It seems that different fads, or different strategies of attacking Christianity, move in cycles. One type of challenge will rise up, get debunked, then retreat into the shadows..awaiting a new time when it can emerge as "something new". Of course, it isn't new at all, usually just a re-hash dressed up in fancy new, contemporary clothing.
There seems to be an endless supply of young minds ready to swallow these left-over cold cuts, excited to become the apostles of a "novel" brand of skepticism...when in reality, it is nothing of the sort, just tired old ideas with a fresh coat of paint.
Fools gold looks like the real thing, that is, until you put it to the test.
One of these predictable and recurring challenges involves the issue of God somehow "proving" Himself undeniably through a certain type of miracle. It is usually phrased something like this:
"Why doesn't God heal amputees?"
Sometimes what you don't say is just as important as your outright declarations. Inherent to this odd challenge is actually what is NOT said. The challenge assumes mockingly that God "supposedly" heals other types of illnesses and physical problems, such as cancer or pneumonia...but why not the plight of amputees?
Also implied in this type of argument is a strange standard of miraculous proof. Indeed, many proponents of this challenge will say that if God would do this (heal an amputee), then that would be undeniable and ultimate proof of His existence and power, and that they would whole-heartedly acknowledge and worship Him. Uh-huh...hmmm. Right.
Before we dissect and logically evaluate this challenge, there is another assumption that it makes, point blank, that needs to be exposed in the light of reasonable discussion.
It ASSUMES that God doesn't, or at least, hasn't, healed an amputee.
Think about that. That's like asking:
"Why doesn't God make a pink planet with purple rings?"
Do you somehow have private knowledge that He HASN'T already made one...somewhere? This is a very important point. Can you demonstrate that in all of the vastness of space there is not a pink planet with purple rings?
The challenge: "Why doesn't God heal amputees?" is a lot like asking a married man:
"Have you stopped beating your wife?"
The question blatantly affirms guilt, and though it has the appearance of a serious question, it is merely a thin veneer covering a much deeper animosity.
With all that said, let's begin a more thorough response to this recurring attack.
1. "WHY" questions (such as "Why doesn't God heal amputees?") are often doomed to failure, because they deal with the issue of fundamental movitation, which is often impossible to ascertain.
For example, when dealing with non-intelligent entities (such as pure matter) we can often arrive at some level of understanding WHY something occurs.
"WHY does a rock fall when I drop it?" can be currently best explained through the Law of Gravity (though the WHY of gravity itself remains inexplicable).
"WHY is the sky blue?"
This answer can be found through understanding the special scattering property that the abundant Nitrogen in our atmosphere has with the different frequencies of visible light, especially blue.
That type of WHY can have fairly definite answers.
But when it comes to WHY questions about intelligent, independent beings (such as people, or God) the issue becomes hopelessly inconclusive. Reasons for actions or non-action are complex and involve nearly infinite variables and factors, with influences reaching far back into the past.
Simplistic explanations are only temporarily satisfying...but rarely hold up under close scrutiny.
Whenever we ask someone the WHY questions, be prepared for disappointment.
No one can completely understand even their own true motivations, much less the deep-rooted chain-of-causation that has been triggered within someone else.
So, our first response to this challenge is to point out the vanity of asking these types of questions.
In a very real and (usually) unintentional way, WHY questions try to go somewhere that we can't actually arrive at. The complex and multilevel series of intellectual, emotional, physical, and spiritual reasons that cascade into a final decision, are like clever criminals who cover their tracks.
WHY questions: They are often the proverbial dead end. Now, moving on...
2. You cannot prove that God HASN'T already, at some point in history, unknown to you, healed an amputee(s).
This has been touched on briefly, above, but it bears repeating as a major support to this argument. It is almost an insult to the intelligence of our readers to say it, but...here goes: There is absolutely no way for us to have complete knowledge of every human who has ever lived, in all places of the globe, in all of time, to make the pronouncement that God has NEVER healed an amputee.
That statement cannot be logically argued against...for only a divine being could have that kind of knowledge. Therefore, since Point #2 is irrefutable, we could end this discussion here and now, but there are other serious issues at stake in this challenge that I will seek to uncover.
3. You cannot prove logically that it is NECESSARY for God to heal an amputee.
Think about it...WHY is God under obligation to do so? He gives life, health, breath, talents, and even every heartbeat to each of us...what is the reason that He must heal amputees? People have far worse conditions than amputism all over the planet right now. Now, some will say, "Well, it would prove He exists!"
Really? Really??? With so many other confirming evidences of His existence--such as the Universe, DNA, the big bang, intelligence, fine-tuning, self-awareness, personality, morality, justice, fulfilled prophecy, matter, time, history, the resurrection, etc:
WHY does God need to do "one more thing" to prove anything? It is illogical to suggest that "one more thing" would make any significant addition to the overwhelming weight of empirical and logical evidence for our Creator. If God did heal an amputee, right in front of you, you could rationalize it away, and then demand EVEN MORE evidence (people are exceptional at rationalizing things away).
4. You cannot prove that there aren't sufficient moral reasons for God allowing someone to remain in that physical condition during physical life here.
In other words, as an all-knowing Creator, it is completely logical that He has reasons for allowing that particular condition to remain...even though those reasons may be unknown to us IN THIS LIFE.
Think about how young children are puzzled by the actions and withholdings of their parents. Their immature little mind cannot understand why mommy or daddy will not let them play with that shiny razor blade. The toddler throws a fit and screams and cries. But it is the advanced and experienced mind of the adult that has very good reasons for withholding something that the tiny tot wants to have.
If there is that big of a separation between human child and human adult in this world, try to imagine how much higher our Creator is than us...there is not even a comparison that would do it justice. Surely God can be given the benefit of the doubt about such painful "withholdings" even when we do not understand WHY.
It is illogical to suggest otherwise.
5. If God exists, then there are logical and probable causes for acceptance of an afterlife, in which God can heal an amputee.
Think about it---this condition of the amputee is only in THIS LIFE, which is far, far shorter than eternity to come. Even if we lived to be 130 years old with severe disabilities in this life, that is not even a blip on the radar screen of eternity. No finite number can be compared with infinity.
Someone has once said that the blessings of eternity can settle the scales of time.
Now it is time to change gears, so to speak. Let's move from dealing with the possible reasons for God allowing amputism in this life, to dealing with the second part of the challenge, in short, that by healing an amputee God would establish His existence undeniably.
6. Even if God did heal an amputee, in your presence, or in the presence of many witnesses, it could always be explained away.
Imagine all the ways a smart skeptic could explain away an "apparent" amputee healing. Even someone as dense as I am can think of several good explanations. Think about these:
(a) Alien technology
Yeah, that's the ticket. Advanced, super-evolved aliens have done this amazing "miracle". Maybe it was super-advanced aliens that the writers of the Bible met with, calling them, ANGELS. Yeah...and didn't they always come from up, you know, the sky, outer space???
(Sorry to interrupt this little angelic-celestial trip, but there are so many flaws with the alien-angel theory, but that will have to wait for another blog article...you would be surprised, though, about how many people will believe that)
(I really like this next one)
(b) Future technology (time traveled back to us)
That does make SO MUCH sense! Surely, in the future, we will easily be able to heal amputism, and also, I'm sure, someone will have proven Einstein wrong, and found a way to travel in reverse through the time stream. Excuse, Mr. Bookie---I would like to put $500 on "Lady Future Technology" in race number three!
(c) Hallucination or mass hypnosis
Why not? I mean, with all of these crazy Christians around talking about "miracles," maybe in a weak moment, we will imagine that we see an amputee healed. Maybe the government is programming us through TV or the internet, and they can make us believe that we see or hear certain things. Maybe Big Brother is turning to Big Healer. Don't drink the koolaid!
(d) Unexplained scientific phenomenon, similar to tail or limb regeneration we have documented in some reptiles