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Science Vs. Faith Healing PDF Print E-mail
Swift
Written by Jeff Wagg   

If you watch late night TV, you might see the likes of Peter Popoff or Benny Hinn "healing" people on the stage. They'll throw away their crutches, pill bottles, and glasses, and praise Jesus for healing them. You'll never see an amputee on the stage though, because apparently God hates amputees.

I doubt you'll ever see someone with a debilitating neurological disease such as the devastating Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, also known as "Lou Gehrig's Disease." You see, you simply can't fake a cure for that.

But with science, you might be able to have an actual cure.

It's early yet, but this announcement in Science Daily gives hope that one day, we'll be able to treat diseases that seem impossible to overcome. Scientists are now able to make functioning neurons from non-embryonic stem cells. Forget the technicalities if you'd like... this is like unlocking the code to building new nerves, which could allow someone to regain the ability to walk and speak.

You see, science actually DOES things for us. It provides real results that we use (and take for granted) every day. Faith healing and other witch doctory simply provide the illusion of accomplishing something, much like a magic trick – but without the honesty of a professional magician.

So the next time someone asks you to put your faith in a "healer" rather than science, you can point them to this one accomplishment, and ask why if scientists can make progress against this dread disease, why faith healers can't.

And if they claim they can, there's a million dollars waiting for them if they prove it.

 

 

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Don't forget the dental gods
written by paiute, February 25, 2009
I went to a faith healing with a friend many years ago. He raved about people's legs being straightened, tumors removed, etc. I just said, "Didn't you have a molar pulled last week? Have that replaced while we're here."
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written by Willy K, February 25, 2009
But won't all the faith healers and charlatans simply say it's because of their praying that the cures work? Or maybe Pete and his gang will simply frighten the ignorant and poor into not getting any advanced treatment?

The thieves will never stop stealing peoples hope. smilies/cry.gif

Is there a cure for pessimism? smilies/wink.gif
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Gullibility Cure
written by GMJ, February 25, 2009
http://gulligo.com/
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written by Mikebo, February 25, 2009
If there was/were a God, I guess I'd feel sorry for him/her/it: what an administrative nightmare it would be, even for an omnipotent being, to answer EVERY prayer, especially in the situation - probably quite frequent - where the desire of one supplicant is in direct conflict with that of an other.

Woe for the so-called faith healers if the sceptics' prayers were answered! (irony)
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written by David C., February 25, 2009
Ah but folks lets not forget that for some believers, cures as the one mentioned in the article is the answer to prayers. God is giving a human the gift of knowledge to discover such cures... (we need a "do'h" smily)

David C.
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Not the God Hates Amputees guy!, Lowly rated comment [Show]
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written by Alan3354, February 25, 2009
Please don't give the God Hates Amputees guy exposure.
It seems god hates everyone.
How is "mainstream" belief in imaginary friends better than the more extreme beliefs.
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Question for Griz
written by Skeptigirl, February 25, 2009
written by Griz, February 25, 2009
Please don't give the God Hates Amputees guy exposure. ... He assumes that his target audience, all of christianity, has the same beliefs as the small subset that buys into the idea of faith healing and scriptural infallibility. This is a common misconception among athiests and it seems the more emotionally invested they are in their hatred of religion the more outlandish they are persuaded to believe mainstream christianity is. ... you can't someone out of their fairy tale by disproving an unrelated one.
Clearly, "God hates amputees", hits a nerve. I do believe the assumption, "God hates amputees", applies to all prayer answered healing, not just public faith healers. Are you claiming a substantial number of Christians don't believe God answers prayers?

As for false assumptions about mainstream Christianity, do you have any evidence other than your own bias to base the claim, 'atheists commonly assume mainstream Christians are outlandish'? I'm one of the atheists you are referring to and my observation is that atheists are well aware of the inconsistency among Christians in what they believe. In fact, this lack of consistency is part of the evidence there is no real Christian God.

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G.H.A.
written by Son of Rea, February 25, 2009
When I first came across the GHA website, I thought....hmmm....good point. I never thought of that before. And I do believe it is an excellent argument against the "benefits" of prayer.

I do admit that some of his videos are overly sarcastic and condescending though, and in general they are not the most enjoyable pieces of editing ever put together.

Also, some of his arguments ARE a bit childish/naive regarding more complex Christian beliefs.

Still, it's a worthwhile site. Take the good with the bad I guess.
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written by daveg703, February 25, 2009
To Mikebo et al:
If there was/were a God, I guess I'd feel sorry for him/her/it: what an administrative nightmare it would be, even for an omnipotent being, to answer EVERY prayer, especially in the situation - probably quite frequent - where the desire of one supplicant is in direct conflict with that of an other.

For a delightfully satisfying satire on this conflict of interest, search for Mark Twain's short piece titled Letter To The Earth
You may have to search diligently, but I guarantee it is worth the search. If you don't agree, I will refund all that I have charged you for this advisory.
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written by Caller X, February 25, 2009
If God didn't hate amputees, why would he let them be amputated? I personally hate amputees, and I say it to their face at every opportunity. Should I be ashamed of this?


Would it make a difference if you knew I was talking about foreskins?
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written by David C., February 25, 2009
Has anyone seen the youtube video of a guy responding to this question saying that god doesn't have to cure amputees becuase they deserve it? and then he goes on and on saying that starving children deserve to suffer because they took the road of sin and such stupidity. All his comments are filled with "oh goody you are smart" since he is approving comments before getting posted.

BTW, I wonder why my previous comment was marked with minus votes, all I did was mention how some believers see science as a "miracle" allowed by God.

David C.
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written by TDjazz, February 26, 2009
Science has helped heal people while prayer is still a delusion. In time, many more maladies will be healed or controlled through science--thank god! (Just an expression! smilies/wink.gif) Prayer needs a lot of catching up to do.
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written by TDjazz, February 26, 2009
"Prayer HAS a lot of catching up to do." (I have to stop posting right after I get up!)
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written by bosshog, February 26, 2009
Whatever. Either there is no God and we are on our own, or there is a God whose inscrutable, unknowable and entirely self-serving designs necessitate the horrific torture and slaughter of every one of his children. Either way, He obviously doesn't believe in me so I see no reason to bother with Him.
Medic!
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written by Adavidson, February 26, 2009
I love that joke were the amputee with one arm prays to god to make both his arms the same, and he wakes up with no arms.

Soon enough science will abolish any possibility of a grown-up intelligent belief in religion, hopefully I will live to see the day religion becomes a few good stories, and nothing more.
It was written for men, by men, in an age ruled by men. People have to get we can`t use that today.

AD
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to daveg703
written by JimD, February 26, 2009
I've not read that Twain piece, but for anyone else who's interested, it's at http://www.online-literature.c...the-earth/

JD
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Answers for Skeptigirl
written by Griz, February 26, 2009
First of all, don't bother trying to bait me with the "hit a nerve" comments, I'm way too laid back for that smilies/smiley.gif

Specifically in the case of the God Hate Amputees guy, the very name of the web site targets christians who believe in miraculous healings. He makes a case that god does not exist based on the fact that amputees never get healed. Now from a purely scientific standpoint the premise that amputees never get healed is impossible to prove. From an amateur debater's point of view, I think most of us here on the JREF boards can accept that as axiomatic. However, so do the VAST majority of christians out there. From Catholics, Eastern Orthodox, all the major protestant denominations such as Lutherans, Presbyterians, Methodists, right down to many of the fundamentalist sects like the Baptists, not one of those people will disagree with the statement that God does not heal amputees. It's built right into their dogma. They believe (for the most part, I'm on dangerous generalizational ground here) that miracles were performed at one time but no longer. Some of them believe that miracles still occur in certain cases but most of them use a very broad definition of what a miracle is (like the Catholics and their fast tracking of the last Pope for sainthood).

The group that does believe in constant miracles and faith healing are the charismatic fundamentalists. These include Four Square, Assemblies of God, Penecostals, and a wide ranging selection of self appointed apostles loosely affiliated with Rhema Bible College, Oral Roberts, or some other fundie group. These are a small very small percentage of Christianity worldwide, but they are the most vocal and some of the most visible because they go for the sensationalism. To a man, they are demonstrably con artists taking advantage of the weak minded and desperate, and to them the question of god healing amputees is a good one, but, like any good con artist, they will have a ready answer. It's an exercise in futility to try and pin these guys down because they are not sincere in the first place. I'm talking about guys like Benny Hinn, Peter Popoff, Jimmie Swaggart, Oral Roberts and his offspring, Jim Bakker. Each one of these men has been exposed as a fake and yet they still come back again and again. Why? Because, like the war on drugs, the problem is demand. You can't stem the supply when there's a huge demand. These guys tell people what they want to heara and wishful thinking does the rest.

Now, like you have done, Skeptigirl, I keep getting asked for examples of where athiests are lumping these groups all together and showing their ignorance of the beliefs of the various branches of christianity. And yet I'm here on this website pointing it out nearly every time it happens, but each discussion seems to be in a vacuum. So, for you, and the next person that asks me that, after I've clearly made my point here about the Amputees guy, please just tell me what you think Christianity is and what beliefs you think they have and I'll be more than happy to set you straight. I come out of a background of charismatic fundie religions, including the whole enchilada of tongues, propecy, faith healings, and of course the ever important prosperity message: give to the church and god will make you rich! As part of my transition away from that, I have made it my business to learn what the many flavors of christianity teach, and I have done that mainly as way to be able to have an effective debate. I've no doubt that there are JREF readers that are more informed than me concerning christianity and the bible, but I've seen no evidence of it yet in any of the posts. You can make a case for inconsistencies in a particular groups beleifs, but you cannot talk someone out of catholicism by ranting about Benny Hinn. It's like trying to disprove bigfoot doesn't exist by demonstrating that some of the photos of the Loch Ness Monster are fake.

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Answers for Skeptigirl part deux
written by Griz, February 26, 2009
Wow this got long...

In addition, if you want to seriously engage in this endevour of trying to strip people of their religion (which is what Amputee guy is trying to do) you have to understand the mindset. Organized religion is designed to control people's minds and money. There's a carrot, heaven, and a stick, hell. Those two things are often sufficient to cause people to engage in wild flights of fancy to defend their beliefs. You are powerless against this defense if you are not intimately familiar with the particular sects dogma. Protestant christianity has had nearly six centuries to perfect their apologetics. No matter how obvious the truth about religion is to you and your rational mind, to think you're going to storm that castle without a great deal of preparation is foolhardy.

Again, please note: I am defending my dislike of the Amputees guy, not any religion. I am supporting the statement that I made that I find most athiests arguing from a position of vast ignorance. If you want to debate a particular religion, I have no interest in doing that because I probably agree with you in the first place. If you think I'm defending religion, please re-read this post, I am not. Please save the ad hominems and bare assertions and strawmen for someone else. If you really want to learn about christianity so you can discuss it intelligently then I'm here.

But please don't promote the God Hates Amputees guy, he is doing more harm than good.
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Oh, and one more thing...
written by Griz, February 26, 2009
To Jeff Wagg: I have seen amputees and sufferers from Lou Gehrig's and any other incurable affliction you care to name, from advanced cancer to AIDS, on stage having hands laid on them at many different gatherings, small to large, and personally laid hands on some of them myself. If you look at the first few rows of any Kenneth Copeland meeting it'll be filled with wheelchairs. Don't assume because you have not seen an amputee on stage (how much do you watch these guys anyway to be able to make that statement?) that they are not there. They are. They don't get on TV because they can't pretend to be healed. But they beleive, they come, and they are disappointed.
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written by Esc, February 26, 2009
Yeah. way to go!
Science 1, Faith Healing 0!

Seriously, this is great. Whilst being very good speaker for science, it also rejects faith healing.
And Peter Popoff can get the hell out of our sight!
God bless him.
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written by Skeptigirl, February 26, 2009
written by Griz, February 26, 2009
To Jeff Wagg: I have seen amputees and sufferers from Lou Gehrig's and any other incurable affliction you care to name, from advanced cancer to AIDS, on stage having hands laid on them at many different gatherings, small to large, and personally laid hands on some of them myself. If you look at the first few rows of any Kenneth Copeland meeting it'll be filled with wheelchairs. Don't assume because you have not seen an amputee on stage (how much do you watch these guys anyway to be able to make that statement?) that they are not there. They are. They don't get on TV because they can't pretend to be healed. But they beleive, they come, and they are disappointed.
What makes you think most of us don't know all sorts of truly suffering people are scammed by these guys and they are not shown? Talk about a no brainer.
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written by Skeptigirl, February 26, 2009
written by Griz, February 26, 2009
First of all, don't bother trying to bait me with the "hit a nerve" comments, I'm way too laid back for that
Wasn't trying to bait anyone, it was simply my impression. It still is.

Specifically in the case of the God Hate Amputees guy, the very name of the web site targets christians who believe in miraculous healings. He makes a case that god does not exist based on the fact that amputees never get healed. Now from a purely scientific standpoint the premise that amputees never get healed is impossible to prove.
Science follows the evidence. There is no need for absolute proof for or against a claim. It's a scientific fact amputated limbs do not grow back. In science, there is always room, even with facts, for new information to come along and demonstrate the fact is no longer true. That doesn't mean we never use the term or concept of a fact.

From an amateur debater's point of view, I think most of us here on the JREF boards can accept that as axiomatic. However, so do the VAST majority of christians out there. From Catholics, Eastern Orthodox, all the major protestant denominations such as Lutherans, Presbyterians, Methodists, right down to many of the fundamentalist sects like the Baptists, not one of those people will disagree with the statement that God does not heal amputees. It's built right into their dogma. They believe (for the most part, I'm on dangerous generalizational ground here) that miracles were performed at one time but no longer. Some of them believe that miracles still occur in certain cases but most of them use a very broad definition of what a miracle is (like the Catholics and their fast tracking of the last Pope for sainthood).

The group that does believe in constant miracles and faith healing are the charismatic fundamentalists....[snip]
Most of we atheists are well aware of theists' attempts to fit the evidence to their beliefs. Sometimes that means revising the belief, sometimes it means ignoring the evidence.

I'm not sure what your point is here. If you are trying to defend your unsupportable comment about what most atheists believe about theists' outlandishness, you are not making headway. Seems to me you are generalizing about theists (who don't hold your theist views perhaps?) in a way that echoes what you've accused atheists of doing.

Now, like you have done, Skeptigirl, I keep getting asked for examples of where athiests are lumping these groups all together and showing their ignorance of the beliefs of the various branches of christianity. And yet I'm here on this website pointing it out nearly every time it happens, but each discussion seems to be in a vacuum. So, for you, and the next person that asks me that, after I've clearly made my point here about the Amputees guy, please just tell me what you think Christianity is and what beliefs you think they have and I'll be more than happy to set you straight. ...[snip]
Perhaps if you actually looked with less preconceived bias about what atheists do or do not think about theists, you find this patronizing attitude was a mistake.

Neither atheists nor theists are homogeneous groups. You might want to spend a little less time pigeonholing groups of people and a little more time observing.

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written by Skeptigirl, February 26, 2009
written by Griz, February 26, 2009
In addition, if you want to seriously engage in this endevour of trying to strip people of their religion (which is what Amputee guy is trying to do) you have to understand the mindset. Organized religion is designed to control people's minds and money. There's a carrot, heaven, and a stick, hell. Those two things are often sufficient to cause people to engage in wild flights of fancy to defend their beliefs. You are powerless against this defense if you are not intimately familiar with the particular sects dogma....[snip]
More patronizing. You've made many wrong assumptions here that atheists know so little about theism.

Again, please note: I am defending my dislike of the Amputees guy, not any religion. I am supporting the statement that I made that I find most athiests arguing from a position of vast ignorance. If you want to debate a particular religion, I have no interest in doing that because I probably agree with you in the first place. If you think I'm defending religion, please re-read this post, I am not. Please save the ad hominems and bare assertions and strawmen for someone else. If you really want to learn about christianity so you can discuss it intelligently then I'm here.

But please don't promote the God Hates Amputees guy, he is doing more harm than good.
I looked at the link in the OP, Why Won't God Heal Amputees, and I don't see the same problems as you seem to. But it is a long web site and I only glanced at it. There is a different, 'God Hates Amputees' web page. Which one are you upset with?

I'm not ready to take your word for the problems you state. I've not paid attention to this site before. "God hates amputees", is a common phrase. How about citing one or two specific quotes and the link which illustrate your charges against the web site? Maybe if you weren't going on with all this hand waving about atheists and certain theists, you might better make your point about us not promoting this link.
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written by daveg703, February 26, 2009
To JimD
I went out to the site you mentioned, but they only listed the letters From The Earth, individually, but several searches for the one TO the earth, including the Advanced, turned up empty. No wonder you didn't read the piece! smilies/smiley.gif
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written by daveg703, February 26, 2009
Okay, here's a direct link to the Twain story:

http://www.armageddonbuffet.com/lettertoearth.html

The site has a nice foreword to it as well. Enjoy!
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written by Alencon, February 26, 2009
The fallacy with the "Why won't God heal amputees" argument is simply that it is based upon a literal interpretation of Matthew 21:22 where Jesus says "If you believe, you will receive whatever you ask for in prayer."

That makes it an apparent effective argument only against fundamentalist evangelical sects. Unfortunately, fundimentalists are so good at mental gymnastics, and have constructed such an armor of apologetics over the centuries, that you might as well not even try to get them to consider any argument that any part of the bible is not literally true. A fundamentalist cannot under any circumstances consider such a possibility because if he does, his entire religion collapses around him. You throw this argument at a fundamentalist and he will dig in his heels and become even more adament about the truth of his faith.

The "Why won't God heal amputees" argument isn't even a valid argument against mainstream Christianity because it leaves the door open for figurative and allegorical interpretations of the bible.

I suspect this is all Griz is saying.


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written by bosshog, February 27, 2009
There seems to be a lot of very involved and academic argufyin' going on here regarding the amputee thing. The guy's point seems pretty simple and valid to me: "Why does God only heal those afflictions which don't show irrefutable outward signs of having been healed"? His intent isn't to debate the finer points of theology but to unsettle the complacency of believers. You can be wrong about your migraines or bowel cancer or low sperm count being healed; the appearance of a new limb speaks for itself.

As for which Christians believe in faith healing: they all do - it is one of the major works performed by Xst duting his tenure here on Earth. Some go to faith healing carnivals while others pray in their private chambers, but they all believe.

The real issue with faith healing and Xtianity is this: if we are to "concern ourselves not with the things of this world but instead with the world to come" as Xst commanded us to do, why would we seek healing, or anything else for that matter? It's all irrelevant and what's more the sooner we die the sooner we reap our heavenly reward. Rather faith heart attack than faith healing. I guess a life in the World is worth two in the heavens. Not a very powerful testament of faith, huh?
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@bosshog
written by Son of Rea, February 27, 2009
Dude, you should apply for the challenge, cuz you just read my freakin' mind!
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Skeptigirl
written by Griz, February 27, 2009
I don't know how much more I can explain my position. You feel free to disagree with me while doing no more than glancing at the web site I'm discussing and addressing none of the specific points on it. You think it's just fine based on something which you don't state or support. How can I respond to that? You win.
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Missing the point
written by Skeptigirl, February 27, 2009
written by Alencon, February 26, 2009
The fallacy with the "Why won't God heal amputees" argument is simply that it is based upon a literal interpretation of Matthew 21:22 where Jesus says "If you believe, you will receive whatever you ask for in prayer."
That makes it an apparent effective argument only against fundamentalist evangelical sects. Unfortunately, fundimentalists are so good at mental gymnastics, and have constructed such an armor of apologetics over the centuries, that you might as well not even try to get them to consider any argument...
The "Why won't God heal amputees" argument isn't even a valid argument against mainstream Christianity because it leaves the door open for figurative and allegorical interpretations of the bible.

No one doubts Christians have a continuum of beliefs from, "I believe in God & Jesus, but I don't go to church" to "the Bible is inerrant truth".

"God Hates Amputees" is a symbolic statement. It symbolizes that the Christian belief is a mythological belief by exposing a glaring contradiction. If you claim anything such as, God heals, answers prayers, inspired the Bible to be written, or even, that God exists, why is there absolutely no evidence of this god? Is there any more evidence of the Christian God than the well known mythological gods such as Zeus and Neptune?

You can take the slogan, 'God hates amputees', to mean only that all the claims of miracle healing are lacking evidence of a healed amputation. Or you can take it to more broadly symbolize, there is no evidence of any of the things Christians claim God does. Griz writes as if he thinks it means the former. As such, he is apologizing by claiming, it only applies to fundies and not to real Christians. But even that interpretation ignores the obvious: if god answers any prayers, any at all, why wouldn't an occasional answered prayer clearly demonstrate the existence of a real god behind the God myth?

The apology is that somehow believing in God without any evidence is God's thing and we mere peons just aren't capable of understanding why that is. Yet throughout the Bible God supposedly demonstrates his presence time and time again only to be rejected by the sinners. Nowhere is there any reference in the Bible to the importance of having faith and belief, but this faith and belief must be without any evidence of God. The apology continues with the claim the evidence is somehow 'felt', but not seen. Yet no one who isn't first taught about the existence of this god comes up with the belief on their own. That is apologized for by claiming God's chosen people are charged with spreading the word.

This goes on and on. Whichever absent evidence clearly supports God is a god myth, like all the other god myths, is apologized for. "God hates amputees" symbolizes the glaring lack of clothes on this emperor.
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You made the accusation, you need to back it up.
written by Skeptigirl, February 27, 2009
written by Griz, February 27, 2009
Skeptigirl: I don't know how much more I can explain my position. You feel free to disagree with me while doing no more than glancing at the web site I'm discussing and addressing none of the specific points on it. You think it's just fine based on something which you don't state or support. How can I respond to that? You win.

I take that to mean either you are unwilling to point out the specific complaints you have about the web site, or you are unable to find anything supporting your complaints.

To claim I should hunt through dozens of pages of material to find what you claimed was there when I did not see it on the first 3 pages I did look at is ludicrous. If you want anyone to take you seriously, citing specific examples will likely win over converts. I stand by my opinion the phrase is legitimate and symbolic, but I'm willing to accept the web site's discredit if you provide the evidence, not just the complaint.
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written by Soapy Sam, February 27, 2009
In 1980, I found myself watching breakfast tv in a New Iberia LA motel. There was a certifiable lunatic in a window cleaner's cradle on the outside of a half completed building, whom I took to be some sort of "Monty Python"-esque comedian. Oral Roberts. This was my first encounter with U.S. style tv evangelism. It was a major culture shock. Regrettably, such people are now commoner in the UK too. The gullible and the conmen will be with us even unto the ends of the Earth. (Which is in three years, by the way. Pray now!)
Anyway- as you reminded me of an old joke-
Billy Graham comes to Glasgow.
He calls out sick people and sends them behind a screen, while the crowd prays for them to be healed. There's Mrs. McGlumpher who can only walk with two sticks and wee Jimmy, who has a dreadful stammer.
Billy prays and calls for a miracle. "Mrs.McGlumpher! Throw away one stick!" The stick sails over the screen.
Billy prays again and cries out in ecstasy "Mrs. McGlumpher, throw away the other stick!" It too flies out.
Billy prays and cries "Jimmy! Speak with the Voice of the Lord!"

A hesitant Jimmy replies-" M-M-MMMM-Mrs McGlumpher's fell oan 'er erse!"
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written by gmcevoy, February 28, 2009
ha ha classic joke

Lourdes and the healing powers of the holy relics (including Ma Theresa) aren't "mainstream religion" or is that phrase being used to describe people that are hedging their bets or paying lip service to secure a heavenly reward?

I've read the God Hates Amputees site and it talks about removing the ambiguity and does a very good job of it.

In one example, the person is described as a "true believer" in god curing cancer - the phrase is linked to stories in the mainstream press about the miracles of everyday christians

"Let's assume that you are a true believer and you do believe that God cures cancer. What would happen if we get down on our knees and pray to God in this way:"

So it seems the GHAmputees Guy is acknowledging that some christians don't buy into this despite the claim that it maligns all mainstream religionistas and calls for the abolition of all religions (that would be nice, if impractical smilies/grin.gif and it is a public service if the GodHatesAmputees site gives any religious type pause)

"Now from a purely scientific standpoint the premise that amputees never get healed is impossible to prove."

Really, how so?

The door to figurative and allegorical interpretations is left open by the obtuse BIBLE and not the very obvious point well argued by that web site.

That is why there's a rainbow of christian sects...

Speaking of faith healing

The Canadian Association of Naturopathic Doctors run ads on TV that first claim a science basis then touts the seven years of post secondary education

As their website promotes homepathy as powerful for over 200 years...
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Griz, I'm disappointed you haven't defended your opinion.
written by BillyJoe, February 28, 2009

Please don't give the God Hates Amputees guy exposure. He uses the same uninformed circular logic that the religious use and it gets nowhere.

I was quite impressed actually.
He is taking about the healing effect of prayer rather than the stage performances of evangelicals. He is saying that in most situations the cause of a cure is multifactorial and could include the effect of surgery, chemotherapy, and prayer. To single out prayer, we must use an example where surgery and chemotherapy have no effect. This is just good science. He uses the example of an amputee and challenges believers to find a single case where prayer has cured an amputee. Prayer can presumable cure cancer, restore eyesight, and correct a leg length discrepancy, but it is completely useless if you want to restore an amputated limb.

He assumes that his target audience, all of christianity, has the same beliefs as the small subset that buys into the idea of faith healing and scriptural infallibility.

He correctly believes that that religious people believe in faith healing, meaning the healing effect of prayer. As a general statement it is quite true.

This is a common misconception among athiests and it seems the more emotionally invested they are in their hatred of religion the more outlandish they are persuaded to believe mainstream christianity is.

It is not a misconception and it is also not true, even as a general statement, that atheists hate religion.

Although a rational athiest regards whole thing as a fairy tale, you can't someone out of their fairy tale by disproving an unrelated one.

It is not unrelated.
Despite what you say, religious people do believe in the healing effect of prayer. They also believe in the afterlife. These two beliefs cannot be held simultaneously without cognitive dissonance. Would you make up excuses to stay at work when you have booked a holiday to Surfers Paradise? That is something to work on - exposing the cognitive dissonance between striving to stay alive whilst heaven is waiting for you when you die. As an example, that's how I was dragged out of my irrational belief in god and the afterlife.

regards,
BillyJoe
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Apology to X
written by BillyJoe, February 28, 2009
I am now firmly convinced that you are a comedian, a rather obscure and miserable comedian, in my opinion, but a comedian none the less.

I personally hate amputees, and I say it to their face at every opportunity. Should I be ashamed of this?...Would it make a difference if you knew I was talking about foreskins?

As I said miserable. I can scarcely believe you are a female though, or have I read you wrong.

BJ
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A good joke..
written by BillyJoe, February 28, 2009
I love that joke were the amputee with one arm prays to god to make both his arms the same, and he wakes up with no arms.

Or the man who prays to god to make him 9 inches long but who, unfortunately, is lying down...
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written by Cuddy Joe, February 28, 2009
Caller X: "Should I be ashamed of this? Would it make a difference if you knew I was talking about foreskins?"

Yes, it makes a difference if you "say it to their face at every opportunity." The difference is how amusing it is to imagine you apparently face to face with foreskins at every opportunity.

~*~

Oh, look! A religious person arguing with an atheist! I wonder how that will turn out?
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Griz is Right!
written by Stanfr, February 28, 2009
Im gonna play Devil's Advocat (cause its much more fun than joining the mob) and agree with Griz! smilies/cool.gif
One small problem with the 'God Hates Amputees' argument is that as Griz alludes to (by saying 'theres no way to prove it') it makes the assumption that Christian amputees pray that they have their limbs re-grow. This is actually a huge assumption. Frankly, it would be extremely unlikely for an amputee to be praying for this sort of thing. It would be far more likely that they would be praying that they dont die of resulting infection (one of those 'ambiguous' things). You may claim this is circular reasoning, but really it is not. To make a valid claim that God does not answer this specific prayer, evidence must first be presented that the prayer in fact has beeb made! The GHA guy does not do this at all, so the above folks who claimed this guy was using sound scientific argument, are completely wrong! Never assume...
But far more inmportantly, the main problem with the argument is that it completely confuses and mixes up the ideas of 'prayer' and 'healing' and then gives very vague or invented references to the claim that God supposedly will answer all prayers. I dont know of many Christians who believe that 'God answers all prayers'. The real issue is one of healing, and this is where the GHA argument falls completely on its face. Once an amputee loses a limb, if it heals, the healing process is over!! One cannot equate the regrowth of a limb with a recovery from Cancer or infectious disease--they are incomparable! In fact, if a limb were to regrow on an amputees body, it could easily be regarded as some sort of pathological event (like a tumor!) rather than an example of "healing". Bad analogy...
The GHA guy should embrace ambiguity, it is what makes us all human, after all.
Now, I will use my psychis abilities to predict that at elast one person will miss the first sentance of my post, and focus on the rest instead. smilies/wink.gif
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Stanfr is wrong!
written by BillyJoe, February 28, 2009
Im gonna play Devil's Advocat

That's no excuse for doing a bad job.

I will use my psychis abilities to predict that at elast one person will miss the first sentance of my post, and focus on the rest instead.

Well there's the focus on your first sentence, now for the rest of your post...

One small problem with the 'God Hates Amputees' argument is that as Griz alludes to (by saying 'theres no way to prove it')...

May I suggest, instead of pretending that that argument has not yet been refuted, that you go back, read Skeptigirl's reply, and make an argument against it. If you have one.

...it makes the assumption that Christian amputees pray that they have their limbs re-grow.

No it does not. It sets it up as a challenge.
It is probably no surprise that christian amputees do not pray that their limb is restored, if that is the case. Cognitive dissonance must be hidden from view. Like striving desperately to stay alive whilst believing in heaven. Perhaps it is better not to put your faith in the healing power of prayer to an actual test. Keep it vague and the delusion can be maintained.

It would be far more likely that they would be praying that they dont die of resulting infection

Hey?

To make a valid claim that God does not answer this specific prayer, evidence must first be presented that the prayer in fact has been made!

Read the site. He is issuing a challenge. His statement is more along tha lines of "If you really think that god answers prayer, please provide a clear and unambiguous example of healing such as the regrowing an amputated limb". This point has already been made so thanks again for ignoring it.

the main problem with the argument is that it completely confuses and mixes up the ideas of 'prayer' and 'healing'.

Are you actually saying that prayer is not used for the purpose of asking for god's help in healing. What is happening at Lourdes do you think?

and then gives very vague or invented references to the claim that God supposedly will answer all prayers

I challenge to quote from the site.

Once an amputee loses a limb, if it heals, the healing process is over!!

Are you seriously making an argument here?

One cannot equate the regrowth of a limb with a recovery from Cancer or infectious disease--they are incomparable!

How about a finger then? Hey, god's good but not that good. Is that what you're saying?

In fact, if a limb were to regrow on an amputees body, it could easily be regarded as some sort of pathological event (like a tumor!) rather than an example of "healing".

Okay, you're not serious. Perhaps I shouldn't have bothered to reply.

BJ
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written by Skeptigirl, February 28, 2009
Besides the fact you need a spell check program, Stanfer, your logic also is lacking.

Even if true, why would people ask to have everything healed except an amputated limb? Perhaps it's because they already know 'God' has never healed one. Otherwise, how would they know not to bother asking?
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written by Cuddy Joe, March 01, 2009
But how do we know that God hasn't healed the amputated limb by growing a new body for it in Heaven? Huh? How about that????
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written by Skeptigirl, March 01, 2009
We know for the same reason we know there really isn't a tooth fairy, Zeus or invisible pink unicorns, because there is no evidence suggesting these things are more than imagination, and lots of evidence that says they are.
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written by Skeptigirl, March 01, 2009
...are no more than imagination.

in case that wasn't clear. A few minutes of edit time would be nice.
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written by Stanfr, March 01, 2009
Yeh, it's nice for you, Skeptigirl, but not me...noooo, i'm scolded for being too lazy to check my atrocious typos! smilies/wink.gif
I stand by my points, because my mind is free from the biases you theists and atheists suffer with. smilies/cheesy.gif

Perhaps it's because they already know 'God' has never healed one. Otherwise, how would they know not to bother asking?

That ignores the fact that people lost their limbs long before any notion of the Christian God was around, so there was plenty of precedence that that particular prayer wasn't in the realm of possibilities. Again, this becomes a problem because WGWHA mixes up the ideas of "miracles", "prayer" and "healing".

BillyJoe, i knew someone would bite--i am indeed psychic (and a bit psycho)! smilies/grin.gif
Most of your response is obtrucive, but i will respond to:

I challenge to quote from the site.


You evidently haven't read the site! That is the very foundation that is being argued against in this website. It begins its argument by quoting Mark 11:24. The website goes out of its way to quote all these biblical passages and then hold them to a literal interpretation. To turn around, as Skeptigirl does in responding to Griz and Alencon, and then claim that the argument is really a "symbolic" one, is being disingenuous. I don't know of many if any Believers who think that if they pray for a million $, they're gonna receive it.

There are many many problems in taking a statistical or scientific approach to the power of prayer, as this argument clearly does. Not the least of which is that a prerequisite to effective prayer (according to the Bible) is a firm belief. Belief cannot be controlled for. There is no way in measuring the amount of 'doubt' a prayer subject might have.

Guess what? Healing is ambiguous. It doesn't even have to be physical. And most mainstream Christians understand and accept that fact. They don't demand that a limb regrow for scientific proof. At least that is my understanding of the DA smilies/wink.gif
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What does obtrucive mean?
written by BillyJoe, March 01, 2009
Stanfr,

Nice try at preventing a response to your post, but I clearly beat you at your own game and all you can do now is pretend that you haven't realised that smilies/wink.gif Again, nice try, but you lose again.

And you still haven't shown where on that site it says that "God supposedly will answer all prayers"

To turn around, as Skeptigirl does in responding to Griz and Alencon, and then claim that the argument is really a "symbolic" one, is being disingenuous.

This is from page 2 where, right from the start, the author is making it clear that the question about amputees is a symbolic one:

"The question, "Why won't God heal amputees?" probes into a fundamental aspect of prayer and exposes it for observation"

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."

There are many many problems in taking a statistical or scientific approach to the power of prayer, as this argument clearly does. Not the least of which is that a prerequisite to effective prayer is a firm belief. Belief cannot be controlled for. There is no way in measuring the amount of 'doubt' a prayer subject might have.

He gives the example of Joanna Giese where it was claimed that the prayers of people around the world cured her rabies. It is his suggestion, therefore, that something similar be organised for an amputee where the evidence for a miracle would be obvious to everyone.

Guess what? Healing is ambiguous. It doesn't even have to be physical. And most mainstream Christians understand and accept that fact.

Ambiguous? What you mean is that healing by prayer is ineffective.

They don't demand that a limb regrow for scientific proof.

That don't demand it? What you mean is that they shy away from it. And why do you think that might be? Nothing to do with the result in the case of an amputee being UNambiguous?

BJ

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written by Cuddy Joe, March 02, 2009
I lost the little finger on my right hand in a dining accident and I prayed and prayed to God about it - and God replaced it! Unfortunately, the Smartass replaced it in the middle of my forehead.
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The rationale is still flawed.
written by Skeptigirl, March 02, 2009
written by Stanfr, March 01, 2009
That ignores the fact that people lost their limbs long before any notion of the Christian God was around, so there was plenty of precedence that that particular prayer wasn't in the realm of possibilities. Again, this becomes a problem because WGWHA mixes up the ideas of "miracles", "prayer" and "healing".
That sounds more like rationalizing one's opinion than supporting it with reason. All you are saying here is people don't expect real miracles, only pretend ones. And that was my point.


BTW, with a spell checker, most of your typos are caught before you post. I didn't address your personal spelling skills. Most of us use spell check of some kind. It gives one the facade of intelligence. What's under the facade remains to be revealed by the content of the post. smilies/cool.gif
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written by Skeptigirl, March 02, 2009
written by Stanfr, March 01, 2009
There are many many problems in taking a statistical or scientific approach to the power of prayer, as this argument clearly does. Not the least of which is that a prerequisite to effective prayer is a firm belief. Belief cannot be controlled for. There is no way in measuring the amount of 'doubt' a prayer subject might have.
First, these variables are controlled for by having 2 matched groups, only one of which is prayed for. If the study population is large enough, there will be some people in each group who should specifically benefit from the added prayer intervention. In addition, you look at lots of studies done various ways. When you look at the data collectively, it's clear there is no significant affect of prayer beyond the equivalent of a placebo effect, and, even that is suspect as the completed studies where people knew they were being prayed for have not met good scientific standards.

Second, there are two control groups which are not affected by these variables. The first is the rate of cure/healing prior to the last 100 years when the science of medicine developed. And the second is the rate of cure/healing of any specific illness/condition prior to the development of the scientific medical intervention for that illness/condition.

One need only look at the effect of the introduction of a vaccine such as measles vaccine into a population, to see the effect scientific medicine has over the ineffectiveness of prayer. That is unless you are claiming no one ever prayed their child would survive the common childhood infections.

Even if one pretends there was a god who allowed some healing with faith, science still has that god beat by a long shot.



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written by dr pepper, March 02, 2009
Actually, many believers have a comprehensive answer that satisfies them: "God always heals, sometimes in this lifetime, sometimes you have to wait until after the ressurection". Someday all the believers will find themselves alive again and with perfect bodies.
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written by Skeptigirl, March 03, 2009
written by dr pepper, March 02, 2009
Actually, many believers have a comprehensive answer that satisfies them:
Then why bother praying at all?
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written by Cuddy Joe, March 03, 2009
There are values to prayer beyond the object of a prayer (to the believer). A basic tenet of Christianity is the idea that one needn't worry overmuch about things one cannot control because you've got a Heavenly Union Rep or Cosmic Bodyguard watching your back, that is to say, you are not the greatest power operating in your life, that there is a higher power, and further, that higher power will see to your needs and take care of you (again, this is all from the believer POV). So, the act of prayer is also an act of contrition, often done from one's knees, and is a symbolic acceptance of one's place as subservient to a caring higher power, to God.

While a believer doesn't usually expect a literal fulfillment of a prayer, and has built in excuses for why a prayer seems not to have been answered ("sometimes God says no" or "God works in mysterious ways, His wonders to perform"), this doesn't mean the act of praying holds no value for the believer. It seems to me as nothing more than credo consolans, but consolation has value, however oddly or weirdly obtained it may seem to me or other atheists. There is also the value of communal ritual, where prayer is merely the agency for the goal of belonging to a group of like-minded, er, like-hearted believers.

As for me, I'm of the notion "pray in one hand and shit in the other and see which fills up first", but I am not prepared to declare prayer has no value because it has no value to me.

I think prayer has value to the believer in that it helps to alleviate the frustration of not being able to create the prayed-for situation by oneself, such as when a believer or group of believers prays for a loved one with terminal cancer. Within the framework of their belief system, prayer allows them to try to bring about the desired cure they cannot effect themselves due to a lack of personal power to do so by entreaties to the higher power whom their beliefs tell them can effect the cure or remedy.

Oof. No more coffee for me.

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written by Skeptigirl, March 03, 2009
written by Cuddy Joe, March 03, 2009
but I am not prepared to declare prayer has no value
The discussion is about the power of prayer to heal/cure disease compared to the value of science to do the same. The discussion is not about the value of prayer in other areas.

It's my opinion there are alternatives to prayer which provide everything prayer provides. But those are neutral alternatives, not better, not worse. The harm in theism overall is its negative impact on critical thinking. One would need to weigh all the costs and benefits of prayer to determine if its overall value is negative or positive. But when it comes to physical healing, I'm more than prepared to declare, prayer has no value. The psychological benefit of magical thinking (believing prayer helps) may exist for some people in some situations.
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written by Cuddy Joe, March 04, 2009
Skeptigirl, you are lecturing, rather condescendingly, to a choir member who joined the choir likely before your parents were born. Of course prayer is worthless in healing medical illness. Dr. Pepper had posted that some believers pray with the idea that its answer may come at any time between its execution and, well, eternity in heaven. You asked "Why bother praying at all?" I responded with my post explaining that prayer holds value for believers beyond the object of curing illness. I'm sure you're aware that believers aren't impressed with yours or my knowledge of the worthlessness of prayer to cure illness.
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perceptions deceive
written by Skeptigirl, March 04, 2009
I mostly wanted to correct any notion you or anyone else thought I was saying prayer had no value. I think it's just as reasonable to conclude you were sliding off topic as it was reasonable to assume I was doing more than bringing the discussion back on topic.

In other words, perceived criticism is in the eye of the beholder, but not always intended by the originator of the words in the way it was perceived.
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more audio footage available?
written by TheFallibleFiend, March 31, 2009
Years ago - when JR first exposed PP - I had heard that in some of the recorded audio PP's wife was making disparaging remarks about some of their victims. Specifically I recall phrases where she was making fun of them, referring to "fat pigs," and "stupid."

Is there any truth to that? Either way, is there any thought to make more of the audio available online?
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