Why won't God regenerate limbs?

Philosopher Jean-Paul Sartre visited Lourdes with a priest friend of his. He had heard about many of the miracles that had taken place there. He said to his priest friend, “Show me one artificial limb and I will believe.” He could not. According to Sartre, it seems that miracles only happen in the ambiguous. There is never any clear proof for them as there are plenty of other reasonable explanations like psychosomatic or psychological issues or placebo. How do we respond to this?


Yes God could snap his fingers and end every disease in the world, but that’s not the way, is it?

“Since God is the highest good , he would not allow any evil to exist in his works unless his omnipotence and goodness were such as to bring good even out of evil.”


Because Lourdes does not have such a documented miracle does not mean that such a miracle has not been docuemnted:



It’s important to note that a search online shows people who claim to have lost the ability to walk then later regained it claiming their prayers were answered. The same goes for the use of arms. So before anyone attempts to use the excuse that God sometimes will not allow someone to not have use of limbs in defending not growing them back, his own followers disagree.

To me, it’s not a coincidence that what God seems to be able to do matches exactly with what the body can heal naturally.


Then Abraham said, ‘If they will not listen to Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded if someone should rise from the dead.’” Lk 16:31

Why do you think that Our Lord told people who had been cured to tell no one? I think it was because while unusual cures confirm faith, they don’t cause faith.

You need endurance to do the will of God and receive what he has promised.
“For, after just a brief moment,
he who is to come shall come;
he shall not delay.
But my just one shall live by faith,
and if he draws back I take no pleasure in him.”
We are not among those who draw back and perish, but among those who have faith and will possess life.
Faith is the realization of what is hoped for and evidence of things not seen. Because of it the ancients were well attested. By faith we understand that the universe was ordered by the word of God, so that what is visible came into being through the invisible.
Heb 10:36-39, 11:1-3

Which is to say, the healing God put into our bodies, taking place in a way we grow to take for granted, also coincides with the healing God brings about in an unusual way. Why would this not be so? Is God not the author of both the body and the cure?


These are very rare–similar to bilocation and raising the dead. In addition to Calanda:

St. John Chrysostom’s hand was lost. Through his prayer and the intercession of the blessed virgin it was restored. That miraculous hand over 1700 years later is to this day incorruptible while the rest of his body was not (his tongue may be too, I forget). See here:

St John of Damascus had his hand amputated by the Caliph of Damascus on the evidence of a forged letter attributed to St John offering to betray the city to its enemies. The hand grew back and the Caliph accepted St John’s innocence on the basis of the miraculous regrowth.

St. Peter also restored lost hands when a man trying to tip over Mary’s funeral bier had them cut off. Of course, Our Lord restored the amputated ear of the soldier.

St. Anthony of Padua was well known for working great miracles, including restoring lost limbs–he is the patron of amputees for this very reason. A responsory composed by one of his contemporaries goes like this:

“The sea obeys and fetters break
And lifeless limbs thou dost restore
While treasures lost are found again
When young or old thine aid implore.”


I really doubt the sincerity of old Sartre here, and it’s no surprise that God didn’t dance to his tune. How would he explain away Eucharistic miracles?

When we eventually figure out how to regenerate lost limbs with stem stells, does that mean it’s not a miracle, just a natural cause we haven’t discovered yet? I can just imagine the skeptics explaining away a miracle as “spontaneous regeneration.”

We’re going to simply disagree on whether God is “the author of both the body and cure”, but that’s immaterial to the question at hand. In prayer believers with ailments ask God to supersede the normal healing processes. There are those who were told they would never walk again or have use of their arms. then when they are healed give credit to God. Of those people, they all had limbs. They didn’t grow new ones. God is allegedly infinite. He could just as easily make a quadriplegic be able to dance as he could make someone with a broken leg walk. Yet despite this infiniteness believers seem to be okay with a god of limits that match a world without a god.

And what Sartre said isn’t limited to sites like Lourdes. There is a famous skeptic by the name of James Randi who investigated various faith healers. They would do things where they would find someone who was on crutches or in a wheelchair but was able to walk a little. They’d take the crutches or the wheelchair away and proclaim to the audience the power of faith. Randi noted they never seemed to pick anyone with an artificial limb. One of the saddest scenes in his book “Faith Healers” was when he talked in a stairwell to one of the people who were “healed”, The person swore up and down how great it was… yet she couldn’t make it down the stairs.

But this isn’t just a challenge by Sartre, but a desperate plea by many true believers who pray sincerely – a mother wanting to hold her baby, a father looking to be able to go back to work to provide for his family. They can look to other believers who seemingly have had similar prayers answered – with the only difference being the repair of a limb versus the regrowth of one.

Obviously it would be a miracle if it were to occur without use of human ingenuity. With science we can communicate with people across the globe, but it would still be a miracle if someone got a vision of something occurring from the other side of the globe.

:thinking: What is this you speak of? A world without God? I can’t imagine the absence of stars, oceans, flowers, insects, sea creatures, land creatures, atoms, DNA; all that is, unbeing.

So I guess you’re dismissing the Calanda miracle and the examples given by @Genesis315? Is the problem not that God never regrows limbs, but he doesn’t do it often enough? And what is the appropriate measure of miracle frequency, and how do you determine it? Do you need to personally witness an immediately regrown limb?

More directly to the point: Do you think it is unreasonable for God to require faith without performing miracles? Or to leave enough room for doubt so that faith is still required?

This indicates some underlying confusion about what is at stake with a skeptical approach to miracles. It’s an argument against divine intervention, not divine existence. An absence of healing miracles could lead to the conclusion “God doesn’t care about us”; but it’s not reasonable to leap from there to “God doesn’t exist.”

1 Like

Why won’t God regenerate limbs?

Cause He chooses not to.

The Miracle of Calanda

So, 300 hundred years ago, a beggar claimed to have one leg because the other was amputated. He makes a good living by begging. His parents unexpectedly walk in on him months later and notice his leg has returned. He claims it’s a miracle. They open the box where his amputated leg supposedly was, and, lo and behold, it is missing. And the ‘new, regrown’ leg is actually thee exact same one that supposedly was cut off. Hmmm…

Not to throw cold water on this, but isn’t this EXACTLY the same thing Eddie Murphy did in Trading Places? I read several articles on this story, and the biggest hole is that NO ONE claims to have seen either the amputation or the amputated leg. And don;t you find it suspicious that the miracle only occurred because the amputee was walked in on by mistake - you know “Son, your leg is back!” “oh it is? Oh yes, I mean it is! It’s a miracle.” Very suspicious don’t you think?


It’s always going to be hearsay unless you personally experience or witness it immediately. Are you looking for something that absolutely compels belief in supernatural intervention without you needing to make any movement of faith? If God values faith, why would he do that?

Miracles happen if you look for them.

How do you explain this one away? It isn’t big or visible enough?

I know you can’t imagine a universe without God, so let me split the difference so we can tackle the actual question at hand. Imagine the one true religion is Deism. A god or gods set things in motion including how people are born, how disease works, and how the body heals; but then this god does not intercede at all with the world. He or she doesn’t answer prayers. It’s a clockwork universe.

If our world were such that no higher being altered how limbs healed or grew then the rates of those healings and growth would seem to match with what we see now.

It’s immaterial whether God is the Creator or not? In that case, what is it exactly that Sartre was going to believe if he saw a new limb?

I think @jan10000 already dismissed it well enough using the best movie about frozen concentrated orange juice futures ever. :smiley:

And if you’re saying a non-believer should trust everything in a holy book, then do you believe Muhammed flew threw the air on a buraq because the Quran said he did?

The word that best describes such a situation is convenient. It’s convenient when a person says a Ouija board didn’t work because the person watching is a skeptic. It’s convenient when a psychic says to fixate on the one thing he got right and to ignore the twenty things he got wrong. It’s convenient to focus on the supposed one prayer with a reasonable explanation seems to get answered and to not focus on all the ones that don’t. It’s notable to me that this throughline of what prayers do and don’t get answered isn’t a bug but supposedly a feature, despite the fact that no such qualifications are in place in the Bible for prayers to be answered.

Nothing can disprove such a nebulous concept as God (yours or any other), but for each failure of unanswered prayer it lessens each alleged success of answered prayer, especially when the dividing line between answered and unanswered prayers matches what a world without a god would look like.

I don’t know. It’s like Balaam’s donkey. I don’t know if that donkey physically really spoke or it was some kind of vision. There’s not a lot at stake for me, one way or the other. I’m not committed to a definite “No” in the same way you are for, say, the Resurrection. You’re staking a much larger claim and consequences on “miracles never happen.” It’s an unreasonable, ideological commitment to uniformity of nature.

I do enjoy some classic Eddie Murphy though. :slight_smile: He’s still hilarious.

The purpose of prayer is to conform our will to God; but what you seem to be contending is that miracles never happen. Even if he speeds up a process that nature would do on its own anyway, is that not amazing enough? Or God never grants intercessory requests. Isn’t it more likely to be, “sometimes”? How do you explain this one, for example? https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HkaNOub2jJE

Rather than conclude theism is false and the lack of compelling supernatural events is “convenient” (I am guessing you mean convenient for the church so it can continue to keep deluded believers), it seems that faith is actually something God wants us to have.

I agree that formal, metaphysical atheism is illogical and self-refuting. You’d have to at least end up with some kind of minimal deism for coherence. Practically atheism if there is never any supernatural intervention, though.

Why would regrowth of limbs be the presumed test of existence of a higher being? What is easier to grow, a replacement tail on a salamander or a fully formed human baby from a single cell? If human limbs were regrown on a daily basis, would not that occurence be too commonplace then to suppose Godly intervention?

Cross to bear. We do not desire complete or perfect earthly bodies, but live in a sure hope of glorified bodies.

Sartre apparently never understood that - but he does now.

DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit www.catholic.com.