Delia Knox healed of a spinal injury

If you only have the time to investigate one healing then this is probably the best one to choose. Due to the high profile of the healing and because Mrs Knox had a public profile beforehand there is a large amount of video footage available on the internet. The healing itself was profound; it was filmed and can be viewed on video-sharing websites.

A life changing accident

A near fatal car accident on Christmas day in 1987 left Delia Knox paralysed from the waist down. Some spinal injuries can improve slightly for up to a six month period after the initial trauma, but rarely after nine months. A year later Delia Knox was still paralysed and had no significant feeling and no movement at all in her legs; there would have been no medical prognosis for a recovery. In the decades that followed she developed a ministry as a Christian singer, released albums and on a number of occasions was filmed singing from her wheelchair.

For many years after the accident she steadfastly trusted that God would heal her, but as the years turned into decades her expectation for a healing waned. Eventually, her faith was replaced with a fear of disappointment and she began to feel uncomfortable attending Christian healing meetings.

Healed after 22 years

It was on 27 August 2010, over 22 years after the accident, in The Bay of the Holy Spirit Revival church in Alabama that her situation was instantly and radically changed. She watched while two parents brought their baby up to the front of the church for healing. She found that her fear of disappointment for her own healing was replaced with compassion for the child. Shortly afterwards, evangelist Nathan Morris called her forward and prayed for her. After a few minutes she began to experience feeling in her legs. The prayer persisted and after several more minutes she was able to stand with assistance from others and take uncoordinated steps.

Over the next few days she was able to build up some strength in her legs and gradually learn to use them again. A week later she walked again in the same church, but with much less assistance and with improved coordination. After several weeks her coordination and strength was sufficient for her to walk unassisted and she was filmed walking up a flight of stairs to her parents front door and also walking and singing at The Bay of the Holy Spirit Revival church.

Examining the evidence

In my topic, Modern day miracles, I define four criteria that a miracle must meet before I will consider it to be evidence for the existence of God. The first two state that the medical condition must be fully understood by modern science and that there must be no known natural phenomenon that can bring about the recovery. Although, I am not aware of the exact category of Mrs Knox’ spinal damage I think it is fair to assume that an injury that has caused paralysis for over 22 years would have no known medical cures and there would have been no prognosis for a natural recovery. As far as I am aware no-one has made even a gradual natural recovery from such an injury, let alone a rapid recovery such as Mrs Knox’. Spinal injuries are also sufficiently understood by medical science to know how limited their recoveries are. The placebo effect or the effects from adrenalin can not overcome paralysis caused by a spinal injury.

The third criterion states that the healing must coincide with a spiritual event of some kind. In this case it is clear that the healing coincided with Nathan Morris’ prayer. Finally, the fourth criterion states that there must be evidence that the initial condition existed and also of a genuine recovery. In Mrs Knox’ case, the evidence is entirely in the public domain. A simple search on video-sharing websites will show a trail of videos confirming that Mrs Knox spent a couple of decades in a wheel chair. Several videos exist of Mrs Knox singing and being interviewed from a wheel chair, even as far back as the early nineties. The event of her healing itself was recorded in a video and there are several other videos that show her progress over the subsequent few weeks and months.

This miracle cannot be attributed to mere exaggeration. The changes to Mrs Knox’ condition were just too profound; 22 years of paralysis with no feeling in her legs instantly ended and were replaced with ongoing feeling and movement.

I’ve included several links to the above mentioned videos here for you to follow. Sadly, it seems that some people interpret these events from an atheistic world view without even considering their contents and then draw a conclusion that Mrs Knox must have been a hoaxer. Some have even become angry that Mrs Knox has created a hoax from such a serious and sensitive subject as paralysis. Anyone who assumes that Mrs Knox is a hoaxer without considering the evidence simply because it does not line up with their personal world view is in danger of exhibiting arrogance. It is also grossly insensitive to Mrs Knox who, we should assume at least, may have suffered considerably with her paralysis for over 22 years.

Considering the hoax accusation

Personally, I cannot see how this could possibly be a hoax. Mrs Knox is clearly recognisable in the videos, and her youthful appearance in the older videos is clear proof that they aren’t recent fabrications. It is may be possible for a hoaxer to have conveniently been videoed in a wheel chair at one point in their life and to have fabricated a history of paralysis from that. However, Mrs Knox’ public profile has ensured that the videos and pictures of her in wheelchairs are too numerous to be as a consequence of anything other than permanent disability.

Delia Knox also has an identical twin. However, there are videos of both standing together that quickly dispute any claim that the miracle was conjured by a simple role reversal and that the real Delia Knox is still wheelchair bound.

The final evidence that this was not a hoax is the genuine emotion that can be seen in all of these videos. The tears of Delia Knox, her sister and her parents are so sincere and so moving that it is difficult to see how they could be a mere act. If our rational mind cannot allow us to believe that a genuine miracle has occurred then maybe we at least can allow our own humanity to accept that something deeply moving has happened to these people.

Links to videos

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Modern day miracles

I define a miracle as a supernatural event that cannot be explained by any natural or scientific law. Such an event would clearly be a strong evidence of the supernatural and an indication that God exists. However, it does not automatically follow that a complete absence of miracles would disprove the existence of God; it merely gives us the choice to believe one of three options: he doesn’t exist, he exists but is utterly removed from mankind or he exists but wishes to hide his existence from mankind.

In my topic, God doesn’t want his existence proven I describe how God might want his existence to remain unproven to allow mankind the freedom to make their own moral choices. However, a God who wishes to remain unproven would not necessarily want to hide his existence altogether; if he were to exist he could still reveal himself through the supernatural and still remain unproven. Most of the world’s religions believe in a God that reveals his existence on occasions and I believe that it is reasonable to expect to find some evidence that cannot be purely attributed to natural phenomenon.

Staying objective

If God were to exist he might not limit himself to supernatural acts. For example, we owe the existence of the human race to numerous highly improbable natural events. The omission of one of these would have meant that life on earth, the universe as we know it or even matter itself would not have existed. The combined improbability of these events has led some people to postulate that a divine being might be working within the natural laws of the universe to steer the outcome of chance events to create life. Others have remained resolute that God does not exist and have instead questioned the accepted understanding of the origins of the universe and life.

In the same way that the absence or rarity of miracles on their own shouldn’t lead us to assume that God doesn’t exist we need to guard against the opposite mindset where we assume that all unexplained events are miracles. We are fortunate to live in a time where our understanding of the physical world is far greater than it has ever been before. In fact, our understanding is so good that nearly all events that we experience on a day-to-day basis can be explained. However, there are still some areas of the natural world that are poorly understood. Little is known about the mechanisms that underlie the conscious mind and emotions. A profound and sudden healing of the emotions may be miraculous, but, because we know so little about the functioning of the human brain, we cannot rule out a natural cause. In addition to being cautious in areas where scientific knowledge is poor, we also need to be careful to screen out the effects of external and random influences. For example, some medical conditions can fluctuate in their intensity overtime due to any number of influences: diet, physical exercise, stress. A sudden alleviation of symptoms might be miraculous,but they might instead be attributed to one of these other external influences.

The placebo effect can add even further complications. A patient’s belief in their healing could also make them feel better even when they are not cured in the same way that the mere act of taking a sugar tablet can have the same effect.

Miracles cannot be tested like medication in a medical trial

Medical trials attempt to screen out these effects statistically by assuming that the medication that they are testing is one influence of many unknown or random influences. If the medication is a consistent positive influence then its effect will appear as a significant bias in the test results. However, we are looking for miracles that, by definition, are acts of God and are therefore subject to the will of God and not under our control.

Miracles are reported to happen to one person at a time; they aren’t repeated on demand in the same way that medication can be re-administered to a group of patients. It is impossible to use statistical analysis with this sample size of one. We are therefore forced to limit our search of the miraculous to events that are profound, where scientific and natural laws have either been broken or where the effect of the miracle is too great to be attributed to random external influences. This is a demanding challenge and would be the equivalent to finding a ‘miracle drug’ with a single medical test on a single person. This approach becomes the most sceptical of filters, screening out all events that could be attributed to natural causes.

Four criteria for a miracle to be treated as evidence of God

With this in mind my criteria for selecting these ‘super miracles’ are:

  • The natural limitations of the situation before the miracle should be fully known. So, for a healing, the health condition must be one that medical science fully understands and has identified all possible remedies that aren’t supernatural.
  • It must not be possible to attribute the miraculous change in the situation to a natural phenomenon. So, for a healing, it must not be possible to attribute the recovery to dietary change, physical exercise, the placebo effect, an immune system response or medication.
  • The change in the situation must coincide with a spiritual event or experience, for example, prayer or worship.
  • Evidence must be available for both the situation prior to the miracle and for the changed situation after the miracle. So, for a healing, these might be medical notes that record the medical condition and the recovery.

The first three criteria help ignore any miracle that could be attributed to natural phenomenon. The fourth helps to ignore those that could be attributed to exaggeration, imagination or even worse a hoax. The isolation of these ‘super miracles’ is still a work in progress for me, but for the moment here is one that has a high profile on the internet: the healing of Delia Knox.