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Sorry for the delay in this post. I had a bout of food poisoning Friday and Saturday and was not in the mood, or position to compose much of anything. 😉 Here it is, Easter Sunday, and I am still feeling poorly, but a whole lot better than Friday or Saturday. The question was…

Why does god hate amputees? – There has never been a case of a single amputee growing back an arm or a leg, yet god (supposedly) sees fit to regularly cure cancer sufferers and the blind.

My first response would be to ask, how do you know that God never has healed an amputee? 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, and 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 the interviewing of everyone having lived since the birth of Christ and their testimony recorded and stored for later research. 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, but to make that claim, the evidence must be empirical and without required certification that claim is unsupported.

An example as to why this kind of claim is so difficult to prove, would be if I was to 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. It would be quite a chore even if you were looking for an elephant or hippo. 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 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 Jesus never healed an amputee is one of those tasks. Nor do I make that point to belittle the question; I think it is important to be able to respond thoughtfully to this question because there is a very popular atheist web site with the same title and addresses this question in great detail.

Another problem with this question and claim is that God is under some kind of obligation to heal every ailment of human suffering. Lets follow this to its logical conclusion. If God was to start healing amputees, no doubt we would acquire quite a few converts at first, but then the question could be asked, why won’t God heal those with heart disease? OK, so then God heals all those with heart disease. How about those with strokes, diabetes, pneumonia, Alzheimer’s etc. When might the list of why won’t God heal… end? It would end when God healed all diseases. But would it really end there? No, a new line of questions would begin. Why won’t God heal my son who was struck by a car? My daughter who was raped and murdered? My wife who suffers from depression? The questions would continue until the gift of free will was completely removed.

Has God drawn the line at healing cancer and blindness? I don’t know, but I do know that He has the whole picture of the human endeavor, and knows what is best for us. How many of us, as parents, have taken in our young child to the doctor for a shot? All the child understands is the suffering; they are unable to see, let alone understand, that the vaccination will keep them from greater harm in the long run. As parents we see, and even feel, their suffering, no greater empathy a human has than a parent for a child, yet despite their cries, tears, pleas, we allow them to suffer. Is it possible God has similar reasons?

I can remember when my children were very young, I would sit them in my lap near the wood stove on a winters 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, and then closer still, till 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, they would be burned and realize their action had a consequence.

All children grow up learning about consequences, but if a parent intervenes too often you end up with a spoiled, ill-natured child. If God healed all diseases, accidents, and halted all misbehavior that caused harm in our world, we would become emotionally, physically, spiritually corrupt beyond anything we have ever seen. 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 “I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us.” certainly has meaning to us, but to an unbeliever their focus is on the moment, not the eternal.

Another way to respond to such a question would be to ask them if they are really asking why God does not do big, public, headline, CNN news miracles that everyone can see and can be verified. This would be a more honest question, rather than focusing on a small subset of possible healing’s, which seems to be the tone of the question. If they admit that is the question, then you can continue with the same response outlined above. A response of, “Absence of evidence, does not mean evidence of absence.” would be appropriate to add in. For example, if you toss me a ball and I choose not to catch it, it does not necessarily follow I am incapable of catching the ball. We can appreciate the concept of eternity with Christ, compared to a few short years, but the non-Christian has no hope or appreciation for such a promise. I think the majority of people that would ask this question, really don’t even believe in God, and until they get to a point where reasons for belief out weigh reasons not to, addressing such a specific topic would be pointless.

Finally, I don’t think this piece could be complete with out my mentioning the view of Cessationism, which is the view that the gifts of the Spirit ceased being practiced, or more accurately were not available, after the early church. Those that hold to this view, believe that healings were only available to the early church because those miraculous gifts were needed to form a strong foundation and today are very rare.

I personally don’t hold to this view, but know some apologists who do. I am often skeptical to hear of miraculous healings, but am looking forward to reading a book by Craig Keener, a New Testament Scholar, who wrote a book titled Miracles. It comes highly recommended (by J.P. Moorland, a current apologetic powerhouse) and the consensus is that God is still active and we do have evidence of miracles today.
I will also recommend a couple other links that address this question, if you’re inclined to read or listen a bit more on the topic.

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