*Edit: I've been asked to state that I do not work for Premier Christian Radio, do not represent their views and am not acting on behalf of their company or agents. I'm happy to do so.*
In addition the host played two recorded messages and asked for my response. One was from a woman who said her leg felt improved some days after being prayed for. The other was from a Pastor Craig Marsh. His - let's be polite initially - story was that his stomach had been largely amputated for medical reasons, he was terminally ill, and then during a group prayer event his stomach spontaneously regrew, allowing him to both live a normal life and perplex his medical staff.
I was happy to hear it. Having read and researched over a thousand pages of miracles for the show without finding medical documentation I was elated to think we could have something to seriously chew over. From memory my exuberance led me to say "if you can get me his before and after medical records I'll come back on this show, sit in the Christian chair, and tell you about my conversion."
I say exuberance; in my haste I realise I rather created the impression that they have dedicated seats for Christian and non-Christian guests. This is not the case. There's every chance my back graced the same fabric sat upon by William Dembski, though thankfully vaccine denialism isn't contagious. As for the rest of the message, I meant it. Stomachs don't grow back by themselves, and if he has robust evidence to support his medical claims, and witnesses stating the events happened during a prayer meeting for his health, I'd find myself rather convinced.
Justin Brierley, the host and a Christian, rather gamely agreed to contact Marsh and request further details. From past experience requests from atheists for such information aren't always viewed in a positive light. Some four months after Justin's initial attempt Marsh replied to my request with the following:
"Sorry it has taken me awhile [sic] to get back to you I have been constantly travelling and in fact am home for just this week then we head to Europe for 6 weeks [sic] ministry.
Yes there is documentation including before and after xrays [sic]. I do not supply these on request simply because even then those who are sceptical regarding God are usually are [sic] not convinced anyway. As you and I know it is by faith that we are saved and producing evidence of a miracle has seemed to make no change to those who won’t believe regardless of what is put in front of them.
As far as Christians go who want documentation or evidence, again I have stopped supplying such nor do I carry with me anymore. My approach is to point to the vast number of miracles of healings which happen in our meetings all the time and those are documented.
I am not interested in proving my case. I am alive and those who knew me 15 years ago when I was so sick also know. We try very hard for the focus not to be on me or even what God has done in me but rather in [sic] what God is doing and using us for.
For some years we used to carry the xrays [sic] but they're getting damaged and are irreplaceable. We were also discovering, like I mentioned about the sceptics, that not one has turned and become a Christian upon being presented evidence of my healing or the healings of others who have been prayed for.
No faith and the Bible even says there are none so blind as those who will not see. It is amazing how when confronted with evidence of a healing folk will still say ....”well I still don’t believe there is a God”.
For the Church going Christian it is stunning how they disbelieve that God can or still does heal and after running ragged trying to present evidence of my healing we realised that besides the fact they were calling us liars, in truth they simply lacked faith and nothing I put in front of them is going to make a difference at least not in 12 years since my healing."
What can we conclude from this drivel, other than a suspicion that Marsh must have stayed up late into the night splitting infinitives? For one it contradicts an earlier account he gave. It's improbable that a man who travels so extensively is only capable of responding to e-mails from his home base. X-rays are not the tool of choice for investigating soft tissue complaints. He is a man who earns his crust by evangelising across the globe, telling tales of his miraculous stomach. It seems odd that he considers preaching of miracles to be a poor tool for evangelisation.
He makes reference to a vast number of healings that are documented. He's referring to these one and two line testimonies, and I caution you to expect to be underwhelmed. Take this undated example of Dylan, who as a toddler completely healed of heart problems, naturally without medical documentation. It's interesting to note that Dylan at the later age of three required a heart bypass operation. Perhaps his faith wavered? I'm pleased to report the required surgery was more successful than the healing.
One of the crying shames of Marsh's ministry is that it is somehow restricted to the technology of the 1950's. He is unable to duplicate medical records, let alone digitise them. His excuses are profoundly incredible and can pander only to the most credulous and trusting of victims. The way he admonishes Christians to simply accept his authority and suspend their reasoning is particularly galling.
Whatever other maladies may or may not have befallen his digestive tract I can say with confidence that his ability to produce excrement on demand has remained unmolested throughout his life. He'll be travelling the UK this month - the full itinerary is here. If you're in the area do pop in and give him my kindest regards.