I often wind up finding atheist websites searching the internet. I found this one tonight.
It is thought provoking but I have my own feelings on the subject. I was wondering what others might think.
The reason I have mentioned this site is because it has a lot of good arguments and questions.
It also talks about things I commonly think about.
I must be honest. I find the struggle with faith to be overwhelming at times. Some times I want to throw in the towel.
If I had not experienced Christ personally then I would be an atheist today.
I was not searching for Christ, and I did not know much about him, but I felt him in the most profound way.
That is why I am a Christian. Even though it goes completely against my logic.
I have a family member with a congenital physical disability, and this has shaken her family's faith quite deeply. Some have gone on to deeper faith through that loss, and others may have let their pain harden them.
What occurs to me is that restoration of an arm or leg, a miracle such as Jesus might have performed, while deeply moving for the impaired him/herself, wouldn't necessarily translate as a basis of living faith for most others not already inclined to some sense of the supernatural - or even for the one healed, as we see in the gospel accounts. Jesus seemed to confront this often, where no matter how profound the overt healing, there was just increasing scepticism and accusation. IOW, "It is by the prince of demons that he casts out demons."
And there is the gospel account of the invalid healed in his heart after yearning to speak to Jesus. Reconciliation to God via forgiveness of sins seemed to be his primary concern, yet the Pharisees treated this healing as just a matter of empty, yet blasphemous words. Jesus confronted them on what was really the most difficult: a simple physical healing, or the humility it takes a man to seek forgiveness from God, and direct intimate contact with His Son who sees all, and who will not impose His will and violate human volition or what is most likely to nurture openings to faith that none of us see at the time, or ever understand very well.
Most doctors see miracles, but one doesn't see the AMA opening its own chapter of non-reductionistic medicine. People are touched by these profound events, but not always deeply or lastingly, as the nature of faith is a relationship, not a carnival-like demonstration of God's power.
I guess I think of Mother Teresa, who could have made many such complaints about God's apparent witholding of mercy in this way, but saw "Christ in the poorest of the the poor," consonant with His having told the disciples "The poor you will always have with you." He didn't base His ministry on miracles, and in fact predicted many miracle workers coming and going after His time on earth, but that this simply isn't the heart of His message.
And then there's Saint Paul lamenting his own wound, and wishing it were a thorn taken from him, yet for God this was an opening, a source of humility and a way for Paul to relate with others who suffered: a cornerstone of his ministry.
I know all these sound like rationalizations, and in some sense they are, but I would guess these atheists scramble for most anything that will keep them from doubting, as doubt is the one thing they can't dispel with real confidence. A Christian, otoh, may have doubts, but more along the lines of where he or she is in transforming relationship with God. As such, I find the atheist begging the question most of the time, and not necessarily because of care for the impaired, but often as a cheap excuse not to do any uncomfortable, existential searching - certainly a path that wouldn't be answered with miraculous demonstrations.
As such, miracles of this order are the lowest on the scale of potential virtue. It seems that most of those healed in this way by Jesus didn't end up following Him with any seriousness. They got what they wanted; whereas the the woman reaching for his robe was told "Your faith has made you well."
And, I suspect for those with a physical disability still in the anger stage of their grief, or stuck there for many years re: God, the receptivity to Him would be fairly weak, although I wouldn't expect a physical restoration of limbs to be forthcoming from any real faith conversion. If such a healing were the pre-condition of faith, the person might very well never arrive at a faith relationship. And with a faith relationship, the impairment becomes something else: still painful, but more like Paul's wound, which we all have.
Didn't Jesus say to His disciples the pain of human suffering was meant to demonstrate the power of God? He certainly showed this through miraculous healings, but I sense there was more to it than that, i.e, whatever tender nerve that could be touched in people that would open them to Him.
And lastly, it occurs to me:
If God is to heal amputees, why some and not all? If only some, or only one, where does that leave the rest in how they might view themselves, their condition, and the matter of faith which, from God's pov, has absolutely nothing to do with their physical condition? As such, could faith remain a gift worth hoping for?
w.c. makes a good start in responding to this point.
I note from the chapter the following:
That's a fallacious argument on several grounds:
1. A cancerous tumor is not even analogically similar to the loss of a body part. Rather, it is the body's own cells gone haywire.
2. Cures for cancer are not about restoring tissues, but destroying deformed, malignant ones.
3. God's intervention on cancer is usually "indirect" -- helping to restore a proper balance of mind, body and spirit to enable one's own immune system to destroy the tumor. It's difficult to see how this dynamic could restore an amputated limb.
As this point seems to be the author's primary "gotcha" against Christianity and faith healing, I won't bother reading much of the rest. It does point out the importance of not only having a strong faith, but good critical thinking skills and proper theological formation.
Consider that even in those people whose cancers or cured, and even if amputated limbs were restored, the fact of our mortality remains. The Christian message does not promise that we will have perfect bodies for our earthly sojourn, but that in our embodied state we can grow in relationship with God and experience the happiness that comes from knowing God's love. The author of this site seems to have little appreciation for this message, preferring instead to place all kinds of irrelevant conditions on its validity.
- Moving to theology forum, as I think the topic falls within that perspective.
Great posts, Phil and w.c. I think you're both right on target
C.S. Lewis said that the fact of suffering was the single best argumeny against the existence on God.
I believe that God has already healed everyone, and although I have experienced 13 years of chronic illness, I am going to get a new body, my tears will
be wiped away and the suffering of this present world is not worthy to be compared with the glory which will be revealed!!!
Joni had everything to live for at 17 and then she broke her neck...
This woman has had 40 years of tears, and that has made her perhaps the most effective outreach to the disabled anywhere. She has been a comfort to many!
Terri, thank you for the topic, mm <*)))))><
Thank you all for the replies.
I never really thought about that. Yes, Jesus did perform miracles and it often seemed that those that were healed went on their merry way. Often it seems he was being followed by many just to get cured.
I wonder if he ever grew weary of the fact that most sought after him just for this purpose. Though he did perform many miracles, it seems he was always stressing a more important message than that.
Even the apostles were performing miracles as they were spreading the word. Paul even bringing a dead man back to life. After the man fell asleep while he was preaching and fell out of a window! The point? I guess it would allude to the message being the important thing, and the miracles as sort of a secondary validation maybe?
I was thinking along the same lines.
Even though I found the main argument of the website to be shallow. I did feel a sense of something genuine in his feelings.
I read the whole website, and I came away from it feeling a little saddened. Especially the part where he was explaining death to his young daughter.
His example of Marilyn Hickey Ministries is a prime example of Protestant fundamentalism turning people off. In my opinion this form of evangelism has more of a negative effect on the public.
I don't see it as all that good for spreading Christianity. I think a great number of people, who might well other wise be close to turning towards Christianity, may in fact be repulsed by it.
The website also shows how a lot of Christians don't have a good theological formation before they go out spreading the word. Upon an encounter with an atheist, pulling out your Bible for back-up, is not going to win the argument or his heart.
I have found more and more of these types of websites popping up over the years. They also seem more organized as well. Also, a lot of atheist are grouping together and often go out "anti-evangelizing" their message.
There are other websites like, http://www.godhatesshrimp.com/ etc etc. They are more ridiculous and based on interpretations of Old Testament law. There is also another website I found called http://www.jewsforjudaism.org/ that is strongly anti-Christian, and is a response to Jews for Jesus.
I do often visit these sites for reasons I don't really know. I guess maybe because they are ways to validate my faith. Because if anybody can poke holes in it these people can. Then I often reflect on their message and try to see the alternative. Plus it gives me a better understanding of their point of view as well.
My mind it gear-box, Phil. The gears are always grinding.
I was glimpsing over some of your books and found a message on there from your wife. She said how you used to always be indulged in your thoughts. That after your Kundalini experiences you found a way to rest in your faith. I was wondering how that process worked for you. Did you find yourself questioning your faith a lot or were you more into questioning the theology? What was the process like to just be more accepting of how things are, and how to develop a deeper sense of faith?
I wish I could silence my mind more.
I know that this is a strong part of Christian theology. One of the strongest atheist messages is that Christians don't place a great deal of importance on this life.
In their mind this is the only life we will have. That we should make every moment count. Every second we are alive is precious.
I think that is a great way to live. Because life becomes so much more important this way. It makes the time we have here with our families all the more important. It also makes love seem stronger as well.
I understand the importance of the afterlife. I just happen to agree with the atheist view on this one. While some might take this to mean go out and pleasure yourself to the hearts content. I think a great deal of atheist embrace life instead. So I don't think they are bad people or anything.
Eric, I understand why people have problems with the way fundamentalist Christians explain things. What I wonder about is why they don't look around a bit more to learn what other branches of Christianity have to say. It's not like the fundamentalists are the only "game in town." Could it be that they're just too easy a target, or that they provide an easy out for people who have already decided to excuse themselves from the demands of the Gospel? That seems more likely to be the case, imo, as you can hardly consider some of the reflections posted on those web sites to be the fruit of a comprehensive search, much less a deep engagement with Christian thinkers.
- - -
btw, you asked in another thread about some of my books -- what's available, etc. See http://shalomplace.com/psrbks.html for more info.
Looking through the eyes of Spirit one only sees a perfect body. The loss of an arm or leg is only visible to the human eyes.
Many spiritual gifts and blessings come to amputees, compensating for the loss of their limbs. I remember seeing beautiful art work by an amputee who had lost both arms. He painted with a paint brush in his mouth. Some amputees are blessed with spiritual sight, an increased awareness of God's love and new found spiritual life, some dictate poetry and/ or a book, and others are a joy and blessing to their family and friends.
For everything God takes from us, He gives us something far greater in return.
This question intriques me. And although I think it�s already been sufficiently answered by many, one slant we could put on it is perhaps:
Two legs are a miracle. One leg is a miracle.
Personally, although my mind and emotional development isn�t all I would like it to be (to put it quite mildly), the capacity to love at all, even if in limited situations and limited amounts, is a miracle. I have an amputee brain. Others have an amputee body (figuratively or literally speaking�we may be disfigured in some way or not be up to Brad Pitt or Jennifer Aniston standards of physical beauty). The nature of being, quite literally, is to be less than a theoretically perfect being, aka "god". That is a logical necessity. And it�s also all a matter of perspective. The two-legged person, especially upon seeing how nimbly and swiftly horses can run and jump, ought to think of him or herself as a double amputee. Why not four legs?
I don�t know about miracles. I don�t know what is possible. But nature is the way the world works physically. Suffering and incompleteness are built in at the ground floor because this is not a hard-wired system. There is change and forming�and also deforming and reforming. It is a constant process. It is a free process, with all the enormous, often horrendous, implications of that. Other ways of doing things may not be so free�or just.
The real question behind the atheist critique is "Why are we not god?" Why should we have to settle for less than perfect�ever? Well, first off, if we were god then we probably logically couldn�t exist. If we had all the same attributes of god � all-knowing, all-powerful, etc., etc. � then we would be indistinguishable from god and thus would not have an independent existence of our own. So built into the very nature of any being who exists in addition to god is the nature of being less than god and that translates into things like legs not growing back on their own, through prayer or otherwise. It results in cancer, death by tsunami, genetic disfigurement, or getting run over by a bus.
The world where amputees always grow back limbs and nothing ever goes wrong is not, and probably can not be, a physical world like our own. And if such a condition ever did exist in our physical world, where limbs grew back on command (on our command, of course), then the logical outcome would be a world of absolutely no freedom, and scant little order or justice, since if someone else thought that their life was "amputated" in some way because of the existence of someone that they did not like, then they could just blink them out of existence. It would be a free-for-all that would make the squabbles between the gods on Mt. Olympus seem like a pillow fight. But such a system would still be subject to evolutionary dynamics, so those who did the blinking of others out of existence would tend to survive�until, of course, there was quickly only one person left, all the others having been blinked out of existence. Such god-like powers in our hands would lead to not just fewer legs, but ultimately no legs�or becoming completely enslaved by that one last god-like human who blinked non-god-like humans into existence just so he or she wasn�t alone. (He could blink other god-like humans into existence, but then the evolutionary process would take hold again until there was only one human left.)
So the real question is two part: "Why are we not god?" and "Why a physical world of constant change, forming, deforming, and reforming?" I don�t know, but I think it at least helps to get our questions right.
That may be the case. But you can also look at it this way. Turn on the tv and what do you see on the Christian channels? There are some real losers on tv. The average Joe might see this and think, �I want no part of that", and dismiss Christianity all together.
While these websites don't appear to be the "average Joes", they are trying to get their message out to Joe.
True Christianity is out there. You just have to find it. But for that, one must be a seeker. I think most people are just too lazy.
Just a thought.
That might be the ultimate question, Brad. We all want to be God in some way or another. From our perspective this is our life and our reality. We want to have full control of it. Unhappiness is the result of our reality not conforming to our disposition.
But the real beauty is that we have no control. That allows for so many possibilities that would not otherwise be possible.
Love blossoms when we allow others into our hearts. It is so much better when we try not to control it. If nobody made mistakes there would be no reason for forgiveness. Another way of relinquishing control. Compassion as well.
I never really thought about it. But there are so many virtues that would not even be possible or meaningful if our world was any other way.
Brad, it seems if one were to reflect on your question it would bring about a very enlightened way of thinking.
We might even discover what our meaning and purpose are in this crazy world if we keep asking ourselves, why we are not God.
We are not God because God is God. It brings us to other questions. What does me not being God mean for my existence here in general? Why do I want to be God (egotistically speaking)? What does me not being God do for God? etc etc.
Love blossoms when we allow others into our hearts.
Yes, I think you said a mouthful right there, Eric.
Thank you for the very thought provoking post. I agree with Phil that people who pose these sorts of questions do not understand the nature of God. God allows us to use our own assets and the miracles of our collective minds to heal ourselves. Unless a person is a genetic mutant, their human body was not made with the ability to regenerate lost limbs. We do however have the ability to create artificial limbs and may one day even have the knowledge to create an organic limb that responds to our nerve impulses. Prayer should not sound like "God do this for us", but rather, "God Thank you for giving us the devotion to excellence and the intelligence to find the knowledge that enables us to create artificial limbs for amputees. Help us to find the knowledge needed to make them better"
"In their mind (atheists minds) this is the only life we will have. That we should make every moment count. Every second we are alive is precious.
I think that is a great way to live. Because life becomes so much more important this way. It makes the time we have here with our families all the more important. It also makes love seem stronger as well.
I understand the importance of the afterlife. I just happen to agree with the atheist view on this one. While some might take this to mean go out and pleasure yourself to the hearts content. I think a great deal of atheist embrace life instead. So I don't think they are bad people or anything."
No, atheists are not bad people, they just have not yet experienced the joy and peace of God which make the passing pleasures of the gratification of desire seem minuscule in comparison. When you live with the knowledge that birth and death are illusion and the spirit is the true life, you are able to live each moment of your life in the fullest of love and joy without the fear of loss getting in the way. All of your relationships, including those with your family become that much more meaningful and fulfilling. Each moment of life is precious, but how much more precious it becomes when it is filled with the love, peace, and joy of God in your heart.
Live well, laugh often, love much,
What a good place in life you have found within your heart of love
Yes, I have also known atheists in my life who have led exceptional lives with honor and love toward their fellow human beings. My best friend, a Christian, is married to a man who is an atheist. Him being an atheist has caused her great sorrow, although this man has been such a good husband and father to their children.
I was reminiscing upon my childhood in Austria. I was a strange child and filled with the greatest joy. I saw no light and darkness then, only light and love for everyone. It took many years to return to this place of absolute joy which now again graces my life. The simple things have great meaning to me, just like then.
Peace is every step.
The shining red sun is my heart.
Each flower smiles with me.
How green, how fresh all that grows.
How cool the wind blows.
Peace is every step.
It turns the endless path to joy.
I love the Buddhist poem. Truth has many faces, but always the same expression. Thanks for sharing.
Jim,happy to have brought you joy with the poem
Miss more of your sharing with us.
Poem dedicated to a dahlia, flower
Standing quietly by the fence
you smile your wondrous smile.
I am speechless, and my senses are filled
by the sound of your beautiful song,
beginningless and endless,
I bow deeply to you.
"All praise to the God and Father of our Master, Jesus the Messiah! Father of all mercy! God of all healing counsel! He comes alongside us when we go through hard times, and before you know it, He brings us alongside someone else who is going through hard times so that we can be there for that person just as God was there for us."
(2 Corinthians 1:3-4, The Message)
I just read the article and this thread. The main thesis of the article, "Why doesn't God heal amputees?" is stated in the conclusion:
"...God is imaginary. If we were in a court of law looking at this question, the judge would quickly rule that God is imaginary. There is no concrete evidence that God is real and lots of evidence that he is imaginary."
I'd like to respond to this theme by admitting first that I'm more or less persuaded by argument of the article with respect to the situation of people without limbs: I would not pray for restoration of a limb because I think I would be indulging a wish-dream, and as such, a false view of God. But the article overextends it's reach with the further assertion that therefore God is not real.
The true God gave us imaginations and empowers us with discernment to learn to use imagination wisely. Here is an example, one strand of my journey with imagination.
As a child, I had an imaginary friend named Shem who kept me company after lights were out and I was lying in bed awake. As I recall, Shem and I were close until one night I was thirsty and I asked him to get me a glass of water. You can guess what happened: Nothing! At that point, I stopped talking to Shem.
The silence went on for decades until sometime last year, for a brief span, I started sharing with Shem again. This time, I didn't ask him to do anything but witness. I shared, he witnessed with a sort of Rogerian unconditional acceptance. And it turned out to be a comfort. I readily admitted to myself that Shem was imaginary. Nevertheless, when I thought of him, it helped me detach from my particular suffering. Shem was a made-up name for my own real, God-given capacity to witness my situation, including my pain and my physical limitations, with acceptance and even affirmation, so that with Paul I can say, "my stength is in weakness."
|Powered by Social Strata|