In my previous post (Believers’ Prayers Fail to Bring 2 Dead Pastors Back To Life) we saw how some evangelical Christian groups were urging believers to visit mortuaries and pray for the dead to come back to life. (Hmm..why mortuaries, I wonder, and not CEMETERIES?) To date, this group has not claimed a single successful resurrection. In the same post, we saw how thousands of believers in Kenya tried in vain to pray for the resurrection of two of their pastors who had died in a car accident.
By now it should be clear to any sensible person that resurrections do not occur. Once you’re dead, you stay dead.
For the last few years, Chauncey Crandall, an American cardiologist, has been peddling a particular story in which he claims a 53-year old man who suffered a massive heart attack and was declared dead after attempts to resuscitate him failed, miraculously came back to life after he was prayed for.*
Speaking at the 4th Annual World Christian Doctors Network conference in Miami, Florida in 2007, he narrates the story:
They called me in to evaluate the patient towards the end of his treatment where they had unsuccessfully tried to revive him. The nurse was preparing his body to be taken down to the morgue when the Holy Spirit told me to ‘turn around and pray for that man.’ When the Holy Spirit talks to you, you have to respond. It’s sometimes a quiet voice and this was a quiet voice and to honor the Lord I did turn around and I went to the side of that stretcher where his body was being prepared.
There was no life in the man. His face and feet and arms were completely black with death and I sat next to his body and I prayed, ‘Lord, Father; how am I going to pray for this man? He’s dead. What can I do?’ All of a sudden, these words came out of my mouth, ‘Father, God, I cry out for the soul of this man if he does not know You as his Lord and Savior, please raise him from the dead right now in Jesus name.
It was amazing as a couple minutes later, we were looking at the monitor and all of a sudden a heart beat showed up. It was a perfect beat; a normal beat; and then after a couple more minutes, he started moving and then his fingers were moving and then his toes began moving and then he started mumbling words.
There was a nurse in the room — she wasn’t a believer — and she screamed out and said ‘Doctor Crandall, what have you done to this patient?’ And I said, ‘All I’ve done is cry out for his soul in Jesus name.
We quickly rushed the gentleman down to the intensive care unit, and the hospital was by now buzzing about the fact that a dead man had been brought back to life. After a couple of days he woke up. He had an amazing story to tell after I had asked him, ‘Where have you been and where were you on that day that you had that massive heart attack? You were gone and we prayed you back to life in Jesus’ name.’
“We prayed you back to life in Jesus’ name…”
There is a phenomenon well known in medical science called the Lazarus Syndrome, in which people who initially had been pronounced dead were found later to be breathing in the morgue. In order to avoid such scenarios from occurring there is currently much debate within the medical community as to how long after failed attempts at resuscitation a patient should be pronounced dead.
Some useful technical information related to the Lazarus Syndrome can be found here:
Resuscitation of victims of cardiac arrest happens routinely, and regularly, in emergency rooms across the globe. In very rare cases the doctors in charge prematurely pronounce the patient dead and shortly after this pronouncement, or while the patient is being prepared for transfer to the morgue, or while the patient is at the morgue already, they realise that the patient is actually still alive. There is nothing at all miraculous about this.
If believers really want to convince we non-believers that people can miraculously rise from the dead, then they better start pointing us to cemeteries in which people that are known to have been dead and buried for decades returned to life after being prayed for, and came out of their graves.
Until then, sorry, we’re not buying it.
*In the April 23rd 2008 episode (#144) of the Skeptics’ Guide To The Universe (please subscribe to this podcast – it is awesome), neuroscientist Steven Novella and his team of skeptics discussed the Crandall story in detail, and found it to be absurd and grossly misleading. Download this episode here.