Faux News and Angel Stories

Posted on December 19, 2010

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Yet another great example of Fox News being “fair and balanced.”  Too bad their investigations into the existence of angels presuppose that angels already exist.  It’s a classic example of approaching the investigation into the nature of reality completely bass-ackwards.  An honest investigation would draw conclusions from facts, instead of attempting to gather disparate bits of evidence for a previously held, foregone conclusion.  Anyway, here’s the video:

Their daughter claims to have had a “true-life” encounter with angels.  For those of you who are unaware, that’s the opposite of a “false-life” encounter with angels.  These people must have done their homework!  I wonder, how do they differentiate between those who actually see angels from those who are just plain liars trying to sell a book?  There must be some rigorous process of investigation, right?  I mean, how could you go about claiming an encounter is the real thing unless you throw away all other possibilities?  Yes, I wonder.  Apparently, you just need to get the report from someone that’s terminally ill.

The publisher (who undoubtedly knows that religion sells, and that their customers are unfathomably credulous) approached the author, Dr.  Jim Garlow (his doctorate is in historical theology, which is similar to being an expert in the history and lore of Lord of the Rings) to write a book about Heaven and the afterlife, you know, the kind of stuff about which people could actually know.  Here’s what Garlow said:

“I began to try to gather together stories pertaining to [heaven and the afterlife], and in that short span of time, 400 such stories came in, many of them involving angels, people who have seen angels and been with angels and it proved to be a very exciting project for us as we wrote the book.”

As I said, this story already presupposes the existence of angels, so, to them, every story that comes in is seen as a happy-go-pukey validation of their credulous conclusion.  Just for fun, let’s replace the words “heaven and the afterlife” with “aliens and abductions.”  After all, if they’re allowed to presuppose the existence of entities, so are we:

“I began to try to gather together stories pertaining to aliens and abductions, and in that short span of time, 400 such stories came in, many of them involving aliens, people who have seen aliens and been with aliens and it proved to be a very exciting project for us as we wrote the book.”

The comparison between angels and aliens is almost perfect, except that we know for a fact that this universe is capable of supporting life, which makes any presupposition of the existence of aliens almost infinitely more probable than that of any supernatural entity, about which we know nothing.  But, by all means, let’s hear the lady’s story; surely she must have good reasons to believe in angels.

“Approximately  a month before [her daughter’s] death, she was visited by angels.  And, uh, her first encounter was a very beautiful glowing light with an incredible warmth.  And the angel actually touched the top of her foot, and she knew instantly that it was an angel touching her, and she was so excited.  It was just a wonderful experience for her.”

Notice the high degree of skepticism toward angels displayed by the mother.  Angels simply MUST be the answer, what else could it be!?  Let me fix the above story to correct for intellectual honesty:

Approximately a month before her death, she had an experience.  She claims to have seen a light and felt warmth.  She felt something touch her foot, and concluded immediately that it was an angel, which was exciting for her.

There, now the angel non sequitur is more painfully obvious.  This lady is just horny to believe in angels, leaping at every opportunity to embrace their existence.  I, however, have an alternate hypothesis as to why this devoutly religious girl experienced the presence of angels.  First off, she already believes in angels, and desperately wants them to be real and to see them.  Secondly, this girl was a victim of a genetic disorder called neurofibromatosis (which they conveniently failed to mention) which causes tumors to grow on nervous tissue.  According to this research, an associated symptom of this disorder is brain abnormalities.  Here are the results and conclusions of the study:

RESULTS: Cranial circumference was 2 or more SDs above the age norm in seven (39%) of 18 subjects, a frequency of macrocephaly 17-fold higher than normal. Conventional MR imaging showed abnormalities in all 18 children, although there were more extensive abnormalities in subjects with macrocephaly. Macrocephaly in NF-1 was associated with enlargement of multiple brain structures, and brain T1 in macrocephalic subjects was reduced with respect to controls in the genu, frontal white matter, caudate, putamen, thalamus, and cortex. In normocephalic subjects, T1 was reduced only in the genu and splenium. Volumetric analysis showed that macrocephaly was associated specifically with enlargement of white matter volume.

CONCLUSION: Neurologically asymptomatic children with NF-1 showed macrocephaly, cognitive deficit, enlarged brain structures, and abnormally low brain T1. Macrocephaly in children with NF-1 may be associated with characteristic alterations in brain development, marked by more widespread and significant changes in T1, greater enlargement of midline structures, and greater volume of white matter.

Now, I am not saying that her neurofibromatosis was definitely the cause of her angel hallucinations.  Many people do not have the disorder and still claim to see angels.  But it does seem to be, seeing as though there is a consistent record of brain abnormalities and cognitive deficit associated with the disorder, a likely cause, and a cause far more likely than having an encounter with supernatural entities.  It is a curious fact that it is impossible (for me, at least) to find cases of non-Christians experiencing angels.  If angels are real, shouldn’t reports of their encounters show no correlation with the Christian faith?  One would think, one would think.

This just goes to show the powers of wishful thinking as well as the non-apologetic Christian bias of Fox News journalism.  Appalling.

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Posted in: Politics, Religion