Thank you for your question and I’m flattered you chose me to ask. I wanted to make sure to take the time to give a full and complete response to the best of my ability. I apologize if this runs a bit long but I want to make sure to clarify as much as possible. There are really two somewhat distinct issues or phenomenon to discuss and I’ll address them separately. The first being speaking in tongues, people passing out from the “power” of the lord, and having general religious experiences that manifest in a physical form. The second would be faith healing of any kind.
The phenomenon of speaking in tongues, feeling a channeling of spiritual energy, or people being “knocked down” because of holy power is not a new experience by any means. It is something that not only happens in Christianity but in many religions throughout the world and throughout time, it is certainly not an experience exclusive to Christianity. It has been demonstrated scientifically that people do go through different chemical reactions when put into a “religious” experience. The details of explaining such a thing are beyond my meager scientific knowledge but it has been shown that when someone is in a setting such as this their brain does react differently. Beyond the physical reactions and changes there is a strong amount of psychology that plays into these situations which I may be able to do a better deal in explaining.
When someone is at one of the revivals (again especially believers) they go there expecting to have a dramatic experience, expecting to see/feel/speak to God in some way. The power of suggestion can be quiet strong and when in a group it becomes even stronger. All it really takes is just one person in a crowd like that to start letting themselves go. I imagine a bit of an internal dialogue going on where at first they might question, am I feeling the power of God? Of course as a believer with these expectations, it is not something they would hold back on. They may allow themselves to let go, allow themselves to be imbued with the spirit of God. They see others falling to the ground and babbling incoherently and feel that it is something normal they might be or should be experiencing too. They have the expectation that when the preacher or whoever is performing comes along and puts his hands to their head they will fall over and be hit with the “power” of God and obligingly do when it comes their time.
The power of “speaking in tongues” is something that has never impressed me one bit. Someone starts babbling incoherently and it is supposed to be a sign that they’re feeling divine power? If someone spontaneously began speaking Latin or Aramaic with no prior knowledge of the language it would be far more convince as a miracle. Speaking in tongues holds no more water then falling to the ground and writhing around, both seem ridiculous and completely internally driven. They are both more likely a result of a combination of the individuals expectations and crowd fervor with a small tinge of over active imagination thrown in. Chances are no one that has these experiences go there with the idea that they’re going to hold out as long as possible until they’re convinced and then begin babbling and rolling on the ground unexpectedly.
As far as faith healing, it’s a fraud, pure and simple. If there was any validity to faith healing it would be something with far more research and reliable information available to it. The woman who supposedly got out of her wheel chair after 22 years, completely a fake. How can I say that so confidently without knowing her? If the woman really was crippled for 22 years and we were to accept the power of faith or whatever caused her to be healed she still wouldn’t be able to stand up. After 22 years of not being used her leg muscles would be so atrophied that she would fall down under her own weight. Of course unless we’re supposed to believe that God not only spontaneously healed whatever condition caused her to be cripple and at the same time restored the muscles in her legs to a condition that could support her weight. What sounds more likely?
As far as the deaf woman it is a bit harder to dismiss outright but is still almost certainly a fraud. Did you know for a fact that woman was deaf before she arrived? Do you know for a fact that she was able to hear after the praying? If she was deaf I think it is likely that after 20 minutes of people praying for her and watching expectantly the expectation was so much that she may of faked it. It’s also just as possible that she was never deaf in the first place, it isn’t hard to fake being deaf for short periods of time. There’s a reason faith healers only heal crippled and deaf people, helping amputees would be too hard to fake.
I appreciate your question and I can certainly understand your questioning of what you believe. Events experienced first hand are often a bit harder to look at and analyze objectively. Medical miracles do happen, to believers and non-believers, but nothing has ever shown any valid indication that praying helps. No one has ever been “healed by God” and gone on to have it validated by medical science. I also personally think that it’s a bit of sick conceited logic that anyone would go to a faith healer believing they deserved to be healed. To be so conceited to think that God will come and correct their imperfect vision well still allowing thousands to die needlessly ever day from minor medical ailments and lack of clean water or food. I would suggest that if you do feel strongly about your experience to learn more. Don’t just accept what you see at face value without learning more of the details of what’s going on. Please let me know if you think I didn’t address a particular issue or point you feel strongly about or any feedback at all really is welcome.