Monday, September 27, 2010

God's Power Diminishing?

That's a provocative title I have to say.

But Martin Robbins gave a better one:

Is God scraping the barrel for miracles?

He was relating a BBC's coverage on Deacon Jack Sullivan, who miraculously recovered from an operation (yeah, now the Vatican is declaring miracles for people who survive an operation XD). Unfortunately it was not convincing enough and surely the atheists took their time to deliver some sharp and fiery arguments.

Here's the story:

"Jack Sullivan was in agony. Bedridden after complicated surgery on his spine, the pain was so intense he was unable to sleep and had trouble breathing.

Jack Sullivan. Image: The Boston Globe.

Back in 2000, Sullivan, then in his early sixties, began suffering from a pain in his back. Told by doctors that he might have to quit his religious studies in order to receive an operation, he was dejected and unsure what to do when a documentary about Cardinal John Newman appeared on the telly.

Sullivan prayed to him, and the next morning felt well enough to continue his studies, making it to the end of the academic year before he relapsed, and was sent for "complicated" surgery on his spine. Immediately afterwards he was apparently in all sorts of agony, as you'd expect, but just two days later, in defiance of doctors who told him he would take months to recover, he was able to walk again. Nine years later and the 71-year-old is able to stroll around pain-free like a young man (but with more wrinkles and whiter hair)."

WOW would be an appropriate response to any news of this sort.

But before that, please read on.

"Michael Powell, a consultant neurosurgeon at London's University College Hospital, said a typical laminectomy took 'about 40 minutes, and most patients ... walk out happy at two days'".

Did you just "wow-ed" ?? =P

To sum it up: Mr Sullivan had a pain in his spine, and he was delaying the operation until a year later, he consented to a routine surgery from which most patients are able to return home in two days.

10 years on, he is still alive and kicking.
Miraculous? (And all the religious people say "YEAH!")

Well, we really have to think of the story from an atheist's point of view. Of course Mr Sullivan isn't lying I guess, but I think what made him able to withstand such backache for almost a year was his desire to pursue his studies, and so he pushed himself along until the summer break when surgery would be less disruptive.

Lance Armstrong.

Desire, or will-power is not something to be taken lightly. The human mind is powerful. Lance Armstrong got back from cancer treatment and won the Tour de France not once, not twice, but seven times. In the 1992 Summer Olympic in Barcelona, Derek Redmond injured himself midway in the 400-meter final. He completed the race, however, limping through the remaining 250 meters and forever remembered as the man who "never gives up". It's all down to will-power.

Derek Redmond, with his father helping him through the remaining distance.

Sullivan might claim God enabled him to achieve that; I'd say the old man had enormous will-power. No doubt he recovered well after surgery, but then so do lots of people. In fact if he had recovered in a week's time he would still declare it a miracle.

Even if this were a miracle, it would prompt me to ask another question:

God used to be able to part seas and flood planets. By the end of the Old Testament he was turning people into pillars of salt and Aaron's rod into a snake.

At the time of Jesus, God was basically down to party tricks-- changing water into wine, but still, he could cast off evil spirits and heal those who touches his robe and now, what, easing an old man's backache for a few months?

It's hardly the omnipotent God of the glory days.

Whenever we're asking for God's favor, we hardly notice that he might be getting old, old enough to skip listening to our prayers and treat it as a test for us. Or has he lost interest? Are we not devout enough?



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