Tuesday, December 03, 2019

BDD and amputees

A recent popular atheist trope is the taunt, "Why won't God heal amputees?" Two assumptions or motivations lie behind the taunt:

i) Candidates for miracles are ambiguous. The test is an unambiguous example which rules out naturalistic explanations. 

ii) If God healed amputees, a spectacular miracle like that would be widely reported. 

Since there's no evidence that amputees are healed, there's no evidence that a miracle-performing God exists. So goes the argument. 

I've discussed this before, but now I'd like to approach it from a different angle. There's a mental health disorder known as body dysmorphic disorder (BDD). The patient feels alienated from a body part. They imagine their body part to be defective, despite the fact that it's perfectly healthy and normal. 

Nowadays, some patients take the next step by undergoing surgical mutilation to fix the perceived problem. They have normal functional body parts amputated for cosmetic reasons. 

Suppose God routinely healed amputees with BDD. That would encourage some people to test God by becoming amputees. That would be their fallback. If I change my mind, God will restore the body part!

Would that be a better kind of world or worse kind of world? Should we expect God to encourage that behavior? 

Now a village atheist will complain that my explanation is special pleading. And I agree that if there was no good evidence for bona fide miracles, then attempts to explain away the nonoccurrence of miracles consistent with the existence of a miracle-performing God are special pleading. But to the contrary, it's atheists who obsess over one arbitrarily chosen example to be the test case who are guilty of special pleading. There's plenty of evidence for unambiguous miracles. 

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