But how do you search for faith healing in a scientific way? “That was very difficult,” says Kruijthoff. “If you’re setting up a study, you need something standard. A tablet is an example: a patient takes it and you can test it and see if it’s repeatable. Prayer isn’t: it’s pervasive and mixed with different feelings that you perform.”
When Kruijthoff searched for reports from other doctors, he found very little documentation. For inspiration, look to Lourdes: a place long known for faith healing and the academic assessment of those therapies. “We wanted to do it the same way. So we set up a panel of five specialists. A surgeon, a neurosurgeon, an internist, a hematologist/oncologist and a psychiatrist. So we have the largest specialties. If anything else in the eye field, for example We agreed to visit the ophthalmologist.
Religious biases were also taken into account, Kruijthoff says. “We chose an equal mix of religious and non-religious experts for selection. We did this to prevent biases as much as possible. This also happened at Lourdes. They said: ‘It doesn’t really matter whether he’s a Christian or not. – A Christian doctor looks at the situation. It’s about a medical assessment.'” “.
At the start of the study, Krugthoff says, there were 89 recordings. “Of the 83, 27 remained in the end. This was due to the different circumstances we put in. For example, we only chose treats from the 90s, because otherwise it would have been very difficult to put together a reliable dossier. But stories with back problems were rejected. Also because these complaints cannot be judged by pictures.”
In the end, 11 cases were rated “medically remarkable”. Kruijthoff: “In those cases, the course of the disease was very different from what one would expect. In these people it was more about conditions like MS, Parkinson’s disease, or chronic inflammation. It was surprising that in many cases it was cured so suddenly.”
“Medically remarkable” is different from “medically inexplicable,” says Krugthoff. “That was a difficult consideration for us. You use something that can’t be medically explained if there is absolutely no explanation for recovery. But with diseases like Parkinson’s, the condition can sometimes have a more positive course. But it’s still very special that The healing happened so suddenly.”
However, Kruijthoff is cautious in his conclusions. “You cannot prove that prayer healed. All we can say is that the healing was sudden and that there was a temporal relationship with prayer.”
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