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Thursday, April 11, 2013

Amputees and God

Following a debate with unbelievers, a 'drive-by' left this link: http://www.whywontgodhealamputees.com/important.htm

It seems the crusaders at this site are still under the impression they have a knockout blow to Christianity on their hands. Navigating the forums, it becomes quite clear that the 'importance' of this question has more to do with confirming their unbelief than God intervening on behalf of amputees. One gets a sense that this is the 'feather in the cap' for these rebels. There is no real desire to seek God, just a poor attempt at one-upmanship.

I'm going to take their two fundamental claims and show them to be fallacious, and therefore the 'question' incoherent. This will not be exhaustive, so feel free to chime in with any additional criticisms.

'Clearly, if God is real, limbs should regenerate through prayer. In reality, they do not.'

1. There is an assumption that, if God exists, He must heal amputees. This is an unargued assumption, and it is a patently false assumption.

2. There is an assumption that, if God exists, His purpose and plan must involve healing amputees. Again this is a false assumption.

3. There is an assumption that, if God exists, He must heal amputees, regardless of His purpose and plan, in order to appease sinners, thus elevating the 'plans of men' above His own plan in creation. False assumption.

4. There is an assumption that, if God exists, He does not heal amputees; yet without possessing knowledge of all amputees everywhere, past and present, they are relying on an inductive process in order to make the general claim (embedded in the assertion and main question) that God does not (and will not) heal amputees. Thus the question, 'Why won't God heal amputees?', is completely fallacious, and at best incoherent! Technically, we could dismiss the whole thing out of hand based on this alone!

5. There is a presupposition that the healing of amputees would be good; but whose standard of good are they applying here? Their own? What if their standard of good differs from mine? Without a consistent, objective standard of good, the 'objection' carries no significance whatsoever.

Christians have the ultimate standard of good, a just and righteous God. This does not make us any 'better' than unbelievers; we all deserve hell according to God's standard of good.

'The bible clearly promises that God answers prayers.'

It's always amusing watching unbelievers trying to 'exegete' the Scripture... I'd like to see just one rebel let the Scriptures speak for themselves...

While the Bible says that God will answer prayers, these prayers are to be in accordance with His will, that is to say, in accordance with God's purpose and plan in creation:

14 And this is the confidence that we have towards him, that if we ask anything according to his will he hears us.

15 And if we know that he hears us in whatever we ask, we know that we have the requests that we have asked of him.
(1 John 5:14-15 ESV)

This is what Jesus means when He says,

13 Whatever you ask in my name, this I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son.

14 If you ask me for anything in my name, I will do it.
(John 14:13-14 ESV)

23 In that day you will ask nothing of me. Truly, truly, I say to you, whatever you ask of the Father in my name, he will give it to you.
(John 16:23 ESV)

Jesus is not giving us carte blanche to just ask for any old thing in His name.

We are to ask in faith:

6 But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed by the wind.

7 For that person must not suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord;

8 he is a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways.
(James 1:6-8 ESV)

3 You ask and do not receive, because you ask wrongly, to spend it on your passions.
(James 4:3 ESV)

26 Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words.
(Romans 8:26 ESV)

Is 'testing' God demonstrating faith? Can we truly pray apart from the Spirit?

And God works all things for the good of His people:

26 Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words.

27 And he who searches hearts knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God.

28 And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.
(Romans 8:26-28 ESV)

So to sum up, yet again we see the unbelievers' 'knock-down' arguments for what they are, having more holes than a second-hand dart board. Rational thought seems to just fly out of the window with these guys (if it was ever there in the first place). And yet again we witness a lackadaisical attempt at Biblical exegesis that would make a Sunday school child shudder.

Soli Deo Gloria


27 comments:

Anonymous said...

actually it does make "believers" better than non believers you believe you've been chosen by God!

Puritan Lad said...

Only if you assume that we were chosen based kn some virtue that we possess in ourselves.

DannyM said...

Anon,

You misunderstand. God's elect are no more 'worthy' of salvation than anyone else.

10And not only so, but also when Rebekah had conceived children by one man, our forefather Isaac, 11though they were not yet born and had done nothing either good or bad - in order that God's purpose of election might continue, not because of works but because of him who calls -12she was told, "The older will serve the younger." As it is written, "Jacob I loved, but Esau I hated."
Romans 9:10-12 (ESV)

16So then it depends not on human will or exertion, but on God, who has mercy.
Romans 9:16

Anonymous said...

"You misunderstand. God's elect are no more 'worthy' of salvation than anyone else. "
you misunderstand you are considered more "worthy" because you been chose

DannyM said...

Correction: Romans 9:10-13.

DannyM said...

Anon,

Worthy: having or showing the qualities that deserve the specified action or regard.

We are no more worthy having been saved than we were prior to being saved. Do we somehow 'deserve' salvation after the event?

Anonymous said...

No I am saying that being chosen by god makes you into an elite class favored by the master of the universe,

DannyM said...

Anon,

Indeed. And your problem is?

But that is not what you have been saying; you said God's elect are somehow 'better' and 'more worthy' for having been chosen. But you have singularly failed to substantiate your assertions, even in the face of Biblical passages spelling out Christian doctrine.

But if you'd like to call God's elect 'privileged' or something to that effect, then crack on. But again you need to make a cogent argument as to why you think this presents a problem.

Can you do this?

Anonymous said...

first of all if you are more privliaged then you are better then those who are not and also I honestly don't see this as a problem it's just that its better to admit so that you think you are superior to those others, again I don't mind or care if you really are better than everyone else

DannyM said...

Anon,

I mean no offence, but is English your first language? You've already been shown that Christians are no 'better,' and are not 'more worthy' than unbelievers. There is nothing *in* the believer that warrants salvation; all we have is your bare assertions.

Yes, Christians are in a privileged position in that they are *immune* from spending eternity in hell, and *secure* in eternity with God; but this is merely a truism - what's your point? This says *nothing* of the *hows* and the *whys* regarding salvation itself.

Do you see the error you are making?

Anonymous said...

no not really,the fact that you are in a privileged position makes you better.
no English is not my first language but Ive been treating it as if it was my first language for over 10 years, and i am just a lot more stupid than i like to think i am that's all "Kruger-dunning effect"

DannyM said...

Anon,

Again, just bare assertion. How does being in a privileged position, i.e., being *immune* from spending eternity in hell and being *secure* in eternity with God, how does this make the believer 'better' than the unbeliever?

It's time you moved on from bare assertion. This is your last chance.

Puritan Lad said...

Anonymous,

You may want to look at this before you attack a position that you merely assume we hold.

http://www.fallacyfiles.org/strawman.html

Someone from Stan's blog said...

DannyM,

Healing amputees serve as a precise example supporting a larger point: gods do miracles in "mysterious" ways only.

If anything 'like' healing amputees through prayer was real, then it would be a starting point for discussing real supernatural events.

Such things do not happen. That's the point. Yet, religious believers in the supernatural continue to believe that some form of supernatural things happen, they are just not as obvious as healing amputees because... they are not real. They are fairy tales.

DannyM said...

Fred,

I'm afraid your post amounts to a fallacy already identified in the OP, i.e., it begs the question. And glaringly! You are assuming the very thing you seek to prove. Look again at what you've written. Are you omniscient, Fred?

Also, you have failed to interact with the OP regarding the issue of prayer, whether it be the irrational demands of the rebel or what the Scripture itself says about prayer. Are you on auto-pilot, Fred? Did you actually read what you're responding to?

Finally, if you'd like to talk about a real fairytale, how about we discuss the Materialist Fairytale? We could even find room for the Darwinian Story, a sort of sub-fairytale of the Materialist Fairytale. And we'll get through it without begging the question.

All the best



August said...

I will repeat my answer that I posted elsewhere.

The whole amputee objection is one of the silliest, in my opinion. Why do we accept the objection as stated by the non-believer? Have they evaluated every person who have lost a limb, ever, in the history of humanity, and confirmed that there never was one that grew back? Their claim that God never does it, or has never done it, is simply unsupportable. It is an inductive assertion based on invalid premises, because it only takes one case to disprove the assertion. So unless they can prove that every amputee, ever, have been investigated for proof of limb regeneration, it is a silly argument.

And as we see, when evidence of miraculous limb regeneration is presented, they immediately discount or negate it, without investigation to see whether it may actually be true or not. It shows that they are not interested in answering their own question, it is just rhetoric.

val said...

A gift for you....truth.
The true Gospel is now delivered to you from the wilderness Rev 12:6 as a witness Matt 24:14.
Our heavenly Father will NOT put any child of his into a hell fire no matter what their sins. Sin doesn't scare God! He created it Isa 45:7 to teach us all the knowledge of good and evil Gen 3:22 for our eternal placement in his coming kingdom. Throwing a child of his into a hell fire has never entered the heart or mind of God to ever do such a thing Jer7:31, Jer 19:5. Anyone preaching a hell fire for any child of God has been deceived into teaching lies. The whole world has been believing in a god of hate murder and revenge (The devil Rev 12:9). The true word of God John 1:1 is now delivered Rev 12:5 here http://thegoodtale.blogspot.com/

God chose a woman Rev 12 to be the prophet like unto Moses Num 12:3 and Elijah Matt 17:3, Acts 3:21-23, Luke 1:17. Those professing themselves to be Christians would be wise to hear all Acts 3:23 BEFORE making any judgment. The proof of what I tell you is in the hearing.

Prove ALL things 1 Thes 5:21. Satan has deceived the whole world Rev 12:9 until now. Turn your heart to the children of God for a better placement Ezek 37:26 in God's world Rev 21.

Puritan Lad said...

val: "Throwing a child of his into a hell fire has never entered the heart or mind of God to ever do such a thing..."

Response: True, but not everyone is a child of God. Those who are not will be "suffering the vengeance of eternal fire." (Jude 1:7)

Anonymous said...

Not believing that god heals amputees does not imply omniscience. I have a cousin that flies to the moon in the summer. His name is Mike. Why don't you believe that he flies to the moon? After all, you don't know for sure. You never met him in order to verify it. So by your logic, you should believe it, because, after all, you have not observed every "nook and cranny" about the claim.

This is why I don't believe people when they say they have been abducted by UFO's. Extraordinary claims demand extraordinary evidence. You, not I, have the burden of proof to demand I believe all the shit in the Bible. I don't have to "evaluate every person in the history of humanity" to know it is stupid.

Puritan Lad said...

Hey Anonymous,

To begin with, I guess that you have a solid refutation of David Hume's skepticism of inductive reasoning. Perhaps you even have some empirical evidence to support that refutation. If so, please present it here.

Secondly, Danny's post is a response to the objective claim that God does not heal amputees, not to your subjective personal belief.

Thirdly, as far as the "burden of proof", why should atheistic materialism be accepted as the "default" position?

Finally, this is a Christian blog, so please curtail the language.

Thanks.

DannyM said...

Hello anonymous,

Anonymous: 'Not believing that god heals amputees does not imply omniscience.'

PL has answered you. Your subjectively-based personal belief is of no interest here. This is the objective claim I am responding to:

'Clearly, if God is real, limbs should regenerate through prayer. In reality, they do not.'

Again, and following PL's point on Hume, I'll quote this from the OP:

'There is an assumption that, if God exists, He does not heal amputees; yet without possessing knowledge of all amputees everywhere, past and present, they are relying on an inductive process in order to make the general claim (embedded in the assertion and main question) that God does not (and will not) heal amputees. Thus the question, 'Why won't God heal amputees?', is completely fallacious, and at best incoherent! Technically, we could dismiss the whole thing out of hand based on this alone!'

The objective claim, 'God does not heal amputees' is simply fallacious and cannot stand.

Anonymous: 'I have a cousin that flies to the moon in the summer. His name is Mike. Why don't you believe that he flies to the moon? After all, you don't know for sure. You never met him in order to verify it. So by your logic, you should believe it, because, after all, you have not observed every "nook and cranny" about the claim.'

This is a false analogy, emanating from your misrepresentation/misunderstanding
of the post you are responding to. My 'personal belief' has nothing to do with anything.

Anonymous: 'Extraordinary claims demand extraordinary evidence.'

This always sounds great! But is it true? Don't you think the claim itself needs to be fleshed out somewhat? What constitutes an 'extraordinary' claim? The 'claim' itself is ambiguous, and needs fleshing out if we are going to progress further than merely talking past one another.

Anonymous: 'You, not I, have the burden of proof to demand I believe all the shit in the Bible. I don't have to "evaluate every person in the history of humanity" to know it is stupid.'

(1) Nice way to try to shift the burden and avoid responsibility. What has this to do with the subject matter?

(2) As PL says, atheistic materialism is not some default position that is somehow immune from shouldering a burden of responsibility. It is a world-view and makes a positive claim about the nature of reality.

Your whole post has misfired. Please consider delving deeper into these issues and ridding yourself of these surface-level 'objections.'

danny

Anonymous said...


This site is great for comic relief. Bringing up David Hume is a classic "argument from authority" fallacy. It's sad how I assert a simple statement and question, and Christians resort to a forlorn trip down a bottomless pit of philosophical gobbledeyook. But I understand-- you have no choice but to obfuscate.

You and your cohorts ask me to devote my life to some pretty outlandish and strange beliefs, from a talking snake and donkey, a man walking on water, and amputees being magically healed, and yet I never heard any concrete proof whatsoever. We don't need to endlessly define terms-- all you need is to know how to speak English. If you don't think the bible asserts extraordinary claims (the word "extraordinary" by the way means "out of the ordinary" in case you don't know) that demand something a little more yammering away with abstract theories to back them up, then we're done.

As far a "curtailing the language" I quote Thomas Paine: "Sometimes you have to be bold"-- people have put up with this nightmarish crap for centuries, and I today have to suffer under dumb laws influenced by your ilk, so I would hope that you wouldn't wilt with a little profanity.

cheers

DannyM said...

Hello anonymous,

I will be responding to your post in the form of a blog post on the main page. It will be up in a day or two.

danny

DannyM said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
DannyM said...

Hello anonymous,

I've decided to respond to your post here instead of on the main page, as some of your points require a more direct response.

Anonymous: 'Bringing up David Hume is a classic "argument from authority" fallacy.'

Response: No, it's not. See these:

http://www.logicalfallacies.info/relevance/appeals/appeal-to-authority/

http://www.nizkor.org/features/fallacies/appeal-to-authority.html

The second link goes into more detail on the nuances involved in making arguments from authority. There are fallacious appeals to authority and there are good appeals to authority (though no authority's testimony can ever be guaranteed to be true). You have asserted 'argument from authority' upon seeing an authority's name, which indicates you have no idea what an appeal to/argument from authority is.

All that aside, there has been no appeal to authority, good or bad. Puritan lad was referencing Hume's argument. Hume merely articulated the philosophical truth that is the problem of induction and causality. In fact, if Hume were alive today we'd be using his very scepticism of induction and causality against him on the issue of belief in miracles, since this is where he was inconsistent with his own scepticism. Hume's offensive against belief in miracles was to attempt to show that such belief could never be justified based on testimonial evidence because it would contradict our 'firm and unalterable experience.' This is inconsistent with his more general scepticism of induction and causality.

Anonymous: It's sad how I assert a simple statement and question, and Christians resort to a forlorn trip down a bottomless pit of philosophical gobbledeyook.

Response: Actually, you asserted your subjective (and irrelevant) belief, thus not even touching the point. Is it philosophical gobbledegook to correct a basic mistake and then refocus the issue? It's *sad* that you cannot follow the debate!.

Anonymous: But I understand-- you have no choice but to obfuscate.

Response: The ignorance and irony here is astounding. It is the incoherence of your posts that is causing the obfuscation. We are the ones having to sweep up after you.

Anonymous: You and your cohorts ask me to devote my life to some pretty outlandish and strange beliefs, from a talking snake and donkey, a man walking on water, and amputees being magically healed, and yet I never heard any concrete proof whatsoever.

Response: This is rhetorical only. What constitutes an 'outlandish' belief? And 'outlandish' by what standard? The closed system of materialism? If God exists, could He bring about miraculous or unusual events such as these? If not, why not? Can an omnipotent God with a purpose and plan in creation bring about such a plan, causing some miraculous or unusual events along the way? This kind of rhetoric ('outlandish'; 'I never heard any concrete proof'; 'amputees being magically healed') exposes your pre-commitment to materialism. It is presupposed that these events cannot have occurred. No argument is presented, just rhetoric and incredulity.

What do the events mentioned have to do with magic? Comparing God's power with magic is like comparing apples and oranges. This kind of rhetoric shows you haven't really begun to think seriously about these things.

'Concrete proof' is demanded. Not only is such a demand inconsistent with your professed world-view ('proof' presupposes 'truth' and absolute truth cannot exist in the materialist system, thus once again demonstrating your inconsistency), the demand itself is framed in such a way that you get to determine what is and what is not to be considered 'concrete proof', making you the sole arbiter of 'truth' and enabling you to justify your unbelief. This is the logical outworking of your autonomous reasoning.

DannyM said...

Anonymous: We don't need to endlessly define terms-- all you need is to know how to speak English.

Response: Nobody is advocating 'endlessly' defining terms. The claim, 'Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence' as it is usually asserted in this context is highly ambiguous since it involves biased and subjective notions about how 'extraordinary' a claim might be. What might seem 'extraordinary' or 'improbable' to the atheist will not necessarily seem 'extraordinary' or 'improbable' to the Christian. The materialist holds, at bottom, the presupposition that supernatural events do not occur, and thus will attach a far higher 'improbability' to the likelihood of such events than a Christian will.

So yes, given the vague and relative nature of 'extraordinary' in this context, it is wholly appropriate to expect some 'fleshing out' of the assertion 'Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence.'

Anonymous: If you don't think the bible asserts extraordinary claims (the word "extraordinary" by the way means "out of the ordinary" in case you don't know) that demand something a little more yammering away with abstract theories to back them up, then we're done.

Response: While this ignores the usually relative nature of the term 'extraordinary' when used in this context, this more simplified interpretation, 'Out of the ordinary claims require out of the ordinary evidence' seems absurd on its face. We accept many 'out of the ordinary' claims on the basis of relatively meagre evidence. Take the example of one of the first genetically modified plants, where researchers successfully transferred a gene from a firefly to tobacco plants. Tobacco plants were transgenically altered with the gene to make them bioluminescent, resulting in genetically modified tobacco capable of emitting a glow. This hitherto unknown, 'out of the ordinary' event was widely accepted at the time even though it had rather modest testimonial evidence in support. The problem isn't with accepting 'out of the ordinary' claims on the basis of 'out of the ordinary' or even modest evidence. The problem has to do with the rebel safeguarding their unbelief, setting up an arbitrary 'standard,' with ambiguous slogans such as, 'Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence' thrown out by the them as if they are a bulwark of 'truth,' when in reality they are suppressing the truth in unrighteousness, as is shown in abundance in this post.

DannyM said...

Anonymous: As far a "curtailing the language" I quote Thomas Paine: "Sometimes you have to be bold"-- people have put up with this nightmarish crap for centuries, and I today have to suffer under dumb laws influenced by your ilk, so I would hope that you wouldn't wilt with a little profanity.

Response: What has indiscipline and bad language to do with 'being bold'? What a strange citation in order to justify such actions! This is Puritan lad's blog, and you would do well to respect his wishes.

Finally, going back to 'probability,' we should note that 'probability' is seldom, if ever, weighed objectively by the atheist. The materialist presupposition that supernatural things do not exist (and thus supernatural events do not occur) is the lens through which all evidence and probability is viewed. The atheist's presuppositions cloud and distort the nature of evidence and even its categories.

Take, for example, the central claim of Christianity, the resurrection of Jesus Christ. Simplistic and wooden notions such as 'Dead people do not rise' and 'It is physically impossible for dead people to rise' are among the presuppositions for the materialist when coming to the evidence for the resurrection and 'weighing the probability' of its historicity. But not only are these statistical and physical 'probabilities of nature' pretty uncontroversial, they are ultimately irrelevant to the Christian claim. The Christian claim is not that Jesus rose from the dead *naturalistically*; the converse of the resurrection claim is not that people generally stay dead, but rather that *Jesus* stayed dead. Christians agree that the dead generally do not rise, and do not claim that some arbitrary figure in history spontaneously rose from the dead. What we do claim is that *Jesus* rose from the dead, according to God's purpose and plan in history. In order to evaluate the 'probability' of the resurrection one must look at the resurrection claim itself, not the *absence* of resurrection generally. 'Probability' here would have to involve abductive reasoning, or inference to the best explanation. Explaining the evidence we *do* have. It would also have to involve explaining the probability of having the evidence we have (prophecy and expectation; the empty tomb; the post-mortem appearances of Jesus; the origin of the disciples' belief in Jesus' resurrection; the purpose surrounding these events; the bible being the widest and best-attested document of antiquity) had the resurrection *not* occurred. Some might say it is 'extremely improbable,' even 'extraordinary,' that we should have the sort of evidence we have had the resurrection *not* occurred.

You see, beneath the vague and arbitrary mantra, 'Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence,' lies an unbeliever looking to confirm their unbelief. This is why the Christian presuppositionalist cannot in good conscience grant with the Christian evidentialist the assumption that the unbeliever can fairly evaluate the evidence and truthfully recognise its implications.

danny