My last post, titled 50 Questions Christian’s Can’t Answer, removed one from the list. The full list of questions by an atheist can be found here if you are interested, but this post will focus on the 2nd question he posted.
2. Why won’t God heal amputees?
Several assumptions can be made by that statement and I will touch on each one below.
*God has never healed an amputee.
*If he is a loving God, he would heal everyone.
*Future healing does not count for our earthly suffering.
*God does not exist.
This question already presupposes that God has not healed any amputees. Once again, the burden of proof lies with the one making the claim, and the claim is that there has never been a single case of an amputee growing back an arm or leg.
I would ask to see the pile of documentation that covers all the centuries since the birth of Christ, (or even prior if you like), in all the locations of the world. It should be obvious that kind of detailed, complete, and verifiable documentation would be impossible. It would have required interviewing everyone who has lived since the birth of Christ, with their testimony recorded and stored for later research. Claims like this require omniscience, or all knowing.
I am not saying there has been such a case of healing; it could very well be there never has been a case of an amputee growing back a body part. Yet to make the claim that an amputee has never been healed, the evidence must be verifiable, and without the required documentation, that claim is unsupported.
Let me give you an example as to why this kind of claim is so difficult to prove. For example, if I made the claim, “There is not a single North American Grizzly bear to be found in Washington State”, I would have to provide verifiable evidence showing every county, canyon, and creek was searched. Every cave, underneath every overhang, the top of every mountain, and every few feet of every forested area. Washington State is 71,303 square miles, so that is a lot of area to search. It would be quite a chore, even if you were looking for an elephant, or hippo, or even an Airbus-380, (the largest passenger aircraft ever made).
On the other hand, if I was to make the claim that you can find the Grizzly Bear in Washington State, I would only have to find one, and only one. Once I found a Grizzly, my search would be over. One of the first places I would look would be just south of Vancouver, where some Grizzly Bears have been found and tagged in the North West tip of Washington State.
My point being, proving something never took place can be an impossible task, and the claim that God has not healed an amputee is one of those tasks. I do not make that point to belittle the question; I think it is important to be able to respond thoughtfully, and to other questions like it.
Another way to consider such a question would be to ask them if they are really asking why God does not do big, public, headline, CNN, ABC, news miracles that everyone can see and can be verified. This would be a more honest question. If they admit that is the question, you can reply, “Absence of evidence does not mean evidence of absence.” For example, if you toss me a ball, and I do not to catch it, it does not necessarily follow I am incapable of catching the ball. This is a logical fallacy called non-sequitur which is Latin for “it does not follow”.
I can remember when my children were very young, I would sit them in my lap near the wood stove on a winter’s day. I would hold their hand out toward the stove repeating the word “hot.” I would move their tiny hand closer to the wood stove, till they began to feel the heat, finally they began to pull away because the temperature became uncomfortable. They would always look at me with concern and questioning, but they would understand after that, if they touched or came near to the wood stove it would burn them. There was a consequence for their behavior, should they decide to touch the wood stove.
All children grow up learning about consequences, but if a parent intervenes too often, you end up with a spoiled brat, who may expect everything to go their way. Over the years, I have had many parents come in on behalf of their son or daughter asking me for some ‘extra credit’ their child could do to improve their grades. I politely explain I rarely do extra credit, and it would be better if they just did the work assigned. I also explain to parents, (and this often comes as a surprise because the child did not share it with their parents), that students can redo all work, (except tests and quizzes) for 100%. Of course, very few students take the initiative and redo any work turned back to them. Usually they toss it and the parents never see it. Those students who do keep their work and show the parents, (who wants to show their parents a D or F), are usually the students already earning good grades and don’t need the extra credit.
If God healed all diseases, accidents, and halted all misbehavior that caused harm in our world, we would become emotionally, physically, spiritually corrupt. To liken us to a spoiled child that has no consequence for poor choices would be a vast understatement.
As believers, what Paul says in Romans 8:18 certainly has meaning to us, but to an unbeliever, their focus is on the moment, not the eternal. The suffering in this life is all there is.
In 2011, Craig Keener published a two volume set titled, “Miracles-The Credibility of the New Testament Accounts.” J.P. Moreland said they are the best text available on documented miracles in the name of Jesus throughout church history to present day.
The Skeptic David Hume wrote, “There is not to be found, in all history, any miracle attested by a sufficient number of men, of such unquestioned good sense, education, and learning , as to secure us against all delusion…” 1
Yet Miracles, by Keener, has hundreds of documented accounts of healings. Just one example is the story of a young woman who suffered from debilitating migraines for years due to a condition known as vertical heterophoria. Her eyes were unable to focus on an object simultaneously and therefore her brain could not process the uneven images. After prayer during a meeting, she was healed and her vision was restored to 20/20. She had numerous specialists and provided the documentation of her prescriptions in 2009. One doctor concluded the healing of this kind of condition makes more sense coming from an action of God than some mere coincidence. 2
On a deeply personal level, my question would be, “Why not heal my daughter of scoliosis?” I know her back hurts at times. I know she had a hard time breathing. I know she can’t participate in many of the sports she wants to because running would only compound the curve. I know she is self conscious about how she looks, which is made even worse as she is entering in the Jr. High age where the girls, in particular, begin to compare themselves with others and make value judgments on themselves.
Am I to be satisfied with the knowledge that her healing will only come after death when we rise up in perfect bodies? 1 Corinthians 15:50, Philippians 3:21.
Is there a purpose for her suffering? As mild as this may be when compared to others with much greater trials, it is a burden for her. What possible benefit could come from this? Any parent who has a child that suffers understands what I am talking about. You would do anything to relive their pain or discomfort, and you struggle with the thought of how can this be good, or if it is worth it. Gratefully, and without hesitation, you would take their trial upon yourself. And those who have lost a child deal with this on a whole different level.
Over the centuries, this parent/child theme serves as a reminder to us regarding the level on which God loves us, but in recent months I have discovered something at a deeper level that I would not have encountered had she been free of scoliosis.
For months, as I drove to and from work, I was free to pray through tears, and plead for a miraculous healing. Often making silent promises to Him if He would heal her, and then some moments I could imagine her back being healed and would weep with joy as I soaked in this possibility.
Knowing He could do it if He determined brought about a deep satisfaction, but something else was nagging me which went against everything I know a loving father should be. For weeks, I could not even think about it without having to stifle sobs. Then as I began to understand what I was feeling, I was better able to process it, but I was still unable to verbalize it. I wanted to talk to my wife about it, but I knew I would not be able to get the words out.
It was not until my pastor and some elders at our church a few months ago prayed for her healing after a service that I had a break through. It was when Anthony prayed for her. His prayer were my unspoken words. Simply put, the healing was secondary, but God’s glory in this came first. Choking, with tears on my face, I explained to him his prayer has been my feelings for weeks.
Since then, I have been able to express this to my wife and others. Her healing is my desire, but I have a greater desire, and that is for God to be glorified in this.
Never in my wildest dreams could I possibility imagine I would actually desire to glorify God over the healing of one of my children. That glory to God would trump my child’s healing. I have heard, and read stories of this before, but honestly, I just brushed them off because I could not comprehend that someone could actually place Jesus in a position before their children. Words are cheap. I chalked it up to ‘those’ super Christians who were being spiritually dishonest or were just out to make a dollar as their books and story sold millions to unsuspecting and unwise Christians. Yes, my skepticism is peeking out.
Could it be that no amputee has never been healed because there is no God and all other ‘accounts’ have some natural, albeit rare explanation?
In a perfect world, without suffering, hatred, selfishness, we would not be in a position to really understand why God does not heal. And sometimes the answer will not come in this time, but only after we have risen with Christ.
Malcolm Gladwell explores the effects of adversity in his book, David and Goliath. Almost 1/3 of our Presidents lost their fathers at a young age, so the question is raised, does this kind of adversity create giants among mere humans? Stories from Joni Eareckson Tada, and Nick Vujicic serve as an inspiration to all of us. If you have not heard of Nick, take a moment and watch this brief video on the Oprah show where he shares his Christian faith and is thankful for the life that he has. I am not an Oprah fan by any means, but this is worth watching.
I don’t know if God has ever healed an amputee and He is under no obligation to heal. What purpose there may be in our suffering, and how it furthers His kingdom, at times can be beyond our grasp. Paul said our suffering in this world can’t compare to what we can look forward to.
Ted Dekker wrote in Hacker-The Outlaw Chronicles, “We’re far more than just physical beings having a spiritual experience. We’re spiritual beings having a temporary physical experience.” 3 Miracles cannot be explained by the physical world. Miracles exist. Therefore a Miracle Maker must exist.
1. David Hume (1 January 2004). An Enquiry Concerning Human Understanding. Digireads.com Publishing. pp. 66–. ISBN 978-1-59625-548-7.
2. Keener, Craig S. Miracles. Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2011. Print.
3. Dekker, Ted. Hacker. Tennessee:Worthy Media Inc., 2014. Print.
49 Questions Christian’s can’t answer by James Glazier is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License.