Out on a Limb: The Salamander and the Samaritan

I wrote a piece a few days ago that generated much interest, both positive and negative. https://joebroadmeadowblog.com/2023/02/11/mysteries-of-faith-bellybuttons-and-angels-wings/

I thought I would continue in the same vein since, as my sister pointed out, I like to poke the bear. Perhaps, but here we are.


Inexplicability is not evidence of divine intervention, it is merely an indication of the current limitation of human knowledge.

Joe Broadmeadow

Let’s take a look at two simultaneous events. One involves a devout Samaritan (I use this term only in the context of their kindness and charity, not implying any particular religious affiliation.) The other involves, Pseudotriton ruber, or a Red Salamander.

The Samaritan, let’s call her Sam, and the red salamander, let’s call him Sal, are, at the precise moment in time, going on about their business of living.

Sam, on a mission to sub-Saharan Africa, is working as a doctor caring for the poor.

Sal is looking for bugs to eat.

Sam, while walking to a remote village, is attacked by a lion. She survives, but as a result loses a limb. Let’s say a leg.

Sal, at the very moment of the lion attack halfway around the world, is attacked by a snake. He also survives but loses a limb as well.

Millions of Sam’s fellow religious devotees hear of Sam’s plight (accompanied by a request for donations, of course) and pray for her recovery. No mention is made of praying to regrow her limb, yet pray they do. Being Ecumenical, they also pray for the lion.

Sal, bereft of any religion or company of fellow salamanders holding a common faith, retreats to his warm spot under the rotting log away from the snake. There he rests.

The Samaritan, no matter how much good they have done in the world, no matter how fervent or voluminous the prayers beseeching divine intervention, no matter how faithful they have lived their lives, Sam will never regain the limb.

We prayed and it happened. No one could explain it. The doctors were stunned. So it must have been the prayers.

Joe Broadmeadow

The salamander, without praying to any god and without holding any religion, will simply grow a new limb.

So, the ability to regenerate limbs exists in the world. Under the tenets of most religions, the Supreme being created everything. Yet they saw fit to endow salamanders (and a few other species) with the capacity to regenerate limbs, but not, according to texts, the one creature made in their image.

The efficacy of prayer, never validated by any meaningful scientific examination, is just assumed by the faithful in a self-limiting fashion.

They continue to petition for prayer warriors to join together in something they believe, absent any substantiation whatsoever, to have worked in the past.

Inexplicable recovery from terminal cancer, comas, or other catastrophic conditions, when the sufferer is the beneficiary of prayers, is assumed to be divine. 

We prayed and it happened. No one could explain it. The doctors were stunned. So it must have been the prayers.

This ignores the fact that just a few decades ago, doctors couldn’t explain infections, didn’t know about viruses, and would be stumped (no pun intended) by a patient presenting with epilepsy (which they would consider demonic possession.)

Inexplicability is not evidence of divine intervention, it is merely an indication of the current limitation of human knowledge.

A salamander regrowing a limb without any benefit of faith or prayer, and the fact that not one human being in all the history of the world ever regrew a limb, miraculous or otherwise, is just ignored.

It is simply a mystery of faith.

Sal, newly re-limbed, emerges from the log and is promptly eaten by the patient snake—it’s always a snake playing the bad guy—thus the circle of life continues.

Sam limps her way through life, wasting money on each pair of shoes she is forced to buy by the two-legged world. No accommodation is made for those who identify as one-legged.

I am going to go out on a limb here (hehehe) and say that about sums up the reality of life.


P.S. In the interest of full disclosure, while searching for a prayer to regrow a limb—don’t chuckle, there are prayers to regrow almost anything except limbs. It is only a matter of time before the church catches on to the idea of marketing prayers to cure ED since they seem to be the most prolific commercials on TV these days—I did come across a reference to a Church proclaimed miracle in Spain in the 17th century. Here’s the link.

I’ll leave it to you to decide the validity of the claim. The church declared it a true miracle, but keep in mind they also claimed the sexual assaults by priests to be untrue, so there’s that.

Nevertheless, the number of miracles concerning inexplicable cures attributed to divine intervention merely because we have no other explanation isn’t made more factual by these anecdotal claims of limb regeneration. I think we need a few more regrown limbs before we deem it miraculous or divine. Since the everyday world is full of examples (albeit perhaps not enough) of accommodations for those who have lost the use of limbs, the scourge of limbless and limb disabled perseveres.

I stand on my original point.

But one can always try prayer if it gives you comfort.


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