Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Why Won't God Heal Amputees?

 Last year, I stumbled upon a site called "Why Won't God Heal Amputees?" and I read through it. What struck me was, unlike other atheistic sites, it didn't have a nasty tone towards Believers or belittle the religious. Instead, it takes a slow route to dismissing religion as myth by starting with the simple question for which the blog is titled.

"Does God answer prayers? According to believers, the answer is certainly yes.

For example, at any Christian bookstore you can find hundreds of books about the power of prayer. On the Internet you can find thousands of testimonials to the many ways that God works in our lives today. Even large city newspapers and national magazines run stories about answered prayers. God seems to be interacting with our world and answering millions of prayers on planet Earth every day...

For believers, it is obvious why so many prayers are answered. In the Bible, Jesus promises many times that he will answer our prayers. For example, in Matthew 7:7 Jesus says:

Ask, and it will be given you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For every one who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened. Or what man of you, if his son asks him for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a serpent? If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask him!

Ask and you will receive. What could be simpler than that?"

And then the plot thickens... the blogger suggests a simple experiment to prove Jesus' words to be true for today:

"For this experiment, we need to find a deserving person who has had both of his legs amputated. For example, find a sincere, devout veteran of the Iraqi war, or a person who was involved in a tragic automobile accident.

Now create a prayer circle... The job of this prayer circle is simple: pray to God to restore the amputated legs of this deserving person. I do not mean to pray for a team of renowned surgeons to somehow graft the legs of a cadaver onto the soldier, nor for a team of renowned scientists to craft mechanical legs for him. Pray that God spontaneously and miraculously restores the soldier's legs overnight...

If possible, get millions of people all over the planet to join the prayer circle and pray their most fervent prayers. Get millions of people praying in unison for a single miracle for this one deserving amputee. Then stand back and watch.

What is going to happen? Jesus clearly says that if you believe, you will receive whatever you ask for in prayer. He does not say it once -- he says it many times in many ways in the Bible.

And yet, even with millions of people praying, nothing will happen.

No matter how many people pray. No matter how sincere those people are. No matter how much they believe. No matter how devout and deserving the recipient. Nothing will happen. The legs will not regenerate. Prayer does not restore the severed limbs of amputees. You can electronically search through all the medical journals ever written -- there is no documented case of an amputated leg being restored spontaneously. And we know that God ignores the prayers of amputees through our own observations of the world around us. If God were answering the prayers of amputees to regenerate their lost limbs, we would be seeing amputated legs growing back every day."

To read the whole thing, click here. On the site's blog, there is an entry with a bunch of YouTube videos of Christians trying to answer the question... and mostly getting stumped. Even this clip, where the speaker makes good points in support of theism, still fails to answer the question:

A couple of weeks ago, I asked my brother and sister this question. Joe responded that God will do what He wants to do. Um, yeah, but why is it He'll heal people with cancer, strokes, diabetes, migraines, whatever, but when it comes to a demonstrable and scientifically improbable situation in which He could truly reveal His power, He has always passed? Joscelyne said God does heal- through doctors and physical therapists who help amputees to get better and live with their new disabilities. Alright, but where exactly does God actually come in?

Do any of my readers want to take a swing at it?


Matt @ The Church of No People said...

I've read that site and it is troubling, but I think I can take a parital crack at it, as imperfect as it might be. If you read the stories of Jesus' miracles, many of them are not truly suspensions of the laws of nature, but suspensions of the laws of time. For example, changing water into wine will happen naturally. The miracle is that it happened quickly. When Jesus healed people, he reversed the timeline of their disease. Not all of the miracles can be categorized this way, but many can. But we never have an example of Jesus regenerating lost limbs. To me, Jesus uses what still exists - broken bodies, and restores them in a way that the bodies could theoretically do on their own. Humans heal all the time. Jesus just does it quickly. But a human has never regrown a limb.

Does that explain God's motivation? No. But it just illustrates that God has never indicated that we should expect him to heal amputees.

Alisha De Freitas said...

Matt, can I just say that I NEVER heard of the "time" theory, but, man, it's not only fascinating, it seems to be on to something. It works even looking at miracles such as Lazarus coming back to life. Much to think about.

And thank you Matt for stopping by!

Red Cardigan said...

It's true that we don't have a story of Jesus restoring a lost limb--but we DO have a story in which He restores a lost appendage: Luke 22:51, where Jesus restores the high priest's servant's ear. Since nobody has ever regrown an ear, either, I think that while Matt's theory is fascinating it may not actually cover all the bases.

A simple reason we might not have a miracle story involving Jesus restoring someone's lost limb could be that before relatively modern medicine the loss of a limb was overwhelmingly likely to be fatal. But we do have stories of Jesus healing a man with a shriveled arm (or hand, depending on translation; I'm no scholar), which may be the closest we'll get for that era.

But as to why God won't heal amputees--who says He won't? He told us that if our faith was the size of a mustard seed we could order a mulberry tree to transplant itself in the ocean, and it would obey. The problem is that the scenario set up is a *test* of God, and everyone participating in it would know that--and He also told us we are not to put the Lord our God to the test.

Alisha De Freitas said...

Okay, so the example- having people around the world pray to "prove" God's power- would be a straight test. But what if it's not have a test, but an actual, heartfelt request?

I have a friend who's mother was diagnosed with cancer. She had surgery to have the cancerous mass removed, but chose to forgo any radiation or chemotherapy. Most people thought her insane, but she insisted God was leading her, and instead changed her diet and began to exercise. That was five years ago and the cancer has been in remission this whole time. Actually, there's no sign of the cancer whatsoever. She has adamantly given God the credit.

But medical science has shown that for some people, cancer can go away... and does. How do we know God was involved whatsoever? And why doesn't He heal others of obvious afflictions, besides amputees? Why do the miracles always seem to be internal ones?

Of course, we know God does not have to a darn thing... but why when it comes to this, he doesn't do anything?

Carlos said...

There's a few issues with this one being (as previously pointed out) is that a scenario was set up to test god. Now in your scenario Alisha the issue isn't that god can't heal an amputee or cure cancer it's the fact that he did what he did for reason and if healing them isnt in his plan our prayer will not change his mind. Other points are that we all may be praying for someone but is that person praying for themselves or have they hardened their hearts and shut god out. In the old testament god did miracles to help but also so men would see and follow him. After almost every miracle he performs in the bible there is a verse that states " and a great multitude followed after they saw the miracles Jesus performed" but as time passed on even seeing miracles wasn't enough to make people follow him as seen in John 12:37 But though he had done so many miracles before them, yet they believed not on him. There are countless amounts of people that pray when loved ones are sick or things are going terribly wrong but how many are praying when things are going right? God see all of this so at the end of the day regardless of prayer or the test we put before him gods plan will prevail. Best thing we can do is build our relationship with god and ask for guidance. We all want god to do what we ask but are we doing what god needs.

Red Cardigan said...

One of the mysteries about suffering is that we never really know what God intends for the person by it. He may be calling the person to repentance and prayer, or He may be calling the person to prepare to come home. In the case of nonfatal suffering, like that an amputee experiences, it may be that God has something very real in mind for that person to do for the sake of the Kingdom.

When we pray for healing and the person is healed, we pray again in thanksgiving. The challenge is to be like David after the loss of his infant son, and give thanks to God even when the healing doesn't come or the person is called home. That takes the kind of faith that really is bigger than a mustard seed, but in this vale of tears that's the kind of faith we're supposed to be praying for and cultivating every day.

Don said...

Really interesting comments.

So interesting in fact that I sat and read every comment under this particular post and could not [really] form an opinion towards the question.

I could guess, but I still would have no idea where to begin. But let me state that a missing limb cannot be "healed", I don't believe, only replaced.

Does God replace missing limbs?

Not that I know of.

Anonymous said...

I guess he doesn't heal amputees because he's not real

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