By now we all know the drill for My Questions For a Bible School Student. This time we look at miracles, and the lack of evidence for them.
Question From Me
A miracle happens when God lends supernatural intervention in the natural world, often in areas of healing. From the outside, these claimed miracles are indistinguishable from medical intervention or natural processes. Why is God willing to perform invisible miracles, but unwilling to regrow the limb of an amputee?
Answer From Student (with my commentary)
“In order to make a claim saying that all miracles are indistinguishable from medical intervention or natural processes, one would have to know every single miracle that has happened on the earth. The reality of it is, is that there are supernatural accounts of healing all over the world and it is not hard to find accounts of these online.”
Shortly after posing this question to you, I discovered the Why Won’t God Heal Amputees? website where one of the How Stuff Works guys makes a bit of a hobby out of this particular question. He has yet to find a record of a human having a limb regenerated by any means, natural or supernatural. I did my own searches and have come up empty. Did you find one?
I did not mean to make a claim about all miracles (which would have been attempting to prove a negative), and should have been more clear that I have yet to hear of a claimed miracle that was distinguishable from medical intervention or natural processes.
My reasserted search, at your behest above, still did not find any exceptions to alter my observation. I would be interested to see any counter-examples anyone might provide.
“Jesus Himself did not always perform miracles when he could have, but rather we see Him slipping into the back. An example of this is in Acts 3. We read a story about a man who had been crippled from birth that Peter and John healed. Jesus would have surely passed by this man during His earthly ministry many times and yet did not heal him. We don’t know when the Father has decided to bring healing or not bring healing. God is not here to serve our needs and desires and Christians need to be careful to not be expecting everything from God, for this really is just manipulating Him to serve us. We may do great things and glorify God with the healing that He provides, but to seek our timing over His is putting Him in a box and not bowing to the will of the sovereign God. The delayed timing and prolonged suffering may serve as a way to bring glory to God by one to faith at some point. In the end, our wisdom is so short sighted and we do not know the whole picture nor will we ever because we are so incapable.”
When I underwent surgery in January, the doctors had prepared me for the chance that I myself might wake up as an amputee, potentially losing fingers or my entire right hand. While a Luke Skywalker robot limb might have been cool, fortunately for the question at hand (no pun intended), we do not have to confuse the specifics of “why won’t God heal Paul’s amputation” with a general “why won’t God heal ANY amputation”.
Your answer addressed the more common question of why God chooses to answer some prayers and not others, treating my question more along the lines of the common “problem of evil” or “problem of suffering” track. The “God works in mysterious ways” answer is generally what one would expect for that line of real struggle. However, it misses the point I was hoping to drive to.
Believers have claimed supernatural medical miracles healing cancer, heart attacks, paralysis, strokes, blindness, dementia, diabetes, deafness, kidney failure, addictions, sprains, strains, allergies, depression, headaches, colds, soreness, hangnails, heartburn, hiccups, general boo-boos and many more. Among the populations of people who have suffered these conditions over history, God chose to heal some and not to heal others, because reasons. Okay.
But in all my investigation and that of others more vested, we do not find a credible claim of a miracle where a lost limb is restored. God found reasons and cases to intervene in the universe for all of the above, but not a single amputee has been worthy enough or needy enough or met whatever God’s criteria are. Across the whole population, in all of recorded history. People with lost limbs are truly the most God-foresaken humans in the world.
The point of the question is this… until someone can show the difference between a miracle and a merely uncommon (and sometimes not even uncommon) occurrence, there is no reason to accept or assert a supernatural cause. With more than 7 billion people on earth, one-in-a-million events happen 7000 times a day. No causation is implied or required.
Amputees are not healed because there is no god willing or able to heal them. If an all-powerful god exists, he restricts his interventions to invisible natural processes. No rationalization changes the fact that this is indistinguishable from a universe where there is no god at all. And no god at all explains all of the evidence perfectly, no brain contortions required.
If this topic intrigues you, definitely check out Why Won’t God Heal Amputees?
(Image: Danielle Orner is a writer, actress, motivational speaker, cancer survivor, and amputee.)
How would you have answered this question? How would you have responded to the answer? Where did I go wrong, or too far, or not far enough? Or miss the point? Let me know in the comments below.
Stay tuned for question #5. Almost done.
One thought on “MQFABSS #4 – No Leg to Stand On”
A person I know likes to answer this question by saying that giving clear proof of his god’s existence, e.g. by healing an amputee in an obvious way, would violate our free will to choose to believe or not. I find this answer wholly unsatisfactory. First, because I have not experienced my beliefs as a choice, and second, because if we are to choose freely, why is the choice about whether to believe, rather than whether to follow or reject?