Owls, bats, and spiritual discernment: Standing up for Pr. Kobus

posted: 2607 days ago, on Friday, 2010 Oct 22 at 16:23
tags: atheism, skeptic, alt med, supernatural, miracles, faith healing, fundamentalism, Kobus van Rensburg.

"Myth buster" pens a comment to my article "Profit Kobus van Rensburg", the fraudulent faith healer from Spirit Word Ministries, in which he/she calls me a fool and references owls, bats, and the digit "2".

Myth buster writes:

The fool has said in his heart, "there is no God".They are corrupt...(psalm 14:1) Auke, I totally understand your situation. It's been said that some nocturnal animals have a hard time seeing certain objects during the day, which is true. In the same way also, atheists have a hard time seeing anything that opposes their atheistia view, and that's because they are not very different from the mighty owl and co. "..the light shines in the darkness, and darkness did not comprehend it"(John 1:5) I'v never been 2 a Pr. Kobus meeting, but, I'm not a spiritual bat, unlike u, I dont rely on preconceived (false notions), to disregard anything which eludes the reach of my 3pound brain in order 2 compensate 4 my lack of spiritual discernment. If I were u(thank God I'm not), I'd hav visited one of his healing meetings, to get 1st hand experience of his "quakery", before starting a blog based on your ignorance and apparent inability 2 c let alone apprehend anything which exists outside of your 5 senses. You are not wise, plus u lack originality. U say Kobus' miracles are fake nd yet it's evident in your writings that you'v never even met enough people who'v been 2 his meetings 2 substantiate your false claims. Having said that, where's your solid proof 2 show that he's been using the placebo effect 2 cure ailments, or that no lame person has ever been healed at his meetings? In your head? Btw, I'v seen friends and relatives get healed through prayer.

Dear Myth buster,

Thanks for your expressive comment. And no need to thank me for giving you the opportunity to vent some of your aggression; perhaps in some small way I have contributed to averting playground bullying, spouse abuse, or even a family murder.

Looking beyond your ad hominem remarks leaves only two brief phrases to respond to.

The first is your erroneous logic about what constitutes proof. Apparently, you seem to think that without experiencing something first-hand, it is impossible to judge if that thing is true or not. For example, you write:

"..visited one of his healing meetings, to get 1st hand experience of his "quakery", before starting a blog based on your ignorance and .."

and

"..you'v never even met enough people who'v been 2 his meetings 2 substantiate your false claims.."

You are correct. I haven't been to one of van Rensburg's meetings, nor have I met anyone who has.

But then, I haven't been to Pofadder, nor have I met anyone who has been to Pofadder. Yet, I believe Pofadder to be a real town in the Northern Cape. Why? Because I have no good reason to doubt that Pofadder exists.

What if I were to tell you that my sister is three metres tall? Would you hop on the first flight to Cape Town to see this amazing wonder of the natural world for yourself, to experience her gargantuan tallness first-hand?

Perhaps tall leggy blondes don't interest you. OK, what if you heard from someone that in Pofadder's main road there is a tree that has money growing from its branches, and that anyone can just help themselves to as much cash as they want. Would you rush to Pofadder to experience this incredible phenomenon?

Of course you won't. And your scepticism would be totally spot-on. Based on your knowledge of people and nature, you know that sisters can't be as tall as I claim, and that money doesn't grow on trees. How do you know this? Because you have previous experience of people and nature.

In my case, based on my knowledge and experience of people and nature, I know that faith healing (i.e. supernatural cures) does not occur. Furthermore, based on my knowledge and experience of people, I have some (limited) understanding of why people make these false claims. But that is a different topic.

The unavoidable fact of reality is that there is no reliable record, in the history of mankind, of supernatural cures, be it faith healing, prayer, laying-on of hands, and so on. No lame person has ever been healed by superstition. Any reliable evidence would be eagerly examined - this would probably be the most fundamental and important discovery of all time.

Meanwhile, don't forget, van Rensburg is not the first so-called faith healer in the world. And don't forget, too, that Christianity isn't the only religion in the world. Or, that there is a long historical record, across cultures, of claims of supernatural interventions. This broad and deep view of the evidence shows, glaringly, that it is entirely lacking.

Focussing on the here-and-now, on one religion, on one "faith healer", is a naive view to take.

The take-home message is the old cliché, "Extraordinary claims demand extraordinary evidence."

And what of evidence? Seeing is believing? Experiencing it for yourself, first-hand, counts as proof? May I direct your attention to http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/P_T_Barnum. Closer to home, you could read my earlier essay, Magical Thinking, for a bit more about truth-claims and deception.

Your closing sentence, "Btw, I'v seen friends and relatives get healed through prayer," possibly illustrates that it doesn't take much to fool you. More likely, however, I think it shows that you have a more basic understanding of cause and effect, and are less likely to apply critical thinking to certain situations.

If you want to claim that your religion (whatever it is) makes you feel happy and fulfilled, then nobody will doubt you. But if you want to talk about evidence and proof, personal anecdotes and limited knowledge and experience of the natural world does not count for much.

It's like bringing a condom to a gun fight.

nothing more to see. please move along.