I’m going to start a new series of posts called, completely derivatively: “What Grinds My Gears!”. Since I’m really good a bitching and complaining about various things, I figure I should be fairly good at putting my bitching and complaining down in words too! So, here goes…
The local news stations around here have, over the last several years, really started abusing the word ‘miracle’! Everything is miraculous anymore. “Miraculous car crash survivor“, “Miraculous surgery for conjoined twins“, “Miraculous birth“, etc etc. I find that this is really starting to cheapen the meaning of this word.
The lady in the car crash story above had to be removed from the car and is in the hospital recovering from her injuries. A miracle in this story would have been the truck falling over on the car, and the car staying completely untouched and the woman walking away unharmed.
The miracle surgery for the conjoined twins is nothing more than the amazing medical technology that we have developed as a society. The skill, talents, and knowledge of the surgeons and medical staff. To call it a miracle is to discredit the amazing work of these people. A real miracle in this instance would be the twins being separated after birth with NO intervention from surgeons or doctors at all.
The one that REALLY grinds my gears is all the people who tout the ‘miracle of child-birth”. “Our baby is a miracle”! “Childbirth is such a miracle”! Ugh! There are 7 billion people on the planet right now (not to mention countless billions of healthy births throughout human history). If child-birth is such a miracle, I would think that healthy human birth would have to be a truly rare thing indeed. However, it’s quite obvious that is not the case at all. Humans are baby making factories. We pop the little packages out at impressive rates. Hardly what I would classify as a ‘miracle’!
To me, a miracle would be something that occurs completely outside of the normal operations of the natural world according to the laws of physics and science. When news, ministers, and average believers start labeling every day occurrences (even if they are surprising occurrences) miracles, I believe that really starts to water down the significance of that word. Granted, I don’t believe that miracles actually occur, but there’s definitely a threshold of occurrence and would give me pause, and NONE of these stories qualifies.
One of my Facebook Friends posted this as their status tonight:
Being a Christian is like being a pumpkin. God picks you from the patch and washes all the dirt off of you. He cuts off the top and scoops out all the yucky stuff. He removes the seeds of doubt, hate and greed. He carves you a new smiling face and puts His light inside of you to shine for all the world to see. This was passed to me by another pumpkin. Now it’s your turn to pass it on to the pumpkins in your patch!
If you ask me, this sounds a lot like a metaphor for a full frontal lobotomy. Seriously, how can this be something to be proud of? It’s a willful disregard for one’s own mind. A blind acceptance of the ‘soup du-jour’ if you will. I just don’t get it. I don’t understand the mentality of surrendering one’s logic and reason for submission to faith and belief without any evidence.
Pascal’s Wager is probably the most popular tool that believers use to try to use to get non-believers to reconsider their positions. It’s also one of the easiest to refute. So, I’m not going to go into the arguments in either direction, as there are literally gazillions (I love hyperbole) of articles out on the web that do just that. Go look them up if you’re curious.
What I would like to do in this post, however, is discuss the hypothetical situation where I find out that I’m wrong. First though, here’s a definition of Pascal’s Wager for those that don’t actually know what it is:
An argument according to which belief in God is rational whether or not God exists, since falsely believing that God exists leads to no harm whereas falsely believing that God does not exist may lead to eternal damnation.
Look, if I end up being wrong, and there IS a god that I have to meet after I die, I would expect that he’s probably a reasonable guy (wouldn’t you expect that the creator of all that is would be?). I hope that he examines me honestly and understands that I went out of my way in life trying to learn the things that I needed to learn to believe that he existed. It wasn’t like I just turned my back and said ‘screw you’. I know myself, and I know that I’ve examined the possibility honestly and with massive amounts of thought and research. If that isn’t enough to convince him to spare me of some eternal torture based on rules that he put into a book several thousand years ago, then there’s not much I can do about that. I can’t force myself to believe something when all of the logical and rational processes of my mind tell me it’s untrue. But before he damned me to eternal hellfire, I would hope I could at least ask him a few questions. Questions like:
“What was with all the hiding?”
“Where’s the evidence?”
“What’s your hangup with foreskins?”
“Slavery? Slavery is ACTUALLY ok in your view? please explain!”
“You created women, and immediately turned around and wrote a book that demeans them in every possible way. What’s up with that?”
“Thou shalt not kill, but wiping out entire civilizations is ok as long as YOU command it?”
“If your book is divinely inspired, why are there so many inconsistencies and contradictions?”
Seriously, though, Pascals Wager is so tired that I can’t believe it’s even used anymore. But, alas, I hear it all the time.
There’s a website (and book) called: Why Won’t God Heal Amputees?
I’ve been considering this question for quite a while now. And, while I know this has been hashed out over the internet for a long time, I’m going to give my 2.5 cents worth on the topic now.
I don’t think that admitting or believing that God does not heal amputees will ultimately disprove God. (Although, I can add this to my arsenal of reasons for believing that there is no God for myself.) There are plenty of other arguments out there for that – The Ontological Argument, the Cosmological Argument, and others. What it does for me, instead, is argue against the fundamentalist viewpoint that the Christian God does, indeed, intervene when prayed to and miraculous healings can take place. And if the argument DOES indeed prove that, how do these folks justify the selectiveness of God in their own minds?
I’ve been reading a lot of the counter opinions on this topic and there seem to be a few standard responses from believers. I’ll list some of them now:
1) Free Will – Apparently some believers think that if God were to intervene and cause someone’s limb to grow back that that will, in some way, take away our ‘free will’ to believe in him. I find this rather surprising considering these folks are the ones that swear by the Bible as the inerrant word of God. In the Bible Jesus does MANY amazing miracles that go FAR outside of the normal laws of the universe (healed the blind, raised the dead, walked on water, etc etc). Wouldn’t the folks witnessing these events have had their free will compromised?
2) The ‘Hiddeness’ of God – Kind of goes hand-in-hand with the free will argument. But in the book, the author addresses this rather well. In today’s world, people claim all the time to have been miraculously healed from Cancer. Tumors are just gone after prayer (and usually also after Chemotherapy!). Isn’t that the same thing as having a limb grow back? Doctors can SEE and document a Tumor before and after, thus revealing God (if that were really the cause). So, just because the tumor isn’t immediately visible to the rest of the world, it isn’t truly hidden either. So, God wouldn’t really be hidden at all in that scenario.
3) God’s Plan is Mysterious – Well, this one is a classic of course. It seems the usual take that ‘we can’t know what God’s will is, so we just have to accept it’. I’m NOT ok with this take at all. In ANY of the arguments where this is used. It just feels like such a cop-out to me. Like throwing your hands up and saying ‘We just don’t know, so we’re gonna make up a reason.’
All these argument, just seem to me like more rationalization for the massive paradoxes that result in this question. Like it says in this book (and the way I’ve felt about the world for a while now), if you remove God from the equation, and look at the world as just natural process, and things just happen (both good things to bad people and bad things to good people), then everything just makes a lot more sense. There’s no longer any paradox.
As I’ve said many times, I’m open-minded. I really am (contrary to what most people think about atheists). If someone had a limb grow back, and there was a documented case, I’d believe it. I mean, people don’t regenerate limbs. It’s as simple as that. So, if someone was to be prayed for and they were to regrow a limb, I’d believe. I’m also assuming that if it happened once, it could happen many times. In a world with 6 billion people (and a large number of limbless ones I’m assuming), you’d have to think that the odds are in favor of many people with missing limbs being healed.
Seriously? WTF! What the FUCK is this world coming to when the VICTIM of a rape is the one punished. I mean, I realize that this sort of thing has been going on for millenia, but c’mon…it’s two-thousand-freaking-TEN! Can’t we all agree that it’s time to move past these barbaric laws that are based on the superstitions writen down by uneducated sheppards living in the bronze age? I guess not!
According to the article:
Her rapist was pardoned by the elders.
So basically, the victim takes the entire fall for the rape. What would have happened if she had fought off the rapist? Death penalty for her? It is truly sad that stuff like this still happens in our world.
(Thanks to Unreasonable Faith for the link)
All of my life I’ve been presented with ‘stories’ of ‘miracle healings’. There are countless examples of stories from people who claim to either have themselves been ‘healed’ or have personal connections to people who have similar experiences.
I remember attenting church services where a ‘special guest’ would be speaking that day and that special guest was concidered a ‘faith healer’. I remember seeing how after the sermon the audience would be whipped into a frenzy by the music being playing and the singing and ‘whorshipping’. And I’d witness the ‘mass hysteria’ that would happen at the front of the church while people would line up for what seemed like hours just waiting for this person to lay hands on them and send the healing power of God to them to cure them of their ailments. I remember seeing those people, often times, stricken by the ‘overwhelming power of God’ and physically falling on the the ground wrything in a religious stooper of some kind.
I know most of us have seen or experienced this sort of thing in some way. There have been many movies and TV shows that have poked fun at the whole scene. Personally, the entire thing always felt very odd and unnatural and extremely fake to me.
Here’s my take on why this MIGHT work sometimes, and why these folks may have actually been healed as a result of this phenomenon…
I believe in the power of the human mind. I believe that there is SO much we don’t know and understand about the way the brain works and it’s power and control over the human body. That being said…I believe that the ‘power of suggestion’ and or ‘faith’ can work wonders within a person.
I used the word faith because I think that when a person is offering themselves up to one of these ‘healers’, they truly have the faith in their minds that these people are doing what they claim. I think that when they have 100% faith that they are being touched by the hand of God and that they can be healed that way, their own brains can send out signals to the body that can repair itself.
Obviously, I am no physician. I am no psychologist. But what I am is a realist. It’s been said many, many times that we use VERY little of the capacity and power of our brains. So, with that being said, this is just a theory that happened to cross my mind and this is where I post those thoughts. My intensions are not to offend those who believe. My intension is only to pursue MY truth in hopes of one day finding THE truth. The ONE truth that makes sense to me.