Saturday, December 21, 2019

Megachurch Attempting Resurrection

Here's another sad story from the world of Christianity that's sad for an entirely different reason that the story the other day about the LDS church stockpiling donations. A megachurch in California is organizing a "prayer drive" to bring a two-year-old girl back from the dead. This is abolutely tragic, and as a parent myself I can only imagine how this girl's family must be feeling. I also can appreciate them having such strong faith that they apparently think this could work. But at the same time, there are plenty of reasons why it's not going to, even if your paradigm allows for paranormal effects and "miracles."

Olive Alayne Heiligenthal stopped breathing early last Saturday, according to a statement from Bethel Church spokesperson Aaron Tesauro. The circumstances are unclear, but the family called 911, and medical professionals attempted to resuscitate her at the family’s home and at the hospital. She was pronounced dead, and the church said her body has been at the Shasta County Coroner’s office since Saturday. Soon afterward, her mother posted a desperate request on Instagram. “We are asking for bold, unified prayers from the global church to stand with us in belief that He will raise this little girl back to life,” Kalley Heiligenthal wrote on Instagram, accompanied by a photograph of Olive playing outside. “Her time here is not done.”

Kalley is a member of the Bethel Music worship collective, a band associated with Bethel Church in Redding, California, which attracts about 9,000 attendees to services each weekend. She released her first solo work this fall and has a large following on social media. That helped the movement to bring Olive back to life become a global phenomenon within hours of her first post. The hashtag #wakeupolive has generated roughly 3,000 posts on Instagram, including songs, selfies, dancing, and original artwork. A GoFundMe set up for the family by the church had raised $50,000 by Thursday afternoon.

The church itself has assisted in spreading the word. On Tuesday evening, Bethel hosted a prayer service “declaring resurrection and life” for the little girl. Hundreds of people attended. Heiligenthal posted a video to Instagram of an energetic worship service that night, with the large crowd standing, jumping, and raising their hands as they sing, “All hail to Jesus.” “Day 4 is a really good day for resurrection,” she wrote in the caption. “Thank you so much for joining your faith to ours, we feel your strength and radical belief. Keep declaring life over Olive Alayne with us.” Other videos apparently taken at the same service depict the church’s young adult pastor pacing the stage and praying: “We are not mourning right now, we are expecting a move of the Spirit in such a measure to wake a child from her sleep!”

As I've pointed out numerous times, prayer and magick are the same thing. The only difference is that magick is substantially more optimized for increased probability shifts. There's no spell that I know of, or have even heard of, that would allow me to resurrect a person who has been dead for almost a week. The scientific reason is pretty simple, even if you allow for probability manipulation. Life is sustained by a series of catalyzed chemical reactions that run in sequence. Once the body starts to break down, those reactions stop.

Back when I was studying biochemistry, I was of course interested in how the dead could be resurrected - you know, like any real fringe scientist would be. The hypothetical solution I came up with would be a "meta-catalyst," some sort of chemical that would essentially catalyze the action of the various catalysts throughout the body. No such chemical exists, and it is likely that because the various catalysts are so different the only way to create it would be to use some sort of nanotechnology.

But even if we mastered that technology, we still would not be able to bring back someone who was dead for days. I saw a story a couple weeks ago about a person who was revived after their heart stopped for six and a half hours, but the duration there was due to extreme hypothermia. When the body is cold, tissues stop breaking down as quickly because the various chemical reactions are slowed.

Magical resurrection, including prayers, would have to overcome a probability gradient that increases exponentially as the minutes pass. It should be pointed out here that even miraculous resurrections have never even allegedly succeeded with anyone dead longer than four days, which is from the story of Lazarus in the Bible. Jesus himself is alleged to have died before sunset on a Friday, and then rose from the dead the following Sunday morning - so he wasn't even supposedly dead for two full days.

Given how and when the Gospels were cobbled together, it also should be pointed out that it's unlikely those events unfolded exactly as described. I'm not quite on board with the "historical Jesus never existed" crowd, but the stories attributed to his ministry were written down decades later and many of them appear to be copied from stories circulated by other religions of the time. The "historical Jesus" could also have been more than one person - Yeheshua was a very common name during the period in question, and there were all sorts of messianic preachers and sects in Israel at that time.

Anyway, that exponential probability gradient becomes so extreme after even a day I can say with some confidence that this is never going to work. And let's say it did - the girl would likely never wake up because her brain would be far too damaged, even if her body could still keep her spirit tethered to the material world. But I will say this - if it does work, and the girl is fine, I'll have to re-assess my model of paranormal effects and that's a good thing. More data is always better, and maybe gods really are closer to omnipotent than I generally give them credit for being.

Whatever happens, my condolences go out to the family. The loss of a child is a terrible thing, and no parent should ever have to go through it. I hope that they manage to find peace regardless of the outcome.

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