Miracle: Preacher claims Prayer over phone woke Coma man

Miracle Claims like the following often crop up as “evidence” that some supernatural event has taken place. The context for this claim is yet another on air TV claim, this time from Lance Wallnau.

Let’s take a look.

Lance Wallnau’s Coma Man

Hemant has a tweet with the clip. Here it is …

The transcript for the above is as follows:

… And I just came out of a great moment I was telling you about before the broadcast, where a person was in a coma for three months–three weeks–and I was asked to go speak a message, maybe on my phone, and just speak a memo, and send it, and they were gonna hold it up to this man’s ear.

His name is Willie. He’s in Scotland. And they had faith that if he could hear my voice, because he listens to me teach, that he would come out of the coma. And indeed he did! And I was speaking the Word of God to him. And he came out of the coma.

Well, my faith was, of course, as is understandable, I was feeling great about that! I’m thinking, “We’ve gotta do more of this!”

Here is what we actually learn …

  • There was a guy in Scotland named Willie … well that narrows it down. Perhaps he owns a chocolate factory?
  • He was in a coma for three months or three weeks … we don’t know which. Lance appears to have corrected it to be three weeks.
  • Lance was contacted and asked to record and send a message, a voice memo, because apparently this guy was a regular listener of Lance. Seriously, there are people in Scotland who tune in to hear Lance!
  • They played the recording and Willie apparently woke up from his coma.

Things we don’t know …

  • We have no idea who this guy named Willie actually is
  • We have no idea why he was in a coma
  • We don’t know if he immediately woke up the moment he heard the recording, or if they were playing it over and over and then the guy naturally woke up anyway. Did they play it once on, let’s say a Monday, and he woke up on a Wednesday, so they claimed it worked? We just don’t know.
  • How exactly did they verify that it was the voice recording and not all the medical care that the guy would have been receiving that woke him up?
  • Once he came out of the coma did he then go on to fully recover?
  • What did the medical staff think of what happened, do they feel that it was a miracle?

Let’s assume Lance is not lying. I’d not put it past him to do that, but for the moment let’s assume Willie exists and really was in a coma.

Do I believe that anything supernatural actually happened here?

Seriously no.

Here is a guy, most probably in hospital, receiving help. The medical staff don’t sit around doing nothing, they would be actively working to help him. Typically people do generally emerge from a coma after a few days or weeks.

If indeed his family was religious, then they would have been pulling every religious leaver they had. When he emerges from the coma then whatever religious activity had been in play would, by some, have been attributed as the reason he woke up.

This literally feels like a pigeon in a skinner box. That is where you randomly feed a pigeon in a box. Whatever the pigeon was doing at the moment the food arrives is an action that the pigeon proceeds to vigorously repeats to get more food.

The “Miracle” Balancing Act

What is very common amongst the religious are claims like this. Vague, no details, nothing verifiable, just a story with no evidence.

Putting aside the blatantly fraudulent, what we are always left with is stuff that is unverifiable.

The details are usually sufficient to enable those that have a pre-existing belief to accept that it was a real miracle. However, anybody who does a careful and critical review never ever finds any objective evidence that something supernatural took place.

In this case Lance was apparently contacted and asked to send a personal message. He then later hears back that the guy woke up. He was told that it was his recording, or perhaps simply assumed that it was, we don’t even know that.

I suspect that he might sincerely and genuinely believe something supernatural happened, but it is also possible that he simply made it all up.

Let’s be generous and assume that he sincerely believes it to be true.

Does that make it true?

Not at all.

How Reliable are Lance’s claims of supernatural healing?

Back last year in Oct 2020 Lance rather famously claimed that he had prayed for Rush Limbaugh who was seriously ill with Cancer. He specifically claimed that a miracle had taken place and that the cancer was fully cured.

That sounds very impressive.

One small flaw, there had been no miracle, Rush Limbaugh died of the supposedly cured cancer several months later.


One last Thought

There is a great deal more I could say about Lance Wallnau, and most of it is not good. However, this posting is not about him, but rather is about miracle claims and how we should think about them when they are presented. I’m simply using his claim to illustrate how to think about such claims.

When faced with a miracle claim there are several viable options:

  • Outright fraud: what is being claimed never actually happened
  • Sincere belief: a belief that something supernatural has indeed happened. The claimant is simply mistaken.
  • It really happened: Something supernatural did happen.

The huge challenge for that third option is that a supernatural event of any kind has never been scientifically verified, not even once in the entire history of humanity.

There are of course many who sincerely belief the supernatural is real, but dig and you find vague unverifiable claims.

There exists a long list of prizes that can be won by anybody who can successfully demonstrates anything supernatural. It would be really exciting to make such a discovery, but so far it has never happened.

  • Number of claimants – lots, I’ve even been involved in testing some.
  • Number of winners – exactly zero.

To those that believe such things do happen, you might indeed think that you are in Oz and can click a pair of ruby slippers together to transport yourself back to Kansas. The reality is that you have always been in Kansas, you never left, it was all just an illusion.

Yes but …

It can indeed be hard to come to terms with the way things really are.

If struggling with something that you are sure was supernatural, then ask yourself questions such as these:

  • What convinces you that it truly was a supernatural event, is there verifiable objective evidence that confirms it?
  • Is it because you don’t understand it and can’t explain what happened, or is there something that really does verify it?
  • What do others who don’t believe it was supernatural say, why are they not persuaded?
  • Part of the human experience, the most common aspect, is being wrong. What persuades you that you are not mistaken?

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