Skip to comments.Atheism and Amputation - (A new obsession of anti-Christian atheism)
Posted on 11/30/2007 7:51:42 AM PST by xzins
A national weekly news magazine recently featured a debate between atheist/author Sam Harris and author/pastor Rick Warren ("The Purpose Driven Life"). As part of his debate, Mr. Harris threw down a challenge to prove God's existence by finding a deserving amputee and having 1 billion people pray for God to grow the leg back. In trying to disprove the existence of God, it's unclear why Mr. Harris chooses to focus on amputees growing limbs back rather than looking for a sea to split open or fish and loaves to multiply, and it's equally unclear why Harris specifically asked that it be a "leg" amputee versus an "arm" amputee. Nevertheless, that was the challenge.
A few weeks ago, C-Span featured a speech given at the annual meeting for American Atheists by a former "Saturday Night Live" actress. This group gave her a standing ovation and even presented her with a special plaque to honor her courage as an "atheist celebrity." The actress joked, "There is evidence for God, just not very good evidence." The audience was shown patting themselves on the back, laughing, applauding and apparently reveling in their ability to declare, "There is no God." Days later, on CBS' "Sunday Morning," the same group was featured, along with the same actress, again celebrating the "joys of atheism." Once more, the interview brought up the "amputee challenge" of Mr. Harris.
My wife of 21 years, Gracie, is a double-amputee (both legs), and our organization, Standing With Hope, is, to our knowledge, the only evangelical prosthetic limb outreach in the world. We travel to West Africa and work with the government of Ghana to train and equip their workers on building high-quality prosthetic legs. Gracie's definition of high quality is summed up in her statement, "I will not place a leg on someone that I am not willing to wear myself." It is hoped that Mr. Harris will agree that Gracie, who has undergone 70 operations and still finds the will and ability to help others struggling with limb loss, is a suitable "deserving" candidate for his challenge.
Atheists seem to insinuate that the ministry and comfort my family depends on, and shares with individuals across the country and overseas, is misguided and only a mirage. It is interesting to note that this group seems to take greater issue with the God of the Bible and Christian faith than with other world religions. They don't seem to put the Muslim faith to the test with the same sarcasm they save for Christianity.
According to this group, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Joseph, Moses, King David, Elijah, John the Baptist and Jesus were deceived at best, or liars at worst. Of Jesus' remaining 11 disciples, 10 of them, and eventually the Apostle Paul, were tortured, beaten and died horrible deaths, without ever renouncing the resurrection. There are Islamic extremists who allow themselves to be killed, but they believe in their cause. The disciples were in a position to know whether or not Jesus actually rose from the dead.
His crucifixion is a matter of history (so is His resurrection). One simple question for atheist is: If Jesus did not rise from the dead, then why did the disciples allow themselves to be killed so horribly?
Conspirators at Enron wouldn't even face jail time without turning on each other. Michael Vick is going to jail because his friends turned on him over a dog-fighting ring. I have never heard of anyone willingly enduring torture or execution for a lie they perpetuated. If one of the disciples recanted, maybe history would have a case. But they all went to their deaths (skinned alive, crucifixion, sawn in two, beheaded) praising Jesus Christ. According to American Atheists, all of those disciples were wrong.
These atheists seem to suggest that they are more enlightened than every rabbi, pope, priest, Martin Luther, the Founding Fathers, Isaac Newton, John Milton, Billy Graham, C. S. Lewis, John F. Kennedy, Jimmy Carter, Ronald Reagan, Margaret Thatcher, Dr. Martin Luther King, Queen Elizabeth and billions of others. One prominent atheist went a step further to suggest that if Mother Teresa had been an atheist, her deeds would have been "more noble," since she wouldn't have been doing them with the thought of an afterlife as a reward. (You can't make this up; this is actually what they are saying.)
It appears atheists can claim an exhaustive investigation into the entire universe that leaves them with the overwhelming evidence that ...we are here by random chance. There are forests and whole stretches of land across the United States that haven't been totally explored, but atheist can lay back the entire cosmos with complete conviction that since a deserving amputee didn't grow a leg back, then, therefore, no deity exists.
To the atheists so concerned about amputees, it is difficult to understand why a good and loving God hasn't made Gracie's legs grow back.
That difficulty in understanding seemed to be part of the platform that led American Atheists to applaud an actress for having the courage to proclaim her conviction that "God doesn't exist." But while atheists applaud mocking comments about people of faith, amputees in Ghana are walking, going to school and taking care of their families all because Gracie's courage as an amputee to proclaim her conviction that, "All things work together for good to those who love God and are called according to His purpose" (Romans 8:28).
Peter Rosenberger is the president of Standing With Hope Inc., which is the non-profit prosthetic outreach he and his wife, Gracie, founded in 2002. Peter has been a public speaker for many years on such topics as health care, marriage and family issues, and evangelism. Peter and Gracie, along with their two sons, have been the subject of numerous media interviews and features including People magazine, the "Today" show, Headline News, TBN and the Associated Press
Actually, he isn't looking for just a "healing." What he wants is a NEW LIMB REGROWN where an old appendage had been before. I'm not real sure why the restoration of a severed limb does not qualify, but he insists that a "healing" God would also be able to "grow" a new limb.
There are stories of restored body parts.
The first is Jesus restoring the soldier's severed ear in the garden of Gethsemene. My relative rejected that as not "regrowing a new ear." I'm not sure why healing a severed ear with an entirely new ear is necessary, but those apparently are the ground rules for this current athist obsession.
There is the story of St Winifred, but it, too, is restorative rather than regrowth.
St. Winifred Feastday: November 3 According to legend, she was the daughter of a wealthy resident of Tegeingl, Flintshire, Wales, and the sister of St. Beuno. She was most impressed by Beuno, was supposedly beheaded on June 22 by one Caradog when she refused to submit to him, had her head restored by Beuno, and sometime later, became a nun of the convent of a double monastery at Gwytherin in Denbigshire. She succeeded an Abbess Tenoy, as Abbess and died there fifteen years after her miraculous restoration to life. A spring supposedly springing up where Winifred's head fell, is called Holy Well or St. Winifred's Well and became a great pilgrimage center where many cures have been reported over the centuries. She is also known as Gwenfrewi. Her feast day is November 3.
Raising Lazarus from the dead doesn't count. Healing the blind doesn't count. Healing anything doesn't count.
All that counts is "regrowth."
That got me to thinking about the perfect healing of Lepers by Jesus. These had to go show themselves to the priest. They were declared clean.
Since lepers have their appendages fall off entirely irretrievable, and since these were declared entirely "clean" by the priest, does it make sense to see a "regrowth" in these healings.
I think so, but, of course, I cannot prove it. It is rational, though.
This author suggests artificial limbs as an answer to the amputation-obsessed anti-Christian variety of atheists. (Isn't that the only variety....if WE didn't exist, they would go out of business. :>)
I see his point, and I agree with him. These folks won't accept that, though. I know my relative would argue against it.
They want an appendage regrown and they're sticking with it.
Pretty much missed the point right there, didn't he?
bizarre — I agree. It is an odd obsession to want an appendage regrown.
Actually, I meant that atheists are bizarre, and this story is a vivid illustration of it. :)
He certainly did miss the point. I wonder at a pastor wallowing after pearls with swine, but I guess we've got to rationally present the faith to those who don't believe, even if only every now and then.
Those who come to faith are enlightened by the Lord. I think that's what Jesus meant when He said, "Don't cast your pearls before swine."
It's obvious that some have not yet been touched by the Holy Spirit. And some of them will always resist.
This is equivalent to a 16 year old brat telling his parents, who have provided everything for him, that unless they buy him a new Corvette they don’t love him. Tis the same with these “atheists” and God. Just as the brat does not see that his parents love is the greatest gift, but focuses on the material, so do these people.
Truth is, if an amputee did grow a limb back, they would not accept it as a sign from God, but just a scientific oddity.
Thanks. I did understand your point about atheists being bizarre. I was just adding some thoughts.
“Actually, he isn’t looking for just a “healing.”
Luke 16:24-, “And he cried and said, Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus, that he may dip the tip of his finger in water, and cool my tongue; for I am tormented in this flame....Then he said, I pray thee therefore, father, that thou wouldest send him to my father’s house: For I have five brethren; that he may testify unto them, lest they also come into this place of torment. Abraham saith unto him, They have Moses and the prophets; let them hear them. And he said, Nay, father Abraham: but if one went unto them from the dead, they will repent. And he said unto him, If they hear not Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded, though one rose from the dead.”
Saint Padre Pio and the healing of Giovanni Savino
That is such a great insight, sample.
Wasn't that Abraham's response to the rich man....something like "Even if one came back from the dead, they still wouldn't believe."
Excellent point, b-d
Calling for redemption, in a way.
See #8 and #12. You and sample man are on the same page.
can you provide a link?
Do not tempt the Lord your God.
This fellow is heading for a warm eternity.
A snowball free zone! :>)
note: Bernard Ruffin is a Lutheran minister who was initially very skeptical of Padre Pio The eye reappears More astounding still may be the thoroughly-documented cure of a construction worker named Giovanni Savino, who was severely injured on February 15, 1949, in a dynamite mishap. When Dr. Guglielmo San- guinetti, a physican, and Padre Raffaele, another Capuchin, and Father Dominic Meyer rushed to the injured man's side, all three men noted that among Savino's numerous injuries, his right eye was gone entirely. They agreed that 'the socket was empty', reports biographer Bernard Ruffin. Other doctors confirmed that the eye was completely annihilated and the other one badly damaged. It looked like Savino was also going to be totally blind. For three days, the worker lay on a hospital bed with his head and face bandaged. When a surgeon entered the room three days later, Savino reported that Padre Pio had visited him something Savino recognized because he had detected the beautiful aroma so often reported around the priest. A week later, at about one a.m. on February 25, 1949, Savino felt a slap on the right side of his face the side where the eye was completely gone. I asked, 'Who touched me?' testified Savino. There was nobody. Again I smelled the aroma of Padre Pio. It was beautiful. When later the ophthalmologist an atheist came to examine the remaining eye, there was a shock. To their amazement, writes Ruffin, the doctors found that his shattered face was fully healed and covered with new skin. Savino, however, was most delighted at the fact that he could see. 'I can see you!' he said excitedly to the eye specialist. And indeed, as is medically documented, the doctor saw, to his utter astonishment, that Savino had his right eye back. Somehow, the eye had materialized. (Now I believe too, exclaimed the doctor, because of what my own hands have touched!) As Ruffin notes, it's one thing when diseases disappear; this is exciting. It's tremendous to hear of diabetes or arthritis or even cancer leaving a person. For a missing part of the body to be restored, however, is another matter, noted the expert biographer.
Planting seeds. When speaking to some “that Christian made more sense than I thought he would” is a victory.
Don’t mean to sound childish here but...........if Christians work to help amputees get and use artificial limbs so that they can walk, isn’t that somehow, in some way the same thing as God restoring the ability to walk to the amputee, except that he’s working indirectly through those who love Him?
If it is, then how many people have the Atheists helped to walk again?
It is the same as providing food, clothing, shelter.
As an act based on our natural abilties or abundance, it is an act that’s open to many.
What is unique about such love is the Christian Church’s 2000 year history of the same.
Many credit the idea of hospitals to the Christian Church.
Best not to reject any victory that crosses our path
I saw Jerry Falwell when I was decidedly not a Christian in front of a largely hostile college crowd in the 80’s. Main impression I came away with was that he was a very bright man to handle the questions that were thrown at him in the way he did. At the time, I didn’t understand the power that a fully formed Christian world view gives . . . the ability to put any issue through the lens of faith and Biblical knowledge and arrive at a consistent response and a confident response.
Well, any issue related to faith and morals anyway . . .
Good thoughts. We need to put this new atheist obsession through that Christian worldview lens, too.
This thread is doing a good job of that so far.
I guarantee that if the author’s wife were to appear on worldwide TV and her legs were to suddenly become whole the atheists of the world would deny that God had anything to do with it. They would most likely become enraged at such an affront to their “truth”.
Atheists have no knowledge of God. They make no effort to determine if He exists for the simple reason that in their cramped universe there is no God - never has been and never will be. This is a certainty arrived at by no effort to determine its validity. It is an utterly unscientific superstition. They make their ignorance the criterion for truth.
May God bless the author of this piece, his wife and the organization they work with for the sake of others.
You know they’d find another reason besides God for a limb that regrew.
Such arguments are childish, but I am amazed that atheists can seriously advance them. I advance the statement : If God were all good and all powerful, then he would restore Eden. And he will. There will be a new heavens and a new earth, and we shall all be witnesses of it. I shall never forget a scene in a movie, “The Robe,” in which a crippled woman, played by Betta St. John, is heard singing beautifuly by the hero, played by Richard Burton. And they have the most edifying conversation, played with great understatement by both actors. With great serenity she recounts her encounter with Jesus, he notes that she is still crippled. She responds that he had indeed healed her. Before bitterness ate at her heart; she was being devoured by it. But he knew what she needed and he gave it to her. Now she plays her role, singing of God’s mercy to those who would listen. I would invite these “freethinkers” really to open their minds and hearts, upstop their ears and listen. But they have to be still to hear.
Aethists and non-believers are simply decieved by the great deciever. The Bible says The Word is gibberish to them.
They do not understand that we aren’t in the Old Testament times when miracles occured. We are in the period known as the era of Grace. God doesn’t perform obvious miracles, but we don’t have to sacrifice a lamb everyday either, thanks to Jesus the Son!
“And while the crowds were thickly gathered together, He began to say, This is an evil generation. It seeks a sign, and no sign will be given to it except the sign of Jonah the prophet.”
I do not think it is any better today!!
Probably Harris is quite aware of the futility of such an expectation. So he feels "safe" in demanding it as "proof."
You cannot reason with unreasonable people.
“Seek a sign” and “command performance”
BB & TC are on the same page. I agree with them.
However, there also is anecdote/evidence of God restoring non-existing things. I do think we should assume it in the healing of lepers, in particular. Lepers tend to lose appendages as part of the disease.
There is a post above about the regrowth of an eye.
A God who can create fish and loaves out of nothing, and a universe by command, can do anything.
But, as both of you point out, God is not inclined to perform at the behest of the skeptical. In fact, that tended to disinterest Jesus. We’re told He “marveled at their unbelief.”
God is not mocked.
The wicked shall be cast into hell and all the nations that mock God.
Malcolm Muggeridge once said that atheists are the only people who seem to have no doubts whatsoever about their beliefs (which he dubbed "an absurd certitude"). This seems strange at first, but when you consider that if they are right they'll never get to crow about it you can't blame them for doing their crowing now.
One prominent atheist went a step further to suggest that if Mother Teresa had been an atheist, her deeds would have been "more noble," since she wouldn't have been doing them with the thought of an afterlife as a reward. (You can't make this up; this is actually what they are saying.)
Such challenges declare a hatred of God, not a disbelief. People that dont believe in things do not organize and rant, they simply dont believe.
To me this is the only logical reason for the crusading moralism of people whose beliefs logically do not support any acts of altruism whatsoever (calling Ayn Rand!). They should be out under a warm sun enjoying the breeze and touching themselves until they die of old age. Instead they're trying to save the universe, the earth, "the children," and every single one of us. This psychotic compulsion to be "more moral than G-d" can only come from their pathological hatred of Him.
And I agree that atheists don't attack all religions. Despite their loud and intentionally obnoxious declarations about the non-existence (or injustice) of G-d they have always allied themselves with "religious minorities." The Jewish experience has been most often invoked, to Israel's shame (even while the Jewish Bible was ridiculed, perhaps out of a provincial ignorance that the Bible is a Jewish book), but now head-chopping moslems and chicken slaughtering santeria practitioners "benefit" from atheist "protection". Then of course "Blacks and Hispanics," though Fundamentalist Protestants and Counter-Reformation Catholics in that order, have also been celebrated as "victims" rather than practitioners of religion. Even the "rightwing" Randian atheists here at FR foam at the mouth in defense of other religions even as they attack "religion."
Their is more spite and rebellion than intellectuality in all this.
And it came to pass, when Jesus finished these similes, he removed thence, and having come to his own country, he was teaching them in their synagogue, so that they were astonished, and were saying, 'Whence to this one this wisdom and the mighty works? is not this the carpenter's son? is not his mother called Mary, and his brethren James, and Joses, and Simon, and Judas? and his sisters -- are they not all with us? whence, then, to this one all these?' and they were stumbled at him. And Jesus said to them, 'A prophet is not without honor except in his own country, and in his own house:' and he did not there many mighty works, because of their unbelief. [ Young's literal translation ]
The current tactic to substantiate the fundamentals of Christian morality as being natural and evolutionary (factually rubbish) is interesting in that it is in a way exactly what Lucifer did. Lucifer certainly believed in God, he just didn’t want to be subordinate to God. These “atheists” now lay claim to Heaven, they just don’t want God in it.
And how true it is that false religions do not bother them at all. In fact, they support them as being examples of culture.
Lack of faith is something that Jesus tried to help with.
A refusal to have faith was something He frowned on.
I like the line from Sample about atheists wanting heaven...they just don’t want God in it. I agree that it is the sin of Lucifer.
These people are worshipping themselves. Those who worship the “created thing rather than the creator” have this odd tendency toward homosexuality. Psychologists even tell us that homosexuality is all about narcissism, arrested development and self-love. In short, worshipping themselves, they came to value nothing more than the pleasure they could give themselves.
The heaven they actually have is just a sensualism of sex, food, materialism, etc. That is the only pleasure they can give themselves.
Dig deep into any committed atheist’s life, and I’m betting you’ll be finding a lot of “touching themselves” as one of you so ably said. That would make Lucifer the ultimate homosexual. Perhaps there’s insight here about why the bible calls this sin an abomination.
Atheists don’t want to acknowledge that any action can be based on love and kindness derived from God, the ultimate Source of goodness. They want to think we’re all amoebas with a sense of overweening delusion.
God sometimes uses other people to carry out His will. I know I have been dragged into doing His will even when I wasn’t in the mood for it.
Thy will be done, Lord. And Thy Will will be done. Sam Harris or not willing.
This insistence on evidence for physical regrowth of an appendage is every bit as silly as the insistence by an atheist Freeper long ago that she would believe if God would give her a bag of M&Ms. betty boop might remember that thread.
Seems to me that breath entering bones in Ezekiel 37 - and moreover the very breath of God entering Adam and making him a living soul - and most important of all, our being reborn by the will of God - are far more impressive miracles happening to earth-bound men than a regrown eye, finger, foot or arm.
I'm also inclined to the story in John 9 - how Jesus used clay in restoring the blind man's sight. The clay must have been substantive as compared to other instances where He restored sight to the blind.
To God be the glory!
While you and I gladly testify to this every day we draw breath, dearest sister in Christ, Sam Harris could never even begin to see the truth of it. Spirit as a dimension of man does not exist for him at all: In his book, he has simply written it out of existence. To him, religious people are fools, for believing in such superstitious claptrap.
Truly the miracle God performs in faithful souls is the "turning around" and drawing of them into His loving Truth and Life. Some religious people have direct experiences of the "movement of the Holy Spirit" in their lives, a felt sense of the Presence of God "with us."
But the bottom line is, as William James observed, the true test of a genuinely religious person is found, not in the root of their belief, but in the fruit that it brings forth in personal, family, and community life.
As Christians, we are called to live in God's truth and to manifest faith, hope, and love in the world. And we recognize only that justice which is rooted in God's Will and Purpose as suitable to the liberty and dignity of human beings.
What has Sam Harris and his other atheist buddies done for us lately that could possibly compare with that? They seek to destroy faith in God (knowing full well they can't destroy God himself); but what can they give us that could possibly replace it, in the sense of securing the goals and purposes of free human life in a just society? To be "anti-God" ultimately is to be anti-man, anti-liberty, anti-life, and anti-truth as well.
Harris and his buds are fools in the classical and Judeo-Christian senses of that word: The fool is "the man who says in his heart, 'there is no God.'"
God is not mocked. And so I pray the people will not be fooled by the fools.
Thank you so much for your beautiful essay-post, dear A-G!
That is so true, sister. As some have already commented, even if one were to return from the dead, they still would not believe.
So with this thread, we have responded to the challenge presented by Harris. We have spoken of appendages renewed for lepers by Jesus, of eyes that have regrown at the touch of a Christian mystic, of severed limbs miraculously restored.
The challenge has been answered.
And I've no doubt that it simply won't matter to Harris. I won't detail his probable answer to each, but I'm sure I can imagine it.
The Apostle Peter says that we should be prepared to respond to any man who asks us to give a reason for the hope that we have. It is good to use reason when we give answers. Yet in many ways "the hope I have" is not based on apologetics for the Christian faith. The old hymn far better gets to the hope that I have: "My hope is built on nothing less than Jesus' blood and righteousness."
Atheists have no hope.
Every single one of them is dead and gone within the next 80 years or less. They are dust in the wind. They have withered and faded. They are gone never to be remembered. Their existence is over. Their lives are wiped out. Nothing remains.
No hope. No hope. No hope.
I've just returned from our annual Saturday Christmas VBS. The theme this year is "Room for Jesus."
During the singing class, the children sang Christmas songs sacred and secular. Their faces did glow. Their voices did reach on high. "Away in a manger no crib for a bed....be near me Lord Jesus I ask you to stay close by me forever and love me I pray. Bless all the dear children in Thy tender care and fit us for heaven to live with Thee there."
"Behold, I bring you tidings of great joy for all the people. This day in the city of David is born for you a Savior; He is Christ the Lord."
Room for Jesus.
The Jews believed He was dead, that's why they demanded a seal and the guards, and placed Temple Guards at the tomb with the Romans whom they did not trust. There are recorded witnessings of His resurrection apart from the Romans, the Jews, and the women who went to the tomb on 'Easter' morning. The most impressive has to be James, the brother of Jesus. This man did not believe in Jesus while He was alive, even going so far as to plot to lay hands on Jesus and rescue Him from His 'madness' of His Rabbinical ministry, along with the rest of His family who did not even show up to help entomb Him! BUT, following the resurrection appearance James was converted!
The horrific deaths each of the disciples turned Apostles suffered without recanting their witness of the risen Savior attest to the truth they believed they witnessed and spoke of and a few wrote of. There is no explanation that can dismiss the power of their witnessing of what they saw, no swoon paradigm, no hallucenation explanation, no made up lie that can dismiss the massive witness to the things these people died to keep in remembrance. THEY SUFFERED THESE THINGS FOR US, when you get right down to the nitty gritty of it!
Then of course there is Saul of Tarsus, a man assigned to the task of squelching with malace the growing body of believers in Jesus. And he relished the task due to his Jewish zeal for the truth of the Torah. Yet this man, after seeing Jesus on the road to Damascus is converted and spends the rest of his life suffering a long list of beatings and tortures only to die a martyr for his witnessing of the truth. And the list of martyrs who died during the period from 35 AD to 250 AD for their belief in and trust for Salvation in Jesus Christ is to be ignored also by these wicked minds. As Jesus relayed in the story of Lazarus and the rich man, even WHEN one comes back from the grave, there are wicked minds who will dismiss the truth in order to not only believe a lie but promote the lie for others to stumble over it and suffer the same fate awaiting the wicked doubters and dissemblers.
It is true wickness to reject the ministering of God's Holy Spirit and seek to persuade others to reject Him also, and in rejecting His work there is no other provision left whereby Deliverance from the coming Judgment can be obtained. Men like Christopher Hitchens respond to this message with more wicked assertion, that promoting God is immoral, that warning of the coming wrath upon sin is immoral scare tactics. Men like Hitchens and Harris refuse to believe what God has conveyed of Himself, that He is completely sinless and righteous and that no sin can come into His presence because His righteousness will brun it up instantly. And rejecting God's explaining Whom He is, they construct an alternate scenario which is death just waiting to reach them ... their life and the lives of those they convince to reject God are begun and ended for better or worse in the flesh. Their argument is the hieght of self-righteousness, and is as filth in the sight of God, yet they love it so much they will kill the soul of others to promote their fallen state.
Hmmm . . . sounds like some other religion's version of Heaven, doesn't it?
You realize they also celebrate the chr*stianity of the "oppressed," right? (Blacks, Hispanics, Irish Catholics, Armenians, "palestinians," etc.)
Not really. Only when it is a strange offshoot have I seen them celebrate it.
I know a Christian surgeon who regularly prays for and with his patients. He was regularly coming into church (at least once a month) with testimonies of miraculous healings, verified by scans and tests. At those times, he’d tell the patient that he had to go home because he was healed and there was nothing left to operate on.
Needless to say, it often had a profound impact on the persons spiritual life.