The Original Healing Episode
The scene contains an almost burlesque note. On February 15, 2013, between 8:45 and 9:00 pm, a woman and a man prayed as I placed my hand in the approximate location of my bladder and urethra. Bill and Carol Dew’s class on the methods of healing prayer included a three-person practice session. Soon afterward, cleanup occupied my attention until a rest room stop. Then the absence of the uncontrollable urge first entered consciousness.
I experienced near-complete relief from incontinence symptoms, which means a major reduction of my previous pattern of “accidents.” These had necessitated my use of incontinence supplies, later found no longer necessary. Bill and Carol Dew, our teachers, urged us to claim and give prayers of gratitude for even noticeable, partial improvements in physical health.
Before the healing I believed in the psychological value of healing prayer, hoped and prayed with others for their healings, but questioned whether our communication with God’s presence could heal physical injuries and diseases of bone, blood and tissue. Bill and Carol Dew claimed such cures in their eyewitness anecdotes of previous healing prayer sessions. Were they frauds, deluded or just randomly lucky? My own healing forced me to “doubt my doubts” as Harry Emerson Fosdick once said. Yet, I pondered the question “How could this happen?” If those questions pop-up in your head when you think about healing then read on with me.
Our instructors taught us to respect the mystery of any healing. They did not blush to say, “I don’t know.” This three-part report addresses those like myself, who believe in spiritual healing but question the plausibility of physical changes in the molecules, cells and DNA of our blood, bone and tissue. Part one exposes the power of the mind to influence our body and to communicate with God, the Intelligence of the universe. Part two will note the parallel between DNA’s genetic communication with the body’s cells and organs and God’s communication with us as Word (communication) and Spirit (energy). In part three, the reader encounters the results of recent stem cell research. It suggests a way God, as Intelligent Designer-Innovator of the universe might transfer information and energy that heals our bodily malfunctions.
One: Our Mind’s Effect On the Body and Its Opening To God’s Reality
A placebo, like a harmless sugar pill appears in high-level medical tests. A test group receives the placebo to show a contrast with the effect of a potent drug being tested in another test group. The fact that the placebo improved the well being of some of those tested drew greater scrutiny at Harvard Medical School and other research centers. Harvard M.S. devised rigorous studies led by Ted Kruptchuk, to determine the placebo’s unintended healing effect. Functional MRI and PET studies of the brain found that placebos caused changes in the human brain. Our mental belief in the placebo along with sacred or secular “therapeutic rituals” stimulates our brain to release pain-reducing endorphins in just the same way as a pain-suppressing drug. Research at the University of Turin by Fabrizio Benedetti. made similar findings. These studies suggest the importance of the patient’s mind-set and therapeutic rituals in the healing process.
Awareness of these studies encouraged my suspension of disbelief as I listened to Bill and Carol Dew’s personal stories. They described physical healings of cancerous tumors, chronic pain, bone and muscle injuries and diseases, blindness, deafness and other physical conditions. My suspension of previous doubts opened my mind to consider a new sense of reality. Anthropologists like Arnold Van Gennep and Victor Turner called this suspension of belief and disbelief “liminal” experience. Both societies and individuals enter liminal mind-states that enable openness to change.
Another factor opened my mind to receive the healing effect of prayer. Phillip Clayton, a science-savvy philosopher and provost of Claremont Lincoln University, observed that the human mind and mental activity as a whole do not fit the predictable pattern of natural law that define physics, chemistry and most biology. Clayton reasoned that human mental activity would not violate natural law if it interacted with what he called the active Intelligence of Ultimate Reality. Many of you and I call Ultimate Reality God. Many of us experience communication with the unsensed, but felt “captivating Presence” of God. Could divine-human communication produce a healing effect on our bodies?
To sum up, studies at Harvard Medical School and elsewhere proved the power of the human mind to change the body. Therapeutic rituals like the healing prayer class encourage the suspension of disbelief in what anthropologists call the “liminal” consciousness. Phillip Clayton’s principle of divine action assumed the greater freedom of mental activity from predetermined natural laws. Since mind-like activity between God and ourselves does not violate scientific law, we will consider the reasonableness that God’s communications with us might heal our minds and bodies.
Two: Genetic Communication Within Our Bodies and God’s Communication With Us As Word (information) and Spirit (energy)
Let us first acknowledge the importance of Francis Crick’s 1958 discovery of the communication link between DNA (Deoxyribonucleic Acid), RNA (Ribonucleic Acid) and proteins. Ironically, Crick, an atheist, used theological language to label his discovery as “The Central Dogma of molecular biology.” The genetic code discoveries that followed Crick’s achievement took decades to unfold. They reveal the physical body’s formation depends upon genetic information transmitted through the DNA communication link discovered by Crick. Embryonic pluri-potent stem cells (that means they can take many different bodily forms and functions) receive the genetic information and develop in the womb. The genetic code then informs and transforms the stem cells into the blood, bone and tissue of our body.
If energized information communicated through DNA, RNA and proteins form our physical bodies, could that also help us understand how God, the Intelligence of Ultimate Reality might form and transform our damaged cells, blood, tissue and organs? Both the first chapter of the Gospel of John in the Christian New Testament and Paul’s Letter to the Colossians, chapter one, describe God as creating and communicating by speaking material realities into existence by the action of Word (information) and Spirit (energy).
For example, Christians identify Jesus as God’s Word because his self-giving acts of love, forgiveness and healing reflect completely the communication he received from God’s Word and Spirit. Do you see a parallel between God’s action through Word as information and Spirit as creative energy and the genetic code forming the cells of our body? Is it not plausible that the Intelligence of Ultimate Reality or God, could communicate with the minds and bodies of healers and recipients of healing prayer to transfer information and energy (Word and Spirit in theological language). The Designer and Innovator of the universe could then correct the communications within the body’s malfunctioning cells, tissue, organs and structures.
In fact, our teaching prayer team, Bill and Carol Dew, often prayed by speaking to parts of the body, as if they received the transmission of information and energy that changes and mends the sickness or injury. If the Intelligence of Ultimate Reality or God does act by this kind of communication through human agents and recipients, how could communication actually change dysfunctional adult cells that form and deform the systems of our bodies?
Three: Can Adult Dysfunctional Body Cells and Systems Be Induced to Become Adult Pluri-potent Stem Cells Like Those That Develop In the Womb?
Until 2007, science knew of no way to “induce” adult body cells to become pluri-potent stem cells. However, in that year the research team of Shinya Yamanaka of Kyoto University and James Thomson of the University of Wisconsin-Madison “induced” the adult body cells of stomach, liver, skin or blood to change into pluri-potent stem cells like those of the human embryo. Dr Nancy Bachman and Dr. John B. Gurdon also won prizes for their contributions to the creation of iPSC or induced (adult) Pluri-potent Stem Cells.
Now, in spite of remaining challenges we know proteins (and most recently cloning), can induce adult body cells to become pluri-potent. As pluri-potent cells they can change into other kinds of healthy cells that form and repair our body’s blood, bone and tissue. Why would we deny that the Intelligent Designer-Innovator of the universe has already performed such body transformations. We call the result miraculous healing.
To close, we did not attempt “to prove” the potency of God’s answer to our prayers for healing. I already experienced a healing in my bladder function. It forced me and others who doubt to “doubt our doubts.” This report invited doubters to reconsider the plausibility of physical healing by healing prayer. God, the Intelligence and Innovator of the universe can communicate with us and utilize the minds of healers and the recipients of healing prayer. This divine action effects a health-giving change by the transfer of Word and Spirit as information and energy to the molecules and cells of our bodies. And this is one way God heals us through communication with our prayerful minds and bodies without violating the scientific evidence of the law-like patterns that operate in the natural world.