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Thread: Fine-Tuning Argument vs Argument From Miracles

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    Senior Member Brian63's Avatar
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    Lumpen, where we disagree I can try to summarize briefly here---

    How did the initial "reporters" of such an event know, or why did they believe, that they were witnessing a supernatural event? How could they distinguish between a supernatural event from a natural event for which they did not yet have the naturalistic explanation for?

    If they had no legitimate reason to believe they had just witnessed a miraculous event (even if they claim they did), then why should we 2000 years later believe that they had legitimate reason to believe so, or know so?

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    Veteran Member Lumpenproletariat's Avatar
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    There is evidence (more than enough for most historical events), and so it's reasonable to believe 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? Or should the dogma that miracles cannot happen overrule the evidence?
    Quote Originally Posted by Keith&Co. View Post
    Or should the dogma that miracles cannot happen overrule the evidence?
    That's not DOGMA, Lumpy, that's almost the definition of the word.
    Regardless of your "definitions," if there's evidence that a certain event happened, like the Jesus resurrection, or the healing acts, it's DOGMATIC to pronounce that they could not have happened (despite the evidence) because it's impossible for such events to happen.


    Except, it's actually closer to 'miracles are events that cannot happen without divine action.'
    You're entitled to this or other "definitions" you like, but this cannot overrule the evidence that the events happened. Your definition may have merit, but even so it cannot be used to overrule the evidence and dictate that the events did not happen or could not have happened.


    That's what the Bible says about Christ's miracles, events that prove he was divine.
    Maybe, though "the Bible" is not a monolithic book in which all the authors agreed on this or other theories about "miracle" events. And that is only an interpretation of "what the Bible says" about it. Whether this is really "what the Bible says" about it or not, or whatever the Absolute Truth is about "miracles," it's still the case that there's legitimate evidence for these events, and no mystical or cosmic theories about "miracles" can negate this evidence.

    It's honest to say the evidence is not enough, and maybe the claim would be credible if only there were a little more evidence, but it's dishonest to deny that we have this evidence, and it's not unreasonable to believe the events happened based on this evidence.


    It's how you yourself try to use A Certain Few of Christ's miracles.
    Not sure what that means, but here's someone who tried "to use" a few of Christ's miracles to find something:

    Mark ch. 5 -- And a great crowd followed him and thronged about him. 25 And there was a woman who had had a flow of blood for twelve years, 26 and who had suffered much under many physicians, and had spent all that she had, and was no better but rather grew worse. 27 She had heard the reports about Jesus, and came up behind him in the crowd and touched his garment. 28 For she said, "If I touch even his garments, I shall be made well." 29 And immediately the hemorrhage ceased; and she felt in her body that she was healed of her disease. 30 And Jesus, perceiving in himself that power had gone forth from him, immediately turned about in the crowd, and said, "Who touched my garments?" 31 And his disciples said to him, "You see the crowd pressing around you, and yet you say, 'Who touched me?'" 32 And he looked around to see who had done it. 33 But the woman, knowing what had been done to her, came in fear and trembling and fell down before him, and told him the whole truth. 34 And he said to her, "Daughter, your faith has made you well; go in peace, and be healed of your disease."
    No doubt she had heard of Christ's earlier healing acts and figured maybe he would heal her also. And we today have heard of his acts, and also his Resurrection, and some of us figure maybe that power can give us the "ultimate" healing, beyond death. So I plead guilty of conniving and scheming toward this possibility. Just as that woman didn't first hammer out the philosophical definition of "miracle," we today need not pick apart every question of terminology or semantics in order to come to a reasonable belief.


    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.
    Correct, it's not "proof" that it happened.

    That writers from the period said these events happened is evidence that the events happened. Not proof. There are many historical events which probably happened, for which we have less evidence than we have for the Jesus miracles, and the evidence for them, from the writings, is not "proof" that they happened, but it is sufficient evidence for us to believe those events happened. There are plenty of such facts in the history books. Just as it's reasonable to believe those facts of history, it's also reasonable to believe the Jesus miracle events, as facts of history which probably happened.


    And an anonymous, internally inconsistent, uncorroborated story of it happening...some time ago, is not evidence that it happened."
    Yes it is evidence that it happened. There are many writings, internally inconsistent and uncorroborated reports, from back then and earlier, which are reliable as sources for the events. Virtually all the writings we rely on for events 1000+ years ago are "uncorroborated." Most are inconsistent.

    A few are anonymous, and yet they are still evidence for what happened.


    This has been explained to you.
    So then we agree -- we do have evidence for the Jesus miracle acts.

  3. Top | #113
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    It is not evidence that anything happened; it is only "evidence" that someone believed something happened.

    We know human memory/human experience is more often than not faulty and prone to all manner of mistakes in perception and colored by confirmation bias and simply unreliable on its own to establish anything more than the beginning of an investigation, not its closure.

    If I say to you, "I saw Xenu," that is NOT evidence that Xenu actually exists; that is only "evidence" that I saw something that I believed to be Xenu. If 500 people all claim that they saw Xenu, that, likewise is NOT evidence that Xenu actually exists; that is only "evidence" of 500 people who saw something that they believed to be Xenu.

    We have zero corroborating evidence to say one way or another whether what they believed they saw actually existed or any number of other explanations account for their experience that don't rest on the notion of the dictator of the "Galactic Confederacy" who, 75 million years ago, brought billions of his people to Earth (then known as "Teegeeack") in DC-8-like spacecraft, stacked them around volcanoes, and killed them with hydrogen bombs.

    Now just imagine if the story of Xenu had actually been merely told orally to subsequent generations--and how prone storytelling is to aggrandizement and editing and alteration--for a good forty years before someone claiming to be L. Ron Hubbard wrote it down and then three other people wrote different versions of the Xenu passion narrative years apart, that can't be reconciled with each other, all claiming to be "eyewitnesses" when in fact they relate details and conversations that they could not possibly have personally witnessed.

    And then add into the mix that those were all written thousands of years ago in another language and over the centuries hundreds if not thousands of copies were hand written and edited and aggrandized and translated and re-translated and changed in ways we have no possible way of knowing definitively what was original and what was revised.

    Regardless, the fact that you are so desperately trying to insist that a standard of evidence has somehow been met for a faith-based belief is something you should take a long hard look at.

    ETA: Now apply the exact same scrutiny to a story that actually starts without a resurrection. GMark does not say that Jesus was resurrected from the dead. It ends with the women going to the tomb, seeing it already open and a "young man" sitting inside, who merely tells them Jesus "is risen.' Not that he was dead and resurrected from the dead.

    All of which, no one named "Mark" could have possibly eye-witnessed.

    Whoever "Mark" was could not have been relating personal anecdotes; he could only have been relating what others told him about that morning at best. So we do not even have an eyewitness account; we have a hearsay account.

    Add into that mix the fact that we're talking about people who evidently already believe that the dead can in fact resurrect and that real magic exists and that magical beings are everywhere and in abundance, etc.

    Iow, we're not exactly talking about critical thinkers to begin with. Hence "doubting Thomas" who inexplicably could not simply recognize Jesus and needed to stick his fingers in the wounds, etc.

    Plus, there is the very logical fact that Jesus never died, merely passed out from blood loss and simply appeared dead to unsophisticated peasants who were not trained doctors/pathologists. He was taken down only after a few hours on the cross (a method of torture and death that would often take days to kill someone, which is why it was so horrific and used as a deterrent).

    In one version of the story, Jesus is taken down and wrapped in annointed linen--effectively medicinal bandages--and then placed inside a cave rather than buried in the ground. Iow, bandaged and placed in a safe, environmentally controlled chamber, where he was evidently watched over and cared for the whole time. Someone had to have moved the rock after all and it would make no sense for the "young man" to be the one that opened the tomb and then just sat in it waiting for someone to maybe come along and check on Jesus, let alone the women to go to the grave for any reason at all, since Jesus was already supposedly dead and in his tomb.

    And who among those women were going to move that rock?

    But I digress.

    The point is that even taking the "resurrection" part at face value, there are other far more logical and, frankly, obvious explanations for what otherwise ignorant desert peasants would have mistaken as miraculous that actually are not.

    Iow, GMark equally evidences a story that easily got misinterpreted and/or aggrandized. We know this from Paul's letters, in fact, that many at the time did not believe Jesus physically resurrected. Paul had to insist--vehemently in fact--that without a resurrection, then there was no salvation:

    1 Corinthians 12 But if it is preached that Christ has been raised from the dead, how can some of you say that there is no resurrection of the dead? 13 If there is no resurrection of the dead, then not even Christ has been raised. 14 And if Christ has not been raised, our preaching is useless and so is your faith. 15 More than that, we are then found to be false witnesses about God, for we have testified about God that he raised Christ from the dead. But he did not raise him if in fact the dead are not raised. 16 For if the dead are not raised, then Christ has not been raised either. 17 And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins.
    He then goes into an insistence that the resurrection is "spiritual" not physical, which further complicates GMark of course and the subsequent other versions, but no need to dive that deep.

    The point being, even those who supposedly lived at the time did not believe the story that was told to them and they were in the first churches.
    Last edited by Koyaanisqatsi; 04-16-2019 at 01:37 PM.

  4. Top | #114
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    Quote Originally Posted by Lumpenproletariat View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by Keith&Co. View Post
    That's not DOGMA, Lumpy, that's almost the definition of the word.
    Regardless of your "definitions," if there's evidence that a certain event happened, like the Jesus resurrection, or the healing acts, it's DOGMATIC to pronounce that they could not have happened (despite the evidence) because it's impossible for such events to happen.
    Would it be better to question the veracity of the claim seeing no one bothered to write about it for decades after the alleged guy's death?

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    Veteran Member Lumpenproletariat's Avatar
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    If someone near to the event claims it happened, that's evidence that it happened = most of the historical record.

    Quote Originally Posted by atrib View Post
    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.
    What we need for miracle claims are extra sources, like we have for the Jesus miracle acts but do not have for all the other miracle claims from the ancient world.


    Any claim that involves a suspension of the laws of nature would be considered an extraordinary claim.
    The Jesus miracle acts did not necessarily suspend the "laws of nature." There might be conditions where such acts are still within those natural laws. The Mad Monk Rasputin somehow caused a sick child to recover, whatever the explanation. Some unusual events can happen which known science doesn't explain, but this doesn't mean "the laws of nature" were suspended.


    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 . . .
    So next time my neighbor makes that claim, you're saying I shouldn't automatically believe it?

    . . . 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.
    Thanks for the advice. From now on I'll be more skeptical when my neighbor makes those claims. How many of your neighbors make these claims?


    Even if your neighbor was known to you and appeared to be of sound mind, and had the reputation of being trustworthy.
    We needn't worry about the trustworthiness of someone who might make hypothetical claims no one ever actually makes.

    The credibility and trustworthiness of someone making a claim does matter in the case of real claims people make about an "impossible" happening, some of which claims might be true or partly true. In the example of something no one ever claimed happened -- flapping one's arms and then flying, the dead returning to life 20 years later -- one reason to disbelieve any such thing ever happened is that no one has ever claimed it happened.

    That the claim is actually made does increase the degree of probability that such a thing might have happened. The actual happening of such an event, in some cases (even only one), can be the explanation why claims of other such events are then made, with perhaps most of the claims being false but having been inspired by the original claim which was true.

    So we need to put our attention on real claims people make, while claims no one ever made are useless to us as an argument by analogy. Some cases are hoaxes, others are a misinterpretation of what really happened -- there are different explanations. We explain nothing by putting ALL the claims into the same category as hypothetical claims never made by anyone.

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    Veteran Member Cheerful Charlie's Avatar
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    Early Buddhist writings are chock a block full of supposed miracles witnessed by early Buddhists about the person of the Buddha. being "near the event", why don't you believe in them?
    Cheerful Charlie

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    Quote Originally Posted by Cheerful Charlie View Post
    Early Buddhist writings are chock a block full of supposed miracles witnessed by early Buddhists . . .
    No they're not.

    . . . about the person of the Buddha. being "near the event", why don't you believe in them?
    The miracles of Buddha don't appear in the literature until several centuries later. It's only these stories centuries later which say the early disciples witnessed miracles.

    The centuries-later pattern is common to all the ancient miracle legends -- the Hindu, Buddhist, Greek, Roman, and Jewish (Moses, Elijah, Elisha). Also the later Mohammad miracles. There are almost no exceptions to this pattern.

  8. Top | #118
    Veteran Member Lumpenproletariat's Avatar
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    We have evidence uniquely in the case of the reported Jesus miracle acts, but in no other cases.

    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.
    I'm not asserting anything which assumes such a record existed.

    There were at least two authors who tell of fraudulent miracle-worker charlatans -- Josephus and Lucian. Most of the charlatans they describe are unknown to us outside the accounts of these writers. Of the reputed wonder-workers of the period, in the literature, a large percentage are among these charlatans reported by Josephus and Lucian. So it was normal for reputed miracle-workers to be made known to us by writers who reported them as frauds. (This changes after 200 AD as the stories increase and become more sympathetic to the miracle claims, but prior to that the sources more commonly report them as fraudulent.) Plutarch also criticizes some of the fraudulent practitioners.

    So there's much mention of reputed miracle-workers who were hoaxes, during this time, but virtually no mention of miracle legends taken seriously by the sources reporting them. The few exceptions to this are easy to explain as fiction stories. But there is no way to explain the Jesus miracle acts as fictional, given the accounts and the proximity to the reported events and the lack of any explanation how Jesus could have become the object of mythologizing such as famous and powerful figures like Alexander the Great or Emperor Vespasian were mythologized, or how people could have mistaken Jesus to have divine healing power when he did not cite any ancient healing god as his source of power, as all the other healer-practitioners had to do in order to win their public reputation.


    Second, there are no primary sources making any such claims.
    There are virtually no "primary sources" making any claims of any kind. History is based on the sources which exist, not on imaginary "primary sources" you wish existed. Our sources for the Jesus miracle acts are better than our sources for most of the ancient history events generally. There are reasons one might doubt the reports, but the complaint that there are no "primary sources" is no more reason to doubt these reported events than 90% of the reported history of those times.


    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.
    And that's a better and more reliable account we have for an historical figure than we have for any other 1st-century Jew or 1st-century figure living in Palestine. Except Josephus, and for him we have nothing but his own writings.

    Most of our ancient history record was written decades later, even 100 years later, and is based on the oral stories handed down. Only a small percent is from authors contemporaneous to the events.


    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).
    That's better than we have for most historical figures reported in the writings, until 1000 or so years later when accounts began to be written closer to the reported events.

    That the "identity" of the authors is not "confirmed" has nothing to do with the credibility of the reported events. There are other anonymous writings which are relied on for the historical record. Though most sources have a named author, that doesn't magically make the accounts more credible.


    Third, the claims are not just that Jesus could perform miracles, but that his disciples could as well, including raising people from the dead.
    There's almost nothing in the Gospel accounts saying that. It's only the Book of Acts reporting those events. Those later stories were obviously inspired by the earlier Jesus miracle accounts. Since they can easily be explained and since there's only one source (Acts), there's much less credibility to those later stories. But there is no explanation what inspired the Jesus miracle stories unless they were real events.

    If we can easily explain miracle stories as fiction, accounting for what caused the stories, then they are much less credible. But where there is no explanation of what caused the stories, a good explanation is that the events really did happen.


    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.
    Miracle acts by the disciples, reported only in Acts, are probably fiction and were not widely believed until much later.


    Fourth, 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.
    There's virtually nothing of this except in Acts. Claiming to "heal the sick" was common just like today when believers pray for each other to recover from illness (and either don't recover, or they would have anyway without the praying). The only serious healing stories, outside the Jesus miracle acts, are in Acts, and there's no reason to believe these which are mostly copycat stories inspired by the Jesus miracles. The existence of these later healing stories is explained by the earlier Jesus miracle acts, which are the beginning of an explosion of miracle stories appearing at the end of the 1st century and increasing into the 2nd century.

    The explanation for all this is that the Jesus miracle acts really happened, and this then inspired the new unprecedented explosion of miracle stories going into the Middle Ages. But if the Jesus miracle acts never really happened, it's impossible to explain what caused this new explosion of miracle stories to take place.


    Was there a statute of limitations on their powers?
    They didn't have such powers. The disciples never did perform those miracles reported in Acts. Those are stories inspired by what happened earlier. Believing the Jesus miracle acts happened is based on evidence = 4 (5) sources near to the alleged events. We don't have such evidence for the stories in Acts, nor for any other miracle stories of antiquity. It's reasonable to distinguish between those accounts for which there is evidence and those which follow the normal pattern of mythologizing and storytelling. It's not reasonable to lump all miracle stories into one category and brand them all as fiction.


    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?
    It's easy to poke fun at the part which is obviously fiction.

    But it's also easy to explain where those stories came from, as fiction. What cannot be explained is why such stories were not told 50 or 100 years earlier. Why don't we see stories of such miracles in 60 or 40 or 20 AD and earlier? There is a total blank of such stories in the literature going back at least 200 or 300 years. There is no miracle tradition in the Jewish or Greek/Roman culture during these centuries having any resemblance to the Jesus miracle healings and which could explain where these came from, if they could be explained as fiction. The Asclepius cult, the closest there is to anything analogous, was dying out, and these were priests worshiping an ancient healing god and performing rituals like modern healers who perform their rites in the name of Christ.


    Which leads to the absence of evidence being evidence conundrum and actually flips your argument against you.
    There are many pieces of evidence pointing to the Jesus miracle acts as real events in history, unlike other miracle legends of the period. A significant number of those other miracle legends were condemned as hoaxes and even would not be known to us had they not been reported as hoaxes by the sources. This alone doesn't prove much. But this, along with dozens more facts about miracle stories in the ancient world point again and again to the historicity of the Jesus miracle acts, unlike all the others we find in various writings and not supported by any evidence.

    The reliable and neutral sources, or those exterior to Christianity, say nothing about the Jesus miracles, and almost nothing about Jesus generally. However, he is mentioned, or alluded to, and there's plenty to indicate that there was some knowledge of him, and that he is not named as another hoax is significant. If they had any knowledge of the miracle claims, they obviously dismissed them as probably untrue, as 99% of such stories were dismissed as untrue, whether the stories were investigated in detail or not.


    Because no one else reported any of these miracles—except for cult members—is . . .
    The Gospel writers, and Paul (who reports only the resurrection), were all believers, but we don't know that their belief was not caused by the evidence they had before them. There was no "church" as we understand it today, and there was no one "cult" of the Christ believers, but several different cults or communities which each carried on its own "gospel" mission as its members understood it. So the important question is not whether they were "cult members" or believers, but what caused them to become believers.


    Did the Gospel-writers become ensnared into a Christ "cult"?

    How did that happen? Any notion that they were first snagged into a Christ "cult" and programmed into believing and following the cult has little connection to reality. These writers were the most educated of all within the different Christ-believing groups, and they made their own independent choice what to believe. It makes no sense to say they promoted the miracle stories as a cult-crusader unless you first explain what caused them to become such a crusader at the outset.


    They did not have a charismatic guru-prophet to inspire them.

    For most cult-crusaders the cause of their loyalty and zeal is the powerful impact which the cult-leader-guru had on them, with his charisma. This explains it in 99% of the cases. But in the case of Jesus there was no such charismatic impact on these "cult" members who wrote of him, because they had never seen him directly. So then, what persuaded them to believe? What could it have been other than the evidence and corroboration before them?

    The best explanation is that they had enough sources or evidence before them, in the oral reports and earlier written accounts, that they became convinced that these events really did happen, unlike most miracle claims which they no doubt were familiar with.

    . . . is strong evidence that no such miraculous events actually happened.
    No, it's further evidence that the events did happen, or that there was the extra evidence that they really happened, because otherwise it's impossible to explain what was the predisposition or bias to believe these stories and not the dozens of other miracle claims which were not worth reporting or wasting time on. If the events did not really happen, we'd expect someone educated to find some indication of it and report them as hoaxes (which happened with some miracle hoaxes of the time).

    Why did all those educated enough to report on this come to the conclusion that the stories were true?

    There is no indication that the writers were driven by their loyalty to a cult discipline requiring them to believe something fraudulent. There was no cult discipline controlling these writers and no blind faith toward any creed at this time, in 50-100 AD before any "church" yet existed and when there were diverse Christ "cults" here and there, often in conflict with each other.
    Last edited by Lumpenproletariat; 04-18-2019 at 10:39 PM.

  9. Top | #119
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    Quote Originally Posted by Lumpenproletariat View Post

    What we need for miracle claims are extra sources, like we have for the Jesus miracle acts but do not have for all the other miracle claims from the ancient world.
    I disagree. I believe that extraordinary claims, especially those that involve the suspension of the natural laws of the universe, require extraordinary evidence. Adding a few extra witnesses adds no credibility to such claims.

    As has been explained to you many, many times in the other thread, the claims related to the supernatural events described in the Bible are not credible. People can't walk on stormy waters. People can't be healed by a touch. Snakes and burning bushes don't talk. And most importantly, dead people don't rise up from their graves and fly off into space. These are all extraordinary claims that are contrary to what we observe in the natural world.

    Further, the claims of the Bible were reported by an anonymous source who did not witness any of the alleged supernatural events. Nor did this source have access to any of the alleged eyewitnesses that we know of. And to top it off, the supernatural events were not reported by any contemporary historical source.

    So all we are left with is the hearsay testimony of an anonymous source, not connected to the alleged events in any way, and separated in time from the alleged events by decades, with no contemporary sources to back up this single source. There is insufficient evidence to establish that this Jesus character existed, much less connect him to miracles. For all we know, the anonymous source had created a work of fiction, with no intent to attribute historical or factual significance to the stories.


    Any claim that involves a suspension of the laws of nature would be considered an extraordinary claim.
    The Jesus miracle acts did not necessarily suspend the "laws of nature." There might be conditions where such acts are still within those natural laws. The Mad Monk Rasputin somehow caused a sick child to recover, whatever the explanation. Some unusual events can happen which known science doesn't explain, but this doesn't mean "the laws of nature" were suspended.
    Dead people don't rise up from their graves and fly off into the sky under their own power. Sorry, but your claim that such behavior is natural is nonsense.


    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 . . .
    So next time my neighbor makes that claim, you're saying I shouldn't automatically believe it?
    Correct. Do you believe that such claims should be treated as credible? Please answer the question honestly.


    . . . 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.
    Thanks for the advice. From now on I'll be more skeptical when my neighbor makes those claims. How many of your neighbors make these claims?
    None. But many Christians do believe and make the claim that Jesus rose up from the dead and flew up into the sky under his own power. Because the Bible makes these claims. Why should the Biblical claims of zombification and auto-levitation be treated differently from the hypothetical neighbor claiming that he can fly and that his grandfather was resurrected from the dead after 20 years?

    Even if your neighbor was known to you and appeared to be of sound mind, and had the reputation of being trustworthy.
    We needn't worry about the trustworthiness of someone who might make hypothetical claims no one ever actually makes.
    People do make similar ridiculous claims. That is the whole fucking point I was trying to make. Go to Church on Sunday and the Pastor will make such claims. Have you even read the Bible or gone to Church?

    The credibility and trustworthiness of someone making a claim does matter in the case of real claims people make about an "impossible" happening, some of which claims might be true or partly true. In the example of something no one ever claimed happened -- flapping one's arms and then flying, the dead returning to life 20 years later -- one reason to disbelieve any such thing ever happened is that no one has ever claimed it happened.

    That the claim is actually made does increase the degree of probability that such a thing might have happened. The actual happening of such an event, in some cases (even only one), can be the explanation why claims of other such events are then made, with perhaps most of the claims being false but having been inspired by the original claim which was true.

    So we need to put our attention on real claims people make, while claims no one ever made are useless to us as an argument by analogy. Some cases are hoaxes, others are a misinterpretation of what really happened -- there are different explanations. We explain nothing by putting ALL the claims into the same category as hypothetical claims never made by anyone.
    The probability that a human being rose up from the dead and flew up into the sky under his own power is zero. Both events are impossible. The claims are false.

    And how would you know that the claims of the Bible are not hoaxes or misrepresentations or even simple works or fiction? Are you a god with divine powers that enable you to know such things? Do you have a special pair of eyeglasses that let you see into the past?
    Last edited by atrib; 04-19-2019 at 03:38 AM.

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    It's reasonable to hope for more, using the evidence we have to think beyond the limited amount we know for certain.

    Quote Originally Posted by Brian63 View Post
    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.
    Call it whatever label you choose. It's what our historical record is. What record do we have of those historical events other than documents written near the time reporting what was witnessed or what the writer thought was witnessed? Calling it "circular" doesn't change the fact that this is what our record is of those events. Isn't this how we know the ancient events?


    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.
    Yes, isn't that evidence for what happened back then? You don't presume that there were events back then which were witnessed and reported on? and that our knowledge of them is from the written reports of them? How else could we have knowledge of the Greeks and Romans etc. other than from the written reports of them from someone writing down what was witnessed?


    Is there any way to independently verify that such an event occurred, outside of the people reporting on it?
    What verification is there other than that of additional people reporting it? What verification is there of ANY historical events, except further reports of them from other people reporting on it? And there are plenty of historical events which DON'T HAVE ANY VERIFICATION at all from independent sources other than one. So those events did not happen? You want to scrap thousands/millions of facts from the historical record because they are reported in one source only? Do you propose doing away with millions of history textbooks containing such historical facts?


    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.
    The Jesus miracle acts were not necessarily a "supernatural violation of the laws of nature going on." We don't need to know what caused the alleged event in order to assume it happened based on the reports that it happened. We don't have to philosophize about the causes of the events or about the difference between the "supernatural" and the normal events. Some believers/theologians have these theories about "supernatural" and "laws of nature" in their thinking, but these ideas are not a prerequisite to believing, and the theories held about this are not the same throughout all believers and all theologians, nor do the ancient writers describing the events prescribe such theories.


    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.
    Yes, but still the believers and writers of the accounts do add their interpretation, trying to explain what happened, adding further to the known facts, to fit it into some philosophical scheme they think makes sense. In this interpreting and explaining they could make errors. So we needn't assume that the Gospel writers fully understood what happened and explained it correctly in philosophical terms, or that everything they reported is accurate in the details. Rather, we can reasonably accept their general description of the Jesus events as correct, like we accept most written accounts of those times, assuming they're a credible source for the events generally. While at the same time we assume they also contain some error. All the sources contain some error, despite being credible sources overall, and we have ways to separate some of the fact from the fiction.


    They had no way to reasonably conclude that the laws of nature were just broken though, any more than people in modern times do.
    Yes, but some of them probably drew such conclusions. What we can rely on them for is their report on what happened. But some of their theories about "laws of nature" or nature of the cosmos etc. might not be reasonable. It's reasonable to believe the Gospel accounts about the Jesus events generally, but maybe not to get bogged down in the philosophizing. Some readers might be attracted to the theology and theories of nature, but that isn't necessary in order to learn the truth of the events which happened. The various NT writers did not agree with each other on all the theological explanations.


    The most we can say is we do not know, and will try to find out more about this occurrence.
    But the little we already know is important. From it we can reasonably conclude that Jesus had superhuman power, enabling him to perform those healing acts and also resurrect after being killed. I.e., it's reasonable to believe this, though we don't have PROOF of it, but only evidence that he had this power, and it's reasonable to hope that his power continues on to the present so that he offers something beyond only the deeds he did back then. Of course "we do not know," but this evidence of what happened back then gives us a reasonable hope for the possibility of future resurrection, so that death need not be a permanent annihilation of us.

    So this event in history is the best indicator we have of a power beyond ours which offers us eternal life, or survival beyond death, and so it's "good news" for anyone who hopes there's more beyond death. Or, it's our best hope for that possibility, despite the doubt.


    Concluding more than that is jumping to conclusions using the argument from ignorance fallacy.
    It's not unreasonable to draw conclusions going beyond what we know with certainty. What's a fallacy is to say we KNOW it, but it can still be a reasonable hope we have, based on the evidence.

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