Board index Miracles

Did the miracles really happen? Are they happening today?

Re: Miracles do not occur

Postby Ulysses » Tue Oct 24, 2017 3:18 pm

> Resurrection is what happened to Jesus. We don't know anything about the mechanism or the anatomical progression of events.

Well, I assume he was actually dead. Others have already looked into your caterpillar and shown it is not actually dead when in hibernation. So you still have yet to demonstrate resurrection is a physical possibility as far as I'm concerned.

> I don't. My point was the illogic of your statement "Miracles do not occur." It is not a thesis that can be substantiated.

The point I am arguing, and I think most haven't had a problem "getting" it, is that I can say that miracles do not occur with at least as much certainty (and for many of the same reasons) that unicorns do not exist.

And, honestly, since it seems you believe in miracles, I would say the burden of proof is on you to prove they exist. We all know I can never conclusively prove they don't exist anymore than I can disprove unicorns. That said, I have tried to gather several relevant points that indicate miracles do not exist. I believe my arguments stand. For example, no one has yet told me why it is LESS BELIEVABLE that the miracles in the Bible did NOT happen than that they did. By definition of the miraculous, if we concede that there was ANY POSSIBILITY a miracle did not occur, then a miracle did NOT occur.
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Re: Miracles do not occur

Postby jimwalton » Tue Oct 24, 2017 3:31 pm

> Well, I assume he was actually dead.

Yes, I agree that he was dead. Without this admission, Christianity doesn't exist.

> Others have already looked into your caterpillar and shown it is not actually dead when in hibernation.

Hibernation is different from what is going on in this caterpillar. Hibernation is metabolic reduction, not cessation. In hibernation there is still respiration, heart beat, etc. In the Pyrrharctia isabella all life functions cease, so I guess it matters what you mean by death.

> So you still have yet to demonstrate resurrection is a physical possibility as far as I'm concerned.

I'm sure you realize, though, that part of the punch of the claim of Jesus' resurrection is that he did something miraculous, not something perfectly natural.

> is that I can say that miracles do not occur with at least as much certainty (and for many of the same reasons) that unicorns do not exist.

And, of course, this I disagree with. No rational person is claiming to see unicorns, but rational people by the thousands or millions claim to see miracles. Craig Keener did scholarly investigative work, and his book "Miracles" (https://www.amazon.com/Miracles-Credibility-New-Testament-Accounts/dp/0801039525/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1508873027&sr=8-1&keywords=craig+keener+miracles) refutes your thesis. Miracles do occur, they can be observed and substantiated, and they happen today. There is simply no logical comparison with the unicorn fantasy.

> I would say the burden of proof is on you to prove they exist.

Miracles are often seen. I already mentioned Keener's book. You know about other claims (Miracles From Heaven). These are not isolation, but part of a long chain of such substantiation. Your arguments don't carry your thesis against the weight of evidence.
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Re: Miracles do not occur

Postby Fluke » Tue Oct 24, 2017 4:16 pm

> Let's not be ridiculous here. The contention was that resurrection was a violation of the laws of nature. I gave evidence that it's not.

No, you gave evidence that a caterpillar can resurrect (they can't, actually, as someone else explained), not that humans can resurrect. That is a natural function that caterpillars have, not that humans have. Humans can't do it so for a human to be able to do it, is silly. Also, they don't actually revive, they slow down their bodily functions. Jesus was dead. Big difference.

So the parting of the Red Sea could happened naturally (so long as you don't believe the Bible to be true with the east wind part). I'll grant you that one despite it relying on a lot of assumptions and the Bible being wrong with regards to the account itself. Plausible, but not proven.

> I am definitely not telling you that I believe in something based on no evidence. Faith, according to the Bible, is evidentiary. Evidence is always required for me to believe

According to the Bible, man was created both before and after land animals. According to the Bible, the city of Tyre was destroyed. According to the Bible, the Romans required people to go to their hometown for a census (they didn't in reality, this was the only way to satisfy the Messiah being born in Bethlehem). The Bible seems to get a lot of things wrong. How can you be sure this isn't one of them? Look at all the contradictions in the Bible. There is evidence the Bible is incorrect (it happens a lot). Believing this to be correct is belief despite evidence telling you the Bible isn't to be trusted. If you choose to ignore that, then you are ignoring facts, and believing something because of confirmation bias. Many things in the Bible can't be proven one way or another, but it's hard to accept the supernatural claims when their claims of basic fact don't even make sense.

> Ah, so you cherry-picked two of my 25 points or so to discredit the whole theory? It doesn't work that way. The truth is, we give quite a bit of credence to eyewitness testimony. I just read in the news last night about a woman who escaped from North Korea, telling us about the horrible conditions there and the horrors of the Gulag there. I presume we should just ignore her because "it's just eyewitness testimony"?

I never said we ignore it. I said it doesn't hold much weight in court, especially when people have a motive to lie. The Korean woman doesn't have a lot of reason to lie, unless that place really didn't do anything to her, and she just hates the government, however the pictures we've seen and stories we've heard from tourists who don't have an agenda do provide corroborating evidence of what she says. You'll notice that the moment a motive to lie is found out against a witness in court, their credibility goes out the window. And, as with most things that I don't experience, I don't take her word as fact. I believe it to be true based on what she and many others have said, but they could have been lying to me, that's a very real possibility. It's my opinion that what she says is true as I have heard other people say the same things, but I can't comment on the truthfulness of her statements. I can only believe them or not.

> Ah, so you cherry-picked two of my 25 points or so to discredit the whole theory? It doesn't work that way.

I'll go through them all then.

> witnesses in a court of law (accepted)
I touched on this, they are accepted, but if there is a motive to lie, they lose credibility. They are also one of the worst forms of evidence. Juries put high weight on them, but in terms of credibility, they are low.

> medical evaluation in hundreds of areas (location and intensity of pain, psychological analyses, talk therapy, etc.)

These are personal feelings. If we could tap into their nervous system, we could see it, but we can't. If there comes a time when we can, this will no longer be necessary. Also, people iie all the time about pain, so I don't really understand this one. There is no other way for a doctor to know where to look than for the person to tell them. We don't take this evidence of miracles and supernatural events, we take it as evidence the person is feeling pain. The claim is small, the evidence required is small.

> what something tastes like

Are you even trying at this point? It's an opinion, a thought, and it's completely subjective and doesn't make a statement about reality.

> all expressions of our humanity (love, forgiveness, anger, fear, worry, hopes, dreams, etc.)

touched on this.

> consumer product reviews, critic reviews

touched on this.

> expert review

Not exactly what you mean by this. If you mean eyewitness testimony in court, then it's eye witness. If it's something that has happened in an experiment, then it will be repeatable and others can see for themselves, otherwise, it won't be accepted as true.

> news broadcasts (based on a journalist's notes of what someone said

And how many times have journalists been wrong? This is also just a form of eyewitness testimony, which is less valuable than hard evidence.

> history ( a lot of history is based on what someone wrote)

A lot of history is based on what multiple people wrote. There are many things that are written to have happened that didn't. If the history is recorded in multiple unbiased sources, it's more likely to be believed. Written in a single source with huge motivation to lie provides poor evidence.

> surveys

This is a number of people who respond to something, usually with their opinion. Once again, there is no other way to get someone's opinion, since it's their thoughts and nothing else.

There you go. I didn't cherry pick anything. You gave horrible examples, I only picked a couple because I didn't want to go through them all.

Now I won't so far as to say miracles don't happen, but if you're going to claim something extraordinary happened, I'm going to want extraordinary evidence of it occurring, certainly more than a single biased source can provide. There is just as much evidence to believe in your god and his miracles as there is any number of other gods and the miracles they perform. You see what you want to see, and you hear what you want to hear while ignoring all the evidence against these things. You ignore how many sources say 'no, this didn't happen' in favour of one that says it did.
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Re: Miracles do not occur

Postby jimwalton » Tue Oct 24, 2017 5:05 pm

> No, you gave evidence that a caterpillar can resurrect (they can't actually as someone else explained), not that humans can resurrect.

I gave evidence that having all life functions cease and then restored is something that happens naturally at least in this one case. But you probably understand that part of the point about Jesus coming back from the dead is that it was otherwise impossible unless it were a miracle from God. If I show you it happens in this one caterpillar, my point is that it's not against science. If I show you that the whole point of Jesus' resurrection was that it was miraculous because humans don't rise from the dead, then in the case of Jesus it is substantiation of his deity.

> So the parting of the Red Sea could happened naturally (so long as you don't believe the Bible to be true with the east wind part).

Hmm. I DO believe the Bible to be true with the east wind part. God used a natural mechanism to accomplish a divine purpose. In this case the miracle wasn't contrary to nature, but the miracle was in the timing (the east wind arose as Moses lifted his staff, remained until the Israelites crossed the path, and then closed on the Egyptians). It's not a contrary-to-nature miracle, but a utilization-of-nature miracle.

> According to the Bible, man was created both before and after land animals.

I disagree with this. This discussion needs to be much longer, but I take Genesis 1 as an account of functional creation, not material creation (as Dr. John Walton teaches in his book, "The Lost World of Genesis 1"). It is not a chronological account of material creation (as traditionally interpreted by the young earth, 6-day creationists), but an account of God bringing the cosmos into order to function as his temple. It speaks of God assigning roles and functions, not of him creating the world. (Of course He DID create the world, but that comes from other texts, not Gen. 1.) Genesis 1 is literally about function, not structure.

> According to the Bible, the city of Tyre was destroyed

Prophecy properly understood is more like a syllabus for a college class than a crystal ball predicting an exact future. Almost all prophecies are contingent on other factors (see Jer. 18.1-12; also Jonah 3). Ezekiel 26 prophesies the destruction of Tyre, but Ezk. 29 says that it won't be—a prophecy acknowledging the non-fulfillment of an earlier prophecy. It's because of the contingency of prophecy as part of its nature.

For instance, if someone today were to predict that the stock market would take a plunge, and then took some action that actually caused it to happen, he or she would not be praised for their ability to predict. The aspect of predictiveness would be diminished by the direct link to causation. In the same way, the predictive element in biblical prophecy must usually be kept distinct from causation (or it stops being predictive). Obviously, "prediction" isn't the best word to describe biblical prophecy. Prophets, as you know, weren't predicting anything, but only giving the word of the Lord. The prophecy was God’s message, not the prophet’s. If predicting is understood to preclude causation, then God cannot predict, for he is the final cause of all. So in the end it must be recognized that prophecy is more interested in causation than in prediction. It is true that biblical prophecy spoke of events before they happened, but the purpose was that God would be properly recognized as having caused those events as a part of his ongoing plan.

Rather than regarding prophecy as prediction, it is more helpful to consider it as "God's syllabus." The syllabus for a course doesn't "predict" what will happen in each class period of the term, but presents the instructor's plans and intentions for each period. The significance of the document is that the instructor is in a position to carry it out. Likewise, when a judge passes a sentence on a convicted criminal, he is not "predicting" what will happen to that person. Rather, he is decreeing what ought to be done and is in a position to see that it is done.

In prophetic literature, God is declaring his intentions and decreeing his judgments. Though these were still future when spoken, they could be considered prediction only in the broadest terms.

In this case, Ezekiel prophesied that Nebuchadnezzar would besiege and invade Tyre (Ezk. 26.7), which he did from 585-572 BC. But he didn't devastate the city the way Zeke described, which he admits in 29.17-18. That it did not happen is not a blot on God’s reputation, because who knows how the prophecy could yet be fulfilled?

Nebuchadnezzar destroyed the city, but it was rebuilt. Alexander the Great later razed it to the ground. The ruined city is now a peninsula where fishermen dry their nets, as predicted by Ezekiel. The destruction of Tyre was also prophesied by Zechariah (9.4) in about 515 BC. After being destroyed by Alexander, the city was rebuilt on a different location, but never regained the prominence it formerly had.

> According to the Bible, the Romans required people to go to their hometown for a census (they didn't in reality, this was the only way to satisfy the Messiah being born in Bethlehem).

The word Luke uses is ἀπογράφεσθαι, a registration. It could have been a census, but it wasn't necessarily. It was a recording of family information probably for the purpose of taxation (though it doesn't say that), whatever word one wants to use. We know that Rome, with some regularity, did order such registrations, and that they took a while to fulfill them throughout the empire. *The Deeds of the Divine Augustus* (paragraph 8, lines 2-4) confirms that Augustus himself ordered a census in 8 BC — a census that sounds empire-wide in scope (with 4 million citizens in an empire in which most people were not citizens. In a world without the ability to travel and communicate nearly as speedily as ours today, it would be expected that it might take such an endeavor years to unfold and come to both fruition and completion.

> they didn't in reality, this was the only way to satisfy the Messiah being born in Bethlehem

Sure they did. I don't know what you mean.

> Look at all the contradictions in the Bible.

I'm not aware of any contradictions in the Bible, but this is a much longer discussion. There are a number of discrepancies, but most are fairly easily resolved.

> Many things in the Bible can't be proven one way or another...

I also can't prove to you I saw a rainbow last week, that my back has an itch on it, or that I had a headache yesterday. Lots of facts aren't subject to scientific proof, but that doesn't make them untrue.

> I touched on this, they are accepted, but if there is a motive to lie, they lose credibility.

Right. So it's not "eyewitness testimony" that is suspect, but the veracity of the testimony. It's the person (motive and speech), not the means (eyewitness testimony).

> These are personal feelings

A doctor pushes on my stomach. "Does it hurt when I do this?" "Does it hurt here?" He depends on my testimony. I go to an eye doctor. He has all of his fancy equipment, but he has to ask me, "Which of these is most clear for you?" I just get tired of people saying, "We can't believe personal experience or eyewitness testimony." We depend on it all the time for so many thing. It's not just feelings. It's how I see, the pain I have, or the symptom I am experiencing.

> Are you even trying at this point? It's an opinion, a thought, and it's completely subjective and doesn't make a statement about reality.

My wife loves broccoli. I hate it. All I'm saying is that when I say I hate it, it's real. I can't stand the stuff. Do you believe me? It's all you have to go by.

> "Expert review." ... Not exactly what you mean by this. If you mean eyewitness testimony in court, then it's eye witness.

I go on the Internet to read expert reviews about the new iPhone, what its features are and how it works. If eyewitness testimony is unreliable, I shouldn't do any such thing. But if there is any credibility to eyewitness testimony, then I can give as much credence to the review as is commensurate with my trust of the source. Again, it's not testimony as a category that is unreliable, but only unreliable people.

> A lot of history is based on what multiple people wrote.

Some is, but for much we have only one source. Again, it's not eyewitness testimony as a category that is unreliable. If we have 4 corroborating sources, or even 2, we can claim it's reliable as a source of historical information.

> but if you're going to claim something extraordinary happened, I'm going to want extraordinary evidence of it occurring

I don't need extraordinary evidence, but only a trustworthy, reliable source. If your best friend in the whole world that you have learned to implicitly trust swore to you they saw something unbelievable, and you could sense in their eyes, the tone of voice, and body language that they were dead serious, you would tend to believe it over someone you didn't know or trust. It's not the extraordinary evidence that would make the difference, but the genuineness of the source.

> You see what you want to see, and you hear what you want to hear while ignoring all the evidence against these things. You ignore how many sources say 'no, this didn't happen' in favour of one that says it did.

This is a generality that doesn't take us anywhere. What are you asserting that I am claiming against "all the evidence against these things"?
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Re: Miracles do not occur

Postby Explorer » Tue Oct 24, 2017 5:10 pm

This seems just like shifting the goal posts.

Regardless, even if there was a way to confirm that this particular interpretation (that death is a transition, not a cessation) is indeed correct, then the resurrection isn't special... It meant nothing.
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Re: Miracles do not occur

Postby jimwalton » Tue Oct 24, 2017 5:14 pm

It's not a matter of shifting goal posts, but of definition of terms. For instance, people are accusing President Trump of misogyny. The dictionary says misogyny is the systemic repression of women as inferior; but people are claiming that misogyny is making lewd comments about women. Which is it? We need to define the term before we can have a reasonable discussion.

Is Trump xenophobic? It depends what you mean by xenophobia. If you mean he has a fear of foreigners, of course it's not true. He is presently married to a foreigner.

Is a racist someone who discriminates against people of a particular race, who uses racial stereotypes, or who has a worldview that people of a particular race are inferior? We better define our terms.

So if we want to understand death, we have to see how the Bible defines it. And the Bible defines it as a transition, not as a cessation. That doesn't steal away the import of the crucifixion and resurrection, however. Jesus was still brutally murdered and quite thoroughly physically dead (as opposed to mostly dead, like in Princess Bride), and truly came back *in the flesh* on Sunday. It was, in that sense, an impossible event. Miraculous in every implication.
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Re: Miracles do not occur

Postby Ulysses » Tue Oct 24, 2017 5:20 pm

Do you believe physical bodies are simply dormant at death? Or do you believe that about souls/spirits only? Do you believe that dead bodies today are merely dormant? What if they have had a few years to decompose?

Was Christ's body as dead as any dead body today? Or was it a special kind of dead? And, if the answer is yes, how does that not tarnish the sacrifice of Christ? You mean he didn't really die?
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Re: Miracles do not occur

Postby jimwalton » Tue Oct 24, 2017 5:21 pm

Death is real, but it's not the end. Death is not a termination and a cessation, but a passage from one form of existence to another. Physical bodies are not biologically dormant at death, but theologically they are because there will be a physical (not just a spiritual) resurrection from the dead. They are biologically dead (the discontinuation of all life functions), truly dead, thoroughly dead. Theologically, however, this state of "death" is merely transitional and temporary. These people, according to the Bible, will one day be physically brought back to life, though a different quality and type of life (1 Cor. 15).

> Was Christ's body as dead as any dead body today?

Yes. He really biologically died.
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