Daniel Florien and I Agree–Sort Of

Mark this day on your calender folks. It appears as though Daniel Florien (proprietor of Unreasonable Faith) and I agree on something.  Well, sort of. Our points of view are vastly different, but we both agree that what Leilani Neumann did was reprehensible. Her daughter, Madeline, was sick of a treatable form of diabetes. Ms. Neumann prayed instead of seeking medical attention.

I agree with the court’s conclusion that this is negligent homicide. Though he never says so directly, I think that Mr. Florien also agrees with the court’s conclusion. However, Florien’s point of view is that God is imaginary, or he has somehow failed to answer the prayer. Human intervention could have saved the girl, but divine intervention appears to have done nothing.

What Mr. Florien, as an atheist, of course assumes that divine intervention will do nothing, ever. He assuemes that because he believes taht God isn’t real. So how does someone like myself, who believes that God is very real, arrive at the same conclusion that Florien does?

Simple. I believe that God uses us lowly humans to enact his healing. God works his great plan through intermediaries. Sometimes, he does things himself, and that is where religious experiences come from. Things like burning bushes or bright lights that knock people to the ground on Damascus roads are of God to be sure. But, so is a doctor healing a patient. Again, God uses us humans to enact his healing and his will.

Prayer doesn’t work on its own. Ever. It requires medical intervention. Prayer is only a supplement to competent medical care.

About Cory Tucholski

I'm a born-again Christian, amateur apologist and philosopher, father of 3. Want to know more? Check the "About" page!

Posted on August 1, 2009, in Apologetics, God, Theology and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink. 15 Comments.

  1. Whew, it looked like you were going to actually have to think for a second there! But it’s easy enough to just call doctors “God’s way of healing” and then not have to worry about any of the challenges involved in actually proving that anything above the actual doctors, worth calling “God” was actually at work. This way, God gets the credit when the doctors heal and some odd time when there is an unexpected recovery, that gets to be thrown in as a bonus—God’s miraculous healing option. And whenever God does not provide a miracle or whenever God’s doctors fail, then that’s just also (drumroll please) God’s will! That’s a perfectly insulated and unfalsifiable hypothesis you have there! Of course it’s also meaningless since God’s at work no matter what happens.

    To really be able to defend God would be to have some evidence that God, being like a parent and loving those love him, would be more responsible to his followers, his “children” than these parents who let their child die of neglect were. But instead, God does not save those who call on him. Why couldn’t God get it across to these people who were beseeching him so fervently that the answer to their prayers was to go to a doctor? Don’t tell me about their “free will”—these were people who were calling out to God for help, who were willing to sacrifice their child rather than not trust him. These weren’t people in any rebellion against God, they were people looking for him. So, why couldn’t God have corrected their reason so that their wills would have followed the route to proper guidance?

    If they’re bad and irresponsible parents for not getting their child the medical help she needed, why is God not a bad and irresponsible parent for not fixing the reason of those most devoted to trusting him, those willing to lose a daughter rather than doubt him?

    Let me guess—God works in mysterious ways, right? Abracadabra! The faith is once again defended!

    • Hey, maybe I can answer you on that one. Maybe not. lol Fact is I don’t understand it all myself. Fact is we as believers can drown out God’s voice. Especially if what He’s communicating doesn’t fall in line to what we want to believe or the way we want it to go. Remember God can’t answer, let me rephrase that, doesn’t answer in an audible voice. He speaks to us by the heart, which, coming from a non-believer perspective I can’t explain because it’s something you’d have to experience first hand.

      Fact is God has told me plenty that I understood perfectly what He was saying that I did the exact opposite. Not proud of it, but, for the sake of example. Also you’ve got to take into account whether or not they were looking at God as God or as some superhero. God doesn’t change the outcomes to suit us. My guess is that those people were truly ignorant in the concepts of faith to even do such a thing. It’s written that faith without works is dead. Also, anybody that has studied scripture should know that God’s divine hand, the one he edits worldly outcomes with, is not moved by faith at all but of worship. They were probably praying because they were scared, or worried. No fault, common human emotion. But Christ said on the sermon on the mount to not worry about where your next meal is coming from. So, because they let their worry overtake them, they were showing a lack of faith all along, thus tying God’s divine hand.

      Also, people have to realize, back in the days of Christ and before, there were no hospitals, no medical profession to educate doctors on how to heal the sick. None of those discoveries had been made. A faith healing was the ONLY kind of healing. It’s not like that today. Beliefs that say it’s against faith to take your child to the doctor is cultish in the fact that they do not follow the biblical structure that they attest to believe in. God gave us a brain for a purpose. We’re supposed to keep our bodies in the best shape possible, the healthiest possible. You can’t neglect the body or it will die faster than it already is to start with. God can do a healing alright, but it’s usually when all earthly healing has been proven unable.

  2. Too Bad god can’t heal the sick unless a Doctor gets involved.

  3. Francesco Orsenigo

    Atheist here, coming from Daniel’s blog.

    The reasoning you present here could be used to defend an evil God.
    So, if I say “God is evil”, I could point out at all the bad things that happen in the World.
    You could then say that in the World there are actually a lot of good things happening, too.
    At this point, using your very argument, I could reply that God works in mysterious ways, he deceives us, but his ultimate goal is always our suffering and misery.

    Assuming that God exists, can you make a case for Him being good that cannot also be used for Him to being evil?
    Mind you, if you just add another unproved assumption, such as “I have Faith that God is good”, you allow anyone to state “I have faith that God is evil” and act according to such horrible belief.

    This is quite a practical problem, because “I have faith that God is evil” is not too far from “I have faith that God is good” provided that “good” means “wants me to kill the unbelievers”.

    What if God gave us the Bible to test our rationality and skeptical thinking, and will reward only those that do NOT BELIEVE in Him?
    Can you exclude this, or prove that it is less probable than Him sending to Heaven only the believers?
    He works in mysterious ways, after all.

    • Ahh, Francesco you leave out one very important player! That being satan. The evil one. And also you fail to take into account that what we deem as “evil” or bad, that we blame on God, is really a good thing that we can’t see through our human eyes. If God is God, then He surely knows better than us. He is omnipotent so He sees the entire back story line, the forward, all optional outcomes, then He make a decision to intervene or let it play out.

      Do you deem Him evil because He allowed a little girl to die? What is death to a child? They are taken into the rocking chair of Heaven and now won’t have to worry about suffering a long life of diabetes when her parents wouldn’t have provided her adequate health care. Is it horrible on our side, sure. Do you think it’s horrible for her?

      • And that is really the crux of the issue–was death the most horrible thing that could have happened to her? Remember that death is the beginning of a new life with Christ for the Christian, not the end of our only life as many atheists believe.

  4. Exactly, Francesco. I developed a similar argument to yours here http://camelswithhammers.com/2009/06/26/why-worship-someone-with-mysterious-motives/

  5. Francesco Orsenigo

    Yes, the argument is popular, but I think you (and Chef!) explain it pretty well.

  6. ha! Thanks. My effort was to work it out against the details of several counter-objection moves at least, so I’m glad it didn’t strike you as entirely superfluous despite its unoriginality! (I don’t think I’d personally contemplated that line of thought until recently, so it was still fairly new to me.)

  7. There’s also Stephen Law’s The God of Eth. Clearly there’s nothing new under the Sun 🙂

  8. HA, nice reference, thanks for the heads up!

  9. “Prayer doesn’t work on its own. Ever. It requires medical intervention. Prayer is only a supplement to competent medical care.”

    Prayer is completely irrelevant in such cases. The sick will be healed by a competent doctor without any prayer at all. This makes god entirely unnecessary.

    Further, bad medicine and lots of prayer do far worse than competant medical care and no prayer. That puts medical science and physician training programs far ahead of any god, including the one you think exists.

    • Prayer is completely irrelevant in such cases. The sick will be healed by a competent doctor without any prayer at all. This makes god entirely unnecessary.

      Is it? Why do you think that? Maybe because of the scientific studies done on prayer that shows no statistical difference between people prayed for and people not prayed for. But prayer is really a way to tune us in to God’s will. No mature Christian with a well-developed theology of prayer actually expects God to answer intercessory prayer, but that doesn’t mean that we can’t pray it, or that we shouldn’t. God will help us understand his will in other ways through the prayer.

      Assuming only one possible outcome to prayer–that the intercession will be granted–belies a very immature attitude toward prayer in general, and a very selfish attitude overall. It also does prayer itself a great disservice.

      Prayer is powerful if used wisely. The following two essays at my sister site develop the above argument in more detail:

      Proof #1: Try Praying
      Proof #2: Statistically Analyze Prayer

      • Francesco Orsenigo

        “mature Christian with a well-developed theology of prayer”

        Pardon us, but the amount of such Christian seems to be exceptionally flimsy.
        I’m no Bible expert, but in many parts Jesus says ‘ask and you will be given’ (or so I’m told).
        This is easily misinterpreted by so many people, that I do wonder whether God could have done a better job at explaining things in his Book.

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