In a recent blog, I referred you, dear Reader, to the Website http://whywontgodhealamputees.com/. Louise, of Chicken Voluntary fame commented “Actually, God did heal an amputee. But I’ll have to go find the info.”
Well, she is right, and I have found the info. I could only vaguely remember reading it somewhere, but thought that perhaps I had dreamt it. But no, I did not dream it, I read it in that repostitory of all things Vaticano, Word from Rome by John L. Allen. Jnr back in June 2004, and here is the story:
Briefly, the story holds that in July 1637, a young peasant from Aragon, Miguel Juan Pellicer, was working as a farmhand at his uncle’s house when he fell off a mule and a cart ran over his right leg, fracturing it under the knee. Eventually the leg was amputated. Pellicer became a beggar in front of the huge cathedral of the Virgin of Pilar, leaning on a wooden leg.
In March 1640, Pellicer went home to his village. On the evening of March 29, he went to bed around 9 p.m. (wildly early by Spanish standards, as I discovered on this trip). His mother went in to check on him between 10:30 and 11:00, and was startled to see not one foot sticking out from under the covers, but two. Two years and five months since the amputation, Pellicer, so the story goes, had an intact right leg.
As Messori notes, royal notaries arrived two days later to take down depositions about what had happened. These were officials of the crown, not clergy, and the records they created still exist.
One can of course make of this whatever one likes (Messori, for his part, believes that Calanda is a “great miracle” that almost all by itself demonstrates the authenticity of Christian claims about the miraculous).
What I make of it is that you should never say “never” when it comes to miracles. I guess that is what a miracle is: something that would “never” happen (as they say on the whywontgodhealamputees website):
No matter how many people pray. No matter how sincere those people are. No matter how much they believe. No matter how devout and deserving the recipient. Nothing will happen. The legs will not regenerate. Prayer does not restore the severed limbs of amputees. You can electronically search through all the medical journals ever written — there is no documented case of an amputated leg being restored spontaneously.
Well, perhaps just one. Is that enough?
Yep, that’s the story I was telling you about. Well done!
And no, one miracle is not enough! No amount of miracles are ever really enough for those who don’t want to believe in God.
In fact, I read online, a great testimony from an ex-atheist, who himself had experienced many visions etc so that he eventually became a Christian.
But he said that in some ways these miracles weren’t quite enough, in that, he would often question his sanity some time after they had happened. I mean, they obviously were enough to get him on the road to belief, but clearly something else needed to sustain him.
Which reminded me of CS Lewis’s observation that you can’t live on last week’s roast chicken. Miracles are like last week’s roast chicken. But what we need is daily bread. Hence, prayer and the sacraments etc.
Anyway, the atheist convert who experienced these visions etc. just felt very humbled that he needed to be bombarded with so much of this kind of evidence, when most Christians believe without it. An interesting perspective, I thought.
There might be something in there for those who like to pursue rational (or even scientific–think Intelligent Design) proofs for the existence of God. All these “proofs” can ever do is show that faith in God is not irrational–they can never really compel people to believe.
That’s absolutely true, David. I think that to a large extent faith is a choice we make. Speaking for myself, my faith is not so much a firm conviction for objectively valid reasons, that the central doctrines of Christianity are true, but a conscious choice to trust that they are true, and to (try to) live my life accordingly.
In the absence of a firm conviction, why do I make that choice? Because I want to live in a universe where existence has a purpose and meaning, a universe which transcends the purely material, not just because I would prefer it, but because it makes sense; it is coherent. And so I choose to live in that universe, rather than in the purely material universe offered to me by, e.g., Richard Dawkins.