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God and Amputees

I don’t claim to be an atheist, but I found this logical dissection of God from the site Why Does God Heal Amputees? to be razor sharp:

Assume that God is imaginary. The beauty of this explanation is that it fits the facts perfectly. In the case of amputees, it is a valid way to explain the reality that we see in our world. The logic goes like this:

If God is imaginary, then he does not answer any prayers. Therefore, the prayers of amputees would go unanswered too.

The thing that is so appealing about this explanation is that there is no hand waving. There are no contradictions. It is completely fair. There is no paradox. This explanation makes complete sense in light of the evidence we see in our world.

Interestingly, this explanation also happens to cover the case of Neva Rogers in Chapter 1. And Steve Homel’s subdivision in Chapter 2. And Ranika in Chapter 4. If you assume that God is imaginary, then the paradox of God evaporates in all of these cases. Why did Ranika die? Because there was no all-powerful, prayer-answering God to save her. Why did Neva die? Because there was no all-powerful, prayer-answering God to save her. Why did Steve’s house remain standing while 39 others burned to the ground? Because there was no all-powerful, prayer-answering God to save any of the houses (and Steve’s house was a fluke). Why did 200,000 people die in the tsunami? Because there was no all-powerful, prayer-answering God to save them. And so on. It explains amputees too. The paradox of God vanishes completely.

In response to this proposal, a thoughtful person might say, “Just because God never answers the prayers of amputees, it does not mean that he does not answer other prayers. I agree with you that it is unfair to amputees, and I agree with you that it contradicts what Jesus teaches in the Bible, but God has his reasons. For some reason, it is not part of God’s plan to help amputees by regenerating their lost limbs. There is no way to understand the mysteries of our Lord, but he does have his reasons and they will become clear to us when we die and go to heaven.” That is one possible explanation, but words like “unfair” and “contradicts” feel, somehow, uncomfortable. They do not fit with our mental image of an all-loving and perfect God, nor with the words of Jesus in the Bible. Why would God have such a problem with amputees that he completely ignores their prayers to regenerate lost limbs, while at the same time he is answering all of these other prayers millions of times a day? When it comes to amputees, why would Jesus renege on his promises to answer prayers in the Bible?

In other news, Sam Harris writes a defense of atheism:

There is nothing that prevents an atheist from experiencing love, ecstasy, rapture and awe; atheists can value these experiences and seek them regularly. What atheists don’t tend to do is make unjustified (and unjustifiable) claims about the nature of reality on the basis of such experiences. There is no question that some Christians have transformed their lives for the better by reading the Bible and praying to Jesus. What does this prove? It proves that certain disciplines of attention and codes of conduct can have a profound effect upon the human mind. Do the positive experiences of Christians suggest that Jesus is the sole savior of humanity? Not even remotely — because Hindus, Buddhists, Muslims and even atheists regularly have similar experiences.

There is, in fact, not a Christian on this Earth who can be certain that Jesus even wore a beard, much less that he was born of a virgin or rose from the dead. These are just not the sort of claims that spiritual experience can authenticate.

(Nick Kristof accuses the God-bashers of being uncivil).

So Merry Christmas, Suckers!

{ 1 comment… add one }
  • Jim 12/26/2006, 2:53 am

    I’ll take Sam Harris over whoever writes the amputees site any day. I can’t even tell what the amputees people are all about. Sam Harris, though, is crystal clear. Give me Harris. Give me Dawkins. I’ll even take Penn Jillette in a pinch!

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