Marshall Brain, founder of "How Stuff Works" is also the author of an anti-Christian website, "Why Does God Hate Amputees," which has been renamed to "Why won't God heal amputees?" Brain's main point is that God does not (hence the "hate" title) or cannot heal amputees, presumably because He does not exist. Does this argument provide a valid case against the existence of God?
Amputees have never been healed?
The premise of the argument is that amputees have never been healed and that all other "healings" throughout the history of mankind have really been due to natural, but rare, events. However, there is at least one healing of an amputee that has been recorded. When Jesus was being arrested prior to His trials, the disciple Peter took a sword and, missing the mark, sliced off the ear of the high priest's servant:
And one of them struck the slave of the high priest and cut off his right ear. But Jesus answered and said, "Stop! No more of this." And He touched his ear and healed him. (Luke 22:50-51)
Jesus responded by calling a halt to the violence and healing the man's ear. It should be noted that He did not pick up the severed piece of ear, but merely touched the stump to heal the man's ear. Although not quite as dramatic as replacing entire legs, it nonetheless represents a miracle that is beyond any possible naturalistic explanation, since humans cannot instantly (or even over time) regrow ears.
Bible made it up?
The common objection to his argument is that the Bible just made up this miracles, like all others it reports. Of course, this objection is offered without any proof of being correct. It is just assumed that the disciples would do anything, including lying, in order to propagate their lies. The funny thing about the assertion is that it directly contradicts the teachings of Jesus, which was fiercely against the hypocrites. So, the disciples are being accused of doing exactly what they preached against. Again, no evidence is offered that they ever did any such kind of lying. What they skeptics won't tell you is that there is actually evidence that directly contradicts this assertion. The problem with the idea that the disciples made up the miracles of Jesus is that the hostile witnesses of the time (the Jewish religious leadership) never denied that those miracles took place, but attributed them to the work of Satan.1 In his rebuttal to Jewish Celsus, Origen reported Celsus as saying Jesus had obtained His miraculous gifts while in Egypt (obviously by the power of sorcery).2 If the miracles of Jesus had been made-up, the Jews would have denied they ever happened, rather than attribute them to the work of the devil. It was, in fact, the miracles of Jesus that convinced a large number of people that Jesus of Nazareth was the Messiah. So, the extra-biblical evidence actually supports the Bible's claim that Jesus performed numerous miracles, including the healing of an amputee.
The experiment to "prove" Brain's point
Marshall Brain has designed an experiment to "prove" that God cannot heal amputees. The experiment goes something like this. Pick an amputee (must have both legs severed, just one would not be good enough), and have millions of Christians throughout the world pray for his healing. According to Brain, this proves that God does not exist. The main problem is that the experiment has never been done. So, in reality, Brain has proved nothing. Even if the experiment were to be run, there are some problems with its design. The first wrong assumption is that a large number of Christians are able to dictate to God what He should do. Healings do not necessarily require large numbers of people praying, since most recorded healings have involved just one prayer. The second wrong assumption is that God heals all who are prayed for. Even the Bible records examples of Christians - even apostles - who were not healed, despite prayer.3 The third wrong assumption is that every Christian has the gift to heal people. The Bible clearly says that this is not so.6 A fourth wrong assumption is that somebody can be found who is "deserving." According to the Bible, none of us is worthy of being saved.5 However, God, in His love, saves the undeserving through His mercy.4 God does not heal everybody of every infirmity in this life. I began working for my current boss in 1983 at the UCLA Inflammatory Bowel Disease Center. Within two years, I developed Crohn's Disease, the most severe form of Inflammatory Bowel Disease, which has no cure. I found myself unable to do things using my own abilities and strength. After two months of being bedridden in severe pain, I cried out to God, even though I was a One who believes in the existence of an impersonal God.deist at the time (I had gone from an agnostic atheist to a deist in college). Within three months all symptoms of Crohn's disease had disappeared. That was over 25 years ago, and no symptoms of the disease have ever reappeared. However, thousands of people have gone through our Inflammatory Bowel Disease clinics and not been cured. I am sure that most of those people have prayed to God, but are still suffering. For some reason, God chose to heal me, so that I would know that He was personally involved in the lives of people. God acts to produce eternal, spiritual outcomes, and not just temporal, physical changes.
Jesus says to become an amputee!
The really ironic thing about Marshall Brain's experiment is that Jesus addresses it exactly opposite from what Brain says. Jesus says there are more important things than having limbs. In fact, He suggested that people amputate their limbs (or gouge out their eyes) if those parts helped them to sin:
"If your right hand makes you stumble, cut it off and throw it from you; for it is better for you to lose one of the parts of your body, than for your whole body to go into hell. (Matthew 5:30)
"If your hand or your foot causes you to stumble, cut it off and throw it from you; it is better for you to enter life crippled or lame, than to have two hands or two feet and be cast into the eternal fire. "If your eye causes you to stumble, pluck it out and throw it from you. It is better for you to enter life with one eye, than to have two eyes and be cast into the fiery hell. (Matthew 18:8-9)
The main thing that Mr. Brain has failed to understand is that this life is a mere short prequel to the life that is to come. Nobody is going to avoid all the discomforts or escape life intact. In fact, your destiny is death. If God healed everyone's illnesses, there would be no death. God wants to do more than just heal your physical bodies, which are temporary. God wants to heal your soul, which is eternal. God wants to make you perfect!7 However, God does not want to force anyone to act against his own will, so He give us choices. Agree to give up your "right" to sin and go along with God's plan, and He will reward you with a perfect soul in heaven.
Brain is incognito
I would have much more respect for Mr. Brain, if he would sign his name to his writings. Originally, he listed himself as author of the pages on his website. However, now, his name has disappeared for some reason. Be a man, Mr. Brain and stand up for what you believe!
Why does God love Marshall Brain?
The main question that needs to be asked is not why God hates amputees (which He doesn't), but why God loves Marshall Brain? As you can probably tell, I am not a great fan of Marshall Brain. However, God loves him dearly8 and wants to spend eternity with him.9 I'm not quite there yet. However, if God can change the author of this article from an atheist into a believer, He can certainly do it for Mr. Brain. If you are a Christian, pray for Mr. Brain. Changing him into a lover of God would certainly be a miracle greater than replacing someone's legs.
Contrary to the claims of Marshall Brain, God already has healed amputees physically. The objection that the Bible just made up the healing miracles of Jesus was never put forth by the skeptics of Jesus' day because the people of the time had seen those miracles first hand. Mr. Brain's experiment to pick a "deserving" amputee and pray to have him healed has never been done. So, his conclusion that God would not ever heal an amputee remains untested. God will heal amputees and everybody else who wants to be healed spiritually, to receive perfect spiritual bodies in heaven.10 It's quite a deal, and a much better one than the alternative offered by Marshall Brain.11 Mr. Brain thinks that technology will solve all the world's problems. However, what technology is really good at is giving us "better" ways to kill each other and more free time to commit sin. No thanks, Mr. Brain. I prefer a place in which righteousness dwells.12
- Was Jesus God?
- Hypocrites Defined: What About Hypocrisy in the Christian Church?
- Rich's Testimony for Jesus Christ
- Scientific Evidence for Answered Prayer
- Prayer for Healing: What Does Science Say?
- What Will Heaven be Like?
- Then they brought him a demon-possessed man who was blind and
mute, and Jesus healed him, so that he could both talk and see. All
the people were astonished and said, "Could this be the Son of David?"
But when the Pharisees heard this, they said, "It is only by
Beelzebub, the prince of demons, that this fellow drives out demons."
And the teachers of the law who came down from Jerusalem said, "He is possessed by Beelzebub! By the prince of demons he is driving out demons." (Mark 3:22)
Jesus was driving out a demon that was mute. When the demon left, the man who had been mute spoke, and the crowd was amazed. But some of them said, "By Beelzebub, the prince of demons, he is driving out demons." (Luke 11:14-15)
Flavius Josephus The Antiquities of the Jews 18:63
Talmud P. Ta'an. 65b
The Sanhedrin 3a
- "...having hired himself out as a servant in Egypt on account of his poverty, and having there acquired some miraculous powers, on which the Egyptians greatly pride themselves, returned to his own country, highly elated on account of them, and by means of these proclaimed himself a God." Origen, Contra Celsum 1.28.
- Because of the surpassing greatness of the revelations, for this reason, to keep me from exalting myself, there was given me a thorn in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to torment me--to keep me from exalting myself! Concerning this I implored the Lord three times that it might leave me. And He has said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness." Most gladly, therefore, I will rather boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me. (2 Corinthians 12:7-9)
- All do not have gifts of healings, do they? All do not speak with tongues, do they? All do not interpret, do they? (1 Corinthians 12:30)
- And I saw a strong angel proclaiming with a loud voice, "Who is worthy
to open the book and to break its seals?" And no one in heaven or on the
earth or under the earth was able to open the book or to look into it. (Revelation
as it is written, "THERE IS NONE RIGHTEOUS, NOT EVEN ONE; (Romans 3:10)
for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23)
For all of us have become like one who is unclean, And all our righteous deeds are like a filthy garment; And all of us wither like a leaf, And our iniquities, like the wind, take us away. (Isaiah 64:6)
- But God, being rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in our transgressions, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), (Ephesians 2:4-5)
- But you have come to Mount Zion and to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to myriads of angels, to the general assembly and church of the firstborn who are enrolled in heaven, and to God, the Judge of all, and to the spirits of the righteous made perfect, (Hebrews 12:22-23)
- Who is a God like You, who pardons iniquity And passes
over the rebellious act of the remnant of His possession? He does not retain
His anger forever, Because He delights in unchanging love. (Micah 7:18)
"The LORD your God is in your midst, A victorious warrior. He will exult over you with joy, He will be quiet in His love, He will rejoice over you with shouts of joy. (Zephaniah 3:17)
"For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life. (John 3:16)
But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. (Romans 5:8)
For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, will be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Romans 8:38-39)
But God, being rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in our transgressions, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), and raised us up with Him, and seated us with Him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the ages to come He might show the surpassing riches of His grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. (Ephesians 2:4-7)
For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth derives its name, that He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with power through His Spirit in the inner man, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; and that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ which surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled up to all the fullness of God. (Ephesians 3:14-19)
But when the kindness of God our Savior and His love for mankind appeared, He saved us, not on the basis of deeds which we have done in righteousness, but according to His mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewing by the Holy Spirit, (Titus 3:4-5)
Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God; and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God. The one who does not love does not know God, for God is love. By this the love of God was manifested in us, that God has sent His only begotten Son into the world so that we might live through Him. In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins. (1 John 4:7-10)
- For we know that if the earthly tent which is our house
is torn down, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands,
eternal in the heavens. (2 Corinthians 5:1)
Parable of the banquet:
Then the master [God] told his servant, "Go out to the roads and country lanes and make them come in, so that my house will be full." (Luke 14:23)
- So also is the resurrection of the dead. It is sown a perishable body, it is raised an imperishable body; it is sown in dishonor, it is raised in glory; it is sown in weakness, it is raised in power; it is sown a natural body, it is raised a spiritual body. If there is a natural body, there is also a spiritual body. (1 Corinthians 15:42-44)
- Marshall Brain's idea is to create "Heaven on Earth", the
phrase which he has apparently trademarked, although this trademark has been
used to sell everything from
soap, ice cream, massage therapy, jewelry, etc.
In this heaven on earth, there will be no poverty, because Marshall Brain
will have given away all his millions to feed and clothe the needy. Maybe he
should do more than just trademark the phrase!
As He was setting out on a journey, a man ran up to Him and knelt before Him, and asked Him, "Good Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?" Looking at him, Jesus felt a love for him and said to him, "One thing you lack: go and sell all you possess and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me." (Mark 10:17-21)
- But according to His promise we are looking for new heavens and a new earth, in which righteousness dwells. (2 Peter 3:13)
Last Modified October 4, 2011