If health is a gift from God given to those who pray for it, why is the health and longevity of a people directly linked to the quality of healthcare in that nation not their religion/lack of?
For example, Congo, one of the largest Christian nations, with 95% of its inhabitants identified as believers, has an average life expectancy of 49. (1, 2)
On the other hand, Northern Europe, which includes large populations of atheists (estimated upwards of 60% in some Scandinavian nations) has an average life expectancy of 81. (2, 3)
If health comes from prayer, why do the third world faithful die young, while the faithless with access to modern medicine live longer?
There are more Muslims who claim to have frequently answered prayers than Christians and Jews.
In fact, the older the religion, the lower number of answered prayers are claimed.
In the Old Testament we see examples where God prevents the sun from moving, fire/hail coming from the sky to kill enemies, and whole attacking armies are instantly blinded to save praying people. For example, when Judea was under threat by the Assyrians, and Hezekiah prayed, the text says an angel flew over the Assyrian army and killed 185,000 soldiers instantly. (2 Kings 19)
Why has God stopped doing that? Why not send an angel to instantly kill all of the Nazi soldiers who were rounding up the Jews or attacking Europe? (Surely millions were praying just as eagerly as Hezekiah) Why not instantly blind all the rapists who are currently attacking children?
These are all the kinds of things that were reported in the past, so why have they stopped now?
Why is blind faith in the existence of a hidden God, the saving factor that frees one from eternal torture in hell?
Why not require something that better reflects character, like obedience, respect, worship, friendship, or a trusting relationship with a God we can all see, rather than blind faith in an invisible being out of hundreds of also-invisible options?
As we think about this difficult question, keep in mind the common answers are rather dull:
- Objection 1 – “This is the best way to test our heart” – Billions of people don’t believe in the right God *because* of where they were born. If God so obviously revealed himself that 100% of people agreed on his identity and on what he wanted, they could be judged based on (a) being obedient, (b) being friends with, (c) or being reverent to God. All these are better judges of character than blind faith in the invisible, for there are many kind people that have passionate faith in the wrong gods by error, if they knew the right God, they would worship him as passionately.
- Objection 2 – “If God revealed himself clearly this would ruin our free will” – Demons purportedly know that God exists, yet still reject him, so knowing that God exists is clearly not an issue that prevents free will. The devil knows God exists, yet still gets to choose to be evil. In addition, in the ancient writings of every religions their gods all perform clear and visible miracles, like bringing down miraculous fire from the sky, to prove they are the real. Why did this change?
- Objection 3 – “Faith is not believing that God exist, but trusting him as a person” – Most people confuse “propositional faith” with “relational faith.” The former, faith in a particular idea without good evidence is a test of gullibility, not trust in a person. If God first revealed himself very clearly, and then asked people to *trust* him as a person, this would be “relational faith.” A wife who trusts her husband has “relational faith” in him, but she already clearly knows that he exists, however, a woman who believes that she has a husband, but has never seen him because he is invisible, is showing her gullibility, not her trust. So why is gullibility more important than trust?
- Objection 4 – “Blessed are those who believe and have not seen” –
Well, why is that true? Simply asserting it doesn’t make it so. (Besides, lets be honest, who thinks they are *more* blessed than the apostles because they haven’t seen Jesus?) Also, if such people are more blessed, why can’t the “less blessed” at least be given a Thomas the Doubter experience where to see God in the flesh. They may be less blessed, but at least be saved from eternal torture in hell.
In the era when 99% of people couldn’t read, write, and didn’t have camera-phones, we had miracles that could were undeniably supernatural, like oceans opening up to make a tunnel.
Today, when such things would be quickly instagramed, we have miracles like: getting a good job and headache relief. Why?
Why would the quality, visibility, and magnitude of supernatural miracles decrease over time?
Did you know that memory is very unreliable? We often, edit, and remake our memories without realizing it.
“If I’ve learned anything from these decades of working on these problems, it’s this: just because somebody tells you something and they say it with confidence, just because they say it with lots of detail, just because they express emotion when they say it, doesn’t mean that it really happened. We can’t reliably distinguish true memories from false memories.” (Elizabeth Loftus, cognitive psychologist)