The process for approving a miracle is actually quite strict and involves medical records, testimony from doctors and medical professionals involved in the cured person’s care, as well as an independent examination of the facts. That aside, to a certain extent there will always be ambiguity - it’s pretty much impossible to prove anything with complete certainty. This is of course where faith comes into play.
So, for me, the answer to the question “why doesn’t God heal amputees” is to say what the person is really asking is “why doesn’t God just appear right here and now and make it easier for everyone?” Granted that might make believing easier but God doesn’t imposes Himself upon us; He invites us to believe, to enter into a relationship with Him but won’t force us. We live in a world which operates basically on a what you see is what you get level, dismissing things that can’t be perceived with the senses. Faith however, requires us to go beyond the limits of our understanding and trust that there is something more which we’re searching for even without realising it. Faith is the belief in things unseen, the assurance of things hoped for.
There is actually a qualified medical team at Lourdes who examines claims of healing to see whether or not they can be explained by science rather than by divine intervention, and whether there indeed was something to be cured from in the first place. These doctors are often chosen among people who have no sympathy for the Church, so they cannot be accused of presenting things in a biased way. One of my parents’ friend is on the team, and he is a staunch atheist.
In the list of witnesses and their accounts, on page 43, it records the testimony, under oath, of Juan de Estanga, a surgeon who performed the amputation. So, indeed, there is someone who said he saw the amputation… given that he was the one who amputated it.
I have never convinced an atheist of anything that I know of, and I don’t really try to. Whenever I talk with, in particular, close friends or family members who are atheists, I simply do my best to dispel myths about what and why I believe, and to be a good and articulate witness. Is it a waste of time ? I don’t know. Who knows what seed will unexpectedly grow and bear fruit - tomorrow or in twenty years or in the last moments of their life on this earth ?
Padre Pio was responsible for restoring an eyeball lost by a construction worker when an explosion blew rock into his face. The doctors at the hospital saw one eyeball completely missing, the other eye damaged. His head was wrapped up and the man explained that Padre Pio came to bless him and laid hands on him. They removed the bandages and the missing eye was completely restored and in working order.
You know what kind of faith we have? We don’t even trust God to put a quarter on the ground for us at some point in our day. We can’t even believe that God would do that.
Exactly - only one person claims to have seen the actual amputated leg, the doctor that did it. You don;t think the doctor could have been paid off with the money made by the beggar? What is more probable
that a charlatan lied about an amputation to make a living as a beggar, paying off a doctor to make it look convincing, then got caught when he mistakenly slept in the wrong bedroom
that an honest person had a a leg amputated, with only one witness, and buried the leg. Then, on the night same night he sleeps in the wrong bedroom, by some miracle the same amputated leg is teleported out of the buried box, healed and regenerated (but not fully, as past known scars were still present) and attached as if it had never been cut off in the first place. Instantly.
remember - the miracle is not that the leg regrew or regenerated; the miracle is that one night while the beggar was sleeping, the cut off leg disappeared from the buried box, and re-attached while he was sleeping. When people unexpectedly walked in on the sleeping beggar, lo and behold the leg was back.
I think even the most faithful person would admit a bit of skepticism, no?
There are various miracles that on closer look are really illusions or magic tricks of some sort. I recently did a magic trick with an empty box on a flat table in front of all. I asked a volunteer (not a plant but a real volunteer) to pick a color for a butterfly. I then wave my hand and lift the cloth and the butterfly of the correct color is in the box visible to everyone. But it is not a miracle. It is a magic trick.
I’m not an atheist. I truly HOPE God exists and there is a heaven where I will see my loved ones when I die. However, I am a seeker of truth. I want to believe because it is TRUE, not because I want it to be true. That being said, after watching numerous debates between great theists, Christians, and atheists, and reading many books on the topic - honestly, the atheists win almost every time. They just do. I know that it is frustrating, and I continue to debate and argue, but it is very, very tough to argue against them because they have logic, reason, and evidence on their side.
There are only three areas where I see some positive headway:
There are quite a few DEISM arguments that are difficult for atheists to counter. Not THEISM, mind you, Deism. Most atheists would be happy to accept many of these arguments however. But this lays a foundation so that, at least, the debate can continue.
Atheism and the associated worldviews of materialism and naturalism, which I primarily agree with, are REDUCTIONIST. Clearly, phenomena occur that result from a holistic basis. For this reason, it is possible that something along the lines of what we consider God could become extant as an emergent artifact of the universe itself - or, more probably, the entire fabric of reality.
Quantum mechanics is still too strange and unknown to make any definitive statements about the nature of information. As such, I leave open the possibility that information patterns (which is really all we are) can persist after death on a quantum level, resulting in spiritual-like behavior.
For the above reasons, I do not consider myself an atheist. Yet.
But I continue to be a seeker of truth, and I refuse to accept things on faith - especially when the evidence and logic clearly say otherwise.
It’s a bit tricky to read through because it’s centuries-old Spanish (and while I’m competent in Spanish, I’m not fluent), but I still think I understand it well enough to represent it. The testimonies begin on page 43. Here I’ll only cover the people who actually saw the amputated leg or participated in the procedure:
Witness #1: Juan de Estanga, as already discussed. He was the primary surgeon of the operation, and performed some treatment afterwards. He attests to having done the surgery.
Witness #4: Pascual del Cacho, Presbítero Veedor (Priest Overseer) at the hospital. He did not witness the amputation surgery itself, but did testify to seeing Miguel Juan Pellicero (the person who lost the leg) in a bed in the hospital missing a leg, and to seeing the amputated leg itself.
Witness #5: Juan Lorenzo Garcia, “Mancebo Platicante de Cirujano”. My guess is that “Platicante” is either a typo or an archaic spelling for Practicante, which would mean “Young Practitioner of Surgery.” I’m not entirely sure what this means, but it’s probably the 17th century version of a resident doctor. Well, whatever it is, he testified to being present and aiding in the surgery. He also was the one who took the severed leg to the cemetery to be buried.
Witness #7: Diego Millaruelo, Maestro en Cirugía (Master of Surgery), another surgeon who participated in the amputation.
So that’s four people who testified under oath to seeing the amputated leg, three of which were participants (and therefore, obviously witnesses) to the surgery itself.
What are you watching and reading? I’ll presume you don’t mean any of the “New Atheists.” Off-topic here, but feel free to start a new thread or two. Honestly, atheists — when simply arguing for atheism — are almost entirely unimpressive in my experience. They just are. Graham Oppy was promising, but he also tends to just make assertions. It always seems to end with some brute fact or several. Anyway, when I read what you wrote here it looks like confirmation bias. One good point Oppy made in a discussion I watched recently is that beliefs almost always get in the way of arguments, on both sides.
We can certainly view it differently. The way I see it, there are really THREE worldviews that are discussed in these atheist/theist debates.
Christianity (or some other specific religion)
Theism in general
Deism in general
The atheists never really argue for anything, but rather they argue against the above three. There are exceptions, Sam Harris often argues for a positive moral framework, which I totally agree with. But in general, there is no debate about whether ‘atheism’ is true. Atheism basically means all three of the above are false.
In my experience, the only area where the pro-religion side gets even a ‘tie’ (at best) is when arguing Deism (see my full post). There is some headway in the claim that religion makes SOME people act in a more moral manner than they would otherwise, But that in no way addresses the veracity of religion, nor does it address how religion can be used as justification for correspondingly horrible acts as well.