Questions People Ask

1. Was Adam sinful before the fall?
Short answer: Yes and No. Adam was existentially (by existence) sinful from the moment he was made but became volitionally (by will) sinful only when he disobeyed God.
Long answer: The word sin describes both a state of being (existential sin) and a state of separation from God (volitional sin). Taking Adam to represent the first humans made in the image of God and hence, the first creatures capable of sin, the question is – was it a sinful Adam who disobeyed God or was it a sinless Adam who became sinful because he disobeyed God? The answer is – yes. Yes, Adam was existentially sinful from the moment he was made (not perfect), and yes he ‘became’ volitionally sinful when he made the decision to disobey God. Thus the existentially sinful person became volitionally sinful. Hence, while Adam was good (but imperfect since only God is perfect), and he was existentially sinful as all ‘not-Gods’ are, he was not guilty. But when existentially sinful Adam became volitionally sinful Adam, he became spiritually guilty.
To summarize, the moment a baby is born, she is existentially sinful but not guilty, but when she intentionally rejects God, she becomes volitionally sinful and spiritually guilty. You can read about this in the Project Timothy guide So You Think You Know the Bible Vol. 1 (p8-9) or in my upcoming book Are We Sinners Because We Sin or Do We Sin because We Are Sinners?

2. Does the size of a group in prayer multiply the power –say, for healing?
Short answer: No. It is God alone who heals, and not the prayers themselves. So whether two or a thousand gather to pray does not affect the outcome, but it blesses those who pray and spiritually unites them to the ones prayed for.
Long answer: This means that God does not answer prayers for healing depending on the number of people praying, since this would mean God will have to count each time we pray, and people with more friends praying for them are more fortunate than those with less friends. If we take God seriously as maker of the universe, then we must respect God enough not to treat God as we would a human. We tend to count the numbers of … friends we have, types of cars we drive, size of houses we have, etc. But God does not need anything from anyone. Like a true Father, God delights in us – because he created us.
So, why do we ask people to pray with and for us? Not because the sounds of our words or the acts of our prayers automatically make God heal us of our illness. Prayer confronts our meekness before God’s mighty grace. It serves to remind us of our true relationship with our maker. When we pray, we are forced to pay full attention to God. So we are invited, not forced, to pray. Why? Because through the practice of prayer, we build a habit of the heart  – an awareness of God’s presence. So when you pray in despair for healing, you receive God’s invitation to express your grief of pain and suffering to him. When you ask your friends to pray for and with you, you invite them to share in your humanity seeking the touch of God’s divinity. In the depths of prayer, our spirit speaks to God with words our speech fail to utter.
So prayer for healing is a welcome and wonderful privilege we have. But greater still is a spiritual discipline in which we seek to pray when all is well and we are not seeking healing. This is the prayer of thanksgiving for joy in the Lord. Why? Because if you are comfortable praying – simply because you are alive and wish to express your joy in God, then when trouble strikes and you face darker days of distress, your prayers will be a natural habit of your heart.

3. Can God heal amputees?
Short answer: Yes.
Long answer: God can heal anything and anyone. God may heal supernaturally. Or God may heal through the work of doctors using physical therapy, pharmacological drugs, or by invasive surgery. The most important healing agent is the human body itself because we are so wonderfully made. Most non-invasive (surgical) medical cures are designed to limit stress so that the human body can repair itself. Thus we encounter reports of cures that are considered medical miracles, because our sciences are unable to explain these outcomes.
However, missing limbs require regeneration. Although recent studies have shown the incredible cellular plasticity of the brain cells, liver cells and the remarkable ability of stem cells to regenerate organ tissues, the human body is not known to regenerate entire limbs. Thus, the immediate[1] restoration of amputated limbs can only be accomplished supernaturally. Can God perform such an act? Of course he can. What we describe as miraculous are in fact, normal for God. They are only incredible - to us! In 1999, I wrote an article called “Science, Signs & Wonders” in defense of the possibility of miracles, but cautioned Christians to be careful about making wild claims that they may have to retract if later shown to be premature or untrue.
But since God made nature and declared it good, we would rarely expect such an intervention of nature. God would have very good reasons to perform supernatural acts that violate the very laws of nature that he created.  One of them is the resurrection of Jesus. Others mentioned in the NT seems to have specific reasons, typically to demonstrate the authority of Jesus as God’s emissary on earth. This is why there are very, very few reliable reports of physical healing. Such miracles ought to be very rare. And when we claim miracles, we ought to set very high standards, to protect the integrity of the church. Indeed, Christians ought to set our standards of truth so high that skeptics will learn to trust us when we speak of the living Christ as Son of God.
So while God can heal amputees, we must not base our faith on such miracles but merely marvel at God’s generosity and mercy if and when such healing by regeneration occurs. Rather than treating God like a personal medical genie, we should worship God because God is God and we are not. Then we should learn to love God because he loved us first. We are all made to love and receive love.

4. Did the Devil have a choice?
Short answer: Yes.
Long answer: Every creature made to know right from wrong possesses the power of choice. The bigger question is why God took the trouble to make us with the power of choice in the first place? It would be a whole lot easier if God made every creature without the choice to reject him – but that would mean there is no love. In order for God to love us and to receive our love, we must be capable of knowing right from wrong, and hence, God must bear the risk of our rejection. Thus, God made us with the freedom to reject God because only then can we truly have the freedom to love God. This is why every parent loves babies who naturally do not rebel and face the daunting prospect of adolescence, for that is when each child tests the powers of its freedom to choose. Yet, no parent wishes for the child to remain a baby. The best one hopes for is for the adolescent to grow up, face the pain of rebellion and estrangement, and await reconciliation. In 2008, I contributed an article “Nolitional Freedom and the Neurobiology of Sin” subsequently published in Theology, Evolution and the Mind, edited by Neil Spurway by Cambridge Scholar’s Press. Here, I showed that even under extreme cases of brain deficit, cognitive nolition is possible, i.e., the capacity of the brain to resist temptations in the distorted awareness of a troubled mind. In my 2009 dissertation titled Neuroscience, Nolition, And Implications Of A Kenotic Theology Of Moral Cognition, I stated that the window of opportunity to negate a preconscious retrocausal urge is 200 milliseconds (msecs) while the point of no return is only 50 msecs. This means that even when we think a person has no free will, he certainly still has free nill!

5. If there are aliens, do they look like us?
Short answer:  It depends on the physical laws of their planet.
Long answer: I bet they are asking the same question. If by aliens you mean non-earthlings, then we begin by asking why we look as we do. It’s all about form and function. All our anatomical attributes are structural compromises designed to make the best of our environments. So we alone among all of creation can stand and walk upright, full time. This is called bipedalism. Benefits: minimal sunlight signature so our bodies can better control heat loss. This reduced heat signature enables our brains to grow much bigger and leads to three advantages: art, science and religious awareness. With bipedalism comes the functional flexibility of having two limbs that are not needed to balance and ambulate – our hands are free to create tools so we can run faster than the fastest animals (in a car), fly better than any bird (in an airplane), swim better than a whale (in a submarine) and breathe higher than any creature (in a spaceship). This is but one of several examples in my book, The Question of Origins (p146: Why Did Man Walk?), in which I describe the structural uniqueness of the human being. So if aliens live under similar environmental constraints that we do, we might expect them to be of the same carbon-based chemistry that we are.  If their gravity is lesser, they might be more rounded to conserve surface-area over volume ratio to bounce around more efficiently or if carbon is missing, they may have a germanium or silicon base to replace the stable bonding structure of carbon. If they are nearer to their sun or farther away from their sun than we are, water may not work as the unique properties of water’s boiling and freezing points would be disadvantageous.  If their optics is like ours, they will probably have eyes like us but if they are optimized to sense light at different ends of the electromagnetic spectrum, then they may possess UV or IR sensors. Will they have a power of smell? Only if their bodily gases are as poisonous as ours are (haha). The short answer to your question is … maybe.

[1] Today, exciting progress is being made in the field of bioartificial organ incubation. Unlike prosthetics, which are limbs made of metal and plastic, scientists have successfully grown some human organs from the patients’ embryonic stem cells. So far, about 30 people are alive with laboratory-grown bladders (Anthony Atala of Wake Forest Institute for Regenerative Medicine), while jawbones and lungs are being refined at Columbia and Yale Universities. At the University of Minnesota, a rat heart has been grown. The next challenge is the growing of kidneys from a patient’s own stem cells. Such cyborg technologies will soon challenge our theological description of what it means to be human. Many people are walking around with less than 100% of human body parts (including those of us wearing contact lenses) and more and more people are using valves of pig’s hearts. What makes us unique is not our physiology but our neurology, the way our brains are wired.