multiverse model, you shouldn’t necessarily dismiss accounts like mine which attest to supernatural occurrences breaking into our reality. But if you reject both of these options: how do you account for the astronomical improbabilities of a universe such as ours, existing all on its lonesome, with extremely fine-tuned parameters allowing complex life forms to exist?
[2a] See my series of posts titled ‘My Purpose?’ for more details on our Goldilocks-Universe.  Theists are accused of using “God of the Gaps” fallacies when arguing that God must exist because He can explain the current gaps in our knowledge that we have, such as the origin of life and the cause of the Big Bang singularity. The problem with this line of thinking is that as the gaps get smaller as Science advances, then God gets smaller too until He appears redundant as an explanation. Having said that, scientists are no closer to explaining the origin of life or the Big Bang cause.  Look out for an upcoming post (Miracles and the Quantum Realm) for an explanation of how God may not be violating our Natural Laws at all when he interacts with His Creation.