Wednesday, August 8, 2007

God Must Hate Amputees

While out surfing the web I ran across this great web site that asks the question "Why Won't God Heal Amputees?" I know, it sounds ridiculous but take the time to follow the link and read the material on the web site. It is a reasoned and well-written piece that takes Christian preachers and the Bible at their word.

Basically, the gist of the piece is this: if God answers prayers (Matthew 17:20, Mark 11:24, and more) and can do anything why are there no amputees claiming that God grew them a new arm or leg? The author talks about Christian claims where supposedly God's interceded to cure a tumor and such, but such claims, though extraordinary are actually common. But have you ever seen someone who re-grew an appendage? If God is working his mojo out there to cure tumors then surely he is re-growing legs somewhere...

or, in the case of those less needy praying Christians, maybe growing hair on a bald guy somewhere or erasing that regrettable tattoo above that new Mom's ass? But then again, I guess we can turn to science (Minoxidil and lasers) for that stuff!



C'mon, csm, God is so busy growing lizards tails back on he doesn't have time to help us humans. I hear he starts with the oldest living species and works his way to the youngest. Wait a minute, that would mean the world is not just a few thousand years old. Shit, I'll have to get back to you, csm, after I recheck my facts with the "Good Book".

lou said...

Following up with an additional archetypical argument we can question “Why doesn’t God feed all the hungry children in Africa?” It is probable God would ask the same thing of us. It could be Americans abhor the hungry and perceive them as an inconvenience.

I would think most atheist have moved past the “Why doesn’t God fix everything arguments”. If God does subsist why would he be required to do anything we ask? I stand convinced we do little of what he would necessitate.

Here is another good one “What is the rationale for the subsistence of a platypus?”

csm said...

The argument, lou, is that the book revered by Christians tells them to pray and god will answer their prayers. The amputee prays, and no god answers. So either god does not exist or the bible is full of lies. There is no other option.

lou said...

"So either god does not exist or the bible is full of lies. There is no other option."

There is one other. It is somewhat feasible you misinterpret the Bible. Christians I recognize have never maintained or even come to expect God to do everything they request. Would God’s number one objective be healing the ailing if there is a better tomorrow waiting? A number of historical Biblical individuals were not healed even after requests were made. A cursory glance at a passage here and there offers little true insight. I have never been one to buy into the rhetoric of these television evangelism healing prophets. This God is not a Santa Claus nor would he be a part of a three ring circus.

If there is a God one thing I would anticipate is that he would not reason or retort in the ways of human beings.

csm said...

Mark 11:24 Therefore I say unto you, What things soever ye desire, when ye pray, believe that ye receive them, and ye shall have them.

Legless Larry said...

I guess I just didn't believe, huh, lou?

derF said...

Tell me, lou, which mythological Biblical individuals were not healed, even after properly petitioning Big Daddy in the sky?

lou said...


I’m not a Bible scholar, but I am acquainted with well respected colleagues who are Christians and understand the Bible reasonably well. If you truly desire to understand the context and meaning of the passages as Christians view it, I feel assured you have the resources.
In the meantime, I would imagine the Bible could manifest itself much in the way you have evolution? It is self correcting over time?

It may perhaps go something like this. Well, God didn’t heal when I prayed therefore the passage must have much deeper meaning beyond the superficial. Walla, it corrected itself. I am observing more and more that Atheist and Christians are quite comparable in a number of ways.

For derF, try Paul although I cannot comment on his mythological status.

csm said...

On the other hand, everything you just said could be utter and complete bullshit. Yes, I like that analysis.

You see, if a god did exist, wouldn't his word would be understandable to the people he supposedly loved without having to go thru scholars to understand it (or should I say, twist it and turn it into something it is not)? I mean, this dude supposedly knows everything and can do anything, so wouldn't his book be clear and easy to understand? And if not, wouldn't he just correct it? If none of that is true and he still exists he ain't worth worshipping.

derF said...

lou, if you cannot comment on the mythological nature of Paul's biblical/papal representation, can you think of another example? I find this an interesting perspective for a self-proclaimed ‘agnostic’ to assume. It must provide you with some unique insights. I’m curious, when you approach the ontological question of origins in this fashion, does it help to have a couple shots of Kool Aid before swallowing such disreputable sources as whole cloth?

csm said...

I have my doubts that old lou is actually an agnostic. He seems a lot like our old "friend" fcc to me.

lou said...

It would appear the problem here is the distinction between respect and personal beliefs. Yes, I do realize such a distinction may appear unfamiliar to many but to be sure it is achievable. To take it a step further, I can even endeavor to see where others are coming from to attain their set of beliefs. Agnosticism comprises not knowing if God subsists nor if it is even possible to recognize if he does subsists. I have yet to see where the disparaging those who hold to different worldviews is a stipulation for agnostics. Friendships are too valuable for such folly.

derF, I have no clue where Paul and the papacy fit in with your remarks. I can only ascertain to have a RC background and if that postulation is spot on you may want to look into Peter as you papacy lineage. My only mention to Paul was to the constant medical condition he had petition god to take away in his writings.

I will be in the UK for the next two semesters on assignment. CSM, I wish you well with your new blog.

csm said...

Thanks lou, and good luck in the UK. The only challenge I faced on my several trips to the UK was the cuisine. Great fish n' chips... and I kinda like beans for breakfast... but bangers & mash, not so much!

As far as your comment about disparaging those with other beliefs goes, believe it or not, I do agree with you. But pointing out why one does not agree with such beliefs themself is not disparaging those beliefs. Hence the amputee web site, which is well-written and makes valid points. Furthermore, I would point out that you earlier (on a different thread) disparaged me by insinuating that I had a vendetta against anyone who didn't "believe" as I do... which is rather disparaging, is it not?

derF said...

lou, I find the prospect of allowing you to define Agnosticism untenable. Therefore I have looked to a dictionary definition for insight. That definition follows: the view that God’s existence is unprovable: the belief that it is impossible to know whether or not God exists. To proceed with such an examination honestly, one must first be prepared to forego the reassuring comfort provided by an assumed ‘Big Daddy in the Sky’ and proceed from there with empirical data. (Bye-the-way, it is a question of EXISTANCE not subsistence. Subsistence is something a living entity is capable of. I doubt that it can even be an attribute, within an orthodox perspective, of an omnipotent, omnipresent and omniscient being.)

With regards to you lauded Peter and Paul, I think before you can ascribe any sort of historical significance to the biblical and papal representation one must first be prepared to examine its source. The church that provided you with a significant part of your formative ‘knowledge’ is an entity whose inception was conditioned on the acceptance of an imperial perception. All of its other manifestations proceed from that point. That includes the editing of biblical texts as well as the construction and projection of key NT figures. So… the whole of the metaphysical origins which you, as an individual, proceed from is cloaked in the official recognition of first; the RC church and conditionally; an imperial perception.

To be truthful with you, lou, I find sum of your writings to be grossly dishonest. As I am not graced with an ability read, on first sight, the intentions of others, I must bide my time and wait for patterns to reveal themselves. You have presented yourself to me often enough that a pattern of thought has become very clear.

Heathen said...

I thought this lou fuck said he was an agnostic? He sure writes like a blown-away xtian.

Ceroill said...

Here's a fun article in the current online Slate:

Here I will paste the text of the article, for those who don't want to past together the link:

God's Still DeadMark Lilla doesn't give us enough credit for shaking off the divine.
By Christopher Hitchens
Posted Monday, Aug. 20, 2007, at 11:06 AM ET

Those of us in the fast-growing atheist community who have long suspected that there is a change in the zeitgeist concerning "faith" can take some encouragement from the decision of the New York Times Magazine to feature professor Mark Lilla on the cover of the Aug. 19 edition. But we also, on reading the extremely lucid extract from his new book, The Stillborn God: Religion, Politics, and the Modern West, are expected to take some harsh punishment. Briefly stated, the Lilla thesis is as follows:

* The notion of a "separation" of church and state comes from a unique historical contingency of desperate and destructive warfare between discrepant Christian sects, which led Thomas Hobbes to propose a historical compromise in the pages of his 17th-century masterpiece Leviathan. There is no general reason why Hobbes' proposal will work at all times or in all places.
* Human beings are pattern-seeking animals who will prefer even a bad theory or a conspiracy theory to no theory at all, and they are thus (in an excellent term derived by Lilla from Jean-Jacques Rousseau) by nature "theotropic," or inclined toward religion.
* That instinct being stronger than any discrete historical moment, it is idle to imagine that mere scientific or material progress will abolish the worshipping impulse.
* Liberalism is especially implicated in this problem, because the desire for a better world very often takes a religious form, and thus it is wishful to identify "belief" with the old forces of reaction, because it will also underpin utopian or messianic or other social-engineering fantasies.

Taken separately, all these points are valid in and of themselves. Examined more closely, they do not cohere as well as all that. In the first place, it is not correct to say that modernism relied on a conviction about the steady disappearance of religious belief. Karl Marx and Sigmund Freud, to take two very salient examples, looked upon religion as virtually ineradicable—the former precisely because he did identify it with secular yearnings that would be hard to satisfy, and the latter because he thought it originated in our oldest mistake, which was (and is) wishful thinking.

In the second place, it is interesting to find Lilla conceding—though not in so many words—that religion is closely related to the totalitarian. As he phrases it when writing about Orthodox Jewish and Islamic law (and as was no less the case for Christianity in its pre-Hobbesian heyday), divine or revealed teaching is "meant to cover the whole of life, not some arbitrarily demarcated private sphere, and its legal system has few theological resources for establishing the independence of politics from detailed divine commands." How true. Now, there is one thing one can say with relative certainty about the totalitarian principle, which is that it has been repeatedly tried and has repeatedly failed. Try and run a society out of the teachings of one holy book, and you will end with every kind of ignominy and collapse. There is no reason at all to confine this grim lesson to the Christians who were butchering each other between the Thirty Years' War and the English Civil War; even the Jews who established the state of Israel and the Muslims who set up Pakistan understood the importance of some considerable secular latitude (as did the Hindus who were the majority in independent India). In other words, while it may be innate in people to be "theotropic," it is also quite easy for them to understand that religion is a very potent and dangerous toxin. Never mind for now what Islamist fundamentalism might want to do to us; take a look at what it did to the Muslims of Afghanistan.

So, when Lilla says that the American experiment (in confessional pluralism and constitutional secularism) is "utterly exceptional," he forgets that there had to be many dress rehearsals for this and that only a uniquely favorable opportunity was the really "exceptional" condition. Men like Thomas Jefferson and Thomas Paine had been eagerly studying the secular and agnostic and atheist thinkers of the past and present, from Democritus to Hume, and hoping only for a chance to put their principles into action. There are many minds in today's Muslim world who have, by equally scrupulous and hazardous inquiry, come to the same conclusion. It is repression as much as circumambient culture that prevents the expression of the idea (as it did for many, many, Christian and Western centuries).

Lilla's most brilliant point concerns the awful pitfalls of what he does not call "liberation theology." Leaving this stupid and oxymoronic term to one side, and calling it by its true name of "liberal theology" instead, he reminds us that the eager reformist Jews and Protestants of 19th-century Germany mutated into the cheerleaders of Kaiser Wilhelm's Reich, which they identified—as had Max Weber—with history incarnate. Lilla might have added, for an ecumenical touch, that Kaiser Wilhelm, in launching the calamitous World War I, was also the ally and patron of the great jihad proclaimed by his Ottoman Turkish subordinates. So, could we hear a little less from the apologists of religion about how "secular" regimes can be just as bad as theocratic ones? Of course they can—if they indulge in acts of faith and see themselves as possessing supernatural authority.

Lilla goes on to cite the many liberal religious figures who became apologists for Nazism and Stalinism, and I think he is again correct to stress the Jewish and Protestant element here, if only because most of the odium has rightly fallen until now on the repulsive role played by the Vatican. So, what is he really saying? That religion is no more than a projection of man's wish to be a slave and a fool and of his related fear of too much knowledge or too much freedom. Well, we didn't even need Hobbes (who wanted to replace a divine with a man-made dictator) to tell us that. To regret that we cannot be done with superstition is no more than to regret that we have a common ancestry with apes and plants and fish. But millimetrical progress has been made even so, and it is measurable precisely to the degree that we cease to believe ourselves the objects of a divine (and here's the totalitarian element again) "plan." Shaking off the fantastic illusion that we are the objective of the Big Bang or the process of evolution is something that any educated human can now do. This was not quite the case in previous centuries or even decades, and I do not think that Lilla has credited us with such slight advances as we have been able to make.