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Thread: Fine-Tuning Argument vs Argument From Miracles

  1. Top | #621
    Veteran Member Lumpenproletariat's Avatar
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    Why are the Gospel accounts not evidence for the Jesus miracle acts?

    I.e., written accounts, near the time, saying it happened and that there were witnesses. Why isn't that evidence? Can you erase any historical events you wish, with only an outburst that the accounts of them are not really evidence?

    Quote Originally Posted by Atheos View Post
    Damn how long are you going to keep making these incorrect claims? There is no evidence that Jesus did these things.
    There are no writings from the time saying he did these things? This is the same kind of evidence we have for other historical events. Why aren't such writings also evidence for the things Jesus did? You've never answered why "evidence" changes meaning when it's these particular writings which are the evidence.

    For any other writings, or any other events, you regularly accept the reported events as historical because of those writings which report them. What other evidence do you have but the writings from the time which say the events happened? (No, physical artifacts are not evidence for what happened, for 99.9% of our history, because we rely on the written accounts to tell us what the artifacts mean.)

    Name any other example of reports, from the time, saying events happened, which you reject as "evidence" for those reported events? especially where there are extra sources rather than only one?

    It would make sense if you simply said "Yes, it's evidence, but it's still not enough in order to believe it. We need 10 sources rather than only 4 (5) in order to believe a miracle claim." But to say there's "no evidence" at all is dishonest. These 4 (5) sources are much more evidence than we need for normal events -- so some reasonable persons believe it, based on this evidence, while others require more evidence than this for miracle claims.

    There is only evidence that people began telling stories about Jesus doing these things, . . .
    That's what our evidence is for virtually ALL historical events (especially ancient history). People told the "stories" about what happened, about someone doing things, and someone wrote it down.

    . . . all of which comes to us by way of biased religious people with an agenda to pimp their favorite god-myth.
    Virtually all the evidence we have for ancient history comes from biased sources pimping their favorite myths. That doesn't make them unreliable for the facts of what happened. We can distinguish the fact vs. fiction and figure out what happened, despite the bias and fictional element in ALL the ancient sources. And some sources are more reliable than others, which we can recognize and take into account, but even the less reliable sources are credible as evidence. We'd have to toss out most of our ancient history record if we had to restrict ourselves to only the most reliable and least biased sources. ALL the sources are legitimate and are used for determining the facts.

    It's absolutely the worst form of "evidence" imaginable, no . . .
    What is? anything written by someone who was biased? ALL the ancient writers were "biased" without exception. We have no documents from ancient writers who were not biased.

    . . . no different from the evidence that Joseph Smith translated the book of Mormon from golden plates containing Reformed Egyptian writing.
    There is no such evidence. There is evidence that there were "plates," but no evidence that they contained ancient Egyptian writing. The Joseph Smith evidence is legitimate, but only to tell us that there were "plates," not that he translated from Egyptian writing on those plates.

    Hell, it's not even that good since we actually have the signatures of witnesses who claim to have watched Smith do it and saw the golden plates . . .
    "plates" yes, but not plates with ancient Egyptian writing on them -- for that there is no evidence and no witnesses. Perhaps there's evidence that there was some writing on them, or marks similar to letters, but no evidence that they were ancient Egyptian letters/words.

    And there's no evidence that Smith's translation was a real translation of ancient Egyptian writing. Regardless what the witnesses saw, they did not see anything showing that Smith's translation was from ancient Egyptian writing. There's evidence that the "plates" existed and maybe that Smith wrote something, but not that the plates had Egyptian writing on them or that Smith's writing was translated from any Egyptian writing.

    . . . the golden plates themselves (before they were miraculously taken up into Heaven). And I'm equally certain all the Joseph Smith crap is bullshit too.
    The reason you're certain is that there's no evidence that he really translated anything from ancient Egyptian writing. Sure, he probably had some "plates" which looked impressive to the witnesses, and he convinced them that the marks were Egyptian writing. But there's no evidence that they were, because the witnesses saw nothing to indicate that the marks were Egyptian writing, as Smith claimed. The witnesses believed Smith, but not because there was any evidence. There was only the "plates" without any Egyptian lettering on them.

    We can trust witnesses to tell us what they saw. But these witnesses had no way to identify ancient Egyptian writing, regardless what they saw. We believe them telling us they saw "plates" maybe with marks on them, but not their claim that it was Egyptian writing. We only have to believe they saw what they described, but they had no description of Egyptian lettering or any way to identify those marks as Egyptian.

    The healing miracles of Jesus, by contrast, were acts which could be recognized by an average observer, seeing a victim recovering from a physical affliction. No medical or scientific or scholarly knowledge was necessary for an observer to recognize these miracle acts and the recovery of the afflicted victims.

    You keep walking this tight wire where Jesus was so obscure that he was never noticed by any of the contemporary secular historians of . . .
    Many important historical figures were never noticed by those historians 1000 miles away. The famous rabbis Hillel and Shammai were ignored by them. Philo the Alexandrian and John the Baptist were ignored by them. There's a long list of historical figures of the time, especially in Galilee/Judea, who were ignored by the contemporary secular historians. And especially a reputed miracle-worker would be ignored by them, because they routinely rejected any such rumors.

    . . . historians of his day -- you know, people who had the ability to write things down, and would certainly have written extraordinary things down.
    Yes, if they had the information, but mainline historians like Suetonius and Plutarch had little or no information about Jesus. Probably something was written down during 30-50 AD, by someone locally, but 99% of writings perished because they were not copied. And the mainline "historians" limited themselves to writing about the rich and powerful only, especially those wielding political and military power, and whatever they might have heard about the Jesus miracles they obviously did not take seriously.

    The mainline historians, and even most ordinary people, did not respect claims about current "messiahs" or "prophets" doing miracles. Rather, the only form of recognition they gave to miracle claims was to pay proper respect to the ancient deities, or the traditions handed down from centuries past, not to any recent claims of "miracles" being done by the latest upstart guru coming to town, such as Jesus appeared to be.

    But at the same time the acts of Jesus were so universally known that everyone everywhere was talking about him . . .
    No one says that. The "his fame spread" words in the gospels refer to locally, in Judea and Galilee, and some nearby bordering regions, during the short 1-3 years period of his public ministry.

    . . . so much that nobody doubted any of this stuff was true.
    No, most of those hearing of this probably doubted it.

    Probably most people living in those areas who heard of this did have doubts about it, including the educated, and they didn't know one way or the other about the miracle claims. But the few educated persons who checked into it apparently believed it, because all the written accounts about it say the claimed miracle events really did happen. But as to the mainline Roman historians, there's no reason to believe any of them took an interest in it. If any of them heard about it, they probably dismissed the claims without checking into it.

    You just can't have it both ways.
    There's no "both ways." Very few educated persons checked into it. The few who did concluded that the miracle claims were true. Locally there was much interest and many who believed, but no one (or almost no one) educated enough to investigate the rumors and document their findings.

    Was he this obscure preacher who not one single secular historian of his era noticed?
    He might have been "noticed" by some, 500 or 1000 miles away, but they simply dismissed such miracle claims without checking into it. The norm was to reject such claims and not waste time on it. Only if it had major impact on those in power did such a reported troublemaker have any relevance to those historians. We know from Josephus that John the Baptist existed and was beheaded by Herod Antipas, and yet no secular historian mentions him. It would require a major uprising, with military forces sent in to put it down, in order to attract the attention of a mainline historian.

    Or was he this massively well-known person whose . . .
    He was obscure (in 30 AD), NOT "massively well-known" outside that region where "his fame spread" locally.

    . . . well-known person whose wonderful deeds were so well received everywhere that nobody could deny that these incredible things were happening?
    Those who checked into it and were educated enough to leave an account ALL agree that he did perform the reported miracle acts. This harmonizes totally with the fact that very few knew enough to have a strong opinion, outside the local region, where there were no mainline historians living, and where the whole matter ended in less than 3 years, maybe less than one year, and left no impact on anything connected to the government or to anyone holding power.

    (This Wall of Text to be continued)
    Last edited by Lumpenproletariat; 07-18-2019 at 03:19 AM.

  2. Top | #622
    Super Moderator Atheos's Avatar
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    This has been debunked ad nauseam in the other thread. That's not how history works. Nobody here buys this caricature you keep painting of the process.

    It wasn't true when Lee Stroebel and WLC invented it for that ridiculous "Case for Christ" book and it's not true now. Never will be.

  3. Top | #623
    Contributor skepticalbip's Avatar
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    Yes Lumpy has posted this claim several times. Apparently he is a student of Vladimer Lenin who is credited as saying, "A lie told often enough becomes the truth."

    But then that quote has also been credited to Joseph Goebbels so there is that.

  4. Top | #624
    Fair dinkum thinkum bilby's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by skepticalbip View Post
    Yes Lumpy has posted this claim several times. Apparently he is a student of Vladimer Lenin who is credited as saying, "A lie told often enough becomes the truth."

    But then that quote has also been credited to Joseph Goebbels so there is that.
    And Margaret Thatcher said "Whatever I say three times is true", presumably inspired by one or the other.

    Of course the gospel accounts are evidence for Jesus' miracle acts.

    In the same way that this piece of paper that says: "Bilby has a savings account balance of $1,562,438.32; I saw it and so did three other people. Signed The Bank Manager", written in my handwriting, is evidence for me being a millionaire.

    I trust that Lumpy will accept this as solid evidence that I have the money. Now I am prepared to split it evenly with him, if he can send me 10% by Western Union, to cover the transaction costs to get the money from my account in Lagos, with the First Rural Associated Union Deposits Bank of Nigeria (FRAUDBank), to the USA.

    It's very well evidenced, according to the standards of evidence he espouses, so I am sure I can expect a wire transfer of $156,243.83 very shortly, to get us started on the process.

  5. Top | #625
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    Quote Originally Posted by Lumpenproletariat View Post
    There are no writings from the time saying he did these things? This is the same kind of evidence we have for other historical events.
    This is wrong.
    This has been discussed at length.
    No, I take that back. “Discussion” would mean that you engage in the info and thnk about it and reply to it.
    Which you don’t.
    You just state it again as if it had never been discussed.
    Like a robot.

    I didn’t read any more of what you wrote, assuming it is equally robotic and that you don’t read or think about the replies.

  6. Top | #626
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    If you read it, he is responding with "clear" explanations "directly" related to these particular posts ... individually.

  7. Top | #627
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    Quote Originally Posted by Learner View Post
    If you read it, he is responding with "clear" explanations "directly" related to these particular posts ... individually.
    Do you just not understand that simply mechanically typing the same failed argument does in no way count as a response?

    There is a bizarre blindness among theists. They seem to think that once an argument is written it is a hammer that can't ever break. So all one needs to do is to keep reposting it. It's like cult dogma. You can't see beyond the fact that just because it is written, that does not make it true.

    Which is something you never would except in any other context.

    When an argument is refuted, it is to be abandoned, not simply repeated over and over and over and over.

    The argument: This is the same kind of evidence we have for other historical events fails for all of the many different reasons that we have pointed out over and over and over.

    Yet, Lumpy just keeps repeating it as if it hasn't been addressed and the reasons why it fails--objectively, not merely in anyone's opinion--haven't been presented.

    So, repeating it is NOT responding to any of the times we've shown how and why it fails.

  8. Top | #628
    Veteran Member Lumpenproletariat's Avatar
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    Why are the Gospel accounts not evidence for the Jesus miracle acts?

    (continued from previous Wall of Text)

    How are these written accounts not evidence for the events, such as we have for other historical events, and such as we do NOT have for other miracle claims of antiquity?

    Quote Originally Posted by Atheos View Post
    it is obvious to anyone who isn't engulfed in confirmation bias that the gospels are nothing but re-worked mythology, taking older Roman, Greek, Assyrian and even Egyptian mythology and mixing . . .
    Why can't you name which older mythologies? Why can't you cite the text for them? You really don't know of any older mythology that the Jesus miracle acts are "re-worked" from.

    You like to repeat these falsehoods without ever citing any example of it. No one has shown any connection to earlier mythologies, unless you mean that ALL history is just repetition of scenarios from the ancient legends, or from earlier history, making the stories of Charlemagne and Columbus and Daniel Boone and hundreds more historical characters nothing but repetitions of the same scenarios from the early myths. Or the reported conquests by Napoleon or Hitler are nothing but repetitions, or mixing, of earlier reported conquests by Alexander and others. Other than that, there is no connection of the Jesus miracle acts to earlier legends.

    Except one -- there is only one example of a Jesus miracle act being similar to an earlier legend: The multiplying the fish and loaves story resembles an Elisha miracle story (2 Kings 4:42-44). Other than this one case, there are no similarities to earlier legends. You can't give one example. You just repeat claims you take from others without checking to do a serious comparison.

    [CLARIFICATION: "miracle act" does not include symbols like the virgin birth, for which you can show earlier parallels. Rather, it is the healing acts, and the Resurrection of Jesus, i.e., acts he performed in public and were witnessed, for which there are no earlier parallels.]

    . . . and mixing it in with Jewish traditions of Moses, Elijah, Elisha, etc.
    You can't give one example, except the single Elisha story. One single example alone does not show any pattern in the gospels of reliance on earlier myths.

    Was Jesus a repeat of Elijah/Elisha? Only the long spectacular train of Elijah/Elisha stories contains any healing miracles, not the Moses stories, which show no resemblance whatever to Jesus in the Gospels. And Elijah/Elisha were virtually unknown in the period leading up to the 1st century when the Gospels appeared. It's the rise of Christianity, or the 1st-century appearance of Jesus in the Gospels, which then led to Elijah becoming recognized as important. Without the rise of Christ belief in the 1st-century, Elijah would have remained an unimportant figure in Jewish tradition. There's no reason why any 1st-century Jews would have chosen unrecognized figures like Elijah or Elisha as a model for creating a new Jewish hero or Messiah figure.

    A serious consideration of the Jewish culture and literature in the pre-Christian period, up to about 50 AD, shows clearly that these 2 prophets were nobodies in Judaism until AFTER the new Christ communities appeared, and that the new Christ belief is what caused Elijah to become important.

    Justin Martyr recognized the similarities and theorized . . .
    No he did not -- there were no "similarities" -- he pretended there were similarities, as I have explained earlier:

    Quote Originally Posted by Lumpenproletariat View Post
    Misusing/Distorting Justin Martyr to prove "similarities" of Christ belief to earlier pagan myths
    Quote Originally Posted by Lumpenproletariat View Post
    Misusing/Distorting Justin Martyr to prove "similarities" of Christ belief to earlier pagan myths
    In the above 2 posts I cover all Justin Martyr's examples and show that he falsely equates the earlier pagan myths to the Jesus miracles. But none of his examples are legitimate.

    There is a reason why he does this deception, i.e., he's trying to defend Christians by claiming their beliefs are essentially no different than beliefs in the Greek-Roman gods, in an effort to win sympathy for Christians and stop the persecution of them.

    Once again I will do your homework for you, to deal with the Justin Martyr text you are misrepresenting, to show what he was saying, why he said it, and how he made the error of comparing Christ to earlier pagan legends. The explanation is apparent in chapter 21 of his "Apology" ( ):

    21. In saying that the Word, who is the first offspring of God, was born for us without sexual union, as Jesus Christ our Teacher, and that he was crucified and died and after rising again ascended into heaven we introduce nothing new beyond [what you say of] those whom you call sons of Zeus. You know how many sons of Zeus the writers whom you honor speak of -- Hermes, the hermeneutic Word and teacher of all [712] ; Asclepius, who was also a healer and after being struck by lightning ascended into heaven -- as did Dionysus who was torn in . . .
    I.e., Justin is trying to gain sympathy for Christians by saying their beliefs are similar to the pagan legends accepted by Romans. He's wrong in the above quote, when he says that Asclepius and Dionysus and others "ascended" into heaven. The legends say no such thing about Dionysus or the other deities, but Justin is trying to plead a case, in order to save the lives of Christians who are threatened, and he says anything to persuade his audience.

    Similarly in chapter 22 he writes:

    If we declare that he was born of a virgin, you should consider this something in common with Perseus. When we say that he healed the lame, the paralytic, and those born blind, and raised the dead, we seem to be talking about things like those said to have been done by Asclepius.
    Again his point is that the Christian beliefs about Jesus are similar to pagan beliefs about Perseus and Asclepius and others, which is incorrect. (Those heroes/gods were ancient deities, not recent historical figures believed to have done miracles.) His purpose in drawing this incorrect parallel is to plead for the lives of Christians who are threatened with death because of their beliefs.

    If you disregard Justin's real point, then you are only exploiting his error to use it as the source for your erroneous talking point. This is a very lengthy document, which rambles on and on in Walls of Text 50 times longer than those I have posted here. This comparison of Jesus to the pagan heroes is a small part of his document, in which he lists a series of arguments to defend Christians against numerous accusers, in which he presents all the Christian doctrines, including that of the fulfillment of ancient prophecies, such as the virgin birth and Bethlehem prophecy, and in which he tries to draw parallels to pagan legends, in order to present to his Roman audience a more pleasing image of the Christians being persecuted. All you're doing here is capitalizing on an error he makes within this lengthy treatise.

    . . . and theorized that the devils had purposefully tried to deceive people by inventing those older myths before Jesus came along.
    This part of the lengthy document comes in chapter 54, after several digressions, where he has transitioned to explaining the superiority of the Christian beliefs to the pagan beliefs. His original point was to defend Christians by claiming their beliefs are similar to that of the pagan legends. But along with this he also explains how the pagan beliefs are false, or that the legends are fiction, and he identifies their origin as inspired by demons.

    But he is factually wrong in claiming the similarity of the Christ miracle acts to pagan beliefs, and every example he gives is incorrect. His point is not to depict the pagan myths accurately, but to persuade his readers that these myths are similar to the Christian beliefs, so the latter are not dangerous and the believers are innocent of any crimes, of which many were being accused.

    . . . by inventing those older myths before Jesus came along.
    But what "older myths" do you mean? You can't give one example showing a similarity to the Jesus miracle acts. Unless you mean that ALL miracle stories are the same, and every such story is simply a copy of an earlier miracle story.

    Is every later reported event simply a copy of earlier ones? Are the Crusades (or accounts of them) copies of earlier reported events, of earlier wars or raids by one tribe into the territory of another? So did the Crusades never happen, because they're just a rehashing of the story of the conquest of the Promised Land by Jews led by Joshua?

    The question is whether any miracle event actually happened. You don't prove it didn't happen by claiming it has some similarity to an earlier myth. The voyage of Columbus, which contains some miracle stories, has some similarity to Moses leading the Israelites out of Egypt. So, does this mean the voyage of Columbus never really happened?

    The miracle acts of Jesus in the Gospels have no more resemblance to earlier legends than the voyage of Columbus resembles the exodus of Moses and the Jews from Egypt (-- except the one case of the fish-and-loaves story which resembles 2 Kings 4:42-44. Otherwise there is no antecedent to the Jesus miracle acts.) You can't name any "earlier myths" which are "similarities" to the Jesus miracle acts. All you can do is just refer to Justin Martyr or to a modern Jesus-debunker pundit, etc., but you can't give an example of "older myths" resembling any Jesus miracle acts.

    But there are some similarities in the teachings and theologies and ritual practices, such as miracle-birth stories and prophecies and blood atonement and baptism and other symbols to be found in earlier religious traditions. These "similarities" are legitimate, and actually indicate still further that the miracles of Jesus are truly unique and singular to the Christ belief, not to be found in earlier religious traditions, even though some other elements can be found from the earlier traditions. This is important -- why is it that much of Christian symbolism can be traced back to earlier Jewish and pagan origins, but not the miracle acts of Jesus? Why was so much borrowed, but this one part -- his power to perform the miracle acts -- was not?

    You can find Jesus-like apocalyptic sermons in the earlier Jewish texts, you can find the communion ritual in the Qumran Community, also baptism, and blood atonement rituals, and preaching hellfire and judgment (e.g., Book of Enoch) -- there are many "similarities" to be found, but there are no miracle acts in the earlier traditions which explain where the Jesus healing miracles or the Resurrection came from. Many attempts are made to find earlier examples of such miracles and resurrections, but when you ask for the written text or documentation for them, there is virtually nothing.

    We've been over this in the past and it gets old.
    So, why don't you do something new and give an example of an "older myth" resembling Jesus in the Gospels? instead of just repeating the same clichés with no examples. You claim there are the "older myths" which the Jesus stories are based on, so instead of just repeating this talking point which you said in a dozen earlier posts without naming one "older myth" example, why don't you get serious and name one "older myth" -- other than the one I named (II Kings 4:42-44) by doing your homework for you, which is the single sole example -- resembling a Jesus miracle act. I.e., provide the ancient text for the "older myth" for comparison, so we can determine if there's really a similarity.

    The evidence keeps accumulating: As you continue to insist that the Jesus miracle stories are derived from something earlier ("older myths"), and yet you also continue to give NO example of anything earlier, showing such derivation, you're just adding further to the evidence that the Jesus miracles must have really happened, because nothing can be found to explain where they came from (if they are fiction), no matter how hard you try to find the "older myths" or insist that they have to be there.

    So the conclusion is: the best explanation how these accounts could exist is the one which says those miracle acts actually did happen, because there's no other way to explain how we have this evidence or these written accounts saying the events happened. Unlike other miracle claims of the period for which there is no evidence or documentation in the historical record.
    Last edited by Lumpenproletariat; 07-18-2019 at 06:47 PM.

  9. Top | #629
    Elder Contributor Keith&Co.'s Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Lumpenproletariat View Post
    Why can't you name ...? Why can't you cite ....?
    Oh, man, you're STILL doing that? You were doing that five years ago.
    A three-step version of simply declaring victory in the face of a loss.

    Five years ago, everyone learned that there's just no point in putting in the effort to name, to cite, to dig up the references.
    You'd make a claim. People would counter the claim with examples.
    You'd make a similar claim, totally ignoring the response.
    Then when people made a counter-post, you'd leap on the apparent hole. "Why can't you name these examples!!??!"
    Apparently, counter examples don't count if we don't list the entire citation every single post we make.
    And you ignore the posts where the counters are listed, so they still don't count.

    But it becomes clear to everyone who
    1) has an attention span greater than an alcoholic touring a distillery
    2) doesn't have a vested interest in your side of the argument
    ...that you're wrong, but unwilling to actually face the facts of the matter.

    The only question I have is whether this is a conscious tactic or a subconscious reflex going on.
    But then, I only care enough to turn off 'ignore' once every two years or so...
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  10. Top | #630
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