Friday, April 26, 2013

"Why Won't God Heal Amputees?" Revisited Pt. 2

This post is in response to some reader comments offered here.
I appreciate everyone’s thoughtful remarks in regard to my post and just wanted to add a few thoughts.

First off, I was responding to the amputee question in the manner in which it has been posed to me in the past on more than one occasion.
Second, our "Common Objections" series is meant to offer quick and concise answers to popular objections. If one desires a more in-depth answer, they should look to the additional links provided at the end of the original post.
Third, while I agree that a healing of an amputee could certainly count as evidence for God’s existence, I do not in any way see that it is necessary evidence for God’s existence.  Nor do I find the objection at all troubling when one considers the cumulative reasons to believe in God.   My purpose here is not to defend each of these arguments[1], but simply list them in an effort to further explain my thinking.  Some of the cumulative reasons that I believe in the God of Christianity are as follows:

1. The argument from reason

So, when faced with a question like, “Why won't God heal amputees?,” I am able to reason from 
what I know about God from these arguments that I am on good grounds for trusting that if God has never healed an amputee, He has morally sufficient reasons for doing so.  Please notice that my reasoning here is based upon evidence that I have found convincing upon examination, not in spite of the lack of evidence.
It seems that the manner in which this argument is being put forth is as follows:
1. If God existed, we would have it on record that he has healed an amputee sometime in human history.
2. We do not have it on record that he healed an amputee sometime in human history.
3. Therefore, it is doubtful God exists.
It seems to me that for this argument to be valid (if I have characterized it correctly), one would have to give reasons why God healing an amputee is somehow required for us to conclude He probably exists. However, I don't see how this follows especially when one considers the above reasons that suggests that He does.
Finally, I believe these types of arguments that basically say, “If God would do X, I would believe,” are misguided at best because they shift the responsibility back to God to prove Himself to a person. Should we have good reasons to believe the Christian God exists, one should look to the Bible for guidance about how to seek Him instead of demanding that He prove Himself in a manner that pleases their own selfish desires.

Courage and Godspeed,

1. I have provided links for those who are interested in exploring these arguments more in-depth. 2.
I would argue that the resurrection of Christ provides excellent evidence that God has intervened supernaturally in the world and this event is historically testable for the sincere inquirer.


Andrew Ryan said...

"1. If God existed, we would have it on record that he has healed an amputee sometime in human history."

No, that's not it. The point of the amputees question is to cast doubt on other miracle claims. It's pointing out that 'medical miracles' tend to be things that could have just got better on their own - it's never something as dramatic as a limb growing back, something that would fly in the face of what we see as possible without supernatural intervention.

Chad said...

Hello Mr. Ryan,

No, that's not it.

On the first post, Mr. Hackett had written:

"why is there no evidence throughout recorded history of god healing an amputee...that there are thousands if not millions of claims of divine intervention throughout history, and not a single one of them is the healing of an amputee.

I believe I fairly represented his argument.

Further, as I said above, I fully agree that the healing of an amputee would certainly count as evidence for the existence of God; however, I do not in any way see that this type of evidence is necessary for one to conclude that it is beyond reasonable doubt that God does exist.

Do you somehow see the healing of an amputee as necessary in order for you to believe God exists?


Andrew Ryan said...

"Do you somehow see the healing of an amputee as necessary in order for you to believe God exists?"

No I don't see that, somehow or otherwise. Obviously it addresses only the idea that there exists a God who intervenes in our medical problems. For example, a deist needs no evidence that any interventionist God exists.

As I said above, "the point of the amputees question is to cast doubt on other miracle claims".

I WOULD say that if there's a God who in modern times creates modern medical miracles, one might expect to see events that have no POSSIBLE non-supernatural explanation.

Instead, when one sees claimed 'faith healing' miracles in evangelical churches, it's always along the lines of 'man stops limping', or 'legs of apparently uneven length appear to even out'*. Or outside of churches people will say they prayed for a sick relative who then recovered.

* Needless to say, this one is a con trick.
"The set-up for the trick: The subject/victim/mark is told to sit in a chair and then lift their legs straight toward the “healer” … lo and behold, one leg is shorter! That must be the source of all of their problems! The “healer” then does his/her incantation, grabs the legs and tugs.. and miraculously, the “short” leg “grows out” to match the “normal” one! Proof of God! Give money!

More experienced “healers” may simply command the leg to grow, usually followed by some other exclamation, like “LOOK, IT’S GROWING!” And suddenly a “miracle” happens…

Here is the simple basis for why this short-leg growth trick always works as it does; people don’t sit perfectly straight when they sit down. They usually lean slightly toward one ass cheek or another and in fact it is hard to sit perfectly straight and balanced even when ordered to do so. Uneven weight distribution causes ones pelvis to tilt slightly, which of course also affects how long your legs APPEAR to be relative to each other. If you don’t understand this, you should probably read a first year anatomy book before proceeding.

So when the mark/victim/subject holds his/her legs out straight, the pelvis angle will make it appear that one leg is shorter than another. When the “healer” tugs on the legs it causes the victim to shift his/her weight and sit straighter, changing the angle of the pelvis, so the short leg “grows.”"