Belief is powerful, whether you consciously realize it or not. Not only can belief in something manifest itself in ways that science cannot explain, but willpower can be utilized consciously to achieve feats that should be impossible. The common term for the power of belief is “The Placebo Effect”, which is used to describe a situation in which an individual, because they believe that they have received treatment for a malady, begins to improve in health even though no actual treatment has been administered. Many tests have been performed on this ranging from studies focused on physical ailments to mental disability, and although it is recognized as a real occurrence, no proof has thus far been offered as to why it happens.
The earliest studies on this experience date back to the 16th century. During this time, the Catholic faith sought to discredit the efficacy of exorcisms by giving patients claiming to be possessed by demons false holy artifacts to hold. In nearly all cases of this study, the patients manifested violent contortions regardless of the item being “Holy” or not. Later, a more medically centered examination was done in the eighteenth century by a man named John Haygarth, during which he tested the validity of a method called “Perkins Tractors”. This, at the time, was a respected procedure and involved the utilization of metal rods that supposedly possessed special unique alloys. The rods were placed on or near the offending areas of the body and were said to be able to relieve chronic pain, among other symptoms. Haygarth found, however, that there was no difference in relief between the “uniquely” alloyed rods and the standard “dummy” ones.
More recently, stimulant medications were tested using two control groups; One of which that was actually given the stimulant, and the other of which merely told that they were given the stimulants. Again, both of the groups exhibited a marked increase in performance and response time, regardless of whether or not they were actually influenced by the real effects of the drug.
Likewise, willpower being utilized as a tool to achieve the unexplainable has been documented. One of the most notable of these documented cases is that of Wim Hof, who was able to prove in scientific tests that he was able to regulate his autonomous nervous system to the point that he could influence his own body temperature. Not only this, but he was able to raise the amount of oxygen in his body to such a level that he stayed submerged in water with temperatures well below freezing for a period of 7 minutes.
You might be wondering how gods factor into any of this, but I’m sure you have already guessed. Here are a couple definitions we need to get out of the way.
Faith- Complete trust or confidence in someone or something.
Hope- A feeling of expectation and desire for a certain thing to happen.
Belief- Trust, faith, or confidence in someone or something.
These definitions are important because it illustrates the connection between all of them. In fact, these words are synonymous. I hesitate to mention it because I believe the acts of these people to be deplorable, but, faith healing actually has several documented cases of success as well. Anyone who lets their child die because of a refusal to seek medical treatment is, in my opinion, either clinically insane or psychopathic. Of course, in situations where no medical treatment can be offered for an ailment and faith is able to provide a cure, I am all for it.
What I am about to assert is grounded completely in possibility and is by no means a belief I have invested in, but it does make me think. If faith, belief, or hope in something is enough to produce measurable effects on an individual basis, could it not, then, be possible of generating effects on a larger scale?
Hehehe, Ahem. I am not talking about this cringe-worthy shite. What I am referring to is something that actually already exists all around us. Christian faith started as a splinter of traditional Judaism long ago and has since spread all across the globe (Mostly) to become on of the dominant religions of the world. A lot of people believe in this, and they usually have children that they introduce to this belief, and so on. Imagine if, after 15 years, somebody told you that Ibuprofen was actually just sugar and didn’t cure headaches at all? This entire time you had been feeling its effects (Hopefully), and now you find out that it was never the Ibuprofen at all, it was something else. Coincidence? Perhaps, but a far more likely conclusion would be that you believed that it would work, and thus it did.
So, if large scale belief exists, and if all of those believers pray for an ailment to heal, and then that ailment does indeed heal, who was actually feeling the effects of the placebo? The answer is, all of them were. The followers believed that their prayers would be answered, which affected them and their actions, and in turn, the person suffering from the ailment believed that the believers believed, and believed for themselves, and miraculously healed. Lots of belief.
It is a known fact that abstract entities can be extremely powerful. Take for example the idea of freedom that resulted in the founding of the united states. Or, take the massacre of millions of Jewish citizens during the holocaust. These were both ideas that were started in some cases by one man, and evolved into something so large and powerful that millions of people were effected and are still effected by them now. These ideas have gained immortality, either by fame or by infamy, and will never cease to exist in memory over the course of time.
But, how far does that power of thought actualization go? Further, how do we define our existence? Usually we define our existence by our senses, but those can be augmented and fooled. Additionally, we have no concrete evidence to suggest that there are limits to what belief can achieve, especially seeing as how less than 20 years ago we thought that what ol’ Ice Man Wil Hof achieved was impossible.
God’s existence has already been proven. At least in a sense. He exists because people believe in him, and he has power for the same reason. If this is so, however, then Gods are dying. The advancement of technology and science has brought with it an unprecedented decrease in the amount of people who profess to a faith. More and more people are questioning or outright denying the existence of God, who is, at the very least, an idea. Furthermore, God, or whatever higher power you believe in, stands as a symbol of hope and healing for those who had lost all faith in recovery. To lose faith in this would be much like taking away all of the anti-depressants at the same time. We still don’t know exactly why or how they help on a case-by-case basis, but we know that they are effective.
And, perhaps terrifyingly, what if the faithful are right? Better yet, what if the faithful were not correct in the beginning, but by the power of their faith they transformed their God from an idea into something more tangible?
And, what if faith and belief, just like time, is a force of reality that we know can be manipulated but that we have no way to measure or influence?
Thanks for reading
-More to follow
:DISCLAIMER: This was a fun article to write, but I don’t actually believe that any of this is true, I just believe that it is possible.