I’ve heard thousands of stories about the power of prayer to effect divine intervention into your life, but how come there are no cases of prayer causing God to help an amputee grow a limb? We have no evidence of it ever happening. How come God answers all sorts of prayers but never the prayers of amputees? It makes me think that the idea of prayer persuading God to anything is a crock.
At Limmud LA 2009, sitcom writer and Orthodox Jew Jeff Astroff said that God helped him find parking spaces.
Yeah, well, how come we have zero evidence that God has ever helped an amputee grow a limb? I guess God is too busy helping Jeff find his precious parking spaces.
From the superb website WhyWontGodHealAmputees.com:
Let’s imagine that you visit your doctor one day, and he tells you that you have cancer. Your doctor is optimistic, and he schedules surgery and chemotherapy to treat your disease. Meanwhile, you are terrified. You don’t want to die, so you pray to God day and night for a cure. The surgery is successful, and when your doctor examines you again six months later the cancer is gone. You praise God for answering your prayers. You totally believe with all your heart that God has worked a miracle in your life.
The obvious question to ask is: What cured you? Was it the surgery/chemotherapy, or was it God? Is there any way to know whether God is playing a role or not when we pray?
Unless you take the time to intelligently analyze this situation, it looks ambiguous. God might have miraculously cured your disease, as many Christians believe. But God might also be imaginary, and the chemotherapy drugs and surgery are the things that cured you. Or your body’s immune system might have cured the cancer itself.
When your tumor disappeared, in other words, it might simply have been a complete coincidence that you happened to pray. Your prayer may have had zero effect.
How can we determine whether it is God or coincidence that worked the cure? One way is to eliminate the ambiguity. In a non-ambiguous situation, there is no potential for coincidence. Because there is no ambiguity, we can actually know whether God is answering the prayer or not.
That is what we are doing when we look at amputees.
Think about it this way. The Bible clearly promises that God answers prayers. For example, in Mark 11:24 Jesus says, "Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours." And billions of Christians believe these promises. You can find thousands of books, magazine articles and Web sites talking about the power of prayer. According to believers, God is answering millions of their prayers every day.
So what should happen if we pray to God to restore amputated limbs? Clearly, if God is real, limbs should regenerate through prayer. In reality, they do not.
Why not? Because God is imaginary. Notice that there is zero ambiguity in this situation. There is only one way for a limb to regenerate through prayer: God must exist and God must answer prayers. What we find is that whenever we create a unambiguous situation like this and look at the results of prayer, prayer never works. God never "answers prayers" if there is no possibility of coincidence.