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Why Doesn'T Got Heal Amputees

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"Why Do Bad Things Happen to Good People?" It is an incredibly common question.

This question is so common, in fact, that there is a well known book by that title written by Melvin Tinker. There is another, even better known book entitled, When Bad Things Happen to Good People by Harold Kushner. Even more popular is the book When God Doesn't Make Sense by James Dobson.

For James Dobson to weigh in on this, it must be an important question. And that makes sense -- it is a total paradox for any believer, and rightly so.

In his book, James Dobson opens with the story of Chuck Frye, a gifted student who graduated from college and was accepted to medical school. Frye had decided to work as a medical missionary and Dobson says, "If permitted to live, Chuck could have treated thousands of poor and needy people who would otherwise suffer and die in utter hopelessness. Not only could he have ministered to their physical needs, but his ultimate desire was to share the gospel with those who had never heard this greatest of stories." Unfortunately, despite fervent prayers from his parents, family and friends, Frye contracted and then died of leukemia shortly after starting medical school. As Dobson puts it, "how can we make sense of this incomprehensible act of God?"

We see this kind of thing all the time. For example, we read about a woman who is a devout believer. She is so devout that she goes to church three times a week. She gives her time and money to charity. She is constantly helping others. She wears a crucifix and a WWJD bracelet. She walks with Jesus. Then one day a car jacker forces his way into her car. There is a Bible sitting right there on the front seat next to her, but it does not matter. The car jacker shoots her in the head and dumps her body in a ditch. Her family is left to pick up the pieces in bewilderment.

When we ask, "Why do bad things happen to good people?" the essence of the question is simple. If God is looking down upon us from heaven and answering our prayers, how could he allow these horrible things to happen to true believers? How could he ignore their prayers? If someone lives a good and faithful life, and if a person is doing God's work, then why would God allow bad things happen to that person? Why doesn't God -- the all-powerful, all-loving, all-knowing creator of the universe -- protect a person who is going to church every Sunday, putting plenty of money in the offering plate, following the commandments, praying faithfully and so on? The case of Neva Rogers in Chapter 1 is a perfect example of the problem.

The reason why this question is so puzzling is because the question makes two assumptions:

1. God exists

2. God keeps score

In other words, the question assumes that God is sitting in heaven looking down on us, answering our prayers and keeping track of who is good and bad on a minute-by-minute basis. We assume that God keeps a record of "goodness" and "badness" for each of us. Under the Standard Model of God, the reason why God is keeping score is so that he can decide whose prayers he should answer and who should go to heaven once they die.

But what if we were to approach the question from the opposite angle? What if we hypothesize that God is imaginary?

As in chapters 5, 6 and 7, once we hypothesize that God is imaginary, the paradox and the mystery evaporate completely. If there actually is no one in heaven answering prayers and keeping score, then one would expect bad things to happen to good people all the time.

When you look at it this way, everything makes sense. Whether you are good or bad is irrelevant. In the real world that we live in, things like cancer, hurricanes and serial killers would have no way to know whether you are good or bad, nor would they care. Therefore, bad things would happen to good people just as often as they happen to everyone else.

Bad things happen to everyone

To get a clearer picture of what is going on here, let's take a simple example. In the real world, what are your chances of getting cancer if you are good? We find that they are the same as your chances of getting cancer if you are bad. That is easy to prove statistically -- believers get cancer just as often as non-believers who have the same risk factors.

Why might that be? It is because any given cell in every human body has some probability of turning cancerous, and that probability is the same regardless of religious background. There are many different paths to cancer, but let's focus on one of them and use it as an example: cosmic rays.

Every hour of every day, your body is bombarded by about half a million cosmic rays. These cosmic rays have some probability of altering the DNA in a cell in your body. If a cell is altered in a certain way, the cell can turn cancerous and a tumor begins to form.

The cosmic rays in nature have no way of knowing whether you are good or bad, nor do they care. Everyone gets hit by the same number of cosmic rays whether they are good or bad. Therefore, everyone has the same probability of getting cancer from cosmic rays. Your goodness or badness has no influence on cosmic rays. Since God is imaginary, he will not protect you from cosmic rays if you are good. Therefore, cancer happens to good people in exactly the same way that it happens to bad people.

You actually can change the probabilities in certain cases. You do have some control over cancer. A person who smokes increases his probability of getting lung cancer. A person who likes to lie on a tanning bed increases her probability of getting skin cancer. A pilot or an astronaut gets hit by more cosmic rays and increases the probability of cancer. So by not smoking, staying on the ground and remaining pale, you reduce your cancer risk. But no one can eliminate the threat of cancer. You cannot stop the half million cosmic rays that will hit your body in the next hour.

If God is imaginary, these cosmic rays do not care whether a person is good or bad. In the same way:

* A hurricane does not care if the people in its path are good or bad

* A deer does not care whether the driver is good or bad when she leaps out onto a highway at midnight and crashes through a windshield.

* Fat molecules do not care whether you are good or bad as they attach themselves



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