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Thread: Fine-Tuning Argument vs Argument From Miracles

  1. Top | #101
    Veteran Member Brian63's Avatar
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    The phrase:

    "Or should the dogma that miracles cannot happen overrule the evidence?"

    ...seems a bit sloppy.

    When we say that event A occurring is evidence that event B will subsequently occur, it is because we have taken steps to observe event A in nature, in the past, and in isolation from other events (to the best of our abilities). If you drop a block of concrete on your stomach, it will likely cause some damage to your body. If a planet gets pulled in by gravity towards a star, that planet will likely not survive as is. The idea of something being "evidence for" something else relies on the idea that there exist natural laws and patterns of series of events are not being violated. A miracle would be the opposite case, where somehow the natural laws were being violated. So there cannot be evidence for a miraculous event. There can only be an event which we either do not know the naturalistic causes for, or a supernatural event which does not have any natural cause (but then we could not claim we had evidence there was not a natural cause).
    Last edited by Brian63; 04-12-2019 at 04:41 PM.

  2. Top | #102
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    Referring to these arguments as unsound is being kind. They're just dumb. They represent human desire, not human observation. I think one could go on endlessly asking the what ifs and hows and whys about either or both arguments. In the end they are the same argument with slightly different spins. They are evidence that our emotional brains are not so far in the past as we'd like to sometimes think, and that those emotional brains many times have their way with us.

  3. Top | #103
    Elder Contributor Keith&Co.'s Avatar
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    Or should the dogma that miracles cannot happen overrule the evidence?
    That's not DOGMA, Lumpy, that's almost the definition of the word.

    Except, it's actually closer to 'miracles are events that cannot happen without divine action.'
    That's what the Bible says about Christ's miracles, events that prove he was divine. It's how you yourself try to use A Certain Few of Christ's miracles.

    The issue is not "this didn't happen because it cannot have happened" it us "saying this happened is not proof that it did happen. And an anonymous, internally inconsistent, uncorroborated story of it happening...some time ago, is not evidence that it happened."

    This has been explained to you.

  4. Top | #104
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    Quote Originally Posted by Lumpenproletariat View Post
    If the evidence and the sources about it attest that it did happen and was not a hoax, then isn't it likely true? Or should the dogma that miracles cannot happen overrule the evidence?
    This has been explained to you many times. Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence. Any claim that involves a suspension of the laws of nature would be considered an extraordinary claim. As an example, if your neighbor claimed that he flown from LAX to JFK simply by flapping his arms, then the claim would be considered extraordinary because it defies the laws of nature. Or if he claimed that his grandfather, who had been dead and buried for 20 years, had risen up from the grave and come to visit him. A reasonable person would treat either claim with skepticism, instead of simply taking your neighbor's word that these events had occurred as he had described them. Even if your neighbor was known to you and appeared to be of sound mind, and had the reputation of being trustworthy.

  5. Top | #105
    Veteran Member Lumpenproletariat's Avatar
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    The claim that it happened is evidence that it happened. No? Then toss out 98% of our historical record.

    And for miracle claims we need 1 or 2 or 3 extra sources saying it happened.


    Quote Originally Posted by Koyaanisqatsi View Post
    February 22, 1980 in Lake Placid and May 2, 2015 in Leceister. Both things happened, lots of people witnessed it.
    What happened? someone raised from the dead?

    If the evidence and the sources about it attest that it did happen and was not a hoax, then isn't it likely true?
    Why would claims that something isn't a hoax just make it "likely true"?
    It increases the likelihood. Especially if ALL the sources we have say it did happen and was not a hoax, that makes it likely true.


    Bigfoot isn't a hoax. There, I just claimed it, so, that makes it "likely true"?
    But many other sources say it IS a hoax, thus reducing the likelihood.

    Also, by "sources" is meant reports from those who were close to the alleged events, or at least those who have studied the reports from those who were close or claimed to have witnessed it. So your claim is not a "source" unless you were close to the alleged events being reported.

    Further, as to Bigfoot, there are some good sources who claim it's not a hoax, so those do increase the likelihood that it's true. It's OK to leave open the possibility in some cases that the claim is true. We don't always have certainty. And there can be some hoaxes which do not negate other reports which were not hoaxes. If one particular report is cited as legitimate and not a hoax, that makes it more credible than another report which is rejected by most of the sources as a hoax. That later hoax does not negate the other report which might have been legitimate. A reported story can be true despite the existence of other reports which are hoaxes.

    So the report which is offered as true by all the sources reporting it, and which they say was not a hoax, is more likely to be true than the ones which are dismissed by the sources as hoaxes.


    Or should the dogma that miracles cannot happen overrule the evidence?
    Apples and oranges. The "evidence" is unsubstantiated anecdote.
    What does "unsubstantiated" mean? What if there are several anecdotes which corroborate each other? Doesn't that substantiate the claim, in some cases?

    Are all "anecdotes" automatically false? What's the difference between an "anecdote" and a claim that something happened, or that someone saw something happen? Aren't history books filled with "anecdotes"? Isn't that mostly what they are, for events of many centuries ago?


    I saw your mother turn into Adolf Hitler. I just made a truth claim. Does that make it "likely true" that your mother did in fact turn into Adolf Hitler?
    So then you reject any claims anyone makes? Just because someone claimed it doesn't make it so. So therefore any claims that something happened are not "evidence" that it happened?

    You'd have to toss out most of the historical record if your premise is that claims that something happened are never "evidence" that it happened. If you're saying the mere claim that something happened is never "evidence" that it happened, there isn't much left in the history books for which there is evidence. History is a collection of claims that something happened. People wrote down the claims, and later readers believe it. In some cases there is only one source for a particular claim, so it's not "substantiated" by anything. Yet history books are filled with such claims.


    The answer to that question is, "No, it does in no way make it likely true."
    It does make it likely true if all the sources we have about an alleged event say that the event did happen and that it was not a hoax. Or, if they say it did happen and none of them says it was a hoax or did not happen.

    We're talking about "sources" near to the alleged event, not someone's commentary 500 or more years later.

    What's an example of an alleged event which probably did not happen but is reported by sources near to it has having happened? and for which there are no sources saying it did not happen, or that it was a hoax?

    Most examples meeting the above description are events which probably DID happen.

    You might come up with cases in modern times of weird claims, like from a goofy cult. Because today there are millions of publishing tools which anyone can use to publish goofy claims. We need to know if anyone was present who was not a disciple of the cult. If all the witnesses were only disciples of the cult, then the claims are less likely to be true.

    But in most cases, if there's more than only one source, and they all say it's true and is not a hoax, then it's likely true. Even if it claims something very unusual, like something superhuman, etc. What's an example where this is not so? Let's skip some modern nutball stuff on YouTube. Going back 100 years or more, what's an example of something reported as true in all the sources about it, none saying it's a hoax, but which is probably false? If there's any, it's the exception. Such claims are likely true, or at least it's reasonable enough to believe, even if there's doubt about it. Or there's some truth to it despite the doubtful part.


    And that fact has nothing to do with a presumption that "miracles cannot happen" and everything to do with the fact that anyone can claim any idiotic thing they want to claim.
    So any claim ever made can be tossed out as false as long as someone thinks it was "idiotic"?

    What's the difference between -- Any "idiotic thing" someone claims has to be false, and Any "miracle" claim has to be false.

    The reasonable approach to this is that if there are extra sources which make the same "idiotic claim," then it's more likely to be true. The claim cannot be automatically rejected only because someone thinks it's "idiotic" or only because it claims a "miracle" event in it.

    Rather, if there are extra sources making the same or similar claim, or corroborating it, then the likelihood is increased. At some point it's reasonable to believe it if there are the extra sources confirming it, and also if there is none denying it or branding it as a hoax. In the 1st- and 2nd-century literature there were critics who condemned some of the hoaxes claiming recent alleged miracles. But in a case where the only sources say it's true and no source condemns it as a hoax, then it's more likely to be true.


    Making a claim is not proving a claim.
    No, but the claim is evidence. Everything in the published record is evidence of what happened, especially for claims of events 1000-2000 years ago.

    If the claim is published and reported as a true event, and no one reports it as a hoax, that is evidence that the event did happen. Not proof, but evidence. And the evidence is made stronger if there are extra sources reporting it as true.


    When someone reports a crime they witnessed, the police do not just go, "Ok, the fact that you said it means we grabbed the guy and threw him directly into jail for the rest of his life."
    No, but what about a crime reported 100 or 500 years ago, and we today cannot send investigators to the scene. We can still make a judgment today whether the claim is true. Such past events are debated, and the claims published in the record are used to try to figure out what really happened. Probably most of the facts of history are not proved "beyond a reasonable doubt," but still are believed as likely true. So we have those reports today, and we might believe this one or that, even though it's from one source only.


    The claim is made and then an investigation takes place, where the police try to find corroborating physical evidence of the claim. Without corroborating physical evidence, the suspect is released, because everyone (normally) understands that making a claim is not the same thing as proving a claim.
    Even so, it's often reasonable to believe a claim based on evidence, even if there's not proof. Most of our beliefs are probably based on evidence which falls short of "proof."

    Some miracle claims can be believed based on evidence, even if it's not proof. But in the earlier example given:

    February 22, 1980 in Lake Placid and May 2, 2015 in Leceister. Both things happened, lots of people witnessed it.
    What happened? someone raised from the dead?

    If the evidence and the sources about it attest that it did happen and was not a hoax, then isn't it likely true?
    -- we were not shown the evidence, or even told what allegedly happened. Do some sources say the event did not happen, or do they all say the event really happened? Do any sources report it as a hoax?

    The alleged "miracle" probably did happen if the sources say it did and there's no claim that it was a hoax.

    In the case of the Jesus miracles, all the existing sources say the events did happen, and there are no reports saying it was a hoax, even though hoaxes were reported in the literature of those times.

  6. Top | #106
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    Your entire “logic” is predicated on the notion that there existed a first century equivalent of a newspaper of record that reported—for all posterity—on officially investigated “hoaxes” and/or reported every single idiotic claim that any person made, such that they could in turn be investigated and tracked.

    No such fundamental record existed.

    Second, there are no primary sources making any such claims. There are only stories of stories handed down year after year in oral form until decades later (at best) some unknown author (“Mark”) wrote his version. The closest we can get to any confirmed identity of any of the authors of the NT is Paul, who never met Jesus (in spite of the fact that he supposedly lived contemporaneously to him and was both a Roman citizen and a Jew).

    Third, the claims are not just that Jesus could perform miracles, but that his disciples could as well, including raising people from the dead. Yet, curiously, there is not a single mention of any such resurrection either in any of the books of the NT or external sources, which one would think would be significantly news worthy to actually instantiate a working press.

    Forth, the fact that there were (supposedly) 12 disciples walking around Jerusalem with the power to heal the sick and raise the dead makes one wonder why those people are not still alive today. Was there a statute of limitations on their powers? If so, then why didn’t they raise ALL of their dead friends and relatives, let alone, you know, Moses or the like? Why not whole armies in fact, let alone just touching Jesus and healing him while he was on the cross or resurrecting him after he supposedly died?

    Which leads to the absence of evidence being evidence conundrum and actually flips your argument against you. Because no one else reported any of these miracles—except for cult members—is strong evidence that no such miraculous events actually happened.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Koyaanisqatsi View Post
    Your entire “logic” is predicated on the notion that there existed a first century equivalent of a newspaper of record that reported—for all posterity—on officially investigated “hoaxes” and/or reported every single idiotic claim that any person made, such that they could in turn be investigated and tracked.

    No such fundamental record existed.

    Second, there are no primary sources making any such claims. There are only stories of stories handed down year after year in oral form until decades later (at best) some unknown author (“Mark”) wrote his version. The closest we can get to any confirmed identity of any of the authors of the NT is Paul, who never met Jesus (in spite of the fact that he supposedly lived contemporaneously to him and was both a Roman citizen and a Jew).

    Third, the claims are not just that Jesus could perform miracles, but that his disciples could as well, including raising people from the dead. Yet, curiously, there is not a single mention of any such resurrection either in any of the books of the NT or external sources, which one would think would be significantly news worthy to actually instantiate a working press.

    Forth, the fact that there were (supposedly) 12 disciples walking around Jerusalem with the power to heal the sick and raise the dead makes one wonder why those people are not still alive today. Was there a statute of limitations on their powers? If so, then why didn’t they raise ALL of their dead friends and relatives, let alone, you know, Moses or the like? Why not whole armies in fact, let alone just touching Jesus and healing him while he was on the cross or resurrecting him after he supposedly died?

    Which leads to the absence of evidence being evidence conundrum and actually flips your argument against you. Because no one else reported any of these miracles—except for cult members—is strong evidence that no such miraculous events actually happened.
    People love their Superman stories. Some people, because of the configuration of their brains, think the stories are real.

  8. Top | #108
    Veteran Member Lumpenproletariat's Avatar
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    Miracle claims are not automatically false by definition. Even if all such claims are false, still each one has to be judged on the evidence.

    Quote Originally Posted by Brian63 View Post
    The phrase:

    "Or should the dogma that miracles cannot happen overrule the evidence?"

    ...seems a bit sloppy.

    When we say that event A occurring is evidence that event B will subsequently occur, it is because we have taken steps to observe event A in nature, in the past, and in isolation from other events (to the best of our abilities). If you drop a block of concrete on your stomach, it will likely cause some damage to your body. If a planet gets pulled in by gravity towards a star, that planet will likely not survive as is. The idea of something being "evidence for" something else relies on the idea that there exist natural laws and patterns of series of events are not being violated. A miracle would be the opposite case, where somehow the natural laws were being violated.
    It doesn't necessarily mean that, but let's say it does. It wouldn't mean there's no "evidence" that the event happened. It would mean that in a particular singular event maybe "natural law" was circumvented, not that there's no "evidence" for something.

    People witnessed the event and someone reported it, in accounts from the time. This witnessing and reporting then becomes "evidence" that the event happened. Decades or centuries later someone reads of the reported event, which was "supernatural" or unusual, and these accounts of the event then become "evidence" to the later readers that the event happened. Even if this event was "supernatural" or whatever, that doesn't mean there couldn't be "evidence" that it happened. There's no inconsistency in calling it a "miracle" for which there is "evidence" that it happened. Just because it's a "miracle" or "supernatural" event doesn't mean there could not also be "evidence" that it happened. The reports of the event are evidence that it happened, and one believes it because of this evidence. There's no contradiction in that.


    So there cannot be evidence for a miraculous event.
    No, you cannot discount the evidence for an event simply by defining the event as one for which there could never be any evidence.

    The miracles of Jesus are alleged events which either did or did not happen, and we have evidence (not proof) that they did happen. Just as we have evidence of other events which happened. I.e., we rely on claims people made, near the time, who said it happened, and we don't know what caused it. Even if you define a "miracle" to be something without a normal cause, that still doesn't mean there couldn't be evidence that it happened.


    There can only be an event which we either do not know the naturalistic causes for, or a supernatural event which does not have any natural cause . . .
    Whatever that means, there's nothing which says there couldn't be "evidence" that the event happened, like the Jesus resurrection. It's an unusual event, but that doesn't mean we know what did or did not cause it, or that it had no cause. The evidence for the Jesus miracles, the accounts, don't tell us that they did or did not have a cause.

    . . . (but then we could not claim we had evidence there was not a natural cause).
    Does someone claim that? You originally said:

    The AFM states that the natural laws of the universe are incapable of producing certain effects which have been observed (Jesus’s resurrection, Donald Trump getting elected as president of the U.S, someone getting over a really bad cold, etc.). For those events to occur, it must have required a divine and supernatural force to interfere with the natural laws of the universe, i.e. a "miracle."
    It's not clear whose "argument from miracles" this is, but even if we accept this as the official AFM handed down from on high, still there's nothing about it which says there couldn't be "evidence" that such an event happened, based on reports from the time, claiming it happened, just as there are billions of reported events from history, from documents of the time. Obviously believers in "miracles" accept evidence from the ancient documents telling us of the events. The belief that it was a "miracle" doesn't rule out reliance on "evidence" that the event happened.

    There are two questions: 1) Did the alleged event happen? and 2) Was it really a "miracle"? (or What is a "miracle"?).

    There is evidence (not proof) that the Jesus healing acts and resurrection did happen. Whether the "miracle" event really happened is important, and this cannot be answered by simply defining "miracle" as something which cannot ever happen.

    And there are many other alleged "miracle" events reported, most of which did not happen, and some which maybe did happen. Whether any happened cannot be answered by just pronouncing that "miracles" by definition are something which can never happen. Rather, one must consider the evidence in each case.

  9. Top | #109
    Veteran Member Brian63's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Lumpenproletariat View Post
    People witnessed the event and someone reported it, in accounts from the time.This witnessing and reporting then becomes "evidence" that the event happened.
    That line-of-thought is circular though. It first starts off presuming there is an event that was witnessed and reported on, and the way we know that there was such an event that was witnessed and reported on is that we have reports on it. Is there any way to independently verify that such an event occurred, outside of the people reporting on it? Such reports are helpful and evidential in scenarios where we are trying to determine who committed a crime and human testimonies are given, but for those testimonies to be reliable descriptions of natural events we presuppose that there was not a supernatural violation of the laws of nature going on. So people describing naturalistic-appearing events (using their eyes and ears to witness Jesus’s resurrection) is not evidence that the laws of nature were just broken. They would only be evidence, at best, that some unusual phenomenon took place. They had no way to reasonably conclude that the laws of nature were just broken though, any more than people in modern times do. The most we can say is we do not know, and will try to find out more about this occurrence. Concluding more than that is jumping to conclusions using the argument from ignorance fallacy.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Lumpenproletariat View Post
    The claim that it happened is evidence that it happened. No? Then toss out 98% of our historical record. .
    God, you're back to this again?

    Due to your continued ignorance of what history actually is, you are just wrong, here.

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