Why Won’t God Heal Amputees? Because He Doesn’t Exist.

The most logical answer to why God won’t heal amputees is that either God doesn’t care or doesn’t exist. This would also explain the lack of miraculous healings for people with Lou Gehrig’s diseases, long-term quadriplegics, untreated AIDS patients and those with Parkinson’s disease, mental retardation, Down syndrome, and a host of other maladies.

Christian apologists offer different explanations to try to make sense of why bad things happen to good people. Among their explanations for why people who have lost limbs are never made whole by God (also detailed on the “Why Does God Hate Amputees?” website): healings for amputees aren’t part of God’s plan; the lord answers prayers by saying “No”; God needs to remain hidden, and regenerating a limb would display the Lord’s miraculous powers too openly; God has a special purpose for amputees—just the way they are; and God answers the prayers of amputees by having scientists develop artificial limbs.

These explanations remind me of my parents’ answers when I started to question whether Santa Claus was real. How does he get down our chimney when he’s so fat? He can squeeze himself down to fit. How can he deliver presents to every child in the whole entire world in one night? He moves faster than we can imagine. How big does his bag need to get to carry all the presents? It’s a magic, bottomless bag. How can he eat cookies and milk in so many homes? He just does. My parents’ valiant but ultimately weak explanations held off the truth for a year, but eventually, like all children, I had to face the truth.

—William Lobdell, Losing My Religion: How I Lost My Faith Reporting on Religion in America—and Found Unexpected Peace (2009), p. 210-211

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  • Michael D. Hafer

    A couple typos in this one, Daniel, but I still enjoyed it.

  • GeekGirl

    That always seems to be the case. The loving and forgiving God always allows suffering because he is mysterious and that’s the way he works and DON’T QUESTION IT!
    I used to get in so much trouble for asking why in catholic school.

    But, since you brought this up, there is a sort of mystery associated with this topic that I always thought was pretty wild, which is phantom limb pain. When I used to work downtown, there was a guy who worked around the corner from me who had lost both of this legs below the knee, and I remember him complaining that sometimes his ankles would just hurt. I always found that phenomenon fascinating.

  • Brian

    @ Michael: Really?! I don’t think he needs someone to point out typos. I just started reading this GREAT blog, and I couldn’t care less about typos!

    @ Daniel: THANK YOU for your blog and I DON’T CARE about typos!! However, I would LOVE to share your entries on my Facebook page, but don’t see that option. I’m not sure how complicated it was to add the Stumbe and Digg options, but there are buttons that allow the user to choose where to share it. Here is one: http://www.addtoany.com/

    @GeekGirl: I have heard of phantom limb pain. It is an odd phenomenon. I recall seeing a show about it once, and they were trying to treat it using mirrors. Somehow, using a mirror to show the reflection of your “good” leg, made your body think that the leg was there and eliminated the phantom pain.

    It is very interesting. From what I can understand, it is caused by your body or mind not “understanding” that your limb is gone.

    • Daniel Florien

      Actually I appreciate it when people point out typos — but it’s very helpful if they tell me what they are. ;)

      The digg/stumble options are on this page, under the entry. And you can share entries on your facebook page by going to your wall, choosing link, and then pasting the post url.

      • Michael

        You say “Among their explanations for why people who have lost limbs are never made WHO by God.” You also put the semicolon outside of the quote in ” ‘No’;” but I think that is actually standard in some places. In the third paragraph, you say “How does get down our chimney when he’s so fat?” missing the pronoun (should say “How does HE . . . “). “Whole entire” is also quite redundant, but maybe you are trying to give the impression of a young child asking his parents these questions?

        There are also some odd stylistic choices that make, for example, the first sentence a bit tough to read. And while the clauses in the second sentence ARE in fact all parallel, it is hard to see how without looking more closely.

        • Daniel Florien

          Well first it’s a quote by Lobdell, not me, and second, it pains me that you would rather use “whom” than the shorter, better “who” ;)

          • rA

            I think Michael meant that “who” should be “whole”, not that “who” should be “whom”.

            • Daniel Florien

              Ah. Probably should have read the “whole,” er, sentence instead of scanning. ;)

  • Durr Hurr

    This is essentially just an extension of the problem of evil (why is there suffering if God truly is all-powerful, all-knowing, and all-benevolent). The amputee version of it is a little easier to get across to everyday people than sophisticated philosophical arguments, though.

    The problem of evil is the single most damning evidence against the existence of the traditional Christian God (although it doesn’t rule out an evil God or a dumb God). I suppose that’s why the problem has never been satisfactorily answered even though it has been around for thousands of years…because there is no way to answer it. Evil exists, therefore God is evil, stupid, not all-powerful, or (most likely) simply doesn’t exist.

  • http://stupidstatus.posterous.com/i-want-a-miracle b

    Why doesn’t God heal amputees? Feed the hungry? Stop genocide? The list goes on and on. It’s amazing that so many people won’t stop to think about their religion.

    • http://www.vidlord.com VidLord

      The response I’ve seen is basically: well the length of our lives are nothing compared to eternity in heaven. How petty of you to complain about earthly pains and sufferings. They mean nothing in the big picture.

      • rA

        How petty of you to complain about earthly pains and sufferings.

        How arrogant of you to dismiss them.

        (I know you don’t, it’s just more forceful phrased as if that’s not a summary/quotation.)

  • shroōdur

    The Santa story is, unfortunately for believers, the quintessential analogy.

    When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish things. – 1 Corinthians 13:11

  • claidheamh mor

    Keep posting some of William Lobdell’s excerpts. I found out about his book when your site offered a prize of 5 of his signed books free, didn’t win one, read it later that summer, and think he writes very well, with a quality that hits home in the feelings.

    And I still remember dwade from Night of the Living Fundies saying that he witnessed God healing an amputee, but he didn’t have his camera. God is such a sneaky little shit!

  • http://faiththeory.wordpress.com Michael Honza

    I think this hypothesis can be supported under theism or atheism:
    Humans make choices that result in problems for themselves and others.

    • http://faiththeory.wordpress.com/ Michael Honza

      What I mean by this is that amputees suffer because of human choices.
      Humans are part of a created system, whether by a naturalistic process or a deity.
      When we chose to ignore the rules of the system we hurt either ourselves or others.

      For example: it would be pointless to “blame” gravity or god when we fall. We fall because of the choices that we make that led us to the situation which put us in the position of falling.

  • Eddie

    Wow … what a crazy argument … because a prayer isn’t answered it somehow proves God doesn’t exist. I called someone at home and they didn’t answer so it proves they aren’t home?? I’m blind and I’ve never seen the moon or stars so they don’t exist either… I’ve never seen a female, a bird, anything actually so really nothing exist. I’m deaf and cannot hear thunder so it doesn’t exist… your argument is the same … God doesn’t do something so He doesn’t exist … really are you that simple minded… AND are you willing to admit He does exist if/when a miracle occurs??? Uhmmm????

    • Custador

      Cite me an example of a real, proveable, recorded, undeniable miracle and we’ll talk.

    • http://Tryingto MattD

      You act as though your examples are untestable….that’s not the case though, is it? One can check to see if someones at home even if they don’t answer the phone, one can be blind but still be aware of things despite such a handicap. Your inability to see why this question exists is the problem here, not the rhetoric you use to avoid answering it.

  • http://christian-apologetics.tk Tim

    Many Christians do struggle to answer this question adequately, but I recently wrote an article that approaches this question in a way I don’t think many have brought forward. I would encourage you to check it out: http://christian-apologetics.tk/why-wont-god-heal-amputees/

    • http://fugodeus.com Nox

      So god doesn’t heal amputees because people don’t have enough faith? How is that a different approach from every other christian apologist?

      “The Atheist has likely never been witness to a miraculous healing or work of God, and when evidence is provided to him of one will often seek a scientific explanation.”

      If. Not when. No one has yet provided any actual evidence that any of these miraculous healings even occurred.

      “They then look to the miraculous things God didn’t do to prove he doesn’t exist, which is where this question comes in.”

      No. Christians make claims of an all knowing, all loving, all powerful god who goes around performing miracles and healing people. Critics of this view of christianity (not all of them atheists) point out that this god is inconsistent with observed reality. If god loves all people equally, why does he discriminate in favor of those who have better access to medicine? If god is all powerful, shouldn’t he be able to heal a missing limb as easily as a headache. That god does not answer prayers for impossible things is evidence that at least one version of god does not exist. That is where this question comes in.

      “Why not amputees? First I would say there are a couple well documented and reliable sources of that very thing actually taking place in history.”

      You forgot to mention your source for this claim.

      Overall, it is a pretty good illustration of the logic that leads people to believe in miracle claims. I’ll leave it to you and the individual reader to decide if that helps or hurts your case.

      • Sunny Day

        They always seem to leave the evidence for their claims in their other pair of pants. Weird, if the evidence was so overwhelming it would be kind of hard to forget, don’t you think?

    • trj

      The core of your argument is that God could heal amputees if he wanted to, but he won’t actually do it unless you believe in him hard enough. So we can forget about the usual “God loves you unconditionally” argument Christians like to casually throw around – God doesn’t work like that. He wants something in return, or he can’t be bothered. This omnibenevolent, omnipotent god seems strangely petty and miserly.

      According to you, Christians praying for healing of amputated limbs just don’t believe hard enough. You’re probably right that most Christians would have some reservations, and so won’t unconditionally expect a limb to grow back. However, many do not have such reservations. You can find plenty of stories about devout Christians praying for God to raise a dead family member, praying unreservedly with all their heart and soul and fully believing it to be possible. Of course, it never happens. And it’s the same with amputated limbs, which seems rather trivial in comparison to raising the dead. There must have been many Christians fully believing God would restore their limb, yet it has never happened.

      You might object that it’s up to God to make the final decision. Sometimes the answer is no, as Christians also like to say. Except in the case of amputees, it’s not sometimes no, it’s always no.

      • Len

        Saying “sometimes the answer is no” is not really fair. Because “no” is also an answer. It would be more accurate to say there’s never an actual answer, except for silence. Or maybe a real person doing something. But never any god.

        • dgtmantis

          Come on, guys! You know as well as I do that its just like Tim says: a cosmic carnival ‘feat of strength’ game, except instead of a bell at the top, theres a leg or arm. If you get enough ‘true christians’ with enough faith tickets to play, you can whack that mallet hard enough to win your appendage!

          Seriously though, I find it extremely disturbing that a christian would put this theory forward. Tim is basically admitting that God is some sort of faith accountant issuing miracles like a friggin IRS agent issues tax returns.

          Either your God is how you describe him; an utter vindictive prick. Or he is incapable of healing amputees.

    • Bill

      I can’t believe I clicked the link.

      I feel dumber for having read that.

      • Sunny Day

        I especially like the part where he not only blames the victim, but blames the victim’s friends and family and loved ones.