Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
Faith healing is the use of solely "spiritual" means in treating disease, sometimes accompanied with the refusal of modern medical techniques. The term is usually used in reference to the belief of some Christians who hold that God heals people through the power of the Holy Spirit, often involving the "laying on of hands". Those who hold to this belief do not usually use the term "faith healing" in reference to the practice; that expression is more often used descriptively by commentators outside of the faith movement in reference to the belief and practice.
Some would argue that faith healing has not scientifically been proven effective, although its practitioners often cite much anecdotal evidence and documented medical reports of cases where it has been successful. Doctors often ascribe any success to the placebo effect or to spontaneous remission: some people will heal with or without treatment, and it is generally natural to credit the most recent treatment for the cure (this form of reasoning is called post hoc ergo propter hoc).
However, this argument is usually viewed by those holding to the belief as inadequate for explaining the occasional instances of what Pentecostals and Charismatics refer to as "creative miracles" (i.e., the miraculous and often instantaneous restoration of missing or severely injured limbs and organs).
Some argue that faith healing may have a basis in sociobiology where evolution conferred survival advantage over the several million years of human pre-history to those tribes that had shamans who were thought to possess powers of healing by virtue of having undergone a neurological transformation whose symptoms are similar to kundalini. The argument posits that humans have an innate capacity to respond to shamanistic type ministrations, perhaps entirely via the placebo response, or perhaps via other as yet unknown physiological processes.
|This article is part of the branches of CAM series.|
Many people who resort to faith healing do so in cases of otherwise incurable disease. However there are groups that believe in faith healing as the sole remedy for any health problem.
Faith healing can pose serious ethical problems for medical professionals when parents decline or refuse traditional medical care for their children. In some countries, parents argue that constitutional guarantees of religious freedom include the right to rely on alternative healing to the exclusion of medical care. Advocates of conventional medicine argue studies have shown faith healing no more effective than a placebo, making it unethical to rely on, though advocates of spiritual healing argue there exist methodical and bias issues. Doctors as a rule consider it their duty to do everything that they can in the interests of the patient. In consequence, where they judge medical treatment necessary to save an individual's life or health, and balancing the question with legal and privacy concerns, they may act contrary to the patient's or parental wishes. In 2000 in Britain, a government ruling allowed a child, against much protest from the parents, to be treated by doctors.
Pentecostals and Charismatics who believe in supernatural healing generally do not condone the practice of withholding medical treatment in those cases when physicians determine that the withholding of such treatment would be detrimental to the patient's health.
The term "faith healing" is occasionally used in connection with Christian Science, though its adherents maintain its practice of healing is methodical and does not rest on faith merely.
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