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Atheism and Amputation

John on November 29, 2007 at 1:39 am

From the Christian Post:

A national weekly news magazine recently featured a debate between atheist/author Sam Harris and author/pastor Rick Warren (“The Purpose Driven Life”). As part of his debate, Mr. Harris threw down a challenge to prove God’s existence by finding a deserving amputee and having 1 billion people pray for God to grow the leg back. In trying to disprove the existence of God, it’s unclear why Mr. Harris chooses to focus on amputees growing limbs back rather than looking for a sea to split open or fish and loaves to multiply, and it’s equally unclear why Harris specifically asked that it be a “leg” amputee versus an “arm” amputee. Nevertheless, that was the challenge.

A few weeks ago, C-Span featured a speech given at the annual meeting for American Atheists by a former “Saturday Night Live” actress. This group gave her a standing ovation and even presented her with a special plaque to honor her courage as an “atheist celebrity.” The actress joked, “There is evidence for God, just not very good evidence.” The audience was shown patting themselves on the back, laughing, applauding and apparently reveling in their ability to declare, “There is no God.” Days later, on CBS’ “Sunday Morning,” the same group was featured, along with the same actress, again celebrating the “joys of atheism.” Once more, the interview brought up the “amputee challenge” of Mr. Harris.

My wife of 21 years, Gracie, is a double-amputee (both legs), and our organization, Standing With Hope, is, to our knowledge, the only evangelical prosthetic limb outreach in the world. We travel to West Africa and work with the government of Ghana to train and equip their workers on building high-quality prosthetic legs. Gracie’s definition of high quality is summed up in her statement, “I will not place a leg on someone that I am not willing to wear myself.” It is hoped that Mr. Harris will agree that Gracie, who has undergone 70 operations and still finds the will and ability to help others struggling with limb loss, is a suitable “deserving” candidate for his challenge.


To the atheists so concerned about amputees, it is difficult to understand why a good and loving God hasn’t made Gracie’s legs grow back.

That difficulty in understanding seemed to be part of the platform that led American Atheists to applaud an actress for having the courage to proclaim her conviction that “God doesn’t exist.” But while atheists applaud mocking comments about people of faith, amputees in Ghana are walking, going to school and taking care of their families – all because Gracie’s courage – as an amputee – to proclaim her conviction that, “All things work together for good to those who love God and are called according to His purpose” (Romans 8:28).

Of course if Harris had his way, people like Gracie would be doing something “useful” with their time.

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