Thursday, April 2, 2009

The Cruelty of God Toward Amputees

Awhile back I was roaming around You Tube when I came by this video asking theists (though it became clear from the start that Christians specifically were the target) ten questions. The video concludes with the claim that the only reasonable answer to the ten questions is that God is imaginary. I have watched the video from start to finish and have rejected the idea that the only reasonable answer to these questions is that God is imaginary. I will provide the questions the video asks in written form. Still, if it is at all possible to do so, I encourage my readers to go and watch the actual video which can be found here. There is no cursing or sexual (implicit or otherwise) language on the video. Still, due to the videos highly negative stance toward the Faith, I would plead with any readers still under their parents to seek their permission before watching.

Although I am only dealing with the first question I hope to have responses to the other nine as time goes on (I know, this coming from the guy who promised about five of his posts ago that he would do the prophecies of Jesus in the O.T).
The video begins with a statement from the narrator that he assumes you are an educated Christian i.e. you have a college degree; the Christian along with this degree is assumed to have some formal training in logic and critical thinking. The narrator goes on to list possible positions the assumed educated Christian audience might occupy: engineer, scientist, teacher etc. To transition from the introduction to the questions the narrator asks if the assumed Christian audience has ever used those critical thinking skills to think about their faith. I agree with the videos assumption that a college education does give people to some degree or other formal training in logic and critical thinking (or at least it should). I also agree with the video that many educated Christians do hold the positions listed. However, I do have one problem with the introduction. The introduction from the start creates a dichotomy between logic/critical thinking and Christian belief. In other words the video starts out by communicating to the audience that if you are intelligent and have these skills, then ultimately you will end up agreeing with me. So right off the bat the person who will disagree with this video has already been categorized by the video as not using logic and critical thinking. Still, if the introduction is completely removed and or retooled to not set up this false dichotomy between Christian belief and reason, there are still the ten questions to be dealt with.

Question One

The first question asked is “why wont God heal amputees?” First, the background behind this question should be looked at. Before the first question is actually asked the video establishes that Christians believe in the power of prayer. Ok, so far so good, I think that most Christians can come to a consensus that prayer is powerful. The video then states that three out of four doctors believe that God is performing medical miracles on earth right now. Then the narrator explains that Christians believe God is healing diseases, curing cancer, and reversing the effects of poisons. I want to pause real quick and say that I agree with that, but there needs to be some things said. Miracles are the exception in history not the norm. I can see why someone would think they are the norm because there are copious amounts of miracles in the Bible (I believe all those miracles). However, when the amount of time the miracle accounts in the Bible covers to the amount of time of History from the beginning until now, we see that miracles are by far the exception. Furthermore, there are reasons that the Bible has a lot of miracles. Miracles were a way in which God revealed himself to his people. We now have the perfect revelation of God in the Bible. Also, we can clearly see many of the miracles have specific use for that time only. E.G. Jesus performed many many miracles but they were to announce and prove the arrival of the kingdom of God and its king. Do not get me wrong, when someone recovers from disease, cancer, or poison, it is right to praise God for He did do that. However, God uses the means of medical doctors and treatments to do those things. So, the normal mode of operation for God healing these things is through the use of medical professionals, medicines, and treatments. Moving on, in light of this background the first question is asked. The argument is, if God is healing those other things, then why do amputees who offer similar prayers not receive the re-growth of their limbs. The video then claims that in order to answer this question, Christians have to make up silly excuses on behalf of God.
To begin to answer the question, I would like to point out a faulty view of prayer that is being used in the video. Prayer is seen here as something that obligates God to do something as if he were a genie in a bottle. There is a movement called the Word of Faith movement that does hold to this view of prayer, but it is not the Biblical view and it should not be the view of the followers of Christ. Furthermore, there is an assumption here that prayer is meant to change the mind of God, as if God is having a hard time trying to decide what to do and our prayers tip the scales. Please do not get me wrong, prayer is an important part in our walk with God, and God has ordained that our prayers play a vital role in the life of the church. In fact it is because He has ordained prayer that prayer is powerful. Prayer is not powerful because if it is used enough it will somehow tip the cosmic scale in favor of the people praying. No, God has called his people to pray as a means of the work God has already chosen to accomplish. I think of Daniel praying for the return of the Jews to Jerusalem when God had already said that he would return a remnant to Jerusalem. Daniel was not trying to persuade God to a certain action. God already said what he was going to do, and Daniel was humbly seeking this promise. That is why when the Christian prays, his attitude is not that his will be done, but that God’s will be done (sounds familiar right). The view of prayer that this video assumes i.e. the afore-mentioned genie in the bottle is one that Christians should reject. However, the video depends upon this view of prayer to give the question potency: why wont God heal amputees? I do not know why God does not heal amputees. I do know that He has not promised he would, and is not obligated to do so just because there is prayer involved. This is not a silly excuse for God. It is the claim that God does not need an excuse, because God has done no wrong.
I have already explained above that outright miracles without the use of normal means are by far the exception not the rule. I will though, for the sake of argument assume that God does heal cancer disease and Poison supernaturally on a regular basis and show that it still does not obligate God to heal amputees. The video maintains that since God sometimes works a certain way in circumstances A B and C (i.e. cancer, disease, poison) that He than must do the exact same thing in circumstance D (i.e. healing amputees). There is no logical reason to maintain that God doing something in one circumstance necessitates that he do the exact same thing in another circumstance. If God chooses to heal in circumstance A-C it is all of mercy and God would be perfectly just to choose not to heal those things. God often does not heal disease, cure cancer, or reverse the effects of poison. If we are using our critical thinking skills here, unless one can make a logical connection that necessitate God healing amputees because he heals cancer, disease and poison than the argument falls apart. My wife and I pick up cans when we go walking because they are recyclable, but we do not pick up glass even though that is recyclable as well. No one would say to me that I had to pick up glass because I picked up cans. How even more silly would it be for a two year old to say to me that I only had silly excuses for only picking up cans just because the two year old cannot think of any reasons why I would do so. How much more silly is it for creatures to demand of God that he heal amputees because he heals cancer patients and then say that Christians only have silly excuses about why God acts as he does. Remember, I am even granting the premise that God heals cancer, disease, and poison supernaturally on a regular basis. I have a hard time believing that someone could consider this a serious reason to reject the existence of God. Rephrase what is being said here: God does not exist because amputees do not grow their limbs back. I could be wrong, but I find that most Christians who think seriously about their faith are not impressed with this kind of argumentation. In conclusion to this question there is no logical connection between amputees not being healed and the reality of God, and by saying there is, the atheist is failing to use the critical thinking that he is calling Christians to use.

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