Board index Miracles

Did the miracles really happen? Are they happening today?

Re: How do you verify miracles?

Postby Pie Eater » Mon May 21, 2018 1:25 pm

> So would I be disgusted, but it would be my choice.

How would it be a choice??? Are you telling me you can just as easily choose to be fine with it?

> I agree, but it would be my choice.

Again, can you just choose to believe he flew? HOW?

> And yet it actually happened in reality. So you're saying that whether or not people believe in a miracle or even the possibility of miracles has no bearing on whether the phenomenon actually occurred. I agree with you.

And whether or not it happened we have no reason to accept it happened if no good evidence was provided.

> If there actually was a God with supernatural power, it's easy to infer the possibility of miracles.

No. A supernatural force existing does not mean every claim of the supernatural force doing something is true. You completely missed my point.

> The "so what" is that, then, miracles are possible and shouldn't be written off as ridiculous.

Everything is possible. That does not mean we will treat all claims as probable. Some of them are indeed ridiculous.
It only proves that they are not impossible and so we should be open-minded about the prospect of miracles.

You exact word were "Miracles can only be proven in two ways:". So you now admit miracles can not be proven? Your claim is not that if they are logically consistent with the physical world and enough people claim to see it then they are not impossible?

> Eyewitnesses can also be right.

They can be. But they mostly are not.

> We rely upon them for news, in a court of law, and even in science.

We do rely on them for news and in the law systems. Do ask experts just what a tragedy they think that is. Humans have terrible memories for things like this. How in the world do we use them in science?

> It depends on the reliability of the eyewitness. Though they can be wrong, they can also be right. We don't just write them off because they are eyewitnesses.

No eyewitness is reliable, thats my point. We are all shit at it.

> Probably not. Their abilities came and went and pertained to what God was doing in them and through them. I'm not convinced there was anyone in the Bible besides Jesus who could do miracles at will.

And again missing my point. Anyway, I dont care about this at all, explain HOW you can choose what to believe.
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Re: How do you verify miracles?

Postby jimwalton » Mon May 21, 2018 1:31 pm

> How in the world do we use them in science?

A friend of mine went to Cornell University to learn to be a naturalist. He spends his summers in the backwoods of wherever they send him to make eyewitness observations of the subject at hand, be it a bird or mammal.

> I dont care about this at all, explain HOW you can choose what to believe.

I heard on the news a few weeks ago that the pope had said he doesn't believe in hell. I choose not to believe that report but to consider it fake news. During the election of 2016 I felt the evidence was compelling enough to believe that Hilary Clinton was a criminal. There were friends of mine who chose to believe otherwise. They chose to believe she'd be a good candidate. We may never know, I guess. After the shooter shot up the Santa Fe high school last week, some pictures surfaced on the Internet with the alleged perpetrator in a Hilary Clinton for President hat. I chose to believe that was a photoshop job and not an authentic picture. We make choices all the time about what we'll believe and what we won't.
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Re: How do you verify miracles?

Postby Tanner » Tue May 22, 2018 1:40 pm

Obviously not literally newspapers, but whatever happened to be an analogous chronicle of the time, like a stone tablet or the side of a tomb (probably the chief wizard's tomb) or something.

That's a good point about about not recording embarrassing defeats, though. But even so, you'd have thought that somebody would have made a note somewhere.

As for the "chief wizard", a quick google for "moses and the pharoah's wizards" turned up a few references, like this one:
https://torah.org/torah-portion/mikra-5774-vaera/

...i.e the story where that Moses chap goes mano a mano with the Pharoah's wizard(s), who do some cool tricks, causing Moses' god to ragequit and murder their children. I wonder why he didn't just kill the Pharoah, his government, the wizards, and the military forces instead? It would have more strategic sense.

I've forgotten what the original subject was now... :-|
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Re: How do you verify miracles?

Postby jimwalton » Tue May 22, 2018 1:46 pm

> but whatever happened to be an analogous chronicle of the time

Yeah, that's the thing—they had no analogous chronicle in that era. No such cultural practice or recording of any sort

>But even so, you'd have thought that somebody would have made a note somewhere.

It wasn't as if people had writing implements and supplies hanging around the house. And no one would dare speak against the Pharaoh. They considered him a god.

> I wonder why he didn't just kill the Pharoah, his government, the wizards, and the military forces instead? It would have more strategic sense.

All of the people were complicit in guilt. Pharaoh had commanded all the people of the land to kill Israelite children, so they were all guilty.

The plagues were directed at the religious system of Egypt, as if it were a showdown between YHWH and their panoply of deities. For instance, the 9th plague was a plague of darkness. The Egyptians worshiped the sun god (Ra or Re), and so the plague of darkness showed their god to be powerless against YHWH.

As far as the 10th plague, the pharaoh was considered to be a god on earth, and when he died, it was believed that he became Osiris, the god of the afterlife, the underworld, and the dead. As such, however, Osiris was also considered the "King of the Living." He granted all life.

After having rebuffed YHWH nine times, and having been on the losing end 9 times, he is still stubborn against the request of Moses to free the people. The ultimate challenge, which was a challenge to Pharaoh's person, his kingship, and his divinity, was a showdown about life and death, over which the Pharaohs were believed to have ultimate control. The way to break the king, since the contest between every other divine notion of Egypt didn’t bring about the freedom of his people, was on the pivotal and supreme issue of life and death.

In addition, all Egypt was complicit in the oppression of Israel, the destruction of their babies, and the enslavement of the multitudes (Ex. 1.9-14). Pharaoh was not the only culprit.

> I've forgotten what the original subject was now... :-|

Yeah, it happens. The discussion follows our thoughts, and then we can't remember how we got here. It's pretty common.
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Re: How do you verify miracles?

Postby Tanner » Thu May 24, 2018 2:57 pm

Thanks! This has gone on for a while now :-)

One last thing, even if the Egyptians themselves didn't record everyday events such as this, what about foreigners who happened to be there at the time? Traders and other visitors would have been on hand from other countries in the region, did any of them record accounts of these strange occurrences? Such as the Greeks.

Regarding the slaughter, it's still a bit of a dick move. I mean, this god already told everyone it was the only god. It would have been simpler for it to teleport down, and personally execute the perpetrators. Because as it already said, there are no other gods, so it would have won by default anyway.

\Besides, the only people who would have been "taught a lesson" were the ruling government. Without newspaper analogues, or any other means to disseminate the news, the "people" would have simply wondered what the hell was going on. They wouldn't have known that it was a rival god battling for their hearts and minds.

After that, Moses could have been installed, with the mandate of heaven, as the new dictator. They didn't really need to escape to anywhere. Of course, once they were in power, they could easily have set up holiday homes in Israel; complete with armed escorts provided by the Egyptian army.

That's the thing about these stories; both logically and strategically, they make no sense. It's like their god is simple shuffling chess pieces around on a board, for its own amusement.
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Re: How do you verify miracles?

Postby jimwalton » Thu May 24, 2018 3:48 pm

> One last thing, even if the Egyptians themselves didn't record everyday events such as this, what about foreigners who happened to be there at the time? Traders and other visitors would have been on hand from other countries in the region, did any of them record accounts of these strange occurrences? Such as the Greeks.

No, no one did. The traders didn't keep records like that. In those days (1500ish BC) things for written for generally one of three reasons: Political propaganda, legal documentation, or a notable cultural event. For something like the Exodus, we would expect Israel to write it down, but no one else.

> It would have been simpler for it to teleport down, and personally execute the perpetrators.

In a sense that's exactly what he did. He commissioned an angel (teleport down) to personally execute the perpetrators (each house was treated individually).

> Besides, the only people who would have been "taught a lesson" were the ruling government.

Not so. The people regarded the Pharaoh as the Lord of Life and Death. He was the one with the power over them, they believed. So his failure to keep the household healthy would reverberate through the whole nation. All would know he was a false god and their theology was flawed.

> the "people" would have simply wondered what the hell was going on.

The people of Israel were scattered about the region (though mostly in the north), even living in the neighborhoods of the Egyptians (Ex. 1.7—they seemed to be scattered around the country; Ex. 1.11—they were in various cities as well as in Goshen; Ex. 3.22—living in the same neighborhoods and even in the same houses. Hey, maybe that's why we don't find archaeological evidence of an Israelite town or city). When the Israelites left Egypt, so also did many other people, including Egyptians, go with them (Ex. 12.38). It's possible that the Egyptians knew very well what was going on.

> After that, Moses could have been installed, with the mandate of heaven, as the new dictator. They didn't really need to escape to anywhere.

They did have reason to be afraid. They were no match for the Egyptian army (Ex. 14.10).

> That's the thing about these stories; both logically and strategically, they make no sense.

So, I think you've misjudged the situation. There's a lot about the story that makes sense.

> It's like their god is simple shuffling chess pieces around on a board, for its own amusement.

Again, I'm quite convinced you've misunderstood.
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Re: How do you verify miracles?

Postby Tanner » Sun May 27, 2018 5:16 pm

The Greeks wrote stuff down. It's difficult to imagine that such an important event would never have been written down by someone else. There would have been someone of importance around, such as ambassadors or other big nobs.

Teleporting: I meant a more strategic approach, instead of killing non-combatants. Killing their god-king would have had a similar effect, and without the need to murder innocent bystanders. To be honest, it's not clear who's supposed to be being taught a lesson here, the Egyptian peasants, or the slaves.

People: I meant the normal Egyptian people, not the slaves.

Their god could have slaughtered the military power of the Pharoah, instead of the children. That would have resulted in a decisive victory, without the need to leg it.

No, there's no misunderstanding. If you take a step back, none of this makes sense. It's either embellished, or fictitious. Because if that guy really did have the universal creator backing him, then there would be no need for simple parlour tricks, or murdering babies; precision strikes on the leadership and military forces would have quickly overthrown the ruling powers. With the net result being that they need not have run anywhere, and could have set up a solid power base in a well-established area of civilization. From that position of power, they could easily have exterminated anyone living in the promised land, and annexed that too. Naturally, the capital would be moved to the promised land, with Egypt becoming a tributary province.
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Re: How do you verify miracles?

Postby jimwalton » Sun May 27, 2018 5:20 pm

> The Greeks wrote stuff down.

1500 BC was the beginning of the Mycaean culture in Greece. There's no reason for us to expect that they would write of a Semitic group leaving Egypt.

> It's difficult to imagine that such an important event would never have been written down by someone else.

But by whom? Who could have cared about it except the Israelites, and they did write it down, and you don't believe their record.

> I meant a more strategic approach, instead of killing non-combatants.

In this case, as I explained,killing non-combatants was the way to destroy the Pharaoh's reputation and identity as the deity in charge of life and death.

> without the need to murder innocent bystanders.

Remember also that I said the bystanders weren't innocent; the whole country was complicit.

> To be honest, it's not clear who's supposed to be being taught a lesson here, the Egyptian peasants, or the slaves.

Every Egyptian, from the greatest to the smallest, was being taught a lesson. That's the point.

> Their god could have slaughtered the military power of the Pharoah, instead of the children.

The children were considered to be the sons of Pharaoh. In ancient Egypt, all members of the kingdom were considered to be his children.

> there would be no need for simple parlour tricks

All of the plagues were aimed against the false power, sovereign, and religious systems of the Egyptians (power, sovereignty, and religion were all tethered together anyway). The "parlor tricks," as you call them, were the first blows at the systemic lies being perpetrated in the name of deity. By out-magicking the sorcerers, God showed their religious foundations to be false. By sending plagues, God showed their religious powers to be false. By killing the firstborn, God showed their deities (particularly Pharaoh) to be false.

> precision strikes on the leadership and military forces would have quickly overthrown the ruling powers.

This is true, but it may not have had the same effect on the people of Egypt and the surrounding region (Joshua 2.9-11). It's pretty hard to second-guess God and from our armchairs 3500 years later say what would have been a better strategy.

> With the net result being that they need not have run anywhere, and could have set up a solid power base in a well-established area of civilization.

Yeah, God didn't want them in Egypt, but in Israel. His purpose was not a power base.

> From that position of power, they could easily have exterminated anyone living in the promised land, and annexed that too.

Yeah, the point wasn't the extermination of the Canaanites, but to drive them out (Ex. 23.28-31; 34.11, 24; Lev. 18.24; 20.23; Num. 22.6, etc.).

> From that position of power, they could easily have exterminated anyone living in the promised land, and annexed that too. Naturally, the capital would be moved to the promised land, with Egypt becoming a tributary province.

That was never the idea. They were not to be a world power. They were not to conquer other lands. they were not to have tributary provinces. The only offensive wars the Israelites EVER fought were to gain Canaan. After that they were not mandated to fight any wars except defensive ones. The command was not to conquer peoples (unlike Muslims), but to be installed in the land God had given them. That was always the extent of it.
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Re: How do you verify miracles?

Postby Tanner » Tue May 29, 2018 3:37 pm

You're right, they probably wouldn't have cared much about some revolting slaves, but visitors to the capital would hardly have been able to ignore the series of cataclysm that had been going on. Not to mention the mounds of dead babies and other first borns one morning.

Can you imagine the sudden demand for coffin wood? It woud have been immense. Come to think of it, what did they do with all of the bodies? It's probably not been found again yet, but there ought to be one or more sites where an entire city's worth of dead babies have been entombed, all on the same day. Maybe they cremated them.

If what we've been told is true, this was some serious shit. Death and destruction on a biblical scale. If nothing else, people would have been talking about it, there would have been other evidence of the mayhem that went down in Egypt that time.

I still don't buy that some peasant miles from the capital gave a hoot what the Pharoah said. They were just regular people, going about their daily business. Besides, did the peasants actually have enough cash to own their own slave?

That last bit makes no sense at all. These were brutal times. The best defence is offence. And with a god at their back, they could have exterminated everyone that could have been a threat. And then settled down in peace in that one sweet spot. Their god had already demonstrated that it had no trouble exterminating an entire planetary population, except for some chosen ones; so why did it have to resort to petty magic when it could have simply smitten the bad (well, relatively) guys?

Where was Satan when all of this was going down?
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Re: How do you verify miracles?

Postby jimwalton » Tue May 29, 2018 3:37 pm

> You're right, they probably wouldn't have cared much about some revolting slaves, but visitors to the capital would hardly have been able to ignore the series of cataclysm that had been going on. Not to mention the mounds of dead babies and other first borns one morning.

But very few would dare to write anything derogatory against the king. And what are the odds that such a writing would survive 3500 years? It certainly wouldn't be carved in stone and on the palace wall, but more likely, if written at all, on papyrus, which has a short short shelf life compared to other writing media.

> Can you imagine the sudden demand for coffin wood?

Common Egyptians of the era didn't bury in coffins but rather in shallow graves with a few personal items (many have been found).

> Come to think of it, what did they do with all of the bodies?

Buried them in the back yard, in the family gravesite.

> Maybe they cremated them.

The Egyptians didn't generally cremate.

> If nothing else, people would have been talking about it, there would have been other evidence of the mayhem that went down in Egypt that time.

What kind of evidence do you expect to see or find? Remember, in those days usually the only things put into writing were complimentary records about the king, legal documents, and notable information about an important cultural event to be remembered for the ages.

But, for instance (and possibly for example), we have records that Amenhotep II's eldest son died. the Stela of Thutmose IV (who succeeded Amenhotep) points to the fact that he was not the eldest son. So also is the case with Merneptah, who was not the eldest son of Ramesses II. We have records of eldest sons dying, but we don't know who the pharaoh of the Exodus was, so we can't get any closer and certainly can't say this was it. There is also no record of how or why these heirs to the throne died.

> I still don't buy that some peasant miles from the capital gave a hoot what the Pharoah said.

Politically you are correct. Religiously, you are incorrect. The Pharaoh was the god of life and death as worshipped and recognized by all Egyptians.

> Besides, did the peasants actually have enough cash to own their own slave?

No, not at all. But the Israelites were not chattel slaves. Chattel slavery is unheard of in the ancient world. They would instead have been corvee labor: serving the king as his labor force. They seem to have lived among the Egyptian people rather than in a separate Israelite community.

> These were brutal times. The best defence is offence. And with a god at their back, they could have exterminated everyone that could have been a threat.

But just read the Bible. Everything I said is true. They were not to be a world power, not to be a conquering people, not to fight offensive wars (after they conquered Canaan), and not to expand into any other lands. The Scripture is consistent about it.

> And with a god at their back, they could have exterminated everyone that could have been a threat.

Yep, I guess they could have, but this was never the plan, the strategy, or their behavior. After they settled the land (and gained it fully under David), they never fought another offensive war.

> Their god had already demonstrated that it had no trouble exterminating an entire planetary population, except for some chosen ones;

True. It would have been no trouble. This was never to be. It wasn't the plan.

> so why did it have to resort to petty magic when it could have simply smitten the bad (well, relatively) guys?

You lost me here. There's no petty magic. Are you talking about the 10 plagues, the Exodus,the Conquest, or what?

> Where was Satan when all of this was going down?

Satan doesn't appear in the Old Testament. Genesis 3: serpent, never identified with Satan until NT. Job: an accuser. The book is set up like a court of law. "The satan" was a common term for "the prosecutor." It's not a proper name. Satan as a personal spiritual being never shows up in the OT.
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