This whole site is a bit perplexing to me.
The website presents an oh so radical claim that God does not exist because of the shocking proof that...*drum roll*...God won't heal an amputee upon demand!
Even more shocking is that the owners of the site...*gasp*...cite scripture! Oh no! I guess we're talking about the Christian's view on God then...okay.
One of my best friends is atheist and has very decent arguments for not believing in God (or any god for that matter). But this is just rubbish.
Why not name the website "whywontGodgivemepicklesforlegs.com" or "whywontGodallowlaserstoshootoutofmyeyespewpewpew.com"
The central argument behind this website is that since the Bible states in various passages ([Matthew 21:21] [John 14:14] [Matthew 7:7] [Matthew 17:20] [Mark 11:24]) that praying for something will give you that something if you truly believe. If Christianity were really that simplistic, I think the whole thing would have died out many many years ago...if it ever grew in the first place.
So what are the fallacies here?
1) No definition of "prayer" by the website owners
2) Misunderstanding of "prayer"
3) Taking the biblical readings at face value
4) Applying standards of value through the prism of an atheist or an undefined point of view
Various responses to the home page of this website:
1) "The five quotes in the previous paragraph are all simple, straightforward statements. Doesn't "nothing will be impossible for you" mean "nothing will be impossible for you"? Jesus is God, and as an all-knowing being God knows how humans interpret sentences. If Jesus did not mean "nothing will be impossible for you," it seems like Jesus would have said something else. "
Answer: Who says they're straightforward interpretations? Sure, the language itself is straightforward. But what Jesus is talking about is the belief that God can accomplish anything. How many Christians really believe this? Think of the famous incident of Jesus walking on water. Whether you believe it happened or not, Jesus rebukes his followers for not -believing- that he could do it...for having lack of faith.
2) "In a similar vein, many believers will say, "God always answers prayers, but sometimes his answer is 'no.' If your prayer does not fit with God's will, then God will say 'no' to you." This feels odd because God's answer to every amputee is always "no" when it comes to regenerating lost limbs."
Answer: So because many "believers" say it, it must be a doctrine of faith...errr...or not. Again, a misinterpretation or lack of explanation to what "prayer" means or what the purpose of "prayer" is. This is a big problem among many Christians. Many people feel that God is this genie that is here to answer prayers and grant requests. It just simply isn't that way...but this website helps highlight the problem!
3) It makes no sense for a God in hiding to incarnate himself, or to do these other obvious things. Why send your son to earth, and then write a book that talks all about his exploits, if you are trying to hide?
Answer: I think that most of us can agree that none of this makes any sense. From a Christian or Catholic point of view, we acknowledge this mystery and the mystery of all of God's plan. From an atheist view, wouldn't everything have to be shrouded in mystery? One of my favorite Chesterton quotes: "The morbid logician seeks to make everything lucid, and succeeds in making everything mysterious. The mystic allows one thing to be mysterious, and everything else becomes lucid." Obviously a bit of an overstatement, but I think my point is rather clear.
4) "Yet, for some reason, miracles never happen when it comes to regenerating lost limbs. It does not seem to make sense that amputees would be cut off from the blessings that Jesus promises in the Bible."
Answer: I would again agree that it does not make "sense" in the traditional sense of the word. When the website argues for this "sense", what does that mean? From a Christian view, as stated earlier, we have no idea what God's plan or God's thoughts are. In fact, I believe (not 100% certain) that the Catholic view is that the Holy Spirit is the only being that can comprehend the Father's thoughts. Now for you atheists, what are you really arguing for here? Are you saying that for God or a god to exist, all human beings must be on a level playing field? That all human beings must fit into society in the same fashion and be equals? Where does this view come from? Unless I'm interpreting this incorrectly, it seems that the atheists are saying amputees are less valuable of human beings than "normal" human beings. But to what end? What does it matter? If this life is truly pointless, then who cares?
5) What about all the people who are born with missing limbs, or the people who lose limbs to diseases through no fault or choice of their own? How are these people any different from cancer victims, who, supposedly, are constantly being healed by God?
Answer: Again, referring to my last answer, you're saying that God would have created everyone and everything equal, if He did indeed exist. Correct? You keep forcing these standards of value upon us, which does imply some sort of objective guide or measure. If I were to ask you the same question you pose Christians, what would your answer be? Our doctrine never states that all should be equal and that all is fair. What about you? From an atheist point of view, what's the problem with these people? Do they not live a life that is "healthy" as defined by you? Do they not live a life that is "normal" in length? Why should they? Are you arguing for a more comfortable or more convenient life?
6) Not answering...
7) Someone might say, "Thou shalt not test the Lord. It says so in the Bible." This is hard to swallow because every prayer is a test. Either God answers the prayer or he does not.
Answer: Again..."every prayer is a test" is really YOUR view on what a prayer is, and what it is meant to accomplish. In the Catholic Catechism, one of the four parts is dedicated to prayer. Hundreds of pages. As defined by St. Therese of Lisieux in the first part of the catechism: "For me, prayer is a surge of heart; it is a simple look turned toward heaven, it is a cry of recognition and of love, embracing both trial and joy". Some, if not most Christians view God as this genie who will answer prayers by the faithful. This is simply not the case.
10) A believer might say, "You are taking the Bible literally." But how else are we supposed to take it? Jesus clearly says, "If you ask anything in my name, I will do it." When Jesus says that, what does he mean? Presumably, Jesus means that if you ask for anything, he will do it. What else could he possibly mean?
Answer: Very good question. Protestants do have a tough time answering this one. But for Catholics, we have the Magisterium to help guide us. That's why we have a catechism. These scholars go and look through the original texts in their original languages and apply their interpretation in regards to our whole deposit of faith. We believe that the whole of the bible acts in harmony. As with any document/book/argument, it's best to try and understand it as a whole rather than trying to select sentences or certain passages. Realistically, I wouldn't blame you for not reading the whole bible...it's a lengthy thing.
11) Already addressed "mysteries"More arguments:
12) God is imaginary. The thing that is so appealing about this explanation is that there is no hand waving. There are no contradictions. It is completely fair. There is no paradox. This explanation makes complete sense in light of the evidence we see in our world.
Answer: And indeed that might be appealing. What evidence are you referring to? In a highly simplistic view, I think things can go one of two ways. #1: All matter, everything, existed and had no creator. It just existed. #2: There is a creator and a first-mover. I don't think there is much evidence at this point that everything just existed without a creator. Can we point to something like this in our world? Something that existed without a creator? There is obviously no definite proof you can offer to how our universe expanded. So, it appears that an atheist gets stuck with the same predicament that a Christian (or any religion) gets put in: you must have *faith* that everything merely WAS and merely IS. Hence the big bang THEORY. There is no definite proof to what happened at the beginning of universe...we're simply in the dark together.
13) We pray sincerely, knowing that when God answers this completely heartfelt, unselfish, non-materialistic prayer, it will glorify God and help millions of people in remarkable ways. Will anything happen? Of course not. If prayers like this worked, Christians would have prayed every disease on the planet into extinction centuries ago. But if God were to exist, why would he ignore such a worthy prayer?
Answer: You're just hitting on the age-old "If God existed, why is there suffering?". That's all this whole thing is. You've reworded it and put in questions about amputees, but it seems very clear to me that this is just the same question. Why are atheists concerned with suffering? As I stated earlier, you are implying that a comfortable life is preferable to a agonizing life. Why? And why would you care about it on macro level? Why does it matter that millions of people have cancer and will die from it? Are you stating that life is better than death? Why? You keep implying that an amputee is in need of help or needs to be cured. Why? It's easy to attack Christianity, which has a doctrine and defined beliefs, but what about atheism? Why even attack Christianity in the first place?
14) If children are precious to Jesus, then why is he killing 10 million of them every year with abject poverty?
Answer: And now Jesus is killing children through poverty. What a statement! So am I to believe that Jesus is this puppetmaster that controls everything and is forcing people into poverty? Especially children? Christianity, along with most every other major form of religion or philosophy, believes that we have free will. Millions of children are in poverty and millions more don't help them. From a Christian perspective, that is a REJECTION of one of the three theological virtues: charity. Christians are instructed to help these children out. This question keeps feeding in from the idea that if God/Christ existed, life must be a certain way. This way seems to be a life of material comfort, a life without disease, a life without misfortune, etc... All these miserable conditions existed during Christ's time and before his time. So I don't know where this notion comes from where we must live in some nirvana on earth to prove God's existence.
Anyhow, thanks for taking the time to read this post. I look forward to anyone's well-intentioned response and argument.
I apologize for not proof-reading it more, but I have to run out for about an hour.