Re: [asa] Hiding the miraculous?

From: Chris Barden <>
Date: Tue Jun 12 2007 - 16:36:59 EDT


> I find the objections against the apparent "inconsistencies" of answered
> Christian prayer to themselves, be shortsighted and inconsistent according to
> their own assumptions. The logical conclusion (if there was one) of their
> objection to non-universal healings or "sparings" is that nobody can ever die
> unless it be some form of "ideal" or peaceful death in bed -- which others
> would then, in any case, find objectionable. Moreover nothing bad could ever
> happen in the world because if it did, then those subjected would have been
> unfairly treated by God. Christians (and to my knowledge --nobody) has ever
> claimed the world should exist in this ridiculously absurd and unimaginable
> state. It's basically nonsense, and Dawkins or others would be unable to
> answer the question: So what would the world have to be like before you would
> say "OK, now God is consistently answering prayer." They construct an
> illogical & undefinable ideal and then hold Christianity in contempt for not
> achieving it.

True, as regards the problem of evil. I believe this is much like
Plantinga's argument that, in order to argue that evil in the world
disproves God's action in it, one must first demonstrate that the
quantitative amount of evil (he invented a unit, I recall) is greater
than one would expect from a world under God's superintendence.
Dawkins, indeed no one, can demonstrate this, which is why he focuses
more on an emotional non-argument; Plantinga himself has granted this
is the strongest polemic for atheism, even if there is no evidencial
basis for believing it. And McGrath's reference to the cross at this
point is the only remotely satisfying counter from an emotional
perspective. Why it was that set of children and not some other set
that God saved, we cannot answer.

> An aside: I seem to remember Yancey using Pancreatic cancer as one of the
> cancers he has never ever heard of any healing or documented remissions from
> from among the thousands of accounts he does have of apparent answers to
> prayer. Apparently that is one of the deadlier cancers -- it would be
> interesting to self-proclaimed hear faith healers comment on it.

Pancreatic cancer is close to mind because I recently had an aunt
succumb to the disease. She was a strong Christian, so I tried to
focus on her future hope as solace for her present pain. I was well
aware of her extremely poor prognosis, and did not pray for healing as
the solution to her pain. But others in my family were praying
fervently for healing, and they were crushed when it did not happen.

We Christians are in tension. We say that faith as small as a mustard
seed can move mountains. We hear and read anecdotes about faith
healings, like in Nepal as an excerpt of Yancey's book indicates:
"Nepalese church leaders estimate that 80 per cent of converts have
resulted from physical healings." We want to believe this _could_
happen, but we also know things usually happen in accordance with
natural laws. What I don't know about this subject could fill
volumes, but I'm pretty sure a clinical survey of Nepalese showing P <
0.001 significance in spontaneous healings would be front-page news.
So can we say, then, that if God has worked this many miracles in
Nepal, that he has chosen them over some other group? And would a
clinical survey demonstrate this, i.e. a rise in healings in Nepal
balanced by a drop somewhere else? I'm inclined to think not, that in
fact most of these healings in Nepal are not low-probability events
and would therefore not be applicable to this test. But I'm curious.


To unsubscribe, send a message to with
"unsubscribe asa" (no quotes) as the body of the message.
Received on Tue Jun 12 16:37:37 2007

This archive was generated by hypermail 2.1.8 : Tue Jun 12 2007 - 16:37:37 EDT